NAMDEV (1270-1350), saint of Maharashtra who composed poetry of fervent devotion in Marathi as well as in Hindi. His Hindi verse and his extended visit to the Punjab carried his fame far beyond the borders of Maharashtra. Sixty-one of his hymns in fact came to be included in Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. These hymns or sabdas share the common characteristic of lauding the One Supreme God distinct from his earlier verse which carries traces of idolatry and saguna bhakti. In the course of his spiritual quest, Namdev had, from being a worshipper of the Divine in the concrete form, become a devotee of the attribute less (nirguna) Absolute.


According to the generally accepted version of the current traditions, Namdev was born in AD 1270 to Damasheti, a low caste tailor, and his wife, Gonabai, in the village of Narasi Vamani, in Satara district of Maharashtra. Janabai, the family`s maidservant and a bhakta and poetess in her own right, records the tradition that Namdev was born to Gonabai as a result other worship of Vitthala in Pandharpur. Namdev was married before he was eleven years of age to Rajabai, daughter of Govindasheti Sadavarte. He had four sons and one daughter.

Under the influence of saint Jnanadeva, Namdev was converted to the path of bhakti. Vitthala of Pandharpur was now the object of his devotion and he spent much of his time in worship and kirtan, chanting mostly verses of his own composition.In the company of Jnanadeva and other saints, he roamed about the country and later came to the Punjab where he is said to have lived for more than twenty years at Ghuman, in Gurdaspur district, where a temple in the form of samddh still preserves his memory.

This temple was constructed by Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and the tank by its side was got repaired by Rani Sada Kaur, mother in law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In his early fifties, Namdev settled down at Pandharpur where he gathered around himself a group of devotees. His abhangas or devotional lyrics became very popular, and people thronged to listen to his kirtan.

Namdev`s songs have been collected in Ndmdevdchi Gdlhd which also includes the long autobiographical poem Tirathavali. Tradition ascribes more than two thousand hymns to him, but the actual number does not seem to exceed one hundred and fifty, counting those preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib. Namdev died in AD 1350according to one tradition at Pandharpur and according to the other at Ghuman, in the Punjab.

References :

1. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
2. Macnicol, N.. Psalms of Maratha Saints. Calcutta, 1919
3. Missa, Bhagirath and Rajnarayan Maurya, Sant Namdev ki Hindi Paddvali. Poona, 1964
4. Caturvedi, Parasuram, Uttari Bharat ki Sant Parampara. Prayag, 1951
5. Sarma, Vinay Mohan, Sant Namdev. Delhi, n.d.
6. Machwe, Prabhakar, Hindi aur Marathi ka Nirgun Sant Kavya. Varanasi, 1962