Dalit saints of Hinduism

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Dalit is a designation for a group of people who were suppressed by hindus for hundreds of years and also considered them outside the caste system of India. Several influential Hindu saints were members of this caste,[1][2][3] including Ravidas, Kabir, Namdev, Chokhamela, and Kanhopatra.[4]

Some writers believe that Valmiki and Veda Vyasa, the poet writers of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were also of Dalit background.[4]


  • Balakdas, Mahar,[5] ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Shiva, wrote the Mahar Mahatmya declaring Samaji as the patriarch of the Mahars and Shiva as the God of the Mahars
  • Balarama, Hadi,[6] born in Meherpur village (Nadia district of West Bengal), ethnic Bengali-speaker, considered as incarnation of Lord Rama,[6] was worshipped by followers even in his lifetime[7]
  • Channayya, Mahar,[8] devotee of Shiva, disciple of Basava[9]
  • Guru Ghasidas, a prominent achiever of 'Saty' and aided the Satnami movement in Chhattisgarh India. His son, Balak Das was his successor (his memorable historical Jaistambh is in Giroud Puri Dham Disst Raipur Chhattisgarh)
  • Ghisadas, Ghisa[10] (weaver), from Khekhra (Meerut), follower of Kabir
  • Harahliah,[11] Virashaiva devotee of Shiva
  • Harichand Thakur (1811–1839), Namsudra, Bengali, founded Vaishnava Matua sect to worship Hari and preach Harinam[12] and a few of their songs even recognize Harichand as an avatar of Vishnu[13]
  • Janbrish, Mang or Channayya[14]
  • Kartanand,[15] Punjabi
  • Kaliar, oil presser,[16] Tamil one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Dasrath Gajbhiye,[17] a Vaishnava Kabirpanthi saint
  • Nandanar (Nanthanaar), Athanuur, devotee of Shiva, one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints. Chidambaram, the main place where Nandanar practiced austerities is now a place where backward castes have their own ashrams and recite the Upanishads in Sanskrit[18]
  • Parshuram, Chamar, the founder of the Ramnami[37] sect in Chhattisgarh
  • Pipal Dass, Chamar,[19] Punjabi, a follower of Ravi Das
  • Ram Das, Chamar[20] disciple of Lakhmir
  • Rohidas or Ravidas, Chamar, the Guru of Mirabai. He is said to have taken up his family job of shoe-making and supplied shoes top ascetics. "My caste is low, my lineage is low, and mean is my birth. I have taken shelter, King Rama, says Ravidas the cobbler" (p. 659, Guru Granth Sahib). His disciples are the Ravidasis. He was a disciple of Ramananda, claimed by Harijans to be their master.[21]
  • Sarwan Dass, Chamar,[19] Punjabi, a follower of Ravi Das and son of Sant Pipal Dass
  • Satyakam Jabali[22]
  • Shatakopa, Kanjar (prostitute),[23] Alwar devotee, Yamuna Muni declared, "I touch my feet at the holy feet of Shatakopa"
  • Soyarabai, Mahar,[24] ethnic Marathi-speaker, Sant Chokha Mela's wife
  • Thykad Ayyavu Swamy, Pariah[25] born 1817 in Thanjavur, devotee of Muruga
  • Tirukkurippu Tondar,[16] one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Tirumankai (alias Nilan), Kalvar (robber),[26] Tamil, an Alwar saint from Kuraiyalur
  • Tirumalisai,[27] an Alvar Vaishnava saint
  • Tiru Nalai Povar,[28] one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Tiru Nilakanta, potter,[29] one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Tiru Nilakanta Yazhpanar, Pana[30] (musical instrument player), one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Tiruvalluvar,[31] one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints, wrote the Tirukkural
  • Umaid Ram Maharaj, Bhangi,[32] Rajasthani. He was born on the Hindu month of Miskar (November–December) in the Hindu year 1865 on Thursday in Jodhpur. He was a medicant. His successors were Sukaram Maharaj, Deepa Ram Maharaj and the present-day Mangi Ram Maharaj.
  • Vakhna, Mirasi[33] (sweeper), disciple of Dadu Dayal


  1. ^ Dalits and the state, pp. 42, Ghanshyam Shah, Centre for Rural Studies (Lal Bahadur Shastry National Academy of Administration)
  2. ^ Dalit consciousness and Christian conversion: historical resources for a contemporary debate: mission theology in an Asian context, pp. 20, Samuel Jayakumar, I.S.P.C.K. (Organization), Regnum International, 1999
  3. ^ Staging politics: power and performance in Asia and Africa, pp. 179, Julia C. Strauss, Donal Brian Cruise O'Brien, I. B.Tauris, 2007
  4. ^ a b "The Hindus forgot that their great saints and philosophers belonged to low caste's men as Valmiki, Ved Vyas, Sauni, Rom Harshan, Tiru Vallur, Kabir, Raidas, Chokhamela, Namdev, Tukaram...", Dalit Literature, pp. 209, Amar Nath Prasad, Sarup & Sons, 2007
  5. ^ p. 133 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  6. ^ a b p. 109, Renascent India: first phase, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  7. ^ p. 232, History of modern Bengal, Volume 1, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  8. ^ Murthy, p. 16 Basavanna
  9. ^ Sathyan, p. 242 Karnataka State Gazetteer
  10. ^ p. xiii, Scheduled caste welfare: myth or reality, by R. B. Singh
  11. ^ p. 42, Hinduism and Islam in India: caste, religion, and society from antiquity to, by S. V. Desika Char
  12. ^ p. 96, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
  13. ^ p. 100, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
  14. ^ Bhanu, p. 1105 People of India
  15. ^ p. 1350 The Journal of Asian studies, Volume 67, Issue 4 by Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.)
  16. ^ a b p. 52 Nandanar, the Dalit martyr: a historical reconstruction of his times by Sundararaj Manickam
  17. ^ p. 84 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  18. ^ Sastri, p. 3 Hindu Feasts, Fasts & Ceremonies
  19. ^ a b p. 15 Dalits in regional context by Harish K. Puri
  20. ^ p. 415 Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province by H. A. Rose, IBBETSON, Maclagan,
  21. ^ Singh, p. 98 Leadership Patterns and Village Structure
  22. ^ p. 97 Poisoned bread: translations from modern Marathi Dalit literature by Arjuna Ḍāṅgaḷe
  23. ^ p. 87, Gita Darshan as Bhakti Yoga, as a Chaitanyite Reads it
  24. ^ p. 61 Women Saints of East and West By Swami Ghanananda, John Stewart-Wallace
  25. ^ p. 352 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  26. ^ p. 159–160 Tamil literature, Volume 2, Part 1 By Kamil Zvelebil
  27. ^ p. 139 A history of Tirupati, Volume 1 by Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar
  28. ^ p. 156 A history of Tamil literature by C. Jesudasan, Hephzibah Jesudasan
  29. ^ p. 12 The grand epic of Saivism by Cuttān̲anta Pāratiyār, Cēkkilār
  30. ^ p. 135 Some aspects of Kerala and Tamil literature by Mu Irākavaiyaṅkār
  31. ^ p. 89 Tiruvalluvar by Es Makara-jan
  32. ^ p. 144 The Bhangi: a sweeper caste, its socio-economic portraits, by Shyamlal
  33. ^ p. 248 Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables: Ancient Medieval And Modern by Raj Kumar