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Sant Eknath (1533–1599) was a prominent Marathi sant, scholar, and religious poet. In the development of Marathi literature, Eknath is seen as a bridge between his predecessors—Dnyaneshwar and Namdev—and the later Tukaram and Ramdas.
The precise dates are uncertain, but it is traditionally held that Eknath lived during the last three-quarters of the sixteenth-century CE. Legend also says that he was born to a Brahmin family at Paithan, that his parents died while he was young and that he was then raised by his grandfather, Bhanudas, a hero of the Varkari sect. Some sources say that Bhanudas was his great-grandfather. It is possible, but not certain, that his guru, Janardan, was a Sufi.
He wrote a variation of the Bhagavata Purana which is known as the Eknathi Bhagavata, and a variation of the Ramayana which is known as the Bhavarth Ramayan. Eknath wrote Rukmini Swayamwar Hastamalak, which was comprised 764 owees and based on a 14-shlok Sanskrit hymn with the same name by Shankaracharya.
His other works were the Shukashtak (447 owees), the Swatma-Sukha (510 owees), the Ananda-Lahari (154 owees), the Chiranjeewa-Pad (42 owees), the Geeta-Sar, and the Prahlad-Wijaya. He introduced a new form of Marathi religious song called Bharood, writing 300 of them. He performed them in varkari sampradaya. He wrote variations of Bharuds in other languages. He also wrote 300 religious songs in the Abhang form. He was also a preacher, and gave many public discourses.
Eknath initiated in Maharashtra a movement called Wasudewa Sanstha. It involved house-to-house visitations by individuals known as Wasudewa, who, standing in front of peoples' houses, spread religious messages through bhajans (ballads).
Eknath was one of the earliest reformers of untouchability in Maharashtra, working as he was in the late Middle Ages. In times when Brahmins even avoided the shadow and the voice of an untouchable, he publicly showed courtesy toward untouchables and frequented them.
Certain religious poets had dealt with the question of their own death by resorting to a "samadhi". Here the poet took his own life by immersing himself in a body of water, such as a lake or a river. Following the example of his idol, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath embraced "jalsamadhi" (water samadhi) in the sacred Godavari river, on Krishna Shasthi day of Phalguna in the year 1599 AD.
- Novetzke, Christian Lee (2013), Religion and Public Memory: A Cultural History of Saint Namdev in India, Columbia University Press, ISBN 9780231512565
- Schomer, Karine; McLeo, W. H. (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 9788120802773