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Sarvadnya Shri Chakradhar Swami (also known as Harinatha and Haripala, sometimes spelled Chakradhara) was a 13th-century figure in Vishnaism. He was said to be an incarnation of Nirgun and Nirakar Parmeshwar and is sometimes credited as the founder of the Mahanubhava Sect in Vaishnavism in 1267. Other sources list Govinda Prabhu as the founder and Chakradhara as its first "apostle". Chakradhar propagated a religious movement as well as social movement, in which all were accepted irrespective of their castes and the traditional ritualistic religion was rejected.
Chakradhar Swami was born at Bharavas (Bharuch,present day Gujarat) as the son of the king named Vishaldeva & Mhalani devi and his ancestral name was Haripaldeva. He died due to fever. Haripaldeva died at the age of twenty but a widely believed reincarnation of lord krishna named Shri Chakrapani Prabhu alias shree Changadev Raool from Phalatan entered the dead body of Haripaldeva after which he revived. The reborn Haripaldeva was a greatly changed personality .
During the time when Haripaldev died, The Changadev Raool had left this world for his Mahaprayana. He is said to enter the dead body of Haripaldev. The year for this can be either 1213 or 1220 (ref. Leelacharitra's Waideshkar Chapter) . With his new Life, he still carried the 5 things from his previous "janma". They were 1) Gopala Mantri Diksha 2)Gopal Aan (oath) 3) Gambling Habit 4) Love towards his wife 5) The name "Haripala".
As Haripaladev still used to Gamble here and there, he lost some money & expected his wife to give some of her ornaments to repay that. She denied to do that, hence Hripaladev got fed up with the "Sansar" & actually decided to go to a "Yatra" towards Ramtek in Vidarbha. In fact it was nothing but an excuse to leave his house for good. He never returned there again.
Then he came to place Ridhapur where Shri Govind Prabhu alias shree Gundam Raool, regarded as incarnation. After having wandered alone for time, he appeared among the people.At the market place of Ridhapur,Prabhu was eating some sort of sweet(Shengul Gudde).On seeing Haripaldeva,he threw the sweets in front of him and said to eat it as a 'Prasad'. In this way he was incarnated as 'Chakradhar Swami'.This year is approximated 1245. He then went to Paithan in the year 1267 and offered his grace to an old woman Nagambika alias Nagaisa.A year after this he preached to Nagdev & made him his disciple.
Life Span of Shree Chakradhara Swami
After Swami returned to Paithan in Marathwada, near Aurangabad , he lived for 7 1/2 years more till his "Prayana" (Death). It is said to be the year 1272 or Year 1274. So the entire life span of Shre Chakradhara Swamy can be said to be from either 1213 or 1220 to 1272-74. So, it can be 54 to 61 years of life.
During his seven and a half years of his lonely wanderings, he visited a number of villages in Marathwada, Vidarbha, Khandesh and many different parts of Maharashtra preaching his philosophy to the common man in Marathi with the help of illustration and imagery. During this period of propagation of his philosophy, about five hundred followers from different regions of Maharashtra Brahmin and Non Brahmin castes joined him. Actually many distinguished people from the court of Yadavas, like Bhandari Gadonayak and Gopal Pandit who were senior administrators; Kamaisa of Ramdevaraya and Demati of Hemadpandit who were wives of courtly people; Ganpati Apayo, Pimple Vaman Bhatt and Gunakardeva Prajnasagar who were Vedic scholars become followers of Shri Chakradhar Swami.
The preachings of shri chakradhar swamy were appreciated to such an extent that despite of all his sermons being in marathi, the religion propounded was followed in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and North India (then the north west frontier). There are known temples up to Kabul in Afghanistan.
Shri Chakradhar Swami propounded his philosophy like Shri Krishna from among the "Five Krishnas". Although he was a Gujarati by birth, he had excellent knowledge of the Marathi language. He moved among the all sections of society. He discoursed his philosophy extremely effectively among the people in their own language. He used formulaic language full of meaning in a compact style.
One of the most important aspects of the philosophy propounded by him is asceticism.
- Shankar Gopal Tupule. A History of Indian Literature, Vol. 9, Part 4. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1979. p. 316
- Indian History, Allied Publishers, 26th Edition, 2010. p. B-206
- Pathak, Dr Arunkumar S. (2013). Sthana Pothi, Ek Puratatweey Abhyas. Mumbai: Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal. pp. 80, 81.
- Bhat, Mhai. Leelacharitra. p. Waideshkar Path.
- Pathak, Dr ArunChandra S. (2013). Sthana Pothi - Ek Puratatwiy Abhyas. Mumbai: Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya And Sanskruti Mandal ,. pp. 82, 83.