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Eknath on a 2003 stamp of India

Eknath (1533–1599)[1] was a prominent Marathi sant, scholar and religious poet of the Varkari sampradaya. 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 of his life 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 Marathi Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmin family that worshiped Ekvira as their family deity at Paithan,[1] that his parents died while he was young and that he was then raised by his grandfather, Chakrapani,Son of Bhanudas who was a sant also revered by the Varkari sect.[2] Some sources say that Bhanudas was his great-grandfather.[3] It is possible, but not certain, that Eknath's guru, Janardan, was a Sufi.[4]

Once, Eknath, was invited by a Mahar to eat at his house. Eknath accepted, quoting a verse from the Bhagavata Purana – "A dog-eating outcaste, who has made an offering to God of his mind, his words, his actions, his property and his very life, is to be considered far superior to a Brahman, who, although gifted with the twelve characteristics of a Brahman, has turned away from the feet of God. The former purifies his whole family, not so the latter puffed up with pride". The Brahmins were enraged when the heard him quoting this. Eknath submitted himself to the penance imposed by them. However, he accepted the invitation again. This time, he was (according to a legend) saved by the God Vitthal from being ostracized. According to this legend, Vitthal took the form of Eknath and went to the Mahar's house instead of him.[5]

Eknath's Samadhi near the Godavari in Paithan is a popular shrine with a fair held every year in March. The Samadhi is in a wooden colonnade.[6]


He wrote a variation of the Bhagavata Purana which is known as the Eknathi Bhagavata,[7] 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.[7]

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  1. ^ a b Ganesh Vasudeo Tagare (1994). Eknath. Sahitya Akademi. p. 4. ISBN 9788172014568. EKNATH : A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH* (A. D. 1533–1599) A reference to the Marathi Vangmaya Kosh (A biographical dictionary of Marathi writers) shows that there were three authors called "Eknath" and seven authors who used the mudrika (Pen- name) "Eka-Janardan" used by our author Eknath. Eknath was a Rigvedi Deshastha Brahmin, a follower of the Ashvalayana Sutra. His Gotra was Vishvamitra. His family deity was Ekaveera (or Renuka). His family lived at Paithan, ...
  2. ^ Novetzke (2013), pp. 141–142
  3. ^ Schomer & McLeo (1987), p. 94
  4. ^ Novetzke (2013), p. 142
  5. ^ J. Lele, ed. (1981). Tradition and Modernity in Bhakti Movements (International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology). Brill Archive. ISBN 9789004063709.
  6. ^ George Michell (1 May 2013). Southern India: A Guide to Monuments Sites & Museums. Roli Books Private Limited. p. 115. ISBN 978-81-7436-903-1.
  7. ^ a b Keune, Jon Milton (2011). Eknāth Remembered and Reformed: Bhakti, Brahmans, and Untouchables in Marathi Historiography. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University press. p. 32. Retrieved 9 March 2016.


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