Ramdas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. He was born of Suryaji Panth and Renuka Bai in Jamb, Maharashtra, in 1608 A.D. His original name was Narain. Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. He was a great devotee of Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had Darshan of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama, Himself initiated him.
- As a boy, Ramdas acquired some knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and developed a liking for meditation and religious study. One day he shut himself in a room and began to meditate on God. When his mother asked him what he was doing, Ramdas replied that he was meditating and praying for the good of the world. His mother was surprised at the precocious religious inclination of the boy and felt happy.
- When Ramdas was twelve years of age, all arrangements were made for his marriage. He sat in front of the bride. There was a screen between the bridegroom and the bride. When the priests chanted “Sawadhan!’ (be alert), Ramdas bolted away from the place and disappeared within the twinkling of an eye.
Studies and Penances
- For twelve years Ramdas stayed at Nasik on the banks of the Godavari. He used to get up very early in the morning, go into the Godavari river, and with his body half-immersed in water, recite the sacred Gayatri Mantra till about noon. Then he would go round for alms. He first offered the collected food to his Deity Sri Rama and then took it as Prasad.
- After resting a while, he used to attend religious discourses in the various temples of Nasik and Panchavati. Ramdas also studied Sanskrit and copied in his own hand the Ramayana of Valmiki. This manuscript is still preserved in the collection of Sri S.S. Dev of Dhubliah.
- Ramdas did Purascharana of the Rama Mantra of thirteen letters Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram thirteen lakhs of times at Tafali, near Nasik, on the banks of the Godavari. After the Purascharana was over, once again Ramdas had Darshan of Lord Rama. It is said that Ramachandra ordered Ramdas to visit holy places such as Nasik, Haridwar, Kasi, etc.
- Ramdas sprinkled over a dead body holy water uttering the name of Rama and the dead body was restored to life. Ramdas had to do this because he had blessed a woman who had just lost her husband.
His Preachings and Life
- Ramdas’s ways were very peculiar. He appeared to the outside world like a madman. He had a small bow. He used to have, by his side, a large number of stones with which he pelted every object he saw. To men really interested in his teachings, he gave the Mantra Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram.
- Ramdas had eleven hundred disciples, of whom three hundred were women. The women disciples were also expert preachers and were virtuous. Ramdas sent his disciples to all parts of India to spread the Hindu religion. His disciples and Mutts in the North directly or indirectly helped Shivaji and his work.
- Ramdas’s organisation in the South, round about Thanjavur, helped Shivaji’s son Rajaram to go to Jinji and carry on the Twenty Years’ War with Aurangazeb. When Ramdas visited Thanjavur, Venkoji, who was the step-brother of Shivaji, became his disciple. Ramdas appointed Bhimaswami, his direct disciple, as the Mahant of the Thanjavur Mutt.