Portrait of Ramdas by Meru Swami c.17th Century
Narayan Suryajipanta Thosar

c. 1608
Died1682(1682-00-00) (aged 73–74)
PhilosophyBhakti Yoga
Religious career
Literary worksDasbodh, Manobodh, Aatmaram, Manache Shlok, more[1]

Ramdas (c. 1608 – c. 1682), also known as Samarth Ramdas or Ramdas Swami, was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher, poet, writer and spiritual master. He was a devotee of the Hindu deities Rama and Hanuman.

Early life

Ramdas or previously Narayan was born at Jamb, a village in present-day Jalna district, Maharashtra on the occasion of Rama Navami, probably in 1608 CE.[citation needed] He was born into a Marathi Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmin family to Suryajipanta and Ranubai Thosar.[2] His father was thought to have been a devotee of the Vedic deity, Surya. Ramdas had an elder brother named Gangadhar. His father died when Narayan was only seven years of age. He turned into an introvert after the demise of his father and would often be noticed to be engrossed in thoughts about the divine.

As per legend, Narayan fled his wedding ceremony in Asangao near Jamb, at age 12, upon hearing a pandit (Hindu priest) chant the word 'Saavdhan!' (Beware!) during a customary Hindu wedding ritual. He is believed to have walked over 200 km along the banks of Godavari river to Panchavati, a Hindu pilgrimage town near Nashik. He later moved to Taakli near Nashik at the confluence of Godavari and Nandini river. At Taakli, he spent the next twelve years as an ascetic in complete devotion to Rama. During this period, he adhered to a rigorous daily routine and devoted most of his time to meditation, worship and exercise. As per legend, he once blessed a widow lady of a long married life, without knowing that her husband has just died. It is said that he was able to give life back to the dead body of her husband and this act of miracle made him very famous in Nashik. He is thought to have attained enlightenment at the age of 24. He adopted the name Ramdas around this period. He later had an idol of Hanuman made from cowdung installed at Taakli.

Pilgrimage and spiritual movement

Portrait of Ramdas by an unknown artist c.17th century.

Ramdas left Taakli a few years later and then embarked on a pilgrimage across the Indian subcontinent. He traveled for twelve years and made observations on contemporary social life. He had these observations recorded in two of his literary works Asmani Sultania and Parachakraniroopan.[3] These works provide a rare insight into the then prevalent social conditions in the Indian subcontinent. He also traveled to regions in the vicinity of the Himalayas during this period. Around this time, he met the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind at Srinagar.[citation needed]

After the pilgrimage, he returned to Mahabaleshwar, a hill-town near Satara. Later while at Masur, he arranged for Rama Navami celebrations that were reportedly attended by thousands. As part of his mission to redeem spirituality among the masses and unite the Hindu populations, Ramdas initiated the Samarth sect. He established several matha (monasteries) across the Indian subcontinent. He may have established between 700 and 1100 matha during his travels. Narahar Phatak in his biography of Ramdas claims that the actual number of matha founded by him may have been far fewer.[4] Around 1648 CE, he had an idol of Rama installed at a newly built temple in Chaphal, a village near Satara. Initially, he had eleven Hanuman temples constructed in various regions of southern Maharashtra. These are now together referred to as the 11-Maruti (see list below).

Location Region Year
Shahapur Karad 1644
Masur Karad 1645
Chaphal Vir Maruti Satara 1648
Chaphal Das Maruti Satara 1648
Shinganwadi Satara 1649
Umbraj Masur 1649
Majgaon Satara 1649
Bahe Sangli 1651
Manapadale Kolhapur 1651
Pargaon Warananagar 1651
Shirala Sangli 1654

Literary contribution and philosophy

Murti of Rama, Chaphal
Handwriting of Ramdas in Modi Script.

Literary works

Ramdas had extensive literature written during his lifetime. His literary works include Dasbodh, Karunashtakas, Sunderkand, Yuddhakand, Poorvarambh, Antarbhav, Aatmaaram, Chaturthman, Panchman, Manpanchak, Janaswabhawgosavi, Panchsamasi, Saptsamasi, Sagundhyan, Nirgundhyan, Junatpurush, Shadripunirupan, Panchikaranyog, Manache Shlok and Shreemad Dasbodh. Unlike the saints subscribing to Warkari tradition, Ramdas is not considered to embrace pacifism. His writings include strong expressions encouraging militant means to counter the barbaric Islamic invaders.[5]

A major portion of his Marathi literature is in the form of verses.

Listed below are some of his notable literary works.

His compositions include numerous aarti (worship rituals). One of his most popular aarti commemorates the Hindu deity Ganesha, and is popularly known as Sukhakarta Dukhaharta. It is believed that the bhajan (devotional song) "Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram" is based on a mantra composed by Ramdas.[8][9]

His other works include an aarti commemorating Hanuman, Satrane Uddane Hunkaar Vadani and an aarti dedicated to the Hindu deity Vitthala, Panchanan Haivahan Surabhushan Lila. He also composed aarti in dedication to other Hindu deities. His well-known work Dasbodh[10] has been translated to several other Indian languages. The original copy of Dasbodh is currently placed at a matha in Domgaon, a village in present-day Osmanabad district, Maharashtra.[citation needed]


Ramdas was a proponent of Dvaita, a philosophy first proposed by the 13th-century Indian philosopher, Madhvacharya.[11]

Ramdas was an exponent of Bhakti Yoga or the path of devotion. According to him, total devotion to Rama brings about spiritual evolution. He endorsed significance of physical strength and knowledge towards individual development. He expressed his admiration for warriors and highlighted their role in safeguarding the society. He was of the opinion that saints must not withdraw from society but instead actively engage towards social and moral transformation. He aimed to resuscitate the Hindu culture after its disintegration over several centuries owing to consistent foreign occupation. He also called for unity among the Marathas to preserve and promote the local culture.[5]

He encouraged the participation of women in religious work and offered them positions of authority. He had 18 female disciples, among who Vennabai headed the matha at Miraj near Sangli while Akkabai managed matha at Chaphal and Sajjangad near Satara. He is said to have once reprimanded an aged man who voiced his opinion against female participation in religious affairs. Ramdas reportedly responded by saying "Everyone came from a woman's womb and those who did not understand the importance of this were unworthy of being called men". In Dasbodh, Ramdas eulogizes the virtues of aesthetic handwriting (Chapter 19.10, Stanza 1–3). [12]

Samarth sect

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Ramdas initiated the Samarth sect to revive spirituality among the various sections of Indian society. He established several matha during his lifetime.

Links with contemporaries

Ramdas meeting Chhatrapati Shivaji I

Shivaji Maharaj Bhonsle I

The first Maratha ruler Shivaji Bhonsle I was a contemporary of Ramdas. [13][14][15] Historian Stewart Gordon concludes about their relationship:

Older Maratha histories asserted that Shivaji was a close follower of Ramdas, a Brahmin teacher, who guided him in an orthodox Hindu path;[16]

Guru Hargobind

Ramdas with Guru Hargobind.

According to a manuscript in the Sikh tradition known as Panjāh Sakhīān, Ramdas met Guru Hargobind (1595 - 1644) at Srinagar near the Garhwal hills. This meeting also finds a mention in an 18th-century Marathi literary work known as Ramdas Swamichi Bakhar, composed by Hanumant Swami. The meeting probably took place in the early 1630s during Ramdas' pilgrimage to northern India and Hargobind's journey to Nanakmatta, a town in present-day Uttarakhand. Before the meeting, Hargobind had probably returned from a hunting excursion.[17][18]

During their conversation, Ramdas reportedly asked "I had heard that you occupy the Gaddi (seat) of Nanak. Nanak was a tyāgī sādhu, a saint who had renounced the world. You possess arms and keep an army and horses. You allow yourself to be addressed as Sacha Patshah, the true king. What sort of a sādhu are you?" Hargobind replied, "Internally a hermit and externally a prince. Arms mean protection to the poor and destruction of the tyrant. Baba Guru Nanak had not renounced the world but had renounced māyā - the self and ego." Ramdas is reported to have said, "Yeh hamare man bhavti hai" (This appeals to my mind).[17][18]


Ramdas moved all across the Indian subcontinent and usually resided in caves (ghal in Marathi). Some of these are listed below.[19]

Timeline of Residences of Samartha Ramdas
Year Year Location of stay Age
1608 1620 Jamb (Jalna) 0 to 12
1620 1632 Nashik 12 to 24
1632 1644 nationwide pilgrimage 24 to 36
1645 1651 Chafal 37 to 43
1652 1655 Shivtharghal 44 to 47
1657 1660 Shivtharghal 49 to 52
1660 1672 Chafal 52 to 64
1672 1675 Shivtarghal 64 to 68
1676 1682 Sajjangad 68 to 74


Ramdas died at Sajjangad in 1682. For five days prior, he had ceased consuming food and water. This practice of fasting unto death is known as Prayopaveshana. He continuously recalled the taraka mantra "Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram" while resting besides an idol of Rama brought from Tanjore. His disciples Uddhav Swami and Akka Swami remained in his service during this period.[21] Uddhav Swami had the final rites performed.


Ramdas served an inspiration for a number of Indian thinkers, historians and social reformers such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Keshav Hedgewar, Vishwanath Rajwade ,Ramchandra Ranade, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Tilak derived inspiration from Ramdas when devising aggressive strategies to counter the British colonial rule.[22] Nana Dharmadhikari, a spiritual teacher promoted Ramdas' philosophy through his spiritual discourses. Gondavalekar Maharaj, a 19th-century spiritual master promoted Ramdas' spiritual methods through his teachings. Bhausaheb Maharaj, founder of the Inchegeri Sampradaya used Dasbodh as a means of instruction to his disciples. Dasbodh has been translated and published by the American followers of Ranjit Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the Inchegeri Sampradaya.

Ramdas had a profound influence on Keshav Hedgewar, the founder of Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Hedgewar quoted Ramdas on numerous occasions and would often note the latter's views in his personal diary. According to one entry in his diary dated 4 March 1929, Hedgewar writes "Shri Samarth did not want anything for himself. He mindfully guarded against self-pride which could result from success and greatness. Ingraining this discipline, he devoted himself to the welfare of his people and a higher self-realization."[23]

Cultural Legacy

Ramdas is a revered spiritual figure in Maharashtra and remains relevant to contemporary society in Maharashtra, thanks to his literary contributions. An aarti composed by him in reverence of the Hindu deity Ganesh is often recited first in numerous Hindu rituals. Maruti Stotra, his hymn in praise of Hanuman is commonly recited by school children as well as wrestlers at traditional gyms known as akhada in Maharashtra.[24] Generations of Marathi children have been reciting Manache Shlok at home or at school.[25][26] Swatantravir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian independence activist and writer is believed to have derived inspiration from Dasbodh.[27] Ramdas' teachings and philosophy have been promoted and endorsed by various political and social organizations in Maharashtra.[28]


  1. ^ Medieval Indian Literature: Surveys and selections. p. 368. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  2. ^ Anil Awachat (1980). Sambhrama : Critique of some Hindu religious leaders, their views, and activities. Ameya Prakasana. p. 72. रामदास हे देशस्थ ऋग्वेदी ब्राह्मण म्हणून ऋग्वेद्यांना साहजिकच ते त्यांचे वाटतात.
  3. ^ Medieval Indian Literature: Surveys and selections.
  4. ^ Cashman, Richard I. (1975), The myth of the Lokamanya : Tilak and mass politics in Maharashtra, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 16, ISBN 978-0520024076
  5. ^ a b Handbook of Twentieth-century Literatures of India.
  6. ^ Deshpande, Sunita (2007). Encyclopedic dictionary of Marathi literature. New Delhi: Global Vision publishing. p. 355. ISBN 978-81-8220-221-4.
  7. ^ Deshpande, Sunita (2007). Encyclopedic dictionary of Marathi literature. New Delhi: Global Vision publishing. pp. 128–130. ISBN 978-81-8220-221-4.
  8. ^ Snodgrass, Cynthia (2007). The Sounds of Satyagraha : Mahatma Gandhi's Use of Sung-Prayers and Ritual (PDF) (PhD). University of Stirling. p. 159.
  9. ^ Gokhale, Namita (15 October 2009). In Search Of Sita: Revisiting Mythology. Penguin UK. ISBN 978-93-5118-420-1.
  10. ^ "दासबोध.भारत". Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  11. ^ Vinayak Pandurang Bokil (1979). Rajguru Ramdas. The International Book Services, Poona. p. 435.
  12. ^ Ranade 1983
  13. ^ Agaskar, M. S. “THE ANALYTICAL STUDY OF HANUMANT SWAMI'S CHRONICLE OF RAMDAS.” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 14, 1951, pp. 176–183. JSTOR, Accessed 13 July 2020.
  14. ^ Gordon, Stewart (2007). The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge , UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 66, 81. ISBN 9780521033169.
  15. ^ Veena Naregal (2002). Language, Politics, Elites and the Public Sphere: Western India Under Colonialism. Anthem Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-84331-055-6.
  16. ^ Stewart Gordon (1 February 2007). The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University Press. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-0-521-03316-9.
  17. ^ a b Singh, Sangat (2010). The Sikhs In History (2nd ed.). Singh Brothers. p. 48. ISBN 978-8172052768.
  18. ^ a b Dr.Ganda Singh (1979). Guru Hargobind and Samarth Ram Das :Punjab Past and Present 13(1). pp. 11, 240–242.
  19. ^ Ḍāyamaṇḍa Mahārāshṭra sãskr̥tikośa. 2009. ISBN 9788184830804. Retrieved 21 April 2015 – via
  20. ^ A history of the Maratha people. London, Milford. Retrieved 21 April 2015 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ "Samartha Ramdas Swami". Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  22. ^ Cashman, Richard I. (1975), The myth of the Lokamanya : Tilak and mass politics in Maharashtra, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520024076
  23. ^ Sunil Ambekar (2019). The RSS: roadmaps for the 21st century. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 19. ISBN 9789353336851.
  24. ^ Jana-Gana-Mana-Adhinayaka, J.H., 2008. Singing the Nation into Existence. Schooling Passions: Nation, History, and Language in Contemporary Western India, p.49.[1]
  25. ^ Tilak, G., 2018. Study of content analysis of marathi children periodicals for enhancing multiple skills among children.[2]
  26. ^ Ambikar, R., 2008. Educating the Nation: The Right Way to Citizenship in India. UCVF Research Review, 2(1), pp.114-128.
  27. ^ Pincince, J.R., 2014. THE VD SAVARKAR AND INDIAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857: Volume VI: Perception, Narration and Reinvention: The Pedagogy and Historiography of the Indian Uprising.
  28. ^ Brackett, J.M., 2004. Practically Hindu: Contemporary Conceptions of Hanumān-Mārutī in Maharashtra. University of Pittsburgh.[3]



Ramdas Swami Sahitya Shodh