A commemorative postage stamp on Surdas issued by India Post on 1st October 1952
Bornuncertain, somewhere between 1478 and 1483
Gram Sihi, Faridabad, Haryana (but some people believe that he was from Runkata or Renuka
Dieduncertain, somewhere between 1579 and 1584
Braj Parsauli
  • Ramdas Saraswat[1] (father)
  • Jamunadas[1] (mother)
Known forInfluencing the Bhakti movements, Sant Mat, Hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib
Religious career
Literary worksSur Sagar, Sur Saravali, Sahitya Lahari

Surdas (Sanskrit: सूरदास, romanizedSūradāsa) was a 16th-century blind Hindu devotional poet and singer, who was known for his works written in praise of Krishna.[2] His compositions captured his devotion towards Krishna. Most of his poems were written in the Braj language, while some were also written in other dialects of medieval Hindi, like Awadhi.[3]

Sūrdās's biography is most often told through the lens of the Vallabha Sampradāya aka the Puṣṭimārga. The Puṣṭimārga regards Sūrdās as an initiated disciple of Vallabha, and his hagiography is told in the Caurāsī Vaiṣṇavan kī Vārtā by Gokulnāth and Harirāy. Sūrdās' poems, along with those of other Aṣṭachāp poets, form a central part of Puṣṭimārga liturgical singing-worship. However modern scholars consider the connection between Sūrdās and Vallabha and his sect to be ahistorical.[4]

The book Sur Sagar (Sur's Ocean) is traditionally attributed to Surdas. However, many of the poems in the book seem to be written by later poets in Sur's name. The Sur Sagar in its present form focuses on descriptions of Krishna as the lovely child of Gokul and Vraj, written from the gopis' perspective.

Life and work

The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature suggests a birth year of 1258 into a Brahmin family of Uttar Pradesh.[5] Sources state he was either a Sārasvata Brāhmaṇa, a Jāṭa, or a Ḍhāṛhī.[6]

Surdas, whose name translates to "servant of the sun", is celebrated as the pinnacle of poetic artistry in Braj bhasha. This language is linked to the Braj region, where Krishna is said to have spent his childhood. The hagiographer Nabha Dass, in his Bhaktamal, praised Surdas for his poetic skill, especially in depicting "Hari's playful acts", a reference to Krishna's divine activities. Surdas also composed poems about Ram and Sita but primarily focused on Krishna's life and deeds.[7]


Surdas's poetry was written in a dialect of Hindi called Braj Bhasha, until then considered to be a very plebeian language, as the prevalent literary languages were either Persian or Sanskrit. His work raised the status of the Braj Bhasha from a crude language to that of a literary one.[8]

Surdas's poems are collectively known as the Sursagar or "Ocean of Sur" due to a large volume of poems attributed to his name. The traditional format of the Sursagar is divided into twelve parts, similar to the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavata Purana. Just as the Bhagavata Purana describes the life and actions of Krishna, the Sursagar also takes on a similar feat with a majority of its poems dedicated to Krishna. Many of the poems found in Sursagar are pads, containing six to ten rhymed verses. Other subject matter covered include Rama and Sita, Vishnu, Shiva, heroes within Hinduism like Gajendra and King Bali, and the poet's spiritual struggles.[9][10]


Eight disciples of Vallabha Acharya are called the Aṣṭachāp, (Eight seals in Hindi), named after the oral signature chap written at the conclusion of literary works. Sur is considered to be the foremost among them.[11]


Several films have been made about the poet's life. These include:[12] Surdas (1939) by Krishna Dev Mehra, Bhakta Surdas (1942) by Chaturbhuj Doshi, Sant Surdas (1975) by Ravindra Dave, Chintamani Surdas (1988) by Ram Pahwa.

The legend of the blind poet Bilwamangala (identified with Surdas) and Chintamani has also been adapted several times in Indian cinema. These films include:[12] Bilwamangal or Bhagat Soordas (1919) by Rustomji Dhotiwala, Bilwamangal (1932), Chintamani (1933) by Kallakuri Sadasiva Rao, Chintamani (1937) by Y. V. Rao, Bhakta Bilwamangal (1948) by Shanti Kumar, Bilwamangal (1954) by D. N. Madhok, Bhakta Bilwamangal (1954) by Pinaki Bhushan Mukherji, Chintamani (1956) by P. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Chintamani (1957) by M.N. Basavarajaiah, Chilamboli (1963) by G. K. Ramu, Bilwamangal (1976) by Gobinda Roy, Vilvamangal Ki Pratigya (1996) by Sanjay Virmani.

See also


  1. ^ a b "सूरदास का जीवन परिचय - Biography of Surdas in Hindi Jivan Parichay". 16 September 2020.
  2. ^ Klaus K. Klostermaier (5 July 2007). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. SUNY Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4.
  3. ^ "Surdas Biography - Surdas Poems - Life History in English". India the Destiny. 17 June 2018. Archived from the original on 26 June 2022. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  4. ^ Hawley, John Stratton (2018). "Sūrdās". In Jacobsen, Knut A.; Basu, Helene; Malinar, Angelika; Narayanan, Vasudha (eds.). Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online. Brill.
  5. ^ Datta, Amaresh (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo, Volume 1. Sahitya Akademi. p. 79. ISBN 9788126018031.
  6. ^ Barz, Richard (1992). The Bhakti Sect of Vallabhācārya. Munshiram Manoharlal. p. 106.
  7. ^ Sūradāsa (2015). Sur's Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition. Harvard University Press. pp. vii–xi. ISBN 978-0-674-42777-8.
  8. ^ "Surdas (Sur Das, Soordas)". Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  9. ^ Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-19-803400-1.
  10. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. Rosen. pp. 673–674. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  11. ^ "Aṣṭachāp | Indian Poetry, Devotional Verse, Sanskrit | Britannica". Retrieved 6 June 2024.
  12. ^ a b Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1999). Encyclopaedia of Indian cinema. British Film Institute. ISBN 9780851706696. Retrieved 12 August 2012.