Namdev, through his poetry in Hindi and Marathi, showed the path of love and devotion.
God the searcher of hearts. Like a body reflected in a mirror, dwells in every heart. Nothing produces an effect or impression on Him. He is free from all entanglements and devoid of caste. When one looks at one’s own face in water, it can produce no impression on it”, writes Namdev, a bhakti saint from Maharashtra. Namdev, through his poetry in Hindi and Marathi, showed the path of love and devotion.
He rejected idol-worship and rituals and customs. Namdev centered his devotion on “Nirankar” (without any form) as the Ultimate Truth and this philosophy of simple religious life was in coordination with the Sikh ideology. Hence, Namdev’s hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Arjan Dev, who compiled the Guru Granth Sahib in 1604, included 61 hymns of Namdev as well as the compositions of saints like Kabir, Ravidas, Farid, Trilochan, Sain, Pipa, Dhanna and others, belonging to different faiths, castes, creeds and regions. This also makes the Guru Granth Sahib a truly sacred and a secular book.
Namdev was a prolific poet. His verses were the way to connect with the Almighty. Born in 1270, in Satara district of Maharashtra, in a family of a tailor, Namdev expressed his feelings using his profession as a medium. Imbued with the naam of the divine, he sings:
My heart is a yard measure,
my tongue a shears
With it, I manage and cut off death’s noose...
I repeat the name of God day and night
I dye what ought to be dyed and I sew what ought to be sewed...
My needle is of gold
my thread of silver, Nam’s soul is attached
The spiritual journey of Namdev was a shift from a sargun (with attributes) to a nirgun (formless, absolute) bhakti. He, under the influence of Jnanadeva, became a devotee of Vitthala (Vishnu) of Pandharpur and spent his time in worship and kirtan.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu had come to visit Namdev in the guise of a leper. Vishnu kept his dirty foot over the Nagnath image and asked Namdev to remove it to a place where Shiva did not exist.
Namdev tried but could not find such a place as he found the image of Shiva everywhere.
Namdev exclaimed, “There is one God of various manifestations contained in and filling everything; wherever I look there is He... Everything is God, everything is God, there is nothing but God”.
This journey marked a period of transformation, from a particle to abundance.
Namdev describes the experience beautifully as, “If I bring a pitcher and fill it with water to bathe the idol, forty-two lakhs of animal species are in the water; God is contained in them; why should I bathe Him?... If I bring flowers and weave a garland to worship the idol, the bee has first smelled the flowers; God is contained in the bee; why should I weave Him a garland? In this world is God; in the next world is God; there is no part of the world without Him”.
Namdev emphasised on love, devotion and purity of conduct. He exhorts people to discard superstitions and performance of rituals to ask for worldly gains.
He says, “If thou give me an empire, what glory shall it be to me?... Worship God, O my soul, and thou shall obtain the dignity of salvation”. Namdev, true to his name (god of simran), was dyed completely with the colour of devotion.