A saint is
also a poet. He tells us in detail how we should live. He shows to his people the beauty
he has enjoyed. And he shares with them the joy he has experienced.
(Even as the whole and huge form of the tree Iies dormant in a seed, you are there in
every object and form we see.)
(All these forms are the body of Sri Hari.)
(Wherever I go there is Vithoba and Vithoba only)
(The crane seems to be meditating; but it is only to catch fish. So also many in this
world look pious but indulge stealthily in selfish acts. It is nothing but hypocrisy.)
As long as you live in this world, be thinking always of God. Respect all women as you
would respect your mother. Don't be after money. Consider it as dust. Never crave for
sensual pleasures. Use this body for meditation, prayer and worshipping God. Speech is
man's great fortune. Animals cannot speak. Man has the gift of speech. What does it profit
if the speech is used only for ordinary communication? If it must be put to good use,
chant then the name of God, sing His glory. Chant the name of Rama. There is no salvation
without devotion. How to get this devotion? The first thing is to have faith in God. Faith
and constancy go together. Thus preached Namadeva.
The works of Namadeva written for the spread of spirituality are also of a high order
aesthetically. Namadeva has a fine way of saying things. To say that God is everywhere, he
employs the image of a bumblebee having already received the fragrance or flowers before
they are carried to the temple. In another song he says that we are placing our feet on
Sopanadeva (the steps of the temple personified as God) when we stand on temple pavement
to offer our salutation to God. In this way he speaks in images which get imprinted
indelibly on our minds.
God is the mother who has given birth to us. He is the air we breathe. He is the water.
He is the offspring inside an egg, the fawn also is He.
Namadeva uses stories of beautiful metaphors.
We have heard of many stories about Namadeva as told by devotees. All these stories
show his steadfast devotion, his humility, his broad and impartial outlook in treating all
people as equals, without making any distinction of high or low caste or class.
It is the personality and many good qualities of Namadeva that are important.
We have also known how Namadeva had completely submitted himself to Vitthala and how he
lived only for Him. The most important point here is that his devotion had helped him to
develop a broad outlook. Persons born in different castes worked in harmony like brothers
and sisters in the service of God. They realized that the children of God should not have
feelings of superiority or inferiority. And they actually lived up to this principle.
The Hindu religion was in danger under the despotic rulers belonging to other
religions. Added to this, some of the Hindus were conceited about their high birth. They
looked down upon others. Naturally the lowborn felt hurt. There was the danger of such
lowborn ones giving up their religion itself. Namadeva declared that all devotees of God
are equal. He practiced what he preached. So there was no need for anyone to give up Hindu
religion. To realize that there is an element of divinity in every man and to live
accordingly is the proper course. Namadeva in this was a model for others to follow. He
was so great as to see divinity even in such lowly creatures as an ordinary dog.
Now, is it not desirable to know at least one example of the intimate style used in his
Abhangs? A great Kannada poet, Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre, has translated into Kannada
an abhang of Namadeva beginning with the line and it reads like this:
I came to your door, 0, Vitthala,
Having heard that you are redeemer of sins.
As you don't wish to be one, my good sire,
I walk back.
When I beg for alms you don't give even a bit have leftover - so virtuous
Who is that wise man who called you Lord of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth?
You say, 'I shall give him who gives'
Aha, what utmost generosity!
Now I turn away from your door, as you are a born goldsmith.
Who is there to care for others.
Let that be,
Nama says, 'Adieu! I go'
May this love of mine for thy
Be like water for my parched heart.