By Swami Harshananda
Dāsabodha literally means 'spiritual and philosophical wisdom as taught by Samartha Rāmadāsa’.Samartha Rāmadās (A. D. 1608-1681), a great saint of Maharashtra and the Guru (preceptor and guide) of Chatrapati Śivājī (A. D. 1627-1680) was primarily responsible for the rejuvenation of the religion and society by inspiring Śivājī and has left behind him two immortal works both in Marāṭhi: Manāce Sloka and Dāsabodha. Dāsabodha is extremely popular especially in Maharashtra and a ceremonial recitation and discourses on it are considered as religious and meritorious act.
Content of Dāsabodha
The work Dāsabodha comprises twenty daśakas or decads and each of these daśakas consists of ten long sections called samāsas. The samāsas have a number of ovīs or metrical stanzas and total number of these metrical stanzas are 7756. The content of each stanza in brief has been described in each Daśaka which are as follows:
This Daśaka has 326 stanzas and contains prayers to Gaṇeśa, Sarasvati, Guru and Saints. It describes the greatness and usefulness of human birth.
This daśaka has 470 stanzas and contains descriptions of various types of people from fools to the wise. The three guṇas sattva, rajas and tamas have been discussed in it. The characteristics of a good and holy person are mentioned in this daśaka.
This daśaka has 581 stanzas and denotes various evils in worldly life. It mentions tāpa-trayas or three kinds of sufferings and also discusses about death and detachment.
It has 573 stanzas and mentions the characteristics of a good guru (spiritual teacher) and a good śiṣya or disciple. It narrates different kinds of teachings on sādhanā (spiritual practice) and exhibits signs of a siddha or a perfected being.
This daśaka has 415 stanzas. It describes Brahman, māyā and sṛṣṭi or creation and shows the significance of worship of God with form. It denotes the denial of this world which is seen but does not really exist and narrates indescribable nature of Brahman.
It has 564 stanzas. It describes fourteen kinds of Brahman and also exhibits how to offset the effects of dvaita or sense of duality. It implies the importance of śravaṇa (listening to the Vedāntic truths) and death and jīvanmukta (one who is liberated even while living).
This daśaka has 644 stanzas. It discusses various subjects like God, different kinds of doubts, the pañcamahābhutas (the five elements), mokṣa (liberation) and the perfected being.
It has 427 stanzas. It discusses various kinds of doubts and their answers, description of the inner state of a man full of knowledge.
This daśaka has 287 stanzas. It discusses creation and dissolution of the world and four kinds of manifestations of God. It mentions how a sādhaka (spiritual aspirant) should lead his life and what should be the behavior of a true leader of a society. It also describes the nature of the Self within.
It has 300 stanzas. It mentions philosophical truths through a story and shows the importance of God the creator. It gives various opinions and need to protect the purity of one’s mind.
This daśaka has 406 verses. It shows the importance of desirelessness. It says that a sādhaka (aspirant) should live by bhikṣā (begging), efficacy of singing God’s names, greatness of a householder’s life and is important to keep it pure and remember God constantly.
It has 337 stanzas. It shows how to live in this world in peace and harmony with others. It manifests that knowledge makes one superior to others and the Brahman is the origin of the world. It exhibits that all activities of prakṛti (nature) and puruṣa (individual soul) are transient. It interpretes the mahāvākyas of the Upaniṣads (like tattvam-asi).
It has 302 verses. It has hymns devoted to Vālmīki, Surya (sun-god) and the five elements like the earth and water. It gives description on the ātman or the Self. It shows various types of upāsanā or meditation.
This daśaka has 299 stanzas. It explains that Supreme God (Jagadīśvara) manifests himself as various souls. Śiva and Śakti are the root of all beings, male and female. The doubts are obstacles in the path of understanding Vedāntic truths. It gives the explanation of ajapājapa and four kinds of bodies.
It has 288 stanzas. This section deals with miscellaneous topics like various gods which includes:
It denotes that these gods are the different manifestations of the Antarātman (the Ātman inside). It explains the company of jñānis (persons of spiritual wisdom), importance of human body in the path of spiritual progress and so on.
This daśaka has 285 stanzas. It gives description on handwriting, scholarship, condemnation of laziness, signs of a wise person, methods of giving good advice and efficiency in work and management.
It has 308 stanzas. It discusses about purṇa and apurṇa, the three guṇas and upāsanā or meditation on God with form. It discloses interesting details about 84 lakhs species of living beings. It further explains about the ātman and compares body to a field. This daśaka emphasizes on the significance of Parabrahman (the Absolute).
- It is a process of breathing associated with the repetition of the mantra so’ham
- what is complete and what is incomplete
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore