By Swami Harshananda
Surdās lived in A. D. 1471-1584. He was one of the greatest saints and poets of the devotional literature, Surdās has etched for himself an indelible place in the sect of Kṛṣṇabhakti or devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Born blind in a brāhmaṇa family of the village of Sihi near Delhi, yet endowed with extraordinary powers of perception. It was perhaps this power that made him have visions of Kṛṣṇa in his heart in the later part of his life. He also had a prodigious memory that helped him to memorize the whole of the Bhāgavatapurāṇa and several devotional texts.
Neglected by his parents and even ill-treated by them sometimes, he left his home and started living on the bank of the river Yamunā at a place called Gaughāṭ. The turning point in his life came when he received initiation from Vallabhācārya the great teacher of puṣṭimārga. After this he is said to have lived in Govardhan near Mathurā in Uttar Pradesh.
Vallabha inspired him to devote himself to the portrayal of Kṛṣṇa’s playful moods and also the incidents depicted in the folklore on Kṛṣṇa. Surdās is said to have composed 100,000 songs of which only 8000 are available today. They have been brought out in a book form known as Sursāgar. The songs are written in Brajbhāṣā, a Hindi dialect of the Mathurā region. They are highly musical and extremely popular. The themes are always centered around Kṛṣṇa whether pertaining to his childish pranks or the Rāsalīlā, his famous dance with the gopīs of Vṛndāban.
- He lived in A. D. 1473-1531.
- Sursāgar means the ocean of Surdās songs.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore