Op de muren van de tempel Bhutabhrteshwarnathmandir zijn heiligen geschilderd. Aaradhakananda, een bewoner van de ashram, beschrijft op zijn Facebook-pagina het leven van deze heiligen. Een unieke kans om tien Vaishnava heiligen en Alvars (heilige poëten) te leren kennen en over de diepe kracht van overgave te lezen.

Madhurakavi en Nammalwar

Madhurakavi kon niet geloven dat de zestienjarige Nammalwar zonder voedsel en zonder te bewegen vele jaren kon leven. Dus, hij wilde diens kwaliteiten testen. Hij tilde een grote steen op, die hij vlakbij een boom vond en liet die op de grond vallen. Toen Nammalwar dit hoorde, opende hij zijn ogen en glimlachte hij naar Madhurakavi Alwar. Na deze gebeurtenis was Madhurakavi nog steeds in verwarring, kon hij nu spreken of niet? Hij wilde hem testen en vroeg hem:
“Senthin Vayitril Siriyadhu Pirandhal
Eatthai Thindru Engae Kidakkum?”
Dit betekent: als iets, dat in iets dat dood is, geboren is, dat subtiele dat daarvan binnen geboren is, hoe leidt dit zijn leven, door wat te eten en waar verblijft het?

Nammalwar antwoordde hierop:
“Atthai Thindru Angae Kidakkum”.
Dit betekent dat de kleine Jivatma in de ziel (de Paramatma) verblijft en geniet van de plek waar hij leeft. Het antwoord verklaart ook hoe al onze menselijke zielen genoeg hebben van het gewone leven, terwijl ze slechte en goede dingen voor de personen om hen heen doen. Als iemand zulke dingen doet, zal hij hetzelfde ervaren en Moksha of zijn bestemming niet bereiken. Toen Madhurakavi Alwar deze filosofische uitleg in antwoord op zijn vraag hoorde, bracht hij zijn handen boven zijn hoofd en viel uiteindelijk voor de voeten van Nammalwar neer.

Hathiram Baba

The story of Hathiram Baba goes centuries back. No one knows his real name but he came from Nagaur in Rajasthan. Legend has it that he was such a great devotee of the Lord that the Lord himself came to play dice with him each night. One night, they were so engrossed in the game that it was almost dawn when the Lord realized he had to leave. He rushed back to the temple and somehow one of his necklaces fell down in the house. At the temple, the priests opened the shrine and realised that a necklace was missing, and instituted a search. Meanwhile, the saint realised that the necklace had fallen, and he rushed to the temple intending to return it. He was apprehended at the gate and was thought to be the thief, no matter how much he protested. The saint was confined to house arrest while the matter was referred to the king.

The king was in a quandary, and he set forth a challenge. A massive load of sugarcane was placed in the saint’s house, and it was deemed that the saint finishes it before nightfall. If he didn’t, he would be executed at dawn. There was no way the saint could fulfill the demand, so he did what he always did, prayed to the Lord. Suddenly, a white elephant appeared in the room, and in a matter of minutes, finished off the sugarcane! And then trumpeted loudly and rushed out of the room, right in front of the amazed king, priests and all the other officers! It was indeed a miracle, the way the elephant had appeared in the small room, and the saint was vindicated. Since then, he came to be known as Hathiramji―Hathi for elephant, and Ram for the name he always chanted. Seeking to make amends, the priests then handed over the duty of keeping the temple accounts, since he had been a merchant by trade before arriving at Tirumala.

Saint-Poet Kanakadasa

Saint-Poet Kanakadasa (c 1509-1609 A.D.) belongs to the tradition of Haridasa literary movement which ushered in an era of devotional literature in Karnataka. ‘Haridasa’ stands for ‘servant of Hari’, is another epithet of god Krishna. Right from 14th century to 19th, we find several Haridasas who wrote devotional compositions which could be set to music with simple instruments like Tanpura, and Tala (cymbals). They wrote kirtans, bhajans, prayers, lullabies, festival songs, and house-hold-chore songs. Written in simple and spoken Kannada, they had universal appeal.
Besides conveying dvaita(dualism) tenets, He preached kindness and equanimity in a world full of sorrows, and wrote around 200 songs.

The legend Kanakadasa was not allowed into the shrine as he was not a Brahmin by birth.
Kanakana Kindi (window of Kanaka) enjoys a special place at the Shri Krishna temple of Udupi. There is a legend that Kanakadasa wanted to have a ‘darshan’ (encounter) of the idol. He was not allowed into the shrine by orthodox Madhwas, as Kanakadasa was not a Brahmin by birth. Kanakadasa then started singing praise of Lord Krishna and was lost to the outside world in a corner outside the temple. Suddenly there was a breach in the wall, where Kanaka stood, and Lord Krishna offered full darshan bending towards poet. A small window was constructed at the breach later. The idol has still a bend!
Today that window stands as a tribute to the unique saint of Karnataka. Almost all devotees who visit Udupi Krishna temple try to have a peep at the idol, through the petty window wishing to relive the ecstasy Kanaka had at the divine ‘darshan’. It is also a memorial to Kanakadasa and eclectic Hindu belief that devotion, poetry and sainthood are above caste and creed and certainty above orthodoxy.

Boothath Alvar

The saint had intuitive knowledge about god Vishnu, that’s how he got the name Bhoothath. He is considered an incarnation of Narayana’s mace. Bhoothath was found in a liquorice flower in Thirukadalmallai (modern-day Mahabalipuram).His knowledge on Vishnu is inferred by his description of Vishnu in five different forms as para (supreme being), vyuha (cosmic form), vibhava (incarnations), antarymn (inner dweller) and archa (deity, vigraha).
Boothath alvar wrote his 100 songs to the Lord when he, together with Pey and Poigai alwar, had the vision of the Lord holding Shankh and Chakra and with His Consort Lakshmi.


Sri Tyagaraja

Sri Tyagaraja, the most celebrated Carnatic Music saint was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama. Tyagaraja lived to the full extent that God realization is best achieved through Nadopasana (music with devotion). His songs are filled with an intimate devotion to Rama, all through revealing his deep understanding of the tenets of the Vedas and Upanishads.

He has composed about 24,000 songs in his long devoted life to Lord Rama, most of them written in his Mother tongue Telegu, but a few in Sanskrit, including the masterpiece “Jagadanandakaraka” composed of 108 names describing Lord Rama’s attributes. But, his songs are well loved in Tamil Nadu, the seat of South Indian (Carnatic) Music scholarship and performance.

His objective while performing music was to repeat the name of God and contemplate on His Divine Pastimes, thereby reducing the vices of the mind, not to display his mastery over Raga and Tala. He had to struggle quite a bit to compose music in which Bhava, that is, emotion, was crowned. (He always felt that Bhava was not to be compromised for Raga and Tala). The legend goes that he was blessed by the divine sage Narada with great musical knowledge.
Once he sang at the request of his guru, beginning at 8 p.m. and finishing only at 4 a.m. Serfoji Maharaja heared of his performance and invited him to visit the temple to be rewarded, but Tyaagaraaja rejected the offer, singing “Nidhi caala sukhama?” in kalyaaNi, which means Does abundance of wealth bring happiness? The king realized his mistake and visited the saint-composer, who cured him of a stomachache.


Sakhubai was born into a very poor family of Pandharpur. She was a great devotee of Panduranga Vittala, which is another name of Krishna.
She was married into a rich family but her in-laws were very cruel.They beat her up, gave her leftover food to eat, and took away all her jewellery.
Sakhubai bore all the pain and asked Vittala to give her strength. She dearly wished to see him. Vittala gave her a vision that would help her to see him.
One day, Vittala in the guise of a woman told Sakhubai to go to Panharpur to see the Lord. He took the place of Sakhubai in her house and worked tirelessly. Meanwhile, Sakhubai forgot everything in her devotion to God. She breathed her last while praying. Seeing her devotion Krishna brought her back to life. When Sakhubai came back and narrated the truth to her in-laws they repented misbehaving with her.

Thirumangai Alvar

Thirumangai Alvar was one of the most learned bhakti saints of South India. He saw himself as a gopika, Narayana-Krishna as His lover, and wrote an extensive work about the relationship between bhakta and the Lord. His was once married and he had to make a vow to his wife to become a Vaishnava and feed a thousands bhaktas daily. He became a thief in order to fulfill this vow. He had many wonderworker disciples who helped Him also stealing in order to construct the whole temple structure of Srirangam (at that time, Lord Ranganath was nearly forgotten in the forest with wild animals), a work which took many many years to be finished with help of a constant growing “gang”. He stopped being a thief when Srirangam temple was ready and also had the holy vision of the Lord.

I became a thief
deceitful and dishonest
I wandered hither and thither
yet light dawned upon me –
I reached Your feet
and instantly your grace fell upon me
with melting heart and choked voice
your praises I sing
bathed in streaming tears
I repeat day and night
the sacred name of Narayana

Pey Alvar

Pey Alvar wrote 100 verses starting with the words ‘ Tiruk Kanden, Pon Meni Kanden‘ ( I found the glorious, golden form of the Lord) “ Tiruk Kanden Pon Meni Kanden- / Arukkan Ani Niramum Kanden-Seruk Kilarum / Pon Aazhi Kanden Puri Sangam Kai Kandem / En Aazhi Vannan Paal Inru

On witnessing the glorious vision in which the entire universe was the very body of Lord Narayana, the Alwar proceeds to describe all that he had seen. “I have seen the glory of SRI (MahaLakshmi), the consort of the Lord; I have seen his bewitching body that is azure in color as the sea; I have seen his brilliance like that of the Sun; on his one hand, he holds his divine discus that reverberates in the battlefield and on the other he holds the divine conch.

Seru : Battle, Aazhi Vannan : One whose color is like that of the blue seas.
The verses were so constructed that the ending word of each verse became the commencing word of the next verse – a special kind of prosody characteristic of Tamil literature called ‘Anta Adhi‘ ‘Anta‘ means ‘end’ and ‘Adhi‘ means ‘beginning’. The three works were thus called First Antadhi, Second Antadhi and Third Antadhi respectively and set in motion the mellifluous flow of Bhakti literature to follow.

Saint RaviDas

Shri Guru Sant Ravidas Ji was a great Saint, philosopher, poet, social reformer and follower of the God in India during 15th century. He has given variety of spiritual and social messages through his great writings of poetry to his lovers, followers, community people, society people to reform their mind and show their boundless love towards God

Sant Guru Ravidas Ji is considered as a spiritual Guru of the Meera Bai who was the queen of Chittoor and daughter of Rajasthan king. She was very impressed by the teachings of Guru Ravidass Ji and became the great follower of him. Meera Bai has written some lines in the respect of his Guru “Guru Milyaa Ravidas Ji …”.

Once he saved life of his Brahman friend from being killed by the hungry lion. He became close friend of one of the Brahman boy while playing together however other Brahman people were jealous of their friendship and complained to the king. His Brahman friend was called by the king in the court and announced to be killed by the hungry lion. As soon as hungry lion came to him to kill Brahman boy, lion became very calm by seeing Guru Ravidas Ji near to his friend to save. Lion move away and Guru Ravidas Ji brought his Brahman friend to his home. Brahman people and king were very ashamed off and realized about the spiritual power of the Guru Ravidas Ji and started following him.

Sant Eknath

Sant Eknath is one of the great rishi’s of Maharshtra. Starting from the life of Jnaneshwar (1275-1298), whose treatise on the Bhagavad Gita sprang new life into the religious life of the land, Maharashtra was blessed with a stream of great religious figures, who sustained the faith of the people in the religion of the land through many hardships. The religious renaissance eventually transformed the society completely, culminating in Independence from Islamic rule for most of India.
The life of Eknath acted like a bridge between his predecessors Jnaneshwar and Naamdev and his successors Tukaram and Ramdas His teachings of philosophy and practice is a synthesis of the quest for the eternal and transcendent while living within the imminent. This great saint of Maharashtra was born sometime around 1530 AD in a Brahmin family which had brought forth great teachers in the past. Eknath’s father, Suryanarayan, and mother, Rukmini died shortly after his birth, hence Eknath was brought up by his grandparents, Chakrapani and Saraswatibai. Throughout his childhood Eknath devoted his time significantly to devotional practices.
When about twelve years old, Eknath heard about a man named Janardan Swami. This great scholar lived in Devgiri renamed as Daulatabad by the Muslim rulers of the time. Eager to become his disciple, Eknath trudged all the way to Devgiri. Janardaswamy was amazed by this extra-ordinarily gifted boy and readily accepted him as his disciple. He taught Eknath Vedanta, Nyaya, Meemansa, Yoga etc. (i.e. a broad based education of Hindu dharma) and most importantly, Sant Jnaneshwar’s works.
During the intervening period of about 250 years between Dnyaneshwar and Eknath, various Islamic invaders ravaged Maharashtra. Defeats after defeats had completely demoralised people. The great legacy of Jnaneshwar was nearly forgotten. Eknath devoted himself to change this situation. His first task was to locate the “samadhi” of Jnaneshwar and trace the undistorted version of “Jnaneshwari” (Jnaneshwar’s treatise of the Bhagavad Gita).