Surdas was famous philosopher, poet and musician of India, who was blind. His name Surdas, literally means, one who is a slave of music.
He is remembered till posterity for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas Jayanti is a commemoration of his birth anniversary to remember his indescribable contribution towards Hindu religious music and poetry.
In 2019 his birth anniversary will be celebrated on 9th of May, Thursday.
All about Surdas
There are some disagreements on the exact birth year of Surdas. Some believe it to be 1478, yet some claim it to be 1479. According to traditional Hindu calendar, Surdas was born in the Panchami tithi, shukla paksha of the month of Vaisakhi. As per Gregorian calendar it is the month of April or May. He was born in a Saraswat Brahmin family to Pandit Ramdas Sarswat, near Runakta, Mathura. As he was born blind, he was greatly neglected by his family, and for this he left home at the tender age of 6 and started praising and singing for Lord Krishna. He started living near the river Yamuna.
It is believed that Lord Krishna appeared in his dreams and asked him to go and meet Vallabhacharya who would mentor him. Thus Surdas went and met Vallabhacharya, who was a connoisseur about Lord Krishna in Vrindavan. Vallabhacharya took him under his wings and taught Surdas everything about Lord Krishna, from his naughty childhood till his complete life.
Surdas composed and sang in the sweet Brajbuli or the language which was spoken in and around Vrindavan. He composed bhajans, which constituted of moral lessons or philosophical guidelines.
His most important and empirical work remain his magnum opus called Sur Sagar literally menaing ocean of melodies. Amongst all that he composed and sang, only about 8000 are extant.
As the fame of Surdas’s melody and composition reached the court of Emperor Akbar, he summoned him to his court to listen to him. So moved was Akbar by Surdas’s lilting voice and beautiful moving compositions that he requested Surdas to stay on in his court.
According to legend, once when Surdas had fallen inside a well, it is Lord Krishna who came and pulled him out.
Contribution of Surdas
The sartorial elegance and the lilting compositions about Lord Krishna by Surdas greatly enhanced the Bhakti movement then prevalent in the Northern part of India. The Bhakti movement was nothing but a grass root empowerment of every common man who wanted to invoke and worship God in their own simplicity.
Surdas’s beautiful usage of the Braj buli or Braj language also brought the language in prominence as till then the most important languages used were Persian or Sanskrit.
He is also considered the foremost of the Ashta Chhap, or the main eight imprints or disciples of Guru Govindacharya. He is also a noted propagator of the Shuddhvaita, which is also known as Pushti Marg.
Celebrations of Surdas Jayanti
The celebration of Surdas Jayanti is restricted to the Northern part of India mostly. Apart from normally fasting for a day and then worshipping Lord Krishna in temples, this day is celebrated with much reverence by the musical community for his huge contribution in the field of devotional music. In the Vrindavan area, where Surdas had mostly lived, and about which he wrote too, special programs are organized. Many special musical events and poetry readings are also held on this day, dedicated in his mane.