By Swami Harshananda
Janārdana Svami lived in A. D. 1504-1575. When India was attacked by the barbarous aliens, a challenge was raised against the values of life which were considered eternal. This was done mainly by the galaxy of great saints and innumerable groups and sects from all the parts of India. The role of the saints of of Maharashtra was considerable. Janārdana Svāmi was one among them.
Janārdana Swami was born in Cālīsgāv, a small village, in A. D. 1504. He was very well versed with the scriptures and secular sciences. He knew the art of archery, horse-riding and statecraft. He was married to two girls at an early age. After the death of his parents, he took over the responsibilities of the family spending lot of time in worldly pursuits. However one strange spiritual experience in a temple, where he had a vision of Dattātreya, changed the course of his life completely. He received special instructions from sage named Narasimha Sarasvatī in sādhanā (spiritual practice) under a sacred tree. He spent a few days there practicing the austerities and meditation.
A Muslim Navāb was the ruler of that area during those days. He recognized Janārdana’s great qualities and appointed him as the commander of the fort. Janārdana, by his efficient administration brought peace and prosperity to the people under his care. He mostly lived in Dhāreśvara in Devagiri and hold his court there. His biographers state that he would often visit a cave on the nearby hill and have the darśan (‘seeing’) of Dattātreya. He had many disciples including the local Muslims and the Arabs.
He meditated and worshiped on Thursdays and hence did not worked on that day. Noticing this, the Muslim Navāb declared Thursday as the weekly holiday for all the governmental works. Another great saint of Maharashtra, Eknāth, was his chief disciple. Due to his command, Eknāth composed the Bhāgavata in Marāṭhī poetry.
Janārdana Svāmin had many psychic powers which he judiciously used whenever necessary to help others. He has composed a few abhaṅgas (devotional songs) which are sung even today. He passed away in A. D. 1575.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore