By Swami Harshananda
Great saints have been the ‘salt of the earth’ in the country. Narration of their lives has been considered as an act of great religious merit. It goes to the credit of Nābhādāsa that he has preserved for the posterity, the detailed lives of about two hundred minstrels of God, in his now well-known book Bhaktamālā or Bhaktamālikā. Nābhādāsa lived in A. D. 1657-1700. Born perhaps in A. D. 1657 at the village Rāma-bhadrācala, on the bank of the river Godāvarī in Andhra Pradesh to Rāmadāsa, himself a great devotee of Rāma, he lost his father at an early age and was abandoned by his mother due to extreme poverty.
The child was adopted named Agradāsa belonging to Galatā near Jaipur in Rajasthan. Agradāsa too seems to have been a saint and is said to have initiated the child into the sect of devotion to Rāma, with the new name ‘Nābhādāsa,’ the original name being Nārāyaṇadāsa. Nābhādāsa was well-educated and endowed with great poetical talents. He was also a humble devotee of God. His work Bhaktamālā is written in Hindi poetry in the meter called ‘Chappā’. The language is elegant though full of Sanskrit words. There are many commentaries on this work as also several other Bhaktamālās by other writers, who have kept this work as their model.
- It is specifically Brajbhāṣā language.
- Chappā means with six lines.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore