Surdas Jayanti – History & Significance

Surdas Jayanti is celebrated every year on 28th April. His birth anniversary usually falls on Shukla Paksh in the month of Vaisakh month, in accordance with the Hindu Lunar Calendar.  This is celebrated in honor the birth of Surdas. He was known for his beautiful compositions that included songs and poems, which were written in praises of Lord Krishna. He was also known as Bhakt Kavi Surdas because of his devotion and faith in Lord Krishna and wrote soulful and beautiful poems for him.

Surdas Jayanti History

There is no set of documents or evidence when it comes to Surdas’ birth, but it is approximately between 1478 and 1483. There is no clarity as to where he was born, some of the historians claim that his birthplace is Sihi, which currently is in Faridabad district in Haryana, while some historians said that he lived in Runkata which is situated on the Mathura-Agra highway.

Surdas was born into a very poor Saraswat Brahmin family. Surdas’ father was a singer. He was a sage from his childhood. Since he was blind, he was dejected by his entire family and was not given any love and attention, due to which he left his home at the age of six and started living on the banks of river Yamuna.

Surdas is popularly known for his beautiful composition of the Sur Sagar. Sur Sagar talks about the love story of Lord Krishna and Radha. It also depicts the longings of Radha and all the gopis, when Lord Krishna was not there.

He even wrote verses on Krishna’s pastimes. The responsibility was given to him by Guru Vallabhacharya, whom he met in 1510. He became his disciple after he met him. He learnt a lot of things about Lord Krishna from Vallabhacharya, like his personal life, his antics and his stories with Radha.

Surdas was greatly influenced by Lord Krishna’s life and started to write beautiful poems, verses, bhajans and devotional songs as a tribute to Lord Krishna. It also depicts the personal devotion, which can also be seen in epic tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Surdas was blind, and there was a widespread belief that he had seen Lord Krishna when he was a child and he had asked Surdas to visit Vrindavan.

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One of the most recognized works of Surdas is Sur Sagar, which is popularly known as ‘Ocean of Melodies’. His work Sur Sagar is considered to be his magnum opus, which consisted of a hundred thousand songs, out of which till now eight thousand are still in existence.

Surdas’s poems and his songs gained a lot of recognition, not only from people but also far and wide in all parts of the country. Mughal Emperor Akbar was also considered to be his patron, who was very appreciative of his music.

Surdas spent the last few years of his life in Braj and lived on donations which he received from different people, who loved his work and his devotion towards Lord Krishna. He reciprocated those donations by singing songs, reciting poems, and preaching about various religious stories.

Surdas Jayanti - History & Significance

Surdas Jayanti Significance

Surdas’ poems were mostly written in Braj Basha, which is considered to be one of the two dialects of Hindi. He had his inspiration in the teachings and preaching of Vallabha Acharya, whom he had met in 1510.

He is touted to be one of the foremost poets whom Vallabha Sampradaya considers as its Astachap (eight seals). This has a significance that each of the poets put his oral signature, which is known as ‘chap’ at the end of each and every composition.

Surdas gained immense recognition for his beautiful and varied body of work, which included compositions on different aspects of Lord Krishna’s life. He dedicated his whole life to writing and singing verses and devotional songs in honour and as a sign of faith and belief to Lord Krishna.

His compositions talked about different phases in Lord Krishna’s life. He portrayed Lord Krishna as a lovable child, which can be seen was drawn from the various perspectives by cowherding gopis of Braj.

His poem and compositions also hold a lot of importance due to the moral and philosophical values it tries to portray, which is appropriate for every age group and is relevant even now.

Surdas had other influences also in the form of the Bhakti Movement and the revival of Braj Basha. Surdas was an active part of the Bhakti movement which was spread across the Indian subcontinent. This movement basically talked about the spiritual and social empowerment of the people. The movement started off in South India and moved to North India, where Surdas played a vital role.

In the case of Braj Bhasha, it was his contribution that helped revive this language. At that time, Persian and Sanskrit were considered to be the prevalent languages, and Brij Bhasha was not that important at that time. Due to his work, it contributed a lot to increase the prominence of this language, where it transformed from a crude language to a literary language.

How is it celebrated?

Surdas Jayanti is most commonly celebrated in the Northern Part of India, where devotees come from different states and offer their prayers to Lord Krishna. They also keep a fast in honour of Surdas.

Most of the music communities come together and arrange poetry competitions or music sessions.

In Vrindavan specifically, they organize special events as a symbol of belief in Surdas.

Individuals and various establishments that come from the music industry and poetry industry try and pay respect to the contributions of Surdas to the world of music and poetry on this day.

People who specifically are interested in music and poetry partake in various events that are held in honor of Surdas. Cultural programs are organized which are attended by people in large numbers, which clearly shows that his poems and his compositions still are very relevant in today’s time.

Kirtans and Bhajans are also organized and are attended by a lot of people to remember and honor his work and his personality.

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