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Bahinabai

Bahinabai

Bahinabai was born in a Brahmin Family in 1628 at Deogaon Rangari near Ellora in Northern Maharashtra, India. She is appraised as a disciple of Varkari poet-saint Tukaram. She was also known as Bahina or Bahini. Her parents, Janaki and Aaudev Kulkarni were brahmins, and appraised their first child Bahinabai as a sign of good fortune. At a very young age of three, she was married to a thirty year old widower named Gangadhar Pathak, a scholar and spent most of her childhood strolling around Maharashtra along with her family. 

 

When Bahinabai was 9 years old, she had to leave Devghar with her parents and husband due to a family discourse. They strolled with pilgrims along the banks of Godavari river and begged for grains. Around the age of eleven, Bahinabai with her family settled in Kolhapur.

 

Bahinabai was revealed to Hari-Kirtana songs and tales from the scripture Bhagavata Purana, in Kolhapur. Here, her husband, Gangadhar Pathak was given a cow, who gave birth to a calf. Bahinabai had a spiritual experience with the calf. In Varkari literature, The calf symbolizes a person who has achieved the lofty state of yogic concentration in the former birth, but due to some liability, is imposed to take birth as a calf. The calf followed her wherever she went. Bahinabai with the calf both attended the famed swami Jayaram Kirtana. he patted the heads of the calf and Bahinabai. When her husband found out about the incident, he pulled Bahinabai by her hair, beat and tied her up in the house. Following this, the calf and the cow gave up food and died. At their burial, Bahinabai collapsed and was unconscious for many days. When she woke up, she had her first vision of the Varkaris patron deity Vithoba and later of her modern poet-saint Tukaram. After the incident, she had another vision of the duo that revived her from the sadness of the calfs death. In these visions, Saint Tukaram fed her nectar and taught her the mantra Rama-Krishna-Hari. After that, she praised Saint Tukaram as her guru. In her visions, Tukaram showed her the path of devotion and guided her to chant the name of Vithoba. Some people appraised her behavior as a harbinger of madness, while others appraised it a sign of sainthood.

 

Bahinabais family went to the home-town of Tukaram, Dehu and showed their respects to him. Bahinabais acceptance of the lower caste Sudra Tukaram as her guru, upset local brahmins, which led to harassment of her family and threat of rejection. In Dehu, she gave birth to a daughter, who she named Kasibai. But, she was upset and conciliated suicide. Saint Tukaram, stopped her in her vision and blessed her with poetic powers and predicted that she would have a son who was a companion in her former birth, thus Bahinabai is considered to have started poetry composition, the first of which were devoted to Vithoba.

 

Wisdom of Bahinabai can be summarized in her words as - A womans body is a body which is controlled by somebody else. Because of that the path of forsaking is not open to her. Her philosophy talks about the social status of the seventeenth century Indian woman, who was expected to have no existence apart from her husband.


 
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