Saint Namdev, also known as Bhagat Namdev was born to Shri. Damshet and Gonabai, on October 29, 1270 in village of Narasi-Bamani, in Hingoli district, Maharashtra. His parents were devotees of Vithoba and shifted to Pandharpur with family, soon after his birth, which is the popular for the temple of Shri. Vitthal.
Further eighty years of life Saint Namdev spent at Pandharpur. Most of the spiritual message of Bhagat Namdev emphasized on the importance of attaining the enlightenment by living the life of a householder. Namdev was married to Rajai and had four sons - Nara, Vitha, Gonda, Mahada and a daughter, Limbai.
His elder sister, Aubai also stayed with them. His devotion to Lord Vitthal was was to such as extent that day and night he spent in devotion of Vithoba. Saint Namdev is considered as a prominent religious poet of Maharashtra who was contemporary of Saint Dnyaneshwar.
He is the foremost proponent of the Bhagwad-Dharma who reached beyond Maharashtra, right into Punjab and established religious unity across the country. He also wrote some hymns in Hindi and Punjabi. The potential of his devotion and talent in delivering Kirtan was very high, that it is said even the God Panduranga swayed to his tunes. His Kirtans have references to many holy books.
This shows that he was well read and a great scholar. Namdev travelled through many places of India, reciting his religious poems ie Kirtans. As per information he lived more than twenty years in the village of Ghuman in Punjab. The Sikh group in Punjab considered him from their group.
Saint Namdev Temple at Hingoli, Maharshtra
In Punjab he had dissiples - Laddha, Bahordas, Vishnu-Swami and Keshav Kaladhari. He composed almost 125 hindi Abhangas and sixty-one of these were included in the Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib as Namdevjiki Mukhbani (The holy songs of Namdev).
Saint Namdev has almost 2500 Abhangas to his credit, as per the book 'Namdev Vaachi Gaatha'. He also wrote a biography on Saint Dnyaneshwar through Aadi, Samadhi and Teerthavali, which made him the first Marathi biographer. It also said that he had a remarkable influence on Saint Tukaram.
Namdev wanted to remain absorbed in his worship and meditations. He never formed any religious institution or movement. He was involved in a solitary search for God, without creating any social or religious organisation. In his early fifties, Namdev settled down at Pandharpur where he gathered around himself a group of devotees.
The devotional songs written and composed by Namdev became very popular and people were looking forward to hear his kirtan. Namdev's songs have been collected in 'Namdevachi Gatha'. Saint Namdev breathed his last in July, 1350 at the age of 80 in Pandharpur at the feet of the Lord Vithoba.
1- Hut on Fire
Once NAmdev's hut caught fire. When he observed that the things lying on that side of the hut were gutted in fire, he started throwing the remaining things also in the fire. To his surprise he could feel Vithoba in the flames of the fire.
Namdev exclaimed - "Hey Vitthala ! I am sacrificing all my belongings in this Agni-Yagya, since it was my ignorance that I had assumed all those things as my belongings. Now please accept them and bless me." The fire got increased and the entire hut was gutted soon.
Namdev was very patient and only continued his 'Namasmaran'. Soon a work appeared on the spot and re-erected the hut. Namdev realized that the worker was no other but Shri. Vitthal who came to his help.
2- Offerings to Vithoba
His devotion was so sincere that sometimes he would consider Vithoba to be his dearest brother or his play mate. According to a legend, when Namdev was five years old, his mother once gave him some food offerings for Vithoba and asked him to give it to Vithoba in the Pandharpur temple.
Namdev took the offerings and placed it before Vithoba's idol in the temple, asking Vithoba to accept the offerings. When he saw that his request was not being met, he told Vithoba that he would kill himself if Vithoba continued to ignore the offerings. Vithoba then appeared before him and ate the offerings in response to the utter devotion of young Namdev.
3- Ghost in Village
One Namdev was staying in a remote house in a village, when the villagers advised him not to stay there, since it was a haunted house by a Brahma-Rakshas ie a powerful ghost of a dead Brahman. Namdev, did not bother since he always beleived that the whole world was occupied by his lord Vitthala who existed in the form of all creatures.
So he felt the ghost was also a form of Vitthal. In the mid-night a very huge and scary ghost appeared before Namdev. Namdec was very relaxed and started singing the Vitthala bhajan syaing that - "Hay Vitthala You have appeared now in a huge form of a Brahm-Rakshas by touching your head to the heavens and Your feet on the earth.
There are no words to praise Your such form. Hey Vitthala ! please bless me." Suddenly Namdev had a great pleasure to see Lord Vitthal with chakra, conch, mace and lotus flower in His hands.
4- Namdev and Tatya
Once a devotee of Namdev named Shamnath visited Namdev near a temple, along with his son, Tatya. Shamnath regulary attended satsang but his son did not believe all this and never followed his father instructions even after requesting him repeatedly. Shamnath after getting annoyed of persuading Tatya, told this to Namdev Maharaj.
As the time elapsed during thier discussion it became little dark after the sun set. Namdev took both of them on the back side of the temple, which was a large area with a lamp lighting in one corner. Namdev deliberately took them to the other side where there was darker and light was very dim.
Tatya immediately questioned, why were they not sitting in the bright area near the light. Namdev explained to him that it was the same thing his father was telling him all thetime repeatedly. Namdev added - "You can achieve the purity of mind only by attending the satsang, as it lightens up the mind."
Tatya soon got the message correctly and repented for not obeying his father's precious instructions. Tatya immediately started attending the satsang regularly.