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Mixed Dalit-Brahmin Saints

Sudra Hindu saints

Sudra Hindu saints have been influential in Hindu history through their devotion to God Almighty became Hindu saints. They not only challenged barriers to become recognized as saints but encouraged Indian Hindus to not accept the caste system as valid, and that a person, whether Sudra or not, can be pure through their positive karma.
While Vedas were shastras that most Brahmins claimed as theirs to preach and interpret, sages like Badari taught that even Sudras have the legitimacy to do so, and many Sudras and Avarnas were taught the Vedas even in ancient times such Raikva did with his pupil Janasruti Pautrayana. However, in the case of Gulabrao Maharaj the Kunbi, he taught the Vedas to Brahmins.
Also, saint-gurus like Potuluri Swami and Saint Tukaram had Brahmins as their disciples. Saint Tukaram was the guru of Saint Bahinabai, while Saint Bullah Sahib the Kunbi was the guru of Saint Bhikha Sahib the Brahmin. Devara Dasimayya had several Brahmin disciples. Kabir was the guru of Brahmin Suratgopal and Jagudas (whose father was a priest of the Puri Jagannath temple.) Further Some Sudra saints were even the gurus of kings, as is the case of Dhoyi for Bengali King Lakshman Sen, Pambatti was the guru of Brahmin Sri Paramahamsar, Gorakshanath was guru and later husband of princess Karpatinatha, Ramananda Raya for Oriya King Prataparudradeva, and Sena Nhavi was the guru of the Raja of Bandhogarh, and Namdev was the guru of King Mahadaji Shinde. Even Lord Rama in the Valmiki Ramayana had paid reverence to Sudra Matanga and his disciple Shabari (as well as the Adivasi Saint Valmiki, and Vasishta of Dalit heritage.)
Some orthodox Hindu scriptures even describe God Almighty incarnating as a Sudra. An example is when Vishnu manifested as a Sudra and Harijan in the Srimad Bhagavatam where the God as the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva incarnates as a Brahmin, Sudra, and Harijan to test Rantideva .v Yama is also said to incarnate as the Sudra Vidura
Saint Veerabrahmam says to his sons by using examples of Valmiki and Vasistha on attaining Brahminhood:
"One, though born a Sudra, acquiring spiritual knowledge should be treated as Brahmin and one, even if born of Brahmin womb, would only qualify to rank as Sudra, if found lacking such knowledge. Sudra and Brahmana arise not by birth but by deed."
Some Brahmin castes trace lineage to Sudras. For example, the Brahmin warrior Parshurama made Kaivarta (Fishermen) along the Maharashtrian coast Brahmins. The Brahmin groups that claim receiving Brahminhood from Parashurama are the Chitpavans and Kokanasthas. Likewise, the Matti Brahmins of Surat (in Gujarat) and amongst Kanara people of Karnataka have the tradition of Matsya origin. Shenavi Brahmins of Maharashtra too claim to descend from Parshurama's selected fishermen. Kerala's Namboothiri Brahmins are also believed to descend from fishermen that were selected by Parashurama. Vyasokta Brahmins of Bengal claim in one account claim descent from Vyasa's disciples that were fishermen originally, and they serve the Kaivartas and Mahishyas castes. There are also Brahmin communities that serve Sudras for Hindu ceremonies. The Madhyasreni Brahmans of Bengal serve Nabasakha castes, like potters, barbers and blacksmiths. The Rapali Brahmins of Bengal serve Rapalis (Weavers.) The Mali Brahmins serve Malis. Chamarwa Brahmins serve Chamars. Dakaut Brahmins descend from a union between a Brahman man and a Kumharni Sudra or outcaste princess of Kashmir named Bhandli, and are also referred to a 'Gujrati'. Even persons of non-Brahmin parentage have gone to become Brahmins, such as Kayavya the son of a Kshatriya male and Nisada mother. Other examples of Sudras that became Brahmin are Rom Harshan Suta Maharaja, the narrator of several the Puranas, and Satya Kam Jabali, who was conferred Brahminhood by Gautama Swami. Matanga was another Sudra of the Barber caste that received Brahminhood for his asceticism. Other revered ancient saints mentioned as Sudra by birth that became Brahmins are Datta, Prince Datta, Matsya, Vaibhandaka, and Purnananda. Kanha was person who became a rishi and used his powers to save his life from King Oka, and Kanha is ancestor of Kanhayanas.
Further, there are Brahmin gotras that claim descent from sages of Sudra backgrounds. For example, Parasara is a gotra, as is Vyasa, and Vatsa is another, of whom the descendants are known as Vatsyayana. Matanga is another gotra and a scholarly Brahmin named Kashyapa Matanga was of this lineage. Shabara (or Shavara) is also a gotra amongst the Brahmins and it refers to forest tribals from whom Brahmins of this ancestry came. Jabala is another modern day gotra which claims descent from Satyakama Jabala, who was given the sacred thread ceremony by Gautama Rishi.
Sage Parasara advises King Janaka:
Brahmanas, learned in Vedas, regard a virtuous Sudra (or one born in the house of a Sudra) as a model of Brahman himself.
In some places, such as the sacred Kashi , priestly specialists of Sudra castes work with Brahmins in performing ceremonies, and the Sudra castes normally include Nai, Kurmi, Keori, Kahar, Teli, Halwai, Mali, and Manjai.

Saintly development amongst Sudras

Of the irrelevance of caste, especially in terms of religion Basava Swami said the following:In the Bhakti Era, saints from menial occupations continued work in their menial positions while also challenging barriers and worship God. The Varkari sect Saint Eknath writes of the non-Dwija saints:
Sudra Hindu saints
Sankhya was a sweeper;
Agastya, a huntsman;
Durvasa, a cobbler;
Dadhici, a locksmith;
So, why should you then,
In ignorance of this,
Insist on caste?
Sudra Hindu saints
Sudra Hindu saints
God baked pots with Gora,
Drove cattle with Chokha,
Cut grass with Savata,
Wove garments with Kabir,
Colored hide with Rohidas,
Sold meat with the butcher Sajana,
Melted gold with Narahari
Carried cow-dung with Janabai,
and even became a Pariah messenger for Damaji.
Sudra Hindu saints

NameEthnicityCasteSectCompositionsOther significance
AcyutanandaOriyaGopa (Cowherd)Vaishnava(devotee of Krishna)Gopalanka GitaBaran Charita Gita, and Sabdobrahmo.One of the five Panchasakhas, born in Tilakana (Cuttack district in Orissa), major figure of Vaishnavism, and was the patron saint of Gopalas (cow-hearders), Kaivartas (fishermen), Kamaras (blacksmiths). His disciples were people from all castes, including a Nanda (Blacksmith), Naran (Blacksmith), Rama (Blacksmith), and Ramadas (Potter.) He has several followers, such as 140 at Kasi Muktiswar grama and 110 at Chitranga tota.
AdipattanTamilFishermanShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints.
Aidakki MarayyaKannadaGrain-pickerShaiva
A disciple of Basava.
AkhoGuajratiSonar (Goldsmith)Vaishnava(Nirguna Sampradaya - Kabir Panth)Akhe-gita.
Ambigara CaudayyaKannadaAmbiga or KabberaShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
AnirudhAhomiVaishnava (Moamaria)He founded the Moamaria Vaishnava sect and was a part of the rebellion against the ruling dynasty that governed Ahom.
A disciple of Basava.
Baladeb MahityOriyaKaranVaishnava
Bachi RajayyaKannadaCarpenterShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Badihori BrahmayyaKannadaCowherdShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Balaram DasOriyaBauri Sudra MuniVaishnava (devotee of Krishna)He wrote the Sidhanta DamaruJagmohan Ramayana, and some commentariesOne of the five Panchasakhas, born in Orissa and a major figure of Vaishnavism.,
Bhima DhibaraOriyaDhibara (Fisherman)VaishnavaHe wrote the Kapata-pasha, which re-tells the aftermath of the Mahabharata.
Bhoja Bhagat Nachabkha (also Bhojaram)GujaratiKunbiVaishnava (devotee of Krishna)Wrote artis, dholas, kafis, kirtans, mahinas, prabhatias, tithis and varas.He was the guru of saints Jalaram and Valamram.
BogarTamilGoldsmithShaivaSiddhar who became a Siddhar under the guidance of Kalanginaathar. It is said that he proceeded to China to teach the ways of the Siddhars. There is a myth that Lao Tze is Bogar. Bogar’s Samadhi is to be found in the South West corridor at the Palani Muruga shrine.
Bullah Sahib (also Bulaqi Ram)HindiKunbiVaishnava

A disciple of Basava.
Devara DasimayyaKannadaWeaverShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Dhanurdasa (also Urangavilli)TamilDasarVaishnava (Sri Vaisnava)He was a disciple of Ramanuja.
Dohara KakkayaKannadaDhorShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
DhoyiBengaliWeaverVaishnavaHe wrote the Pavana-duta and his other verses are also found in the anthologies like Sadukti-KarnamritaSubhashita-muktavali, and Sarangadhara-paddhati.He belonged to the court of Lakshman Sen, the King of Bengal.
Dukhiram Pal (also Mulicarid Pal)BengaliGopi (Milkman)Vaishnava (Sahebdhani)Founder of the Sahebdhani Vaishnava sect, and took Muslims as disciples as well.
Dadu DayalGujaratiDhunia (Cotton-carder)Vaishnava (Nirguna Sampradaya - Dadu Panth)Founded Dadu Panth, and tried to bridge gap between Hindus and Muslims.
EdaikkadarTamilCowherdShaivaHe was one of the eighteen Siddhars.
EnadinathaTamilShanar (Toddy-tapper)Shaiva
Gadge Maharaj(also Debuji Zhingraji Janorkar)MarathiKunbiVaishnava (devotee of Vithala)
GorakhnathOriyaFisherman or FarmerShaiva (Nath Sampradaya)He was the disciple of Matsyendranath and is also worshiped by Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Tantrics and Buddhists. Legends of him exist not only throughout most of India, but also Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
GopabaiMarathiKasar Sonar (Goldsmith)Vaishnava (Varkari)She wrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithala.
Goroba KumbharMarathiKumhar (Potter)
Gulabrao MaharajMarathiKunbiHe taught the Vedas to the Brahmins, and accomplished much though being a blind person.
GundayyaKannadaPotterShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the discples of Basava.
Hadapad RechannaKannadaBarberShaiva (Lingayat)A disciple of Basava.
Jagannath MahitiOriyaKaranVaishnava
Kashinath MahitiOriyaKaranVaishnavaHis name is mentioned in the Vaishnavabandanas of Jiva Goswami.
A disciple of Basava.
KetayyaKannadaBasket-makerShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Kola SantayyaKannadaShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
KotayyaKannadaBurud(Bamboo-workers)Shaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Kumari MollaTeluguMolla (Potter)Vaishnava (devotee of Rama)Wrote the Ramayanumu.
KabirHindiJulaha (Weaver)Vaishnava (Nirguna Sampradaya - Kabir Panth)He tried to bring peace between Hindus and Muslims. He is revered as one of India's greatest saints and philosophers by all Indians.
Kaka BhusundarAhomiVaishnava (devotee of Rama)Bhusundi Ramayana
Kala KumbharMarathiKumbhar (Potter)Vaishnava (devotee of Vitthal)
KanakadasKannadaKuruba or BedaVaishnava (devotee of Krishna and Beeraiah)
KaharWeaverVaishnava (devotee of Vishnu)
KamalamuniTamilKuravarShaivaHe is one of the eighteen Siddhars.
KubaPunjabiKumhar (Potter)Vaishnava
Kanchipurna also Kacchi Nambi)TamilVaishnava (devotee of Vishnu)He was a disciple of Yamunacarya and due to he saintly character and devotion, he himself is worshiped as Varadarajan at Vishnu Kanchi.
Kandadai Ramanuja DasarTamilVaishnava (Sri Vaisnava)He was a disciple of Ramanuja.
Kinnari BamayyaKannadaMusicianShaiva
A disciple of Basava.
KuripputondarTamilVannan (Washerman)Shaiva
Kuber SarkarBengaliGopaVaishnava (Sahebdhani)Successor of Charan Pal.
Kukkuti SiddhaAhomiShaivaHe was closely associated with Minanath and was an inspiration to Matsyendranath.
Madhava Kandali(also Madhavadeva)AhomiHiraVaishnava (Ekasarana Dharma)He was the chief disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
Madiwal MachayyaKannadaWashermanShaiva (Lingayat)He was one of the disciples of Basava.
Thirumaligai ThevarTamilShaivaHe is one of the eighteen Siddhars and the disciple of Bogar.
MangaiTamilKallaVaishnava (devotee of Krishna)Periya Thirumozhi, 1084 verses; Thiru Vezhukootru irukkai, 1 verse; Thiru Kurun Thandagam, 20 verses; Thiru Nedun Thandagam, 30 verses.Alvar saint.
Maraner NambiTamilPahcamaVaishnava (devotee of Vishnu)Maraner-nambi-charitramHe was a disciple of Yamunacarya.
MatangaBarberHindu scriptures recognize him as a saint who went through penances (tapasya) to reach the status of Brahminhood.
MātangaBarberHe was the son of Matanga, guru of Shabari and father of goddess Matangi. He and his disciple Shabari had met Lord Rama and Laxmana and were given reverence from the holy brothers.
MātangiBarberShe is worshiped as a form of Durga, and was the offspring of Matanga Muni.
Matsyendranath(also Minanath)FishermanShaiva (Nath Sampradaya)Worshiped by Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Tantrics and Buddhists
Mepa BhagatGujaratiKumhar (Potter)VaishnavaHe became the disciple of Gabinath, after which he lived as a saint himself. He inspired other Gujarati Hindu saints like Apa Rata and Apa Jadra.
MinanathAhomiFishermanHe was the inspiration to the Nath Panth's founder Matsyendranath, whose name means the same as Minanath's. Minanath had several disciples, and amongst them were His disciples were Hali (peasant), Mali (gardener) and Tambuli (tooth-painter.)
Munna DasHindiGoldsmithVaishnava (Apapanthi)Founded the Apapanthi sect of Vaishnavas that worship Lord Rama.
MutucuriyarTamilCenkunta (Weaver)ShaivaHe was the brother of Ilancuriyar (born blind) and together they both lived a saintly life.
Nambi Eru Tiruvadaiya DasarTamilShanar (Toddy-tapper)Vaishnava (Sri Vaisnava)He was one of the disciples of Ramanuja.
NamdevMarathiShimpi (Weaver)Vaishnava (Varkaridevotee of Vithoba)Wrote Abhangs devoted to Krishna.It is said that he is a part (Amsa) of Lord Krishna. He was a disciple of Saint Visoba Khechara.
NammalvarTamilCultivatorVaishnava (devotee of Krishna)Thiruvaymozhi, 1102 verses; Thiruvasiriyam, 7 verses; Thiruvirutham, 100 verses; Periya Thiruvandhadhi, 87 verses.
NandanarTamilPulayaShaivaOne of 63 Nayanars.
Narahari SonarTamilSunar (Goldsmith)Vaishnava (devotee of Krishna)Wrote Abhangs devoted to Krishna.
Narayana GuruMalayalamEzhavaShaiva
NeelakandaTamilKalalar (Potter)ShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints.
NeelanTamilKuyavan (Potter)VaishnavaPowerful warrior and king of Thirumangai (part of Chola Empire.)
NesarTamilWeaverShaivaNayanar devotee of Shiva, one of 63 Shaivite saints.
NilajantayalppananTamilPanan (Musician)Saiva
Nisargadatta MaharajMarathiKunbiShaivaA disciple of Siddharameshwar Maharaj.
Nishkulananda (also Lalji Suthar)GujaratiSutharVaishnava (Swami Narayan)About 20 books and 3000 verses are ascribed to him. Among the books are Purushottam PrakashYama-dandaBhakta-chintamaniDhirajakhyam.
Nuliya ChandayyaKannadaRope-makerShaiva
A disciple of Basava.
PambattiTamilKozhayi (Cowherd)ShaivaHe had worked as a snake-charmer, and he is one of the eighteen Siddhars, and the guru of the Brahmin Sri Sivaprabhakara Siddhayogi Paramahamsar.
PanaTamilPanan (Musician)Vaishnava (devotee of Ranganatha)Alvar saint.
Pillai Uranga Villi DasarTamilMalla DasarVaishnava
Ponajji BalaMarathiGwala (Milkman)VaishnavaHe wrote stories of Krishna. He was famous for his lavani compositions.
Potuluri Veerabrahmam(also Potuluri Swami)TeluguCarpenterShaivaHis disciples included Brahmins like Annajayya, Muslims like Siddhayya and chura (cobbler) ‘untouchables’ like Kakkayya
Putushottama DasaOriyaCow-herderVaishnavaHe wrote the Dutia-osaGanga-MahatmyaGundicha BijeKanchi-Kaveriand Mriganist-uti.
RajjabHindiNaddaf (Cotton-carder)Vaishnava (Nirguna Sampradaya - Dadu Panth)Disciple of Saint Dadu Dayal devotee of Rama.
Raka KumbharMarathiKumbhar (Potter)Vaishnava (devotee of Vitthal)
Ramakrishna GosvaminBengaliKaivarta (Fisherman)Vaishnava (Jaganmohani)Founder of the Jaganmohani Vaishnava sect, which preaches worship of Krishna and gurus of the sect. He also founded, in the seventeenth century, a monastery or Akhdaat Vithangal.
Ramananda Raya(also Ramananda Pattanayak)OriyaKaranaVaishnavaVery important devotee of Krishna and brought Vaishnava Bhakti tradition to Bengal from Orisa. Raya was the title given to him by King Prataparudradeva.
A disciple of Basava.
Ramanuja DasarTamilKammalar (Sculptor)He was a disciple of Ramanuja.
Rami JanabaiMarathiDasiVaishnava (Devotee of Rama)Domestic servant in Namdev's home, and performed Vatsalya Bhakti on Lord Rama.
Revana SiddeshwaraKannadaKurubaShaivaConsidered by Kurubas to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. There are temples in his name.
Roma RishiTamilKuraShaivaHe is one of the eighteen Siddhars.
Rom Harshan (also Suta Maharaja)Narrator of the Puranas.
Sarala DasOriyaSudramuniVaishnavaWrote the entire Mahabharatascripture in Oriya.
Sashtam SwamiGujaratiRabariVaishnavaInstalled a Rama statue at a temple.
Savata MaliMarathiMali (Gardener)Vaishnava (devotee of Vithal)Wrote Abhangs devoted to Krishna.
Saina NhaviMarathiNai (Barber)VaishnavaWrote Abhangs devoted to Krishna.
SachidanandMarathiNai (Barber)Datta Sampradaya
ShambukaShaivaShambuka had his own hermitage and was a disciple of Agastya, and a Vedic-versed rishi. Shambuka's killing in the "Uttara Khanda" was a latter insersion according to several scholars. Bhagwan Singh claims it was by Shakti, the son of Vasistha that had lost in a debate to Shambuka. Many scholars like Kuvempu argue that the story is a later interpolation and is undoable by Rama.
Shivaprakashar SiddharTamilHe was a disciple of Arul Namacchivayar.
Siddharameshwar MaharajMarathiShaiva
SriramaAhomiKaivarta (Fisherman)Vaishnava (Ekasarana Dharma)He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
SundaranandarTamilAgamudayar (Thevar) ReddyShaivaHe was one of the eighteen Siddhars and the grandson of Navakanda Rishi
Tanu PalBengaliMahishyaTantric
TukaramMarathiMoray (Peddler)Vaishnava (devotee of Vithal)He wrote several "Abhangs" devoted to Krishna.Explained Vaishnava scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana. He was the guru of the Brahmin Bahinabai.
Tukdoji MaharajMarathiKunbiShaivaAlso a musician, that sang and composed many songs to God.
Ugrasrava SautiVaishnavaHe was the son of Roma Harshan and narrator of Puranic scriptures.
Vaikunda Swamikal(also Mudisoodum Perumal, Sampooranathevan, or Ayya Vaikundar)TamilVaishnavaHis followers, the Ayyavazhi consider him to be an avatar of Vishnu.
ValamramGujaratiKunbiVaishnava (devotee of Krishna)He was the disciple of Bhoja Bhagat.Disciple of Bhoja Bhagat, and the Guru-Bhai of Saint Jalaram of Virpur.

Mixed Sudra-Brahmin saints

Some prominent saints were of diverse caste backgrounds. Chandidas, the Bengali had married Rami a washerwoman. Jayadeva married Padmavati the dancer. Sundardas had married a courtesan.
  • Aitreya Mahidasa - Composed the Aitreya Brahmana and sections 1-3 of the Aitreya Aranyaka (the latter contains the Aitreya Upanishad - 1 of the 10 canonical chief Upanishads) of the Rig Veda
  • Dhanwantari - Son of Dirghatamas and of a Dasi
  • Dhugra Thamas - Son of a Dasi female named Mamatha
  • Ghosa - Daughter to Bhakta Kakshivat who wrote verses in the Rig Veda
  • Jamdagni - Son of fisherwoman Satyavati
  • Kakshivat - A "brahmavadin" who was the son of Dirghatamas by a Sudra maid servant (Brihaddevata 4.24-25). His descendants are also referred to as "Kakshivat"
  • Kausika Muni - Son of a Sudra mother
  • Kavasha Ailusha - Son of a Dasi
  • Krishna Dvaipayana Ved Vyasa - The compiler of Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, and Mahabharata, was said to either be of a fisherwoman or from Sudra parents
  • Matanga - He was born of a Brahmin mother and a barber Sudra father. He was a guru of Lord Rama
  • Narada Muni - Son of a maidservant
  • Vatsa - According to the Rig Veda, he is a descendant of Kanva RV 6.1; 8.8 etc.; was called a Sudra-putra (Panchavimsha Brahmana 14.66)
  • Vibhishana - Son of Visravas and a tribal mother named Nikasha
  • Vishwamitra - Son of fisherwoman (Satyavati's mother)
  • Yavanacharya - He was the son of a Brahmin father and Sudra mother from Ujjain

Dalit Hindu saints

  • The Dalit is a section of Hindu society generally referred as a "lower" caste that have produced several influential Hindu saints. Some of the most notable Dalit Hindu saints are RavidasKabirNamdev, Chokha Mela, Sant Kanhoputra, etc.[4] Ravidas was the guru of not only saint Meerabai, but also of Queen Jali of Chittor, while Jalandhari was a Hadi or Net-holder and the guru of Queen Mainamati of Patika, Balak Das was the guru of the King Kawardha, and Rameshwara Prasad Gadhara Guru was the guru of Prince Rajkumar Dilip Singh of Jashpur. Shankaracharya adopted a Dalit as his guru, and upon doing so, he composed the Manisha Panchaka, and this sholka ended with the words, "He who has learned to look on the phenomena in the light of Advaita is my true guru, be he non-caste or brahmin." Shankara bowed to his new guru.Most Brahmins regularly bowed to Ravidas . accepting him as a true saint. Ramamanda himself embraced Ravidas.
  • Many Dalit through their virtuous works, were given the title of Brahmin by non-Harijans. The most popular examples are Matanga, Nandanar, Purnananda, and Valmiki. In one legend, Nandanar entered a fire and came out of the fire as a Brahmin.
    The term "Dalit" came from Hindu reformers such as the Arya Samaj and Swami Vivekananda.The Arya Samaj used the phrase 'dalitoddhara' (improvement of the downtrodden) to upward social mobilization of Dalits. The term Harijan was initially coined by a Koli Adivasi saint of Gujarat named Kubera, who in his lifetime had at least twenty thousands disciples. Then Narsimh Mehta picked up the phrase and began using it for the backward castes. Mahatma Gandhi picked up the phrase and applied it to Dalits as well. Similarily in Ramanuja's era, the Brahmin Ramanuja gave the name Tirukulathar or "holy caste" to those who are of the Dalit caste. Dalits are also known as Nirvasit Shudras, Paulkasa, Parasavas, and Pukkasas.
    Some orthodox Hindu scriptures even describe God Almighty incarnating as a Sudra. An example is when Vishnu manifested as a Sudra and Harijan in the Srimad Bhagavatam where the God as the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva incarnates as a Brahmin, Shudra, and Harijan to test Rantideva. Other examples are the case of Vithal taking the avatar of Vithya Mahar, or Pandhari assuming a Dalit avatar. Keshava Das wrote that Pandharinath assumed the formed of an outcaste named Vithu.
    In Gujarat, Makarand Paranjape, when he was researching the Bhangi Dalits of the Swadhyaya tradition, a Bhangi member said to him the following:
    Dalit Hindu saints
    I am a Bhangi, but I also do the work of a Brahmin. A Brahmin is one who spreads knowledge, sanskars; so I too am a Brahmin. I go on Bhakti pheris to spread the liberating message of Svadhyaya. So I am a Bhangi-Brahmin.
    Dalit Hindu saints

  • Saints

  • Of the irrelevance of caste, especially in terms of religion Basava Swami said the following:In the Bhakti Era, saints from menial occupations continued work in their menial positions while also challenging barriers and worship God. The Varkari sect Sant Eknath writes of the non-Dwija saints:
    Dalit Hindu saints
    Sankhya was a sweeper;
    Agastya, a huntsman;
    Durvasa, a cobbler;
    So, why should you then,
    In ignorance of this,
    Insist on caste?
    Dalit Hindu saints
    Dalit Hindu saints
    God baked pots with Gora,
    Drove cattle with Chokha,
    Cut grass with Savata,
    Wove garments with Kabir,
    Colored hide with Rohidas,
    Sold meat with the butcher Sajana,
    Carried cow-dung with Janabai,
    and even became a Pariah messenger for Damaji.
    Dalit Hindu saints

  • NameEthnicityCasteSectCompositionsOther significance
    AnayarTamilShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints

    One of the 12 Alwar saints.
    ArunagiriTamilKaumara(devotee of Murugan)MahanatakasuktisudhanidhiRamabhyudaya KavyaPrahasanaThiruppukazIn total he wrote 1360 verses dedicated to Murugan.
    AtipattarTamilShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints.
    (Musical bard)
    GanpatyaShe was the royal saint of Chera Dynasty's Prince of Thekadur, and re-converted her brother Marunikku who had converted to Jainism.
    Bahiram ChokhamelaMarathiMaharVaishnavaWrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    Balak DasMarathiMaharShaivaWrote the Mahar Mahatmyadeclaring Samaji as the patriarch of the Mahars and Shiva as the God of the Mahars.
    Balinath BuntinathMarwariBhangiVaishnava (Buntinath Panthi)Gangji was his successor.
    Banka MaharMarathiMaharVaishnava
    (devotee of Vithoba)
    Wrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    Bappa SwamyTulu
    (devotee of Vithoba)
    Wrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    ChannayyaMarathiMaharShaiva (Lingayat)A disciple of Basava.
    ChikkayyaMarathiMaharShaiva (Lingayat)A disciple of Basava.
    Chokha MelaMarathiMaharVaishnavaWrote many Abhangas devoted to Krishna.
    Dapa MuchiHindiChemlir (Cobbler)DarpaNarayani (Vaishnava)Founded the Darpa Narayani Vaishnava sect.
    DamajipanthMarathiMaharVaishnavaWrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    Dasrath GajbhiyeMarathi(Musical bard)Vaishnava
    (Kabir Panthi)

    Devi DasHindiChamarSatnamiA disciple of Jagjivan Das.
    Dohar KakkayaKannadaLeather-tannerShaiva (Lingayat)A disciple of Basava.
    Ghasi DasHindiChamarSatnamiA prominent achiever of 'Saty' and aided the Satnamimovement in Chhattisgarh India. His son, Balak Das was his successor (his memorable historical Jaistambh is in Giroud Puri Dham Disst, Raipur, Chhattisgarh.)
    Ghisa DasHindiGhisa
    (Kabir Panthi)
    Gopalanand MaharajMarwariSweeperArya SamajiStudied Vedanta from Pandit Bodhanandji. He composed several songs and poems. His father was Pandit Sanwalram.
    Guruchand ThakurBengaliNamasudraVaishnava
    (Matua sect devotee of Vishnu)
    Son of Sri Harichand Thakur, helped organize the Vaishnava Matua sect
    Haran KsepaBengaliKshepaTantricHe was called "Buda Siva" by Saint Jaganbandhu.
    HaribavaGujaratiMahyavanshiVaishnavaHe was a mendicant and had become a saint through his asceticism.
    Harichand ThakurBengaliNamsudraVaisnavism
    (Matua devotee of Vishnu)
    Founded Vaishnava Matua sect to worship Hari and preach Harinam[26] and a few of their songs even recognize Harichand as an avatar of Vishnu
    Jagjivan RamHindiAprisya ChamarSatnami
    (devotee of Krishna)
    Who went to Calcuttta to become initiated as a Hindu saint, and is very well known as a major Dalit and Indian political leader
    JambrishMarathiMang or Channayya
    Jitau Jeetbahadur (also Sadhu)ChamarVaishnava (Ravidasi)He was a dsiciple of Mohandasji of Kamalpur, and he preached Ravidas' teachings.
    Jiwan DasHindiSatnamiHe was a saint of the Satnami sect.
    Jivan DasGujaratiVaishnava
    (Kabir Panthi)
    KaliarTamilOil-presserShaivaTamil one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
    Kanho or KanhopatraMarathiMahar courtesan dancerVaishnava
    (devotee of Krishna)
    Wrote many Abhangas devoted to Krishna.
    Kangal KshepaBengaliKshepaTantricOn his grave clay horses are offered.
    KapinjaladaAccording to Mahabharata (Anushasana Parvan 53.13–19) he became a Brahmin by his penances.
    KarmamelamMarathiMaharVaishnavaWrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    Kurippu TondarTamilOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
    Kurma DasVaishnava
    Founded the Alakhgir Shaiva sect that worships Lord Shiva as Alakh or Formless.
    Madara ChannayyaKannadaCobblerShaiva (Lingayat)A disciple of Basava.
    Madara DhulayyaKannadaCobblerShaiva
    A disciple of Basava.
    Mahatma MohandasjiMarwariChamarVaishanva (Ravidasi)
    Malamat ShahSatnami
    MalisaiTamilVaishnavaOne of the 12 Alwar saints.
    (also Nilan)
    VaishnavaHe was one of the 12 Alwar saints. He debated against Buddhists, Jains, and Shaivas, and was made King of Mankai (Tiruvalinatu) by a Chola monarch.
    Malicai AlvarTamilAdoptedVaishnavaHe was one of the 12 Alvar saints.
    Mohini DeviHindiChamarSatnamiOrganized many Chamars.
    Nabha DasHindiDomVaishnavaSant Ramanand's disciple.
    Nalai PovarTamilOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints.
    (also Nanthanaar)
    TamilAthanuurShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints. Chidambaram, the main place where Nandanar practiced austerities is now a place where backward castes have their own ashrams and recite the Upanishads in Sanskrit

    NilakantaTamilPotterShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
    Nilakanta YazhpanarTamilPana
    (Musical bard)
    ShaivaOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
    NirmalaMarathiMaharVaishnavaWrote many Abhangas devoted to Vithal.
    Nulka ChandayyaKannadaMangShaiva
    He was a disciple of Basava.
    Pambatti CittarTamilShaivaA well-known siddhar.
    (also Panalwar)
    (Musical bard)
    VaishnavaOne of the Alvar saints and considered an avatar from the mole on Lord Vishnu's chest.
    Founder of the Ramnami sect in Chhattisgarh
    (devotee of Durga Ma)
    Disciple of Kalachand.
    Pipal DassPunjabiChamarVaishnava
    Ram DasPunjabiChamarDisciple of Lakhmir.
    Ram DasPunjabiDhedRamdeo Panth (Vaishnava)
    Ram DasPunjabiRamdeo Panth (Vaishnava)He was the disciple of the Ramdeo Panth founder, also named Ramdas.
    Ram NavalHindiBhangiVaishnava
    (Naval Panthi)
    His successors were Daya Ram Maharaj (his son), Ram Baksh Maharaj and the present-day Badri Ram Maharaj.
    Rameshwara Prasad Gadhara GuruHindiSanatana Sant SamajiHe was the guru of Prince Rajkumar Dilip Singh of Jashpur.

    The Guru of Mirabai. He is said to have taken up his family job of shoe-making and supplied shoes top ascetics. "My caste is low, my lineage is low, and mean is my birth. I have taken shelter, King Rama, says Ravidas the cobbler" (p. 659, Guru Granth Sahib). His disciples are the Ravidasis. He was a disciple of Ramananda, claimed by Harijans to be their master.[45]
    Sarwan DasPunjabiChamarFollower of Ravi Das and son of Sant Pipal Dass
    Satya Kam JabaliServantThere is a legend that in Puranic times, Jabali rishi had his ashram in Utkantheshwar, and this is how the city originated.
    ShatakopaTamilKanjar or BhitonAlwar devotee, Yamuna Muni declared, "I touch my feet at the holy feet of Shatakopa"
    Shobhi RamHindiChamarVaishnava
    (Shiva Narayani)
    He was a close disciple of Shiva Narayan converted hundreds to the Shiva Narayani sect. From his faith was influenced his son was Jagjivan Das the Satnami saint.
    Sooli CholakkaKannadaConcubineShaiva
    She was a disciple of Basava.
    SoyarabaiMarathiMaharSant Chokha Mela's wife
    (devotee of Krishna)
    TejanandaGujaratiHe was known by title "Swami" (priest) and being he is greatly revered and an inspiration, the Dalits of Gujarat have named institutions after him such as the Shri Tejanand Swami Karmakand.
    Thykad Ayyavu SwamyTamilPariahKaumara
    (devotee of Muruga)
    Trikam DasGujaratiVaishnava
    (Kabir Panthi)
    Umaid Ram MaharajHindiBhangiVaishnavaHe was a mendicant. His successors were Sukaram Maharaj, Deepa Ram Maharaj and the present-day Mangi Ram Maharaj.
    He was a disciple of Dadu Dayal.
    VandiTamilRoadside HawkerShaiva
    ShaivaTirukkuralOne of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints, whose Tirukkural is held in high esteem even in modern times.
    Vishvanath MaharajMarwariDhanak Tadvi
    Vithal Ramji ShindeMarathiChamarPrartna SamajiA member of the Prartna Samaj and founder of the Depressed Classes Mission organization for the upliftment of backward-caste Hindus.

Other respected sages in Hindu society

    • Arjun Lal, disciple of Ravidas, wrote several bhajans
    • Namdev Mahar, Mahar, devotee of Sai, lived in Kharagpur
    • Bhagubai, wife of Namdev Mahar, devotee of Sai
    • Mumbaji Gossain, follower of Tukaram


    1. Jump up Dalits and the state, pp. 42, Ghanshyam Shah, Centre for Rural Studies (Lal Bahadur Shastry National Academy of Administration)
    2. Jump up Dalit consciousness and Christian conversion: historical resources for a contemporary debate: mission theology in an Asian context, pp. 20, Samuel Jayakumar, I.S.P.C.K. (Organization), Regnum International, 1999
    3. Jump up Staging politics: power and performance in Asia and Africa, pp. 179, Julia C. Strauss, Donal Brian Cruise O'Brien, I. B.Tauris, 2007
    4. Jump up "The Hindus forgot that their great saints and philosophers belonged to low caste's men as Valmiki, Ved Vyas, Sauni, Rom Harshan, Tiru Vallur, Kabir, Raidas, Chokhamela, Namdev, Tukaram...", Dalit Literature, pp. 209, Amar Nath Prasad, Sarup & Sons, 2007
    5. Jump up P. 169 Sculpting the Middle Class: History, Masculinity and the Amar Chitra Katha By Deepa Sreenivas
    6. Jump up P. 86 Poet Saints of India By Sumita Roy
    7. Jump up P. 91 Doing Theology with the Poetic Traditions of India: Focus on Dalit and Tribal Poems by Joseph Patmury
    8. Jump up p. 74 From stigma to assertion: untouchability, identity and politics in early and By Mikael Aktor, Robert Deliège
    9. Jump up P. 273 Dalits and the State edited by Ghanshyam Shah
    10. Jump up P. 269 Brahmanism and Hinduism, Or, Religious Thought and Life in India: As Based By Sir Monier Monier-Williams
    11. Jump up P. 24 Gujarat Unknown: Hindu-Muslim Syncretism and Humanistic Forays By J. J. Roy Burman
    12. Jump up P. 142 Subordinate and Marginal Groups in Early India by Aloka Parasher-Sen
    13. Jump up P. 231, The concise Srimad Bhagavata?, By Venkatesananda (Swami.)
    14. Jump up Spiritual Sites as Sources of Social Transformation: Lessons from Svadhyaya by Makarand Paranjape, A.M., PhD
    15. Jump up P. 480 A Sourcebook of Indian Civilization edited by Niharranjan Ray, Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya
    16. Jump up P. 42-43 Living Through the Blitz By Tom Harrisson
    17. Jump up p. 133 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Ramacandra Kshirasagara
    18. Jump up P. 17 Principles of Tantra, Volume 2 by Shiva Chandra Vidyarnava Bhattacharya, Jnanendralal Majumdar, Barada Kanta Majumdar
    19. Jump up Murthy, p. 16 Basavanna
    20. Jump up Sathyan, p. 242 Karnataka State Gazetteer
    21. Jump up P. 233 Veerashaivism in India By Suryakant Balasaheb Ghugare
    22. Jump up p. 84 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Ramacandra Kshirasagara
    23. Jump up P. 233 Veerashaivism in India By Suryakant Balasaheb Ghugare
    24. Jump up p. xiii, Scheduled caste welfare: myth or reality, by R. B. Singh
    25. Jump up p. 42, Hinduism and Islam in India: caste, religion, and society from antiquity to, by S. V. Desika Char
    26. Jump up p. 96, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
    27. Jump up p. 100, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
    28. Jump up Bhanu, p. 1105 People of India
    29. ↑ Jump up to:29.0 29.1 Page 78 The Aryan Path - Volume 8 By Sophia Wadia
    30. Jump up p. 1350 The Journal of Asian studies, Volume 67, Issue 4 by Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.)
    31. ↑ Jump up to:31.0 31.1 p. 52 Nandanar, the Dalit martyr: a historical reconstruction of his times by Sundararaj Manickam
    32. Jump up P. 233 Veerashaivism in India By Suryakant Balasaheb Ghugare
    33. Jump up p. 139 A history of Tirupati, Volume 1 by Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar
    34. Jump up p. 159–160 Tamil literature, Volume 2, Part 1 By Kamil Zvelebil
    35. Jump up P. 30 India and Nepal: Sacred Centres and Anthropological Researches By Makhan Jha
    36. Jump up p. 156 A history of Tamil literature by C. Jesudasan, Hephzibah Jesudasan
    37. Jump up Sastri, p. 3 Hindu Feasts, Fasts & Ceremonies
    38. Jump up p. 12 The grand epic of Saivism by Cuttan_anta Paratiyar, Cekkilar
    39. Jump up p. 135 Some aspects of Kerala and Tamil literature by Mu Irakavaiya?kar
    40. Jump up P. 384 The Castes and Tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's Dominions, Volume 1 By Syed Siraj ul Hassan
    41. Jump up p. 108 Sri Andal, her contribution to literature, philosophy, religion & art: a compilation of lectures during All India Seminar on Andal, 13th to 15th August 1983 By Sri Ramanuja Vedanta Centre (Madras, India)
    42. ↑ Jump up to:42.0 42.1 p. 15 Dalits in regional context by Harish K. Puri
    43. Jump up p. 415 Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province by H. A. Rose, IBBETSON, Maclagan,
    44. Jump up p. 149 The Bhangi: a sweeper caste, its socio-economic portraits, by Shyamlal
    45. Jump up Singh, p. 98 Leadership Patterns and Village Structure
    46. Jump up p. 97 Poisoned bread: translations from modern Marathi Dalit literature by Arjuna ?a?ga?e
    47. Jump up p. 87, Gita Darshan as Bhakti Yoga, as a Chaitanyite Reads it
    48. Jump up P. 384 The Castes and Tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's Dominions, Volume 1 By Syed Siraj ul Hassan
    49. Jump up p. 61 Women Saints of East and West By Swami Ghanananda, John Stewart-Wallace
    50. Jump up P. 24 Discourses on Two Poems of Saint Paltu by Charan Singh (Maharaj), Charan Singh (Satguru)
    51. Jump up p. 352 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857–1956 by Ramacandra Kshirasagara
    52. Jump up p. 144 The Bhangi: a sweeper caste, its socio-economic portraits, by Shyamlal
    53. Jump up p. 248 Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables: Ancient Medieval And Modern by Raj Kumar
    54. Jump up p. 89 Tiruvalluvar by Es Makara-jan
    55. Jump up p. 43 Vitthal Ramji Shinde by G. M. Pavara
    56. ↑ Jump up to:56.0 56.1 Shepherd, p. 111 Gurus Rediscovered

Adivasi Hindu saints

  • The Vanavasis or Adivasis are known by various other names such as Atavikas in Sanskrit literature, and in Gandhian terms are known as RaniparajVanyajati and Girijan. Another popular term is Vanavasi.
    File:Narada visits Valmiki.jpg
    The youthful sage Narada at the white-bearded Valmiki's hermitage
    From the time of the Rig Veda it is known that tribal groups outside the Indian caste system were devotees of Hinduism. The caste system plus the Vanavasis that caste-members were in contact with in the Vedic Age, is known as panca-manusyajatani and Agni Deva is "the chief priest of the five classes" (RV IX.66.20).
    There are several classes of Adivasi priests. Some tribals like the Vankar call their priests as Brahmin. Some Hindu groups like the Arya Samaj adopted this Adivasi practice and began calling Adivasi priests as Garo Brahmans. Many great Hindu pilgrimages have Vanavasis priests or clerics. For example, At the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar, there are Brahmin and Badu (tribal) priests. The Badus have the most intimate contact with the deity of the temple, and only they can bathe and adorn it. Chhotoloks haave their Lays as priest, Bhopa and Dewalo for Bhils, while for Santals the Kadam Naik and majhi-haram (headman) are priests while the jog-majhi is the assistant headman, and then the Kharias' preist are known as Kalo, Dehuri or Pahan and the priest assistant is the Pujar.
    There were several kings and chiefs of kingdoms and tribes that accepted Hinduism and endorsed it peacefully amongst their subjects and tribesmen. An example of a prominent Vanavasi figure is King Krishna Chandra, first Kachari to formally convert to Hinduism. Another is King Pamheiba of Manipur accepted Vaishnavism from Ramanandi Shantidas Gosain, and took the title Garib Niwaz. Also in Manipuri history of importance is King Bhagyachandra of Manipur, who was converted by Ramnarayana Misra, a descendant of Chaitanya's uncle. King Govinda Manikya also converted to Vaishnavism. King Parvata Raya, of Jaintia Khasis was important amongst Khasis. Even in the Hindu scriptures like Mahabahrata mention is made of Pandava warrior prince Bhima marrying Hidimba.
    Some Hindus believe that Indian tribals are close to the romantic ideal of the ancient silvan culture of the Vedic people. Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar said:
    The tribals "can be given yajñopavîta (…) They should be given equal rights and footings in the matter of religious rights, in temple worship, in the study of Vedas, and in general, in all our social and religious affairs. This is the only right solution for all the problems of casteism found nowadays in our Hindu society."
    Several scriptures make mention to noble Vanavasis. For example, the Bhils are mentioned in the Mahabharata. The Bhil boy Ekalavya's teacher was Drona, and he had the honour to be invited to Yudhisthira's Rajasuya Yajna at Indraprastha.[5] Indian tribals were also part of royal armies in the Ramayana and in the Arthashastra.[6] In Hindu stories also, God or gods take the form(s) of tribals sometimes. In Baiga folklore, Mahadev (Shiva) and Parvati take the form of a Baiga and Baigin[7] Some saints amongst tribal communities are also worshiped as a god. For example, Balnathji Mahadeo the Koli saint is considered an avatar of Shankaravatar at Junagarh, Gujarat.
    On a comparison to the tribals of other countries and regions, S.C. Dube notes "Their position, however, cannot be compared to that of Australian aborigines, American Indians or native Africans." This indicates that their status and economic position is higher in society.

Saintly development amongst Adivasis

  • Several devotional movements were embraced by Indians, and many times included the Vanavasis as sectarian reformers or founders. For example, speaking of the Vaishnava movement in Asom, Sant Madhavadeva says The Vaisnava Order in its primal glory saw "the Garo, Bhota and Yavana (Muslim) saying prayers to Hari" and "the Miri, Asama and Kachari securing salvation through Rama-Nama"
    Of the irrelevance of caste, especially in terms of religion Basava Swami said the following:In the Bhakti Era, saints from menial occupations continued work in their menial positions while also challenging barriers and worship God. The Varkari sect Sant Eknath writes of the non-Dwija saints:

    Adivasi Hindu saints
    God baked pots with Gora,
    Drove cattle with Chokha,
    Cut grass with Savata,
    Wove garments with Kabir,
    Colored hide with Rohidas,
    Sold meat with the butcher Sajana,

    Carried cow-dung with Janabai,
    and even became a Pariah messenger for Damaji.
    Adivasi Hindu saints
    The saints of Vanavasi communities have formed several devotional sects. Amongst the Bhils, the popular ones unique to Bhils are Shambhu Dal (Shaiva) and Rama Dal (Vaishnava.) Amongst the Vanavasi communities of Central India and Jharkhand, after the Bhakti Era had ended, there prospered the Bhagat Movement and amongst its foundations were the Bachhidan Bhagat, Bhuiphut Bhagats, Birsa Bhagats, Gau Rakshni Bhagat, Kamru Bhagat, Mahadeo Bhagats, Neha Bhagat, Tana Bhagats, and Vishnu Bhagats.
    During the British colonial era in India, amongst the Vanavasi communities there prospered a great time of devotion in which the Vanavasi tried to preserve their identity from being lost to an alien religion so they established their own Hindu sects to counter the advancement of the foreign religions. In this era some popular saints began popularizing mainstream Hindu customs for their own tribe brethren. For example, Sant Jatra Oraon and his followers began wearing the sacred thread as a symbol of the purity of their faith. "The Bhagat movement of various types aimed to purify the religious and social life of tribals on the model of higher form of Hinduism." Some Vanavasi saints were converts who left foreign religions to come to Hinduism and revive their true ethical tribal ways. An example is Birsa Munda of the Munda tribe in Central India. Saints like Haribaba also, not only spread Hindu popular worship and practices like vegetarianism but encouraged the wearing of a scared thread.
    Also during colonialism these tribal Hindu movements worked closely with bigger and well-known Hindu activist groups whose mission was to educate the tribals. For example, Jeebon Roy was a Gandhian Indian freedom fighter and writers of some books detailing the lives of prominent Hindu figures like Chaitanya, Gautama Buddha, and Krishna. Some of his works were Ka Kitap ChaitanyaKa RamayanBudhadev CharitraHitupodesaKa Niom Ki KhasiShaphang Uwei U Blei. His sons Sibcharan Roy and Chandranath Roy continued his legacy and translated Hindu scriptures like Bhagavad GitaChanakya Niti Darpan.

  • NameEthnicityTribeSectCompositionsOther significance
    BalaiMikirMikirVaishnava(Ekasarana Dharma)
    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.[13]
    Balnathji MahadeoGujaratiKoliShaiva
    Avatar of Shankaravatar at Junagarh
    Bedara KannappaKannada
    An avatar of a Gandharva that had accidentally killed a deer in heaven.[14]Srikalahasti

    A 17th or 18th century saint.[15]
    Bhagirath ManjhiSantalSantalVaishnava
    He encouraged, vegetarianism, non-alcoholism, worship of Vishnu, and opposing British rule amongst the Santals.
    Bhima BhoiOriyaBhoiVaishnava (Mahima Dharma)His compositions (compiled by someone else but composed by him) are Stuti ChintamaniBrahmanirupana GitaAdianta GitaChautisa GranthamalaNirveda SadhanaSruti Nisedha GitaManusabha MandalaMahima VinodaBrihat BhajanaMala and Bangala Atha Bhajan.He was the principle disciple of Mahama Swami (Mukanda Das) and himself was a blind poet.
    Siddheswarsastri Chitrav wrote of him in the Ganesh Purana.
    Birsa Bhagwan
    (also Birsa Munda)
    He is considered an avatar of Khasra Kora. People approached him as Singbonga, the Sun god. His sect included Christian converts. He and his clan, the Mundas, were connected with Vaishnava traditions as they were influenced by Sri Chaitanya. Birsa was very close to the Panre brothers Vaishnavites. He went to the extent of attacking churches and police station during his 1989-1990 Munda Rebellion.
    Budhu BhagatKolKolVaishnava
    Led the Kol Insurrection (1831–1832) aimed against tax imposed on the Kol community by Muslim rulers.
    Dhanraj LodhaBhilBhil

    He was the son of Shreshthi Shrang Lodha.

    A 17th or 18th century devotee (P. 4, The Story of Historic People of India-The Kolis)
    Dubia GosainSantalSantalVaishnava

    Ganga NarainHindiBhumijVaishnava
    Led the Bhumij Revolt (1832–1833) aimed against missionaries and British colonialists.
    Gheru Lal Bal Chand
    (also Gheru Lal Tantia)
    He managed Gandhi's ashram in Sirsa and was a freedom fighter.
    Girnari VelnathjiGujaratiKoli

    Of Junagadh, a 17th or 18th century devotee
    GovindaGaroGaroVaishnava (Ekasarana Dharma)
    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
    Govind GirSantalSantalVaishnava

    Govind GuruBhilBhilVaishnava
    He led the Bhil uprising of southern Rajasthan against the British colonialists in 1913.
    Gulia BhamdaMarwadiBhil

    Gunabhiram BaruaBaruaBaruaBrahma Dharma
    He was a major disciple of Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma, and spread the Brahma Dharma to his capacity.
    Haipou JadonangZeliangrongNaga

    He was a Gandhian and often equated his Heraka sect with Vaishnavism.
    (also Duka Ho)
    He was a Gandhian that encouraged his tribesmen the Ho to give up alcohol, and to practice vegetarianism and Vaishnava worship.
    Jato TamariaHoHoVaishnava
    He was a disciple of Haribaba and spread Haribaba's teachings of vegetarianism, non-alcoholism, and Vaishnavism.
    Jatra OraonOraonOraonShaiva
    He claim that he received a dream from God whom told him to do away with animal sacrifices and the worship of ghosts. led the Tana Bhagat Movement (1914–1919) aimed against the missionaries and British colonialists.
    (also Jayanta Hari)
    (Ekasarana Dharma)

    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
    Joria BhagatGujaratiNayak

    He fought the British in his Naikdas Revolt of 1958-59, and 1968 with his comrade Sant Rup Singh, trying to establish a 'Dharam Raj'.
    (also Vaikunthanatha)
    He is considered an avatar of Lord Vishnu.[3]
    Kalicharan Brahma
    (also Guru Brahma)
    BodoBodoBrahmo Samaji
    He founded the Brahma Dharma aimed against Christian missionaries and British colonialists. The Brahma Dharma movement sought to unite peoples of all religions to worship God (Brahma) together and survives even today.
    Kalu DevPunjabiNishadha

    Kannappa Nayanar
    (also Dhira)
    One of 63 Nayanar Shaivite sants, a hunter from whom Lord Shiva gladly accepted food offerings. It is said that he poured water from his mouth on the Shivlingam and offered the Lord swine flesh.
    Kiratarjuniya(also Kirata)

    The form of Lord Shiva as a hunter. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The Karppillikkavu Sree Mahadeva Temple, Kerala adores Lord Shiva in this avatar and is known to be one of the oldest surviving temples in Bharat.
    Koli BhagatGujaratiKoliVaishnava
    He introduced Vaishnavism to the Koli community of Chotila, Gujarat.
    Kotnaka SuruGondGondVaishnava
    He taught methods for attaining moksha, and began the Shri Guru Dev Seva Mandal.
    Koya BhagatGujaratiKoli

    A 17th or 18th century devotee
    He was a saint of Sarsa, taught for over 35 years, and had 20,000 followers in his time.[21]
    Madan BhagatGujaratiKoli

    He was a 17th or 18th century saint.
    Mangai AlvarTamilKallarVaishnavaHe composed the six Vedangasin beautiful Tamil verse
    Mangru Kharsawan


    (Ekasarana Dharma)

    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
    NarottamaNocteNaga (Nocte)Vaishnava
    (Ekasarana Dharma)

    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
    ParmanandaMishingMiri or MishingVaishnava
    (Ekasarana Dharma)

    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.
    Phalagunanda LingdenLimbuLimbuJasmini Sadhu
    He spread his message in Sikkim.
    Pipa BhagatGujaratiKoli[22]Vaishnava
    He served under-privileged and down-rotten people.
    (Ekasarana Dharma)

    He was a disciple of Sankardev and preached the message Vaishnavism to gain devotees.

    Ramdev AtaAtaAtaVaishnava
    He was a great devotee that spread much of his lifetime spreading Vaishnavism, encouraging vegetarianism and non-violence. He converted the Nocte chief Khunbao, also known as Lotha Khunbao, who is the ancestor of the present chiefs families of Namsang, Borduria and Laptang, when Shri Ram Dev Ata was the Adhikar (Abbot) of the Satra.
    Rameswara Prasad
    (also Gadhara Guru)
    He was the guru of 80,000 Kavar brethren and later joined Swami Satyamitranandji.[23] He also established the 'Sanatna Sant Samaj' Hindu organization.
    Rani GaidinliuZeliangrongNaga

    She took over the priesthood of Heraka and was important in its resistance to British colonialists and Christian missionaries. She said, "I built temples because the Bhuban told me in a dream that there would be prosperity and good health for every one if I did so, although it is not our custom to build temples. The male god in my upper temple is Vishnu."
    Rup Nath BrahmaBodoBodoBrahma Dharma
    He was the chief disciple of Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma, and spread the Brahma Dharma to his capacity.

    She was a woman disciple of Matanga, who offered Rama and Lakshmana jujubes when they were searching for Sita in the forest.
    Sany Kanji SwamiGujaratiKoli

    A 17th or 18th century devotee
    (devotee of Rama)

    Gunabhiram BaruaAhomiBaruaBrahma Dharma
    He was a major disciple of Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma, and spread the Brahma Dharma to his capacity.
    Tantya MamaBhilBhil

    She is after whom a movement is named after – the "Jananayak Tantya Bhil."
    (also Ratna Vailya)

    (devotee of Rama)
    He composed the Ramayana, and is considered to be an avatar in the Balmiki community and some Vaishnava scriptures like Vishnudharmottara Purana.

    A 17th or 18th century saint.

    The son of Lord Kirata.
    Vishvanath MaharajHindiDhanak TadviVaishnava

Sankhya was a sweeper

Sankhyan Rishi
Sankhyan was a maharishi and the author of many ancient Indian texts. He was accredited as the author of book named Sankhyana Rishi Tantra.

According to mythology, he was involved in the story of the birth of Lord Brahma and the Creation of the Kumaras namely, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanat-Kumara are traditionally, the four mind-born sons of Lord Brahma.

He is also responsible for the preaching of message of great epic, Shrimad-Bhagavatam.

Long ago, great saints headed by Sanat-kumara, came to the bottom of the universe from the highest planets by traveling through the waters of the Ganga. With wetted hair, they touched the lotus feet of Lord Sankarshana, who was engaged in meditation upon Lord Vaasudeva, of whom he is a plenary expansion. As the great sages glorified the Lord, with words full of transcendental affection, He opened his eyes slightly and he began to radiate with a glowing effulgence.

Lord Sankarshana (First expanion of Sri Krishna, i.e., Balarama) then spoke the purport of Shrimad-Bhagavatam to Sanat-kumara, and he, in turn, explained it to Sankhyan Muni.

Later, when Sankhyan Muni repeated the message of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Parashara, heard him, along with Brihaspati. Then, at Pulastya’s advice, Parashara spoke this foremost of Puranas to all.

Thus, In other words, he is the preacher of Vedic Knowledge.

 Durvasa Rishi

Prakash D
Prakash D, B com from RBANM's First Grade College
In Hindu mythology, Durvasa was an ancient sage, the son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva.
He is known for his short temper. Maledictions or curses he gave in his rage ruined many lives. Hence, wherever he went, he was received with great reverence (out of fear) from humans and Devas alike.He is commonly portrayed as desiring to enjoy others' hospitality, and becoming exceedingly angry when hosts display any sort of impropriety or fail to please him as a guest. Conversely, hosts who serve him well are often blessed by him.

According to Chapter 44 of the Brahmananda Purana, Brahma and Shiva once got into a heated quarrel. So violent was Shiva's rage as a result of this quarrel, that the Devas fled from his presence in fear. His consort, Parvati, complained that Shiva was now impossible to live with. Realising the disharmony his anger had caused, he decided to deposit this anger into Anasuya, the wife of sage Atri. From this portion of Shiva deposited into Anasuya, a child was born, who was named Durvasa (literally, one who is difficult to live with). Because he was born of Shiva's anger, he had an irascible nature.

The Bhagavata Purana gives a somewhat different account of Durvasa's birth. In this version, Atri performed severe penance to propitiate the Supreme Being in order to obtain a son by Anasuya who would be just like Him. Pleased with him, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (being but different manifestations of the Supreme) blessed the sage that portions of themselves would be born as his sons. In due course, Anasuya bore Soma (Brahma's incarnation), Dattatreya (Vishnu's), and Durvasa (Shiva's).The famous Durvasa Ashram is situated in Azamgarh where thousands of his students were used to take education.

Durvasa and Shakuntala

In the Abhijñanashakuntala, written by Kalidasa, when the maiden Shakuntala ignored Durvasa's demands to be welcomed as a guest because she was daydreaming about her lover, Dushyanta, he cursed her that her lover would forget her. Horrified, Shakuntala's companions managed to mollify Durvasa, who softened the curse, saying that Dushyanta would remember Shakuntala when he saw the ring that he gave her as a token of their love.The sage's curse came true of course,and was eventually lifted, just as he said it would be. By the end of the play, the two lovers are reconciled, and are happy to be together again, along with their son, Bharata.

Durvasa and Kunti

In the Mahabharata, Durvasa is known for granting boons to those who had pleased him, particularly when he had been served well as an honoured guest. An example of such behaviour is the episode between him and Kunti (the future wife of Pandu and mother of the Pandavas). When Kunti was a young girl, she lived in the house of her adopted father, Kuntibhoja. Durvasa visited Kuntibhoja one day, and sought his hospitality. The king entrusted the sage to his daughter's care and tasked Kunti with the responsibility of entertaining the sage and meeting all his needs during his stay with them.Kunti patiently put up with Durvasa's temper and his unreasonable requests (such as demanding food at odd hours of the night) and served the sage with great dedication. Eventually, the sage was gratified. Before departing, he rewarded Kunti by teaching her Atharva Veda Mantras which enabled her to invoke any god of her choice to beget children by THEM - Life objects was by the use of this mantra that she was able to call the following gods:

Surya - He blessed her with a son named Karna, the unknown eldest Pandava

Dharma or Yama - He blessed her with a son named Yudhisthira, most righteous of the Pandavas.

Vayu - He blessed her with a son named Bhima, of great strength

Indra - He blessed her with a son named Arjuna, the great archer

The twin Ashvins - They blessed Madri (Pandu's second wife) with beautiful twins named Nakula and Sahadeva.

Protecting Draupadi's Modesty
Contrary to the more famous Mahabharata version of Dushasana's attempted disrobing of Draupadi, the Shiva Purana (III.19.63-66) attributes her miraculous rescue to a boon granted by Durvasa.[41] The story goes that the sage's loincloth was once carried away by the Ganges's currents. Draupadi quickly tore a piece of her garment to cover him. The sage was pleased with her. He granted Draupadi a boon which caused an unending stream of cloth to cover her when Dushasana was trying to strip her in Hastinapura's royal dice-hall.

Durvasa and Duryodhana

Another example of Durvasa's benevolent side is the incident when he granted Duryodhana a boon. During the Pandavas' exile, Durvasa and several disciples arrived at Hastinapura, and were gratified by Duryodhana's devoted hospitality. Durvasa was pleased enough to grant him a boon. Duryodhana, secretly wanting Durvasa to curse the Pandavas in anger, asked the sage to visit his cousins in the forest after Draupadi had eaten her meal, knowing that the Pandavas would then have nothing to feed him.

Visiting the Pandavas

So Durvasa and his disciples visited the Pandavas in their hermitage in the forest, as per Duryodhana's request. During this period of exile, the Pandavas would obtain their food by means of the Akshaya Patra, which would become exhausted each day once Draupadi finished her meal.Because Draupadi had already eaten by the time Durvasa arrived that day, there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to their fate should they fail to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away bathing at the river, Draupadi prayed to Krishna for help. Krishna immediately appeared before Draupadi saying he was extremely hungry, and asked her for food. Draupadi grew exasperated and said she had prayed to Krishna precisely because she had no food left to give. Krishna then told her to bring the Akshaya Patra to him. When she did, he partook of the lone grain of rice and piece of vegetable that he found stuck to the vessel and announced that he was satisfied by the "meal". This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and his disciples, as the satisfaction of Krishna (portrayed here as the Supreme Being who pervades the entire Universe) meant the satiation of the hunger of all living things. The sage Durvasa and his disciples then quietly left after their bath, without returning to the Pandavas' hermitage, for they were afraid of facing what they thought would be the Pandavas' wrathful reaction at their impolite behaviour of refusing the food that would be served to them.

Which was one of the most deadly curses given by Durvasa Rishi?

Varun Khullar
Varun Khullar, Proud to be An Indian and I respect my sovereignty
Durvasa Muni assumed a larger than life persona, thanks to his anger and the curses he heaped on the unsuspecting. According to Abhingyana ShakuntalamThe most famous of his curses was the one he inflicted on Shakuntala, because, lost in her daydreams about her lover King Dushyanth, she forgot to receive the muni with the respect due to a guest. The sage cursed her that because of her inhospitality, the person in her dreams would forget her. When a distraught Shakuntala pleaded with him, the sage reduced the intensity of the curse by suggesting that her lover would remember her once she showed him his ring. What follows in the intervening period is the legend of Shakuntala, such is the life-changing power of a mere curse.

The great sage, Durvasa Muni, once offered a garland to Indra, who ignored it and put it on the tusk of his elephant, Airawat, which trampled it. Seeing Indra's disregard, the revered sage became furious. He cursed Indra saying that he and the other gods would lose all their powers. In due course, Indra and the other gods began losing all battles against the demons, and the demons led by Bali took control of the universe.

Seeing no other means, the helpless Indra rushed to Vishnu for help.

Vishnu had a plan. He said that to get back their powers the gods Samudra Manthanwould have to churn the oceans and bring out the magical nectar-amrita. Only after consuming it could they regain their powers. This great churning is known as samudra manthan. But as the gods were powerless now, they sought the help of the demons to accomplish this huge task.

The gods and demons got together for the the herculean task. The huge mountain, Mandara, was used as the pole to stir the waters. But as the pole entered the water it kept sliding into depths of the ocean. To stop this, Vishnu quickly transformed himself into a tortoise and placed the mountain on his back. This image of Vishnu as the tortoise was his second avatar called 'Kurma.'

Once the pole was balanced, it was tied to the gigantic snake, Vasuki, and the gods and demons started pulling it from either side. As the churning began and the massive waves whirled, an extremely poisonous drink called halahal came out. The gods became scared because this blue drink could destroy creation.

They all got together and prayed to the powerful Shiva to help him them. Shiva appeared before all and gulped the entire poison. But, he did not swallow it. He kept the poison in his throat. Since then, Shiva's throat became blue, and he became known as Neelkantha or the blue-throated one.

The churning continued and poured forth a number of gifts and treasures. They included Kamdhenu, the wish-fulfilling cow; the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi; the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha; and finally, came Dhanvantari carrying the pot of amrita and a book of medicine called Ayurveda.

Once the amrita was out, the demons forcefully took it away. Two demons, Rahu and Ketu, disguised themselves as gods and drank the amrita. The sun and moon gods recognised it to be a trick and complained to Vishnu, who in turn, severed their heads with his Sudarshan Chakra. As the divine nectar did not get time to reach below the throat, the heads remained immortal, but the body below died. This helps Rahu and Ketu take revenge on the Sun and Moon by devouring them every year during solar and lunar eclipse.

A great war between the gods and demons followed. Finally, Vishnu disguised as the enchanting Mohini tricked the demons and recovered the nectar.

While fleeing the clutches of the demons, Vishnu gave the amrita to his winged charioteer, Garuda. But the demons caught up and a tussle followed. During this tussle few drops of the drink fell at Ujjain, Nasik, Allahabad, and Haridwar.

The drops are said to have purified the land and it is here that every year devotees come to wash away theit sins in the famous assembly called Kumbh Mela.


a huntsman;

By Swami Harshananda
Agastya literally means ‘One who shunned the growth of the mountain Vindhya’.

Agastya is also one of the most famous ṛṣis. He is the seer of several Rgvedic mantras He was a brahmarṣi and the son of Pulastya and Havirbhuk. Sage Agniveśya was his disciple.
 According to some texts, he was the son of Mitra and Varuṇa, and was born in a kumbha or jar. Hence he was also named as Kumbhaja, Kumbhodbhava, Kalaśīsuta and so on. Vasiṣtha was his brother. He married to Lopāmudrā (also known as Kāveri), the princess of Vidarbha and begot a son Dṛḍhāsya, also known as Idhmavāha. Some of his achievements are as follows:
  • He was a man of vast knowledge and severe austerity.
  • He is said to have destroyed the demons Ilvala and Vātāpi.
  • He even stunted the growth of the Vindhya mountain which was growing recklessly and obstructing the light of the sun.
  • He drank the waters of the ocean to expose the demons Kālakeyas who were subsequently killed by the Devas.
  • He was honored by Lord Rāma when he was living in the Daṇḍakāraṇya forest and gave divine weapons to him. He also taught the Adityahrdaya-hymn to Lord Rāma.
  • He brought about a reconciliation between the Indra and the Maruts.
  • Though Agastya is not enumerated among the Saptarṣis (the seven great sages), he is included among the progenitors of ‘gotra’ genealogy.
  • He has been accorded a stellar status and identified with Canopus, the brightest star in the sky of southern India.
  • In the annals of Tamil literature, Agastya is the accredited originator of the Tamil language. He was the author of the maiden grammar of that language and the first president of the first organization of Tamil litterateurs.
  • He is also credited with the authorship of several works on medicine, mysticism and magic. One work called Agastya Sarhhitā which deals with ritualistic worship is available. It is a part of Pāñcarātra literature.
  • He is said to have visited several South East Asian countries like Borneo, Siam and Cambodia.
The word ‘Agastya’ might have been a title. Several Agastyas may have been involved in these stories, synchronized into one. An Agastyāśrama, a hermitage of Agastya, has been mentioned in the Rāmāyana. This has been sometimes identified with Agastyapurī, east of Nasik in Maharashtra state. The Vanaparva of Mahā bhārata mentions an Agastyatīrtha in the Pāṇḍya country as an important place of pilgrimage. Seeing the star Agastya or Canopus when the sun is in the middle of Kanyā or Virgo and worshiping him at night is mentioned as a vrata (religious rite).


  • Rgveda Samhitā 1.166 to 191

    1. Mahābhārata 88.13
    • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore


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