Surdas Jayanti is observed to honor the great devotional poet and singer Surdas, he was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated in the month of Vaisakh during the Shukla Paksha on Panchami tithi (5th Day). In 2021 Surdas Jayanti will be celebrated on 17th May.
In his compositions, he has described Lord Krishna with great poignancy in adornment and serene juice. Surdas was blind since childhood, but he never got disappointed due to his disharmony and he spent all his life reciting the legends of Lord Krishna. His persistent faith in Lord Krishna and the soulful poetry dedicated to him made Surdas a popular name and he was even referred to as Bhakt Kavi Surdas (Devotee and poet Surdas).
Sant Surdas (1478-1584 C.E.)
Surdas was a sixteenth-century North Indian poet his name Surdas means “servant of the sun”. Surdas was born in the Saraswat family of Pandit Ramdas Saraswat in 1478 AD in Runkata district in Agra, but some people believe that Surdas Ji was born in Sihi village of Haryana. His father Ramdas was also a singer. Being born blind, they are neglected in the family. Due to which he had left his home and he left home and started living on the banks of the river Yamuna.
Surdas was a master of this unique talent since childhood and was well versed in singing, so he had gained fame in society as a child. Surdas is usually regarded as a disciple of Vallabha Acharya, whom he is supposed to have met in 1510 CE while going on a pilgrimage to Vrindavan. After which he took initiation from him, Vallabha Acharya gave knowledge to Surdas about the life of Lord Krishna, his birth, his childhood, Radha-Krishna, etc.
Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the ‘Sur Sagar’ (Ocean of Melody), out of which only about 8,000 are extant. He is considered a saguna bhakti poet and so also known as Sant Surdas, a name which literally means the “servant of melody”. His most famous work was charan kamal bando Hari rai.
Surdas’ lilting music and fine poetry attracted much praise. As his fame spread far and wide, the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542–1605) became his patron. Surdas spent the last years of his life in Braj and lived on the donations which he received in return for his bhajan singing and lecturing on religious topics until he died in CE 1584.
Surdas also attained fame for his purity of devotion towards Lord Krishna. In one incident, Surdas falls into a well and is rescued by Lord Krishna when he calls him for help. Radha asks Krishna why he helped Surdas, to which Krishna replies it is for Surdas’ devotion. Krishna also warns Radha not to go near him. She, however, does go near him, but Surdas, recognizing the divine sounds, pulls her anklets off.
Radha tells him who she is but Surdas refuses to return her anklets stating that he cannot believe her as he is blind. Krishna gives Surdas the vision and allows him to ask for a boon. Surdas returns the anklets saying he has already got what he wanted (the blessings of Krishna) and asks Krishna to make him blind again as he does not want to see anything else in the world after seeing Krishna. Radha is moved by his devotion and Krishna grants his wish by making him blind again thus giving him everlasting fame.
How Surdas Jayanti is celebrated
Surdas Jayanti is celebrated mainly in northern India. Lord Shri Krishna is worshiped on this day and along with Surdas, fasts are also kept for Lord Krishna on this day. There is a tradition of feeding the Brahmans too. People who have an interest in music and poetry celebrate this Jayanti with great worship and devotion. People chant manuscripts written by him and bhajans and kirtans are also conducted on this day to remember the great saint.
Surdas Jayanti is celebrated by great pomp and show in Vrindavan and Braj. Various music programs are organized, along with poetry competitions on this day, some special programs are also organized on the day of Surdas Jayanti in Vrindavan. Braj is filled with excitement and enthusiasm on this holy occasion of Surdas Jayanti and is celebrated with zeal and fervor every year. Different types of music competitions and musical nights are also set for the day.