Throughout history, poets and saints have used their words to express their spiritual experiences and inspire others on their spiritual journeys. In the world of yoga, there are several famous poet saints whose work has had a significant impact on the tradition. Here are some of the most well-known poet saints of yoga:
Kabir was a 15th-century poet saint who is revered by both Hindus and Muslims in India. His poetry is deeply spiritual, but it also has a strong social and political message. Kabir’s teachings emphasised the oneness of all religions and the importance of living a simple and humble life.
Mirabai was a 16th-century poet and saint who is known for her devotion to Lord Krishna. She wrote hundreds of devotional poems that expressed her love for God and her longing for union with him. Mirabai’s poetry continues to be popular in India today, and her life has become the subject of numerous books and films.
Why Mira can’t forget Her Sweet Lord
Whenever I think of my Lord alone,
My eyes fill with tears;
I can’t hold back;
I don’t know what to do.
My mind is enticed by His form;
I suffer every moment
That I don’t see Him.
My heart melts, my body burns,
And I yearn for Him with every breath.
I have searched through forests and fields,
Wandered over land and sea,
But the beloved I seek Is with me always.
Mira’s Lord is Hari, the lifter of mountains,
The friend of the poor,
The master of the universe,
The embodiment of love.
My Lord, I am Your humble servant;
Take me in Your embrace,
For I am dying of separation from You.
Tukaram was a 17th-century poet saint from Maharashtra, India. His poetry is known for its simplicity and its emphasis on devotion to God. Tukaram’s poems were written in the Marathi language, and they continue to be popular in Maharashtra today.
My Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur
Has taken abode in my heart.
My soul and body belong to Him,
I have no other use for them.
I sing His praises day and night,
And offer flowers at His feet.
I have found true bliss in His love,
And seek nothing else but Him.
Oh Lord, please bless me with Your grace,
And keep me forever in Your embrace.
For You are the only truth and light,
And with You, my future is always bright.
Ramprasad Sen was an 18th-century poet saint from Bengal, India. He is best known for his devotional songs to the goddess Kali. Ramprasad’s poetry is characterised by its deep emotional intensity and its celebration of the divine feminine.
Jnanadev was a 13th-century poet saint from Maharashtra, India. He is best known for his translation of the Bhagavad Gita into Marathi, which made this important Hindu text accessible to a wider audience. Jnanadev’s poetry is characterised by its simplicity and its emphasis on the importance of devotion to God.
Akka Mahadevi was a 12th-century poet saint from Karnataka, India. She is known for her devotion to Lord Shiva and her rejection of societal norms. Akka Mahadevi’s poetry is characterised by its mystical quality and its emphasis on the importance of inner experience over outward ritual.
Andal was a 9th-century poet saint from Tamil Nadu, India. She is known for her devotion to Lord Vishnu and her poetry, which celebrates the divine love between Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi. She is also known as Kodhai, a female Alvar saint and poet in the Tamil tradition. Andal’s poetry continues to be popular in South India today.
கூறுவார் பொன்னும் புதுமை சொல்வார் திருமால்
கோறுவார் போன்று அருள் மிகும் நாடுகொள் தான்
இருக்கும் பார்வையினால் தான் உன் போதனை மானம்
பெருகும் என்னைப் பெருமையுள் போகும்
Those who sing his praise,
will attain salvation.
His glory is limitless,
Beholding him with love,
my heart is filled with joy.
In his grace I find refuge,
and my troubles are destroyed.
Oh my Lord of eternal bliss, my love for you is never amiss, with you, I find my soul’s repose, my love for you forever grows.
Tulsidas was a 16th-century poet saint from Uttar Pradesh, India. He is best known for his epic poem, the Ramcharitmanas, which tells the story of the Hindu god Rama. Tulsidas’ poetry is characterised by its simplicity and its emphasis on devotion to God.
These are just a few of the many famous poet saints of yoga whose work has had a lasting impact on the tradition. Their poetry continues to inspire and guide spiritual seekers today.