Surdas is one of the people who had great influence on the cultural
heritage of India. He was a poet, a saint and a musician and played all
the parts with the same finesse. Since there are no authentic records on
the life of Surdas, his biography comes up as a combination of facts and
There is a little disagreement regarding the exact birth date of
Surdas, some scholars believe it to be 1478 AD, while others believe it
to be 1479 AD. Same is the case of the year of his death, it is either
considered to be 1581 AD or 1584 AD. As per the limited authentic life
history of Surdas, it is said that he lived in Braj, near Mathura.
Surdas was born blind and because of this, he was neglected by his
family. As a result, he left his home at tender age of six.
Meeting Shri Vallabharacharya
In the eighteenth year of his life, Surdas went to Gau Ghat, a sacred
bathing spot on the embankments of Yamuna River. It was here that he
came across Shri Vallabharacharya, the great saint-savant.
Vallabharacharya advised Surdas to sing Bhagvat Lila, the Creative Play
of the Lord and introduced him to the secrets of contemplative devotion.
From this time onwards, Surdas never looked back on the path of
spirituality. Surdas spent the last years of his life in Braj, the place
of his birth.
Literary Works of Surdas
The work of Surdas mainly consists of the following three compilations.
Sur-Saravali, based on the festival of Holi, originally consisted of
hundred verses. In this poem, he tried to create a theory of Genesis,
with Lord Krishna as the Creator.
Sahitya-Lahiri is mainly associated with Bhakti (devotion) towards the
Sur-Sagar is considered to be the magnum opus of Surdas. The poem has
been woven around the life of Lord Krishna. It originally contained
100,000 poems or songs, out of which only 8000 have survived the
travails of time.
Philosophy of Surdas
The Bhakti movement that was widely prevalent in India at the time of
Surdas deeply affected him. He propagated the Shuddhadvaita school of
Vaishnavism. It makes use of the spiritual metaphor of the Radha-Krishna
Lila, derived from earlier saints.