Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Namdev Mean?

Namdev was a poet-saint said to have been born in India around 1270 to a family of low-caste tailors, who became a significant figure in the Vakari sect of Hinduism, as well as revered in Sikhism and some parts of the yoga community.

There exist several biographies on the life of Namdev, but contain too many inconsistencies for his biographical details to be authenticated. However, there are many mythical stories of his life and work. It is said that although Namdev was married, he had little interest in the life of a householder, preferring devotion to God instead and becoming a wandering minstrel. He is believed to have traveled through rural India, chanting and singing devotional songs


Yogapedia Explains Namdev

Namdev was heavily influenced by Vaishnavism and was well-known in India for his bhajan-kirtans, or songs of worship that are set to music. Today, his legacy is remembered by those in the Vakari tradition who walk en masse during biannual pilgrimages to south Maharashtra, India.

Although Namdev eventually had four children, his marriage was unhappy. Namdev was inspired and influenced by Jnanadev, the bhakti poet-saint, to travel and embark on the life of a spiritual devotee. When he was in his 50s, he did settle down again with a group of devotees.

The Vitthala cult, which Namdev was devoted to, was considered a pastoral sect, distinctive in its bhakti, or “devotional,” attitude. Like many of the poets and saints of the bhakti tradition, Namdev is also highly regarded by the later Sikh religion, as the devotional poetry is in a style consistent with their belief system. Many Sikhs consider Namdev a holy man, or bhagat, who came from lower castes and, as such, also became a symbol of social reform.

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