DĀDŪ DIĀL (1544-1603), ascetic and mystic, was in the line of the saints of medieval India. In his career and teaching he relived the Kabīr legend. He was born in AD 1544 in Ahmedābād in Gujarāt to a Muslim couple. He had little formal education and took to his father's profession of cotton-carding. At the age of eighteen he left home and wandered extensively all over northern India. He especially consorted with the Nāth yogīs whose influence left a permanent mark on him. At the age of twenty-five he renounced the world and migrated to Sāmbhar and spent the time wandering and preaching in the country around. He attracted a considerable number of followers who gave themselves the designation Brahma-sampradāya, later popularly designated as Dādū Panth. The core of his teaching was universal brotherhood and the worship of one God.

         Dādū has left religious poetry amounting to five thousand verses. Another work called Dādū Prakāsh which is in Punjabi has recently been discovered by a modern scholar. Dādū laid great stress on simran, the contemplation of God's name. Caste, image worship and pilgrimages were rejected. Towards the end of his life Dādū shifted to Nārāyaṇā, near Jaipur.

         An anecdote is related in Sikh history. Journeying through these parts in the first decade of the seventeenth century, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh passed through Nārāyaṇā. He pitched his tents near the Sant's shrine and to test the conviction of his Sikhs he saluted the sepulchre by lifting an arrow to his forehead. The Khālsā took exception to it, and demanded a fine. One of them, Mān Siṅgh, quoted the Gurū's own verse : Gor maṛhī mat bhūl na mānai (worship not even by mistake cemeteries or places of cremation). The Gurū immediately offered to pay. The fine was fixed at Rs 5, 000, but a Sikh objected that it was too big a sum and proposed to reduce it to Rs 500. Another Sikh thought it too little and said the Gurū would not feel the loss of such a paltry amount. One of them said that he would not be satisfied with anything under five lakhs, but some of them argued that, though the Gurū could even pay that sum, the Khālsā would find it impossible to pay fines in proportion thereof. They at length asked the Gurū to pay Rs 125 which they spent on the purchase of a kitchen tent.

         Dādū died in Nārāyaṇā in 1603.


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  5. Schomer, Karine and W. H. McLeod (eds.), The Sants : Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India. Delhi, 1987
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Gurnek Siṅgh