Dalit saints of Hinduism

Dalit saints of Hinduism

Dalits who are a section of Hindu society, generally referred as "lower" castes, have produced several influential saints in Hindu tradition.[1][2][3][4] Some of the most notable Dalit Hindu saints are Ravidas, Kabir, Namdev, Chokha Mela, Sant Kanhoputra, etc.[5][citation needed]

Many Harijans through their virtious works, were given the title of Brahmin by non-Harijans. The most popular examples are Matanga, Nandanar, Purnananda, and Valmiki. In one legend, Nandanar entered a fire and came out of the fire as a Brahmin.[6]

Some writers believe that even Valmiki and Veda Vyasa , the celebrated of Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, were also of Dalit background.[5]

"I am a Bhangi, but I also do the work of a Brahmin. A Brahmin is one who spreads knowledge, sanskars; so I too am a Brahmin. I go on Bhakti pheris to spread the liberating message of Svadhyaya. So I am a Bhangi-Brahmin."



  • Sant Anayar, , one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Atipattar, , one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Balakdas, Mahar[7], ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Shiva, wrote the Mahar Mahatmya declaring Samaji as the patriarch of the Mahars and Shiva as the God of the Mahars
  • Sant Balarama, Hadi[8], born in Meherpur village (Nadia district of West Bengal), ethnic Bengali-speaker, considered as incarnation of Lord Rama[9], was worshipped by followers even in his lifetime[10]
  • Sant Banka Mahar, Mahar , ethnic Marathi-speaker,
  • Sant Bhagu, Mahar, ethnic Marathi-speaker, a devotee of Krishna
  • Sant Binu, a Bengali Tantrik sage
  • Sant Chand Thakur, Namasudra , son of Sri Harichand Thakur, helped organize the Vaishnava Matua sect
  • Sant Channayya, Mahar[11], devotee of Shiva, disciple of Basava[12]
  • Sant Chokha Mela, Mahar[citation needed],ethnic Marathi-speaker, lived at Mangalvedha in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas devoted to Krishna.
  • Sant Damajipanth, Mahar , ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Vishnu
  • Sant Devi Das, a Chamar disciple of Jagjivan Das
  • Sant Dhanna Chamar, Chamar (cobbler)
  • Sant Ghasidas, Chamara , aided the Satnami movement. His son, Balak Das was his successor.
  • Sant Ghisadas, Ghisa[13] (weaver), from Khekhra (Meerut), follower of Kabir
  • Sant Harahliah[14], Virashaiva devotee of Shiva
  • Sant Harichand Thakur (1811-1839), Namsudra , Bengali, founded Vaishnava Matua sect to worship Hari and preach Harinam[15] and a few of their songs even recognize Harichand as an avatar of Vishnu[16]
  • Sant Jagjivan Ram, Aprisya[citation needed] Chamar, Hindi, from Chandwa, devotee of Krishna who went to Calcuttta to become initiated as a Hindu saint[citation needed], and is very well known as a major Dalit and Indian political leader
  • Sant Janbrish, Mang or Channayya[17]
  • Sant Jiwan Das, a saint of the Satnami sect
  • Sant Kartanand[18] , Punjabi
  • Sant Kaliar, oil presser[19], Tamil one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Kanho or Kanhopatra, Mahar courtesan dancer, ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Vishnu
  • Sant Kapinjalada, Chandala , according to Mahabharata (Anushasana Parvan 53.13-19)
  • Sant Karmamelam, Mahar , ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Vishnu
  • Sant Kurmadas, , devotee of Vishnu
  • Sant Madara Dhulayya,
  • Sant Malamat Shah, a saint of the Satnami sect
  • Sant Dasrath Gajbhiye[20], a Vaishnava Kabirpanthi saint
  • Sant Namdeo, Dhobi, Punjabi, from Batala in Gurdaspur
  • Sant Nabhadas, Dom, a devotee of Rama and Sant Ramanand's disciple
  • Sant Nandanar (Nanthanaar), Athanuur , devotee of Shiva, one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints. Chidambaram, the main place where Nandanar practiced austerities is now a place where backward castes have their own ashrams and recite the Upanishads in Sanskrit[21]
  • Sant Nirmala, Mahar , ethnic Marathi-speaker, Marathi
  • Sant Parshuram, Chamar , the founder of the Ramnami[37] sect in Chhattisgarh
  • Sant Prasanna, Bengali, devotee of Durga Maa disciple of Kalachand
  • Sant Pipal Dass, Chamar[22], Punjabi, a follower of Ravi Das
  • Sant Purnananda, , became recognized as a Brahmana
  • Sant Ram Das, Chamar[23], disciple of Lakhmir
  • Sant Rohidas or Ravidas, Chamar , the Guru of Mirabai. He is said to have taken up his family job of shoe-making and supplied shoes top ascetics. "My caste is low, my lineage is low, and mean is my birth. I have taken shelter, King Rama, says Ravidas the cobbler" (p. 659, Guru Granth Sahib). His disciples are the Ravidasis. He was a disciple of Ramananda, cliamed by Harijans to be their master (Singh, P. 98 Leadership Patterns and Village Structure)
  • Sant Sadna, butcher , Marathi
  • Sant Sakhubai, , ethnic Marathi-speaker, devotee of Vishnu
  • Sant Sarwan Dass, Chamar[24], Punjabi, a follower of Ravi Das and son of Sant Pipal Dass
  • Sant Satyakam Jabali [25]
  • Sant Shatakopa, Kanjar (prostitute) [26], Alwar devotee, Yamuna Muni declared, "I touch my feet at the holy feet of Shatakopa"
  • Sant Soyarabai, Mahar [27], ethnic Marathi-speaker, Sant Chokha Mela's wife
  • Tejananda, known by title "Swami" (priest)
  • Sant Thykad Ayyavu Swamy, Pariah[28] born 1817 in Thanjavur, devotee of Muruga
  • Sant Tirukkurippu Tondar, [29], one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Tirumankai (alias Nilan), Kalvar (robber)[30], Tamil, an Alwar saint from Kuraiyalur
  • Sant Tirumalisai, [31], an Alvar Vaishnava saint
  • Sant Tiru Nalai Povar, [32] one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Tiru Nilakanta, potter [33], one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Tiru Nilakanta Yazhpanar, Pana [34] (musical instrument player), one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints
  • Sant Tiruvalluvar, [35], one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints, wrote the Tirukkural
  • Sant Umaid Ram Maharaj, Bhangi [36], Rajasthani. He was born on the Hindu month of Miskar (November-December) in the Hindu year 1865 on Thursday in Jodhpur. He was a medicant. His successors were Sukaram Maharaj, Deepa Ram Maharaj and the present-day Mangi Ram Maharaj.
  • Sant Vakhna, Mirasi[37] (sweeper), disciple of Dadu Dayal


"Saints and sages only can become real advisors to the kings, because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They only can improve the morality of the masses. They alone can show the way to eternal bliss and mortality. Shivaji had Swami Ramdas as his adviser, King Dasaratha had Maharshi Vasishtha as his advisor."

  • Maharshi Naval Ram, Bhangi [38], a member of the Rajasthani Bhangi caste. He was born in 1840 on the month of Bhadrapad on Wednesday in Harsala village in Nagaur district. His successors were Daya Ram Maharaj (his son), Ram Baksh Maharaj and the present-day Badri Ram Maharaj.
  • Maharishi Vithal Ramji Shinde, Chamar [39], a member of the Prartna Samaj and founder of the Depressed Classes Mission organization for the upliftment of backward-caste Hindus.

Dharma. He was a very powerful Vedic astrologer. His astrological book is the Parasara Hora stil used today. He has also written a Smriti known as Parasara Smriti which is held in such high esteem that it is quoted by our present-day writers on sociology and ethics

  • Maharishi Soot, narrator of the Puranas.


  • Matangi, worshipped as a form of Durga. She was the offspring of Matanga Muni.
  • Tiru Panazhwar or Panalwar, Panan [40], devotee of Lord Vishnu, considered avatar of spot of Lord Vishnu's chest

Mixed Dalit-Brahmin Saints

  • Maharishi Parashara, son of an outcaste woman (Matsyakanya-Satyavathi Devi), was one of the greatest devotes and thinkers in the Hindu
  • Maharishi Vashista, son of a concubine. He was a guru of Shri Rama.

Other Respected sages in Hindu Society

  • Namdev Mahar, Mahar [41], devotee of Sai, lived in Kharagpur
  • Bhagubai, wife of Namdev Mahar [42], devotee of Sai

See also

  • List of Sudra Hindu Saints


  1. ^ Indian dalits: voices, visions and politics, pp 60, K. C. Das, Global Vision Publishing Ho, 2004
  2. ^ Dalits and the state , pp 42, Ghanshyam Shah, Centre for Rural Studies (Lal Bahadur Shastry National Academy of Administration) ,
  3. ^ Dalit consciousness and Christian conversion: historical resources for a contemporary debate : mission theology in an Asian context, pp 20, Samuel Jayakumar, I.S.P.C.K. (Organization), Regnum International, 1999
  4. ^ Staging politics: power and performance in Asia and Africa, pp 179, Julia C. Strauss, Donal Brian Cruise O'Brien, I.B.Tauris, 2007
  5. ^ a b "The Hindus forgot that their great saints and philosophers belonged to low caste's men as Valmiki, Ved Vyas, Sauni, Rom Harshan, Tiru Vallur, Kabir, Raidas, Chokhamela, Namdev, Tukaram...", Dalit Literature, pp 209, Amar Nath Prasad,Sarup & Sons, 2007
  6. ^ P. 74 From stigma to assertion: untouchability, identity and politics in early and By Mikael Aktor, Robert Deliège
  7. ^ P. 133 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857-1956 By Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  8. ^ P. 109, Renascent India: first phase, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  9. ^ P. 109, Renascent India: first phase, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  10. ^ P. 232, History of modern Bengal, Volume 1, by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  11. ^ Murthy, P. 16 Basavanna
  12. ^ Sathyan, P. 242 Karnataka State Gazetteer
  13. ^ P. xiii Scheduled caste welfare: myth or reality By R. B. Singh
  14. ^ P. 42, Hinduism and Islam in India: caste, religion, and society from antiquity to, by S. V. Desika Char
  15. ^ P. 96, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
  16. ^ P. 100, Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal
  17. ^ Bhanu, P. 1105 People of India
  18. ^ P. 1350 The Journal of Asian studies, Volume 67, Issue 4 by Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.)
  19. ^ P. 52 Nandanar, the Dalit martyr: a historical reconstruction of his times by Sundararaj Manickam
  20. ^ P. 84 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857-1956 By Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  21. ^ Sastri, P. 3 Hindu Feasts, Fasts & Ceremonies
  22. ^ P. 15 Dalits in regional context by Harish K. Puri
  23. ^ P. 415 Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province By H.A. Rose, IBBETSON, Maclagan
  24. ^ P. 15 Dalits in regional context by Harish K. Puri
  25. ^ P. 97 Poisoned bread: translations from modern Marathi Dalit literature By Arjuna Ḍāṅgaḷe
  26. ^ P. 87, Gita Darshan as Bhakti Yoga, as a Chaitanyite Reads it
  27. ^ P. 61 Women Saints of East and West By Swami Ghanananda, John Stewart-Wallace
  28. ^ P. 352 Dalit movement in India and its leaders, 1857-1956 By Rāmacandra Kshīrasāgara
  29. ^ P. 52 Nandanar, the Dalit martyr: a historical reconstruction of his times by Sundararaj Manickam
  30. ^ P. 159-160 Tamil literature, Volume 2, Part 1 By Kamil Zvelebil
  31. ^ P. 139 A history of Tirupati, Volume 1 by Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar
  32. ^ P. 156 A history of Tamil literature by C. Jesudasan, Hephzibah Jesudasan
  33. ^ P. 12 The grand epic of Saivism by Cuttān̲anta Pāratiyār, Cēkkilār
  34. ^ P. 135 Some aspects of Kerala and Tamil literature by Mu Irākavaiyaṅkār
  35. ^ P. 89 Tiruvalluvar By Es Makarājan
  36. ^ P. 144 The Bhangi: a sweeper caste, its socio-economic portraits: By Shyamlal
  37. ^ P. 248 Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables : Ancient Medieval And Modern by Raj Kumar
  38. ^ P. 149 The Bhangi: a sweeper caste, its socio-economic portraits: By Shyamlal
  39. ^ P. 43 Vitthal Ramji Shinde by G. M. Pavāra
  40. ^ P. 108 Sri Andal, her contribution to literature, philosophy, religion & art: a compilation of lectures during All India Seminar on Andal, 13th to 15th August 1983 By Sri Ramanuja Vedanta Centre (Madras, India)
  41. ^ Shepherd, P. 111 Gurus Rediscovered:
  42. ^ Shepherd, P. 111 Gurus Rediscovered:

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