Janābāi was a Marāthi religious poetess in the
Hindutradition in India, who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th century. According to folklore, she died in 1350.
Janabai was born in Gangākhed, Mahārāshtra to a couple with first names "Damā" and "Karund". Under the caste system which rigidly existed in India, the couple belonged to the lowest caste. After her mother died, her father took her to Pandharpur [ [http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Sant_Janabai Sant Janabai] on Hindupedia, the online Hindu Encyclopedia] . Since her childhood, Janabai worked as a maidservant in the household of "Dāmāsheti", who lived in
Pandharpurand who was the father of the prominent Marathireligious poet Nāmdev. Janabai was likely a little older than Namdev, and attended to him for many years.
Pandharpur has high religious significance especially among Marathi-speaking Hindus. Janabai's employers, Damasheti and his wife, "Gonāi", were very religious. Through the influence of the religious environment around her and her innate inclination, Janabai was all along an ardent devotee of Lord
Vitthal, and she was also gifted with poetic talent. Though she never had any formal schooling, she thus composed many high-quality religious verses of the "abhang (अभंग)" form. Fortuitously, some of her compositions got preserved along with those of Namdev. Authorship of about 300 "abhang" is traditionally attributed to Janabai. However, researchers believe that quite a few of them were in fact compositions of some other writers.
Along with Dnyāneshwar, Nāmdev, Eknāth, and
Tukaram, Janabai has a revered place in the minds of Marathi-speaking Hindus who belong especially to the "wārakari (वारकरी)" sect in Maharashtra. In accord with a tradition in India of assigning the epithet "sant (संत)" to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, all of the above religious figures including Janabai are commonly attributed that epithet in Maharashtra. Thus, Janabai is routinely referred to as "Sant Janabai (संत जनाबाई)".
Backward-caste Hindu Saints
women in Hinduism
* [http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/J/Janabai/index.htm Janabai: Poems and Biography]
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