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Charanadasi Sampradaya and the Life of Charandas – Founder

Charandas, also known as Charanadasa, was an influential saint and the founder of the Charanadasi Sampradaya, a Vaishnava sect that worshipped Radha-Krishna. Born in 1703 CE in Delhi to Muralidhar and Kunjodevi, his original name was Ranjitlal. His early life took a significant turn when, after his father's death at the age of seven, he moved with his mother to her father's home in Delhi.

Charandas led a life of celibacy, dedicating himself entirely to spiritual pursuits. He claimed that his guru was the ancient sage Shuka Deva, who had mystically appeared to him. This divine connection influenced his spiritual path, which included extensive travels to holy places such as Vrindavan, although he eventually settled back in Delhi.

As a yogi and a bhakti saint, Charandas's teachings were a unique blend of Yoga, Jnana (knowledge), and Bhakti (devotion). His spiritual practices and discourses attracted numerous followers, leading to the establishment of the Shuka or Charanadasi sect in 1753 CE. His emphasis was on navadha-bhakti, the nine forms of devotion, with a particular focus on nishkama-prema-bhakti, the selfless love for God without any desire for personal gain.

Charandas was also a prolific writer and poet. His works encompass a variety of themes, including devotion, yoga, and philosophical teachings from the Upanishads. Some of his notable works include "Bhakti Sagara," "Sabadvarnan," "Gyana-Sarvodaya," "Ashtanga-yoga," "Yoga-sandesh-sagara," and "Panchopanishad." His poetry, written in a mix of Hindi dialects such as Rajasthani, Braja Bhasha, and Khari Boli, reflects the linguistic diversity of the time and region.

The impact of Charandas's teachings is evident through his prominent disciples, such as Ramarupa and Jagjit. Jagjit, in particular, played a crucial role in narrating the story of Charandas's life through verse. The reverence for Charandas extended beyond his immediate followers; he was highly respected by the rulers of Jaipur state and the Mughal emperors of his time.

Charandas passed away in 1782 CE, but his legacy continues through the Charanadasi Sampradaya and the enduring influence of his writings and teachings.