Conversations between Swami Ramdas and Shivaji

  • By D. B. Paransis
  • September 24 2021
  • Short and meaningful conversations (each has a learning) between Swami Ramdas and disciple Shivaji.

The authors are C. A. Kincaid and D. B. Paransis.


Ram Ram” are the traditional words of greeting in many parts of India, particularly in the Deccan. The origin of this form of greeting is attributed to Ramdas and Shivaji.


The renowned Saint Ramdas and the valorous Emperor Shivaji were contemporaries. Whenever the busy monarch could spare a few moments, he loved to visit the saint and hear from his lips sacred verses and religious discourses. Many touching stories exist which show how close was the friendship between the prince and the saint.


First published in Journal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan.


One day, it is said, Shivaji, then at Pratapgad, heard that Ramdas was at Mahableshwar. He at once rode off to see him. On reaching Mahableshwar he learnt that Ramdas was no longer there. Shivaji plunged into the woods to overtake him. All day the king wandered vainly through the wild hill country. Night fell, but still he searched for Ramdas by torchlight. At last, when the eastern sky began to pale, Shivaji came upon Ramdas in a tiny cave. He lay there groaning and seemed to be in great pain and sick unto death.


Shivaji in great distress asked Ramdas how he might help his suffering friend. The saint replied that there was but one cure in the world for such a malady as his. “Tell me what it is”, said Shivaji, “and I will get it for you.” “Nay,” replied Ramdas, “to get it for me might cost you your life.” “No matter,” cried the generous hero, “gladly would I give my life to save yours.” “Then”, said Ramdas, “the medicine which alone can save me is the milk of a tigress.”


Sword in hand the dauntless prince went forth into the jungle. In a short time, he saw some tiger-cubs in a thicket. He entered it and, catching them, sat down by them to await their mother’s return. An hour later the tigress came and, seeing her cubs in Shivaji’s hands, sprang upon him. Shivaji boldly faced the raging beast and told her that he but wished to give the dying saint a draught of her milk.


The saint’s name cowed the tigress. She let Shivaji go and allowed him to draw some of her milk and take it away. There he gave some of it to Ramdas whose pain instantly left him. Then Ramdas in turn made Shivaji drink the rest of the milk. At once the scratches inflicted by the tigress healed. The king and his retinue then rode back with Ramdas to the temple at Mahableshwar.


Another time, so it is said, Shivaji was at Satara. Ramdas, who was at Mahuli at the confluence of the Krishna and Venna, went to beg upon Jaranda Hill, a holy spot a few miles to the east of Mahuli. The king was also visiting the Jaranda temple and met Ramdas. The saint asked for alms. Shivaji wrote some words on a piece of paper and dropped it into his lap. Ramdas picked it up and read that it was a grant by Shivaji of his entire kingdom. The saint affected to accept the grant and for the whole day, Shivaji, having no longer any property, acted as his servant.


At the close of the day Ramdas asked Shivaji how he liked the change from kingship to service. Shivaji replied that he was quite happy, no matter what his state, provided that he was near his preceptor. Ramdas then returned the grant and said, “Take back your kingdom. It is for kings to rule and for Brahmans to do worship.” Nevertheless, Shivaji insisted that the saint should bestow on him his sandals as Rama had done to his brother Bharata, so that the world might know that Ramdas, and not he, was the true king. He also chose for his flag the orange-brown banner which the pilgrims carry when they go to worship Krishna at Pandharpur.


Another time Shivaji was building a fort at Samangad in the Kolhapur territory. As he watched, he felt proud that he was able to support so many workmen. Just then Ramdas came up. Shivaji, after saluting him, walked with him around the base of the fortress. On their way they passed a boulder. Ramdas called some stone-cutters and bade them break it into pieces. The stone-cutters did so. In the heart of it was a cavity half filled with water. Out of the water jumped a frog. Ramdas turned to Shivaji and said, “O king, who but you could have placed water in the middle of the stone and thus saved the frog?” Shivaji disclaimed any connection with the matter. But when Ramdas insisted, he guessed that the saint was rebuking him for his vanity. He at once acknowledged his fault and admitted that it was God who had provided for the need of the frog and for those of the workmen at Samangad.


Yet another time, so it is said, Shivaji begged Ramdas to live with him always and let him serve him as he had done for a single day at Jaranda. Ramdas asked him that instead of serving him, Shivaji should grant him three boons. Shivaji said that he would do so gladly.


The boons asked for were:—

(1) Shivaji should in the month of Shravan, or August, honour Shiva by giving feasts to Brahmans and by distributing images of the great god, whose incarnation he was deemed to be.


(2) He should distribute dakshina, or gifts of money to Brahmans in Shravan.


(3) He should honour the hero-God Ramchandra by ordering his subjects to greet one another by saying 'Ram Ram'. Shivaji granted all these boons and ‘Ram Ram’ is still a popular form of greeting among people of the Deccan



This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 15 July 2021 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.

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