(c. 1543—1603)

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A Rajasthani poet-saint (sant) who, after his death, became the devotional focus of the Dādūpantha. What is known of his life is derived from the hagiography (Dādū janam līla, c.1620) of his disciple, Janagopāla. Dādū was born in Gujarat, probably into a low-caste Muslim family. As a young man, he had a series of religious experiences, and thereafter—with the exception of ten years as a married householder—led the life of an itinerant ascetic and preacher. His wandering encompassed much of Rajasthan, and it was there that he eventually died, in a small town (Naraiṇā, near Jaipur) that subsequently became the centre of one branch of the Dādūpantha tradition. His teachings and devotional songs, composed in Braj bhāṣā, were collected by one of his disciples, Rajjab. In their non-sectarianism (Dādū was followed by both Hindus and Muslims), their critical attitude to formal religion, and their style, his songs are comparable to those of Kabīr, many of whose poems were preserved in the manuscripts of the Dādupantha tradition. Dādū is thus frequently identified as a follower of Kabīr.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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