Prachin Marathi Vangmaya Book Abstracts »
 

Chapter 1

The first autobiography of a Marathi woman


Dr. Dhere describes a manuscript obtained at Saswad. It contains many verses of various saint poets including Eknath, Sopan, Muktai, Shankaracharya etc. It contains a set of verses written by Nagari, a niece of Namdeo, which is the topic under the focus in the essay.

It consists of eight verses in the Abhanga form, consisting of 56 stanzas with 238 lines. The opening line, ‘Nagari namayachi dhwadi’, says that it is a work of ‘Nagari’ - a niece of Namadeo. If it is really so, it becomes an important document as the very first autobiography of a Marathi woman. Since the autobiographical verses of Namadeo are not yet free from doubts about their authenticity, the present work remains the first autobiography of any Marathi person.

In the very first abhanga it is mentioned that ‘Nagari’ is a daughter of one Ramaya and a niece of one Namadeo, who were devotees of Viththal of Pandharpur. She mentions her village to be Narasi Brahmani, which confirms that she belonged to Namadeo’s family.
Her existence is substantiated in a verse of Gonda, Namdeo’s son. He mentions a ‘Nagi’ as a dasi (literally ‘servant’, but metaphorically ‘one who has surrendered spiritually’) of Namadeo.  Dnyaneshwar describes himself as ‘Nivrittidas’ – a ‘servant’ of Nivritti. Actually he was a disciple of Nivritti. Similarly Nagari or Nagi could be a disciple of Namdeo.

As per her verses, she was married into a family devoid of the devotional atmosphere to which she had been accustomed. She could withstand it for just twelve days after her wedding. The account in verse goes on to narrate how she was denied permission to go to Pandharpur, how she was confined forcibly in her dwellings, and how divine intervention ensured that she could indeed fulfill her desire to visit the sacred place.

The entire text of the work is reproduced.

 

 

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