CHAIN RAI BACHOMAL
was a distinguished poet, who vernacularised the
Vedic wisdom in his slokas (shlokas), or verses,
in the Sindhi 'bayt' form. He was born in a well-to
do family of businessmen of Shikarpur, Sindh,
which had been, because of its peculiar geographical
position, the greatest mart of north-west India.
As regards the year of this birth, there is no
unanimity of opinion. While Kaouromal Chandanmal
Khilnani, the first editor of Sami's slokas, computed
it as 1743, Mulchand Giani, who also published
Sami's 2100 slokas in two volumes, was of the
view that Bhai Chainrai Dataramani Lund (for that
was Sami's full name, 'Sami' being his pen-name)
was born in 1731 and died in 1850, when his son
Ghanshayamdas was about 40 yeras. But the Majority
of commentrators of Sami, Kaouromal's view has
been more acceptable.
In Shikarpur, the Dataramanis
resided in a house, opposite to jugal pyari Thanw,
in Nandhi Bazar. They kept this house till 1850.
Soon after his father's death, Ghanshayamdas sold
it away, for he used to live in Amritsar where
he had his business concern.
As was the practice in those
days, Chainrai was married off at an early age.
A householder, he worked as one of many agents
of Seth Tindanmalani, who imported the merchandise
from Iran and Khurasan by caravans. For the bsuiness
he represented, he used to visit Punjab and sell
goods. He always remained content with whatever
percentage of profit he received from his principals.
His discontent lay elsewhere; from his very childhood,
he was in quest of some real merchandise, or 'succha
sauda', a la Guru Nanak. Once as he was sitting
with seth in his office, he saw a 'Mahatma', a
great soul, passing by. He rose from his seat
and went to meet the Mahatma, bowing at his feet.
Later, he said he was the same person he dreamed
of at night prior to the day he met him, and broke
in poetry: ochito achi, saj'anu bitho samuhon'
(The real friend appeared suddenly before me).
It was when he was about
30 years old that he came into contact with the
'Real friend', Swami (or Sami in Sindh) Meghraj
by name. The Swami originally hailed from Ahamednagar
of then Bhawalpur State and came to Sindh to live
in the Brahmana Hemandas' 'Marhi', or monastry,
at Hathi Dar in Shikarpur. He was well versed
in Vedanta and sanskrit kavvya. Chainrai benifitted
greatly from his learning and studied Vedanta
in the original Sanskrit in about ten years. Besides
'Sankara's 'Advaita' (non-dualism), which forms
the core of this poetry, he seems to have learnt
for his Guru something about Nimbarka's 'Dvaitdvaita'
or 'Bhedabedha' (difference and non-difeerence
which appears in his slokas on 'bhakti'.
He had already read the
Sindhi saint and sufi poetry and was conversant
with Gurumukhi and Devanagri scripts in which
the Hindu Sindhis wrote their language at that
time. By the age of 40, he developed a great peotical
power and composed verses, at once lyrical and
mystical. This he did inn the name of his Guru,
Swami Meghraj; 'Sami became his pen-name. He wrote
the verses in Sindhi. In the Gurumukhi script,
on slips of paper and went on depositiong them
in an earthen pot.
At the ripe age of 68. 'Sami'
took his wife on pilgrimage. On their way back,
they visited Amritsar. There were a holy mangranted
them a boon they would soon be blessed with a
son, and they waited in Amritsar to see the boon
come true. Thereafter they decide to live in Amritsar,
near the shrine of the Sikhs, where he wrote hundred
During Sami's life time,
the politcal power in Sindh changed hands twice
from Kalhoras to the Talpurs, and from the Talpurs
to the British. yet we hardly find any direct
reference to the worldly, ever-changing facts
in his poetry. In one of the shlokas he remotely
says, Kalijuga'a ja kura, mire, matamadi chaudhari'
(Ther rulers, fanatics and landlords represent
the liars of the 'kalijuga'). He led a quiet life
given to the contemlation of the Supreme Soul.
yet he performed all the duties peculiar to an
existential situation. The kind of life he led
reflected in his shlokas, in one of which he says:
He who shuns the diabolic
'dvaita' and engages himself in the service of
Man, Disabuses his of the evil and realises
Him in elephant and ant alike,
Is Mahatma, while others
grope in the dark and reel in the dirt.
True to the tradition of
land, he didi not ignore wealth ('artha') and
pleasure ('Kama') and thereby for release ('moksha')
from the human bondage.
In this view, as in that
of the other saint-poets of India, there exists
a close relationship between religion and philosophy
- the relationship which makes the religion somewhat
philosphic and the philosophy a wee bit religious.
On the one hand, the Bhagwata, the spiritual book
of the laity, induces in him devotion of the Personal
diety Krishna, and on the other Brahmasutra of
the elite enables him to have knowledge of the
nature of reality. But, as the common people would
even know studying Brahmasutra in the original
text, Sami understands that the personal diety
ultimately becomes the Impersonal Brahman and
transports us to the region of conssiousness where
the Personal is realised as that One ('Tad Ekam')
I hear Krishna non-stop
playing on the flute;
two ears hear That one and don't feel satiate;
And I wish I were in the timelessness of the lilt.
Brahman, in contradiction
to the western conception of God, creates the
world from Himself, and not from any extraneous
matter; he is both the material and the efficient
cause of the world, 'the clay and the potter of
the pots'. As in the taittriya Upnishads, Sami
holds that the being from Brahman, they live by
Him on death. He shows himself himself in the
A saint-poet who appeared
on the scene during the last phase of Bhakti Movement,
Sami who wrote shlokas embodying everything that
the movement espoused, that is, unity of the GodHead,
unity of the existence, equality on the basis
of religion, cast and economic status