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Jan?b?i was a Mar?thi religious poetess in the Hindu tradition in India,
who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th
century. According to folklore, she died in 1350.
born in Gang?khed, Mah?r?shtra to a couple with first names rand and
Karand. Under the caste system which rigidly existed in India, the
couple belonged to the lowest caste. After her mother died, her father
took her to Pandharpur. Since her childhood, Janabai worked as a
maidservant in the household of D?m?sheti, who lived in Pandharpur and
who was the father of the prominent Marathi religious poet N?mdev.
Janabai was likely a little older than Namdev, and attended to him for
Pandharpur has high religious significance
especially among Marathi-speaking Hindus. Janabai's employers, Damasheti
and his wife, Gon?i, were very religious. Through the influence of the
religious environment around her and her innate inclination, Janabai was
all along an ardent devotee of Lord Vitthal, and she was also gifted
with poetic talent. Though she never had any formal schooling, she thus
composed many high-quality religious verses of the abhang (????) form.
Fortuitously, some of her compositions got preserved along with those of
Namdev. Authorship of about 300 abhang is traditionally attributed to
Janabai. However, researchers believe that quite a few of them were in
fact compositions of some other writers.
Along with Dny?neshwar,
N?mdev, Ekn?th, and Tukaram, Janabai has a revered place in the minds
of Marathi-speaking Hindus who belong especially to the w?rakari
(??????) sect in Maharashtra. In accord with a tradition in India of
assigning the epithet sant (???) to persons regarded as thoroughly
saintly, all of the above religious figures including Janabai are
commonly attributed that epithet in Maharashtra. Thus, Janabai is
routinely referred to as Sant Janabai