Bahinabai Chaudhari (Devanagari: बहिणाबाई चौधरी) or Bahinabai Nathuji Chaudhari, was a noted Marathi poetess from Maharashtra, India.
Bahinabai was born to a Brahmin family in the village of Aasod in the district of Jalgaon. Her poetry brings alive her surroundings through the Ahirani dialect which is spoken in those parts of the State. Hailing from a farmer’s household, most of her poems are based on farming, land, joy and sorrow of farmers, trees, animals and the nature.
Bahina, at the age of 5, was married to a 30-year-old Brahmin, a widower and relative. When she was 9, Bahinabai, her immediate family and her husband had to leave their village because of a family quarrel. After a long journey and two years in a town where her husband performed religious services, the family arrived in the holy city of Kolhapur. There, Bahina heard the devotional verses of the Warkari teacher Tukaram (c.1608-1650), recited not in the Sanskrit of Brahmin worship, but in the vernacular and so accessible to all. This experience was to determine the rest of Bahina's life. Although a member of the highest (Brahmin) caste, she wished to become a follower of Tukaram, of the lowest (Shudra) caste; the wife and daughter of priests committed to upholding the ancient rituals wished to become a devotee who chooses pure devotion over ritual.
Following the narrative section of her work are over 350 Abhanga (a kind of devotional verse) on various devotional matters: on the life of bhakti (devotion), on true Brahminism, on the duties of a wife.
Her understanding of human life is difficult to fathom. Though widowed early, she was self sufficient and independent. Her poems are an invaluable treasure of Marathi literature. They reflect her real day-to-day life and are composed in the form of Marathi Ovi (quadruples), which are simple yet very appealing.
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