indian cinema heritage foundation

Bhakta Surdas (1942)

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Ramdas's son Bilvamangal was a Brahmin by birth he was a poet by Karma. He was in search of one who could sing his poems revealing their beauty and charm and please him. He met Chintamani, the bewitching professional songstress of the town, whose soulful singing made him feel that his dreams had come true. He was so captivated by her art that he forgot his old father and his wife Rambha. And Chintamani fell in love with his poetic charms. Such fascination for each other's art kept them together day in and day out.

Once Bilvamangal asked Rambha what she thought of him and the devout wife replied that, to her, his happiness was always the source of satisfaction and pleasure. He gave no ear to his father's threats and abuses of the society. Chintamani's mother tried to persuade her that singing was her business and a thing like love had no existence in her life, but she refused to follow the advice. Both of them were shown the door by their parents.

Lord Krishna and Narada saw them and Narada was sorry for the degeneration of the Brahmin, but Lord Krishna replied that he will be enlightened by the very cause for which he had pitied him.

One night, the midst of Chintamini's singing, the strings of her Veena were broken. At the very moment Ramdas died. Though there was a great storm raging outside, Bilvamangal went out to bring new strings for the Veena. In his absence came Rambha, who requested Chintamani and obtained her promise to send Bilvamangal home to perform the funeral ceremony of his father. When Bilvamangal returned he found that the doors were closed. He took a long snake that was hanging by the window for a rope and with its help entered the room. Chintamani came to know about this and told him, "If you had loved God so dearly.........".

The shock of the father's death followed by the enlightening words of Chintamani opened his eyes. He renounced the worldly pleasure and decided there and then to meet Lord Krishna and remain at his feet, ever after. He travelled from place to place singing His praises. One day he met and old man who was asking for a man's heart in the name of Lord Krishna. Bilvamangal, then known as Surdas, cut open his chest and gave him his heart. Little did he know that Lord Krishna had tested His devotee in this way!

And Surdas walked on and on. He came to a city where he saw a beautiful woman, whom he followed to her house, believing that she was Chintamani. But he found that his eyes had cheated him. "If I were blind," he thought, "I would not have thus been lured by beauty." With the thought came the decision and the action followed it. He left the house as a blind man. Chintamani was worshiping his idol and instinct gave her this news. She took vow to keep her eyes closed.

And now, Surdas was a true devotee of Lord Krishna, Who had to keep His eternal promise of being at the service of His Bhakta. He did keep it. He saved Surdas from various difficulties and helped him to fulfil his vow of composing 1,25,000 hymns.

Accompanied by Lord Krishna, Surdas started for Vrija. On the way he met his wife Rambha. He blessed her. Chintamani came to worship him and put the dust of his on her head. He called her his 'Guru'.

And they reached Vrija. Here, the people were most pleasantly surprised when they saw Lord Krishna and Surdas.........

(From the official press booklet)