In the village of Sihi near Delhi, in the house of a poor Brahman, a child was born in the year 1478. He was born blind. He had three other brothers. He was so neglected by his neighbors and his own family that by the time he was three, everyone forgot his real name and he was called Sur, which means blind. He was later known as Surdas.
Surdas would often go hungry because his mother would not bother to feed him. His brothers would receive new clothes at Diwali time but not Surdas. Surdas's parents thought he wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. It hurt his feelings.
Surdas's outside world was not very kind either. His playmates enjoyed teasing him and when he came to his mother for sympathy, she scolded him for going out. So, unfortunate Surdas stayed on the porch most of the time.
One day, a group of singers passed by his house singing in praise of the Lord Krishna. Swept up by the joy the music brought forth in him, he forgot for a moment that he was blind.
"One day I will learn how to sing," he told himself.
When Surdas joined his brothers to learn from their father how to read and write, his father said, "Go away. You are blind, you cannot read." His brothers teased him as he sat and wept.
A few days later, another group of singers came by, passing through the village, begging for alms and singing in praise of the Lord. They passed by Surdas' house. Surdas followed them. At night they stopped to cook and rest near a lake. One of them came to Surdas and asked, "Why are you following us?"
"I would like to learn to sing" answered Surdas.
They fed him that night but didn't want to be burdened with the blind boy. In the morning they left without telling him.
Where could blind Surdas go? He sat under a tree and began singing the Lord's praise. He had a good voice and his feelings were expressed with utmost sincerity. Villagers passing by gave him food and he survived. The lake was a popular resting spot for those travelling to Mathura and Vrindavan. From their conversation, Surdas learnt a lot about the outside world.
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