Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | May 5, 2013

Sant Haridas

Saint Haridas was one of the very close disciples of Shri Krishna Chaithanya Mahaprabhu. His enemies got complex over of his fame.  Hence they sent a prostitue to Haridas and asked her to seduce the great saint.  They thought that it would be an easier way to tarnish the divine image of this ‘Sadhu’. 

But Haridas explained the prostitute about the ugly nature of her life though she was beautiful externally.  Upon realising the facts, she started crying and pleaded Haridas to forgive her sins.   Saint Haridas instantly accepted her as a disciple without any hesitation and initiated her with the ‘Maha Manthra’.  Haridas also told her that  ‘Bhagawan Naama’ will purify even the greatest sinners.  After getting the realization from Haridas, that female went to solitude and started chanting the ‘Maha Manthra’. She was doing the chanting till her life end.  Finally she attained the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.

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After a few years, Haridas went to  Puri, as per the instructions of Maha Prabhu and lived there in a simple hut.  Prabhu too lived in Puri at that time and he used to visit Haridas quite often.  As usual in Puri also Santh Haridas chanted the Mahamanthra in every breath of him.  When he gave up his body, Prabhu took “Biksha’ in the market of Puri and collected money for the ‘Vijaya Yathra’ of his disciple.  When other disciples wanted to bear the holy body of Haridas on their shoulders with great eager, Prabhu didn’t give them that opportunity and he alone carried the holy body of the very great Haridas to the ‘Rudra Bhoomi’.  Prabhu’s love for Haridas is immeasurable.

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This is one of the classic stories in the life histories of Indian Saints.  A Guru will go to any extent for his pet disciple. 

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | May 15, 2011

Shri Ranganna Bagavathar

Contributed by Sama Charana Das

The Epic says, “Kalow Kalow Bhavishyanthi Narayana Parayanaha:” As all of us are aware Yoga, Yaaga, Vratha, Theertha Mahima and even Kshethra Mahima will not have their full efficiency and holy vibrations in the “Kali Yuga”.  It is tough to practice any ritual and even if they are practiced they would have some discrepancies due to the evil effects of ‘Kali Purusha’. That is why “Srimath Bhagawatha Puranam” says, “Kali is Thosha Nidhi”.  There is only one sure way in this Yuga to attain the lotus feet of Almighty is, chanting his Holy Name and nothing else would work.

Now, kindly read the first line.  The Almighty sends ‘Bhagawathas’ quite often to this earth to spread the ‘Nama Sankirtana Vaibhavam’.  It happens frequently.  Here, we must be careful in assessing who is a real Bhagawatha!  Because the ‘Kali Purusha’ is trying to corrupt even the people who are doing Sankirtan and a few of them has converted ‘Hari Bhajan’ as their profession.  Santh Thukaram Maharaj says, “There is no other way in this Kali yuga other than Chanting Bhagawan Naama and this will make anybody to attain the Lotus feet of the Almighty.  But the same Maharaj, in another place says strongly that, “Whoever sells Bhagawan Naama will certainly go to the Narakam”.  So we must be prudent in identifying the real Bhagawathas and ‘commercial’ Bhagawathas.  Undoubtedly even the commercial Bhagawathas would too become purified in due course by the power the Bhagawan Naama.  That is a different story.

Here, we are going to see about a Great Bhagawatha who was born on 7th December, 1928 in a small village ‘Kallur’ which is located in Tirunelveli District.  His name is Ranga Subramanyam.  Before Moghul invasion in Srirangam, this family was serving Shri Ranganatha Swamy Temple.  But after the invasion, they migrated back to their home village at Tirunelveli.  But they have never forgotten Lord Ranganatha.  That is why, in this family alone, we could find a peculiar name, i.e. ‘Ranga Subramanyam’ in every third generation. The nomenclature ‘Subramanyam’ indicates the Lord at Thiruchendur.

Shri Ranga Subramanyam’s father too was a great Bhagawatha. His name is Shri Putarjuna Bhagawatha.  Shri Putarjuna was very rich right from his child hood. He went to Rangoon when he was very young and ran a Jewellery Mart.  But the first world war put a drastic full stop to his business and he lost everything in the evil effects of the war.  With great struggle, he came back to our mother land.  He got married to a girl called Parvatha Varthinini and begot three children.  Our Ranga Subramanyam is the second son of that family. Alas! when he was a small kid, his mother passed away.  That was the turning point in the life of Shri Putarjuna Bhagawatha and he got ‘Virakthi’ in all worldly affairs.  He handed over his kids to his Sister at Madurai and started pure ‘Bhagawatha Dharma’ life at late 20s. After that, he lived by Unchuvarthi, Hari Kaatha Kalakshebam etc.

Shri Ranga Subramanya Bhagawathar was growing in his Aunt’s place at Madurai. Somehow, his mind was always tied up with spirituality and at the age of 12, he started “Shri Ram Bhajan Mandali” at Madurai.  God bestowed a fabulous voice to Shri Ranga Subramanyam and even senior Bhagawathas participated in his Bhajan with great enthusiasm.  Shri Ranga Subramanyam’s mind disliked commercial benefits through Bhajan.  Quite often he used to visit Prisons and Mental Hospitals with his Bhajan companions and conducted Nama Sankirtanam for those in Prison and Mental Hospitals.  He explained the reason also.  “Only Poorva Karmas made them to enter in to Prison and the same made lot of people insane.  If the Bhagawan Nama is forcibly poured in their ears, they too get purified soon”.  That was the understanding of Shri Ranga Subramanya Bhagawathar at that young age.

God would have watched his pure intentions and he showed him Pudukottai Brahma Sri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar.  Shri Ranga Subramanyam became a disciple of Shri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar and took ‘Nama Japam’ from him.  His intensity in spiritualism started growing in a rapid way, after getting the ‘Guru Kadaksham’. At that time, for professional reasons, Shri Ranganna came to Mylapore, Chennai with his wife and three kids.  His poverty never disturbed his spirituality and even at that stage he never utilized Bhajans to promote his financial abilities.  It is easy to write but hard to practice.  Who will understand or believe all these things in this commercial world?  But Lord Vithal knows everything and HE was Ranganna’s protector.

In Chennai, he became very popular in the ‘Nama Sankirtana world’ in a very short span.  At that time, Shri Ranga Subramanyam became ‘Ranganna Bhagawathar’ and he started conducting Bhajans throughout India.

Here we will have to mention a very important thing.  Though Shri Ranganna conducted Bhajans everywhere, he never utilized the ‘Sambhavanai’ for his personal use despite his family commitments.  He used to take only the conveyance and food expenses from the ‘Sambhavanai’ and the balance would go to the ‘Sri Narasimha Jayanthi Uthsavam’ conducted by his Guru Shri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar.  He considered this as a part of his ‘Guru Kainkaryam’.  Shri Ranganna later on started giving his earnings to a few other Bhajan Mutts also.  Till his end he never gave up this character.

SHRI RANGANNA

SHRI RANGANNA

During 1970, Shri Ranganna went to the “Maha Kshethra Pandhari” with Brahma Sri Narayana Sasthrigal.  Though Shri Ranganna was popular in singing ‘Abhangs’ (Keerthan on Shri Panduranga Vittal) before this visit, the real darshan of Pandaripuram and Shri Panduranga brought flood of changes in his life.  He became a staunch Bhaktha of Shri Vithal. Subsequently he learnt lots of New Abhangs and started singing them everywhere.  (Even now, lot of Bhagawathas are singing the Abhangs tuned by Shri Ranganna).

Shri Ranganna was blessed to get the blessings of Swami Abedananda, Shri Purushothama Goswami, Shri Sanjeevi Bhagawathar (Holy son of Shri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar), Shri Narayana Sasthrigal, Shri Chinthamani Bhagawathar, Shri Vembu Bhagawathar and lot more saints.  He has also had the blessings of the Saints who lived in the previous centuries through his holy dreams.  But he had never revealed any of his spiritual experiences with anybody other than one of his close soul-mates.

Before leaving this mundane world, Ranganna’s Guru Shri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar handed over Shri Ranganna to a great Mahathma. At that time, Shri Ranganna was conducting Bhajans with a sangam and it was known as “Shri Gopalakrishna Bhajan Mandali”.

This is another turning point in Shri Ranganna’s life. The Mahathma very shortly showered all his blessings on Shri Ranganna and that enhanced the ‘Bhakthi’ of Shri Ranganna in leaps and bounds. The Bhajan world has started speaking that “Ranganna is Abhangam and Abhangam is Ranganna’. Besides, he also composed more than 500 Naamavalis and to put the truth frankly, most of the present days’ Bhagawathas are singing lot of Naamavalis written and composed by Ranganna, without knowing the origin. Because Shri Ranganna was never after money, fame etc.

On a few occasions, he had accepted the ‘Titles’ given by some Bhagawathas, that too with the intention of not offending their invitation. Otherwise, he never even printed a ‘Visiting Card’ throughout his life and never carried any Title in front of his name.  Simplicity, Honesty, Guru Bhakthi, Shri Vittal Bhakthi are the ‘Tharak Manthra’ of Shri Ranganna.

Thousands and thousand of Bhajan programs!! Chanting the Bhagawan Namam at free times!!  Dhyanam on Shri Vittal….. Wow! his life is inexplicable and highly spirutual!!!

We have already mentioned that Shri Ranganna’s ancestors had close connections with authority in Shri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangam. That ‘link’ would have brought back  him to Srirangam during his final span of his holy life.

On 10th February 2011, at the age of 82, Shri Ranganna experienced a slight discomfort. In the evening, his family members understood the situation and started “Abhang Bhajan”. He was listening to it and waved his hands to encourage the Bhajan. Around 7.30 PM, the ‘Mahathma’ came on the phone and said “Rama Krishna Hari! Vasudeva Hari! Panduranga Hari” in the ears of Shri Ranganna. After that, Shri Ranganna saw the picture of his Guru Shri Gopalakrishna Bhagawathar and Shri Panduranga Vittal. Then he started watching the holy picture of Shri Namperumal and Shri Thaayar of Srirangam. His relatives started chanting the Maha Manthra “Ram Krishna Hari” in high pitch. With a smile on his face, Shri Ranganna left this world and attained Vaikuntam. This was strongly vouched by the Mahathma also. (The Mahathma I am referring here is not interested in worldly fame and that is why I am avoiding his holy name in this article).

Right from child hood to his final day, Shri Ranganna lived a holy life and his beloved Shri Vittal gave him ‘Aanayasa Mukthi’. Jai Jai Ramkrishna Hari! Jai Jai Panduranga Hari!

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | April 16, 2010

Shri Santhopa Pawar

Contributed by Sama Charana Das

Shri Santhopa Pawar was an ardent ‘Bhaktha’ of Shri Vitthal at Pandharpur. Thousands of people admired Shri Pawar and accepted him as their Spiritual Master. Shri Santhopa guided them in ‘Bhagawatha Dharmam’ and preached to chant the name of Lord Vitthal always. He also told his disciples that only the ‘Name of Vitthal’ would solve all their domestic and spiritual problems. He also assured that chanting would make them to attain the ‘Sama Charan’ of Shri Panduranga, which is the only one permanent solace in this mundane world.

All the disciples accepted his sincere preaching and started chanting. Gradually their devotion became reinforced and they fell in the eternal love with the Great Lord of Universe, Shri Panduranga.

Once, all the disciples wanted to have darshan of Shri Vitthal along with their Guru Shri Santhopa Pawar. When they expressed their desire to Shri Pawar, he happily accepted and all of them started walking towards Pandharpur, which is ‘Booloka Vaikuntam’. Pawar’s presence enhanced the enthusiasm of all the disciples and they chanted the name of Shri Rakumayi Pathi in their high pitch.

Alas! When they were nearing Pandharpur, heavy rain started and it was seldom possible for all, even to walk against the down pouring. But Shri Pawar geared them up and asked them to trust the Omni-Potent Shri Vitthal, whole-heartedly. They did so and reached the banks of Chandrabagha. On those days, there was no bridge to cross the river and only small boats were used for this purpose. But due to the extra ordinary flood in Chandrabagha, no ‘boat wala’ was willing to cross the roaring flood.

All the disciples of Shri Pawar became so upset and some of them got perturbed due to that situation. But Pawar Maharaj did not give up his faith on the ‘Kamala Nayana’ Panduranga. He sang ‘Abhangs’ with great devotion and his eyes too started pouring another rain, i.e. tears came out of love and faith.

Suddenly a very big bridge emerged from the center the river and it was covering both the sides of the holy river Chandrabagha. At that time, a divine voice (Asareeri) told Shri Pawar to walk on the bridge along with all the devotees. Shri Pawar alone heard the divine voice. It gave him immense bliss. He advised all the ‘Bhakthas’ to walk on that bridge to reach the other side of the river. All the devotees screamed with joy on seeing the new bridge. They thought it was submerged under the river and Shri Pawar’s spiritual power brought it out. They happily walked on the Bridge, chanting Vitthal Vitthal Vitthal. Finally, Shri Pawar too crossed the river, using the ‘bridge’ with great puzzle in his mind. After reaching the other bank of Chandrabagha, he eagerly turned back and saw the bridge. Aha! He started crying again like a small kid. Yes…. it was really not a bridge and it was Shri Vitthal who took a big size Koorma (Tortoise) Avathar and helped Pawar and his disciples to cross the bridge. Upon realizing this fact, Shri Pawar could not control himself and he fell on the ground. He got submerged in the abundant mercy of Lord Vitthal.

Then slowly he regained normalcy. Due to Shri Vitthal’s mercy ‘Varuna’ also stoped his play. All the Bhakthas became very happy and they went to Mahadwar with Shri Pawar and started ‘Naama Garjan’. Finally they entered the Shrine and had the wonderful darshan of Lord Vitthal, who is standing there for the past 28 ‘Chathur Yugas’. It is needless to mention, rather impossible to express the feelings of Shri Pawar. He cried and cried and cried. Shri Vitthal smiled and smiled and still smiling.

Dear Bhakthas! Go to Pandharpur and see the Lord who allowed all his bhakthas to walk on him. No other God in this world could do this.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | December 24, 2009

Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal

Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal was born in Kancheepuram. Kancheepuram is one of the 7 moksha shethrams in India and the only one in South India.

Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal

Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal

There were a couple in Kancheepuram by name Kesava Pandurangan and Suguna. They did not have a kid for quiet some time. They prayed to their guru, Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi, who was then the pontiff of Kanchi mutt. He blessed them that they would have a child very soon and they returned happily. They then had a male child born to them shortly. They named him Purushothaman. Purushothaman was a very bright kid. They performed his upananyanam (sacred thread ceremony) and took him to their guru Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi. Their guru enquired who the kid was and they replied that it was the Guru’s kid. The guru then asked Kesava Pandurangan if he would give the kid to the mutt if he really meant that he was his kid. Kesavan then told his Guru that he would check with his wife and let him know. He then stepped back to speak to his wife. They knew that if they give him to the mutt he would become a sanyasi and that their lineage can not continue as he was their only son. Suguna was now crying and when her husband asked her the reason, she said that she was crying for the only reason that he had told their guru that he would check with her and then give their son. She then said that she and the kid belonged to him and that he belonged to his guru, and there was no need to ask her for permission. Kesava Pandurangan then happily gave Purushothaman to Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi. The guru arranged for a teacher who would teach Purushothaman all the Vedas and sastras. Purushothaman studied along with another boy called Gyanasakaran. He finished all his studies when he was only 18. The only thing left to be learned was Bhramavidhyai and he wanted to learn this from his Guru and Vishwadikendrar had also promised that he would teach him Bhramavidhyai personally. However Vishwadikendrar had gone on a yatra and was now in Kasi. Purushothaman and Gyanasakaran had to go by walk from Kanchi to Kasi. One day they started their journey to Kasi to meet their guru. Gyanasakaran was good in astrology and knew that he would die on the way to Kasi. As they were close friends he told Purushothaman that if something happens to either one of them the other should perform their death ceremony and then give up his life in the Ganges so that both of them can be together even after death. They had only covered half the distance and Gyanasekaran suddenly fell ill and passed away. After performing his death ceremony Purushothaman continued his journey to Kasi. On reaching Kasi he met his guru prostrated to him and told him what had happened to them on their way. He then asked his guru’s permission to give up his life in the Ganges. The guru felt bad as he had planned to make Purushothaman as the next pontiff of the mutt. He then told Purushothaman that if he has do what he promised to his friend and also do what he wanted him to do there was a solution and asked him if he would agree to it. Purushothaman immediately replied that he would agree to his Guru’s words. The Guru then said that getting in to Sanyasa ashram was like having a new birth. This way he would keep up the promise made to his friend and also keep him happy by becoming the next pontiff of the mutt. Vishwadikendrar then gave him sanyasa and named him as Bagavannama Bodhendrar. He then stayed in Kasi and learnt everything from his guru. His guru then asked him to go back to south India and do Nama pracharam and show the power of Bagavan Nama.

There was a great saint called Lakshmidharar in Puri, who had written a book called Bagavannama kowmudhi which was a nama siddhantha grantham. Vishwadikendrar had also instructed Bodhendrar to collect this book on his way back and wanted him to master that that book too. He then came to Puri had darshan of Lord Jagannath and then went to Lakshmidharar’s house. Lakshmidharar had passed away and his son Jagannatha Pandit was there. It was evening and the house was locked from inside. Bodhendrar not wanting to disturb them sat down outside the house and started meditating.

A few days earlier an event had happened there. A couple from south India had come on a yatra to Kasi. One night when they were staying in that village the husband woke up the next morning and found that his wife was missing. He searched for her the next morning and could not find her. He then told the villagers about this and they said that some Muslims would come in the night and kidnap any women they find and take them to be with them as their mistress. The husband felt very bad hearing this but dint want to stop his Kasi yatra because of this.

He completed his yatra and was returning back through the same village that day. He was performing his rituals in the river and a Muslim lady seeing him came running to him and started crying to him. He then realised that it was his wife. When he asked her what had happened, she told him that there was no time now and that they have to escape now and promised to tell him what happened later. They then ran through the forest and came to a safer place. The lady then told him that they had kidnapped her in the night by tying her mouth with a cloth and ravished her. She then asked her husband to save her from them and asked him to have her as maid if not as a wife. The husband then told her that if the sastras allowed this he would take her. They then decided to come to see Jaganatha Pandit to check with him on what the Dharma sastras say.

The couple reached Jaganatha Pandit’s house the same night to ask him what the Dharma Sastras say. Bodhendrar was meditating outside the house and they knocked the door to wake up Jaganatha Pandit. When he opened the door they told him their story and feel on his feet asking him to give them a solution. Hearing this he asked her to say Rama Rama Rama and after that they could live together. As he said this his mother who was seated inside asked him why he degraded the power of Rama Nama by asking them to say it 3 times and told him that his father would ask even the biggest sinner to utter Rama only once and that would take care of removing all his sins. Bodhendrar who was sitting there now stood up and asked Jaganatha Pandit if there was any proof for what he was saying. Jaganatha Pandit then said that his father’s book had the proof for the same. Bodhendrar then asked him to show the book. Bodhenrar finished reading the book the same night with the help of a small lamp. The next day he called the couple and Jaganatha Pandit and said that the sastras were true and that his father had mentioned very clearly what he told yesterday, but the outside world wouldn’t believe this. Bodhendrar then asked the couple to go to the river and take a dip after chanting Rama nama. He then said that though she is now wearing a Muslim dress once she takes a dip after chanting Rama nama she will get back to her old attire and become as pure as how she was before she left her husband. The entire city gathered on the river bank to see this event. The lady came and prostrated Bodhendral and he asked her if she believes that by saying Rama nama all her sins would go away. The lady said that she doesn’t know about Rama nama but she believes him and considers him as her guru. She then said Rama and took a dip in the river. As she came out she had flowers in her head, kumkum in her forehead and turmeric applied all over her body. On seeing this everyone started chanting Rama nama and she happily went to her husband. The couple then prostrated to Bodhendral and took his blessing. Bodhendral then continued his yatra to south India.

On reaching Kanchi he wrote several books as desired by his guru. Some of them that are available today are Bagavannama Rasodhayam, Bagavannama Rasarnavam, Bagavannama Rasayanam. Our guru Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj has translated Bagavannama Rasodhayam in Tamil and the same is now available for people who don’t know Sanskrit. Botherndral was waiting for his guru to come back so that he could show his books to him. Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi finished his yatra and came back to Kanchi. Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi was very happy with his work and asked him to preach the importance of Bagavan Nama. Bodhenral then travelled across India and made everyone chant Rama nama and also preached that the only way to attain god in this Kaliyuga was chanting the name of god.

Sridhara Ayyaval, of Tiruvisanallur was a contemporary to Bodhendral. He was elder to Bodhendral. They happened to meet each other once and after that they would go together to the villages to do Nama pracharam. They would go to a village and initiate everyone in the village with Rama nama. Once done they would move to the next village. Bodhendral once came to a village called Perambur. One day he was invited by a person to his house for Biksha (lunch). His son was dumb (incapable of speaking). Bodhendral would go to places only where people chanted Rama nama. So he initiated him with Rama nama and also asked him to ask his wife to chant the name of Rama while cooking. When Bodhendral came to his house for lunch he felt very bad that there was no way for his son to say Rama nama as he was dumb. He then felt that his nama siddhantam could not help people like him to reach god. After the lunch when the family prostrated to Bodhendral he was filled with tears in his eyes for the boy. On seeing this, the man said that it was his destiny to be born like this and asked him not to be worried about him. Bodhenral then told him that he was only worried about how he would attain god and not because he is dumb. The man immediately told him that now he knew that his son will definitely reach god as there is a guru who is bothered about him. He also said that his guru kripa will help him attain god. After that the kid automatically started chanting Rama nama in his mind. Forever he would be with Bodhendral and do service to him. Bodhendral was about to leave Perambur after 4 months and the kid started crying as he could not bear the detachment from his guru. Bodhendral then gave him his Sri Padukas and left.

Bodhendhral made the Nawab of Arcot as his disciple. Arcot was hit by plague once and there was no treatment for this. The Nawab was also attacked by plague and it so happened that Bodhendral was there in Arcot then. The people in the city went and told their problem to Bodhendral who then asked them to get together and chant Rama nama. Once they did this everyone were cured and there was no trace of plague in the city. The Nawab then gave some land to his mutt and became his follower.

During his yatra Bodhendral once went to a village called Thirukokarnam for nama pracharam. He was initiating everyone in that village with Rama nama. A dassi came there to him and asked if she could also chant Rama nama and if he would initiate her. Bodhendral initiated her with Rama nama without any hesitation. Those days sanyasi’s were not even allowed to speak to women and when he directly initiated a women that too a dassi, the villagers started speaking ill about him. After some days Bodhendral left the village. The dassi was chanting Rama nama religiously and would chant though out the day. Bodhendral happened to come back to that village after some time. By the time Bodhendral came back she had finished chanting crores of Rama nama. The dassi came to have a darshan of Bodhendral and after prostrating to him she left this world through Kabala moksham(spirit leaving the body, opening the top of her skull at her own will) in front of her guru like how a yogi leave this world. The villagers were surprised seeing this and realised their mistake.

One day kids were playing in the banks of Kaveri. They would keep their feet in the mud and close it with mud and then remove the disappeared leg from the sand. Bodhendral had now planned to leave this world, so he went to the children and said that he would come out if they buried him inside the sand. Taking this for true the kids dug a pit and asked him to get inside. They then closed him completely with sand while he was meditating. Next day people in the village were searching for Bodhendral and they couldn’t find him. The kids then told them that he is buried under the sand and that he had asked them to do that. The villagers were now frightened. They then decided to start digging there and all of a sudden there was a voice saying that he was in Samadhi here and that no one should disturb him. After a few years the exact location of his Samadhi was forgotten as they had not build an Adhishtanam.

After 100 years of his Samadhi, Maruthanallur Sadguru swamigal decided to find his Samadhi and build an Adhishtanam around it. He searched for the exact location in Govindapuram. He would tie his legs and crawl on the river bank as he did not want to accidentally touch the Samadhi on his feet. At one place he could hear Rama nama being chanted and he immediately found out that it was the location where Bodhendral had attained Samadhi. He then went to Maharashtrian king who was then ruling Thanjavore and with his help built the Adhishtanam there.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | November 17, 2009

Sri Purandaradasar

Sri Purandaradasar

Lord Vishnu called Sage Naradha and asked him to go the world and preach about bhakthi marga as the people were suffering in the Kaliyug without knowing the right path. Sage Naradha then asked Vishnu what if he goes there and he too becomes like others due to the effect of Kali and does not do the preaching. Vishnu then told him that he would not get affected by Kali and if he does get affected he would come to his rescue. Hearing this Naradha agreed to Vishnu’s request and came to this world as Purandharadasa.

Purandharadasa was born in a Brahmin family in Purandhara ghat which near Pandharpur. He was named as Seenapa Nayakar. His parents did not have a kid for long time and they prayed to Lord Srinivasan of Tirumala and got this child, hence they named him as Seenapan. He was born in a very rich family and excelled in his studies. His parents then got him married to a girl called Lakshmi. After some time his parents passed away. Seenapan was blessed with one daughter and one son. Even though he was very rich, he was a miser and would never give anything to any one. He was running a pawnbroker shop and would trade on precious stones for his living. He would never give anything to any one and would not even invite his relatives for lunch or dinner. His wife Lakshmi was very pious and god fearing. She would always pray to Tulasi Devi asking her to show the right path to her husband.

One day Seenapan was sitting in his shop and an old Brahmin who was poor came to his shop. The old man told him that he was getting his daughter married and also performing upanayanam for his son. He then said that everyone in the village had told him that, Seenapan does a lot of charity and had come to ask him for some donation. Seenapan sent him off saying that he would not give him anything even though the old man was repeatedly trying to get something from him. After trying for almost 2 hours the old man gave up and went to the next street looking for someone else. On seeing a very big bungalow, he sat outside the house thinking that he would get some food as he was hungry by then. This happened to Seenapan’s house. Lakshmi was then performing Tulasi pooja and on seeing the old Brahman went and prostrated him. The old man then told her that he was very hungry and asked if she would give him some food. He also told her that he has arranged for his daughters marriage and asked her to give him something for the same. She then took a costly nose stud and gave it to him. She then told him that her husband would be coming any time and if he happens to see her serving food to him he would get angry; so asked him to leave immediately. The old man then blessed her and left. He again came back to Seenapan’s shop to mortgage the nose stud. Seenapan on seeing this immediately found out that it belonged to his wife. He then asked the old man how he got this and the Brahman said that a lady from the next street gave it to him for his daughter’s marriage. Seenapan then told the old man that it belonged to his wife and said that he would check with her if she gave it to him and come back. He asked the old man to be seated and went to his house. Seenapan came home and screamed at Lakshmi with anger asking where the nose stud was. Looking at him Lakshmi was frightened and lied to him that it was inside. Not believing her Seenapan asked her to show it to him. Lakshmi then went inside and cried to Tulasi Devi. As she was crying she felt something falling in her hand and it was the nose stud. She immediately took it and showed it to Seenapan. He then came back to his shop but the Brahman was missing. He then opened his locker and checked for the nose stud and that was missing too but the locker was intact. Seeing this he was confused and came back home and asked his wife what happened and who the old man was. She then confessed to him that the old man had come and asked from some donation for his daughter’s marriage and that she had given it to him. He then asked her how she got it again when he had locked it in the shop. Lakshmi said that she had pleaded Tulasi Devi to rescue her and that she had given it to her again. Seenapan then went out in search of the Brahman but could not find him anywhere. He then came back home and was looking at the nose stud. He then realised who he was and also understood that it was Lord Vishnu who had come as the old Brahman to rescue him and show him the right path. He then felt that he had wasted 30 years of his life and decided go in service of god by singing his praise. He then took a Tambura and left his house leaving all his wealth. Lakshmi too followed him with their children leaving everything behind. His relatives and neighbours came running behind him and asked him what happened and why he was leaving his house and going on the streets singing the praise of god. He said that he had wasted his life all along and was now going to Pandharpur to see lord Vitthal. His relatives then asked him how he would take care of his wife and how will he get his daughter married if he leaves all his assets and goes to Pandhari. Seenapan then told them that Vitthal will take care of his family as he is the one who has said “Yogakshemam Vahamyaham” (Which means “I will take care of my devotees”) Lakshmi then asked Seenapan if they could donate all their wealth to the poor and needy. Seenapan replied that nothing belonged to them and everything belonged to Vitthal and that how can they donate something that belonged to Vitthal and said that Vitthal would give it to whomever he wanted to.

Seenapan was now in search of a Guru. He had earlier been to Emperor Krishnadevaraya’s palace on the capacity of a precious stone merchant and Vyasarayar was the Raja Guru in the palace. Earlier during his visits he had never bothered to pay his respects to Vyasarayar but now wanted to make him as his guru. Seenapan went to Vyasarayar’s ashram and prostrated to him, Vyasarayar immediately got up and hugged him and told him that he knew that he would come to him one day and was waiting for the same and blessed him. He then named him as Purandaradasar. The Emperor Krishnadevarayar heard that Seenapan had deserted his 9 Crores of wealth and is now serving the Raja Guru Vyasarayar as his sishya. As he knew him well he came down to the ashram to meet him. He asked him what happened and why he had left worldly pleasures and come here. He then told him that he has been blessed by his guru and has now got the company of Haridassas and is happy singing the praise of Vitthal and that he was now happier than earlier. The king then prostrated to him and told him that he was a Gyani and has had the darshan of Vitthal and said that he would be happy even if he gets a small percentage of his bhakthi.  After a few days Purandaradasar requested his guru’s permission to go on a Pandhari yatra as he wanted to badly see Vitthal who had shown him the path of namasankirthan. Vyasarayar then blessed him and asked him to go to Pandharpur.

Purandharadasar set out on a yatra to Pandhari and many bhakthas joined him on the way to Pandharpur. Dasar would perform Unjaverthi (Go on the streets singing the praise of god and collecting rice and dhal from the neighbourhood) and collect food for all of them and feed them every day. This way reached Pandharpur after a few days. On reaching Pandhari, Dasar had a dip in the holy river of Chandrabhaga and came running towards the Mahadhwar. He then prostrated at the Garuda Sthambam and came running towards the yogapeedam to have a darshan of Vitthal. Dasar then hugged Vitthal and was full of tears in his eyes. He then came to Rangashila (the mandap where people sing the praise of Vitthal) and prostrated to every person sitting there. Everyone there hugged him and gave him the thambura and asked him to sing. All of them too sang bhajans and namavallis along with Dasar. He then decided to stay in Pandhari and made a small hut for himself. He would perform Unjaverthi every day and feed his family. He would forever be in the temple singing bhajans and kirthans. Vitthal performed the marriage for his daughter and also the upanayanam for his son. Dasar then wanted to go on a yatra and asked Vitthal’s permission for the same. Vitthal then blessed him and he started on a yatra.

Dasar then toured the entire India and blessed everyone by his presence and his kirthans. He sang 5 lakhs kirthans and also preached about the importance of Namasankirthan. Dasar had a sishya, like Ekalavya for Dronocharya whom Dasar had never met. This sishya had written down all the kirthans of Purandaradasar and would recite the same everyday happily. He was not knowledgeable on carnatic music and others would tease him for singing badly. One day Dasar happened to pass by his house and he was reciting Dasar’s kirtans. Dasar then realised that someone was singing his kirthans inside the house and felt bad with the way he was singing. Dasar then thought to himself that he would not have sung these songs had he known someone would spoil the raga and thalas and sing his songs so badly. He then moved from there and to his dismay he found that he could not sing or speak any more. He then understood the reason behind it and went back to that house. He knocked the door and the man who was singing came and opened the door. On seeing Dasar he was surprised and asked him if he was Purandaradasar and once he knew who he was he prostrated to him and started singing and dancing and became delighted. Dasar then hugged him and thought he was his best sishya and immediately he got back his voice. He then came back to Pandharpur after visiting all holy places.

Purandaradasar wanted to teach his musical skills to someone before he leaves this world so that it could be passed on through generations. There was a dassi in Pandharpur who wanted to learn music and so he started teaching her music. He would go to her house and teach music to her. Seeing Dasar go to the dassi’s house everyday, a rumour spread about him in the village. Vitthal then decided to show the world about the real qualities of Dasar and performed a leela. One day a very costly jewellery of Vitthal was missing and as the priest could not find it they informed the police. The police started harassing and beating every one working in the temple to check who took it. One of the sweepers in the temple also happened to be the sweeper of that dassi. She then told the police that she had seen the jewel in the dassi’s house. The police then sent for her and questioned her. The dassi then told the police that it was Dasar who had given it to her. The police then arrested Purandaradasar and tied him to one of the pillars in Rangashila. Everyone was now waiting for the king to come and whip him. Dasar was quiet and thought that whatever was Vitthal’s wish will happen and there is no point trying to justify anything. The king then arrived and one of the police handed over the whip to the king. The king then asked Dasar to say in front of Vitthal if he had stolen the jewellery from the temple. Dasar was quiet and did not reply. The king got angry and took the whip and started whipping him, asking why he was not even answering his question. However someone had pulled the whip from the king’s hand before it hit Dasar. The king turned back to see who had pulled the whip from him, but none of the soldiers behind him had the whip. They then found that the whip was inside the shrine with Vitthal. On seeing this, the king ordered the police to untie Dasar and prostrated to him and asked him to forgive him. The people who were speaking ill of him now understood about him and stopped speaking rumours about him.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | November 13, 2009

Sant Gyaneshwar

There was a Sant called Vitthobha in Maharashtra. He dint want to get married and wanted to be a bramachari all his life. He would always meditate upon god and read the holy book of Srimad Bhagavadam. He would get alms and have his food. He once came to Pandharpur and had the darshan of Lord Vitthal and was sleeping on the banks of river Chandrabhaga. That night Lord Pandurang came in his dream and said that a Brahman would bring to him a girl called Rukmani tomorrow and asked him to get married to her. He got up in the morning and started performing his daily ritual thinking why god had asked him to get married when he wanted to be a bramachari all his life. Pandurang had also told the same to the Brahman in his dream and had asked him to go in search of Vitthobha on the banks of Chandrabhaga the next morning. The Brahman came to Chandrabhaga and on seeing Vitthobha told him about his dream; Vitthobha told him that Pandharinath had also told him the same and agreed to get married to his daughter. He then came back to his village and started living as a family man. Vitthobha was longing for a child so that he could go back to sanyasa ashram leaving his wife with the children, but unfortunately they did not have a child for a long time. One day Vitthobha left home without telling his wife and went to Kasi and met Swami Ramanada. (Swami Ramananda is also the guru of Sant Kabirdas). He then formally took Sanyasa ashram from his guru Ramanda and stayed with him in Kasi. His wife Rukmani was searching for him and months passed by. Some one had told her that her husband would return if she goes around the Pipal tree (Arasa maram in Tamil). She started doing this religiously and years passed by but her husband had not returned.

Swami Ramanada had started on a yatra to Dakshin Bharath with his sishyas. Vitthobha refrained from joining his Guru in the yatra as he dint want to meet his family even accidentally when they pass by his village. Swami Ramananda reached Vitthobha’s village and happened to sit under the Pipal tree. Rukmani after completing her pradakshan prostrated Swami Ramananda as he was sitting there. As she was going around the Pipal tree Swami Ramanada thought that she was praying for a child and blessed her saying “Putravati Bhava”. On hearing this she burst into tears. Swami Ramanada on seeing this asked her why she was crying. She then told him that her husband had abandoned her a few years back. She also said that the blessings of Saints like him don’t go waste. She then said that some people have told her that her husband has become a Sanyasi. He then asked her if she knew where he was and who gave him sanyas. She then replied that people say that he took sanyas from Swami Ramanada in Kasi. Swami Ramanada then told her that it was he who had given him sanyasa diksha and also told her that if Lord Rama had made him bless her as “Putravathi Bhava” he would make it happen. He then sent a letter to Kasi for Vitthobha. On seeing his letter Vitthobha came to meet his Guru. Swami Ramanand then told him; be it Dharm or Adharm you will have to make my words come true. He also said that there is no bigger Dharm than to listen to ones Guru’s words. As it was his Guru’s wish Vitthobha agreed to it and came back to family life. After some time Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Goddess Shakthi came to this world as their children. Their first son Nivritidev was the incarnation of Shiva, the second son Gyaneshwar was the incarnation of Vishnu and the third son Sopandev was the incarnation of Brahma, the fourth child Muktha Bai was the incarnation of Shakthi. They had taken this avatar to teach the world the importance of nama sankirtan and prove that it was the only relief for any human being in this Kaliyug. Even though Vittobha had come back to family life as per his Guru’s instructions he was having a feeling that he had committed a sin by coming back to Grihastashram from Sanyasashram. As he was a learned person he also knew that the only way to relive him of this sin was to jump in to the Ganges and reach the god. He told this to his wife and she too wanted to go with him as she felt that she was also a party to this sin that he had committed. They both left the kids praying to Lord Vitthal asking him to take care of them and left for Prayaga (the meeting point of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi) and then to the Himalayas and got in to the Ganges to give up their life.

Nivritidev, Gyaneshwar, Sopandev and Muktha Bai were very young and everyone in the village neglected them and teased them. The children would eat if any one offered them food, otherwise they would just starve. They would not go and ask for alms from anyone. Nivriti was 6 years old, Gyaneshwar was 5, and Sopan was 4 years old now. As they were Brahmans they wanted get their Upananyanam (Sacred thread ceremony) done at the right age. They went to the Brahmans in the village and asked them to perform Upanayanam for them. The Brahmans laughed at them and said that as they were born to a Sanyasi they can’t call themselves as Brahmans and so they would not perform the Upanayanam for them. They then said that there is a place called Prathishtanapuram (Now called as Paithan) where there are a lot of learned people and asked them to approach them to check if there was anyway they could perform the ceremony. They also said that they would perform the same if they agree to it and give a letter to them stating the same. The children then came to Paithan and met the Brahmans there. Gyaneshwar then asked them to perform the ceremony for them. The Brahmans then asked them to which gothram do they belong to. Gyaneshwar replied to them saying that if the gothram was not known for someone the guru could use his gothram for performing the ceremony. They were surprised at this answer and thought how such a young kid knew so much about the sastras, but then said that they would not perform the ceremony without knowing if they really were Brahmans. Gyaneshwar then told them the different stages that a man goes through before becoming a Brahman and said that they have all crossed that stage, but still wanted to have the ceremony performed as it was customary. He also said that a Brahman is one who has seen the Brahmam and as they have seen the Brahmam they could perform the ceremony for them. The Brahmans then asked them if they had seen the Brahmam then why they need all these rituals. Gyaneshwar told them that as it is put in the Vedas that one should stick to their dharmas; we wanted to have the ceremony done. The Brahmans then asked them how they got Bhramagyanam. Gyaneshwar told them that god was every where and it was up to the individual to see him. He then showed a buffalo that was roaming on the street and said that god was inside the buffalo too. The Brahmans then got angry and asked if that was true will the buffalo too speak Vedanta like how he speaks. Gyaneshwar then touched the buffalo and said “Panduranga recite the Vedas” The buffalo immediately started reciting the Vedas. The Brahmans on seeing this were stunned and then said that a person like him who has attained jeevan mukthi does not require all these ceremonies. They then left Paithan and started on a yatra with the buffalo.

Sant Gyaneshwar

Sant Gyaneshwar

Gyaneshwar made a composition on Bhagavad Gita called Gyaneshwari. Till date it is the most popular book in Marathi on Bhagavad Gita. They then came back to Paithan and stayed there. There was a person called Changadev who was a Yogi, he was 1000 years old. He would walk on water, fly in the sky, get inside fire and come out without getting burnt. One day he got a new siddhi and started making dead people come alive. The whole village got to know about this and every one in Paithan and nearby villages started bringing everyone who was dead to Changadev and he made them come alive. However Changadev did not like Gyaneshwar and would ask the people in the village what was there with Gyaneshwar and why so many people went to meet him and listened to the abhangs and his discourses. The news reached Gyaneshwar but he dint bother about it. Muktha Bai his kid sister did not like this and she wanted to teach Changadev a lesson. Muktha then went to Chagadev’s ashram and there were a lot of people waiting outside for the Yogi with a dead body next to them. When they saw the 5 year old Muktha they asked her to go away fearing that she would be frightened seeing the dead bodies. Muktha asked them why they were waiting outside and they said that they were waiting for Changadev to come and wake the dead bodies. Hearing this, the little girl said that she could also wake them up. They then told her that she would get frightened on seeing them and asked her to leave. She then ran towards the dead body and said “Vitthala Vitthala” on it ears and then ran away. The dead body immediately woke up and started jumping and chanting “Vitthala Vitthala”. Hearing this noise Changadev came outside. He then enquired what happened and the people who were waiting for him told him what happened. He then asked them if they knew who that kid was and they said that it was Gyaneshwar’s kid sister. Changdev was shocked and surprised listening to this. He then wanted to meet Gyaneshwar and came to meet him sitting on a tiger. Seeing this, the villagers panicked and ran to tell this news to Gyaneshwar. Gyaneshwar was then fixing the compound wall in his house; he sat on the wall and asked the wall to move towards Changadev. The wall immediately started moving and now villagers were surprised. When Changadev saw this he was astonished. He immediately got down prostrated to Gyaneshwar and came to him. Gyaneshwar then told him that these siddhis are not useful to attain god and that they only take one in the wrong direction. Changadev immediately realised what he was saying and asked Gyaneshwar to show him the correct path. Gyaneshwar then asked Muktha to show him the right path. Muktha Bai then told him that listening to the stories of god, singing the praise of god is the only way to attain god. Changadev then prostrated both Muktha and Gyaneshwar and went to Pandharpur to live like true bhaktha. From that day he never used any of the siddhis that he had gained. He stayed in Pandhari along with Sant Namdev and spent the rest of his life singing bhajans and kirthans and listening to pravachans.

Gyaneshwar once came to Pandharpur and met Namdev. Namdev prostrated to Gyaneshwar and they hugged each other. Gyaneshwar then told Namdev that he had come to Pandharpur only to see him. He then told him that he wanted to go on a yatra around the country and wanted Nama to come with him. Nama told him that he was happy in Pandhari and that he could not leave Vitthal and go outside Pandharpur. Gyaneshwar then told Nama that he was going to visit all the places like Ayodhya, Vrindavan etc where god had lived in his earlier avatars and that he should come to see it with him. Nama then told him that Vitthal was still living and playing with his devotees in Pandharpur and said that he would be happy to be with him in Pandhari than go and visit a place where he lived earlier. Gyaneshwar then told him that he greatly desired to have Namdev’s company for the yatra. Namdev then asked him to ask Vitthal and also said that he would go with him if that was Vitthal wish. Gyaneshwar went to Vitthal, told him that he had come to him to ask for something. Vitthal asked him what he wanted and Gyaneshwar told him that he wanted to go on a yatra. Vitthal then told him that it was a good decision and told him that he would be liberating so many lives in this world by doing so. Gyaneshwar then asked Vitthal to send Namdev along with him for the yatra. Hearing this Vitthal was struck by grief and told him that he can’t be without Namdev. Gyanadev however said that he wanted to go with Nama and Vitthal then called Nama with tears and asked him to go with Gyaneshwar.

Gyaneshwar and Namdev started on a yatra with a few others. They would go to every village and perform namasankirtan. When they left the village a few people would join them in their yatra. The yatra that started with 10 people at Pandhari now became as big as 1000 people. They would perform street bhajans in each village and then move on the next village. Every one who saw them singing would get attracted and start singing and dancing with love for god. This way they reached Delhi and by now there were over a lakh yatris coming with Namdev and Gyaneshwar. Delhi was then ruled by a Mohamedian king, unmindful of this they continued going through the streets of Delhi, singing the praise of god with ecstasy. The king on seeing his subjects getting attracted towards them decided to prove that Hinduism was not true. He then sent a person with a cow to the place where they were performing bhajans. The Mohamedian came with the cow and told them that he is going to slaughter the cow and if the god whom they consider as the supreme cowherd is true, he should make the cow come alive. Namdev immediately replied to him that Vitthal would take care of the cow. The Mohamedian then told that he would slaughter the cow and asked him how long he would take to bring back life to the cow. Nama then told him that he would bring it alive in 3 days. On hearing this he slaughtered the cow and left the place with a big smile thinking that in 3 days time the people who have been his followers will understand that he is not a saint and no one would follow him any more. For 3 days Nama was just singing and crying to Lord Vitthal blaming himself as the reason for the cow’s death. Nama almost fainted on the 3rd day as he refused to have food or water from the time the cow was slaughtered. Vitthal then came and consoled Nama and asked him to see the cow. Nama saw the cow getting up and asked Vitthal why he had made him wait for 3 days, when he could have come immediately. Vitthal then told him that it was Nama who promised the killer that he would make it come alive in 3 days and that he waited for 3 days only to make his words true. After this event a lot of people in Delhi became the followers of Gyaneshwar and Namdev and everyone started performing bhajans and kirthans at their home. They then went to many villages and cities up North and were returning back to Pandhari via Marwar. They got stuck in the desert and lost their way completely. There was no food or water and they could not find any village nearby. Nama fainted and fell down as he could not withstand the heat of the desert. Seeing this Gyaneshwar started crying and pleading Vitthal asking him to come for help. Seeing this Nama told him that whatever was the wish of Vitthal would happen and one can not do anything about it. Vitthal then sent his disc (Chakkaram) to their rescue and the disc went inside the ground and created a spring for them. All the bhakthas then took water from the spring to quench their thirst and continued their journey.

The yatris reached a place called Vaidhyanatham (now it is called Deogarh in Bihar) which is one of the 12 Jyothir Linga places. The day they arrived happened to be Shivarathri and so they went and prayed to Lord Shiva in this temple. They then sat in front of the main deity and started their kirthans. After singing a few songs about Lord Shiva they started singing about Vitthal as usual. Hearing this, the temple priest came to them and said that they should not be sitting in front of the main deity and singing as they would be performing abishekams and poojas for Lord Shiva. They also said that this was a Shiva temple and that they should not perform bhajans about Vishnu in this temple. Gyaneshwar then said that the Lord Shiva wanted them to sing here and that they would leave if he asks them to leave. The temple officials then intervened and showed them another place behind Lord Shiva to perform their bhajans. They all moved to the new place and started singing there.  After some time the temple priests locked the shrine and left after performing all the poojas. Gyaneshwar, Namdev and other bagavathas continued to perform their kirthans through the night and Lord Shiva turned to the side where they were sitting with his shrine. The next morning the priests came to open the temple and were astonished find that the shrine had turned. They then realised that it had happened because they asked the bhakthas and bagavathas to go and sit on the rear side of the temple. They understood that Lord Shiva had done this to show his love towards them. They then came running to see Gyaneshwar and Namdev, prostrated to them and apologised for having misbehaved with them the previous day. Gyaneshwar and Namdev then told them that they being the priest of Lord Shiva, they will not misbehave with any one and that it was Lord Shiva’s leela and continued with their journey.

Gyaneshwar and Namdev had almost reached Pandhari and Nama was now longing to have a darshan of Vitthal and started running towards Pandhari with tears in his eyes. It had been about a year since he went on a yatra with Gyaneshwar. Vitthal also came to the banks of Chandrabhaga to receive them and was happy that they have returned back. The entire village of Pandharpur was in a festive mood when they knew they were returning and came to receive them.

A few days later Vitthal told Nama that a Samaradhanam has to be performed for him as he has completed the yatra. He also said, as Gyaneshwar was a Yogi, it is not necessary for him but as Nama was a family man it has to be performed for him. Nama then told him that it was not required for him, but as Vitthal insisted Nama agreed to it. Vitthal wanted to get the Brahmans from Paithan to perform the same. The real reason behind performing this ritual was that Vitthal wanted the Brahmans of Paithan to realise the greatness of bhajans and kirthans. Vitthal then took the form of a rich man and came to Paithan along with Gyaneshwar, Nama and other bhakthas. Vitthal and the other bhakthas prostrated to the Brahmans. Vitthal then told them that he wanted to perform an udyapan in Pandharpur and wanted them to perform the same. Vitthal then asked them to come to Pandharpur the following Saturday to perform the same and went back to Pandharpur with his bhakthas. The Brahmans came as stated and performed the ceremony. Once the ceremony was completed they were served food. Rukmani, Radha, Sathyabama and others served food for the Brahmans. Vitthal then gave each Brahman their dakshana and asked them to take some rest. Vitthal then asked if he could now go and have food and the Brahmans asked him to go ahead. Vitthal called all his bhakthas to have lunch with him. Vitthal’s bhakthas are from all sects including the harijans. They all came and sat down for lunch. Nama was sitting next to Vitthal. Seeing the people from lower caste sitting next to Vitthal, the Brahmans thought if Vitthal was really a Brahman or if he fooled them saying he was one. The bhakthas were feeding Vitthal from their plate and Vitthal was feeding the bhakthas from his plate. Seeing this, the Brahmans got angry and started to leave. Vitthal and his bhakthas had finished their lunch by then and came towards them. The Brahmans then asked Vitthal if he dint know about the way a Brahman is to conduct himself and asked him why he was eating with people from the lower caste. Vitthal then told them that he was not aware of the same and asked them to perform a prayachitham (doing penance) for the same. The Brahmans then agreed to perform the same for Vitthal and they fixed the next Saturday for the same. They then gave the list of items to be procured and left. The next Saturday the Brahmans came and performed the ceremony religiously. Once the ceremony was over he requested the Brahmans to have lunch. He then asked them to take rest and went to have his lunch. This time too Vitthal had food with all his bhakthas who were from the lower caste. The Brahmans got angry again and asked Vitthal why he had done the same mistake again even after doing penance. Vitthal then told them that he did this again as he now knew he could do a penance for the same. He also said that he can have food only when he eats with them and that he can’t eat alone. They then told Vitthal that being a Brahman he should act like a Brahman. Vitthal then told them that he thinks the people with whom he had food as Brahmans and not them. The Brahmans asked him how he says that. Vitthal then told them that it is only because they don’t have the Gyan they look at these people as belonging to lower caste. He then said that a Brahman is one who sees Brahmam in every living being in this world. The Brahmans said that what he said was true but it is applicable only for people who have really realised the same in their life and not for everyone. They also asked him how he talked like he knew the Vedas, Upanishads etc and asked him to reveal who he really was. Vitthal then said the Brahmans that he will first show who his friends are and gave Gyan to the Brahmans. When the Brahmans saw the bhakthas they realised that Gyaneshwar was Vishnu, Nivriti was Shiva, Sopan was Bhrama and all other bhakthas took the form of other gods and goddess. The Brahmans then realised their mistake and prostrated to all the saints there and asked Vitthal for forgiveness. They then joined with them and started singing the kirthans and bhajans. After spending a few days with these saints they then went back to Paithan.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | October 13, 2009

Sant Narasinh Mehta

Contributed by Mrs. Narmadha Sundar

Sant Narashima Mehta

Sant Narasinh Mehta

Junagad was an ancient Guajarati town, which was culturally advanced. Narshima Mehta was a Brahmin by birth and was born in Junagad. He lost his parents when he was seven. He had great bhakthi on his brother and sister-in-law. He used to spend all his time playing with the village boys and didn’t attend school properly. Once after playing for a long time, a tired Narshi went home and asked his sister-in-law for some water. But his sister-in-law who was very angry with Narshi’s playfulness spoke harshly to Narshi. This greatly offended young Narshi and that night itself he left from home and went a long way towards a forest. He kept roaming here and there with no food or water and was very tired and totally exhausted. He then suddenly saw a Shiva temple.  Narshi went into the temple and embraced the Shivalinga and cried out, ”Shiva,  Shankara, Mahadeva, Neelakanda” and prostrated in front of him. He became totally engrossed with the lord that, Narshi started meditating on Lord shiva. Seven days passed. He didn’t eat anything and didn’t feel anything. He kept chanting the Panchakshara mantra “Namashivaya”. Lord shiva on seeing Narshi’s unwavering bhakthi and vairagya revealed himself and said to him, ”My child, I am pleased with your bhakthi. Tell me what your heart desires.”

Narshi embraced the feet of lord and said, ”I am an ignorant child. I don’t understand the good and bad in this world around me. You have to bless me”. Lord Shiva gave him Gnana and blessed him with a divine vision by which Narshi saw the river Yamuna in Vrindavan with lord Krishna dancing with the Gopis.

He was thrilled with the vision of the rasaleela, performed by the lord, in which numerous Krishna forms and numerous Gopis took each others hands, dancing in pairs. In his vision Lord Krishna even explains the truths about jeevathma and paramathma and blesses Narshi with the divine ability to compose hymns on the lord.

In the meantime Narshi’s uncle came searching for him and finally located the Shiva temple and saw Narshi sitting there in a sublime state singing. He was astonished on hearing Narshi’s divine kirtan and pleaded to him, ”My child, why did you move out of the house, we are all suffering a lot without you, please come back with me”. Narshi said, ”I have been blessed with the darshan of lord because I was shouted at, so I am not upset about what happened at home”. Narshi then went back home with his uncle. From then onwards Narshi did Krishna and Shiva aradhana daily. He composed many kirthans on the various gunas of god. Everyone was amazed on his stature of bhakthi. And as time rolled on, Narshi came of marriageable age. Though his thoughts were never on marrying, he was married to a Brahmin girl and in due course they had two children, one boy and a girl. With passage of time Narshi’s children came of marriageable age.

The wedding in Narshi’s family

Near Junagad there was a village called Shampur. There lived a merchant Tripuranthak who was a rich and powerful man in his village. He had a daughter who had reached marriageable age. In the same town there lived a vaishnava bhaktha named Krishna Bhatt who was well known among the people. One day the lord appeared in Krishna Bhatt’s dream and said, ”Bhaktha, you should join the hands of Narshi’s son and Tripuranthak’s daughter in marriage”. Krishna Bhatt had great respect for Narshi. He immediately took an oath that he should conduct this wedding that the lord ordained.

Krishna Bhatt then went to Tripuranthak and told him about his divine dream, ”There is a Brahman at Junagad who is pious and a great Vaishnava.  I have made an agreement with him to offer your daughter to his son”. This is the Lord’s wish. The merchant laughed at the proposal and said, ”I will accept this , but with one condition,  Narshi has to bring as dowry all the materials equal to my status”. Krishna Bhatt felt happy and immediately started to Junagad.

Narshi was immersed in Krishna bhajans and Krishna Bhatt came in and sat beside him and was overwhelmed with all his kirtans. After the bhajans was over Krishna Bhatt introduced himself, ”swami, I am Krishna Bhatt from Shampur. I have heard a lot about you. It is my great blessing to hear your kirtan in person. I was excited”. Narshi said, ”I am not praiseworthy as you think”. Krishna Bhatt said, ”your name and fame has spread every where. I will tell you the reason for my presence. There is a rich man in Shamapur.  He has a daughter. Ours lord’s wish is to join the hands of your son with his daughter. So I have come here for your acceptance. ”Narshi was shocked and said, ”Is this possible, will it happen? I am a poor man with no money and he is a rich man. I should not be greedy”. Krishna Bhatt said, ”If you are willing to accept  our lord’s wish, I will take care of the remaining things. Don’t worry”. Narshi nodded his head and said, ”If It’s our lord’s wish then let it happen so”. Krishna Bhatt said, ”I will fix the date and we will have the wedding in the bride’s house”.

Returning to Shampur Krishna Bhatt came to Tripuranthak house and said, ”I have fixed the date, the bridegroom will come surely tomorrow for the wedding with all the ornaments and dowry that you asked for. Go and make all necessary preparations. ”Tripuranthak laughed and said, ”Narshi is all alone, how can he come tomorrow since he has no money of his own? However as you say that the whole idea is the lord’s wish, I will not go against it”. Krishna Bhatt felt bad on Tripurnthak comment but he didn’t show it and asked him to go ahead with the arrangements.

On the next day Narshi’s family took the tambura and cipla and started moving to Shampur doing bhajans. All family members came behind him. The procession seemed to look as if they were going on a yatra. The Lord on seeing his poor bhaktha Narshi along with the groom and others all dressed shabbily  not carrying any riches required for a wedding decided to intervene, immediately he along with Rukhmini and Sathya Bhama disguised as a rich diamond and gold  bangles merchant accompanied by his consorts came and joined the procession.  And now the whole procession became so enriched by their presence. As the procession was nearing Shampur a white horse and other carriages were found waiting for them.

The Lord gave divine Darshan in all his glory to Narshi alone and said that he would go in front and do all the arrangements. New dresses and ornaments were given to Narshi’s relatives and he asked the Bride groom to come riding on the white horse and all the others to come on the carriages. Narshi on seeing the Lord himself personally making all arrangements and passing instructions was overwhelmed and he happily chanted “Hari Vitthala, Hari Narayana”. All the relatives adorned themselves with beautiful silk cloth and gold ornaments and the entourage entered into Shampur. Krishna Bhatt on seeing the wedding party understood the leela and went to Tripurathaka’s house and told him “You teased Narshi, and now he is coming here carrying lots of riches, but there is no sufficient place to keep the materials in your house. What are you going to do? “Tripuranthaka felt ashamed and ran towards the procession to welcome them.

 As he came near them Lord Krishna who was disguised came to him and said “My name is Sawalasa, I am from Dwaraka and I am here as Narshi’s agent we need a three storeyed building to keep all the materials that Narshi is bringing and as Narshi is a very very rich man you should accommodate him and his relatives in a big bungalow. But I think you have made no arrangements, so let’s work fast and arrange everything as quick as possible”. Tripuranthaka felt much ashamed and eagerly waited to welcome Narshi.

On seeing Narshi, Tripuranthaka immediately fell on his feet and asked to be forgiven for his mistake of not realizing Narshi’s greatness. Narshi however told Tripuranthaka that, all that was happening was in accordance with the Lord’s will and he need not feel bad about himself and that though he was a very ordinary person the Lord chose to shower his love on the couple by bringing them together in holy matrimony.

The second wedding in Narshi’s family

Narshi had a daughter of marriageable age who was so beautiful and kind hearted. Narshi who was always in Krishna dhyana was not worried about his daughter’s wedding plans. Meanwhile due to Krishna krupa a very rich merchant came to Narshi’s house and on seeing his daughter he requested Narshi to give his daughter in marriage to his son. Narshi after great perusal about marrying into a rich family finally took it as Lord Krishna’s wish and agreed and got his daughter married. However the merchant’s wife, now the mother in law was so evil and demanded a huge amount of dowry and said she would take Narshi’s daughter as a daughter in law only after Narshi brought her the dowry she demanded.

Since Narshi was so poor he couldn’t give the money and his daughter continued to staying with he parents. This made Narshi very sad. With no development whatsoever time passed after a while Narshi’s wife insisted him to take his daughter to her husband’s house. Narshi with confidence derived from the strength of Krishna naama took his daughter to her in-law’s house. But the mother in law didn’t treat Narshi properly and demanded for the money immediately.

Something strange happened and Narshi found himself promising her that he would give the dowry within a short period of time and left his daughter in their house. Coming back to his house he felt heavy in his heart. He couldn’t sleep thinking about the day’s happenings.

At that time a few Vaishnava’s came to Narshi’s house. They were on their way to Dwaraka. They were carrying a lot of money with them and due to the threat of robbers on the way to Dwaraka and as they had much respect on him the Vaishnava’s said “ You keep this money with you but can you arrange for the money to be given at Dwaraka?”. Strangely Narshi found himself saying “Surely, I have a friend in Dwaraka for whom I will give you a letter, on seeing which he will give you the money immediately. Narshi got the money and gave them the letter. After reaching Dwaraka however the sadhus were not able to meet the person as Narshi mentioned and after searching everywhere they sat on the sea shore not knowing what to do next.

 Meanwhile Narshi with sadness took the money the sadhus had entrusted with him and went to his daughters house and gave the money to her in-law and came back home. But he had felt bad that he had cheated all the sadhus and cried inconsolably. At Dwaraka Shaymalan came to the sea shore and gave the money to the sadhus and left. He was a very tall looking and handsome man and he spoke highly of his friendship with Narshi. The sadhus’ were taken aback by his divineness and felt blessed by his darshan. The sadhus then had darshan of Dwarakadeesan and completed their yatra and came back to Narshi’s house with great happiness and they explained about their unforgettable encounter with Narshi’s friend Shyamalan and their darshan at Dwarka and even showed him the signature that Shyamalan had made on the letter that Narshi had given. Narshi got the papers and on seeing God’s grace dropped down crying. The vaishnavas too understood God’s leela and felt happy.

“Vaishava Janatho”

A composition of Narshi on humanness that greatly inspired M.K. Gandhi is the famous Vaishnava Janatho.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | October 9, 2009

Sri Badrachala Ramadas

There was a Telugu Vaishnava called Gopanna Garu in a place called Golconda in Andhra Pradesh. He was also called as Ramadas due to his bhakthi towards Rama. His father was a Diwan and had left a lot of wealth for him before he passed away. His wife was Sundari Bai. Both of them were staunch Rama bhakthas. They had a son and he was named as Raghavan. As they had enough wealth they used to spend all their time in the service of Lord Rama and would invite a lot of saints and sadhus to their house to perform bhajans, kirthans and discourses. Every year he would celebrate Sri Rama Navami for 10 day in a grand manner.

Ramadas always spent his time singing the praise of lord Rama. He would hold a veena in one hand and sing the praise of lord always. He sang a lot of kirthans in Telugu even though he knew Sanskrit for the benefit the local people. He would ask all people to chant the name of Rama and told them that it would solve all their problems. He preached that it is easier to attain god through bhakthi than ascetic practices.

Once they were celebrating Sr Rama Navami in their house. There were hundreds of Bhagavathas who were singing Ramadas’s kirthans. The Vedas were being recited and Ramayan was also being read. Sundari Bai was taking care of food preparation for the sadhus and others who had come for the occasion. She would also come and listen to the kirthans in between and also take care of little Raghavan. The kirthans were over and they were about to start the Divya Naama Sankirtan. Sundari Bai wanted to feed the kid before going to the Divya Naama Sankirtan and so she put him in her lap and started feeding milk to him. She made him go to sleep and then went to the Divya Naama Sankirtan. Ramadas was in the centre and singing kirthans, other bagavathas were standing around him and repeating what he was singing. Sundari Bai was completely absorbed in to the Divya Naama Sankirtan and she could not even go back to see her kid. After some time Raghavan woke up and found that he was alone and started crying. Raghavan went in to the kitchen looking for his mother without knowing that his mother had already finished preparing the food and was in the Divya Naama Sankirtan. He accidentally slipped in to vessel that had some hot porridge and he was completely boiled. After some time Sundari Bai came in search of her kid and found that he was not in the room where she had left him. She went searching for him when she went in to the kitchen she found him completely boiled. She exploded out her emotions but immediately consoled herself and decided that she would not tell this to any one as it would be a hindrance to the Sri Rama Navami celebrations that hundreds of saints and sadhus were celebrating in their house. She then put him in a jute bag and kept him aside and started chanting the name of Rama and was waiting to serve food for the saints and sadhus. When the sankirtan got over Gopanna came in and asked his wife to serve food for the guest. Looking at her he knew some thing was wrong and asked her what had happened. As Sundari Bai would not lie to her husband, she told him the truth and he was shocked looking at Raghavan. The others who came in to have the food were also shocked to see the state of the kid. Suddenly a Yogi came inside the house and walked towards them. He asked them what had happened and when they told him that the kid was dead he said that the kid was not dead. He then went near the kid and touched the kid. Raghavan immediately opened his eyes. His limbs started moving and he got up as if nothing had happened to him. The yogi then gave the kid to Gopanna and walked towards the door. Even before anyone could come out the Yogi disappeared. Every one was questioning who he was and Gopanna said that it was none other than Lord Rama himself.

Years passed by, as Gopanna was not earning anything and was spending all his money on feeding the saints and sadhus and giving money to poor and needy he slowly lost all the money his father had left for him. He was now left with his big bungalow and the large utensils that were used to make feast for hundreds of saints and sadhus. Even at this point of time Ramadas was worried how he would perform Sri Rama Navami this year. Seeing him worried Sundari Bai advised Ramadas to ask his uncle Akkanna Garu, who was now the Diwan to help him conduct the utsavam for this year. Even though it has been years since Gopanna had met him he agreed. When Ramadas went to his house the gatekeeper did not recognize him as he was dressed like a poor man. He was not allowed to go inside the house and so he was waiting outside the house. Akkanna’s wife came outside and happy to see his aunt and stood up and called “Aunty” She dint recognize him and thought it was some one who had come to ask for some favour from her husband and yelled at him and asked him to be seated. Gopanna was not comfortable with what was happening and felt like leaving, however his love for Rama and his interest to conduct Sri Rama Navami utsavam made him to stay. He waited till noon and Akkanna finally arrived in a chariot. On seeing him he stood up and called him. Akkanna immediately recognized him and called his wife and asked her to take him in. Gopanna was now happy and he went inside. Akkanna gave him some clothes and asked him to have a bath as he would have been tired in the journey. When Ramadas freshened up and came they both sat together and enquired about each other. Gopanna said that he and his family were doing fine. When Akkanna then asked him what made him come here, he replied that he wanted some money to conduct Sri Rama Navami utsavam. Akkanna was now surprised and asked him why he was collecting money like others when he had the wealth to conduct this for generations. Gopanna then had to tell him what happened to his wealth. Hearing this Akkanna told him that he would get him some job with the King and that he could be happy after that. Gopppanna then told him that he would be glad to do that, but now he wanted to complete the utsavam and that he needed money for that. He promised that he would come back to meet the king on completing the utsavam and take up a job. Akkanna then asked him how much he wanted to conduct the utsavam, when Gopanna asked him for 1000 moharas for this he was surprised. He then explained the pomp and show with which he conducts the utsavam and Akkanna was very happy to hear that. Akkanna said that he had not been doing any good deeds all his life as he was busy working for the king. He then decided to give this money to him and sent with him the money and a body guard. He then asked him to come back once the utsavam was over. Gopanna then asked him to come at least for one day to see the celebrations.

Gopanna returned happily with the money and started preparing for the function. The Sri Rama Navami was conducted this year too with the usual pomp and show. On completing the ceremony he thought that if he goes for a job and saves up all money he would be able to conduct the utsavam next year too. He now wanted to take up a job to serve Lord Rama. He then took the prasadams and went to meet his uncle. He told him that he was expecting him during the utsavam and got the prasadams as he did not come. Akkanna then asked him if he was ready to take up a job now and he immediately agreed to it. He then gave him some dresses that he could wear to the kings durbar and took him along. The king looked at Akkanna and Gopanna and asked Akkanna who this was. Akkanna told him that he was the son of the earlier Diwan. The king was happy to hear this and asked him why he was here. Akkanna then said that he was now looking for a job and hence he had come to meet the king. The king then said that he was indebted to his father for the services he had done to him earlier and asked him to decide what jobs needs to be given to him. Akkanna then proposed that Gopanna be made the Tahsildar (a person who collects the revenue on behalf of the king) and the king agreed to it. Ramadas was now made as the Tahsildar of Badrachalam. Akkanna kept him with him for about 10 days and thought him how to handle his job and also how to behave with the king. The people of Badrachalam on hearing that a new Tahsildar is coming came to welcome him. The invited him to the Ramaswamy temple. This temple was very and poorly maintained. There were no oil lamps in the temple, bats were flying all over the place and the place was stinking. They had just garlanded the lord today as he was being received here today. Seeing these Ramadas started crying and felt bad that Lord Rama was in such a bad state. The priest then requested Ramdas to renovate the temple and also perform a kumbabishekam during his tenure as the Tahsildar.  He then said that this was not his request but Lord Rama’s instructions to him. Ramadas then said that if the lord uses him to perform this task he would be grateful. Day and night he was only thinking about renovating this temple. He then sold his house and his wife’s jewels and started the work. He removed the deities from the temple and demolished the temple so that he could start building a new one. The money that he got from selling his assets was not sufficient for building the temple. As he didn’t want the work to be stopped, he took the tax collected for the king and completed the temple thinking he would some how manage and pay it later to the king. The construction of the temple was completed successfully. Even today what we see in Badrachalam is the temple built by him. As the temple got completed the dates for Sri Rama Navami was also nearing. So he decided to perform the utsavam in Badrachalam this year. He invited all the saints and sadhus to Badrachalam this year instead of Golconda. Every one were praising him for building the temple and carrying out the utsavam at the temple. The utsavam started and Ramadas was singing happily and performing the unjal (swing) seva for lord Rama. He had made 1000 golden flowers for lord Rama and as he was singing the priests were keeping the flowers on the unjal one by one. Thus the celebrations started and the whole village of Badrachalam and the other saints, sadhus and bhakthas were worshiping lord Rama.

One person who dint like Ramadas wrote an anonymous letter to the king saying that there was a leakage in the revenue collected in Badrachalam. The king on seeing this asked the accountant if this was true. The accountant said that they have not received any money from Badrachalam yet. Hearing this, the king ordered for the arrest of Gopanna. Akkanna was now worried but could not speak anything as he had recommended Gopanna for this job.

It was the last day of the Rama Navami celebrations and Ramadas finished the pooja and was coming out of the temple. The king’s soldiers were now ready to arrest him and he went with them without saying anything. The people in Badrachalam burst in to tears on seeing this. He was bought to the king’s durbar and the king asked him why he dint send the money to him. Gopanna said that he had used it for building the temple. The king then ordered him to repay the money. Ramadas then told him that he dint have 10000 moharas with him to repay. The king then ordered for the imprisonment of Ramadas. He went through a lot of hardships in the prison. This prison is still there in Secundrabad and one can visit that even now. 

One night lord Rama and Lakshmana took 10000 mohras and came disguised as Ramadas’s assistants to meet the king. They went in to the inner room of the king in the palace and started hitting the door. The king thought that some enemies had conquered his kingdom and came with his sword to open the door. Lord Rama introduced him self as Ramoji and Lakshman introduced himself as Laksmanoji, they said that they were the assistants of Gopanna and also said that they bought the 10,000 moharas to get him released. As Rama was saying this, Lakshmana emptied the bag in front of the king and all the golden coins fell down, they then asked the king to give them a receipt for the same. The king was speechless and gave them the receipt. The king was completely spellbound on this vision and could not think of anything else now. He was only uttering “Ramoji, Lakshmanoji”  He then sent for Akkanna and said that he wanted to meet Ramoji and Lakshmaniji again. 

Meanwhile lord Rama and Lakshmana put the receipt in the prison cell where Ramadas was there. On seeing this Ramadas was surprised and was thinking who these Ramoji and Lakshmanoji mentioned in the receipt were. As he was seeing this the king was approaching towards his cell along with Akkanna. The king ordered the release of Gopanna and he came out. The king immediately held the hands of Ramadas and asked where were Ramoji and Lakshmanoji. Ramadas now understood who had come and said that he would take him to them if he comes with him to Badrachalam. Ramadas also sent a word to Badrachalam saying that he was coming with the king and asked the utsavars to be kept in the mandapam in the temple. The whole village of Badrachalam gathered to watch Ramadas coming back with the king. Ramadas showed the temple to the king and told him that this was the temple that he had built using his money and that is why the god had given darshan to the king even though he has not had his direct darshan. On seeing Lord Rama, Ramadas fell in his feet and sang a kirthan thanking him. The king was also consoled and came back to normal after seeing the deity. The king then said that he would give some land and money for the maintenance of the temple and asked Ramadas to take care of the temple and the lord. Ramadas happily accepted the offer and continued his service to lord Rama. 

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | October 6, 2009

Sri Vijaya Dasar

Vijaya Dasar was the sishya of Purandara Dasar. Vijaya Dasar was a very poor man in interior Karnataka. He had to take care of his aged parents and also had to take of his 8 siblings as he was the eldest son in the family. As he had not studied he would go to other houses in the village and do some household work like washing clothes, fetching water, buying provision & vegetables. He would do any work that they would ask him to do and they would offer him something when he gets back home. He was a very calm person and would never get angry with anyone. When someone gave him some food he would come and give it to his mother and ask her to have it and give it to his brothers and sisters. He would eat only if anything was left after everyone at home had some food. This way Vijaya Dasar was taking care of his family. 

There was a zamindar called Raghavendra Rao in a nearby town and he was getting his daughter married. Those days the marriage ceremony would happen for 8 days. Hearing about this Vijaya Dasar told his mother that he would go to the marriage so that he could have some good food. Hearing this, his mother was happy and sent him for the marriage. Vijaya Dasar went to the Zamindar’s house by walk. When he came to the house, they had started serving the feast and he sat down to have the feast. One of them enquired who he was and he said that he had come to eat, Dasa was told that the 1st feast was for the Bridegrooms side and that he should not be seated in this. Hearing this Vijaya Dasar got up and went to a corner. Another guy on seeing him asked him to fetch water for people to wash their hands after they have their food. Hearing this Vijaya Dasar was happy that he was now given some work and for sure he will be allowed to have the feast after completing the work. He was fetching water from a nearby well and filling it in the drum that was kept outside the hall. By now 4 or 5 batches were over and no one even bothered to ask him if he had taken food. Finally when he came after filling the drums and asked for food it was over and they had even cleaned the vessels. Vijaya Dasar was now very tired and went to take some rest. He went to the foyer and put his cloth down and lied down to take some rest. This happened to be the place where the Zamindar, Raghavendra Rao usually puts his cot and takes rest in the afternoons. On seeing him lying down in his place the zamindar shouted at him and sent him away. Vijaya Dasar was now upset that he dint get any food to eat nor and shelter to sleep, though he came here thinking that he would have a feast for 8 days. When he came out he was not angry with them but thought to himself that in a place where about 1000 people were eating, he could not get a meal and felt that it was because his karma. He then felt that he would continue to have these problems till he releases his karma. He then started walking towards Kasi from this village in Karnataka. He would walk during the day and in the night he would sleep on the elevated platforms (Thinnai) in some house on the way. In some houses on seeing him they would give him food and in some houses they would scold him and send him away. This yatra to Kasi thought him lot of lessons. He understood that praise and criticism are a part of ones life and that one should look at both equally. 

Vijaya Dasar finally reached Kasi, had a holy dip in the Ganges and sat under a tree. His mind was now very peaceful. As he was tired having travelled for long, he fell asleep. He suddenly realised that someone was standing in front of him with a veena in his hand and it was none other than Sri Purandara Dasar. Sri Purandara Dasar asked him to open his mouth and show his tongue. In his dream he put his tongue out and Sri Prunadara Dasar wrote “Vitthala” on his tongue. In reality Sri Purandara Dasar had left this world about 100 years before this incident happened. Sri Vijaya Dasar in his dream saw the lord Vitthal and then saw Sri Purandara Dasar who then became Naradha and started singing the praise of lord. He immediately woke up and started singing. The first song that he sang was on his guru Sri Purandara Dasar. All his songs were in the local language Kannada. As he was singing, a lot of people were attracted to his voice and some came along to sing with him along with their musical instruments. Now a small group had formed and they were happily singing bhajans and kirthans. Seeing this many people invited them to their house to perform bhajans. He would go to their house and perform bhajans. Even if he refused to take money they would insist that he should take it. He decided to save all this money to build an ashram (Matam) for his guru in Kasi in the place where he was initiated. He built an ashram on the shore of Ganges in Kasi where he got initiated and named it after his guru. He also installed a Vitthal there. He was there for a year then decided to go to his home town. He announced to his disciples that he is going on a journey from Kasi to Karnataka. Some of them started along with him so that it would be a yatra to dakshin India and also they could hear him singing bhajans and kirthans. He had a Pandurangan called Vijaya Vitthalan, he would be carried in a palanquin and all the other bhakthas would sing along with Vijaya Dasar and travel through various villages. In every village one or two people would join this group in their yatra. People in every village would call him and ask him to spend a day or two in their village to perform namasankirtan. As they were going Vijaya Dasar was recollecting the difficulties he faced while coming to Kasi, but now he was feeding a few people and taking them with him. He then realised that it was his Guru’s blessings that had changed his life. Vijaya Dasar was now approaching his own village as a few people from that village had invited him not knowing who he was. Hearing the sound of bhajans Vijaya Dasar’s father came out and enquired what the occasion was. The villagers told him that some swami has come on a yatra and the villagers have invited them to receive his blessings. Hearing this he also wanted to have his darshan and was looking at the group coming from a distance. The palanquin carrying Vijaya Vitthalan came first and all of them had a darshan of the god. Vijaya Dasar was now coming with the other sadhus dancing and singing kirthans. Vijaya Dasar on seeing his father ran across and prostrated him. All the sadhus who came with him also prostrated to his father when they know who he was. His father then asked him what had happened to him and why he had left him. He then answered that it was all Vitthal’s wish and that he would now stay with him. Vijaya Dasar then told his disciples that he would now continue to stay with his parents and asked them to come and visit him when ever possible. One of his disciples built an ashram for Vijaya Vitthalan so that Vijaya Dasar could perform his bhajans and kirthans there. 

After some time Vijaya Dasar got married as per his parents wish. Dasar became very famous in the locality and every one knew he was a Gyani. One day a zamindar from a nearby village had invited Dasar to their village. Dasar assured him that he would come the next day morning at 10am. That night after finishing the kirthans he went to that village. On reaching the village he knocked the door of a house. The lady who had come to open the door knew it was Dasar and asked him not to stay in her house as she is was a young widow who had gone in the wrong way. She also said that the people in the village would speak ill of him if they knew that he was here in the night. Dasar told her that he knew about that and asked her not to worry. He then asked he to give some milk to drink and then he took rest in the raised platform outside the house. The next morning the villagers started speaking ill about Vijaya Dasar. Some people said that he wouldn’t have known about her and hence he slept there. Some others said that if he is a real gyani he should have known about her. The news now reached the zamindar and so he also dint come to receive Vijaya Dasar. Vijaya Dasar after completing his rituals decided to go to the zamindar’s house as he had committed to him that he would come there at 10am today. When Dasar reached there, the zamindar was listening to some sastras from a pundit. As the pundit was not translating it properly to the zamindar, Dasar told him that his translation was wrong. The pundit got furious on hearing this. He also thought that Dasar knew only Kannada and may not know Sanskrit. He then asked Dasar to translate it for him. Dasar said that he was getting late for his bhajans and said that he would assign someone for the job. He then called the cook in the zamindar’s house. This cook had never gone to any school and did not know to read or write even the local language Kannada. When Dasar asked him to translate the slokas, he started reciting the slokas with their meanings effortlessly. The pundit and the zamindar were then shaken and said that they thought that he was not a gyani as he had gone to her house. Dasar then told him that god had sent saints like him only to bless people who have committed sins and who have gone in the wrong direction. So it was his duty to bless those people. He also told him about Rama’s avathar where he liberated Ahalya. He said that he took milk from her so that she would get liberated from her sins. The zamindar then cried and asked him to forgive him. Vijaya Dasar then blessed him and then left the village. 

Dasar had a disciple called Bhimappa Naicker who was blessed with a wife and a kid. One day Bhimappa suddenly died and his wife now had to take care of the infant. They were very poor and so she started begging alms with the infant. One day there was a marriage happening in the village and she came there to have food. Seeing her sitting in the dining hall, some of then said that being a widow she should not come to have food in the wedding hall. Saying this they pushed her out of the hall while she was having food. She was dejected and came to a lonely well. She then decided to commit suicide. She thought that if she dies no one would take care of her child and so decided to put the child in to the well before she jumps in. As she took the child a person from behind took the child from her. She turned around to see who it was and it was her guru Vijaya Dasar. She had seen him many years back when she was married to Bhimappa and they had prayed to him for a kid then and this child was born after his blessings. She then cried “Gurunatha” and fell on his feet. Dasar then blessed her and asked her not to worry and also said that that this child was born to do some good deed. After saying this he disappeared. This kid later went on to become Mohana Vitthalan who was a great saint and a sishya of Vijaya Dasar. 

Vijaya Dasar had once gone to Tirupathi for the Bhramothsavam. It was Rathosavam that day and Lord Srinivasan would come in his cart on all four lanes around the temple. It so happened that when they stopped the cart near a house, the cart dint move from there in spite of several attempts made by the bhakthas to pull the cart. Dasar knew the reason and went in to the house. He asked lady of the house what had happened. She then told him that she dint have a child for a long time and that she had prayed to the god that if she gets a child she would put him under the cart of Lord Srinivasan. He then told her that when she has given a word to the lord she should not go back from that. He also assured her that god would definitely save her child. She then gave the child to Dasar and he came and put the child below the wheel of the cart. He then asked the bhakthas to pull the cart. The cart that never moved now jumped over the kid without hurting the kid. Dasar then took the child and gave it back to the mother blessing the kid.

There was a great Sanskrit pundit in Dasar’s village called Srinivasa Rao. He would make discourses on various sastras and only a few people would come to hear the same. He would see hundreds of people going to Dasar’s ashram for the bhajans and kirthans. He would always talk ill of him and said that he dint know Sanskrit and that there was no point in singing bhajans and kirthans. One day he had a severe stomach ache and no medicine could cure it. He then went to Tirupathi for 41 days and prayed to god. Lord Srinivasan came in his dream and told him that he had spoken ill about Vijaya Dasar who was a great Bhagavada and that even he himself cant cure this. He also said that the only treatment was to take the pada theertham of Vijaya Dasar. Hearing this he came back to Vijaya Dasar and prostrated to him. Vijaya Dasar told him that he was learned and elder to him and should not do that. Srinivasa Rao then told him his experiences in Tirupathi and then took his pada theertham. He also decided to become his disciple and asked him to initiate him. One day he asked Dasar if he would get the realisation of God, Dasar then asked him to go to Pandhari. He went to Pandharpur and prayed Vitthal there. One day when he was bathing in Chandrabhaga he felt like a stone hitting his head. When he touched it, he found it to be a statue of Vitthal. He understood that this is what his guru had told and returned to his village with the idol to show it to Dasar. Vijaya Dasar then named the deity as Jagannatha Vitthalan and asked him to perform poojas to him. He also named Srinivasa Rao as Jagannatha Dasar. After that he too started composing a lot of Kannada and Sanskrit songs and slokas.

Posted by: Chenthil Kumar D | September 19, 2009

Sant Eknath

Eknath Maharaj

Eknath Maharaj

Eknath was the grandson of Sant Bhanudas. Vitthal was their family deity and Eknath also worshiped Vitthal from childhood. As Eknath was born in a family of saints he inherited bhakthi towards Vitthal from his family members. He learnt the sastras from his father till he was about 12. He then wanted to go to a Sadguru and learn sastras under him. Eknath wanted to get a good guru and prayed Vitthal to guide him to one. Vitthobha then came in his dream and asked him to request Janardhana Swami to be his guru. Janadhana Swami was a great yogi; he had his ashram in a forest. Eknath felt that if he informs his parents they will not let him go and so one day went to Janardhana Swami’s ashram with out informing them. He joined the ashram and started serving his guru. He served his Sadguru for 12 years. There were several kids like him who had joined the ashram. Some came to study the sastras and were studying them, some came to study Yogabyasam like Yamam, Niyamam, Aasanam, Pranayamam and they studied that. Some were given manthropadesams and they chanted the mantras. Students who learnt the sastras took permission from the guru and left him once they learnt it well enough so that they could go to the outside world and do discourses. Students who learnt Yogabyasam took leave of their guru once they realised that they had now got the siddhi. Those who took manthropadesam from him also took leave of him after realization of those gods. While so many students joined the ashram, learnt what they wanted and left, Eknath was just serving his Guru. Janardhana Swami also dint teach him anything and just asked him to take care of the ashram. Eknath’s daily work was that he would get up early in the morning clean the ashram, milk the cows, take care of the visitors, make food for the sadhus, buy provisions from the village, take care of his gurus requirements and then check the accounts before going to sleep in the night. He has only been doing this for the last 12 years in this ashram.

One night, Eknath was checking the accounts as usual. He found that there was 1 paisa missing in the account and he had excess in hand. He was breaking his head to find out what happened. This was because he felt all the work he was doing in the ashram was Guru seva and that he should be correct in that. As he was awake till late in the night, his guru came to see what he was doing. Eknath dint even realize that his guru was standing behind as he was thinking deeply about reconciling the accounts. Janardhana swami understood that he is checking accounts and went back to his place. He again came at mid night to see if he was done with it, but saw that he was still working on it and went back. Around 2am Eknath emotionally shouted “Gurunatha, I found it” as he had reconciled the accounts. Janardhana Swami immediately got up and went to him and asked him what he had seen. Eknath immediately apologized for waking him up and said that an entry for 1 paisa was missing and that he had found it. As soon as the Guru heard this, his eyes were filled with tears and told him that there were so many sishyas who had come here and found so many great things and after serving me for 12 years you are happy that you have found 1 paisa. Janardhana Swami then said that he is now indebted to him for having taken care of him and the ashram for all these years. He then went back to sleep. Janradhana Swami’s deity was Dattatreya and he requested him to give darshan to Eknath and Dattatreya agreed to his request. The next day Eknath went to Godhavari River to have his bath as usual. After completing his bath he would bring water from the river to the ashram. On his way back Dattatreya gave him his darshan in godly form. The four Vedas stood next to him as 4 dogs. Dharma devata stood behind him as a bull. Eknath on seeing him prostrated to him. Dattatreya then blessed him and Eknath came back to the ashram and started doing his work as usual. Janardhana Swami came and saw what Eknath was doing and he found him boiling the milk. He then thought that he doesn’t look like someone who has had the darshan of god. The state of a person who has realised and seen god would be different and they would be in deep meditation, sometimes crying or smiling and would not look like normal persons to the outside world. Janardhana Swami was now wondering if god had given him darshan or not. Janardhana Swami was now really confused and asked Eknath if had seen anything this morning. Eknath then told him that when he was returning from the river he saw his guru’s deity standing under the tree and that he had worshiped him. Janardhana Swami was further perplexed and told him that there are so many rishis trying to realize god for so many janmas and after having realized god how he could continue with his regular work. Eknath then replied to him that his Guru was everything to him and that he was happy to see this form of god rather than the form he saw in the morning. Hearing this Janardhana Swami was moved. Janardhana swami then asked him to go back to his parents, get married and lead a family life. Eknath hesitated as he dint want to leave his guru but Janardhana Swami told him that he would realize his presence wherever he was. This consoled Eknath and he returned home.

Eknath reached home and his parents were very happy to see him again. He then told them that he went to be a student of Janardhana Swami and that he has now asked him to get married and serve his parents. Eknath then got married and lived with his family. He would spend his day in the service of god. He translated a lot of Sanskrit books in Marathi for the common man to read. Eknath Bagavatham and Eknath Ramayan are even today available and are being widely read in Maharashtra. He conducted discourses every day about god. In the evening he would perform bhajans and kirtans. He has also composed several abhangs. He also sang about saints like Namdev, Gyaneshwar and Janabai. He would invite sadhus to his house for food every day, give them food and only then have his food. As his family was rich he dint have to go for any work and would devote all his time to the service of Vitthal. Eknath’s neighbour was envious with him and was saying everyone that he dint know Sanskrit and was scribbling something in Marathi with out knowing about the grandhas that he is writing about. Eknath never bothered about what others said and would continue to do his work thinking it was Vitthal’s leela. Once while writing about Uddhava in Bagavatha he got in to a transcendental state and fell down. His neighbour saw him in an unconscious state with a note about Uddhava in his hand. He immediately understood that he had underestimated Eknath and waited for him to come back to consciousness and apologised to him and asked him to make him his sishya.

One day when he was reading Bagavatha a 12 year old boy came to him, prostrated to him and asked him to make him his sishya as he wanted to learn the Vedas from him. Eknath asked him who he was and where does he come from. He replied to him that his parents were no more and that he considered Eknath as his mother, father, Guru and God. He said that he was from Dwaraka and his name was Kandiya Krishnan. Eknath accepted him as his sishya and looked after him as his own son. Krishnan was very smart and a learnt everything easily. He took care of all the needs of his guru and served him well. He did all service to his guru right from washing his clothes, cleaning his pooja vessels, cleaning his pooja room, preparing garlands for his god etc. He would also serve his Guru matha by getting vegetable from the market, bringing water from Godhavari etc.

One day Eknath was performing his ancestral rituals. Two outcastes happened to pass by his house and understood that a feast was being prepared. They were discussing that it would be good if they could get this food. Eknath on listening to these discussions called them and gave them the food that was being prepared. They were happy with him, thanked him and then left. The other Brahmans who had come for the ceremony left the place on seeing this. All Brahmans in the village on seeing this started speaking ill about him for giving the food that was prepared for ancestral ceremony to some outcastes before completing the ceremony. They all spoke to each other and decided that Eknath should be punished for this deed of his. All the Brahmans in the village then came to Eknath and asked him how he could do this in spite of learning sastras. Eknath then said that, he gave them food as they were hungry and that hunger doesn’t have any caste difference and hence decided to feed them. He also said that the sastras say that annadhanam can be given to anyone and that there was no caste discretion on that. They then said that none of the Brahmans in the village would mingle with him and not have any contact with him and his family from now on. Eknath now had to prepare food again for the ceremony and perform the ceremony. Eknath was now worried that he would not be able to feed the Brahmans after the ritual is over as no one would come to his house now. Kandiya Krishnan then told Eknath that if Brahmans were not available the sastras say that they could give it to kurcham (a type of holy dried grass used in religious ceremonies) Eknath then started performing the rituals and when he kept the 1st kurcham, Vitthal came and sat down to have the food. As soon as he came other gods and his forefathers who were called during the ceremony came down and took the food directly. Kandiya Krishnan was watching all these happening and smiling at Eknath. Once it got over, they blessed Eknath by reciting holy mantras and disappeared. His neighbours heard the chanting of holy mantras and thought that some Brahmans from neighbouring villages would have come without knowing what had happened with Eknath and were waiting for them to come out of the house so that they could warn them and advice them not to go to his house. After some time Eknath came out of the house. The Brahmans asked him who had come for the lunch and he was quiet. They then said that they heard some people reciting some mantras. Kandiya Krishnan then asked them what their problem was and said that no one had come. The Brahmans then left and thought that Eknath and Krishnan would have chanted the mantras in some different voices to fool them.  It was almost one year since they had given this punishment to Eknath. He then went to the Bhraman Samaj and said that he was ready to do whatever pariharam (doing penance) to clear the mistake he had done by feeding the outcastes. The Brahmans then told him that they would discuss among themselves and come back to him on the same. They got together and started preparing a list of things to be done as per their wish. One said that he has to make a gold cow and gift it to some one. Another one said he has to gift land and another said he has to gift a house. Like this each one came up with whatever they wished and this list was given to Eknath. Eknath then felt that he would use all his wealth and perform the list of pariharams given by the Brahmans. The Brahmans were now happy that Eknath will now gift all his wealth to them and Kandiya Krishnan was thinking how teach them a lesson. Krishnan tried to tell his Guru that they were cheating him and planning to acquire all his wealth in the name of pariharam, but did not agree. The Brahmans were performing the rituals and Eknath was doing the sankalpam. It was noon and a leper came enquiring about Eknath. The Brahmans stopped him and asked him who he was. He said that he came from Triambakeshwar and wanted to see him. They then asked him why he wanted to see him. The leper said that he had come to do some praiharam from him. The Brahmans then told him that they were doing pariharam even for Eknath and asked the leper to do it from them. The leper then said that they would not be able to do it for him and only Eknath could perform prayachittam for him. The leper said that he has done several pariharams from many people and had taken holy dips in many holy rivers but nothing had cured his leprosy. Just then Krishnan came and asked him what happened. The leper said that he went to Triambakeshwar and prayed to Lord Shiva. He said that he then asked him to cure his leprosy failing which he will commit suicide by jumping in the Godhavari River. He then said that Lord Shiva came in his dream and asked him to take the paada theertham (water taken by cleaning the feet of saints) of Eknath and that it was the only cure for him. As soon as he said this, Krishnan told him that it was his Guru whom he was mentioning and took him to Eknath. The ceremonies were still going on and the leper asked Eknath for his paada theertham. Eknath then told him that he was not such a great person and refused his request. The leper then told him that it was Lord Triambakeshwarar who had asked him to do this and that he should not refuse. When Eknath heard that it was the wish of Lord Shiva he agreed to it. The leper then performed paadha pooja for Eknath and consumed the water. As soon as he drank this water his body became normal and leprosy had vanished. The Brahmans there astonished to see this. Krishnan then looked at the Brahmans and asked if they at least now understood the greatness of Eknath. The Brahmans now dint have the guts to continue with these pariharams they were doing and Krishnan was happy that Eknath’s wealth was saved.

There was a Brahman who was very pious. He set out on a yatra to visit all the holy places and wherever he went the deity in that temple would speak to him because of his bhakthi. One day he went to Dwaraka, the deity here (Kalyanarayar) did not give him darshan or speak to him. He felt that Kalyanarayar was not there and it was only the statue that was there. After sometime he thought that he dint have enough bhakthi and that is why god did not speak to him. He decided to be on fast till he gets a reply form him. After fasting for 12 days, Lord Krishna came on his dream and said that he was in Prathistanapuram (now Paithan) doing service to Eknath as his sishya for the past 12 years. He then told him that he can have his darshan if he comes there. He also asked him to do service to Eknath instead of wandering all over India. The next morning the Brahman got up and started going to Prathistanapuram. He reached Paithan and enquired where Eknath’s house was and came to meet him. Eknath was reading Srimad Bhagavadam, the Brahman prostrated to him and asked him where Krishna was. Eknath thought that he was asking about Kandiya Krishnan and told him that he has gone to Godhavari and would be back soon. Eknath thought that the Brahman was related to Krishnan and had come to see him. He also asked him to be seated till he comes back. Krishnan then returned from Godhavari with some water but did not say anything to the Brahaman. Eknath was surprised why both of them dint recognize each other. He then asked the Brahman if he saw Krishnan going inside the house. The Brahman then told him that he was looking for Lord Krishna and not this Krishnan and also explained to him what had happened to him in Dwaraka. Eknath on hearing this ran in to the house searching for Kandiya Krishnan but only the vessels in which he fetched water were there but Krishnan had disappeared. He searched for him all over the house and started crying. He cursed himself for not being able to recognize god when he was there with him. He could not perform any work as everything reminded him of Krishnan only. He went to a Samadhi state and was thinking only about god. The Brahman who came now started serving Eknath.

One day Eknath decided to go on a yatra and he set out on a yatra with few others who joined him. They went to places like Kasi, Prayagai, Vrindavan, Ayodha, Mathura etc. Eknath performed Bhajans and pravachans wherever he went. When the finished the yatra and returning to Paithan with Ganga theertham, they got stuck in a place where there was no water and all of them were thirsty. Even though they had water in hand they did not use that as it was Ganga theertham and that it was supposed to be used only for religious purpose and not for quenching thirst. They then found a donkey lying down in an unconscious state due to thirst and heat. Seeing the donkey dying Eknath felt bad and moved forward to give his Ganga theertham to it so as to prevent it from dying. The others who were with him said that he should not do that as this water was supposed to be used only for religious purpose. Eknath then said that there was no better deed that saving the life of someone and that he would give it to the donkey and save it from death. Hearing this, the others left him behind and started moving forward as they dint approve of his action. Eknath then gave the water to the donkey. As Eknath was feeding the donkey it turned out to be Vitthal. He then prostrated to Vitthal and asked him why he did this leela. Vitthal then told him that he wanted to show the world that Eknath sees every living being in this world as Vitthal and hence did this leela. Eknath then returned back home.

One day a group of people were gambling. A small fight began within them and they started fighting within themselves. One of them tried to stop the fight and asked them not to get angry and fight among themselves. One of them immediately replied that he was not Eknath to be calm and collected and never to get angry for anything. One of them listening to this asked if Eknath really will not get angry for anything. All others said that even the sun may rise in the west but Eknath will never get angry. He then said that if someone doesn’t get angry then he is not human. The others then said that he was not human and that he was god. The guy then betted the whole money they were gambling and said that he would make him angry.  The gambler who had betted, had a house near the banks of Godhavari. He went home and the next morning he was waiting for Eknath to come to Godhavari to have his bath. Eknath had his bath and was returning back. The gambler was chewing pan and spited on his head from the terrace of his house on Eknath. Eknath dint even bother to look up to see him, nor did he shout at him and he went back to Godhavari to bath again. When he came back the gambler again spit the pawn on him. Eknath still dint say anything and went back to bath again. Eknath would clean himself and come and the gambler would spit on him, this happened several times and by noon the gambler had finished his entire pan and was also tired standing in the terrace and spiting. Now the gambler came down and was waiting for Eknath to come. This time when Eknath was going back from the river the gambler blocked him and asked him how he had so much of patience and that why he did not get angry with him when he has been spiting on him since morning. Eknath then replied to him that he came to Godhavari to clean his body before performing pooja to god. He also said that one should perform pooja with clean body and mind. When he spited on him, he only dirtied his body and went back to clean it. He then said that if he had got angry and shouted at him, his mind would have become dirty and that it would be even more difficult to clean his mind than cleaning his body. The gambler was moved hearing this and said that he had read about this but never seen this in practice.

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