Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the June edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
The Malicious Jagjeevan Mehta
Fateh Mohamed looked after the administrative affairs of the kingdom of Kutch . Under his direction worked Jagjeevan Veniram Mehta, a brahmin from the city of Visnagar , who was a dedicated worshipper of the deity Devi. Due to his devotion to Devi, Jagjeevan Mehta could not bear seeing the grandeur and supremacy of Lord Swaminarayan being spread throughout all sectors of society. Whenever devotees such as Sundarjibhai went to him to conduct their civic duties, Jagjeevan Mehta would taunt them because of his immense detest for Lord Swaminarayan. He would say, “Your Swaminarayan is a scholar, there is no doubt about that, but that does not make Him God. You are all being deceived by Him.”
On one occasion, the loving devotees of Bhuj built a grand swing for Shree Hari to preside upon. Sundarjibhai gathered fresh flowers from the gardens of the Hatkesh Mahadev Devalay temple to decorate the swing. When Jagjeevan Mehta went for the darshan of the Devi that day, he noticed that not a single flower had been offered to her. He inquired why. When he discovered that all the flowers had been used for Lord Swaminarayan, he became extremely angry and vowed that he would take his revenge.
As Jagjeevan was a worshipper of Devi, he advocated the performing of violent sacrificial ceremonies (hinsa yagna). Jagjeevan decided to hold such a sacrificial ceremony when Lord Swaminarayan was present in Bhuj. He had an ulterior motive for holding the ceremony. His plan was that he would call eminent scholars and priests who believed in performing violent sacrifices and would also invite Lord Swaminarayan. His aim was that the scholars would argue with Lord Swaminarayan and defeat Him in a debate about the legitimacy of holding such sacrifices. In this manner, Jagjeevan thought he could insult Lord Swaminarayan and demerit Him to such an extent, that no-one would remain His devotee.
The Prohibition of Violent Sacrificial Ceremonies
Jagjeevan’s older brother Kubersingh and younger brother Ramchandra initiated the sacrificial ceremony. Many animals such as goats were brought to offer as sacrifices. Meanwhile, Jagjeevan approached Shree Hari and invited Him to the ceremony. Lord Swaminarayan always maintained that religious deeds should be performed immediately, without hesitation. Consequently, He accompanied Jagjeevan to the site where the ceremony was being held.
Jagjeevan’s two brothers welcomed Shree Hari and requested Him to take His seat. They said to Shree Hari, “You possess great knowledge about the Ved scriptures. Therefore, it is only right that You conduct this ceremony.” Shree Hari looked around and realised what kind of ceremony was being held. He replied, “You have brought these animals to offer as sacrifices. This is completely inappropriate for you as brahmins. True brahmins remain devoted to performing penance and advocating non-violence. I am saying this for your benefit. No scripture has sanctioned the performance of such violent sacrifices. I have come to establish the true, unadulterated religious decree upon the earth. If I do not explain these beneficial issues to you, I would be guilty of disregarding My obligations to God and would have to endure the sins of committing such deeds.”
Shree Hari continued, “In the Ved, it is stated that one should perform sacrificial ceremonies in which ‘aj’ is sacrificed to the fire. The true definition of ‘aj’ is grain that is over three years old, which will not grow if it is planted. Such grain should be offered during the sacrificial ceremony.” Shree Hari quoted verses from the Yagna Valkya Smruti, Vashishta Smruti and other scriptures to confirm His words and convince everyone that what He said was the absolute truth. Shree Hari said, “Merely by studying the scriptures and performing austerities, one cannot claim to have the qualities of a brahmin. True brahmins are those who understand the true spiritual knowledge and possess the prime virtues of truth, peace and non-violence.”
The scholars and other brahmins who had come to take part in the ceremony realised that Shree Hari’s words were consistent with the original meanings of the scriptures. However, Jagjeevan felt that the Lord had insulted him and rebuked, “What do You know about the Ved scriptures? You think You are so great. You have deceived thousands of people. They follow You around everywhere and consider You to be God. Only simpletons can believe that. Scholars like me will never be fooled in the same manner.”
In reply to Jagjeevan's condescending words, Shree Hari said, “I have come here to remove the arrogance of conceited people like you. However, you have become blinded by your hatred of Me. Due to this, you cannot see and understand what is beneficial to you and what will cause you great suffering. I am trying to convince you that what you are doing is immoral. If you perform such a violent sacrifice then you, together with your entire ancestry will cease to exist and you will have to suffer the curse of all the animals that you kill.”
Shree Hari tried to dissuade Jagjeevan from continuing with the sacrifice, but he remained steadfast. Shree Hari stood up and returned to Sundarjibhai's home.
The Consequence of Jagjeevan's Sins
Jagjeevan had become blind as a result of his hatred of Lord Swaminarayan. Consequently, he was unable to assimilate the truth of the scriptures. He commanded the scholars to re-commence the sacrificial ceremony. Some of the brahmins were not keen to continue, but because of their fear of Jagjeevan, they were unable to speak up.
The administrator of Kutch , Fateh Mohamed came to know that Lord Swaminarayan had opposed Jagjeevan’s sacrifice ceremony. Fateh Mohamed was aware of Lord Swaminarayan’s immense prowess and had a deep respect for Him. He thought, ‘A saintly person such as Him would never give the wrong advice. If He has forbidden it, the ceremony must be stopped.’ He commanded one of his soldiers to go to Jagjeevan and tell him to stop the ceremony. This angered Jagjeevan even more and he said, “Tell Fateh Mohamed that no sins are being committed by performing such sacrificial ceremonies. He has no right to stop me. If he forbids me from completing the sacrifice, I will sever the close affiliation that exists between us.”
It was as if Jagjeevan had become intoxicated as a result of his rage. His words were filled with anger and contempt. Jagjeevan thought that if Fateh Mohamed heard this reply, he would back down and allow the ceremony to continue. However, Fateh Mohamed became even more convinced that the ceremony must be stopped. He realised that Jagjeevan had lost control and must be restrained by any means. He sent a large number of soldiers to the site of the ceremony and ordered them to set free all the animals and confiscate all the other articles used in the ceremony.
Obeying Fateh Mohamed’s commands, the soldiers went to where the ceremony was being held. Jagjeevan tried to use his authority to stop them, but they had already received their commands from someone more senior so his words were useless. The soldiers set free all the animals and gathered up all the ceremonial articles.
Just as Daksh experienced immense pain because he insulted Lord Shiv, Jagjeevan endured great dishonour as a consequence of insulting Lord Swaminarayan. Just as he was about to be expelled from the town, Jagjeevan realised that he would have to back down and ask for forgiveness if he wanted to remain there. He bowed down to Fateh Mohamed and apologised to him. On the surface, he appeared to have become humble, but internally, he was still fuming with rage. Even though he had received such a humiliation, his hatred for Lord Swaminarayan became even more intense and he became even more determined to discredit Him. However, the fool did not know that if one becomes envious of the sun’s lustre and throws a fistful of sand at the sun, the sand will not reach it and instead, it will fall back into their own eyes. Therefore, one must never develop enmity with God.