A disciple called Jeevan lived in Jetalpur. He was extremely poor, but he had an unsurpassed love for Shree Hari. He was unable to offer any financial help towards the costs of the festival, but physically, he worked extremely hard in all the preparations of the function.
Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the March 2006 edition of
Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
By Sadguru Shashtri Shree Sarveshwardasji Swami
Jeevan's Bread of Love
The incarnator of all incarnations, Lord Shree Swaminarayan held a magnificent festival in Jetalpur. Thousands of disciples were fortunate to be present and take part in the wonderful celebrations. A disciple called Jeevan lived in Jetalpur. He was extremely poor, but he had an unsurpassed love for Shree Hari. He was unable to offer any financial help towards the costs of the festival, but physically, he worked extremely hard in all the preparations of the function. Each day, other disciples would make lavish dishes and offer the food to Shree Hari. Seeing this, a desire arose in Jeevan to also offer food to Shree Hari. However, he was very poor. In his home, the store cupboards were always empty. He lived from hand to mouth only. What could he offer to the Lord? He thought, ‘I know that I do not have much, but I will use what little I have to make a meal and offer it to God.’ He discussed his wish with his wife and they decided to make flat bread (rotlo) made of coarse grain (math) and a vegetable curry made of wild spinach. The next morning, Jeevan’s wife lovingly made the food; whilst making it, all she could think about was Shree Hari, and that how He was going to eat the meal and become pleased with them both. The bread rose beautifully and became wonderfully light. The meal was ready, but they had no suitable containers to put it in. So they cut up a piece of cloth and tied the bread in it, then Jeevan put the bundle over his shoulder and left home to go to the Lord.
At that time, Shree Hari was presiding at Rang Mahol, the grand assembly hall in Jetalpur. The disciple Jeevan went to Rang Mahol, but as he entered the hall, he felt uncomfortable, and thought to himself, ‘how can I give such a meagre dish to God amongst such a large assembly of sants and disciples?’ At that exact moment, Shree Hari said to Mulji Brahmachari, “My dear Brahmachari! I am very hungry today.” The Brahmachari replied, “I will immediately go and make food for You.” Shree Hari said, “I will not be able to wait that long.” The Brahmachari realised that it must be due to the love of a disciple that Shree Hari was showing Himself to be hungry. When the Brahmachari was leaving the Rang Mahol, he met Jeevan. He noticed the small bundle that Jeevan was carrying on his shoulder. Now the Brahmachari knew for certain that it was the love of this particular disciple that had transpired as the hunger of God. He asked, “Dear disciple! What have you brought in this parcel?” Jeevan felt a little ashamed. So he said, “I am going straight to work in my farm, so I have brought some lunch with me.”
The Brahmachari understood the entire situation and now knew for certain that it was the love of this particular disciple that had transpired as the hunger of the Lord. He immediately took the disciple to Shree Hari. Jeevan started to prostrate in reverence before the Lord. The bundle of food was still on his shoulder. Shree Hari saw the parcel and asked, “My dear disciple Jeevan! What have you brought for Me?” The disciple replied, “Maharaj! It is nothing. I only have some food to eat whilst I am working in the fields.” Shree Hari said, “You have brought a meal for Me to eat! So why are you hiding it? Give it to Me!” The disciple was extremely embarrassed. He stood frozen, unable to decide what to do. So Shree Hari came down from His lavish throne to where Jeevan was standing and snatched away the bundle. Shree Hari sat back on His throne and untied the bundle of food. The Lord became pleased to see what was in it and said, “You have brought this for Me, haven’t you?” Shree Hari immediately started eating the food. As He lovingly ate the bread, Shree Hari said, “Sumptuous dishes are made for Me every day, but I have never eaten such a tasty meal. This is not an item of this world.” Hearing these words made Jeevan extremely happy and he became very emotional. He realised, ‘this is the supreme Lord of infinite cosmoses, and I am merely an insignificant being. The personifications of the eight miraculous accomplishments (sidhhis) and nine types of great opulence (niddhis) are always presenting themselves before the Lord. Such a great God has accepted my humble offering today.’ These thoughts brought tears of joy to Jeevan’s eyes.
The sants sitting in the assembly witnessed the entire episode and said, “Maharaj! If You do not give us some of the consecrated food, how will we know what it tastes like?” Shree Hari replied, “You will not get even a small amount of this food.” Muktanand Swami and Brahmanand Swami discussed amongst themselves, “God is eating a bread of coarse grain. If He eats too much, His stomach will become upset. So we must take it away from God by some means. But how can we do that?” Muktanand Swami said to Brahm Muni, “You are regarded as being the ‘Friend of Shree Hari’, so you should take the bread away from Him.” Brahmanand Swami replied, “I could go to get the bread, but if it is not the wish of God to give it to Me and He starts hitting me or rebuking me, then what?” In the end, Brahmanand Swami agreed to perform the deed. He went slowly towards Shree Hari. As he went closer, he started to praise Shree Hari’s divine darshan, “Oh Lord! How wondrous is Your gracious style of eating. Your teeth are like a beautiful string of pearls. Your voice is sweet and melodious. What wonderfully divine darshan You are bestowing to us all.” Saying this, Brahmanand Swami stretched forward and grabbed the bread. Shree Hari showed that He had become upset and said, “Brahm Muni! You have tricked Me. By speaking sweet words about Me, you managed to snatch away the bread.
The sants pleaded with Brahm Muni, “Swami! Give us some of the consecrated food as well.” However, Brahm Muni refused and said, “When I went to take the bread from the Lord, if I had been told off or hit, would you have taken a share in that as well?” Muktanand Swami jested, “Brahm Muni is regarded as being the ‘mother of the Satsang’. Therefore, there is no doubt that he will give the consecrated food to everyone else; and only then will he eat the leftovers.” Brahmanand Swami relented and gave a piece of the bread to everyone.
The story of Jeevan’s bread of coarse grain has become an unforgettable episode in the Sampraday, because Sadguru Shree Nityanand Swami was also present at the time and has captured the splendour of Shree Hari whilst eating Jeevan’s bread, in the form of a poem. This verse is sung even today whenever adoration of the Lord is performed. It brings back the memory of Shree Hari’s divine episode, which He performed to fulfil the loving spiritual desire of one of His true disciples.
The verse is as follows:
Having performed the morning rituals of bathing etc. and
getting ready, He presides amongst the assembly.
His disciples have performed adoration to Him using sandalwood paste
and numerous different types of flower garlands, and the rays of the morning
Sun are shining onto His lotus face. Such is His magnificent darshan.
In one hand, He holds a loaf of flat bread; with His other hand,
He breaks off small pieces. Showering His gracious gaze upon His disciples,
He lovingly eats the bread. I eternally bow down to such a divinely
merciful Shree Sahajanand Swami.