The ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the January 2006 edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay.
Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the January 2006 edition of
Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
By Sadguru Shashtri Shree Sarveshwardasji Swami
The supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan relieved Gokaldas from the village Moraj from his addiction to opium and thereby removed the obstacle that he had to face in his attainment of salvation. From there, He travelled to Maiyari, Hadev, Vowtha and then reached the village of Chalod where He remained at the palatial residefsntial halls of Amin Nathubhai. The disciple had lovingly prepared a meal of numerous lavish dishes in order to feed Shree Hari and His entourage of sants and attendants. After fulfilling the spiritual wishes of the disciple, Shree Hari prepared to leave and go to Jetalpur. On hearing the news of the arrival of Shree Hari, the disciples of Jetalpur travelled to Chalod so that they could escort Shree Hari back to their village. The disciples danced and sang, as they formed a procession leading Shree Hari to Jetalpur, where He remained in the Rang Mahol beside the lake. During the evening assembly, Shree Hari commanded the sants to study Sanskrut. He said, “Seeing the ever increasing popularity of our Satsang, infuriated scholars of other faiths will come to debate with us. We must be able to reply to them appropriately. Therefore, I will become pleased with those who study Sanskrut.” Acknowledging the wishes of Shree Hari, the sants enthusiastically commenced their studies. The next day, just as Shree Hari prepared to leave and go to the village of Gamri, He received a message from Gangama, ‘tomorrow is the auspicious festival day of Uttarayan’. The other disciples of the village were also keen that the Lord remained at their village, so they pleaded, “Oh Maharaj! We do not get the opportunity of celebrating the festival in Your presence frequently. This is a great occasion for us. So have mercy and allow us to celebrate the festival with You.”A Grand Feast for the Brahmins!
Seeing the sincere requests of the disciples, Shree Hari relented, but then said, “If you wish Me to celebrate the festival here, there is one way that you can keep Me here. You must hold a grand feast and feed all the Brahmins.” The disciples became absolutely delighted and said, “Very well Maharaj! We will make preparations as You command.”
Then, Shree Hari enquired about the feast. He asked, “If all the Brahmins here were to be fed, how much ghee would be needed?” The disciples replied, “One hundred kilograms of ghee.” Shree Hari continued, “What if the Brahmins of all the surrounding villages were also invited?” The disciples replied, “Then we would need two hundred kilograms.” Shree Hari asked again, “What if all the Brahmins of Ahmedabad and all its surrounding villages were fed?” Hearing the enquiries of Shree Hari made the disciples wonder about what Shree Hari had intended to do. Eventually, Shree Hari commanded the disciples to amass 10,000 kilograms of ghee and other cooking ingredients accordingly.A Magnificent Festival is to be Held
Shree Hari said, “Send invitations to the Brahmins of all the villages and call them here. Invite the sants and disciples as well. We will hold a magnificent, grand festival here.” The disciples started to worry. How were they going to be able to amass the ingredients to make food for so many people? Shree Hari knew that the disciples were worried. So He said, “You do what you can and leave the rest to Me.” The disciples were now relieved from their concerns and started preparing for the festival. They were truly pleased to be able to serve the Lord in this manner.
Shree Hari did not hold back during this festival. He even had invitations written to the scholars of Kashi. The Brahmins from Kutch, Kathiavad, Zalavad, Gujarat, Sorath, Halar, Khan-desh etc. were all invited.
For the festival, the disciples of Jetalpur undertook the responsibility to provide rice, cooking fuel, and the fodder to feed the horses and bullocks of those who had attended. For the rest of the food articles that would be required, Shree Hari gave darshan to disciples in their dreams and commanded them to bring the ingredients to Jetalpur. Before the messengers had even reached the people with their invitations, the disciples had started to arrive in Jetalpur with cartfuls of food articles. Nanabhai, who was a Brahmin from Nardipur, but who was currently living in Karjisan, arrived with a cartful of ghee. Shree Hari became extremely pleased with him. In addition, disciples from all the villages came with hoards of wheat, sugar, lentils, and other ingredients. The date decided for the festival was Samvat 1865, Posh Sud 8. From the day of Uttarayan, Brahmins from neighbouring villages started pouring into Jetalpur. There were so many people in the village that there was not one single solitary part of the village remaining.
The various groups of sants received Shree Hari’s invitations and they too started to reach Jetalpur. From Jamnagar came Swaroopanand Swami; from Surat, came Ramdasbhai; Muktanand Swami and Brahmanand Swami also arrived with their groups of sants. Shree Hari gathered them all and asked about the welfare of His beloved sants. In response, Swaroopanand Swami said, “Oh Maharaj! In accordance with Your command, we, a group of 250 sants went to Jamnagar and remained on the banks of Lake Lakhota. We used to go into the village to beg for food. We would tie up in a cloth, all the fresh or dried food that we obtained and immerse into the lake. Then, we would form the tasteless food mater into balls and consume this. On some days, we would not receive anything so we would have to fast. On some days, to provide for our sustenance, we had to eat the moss that formed on the banks of the lake.”
He continued, “One day, Jam Sahib was going for the darshan of Hanumanji. He passed by where we were staying and saw us. He asked his attendants about us. A deep sense of loyalty arose in him when he heard about the way that we lived. Consequently, he requested us to go to his palace to dine and then, he started to send sweet dishes to us each day. You have commanded us never to stay in a place where we receive honours. Consequently, we left that region and went elsewhere. Then, we received Your invitation, so we came here.”A Prostitute is granted the blessings for attaining salvation
Cartloads of the raw ingredients were amassed in Jetalpur. In those days, there were no electric mills to grind the grain into flour. There were no other kinds of machinery. Everything had to be done by hand. Grinding thousands of kilograms of grain into flour was a huge task in itself. Shree Hari went from house to house and distributed grain to be grounded into flour. As He was distributing the grain, He passed by the home of a prostitute. She had heard that Shree Hari was preparing for a grand festival and that He would grant the promise of salvation to all those who helped in the preparations. The prostitute realised that she had performed unacceptable deeds for many years but now, the opportunity had come to be redeemed from her sins. However, how could she tell Shree Hari of her wish? Then, she thought, “The Lord is the saviour of all fallen souls. He has come here in order to provide redemption to base people such as me. Therefore, I will help in the festival preparations and attain salvation.” When Shree Hari came near the prostitute’s home, she called out and asked for grain. Shree Hari explained, “You will have to grind the grain yourself. It will not suffice if you get others to grind it on your behalf.” The lady had a sincere wish to be purified of her sins and revealed her genuine wish to mill the grain with her own hands. All night, she ground the wheat into flour. She did not know how to use the grinding mill properly. In fact, she had never had to grind grain into flour throughout her entire life; she had never performed such strenuous work before. She soon became extremely tired and blisters started to form on her hands. Still, she continued her work. In the morning, when she went to Shree Hari with her prepared flour tied in a cloth, the other people in the assembly tried to stop her from going near the Lord and made discerning remarks. However, Shree Hari was aware of her sincere wish to please Him and allowed her to come near and offer the flour to Him. So that everyone would have no doubts, Shree Hari showed the lady’s palms. When everyone saw the blisters on her palms, they realised that the lady may have been immoral all these days, but now, she had served the redeemer of the fallen, and consequently, she had become saved from her sins. Everyone became amazed at Shree Hari’s feat of transforming the corrupt soul of this former prostitute into a devout disciple.