The ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the February 2006 edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay.
Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the February 2006 edition of
Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
By Sadguru Shashtri Shree Sarveshwardasji Swami
Commencement of the Festival in Jetalpur
The supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan decided to hold a magnificent festival in Jetalpur and had sent invitations to people all around the country. Consequently, sants and disciples gathered in the village from all the surrounding regions. As a part of the festival, the Maharudra sacrificial ceremony was to be performed and thousands of Brahmans were present to perform the ritual. Amongst them, some were of the Shakti-panthi cult and others were from the Kaul-panthi cult. Shree Hari knew that due to their misunderstanding, these Brahmins advocated the observance of ceremonies in which animals were sacrificed. Rather than performing the rituals and becoming freed from their sins, they were actually amassing more and more sins by performing violent sacrifices. With this in mind, Shree Hari used references from the Vedas and explained the manner in which the performing of non-violent (ahimsa) sacrifices, in which no animals are killed, has been actually prescribed. He then commenced the non-violent ceremony.
The ceremony commenced on Posh Sud 8. All the articles required, such as barley, sesame seeds, ghee, were collected together. One individual was appointed to be the main person to perform the ceremony, whilst the other Brahmins of Halvad, Umreth etc. were asked to sit around the ceremonial fire and perform the rituals. The sound of verses from the Vedas being recited resonated throughout the whole of Jetalpur village. Whilst the festival was being held, lavish meals were offered to the Brahmins twice everyday. Shree Hari would hold vast assemblies and explain the magnificence of God, whilst the sants would sing devotional songs. People who had never encountered the Satsang previously started singing the praises of Shree Hari and His sants. They acknowledged that they had never heard such wondrous discourses about God; and furthermore, they had never seen such obedient, devoted and talented sants. People were amazed about the manner in which so much food was amassed and prepared in such a short time, and recognised that this was truly a miracle, which not even a great king, with all his armies and might, would be able to do this. In this manner, the glory of Shree Hari was spread throughout the regions, and His greatness started to be sung in each and every village.
Non-violent Sacrifices; Sanctioned by the Scriptures
The unsurpassed greatness of Shree Hari was being spread everywhere. However, those from the Vam-margi and Shakti-panthi cults could not endure seeing this. One of these was a Shakti-panthi Brahmin from Mahemdavad whose name was Bansidhar. He had come to Jetalpur with his disciples and asked to debate about the true interpretations of the scriptures. Shree Hari called Krushnaram from Kashi, Hariprasad, Narayanram from Surat, Damodar, Narbheram from Ahmedabad, Nathubhai, Rupshankar from Vadodara, Aasharam from Nadiad, Durgashankar from Visnagar, and other Brahmins to Him and asked, “Many Brahmins worship Devi and offer alcoholic drinks and meat items to her. Furthermore, some kill animals as part of their ceremonies. Are such practises sanctioned by the scriptures?” Hearing this, Narbheram from Ahmedabad, who was well versed in all the scriptures, said, “Those who offer alcohol and meat to Devi are actually the lower caste Shudras. Those who founded the Vam-margi cult wrote their texts in order to propagate their own evil ideas. The scriptures would never give credence to the killing of another being. In fact, the scriptures state that a person who does not look at all creatures as being part of his own is actually a blind man. If someone hurt us, how much pain would we experience? Similarly, all animals feel pain. Life is precious to all animals.”
Explaining further, Rupshankar from Vadodara recited some verses from the Taitari Brahman scripture, in which non-violence has been explicitly advocated. However, Bansidhar was not interested in any of this; he was not convinced. His sect believed that a person should give importance to their own strength and superiority over all other creatures. Consequently, he asked, “If someone has upasana for Shakti, what kinds of articles should be used for his worship?” The scholarly Brahmins replied, “All the scriptures state that God is the controller of all other strengths and powers. Laxmi, Saraswati etc. are all forms of the strengths of God. In the same way that the worship of God is performed with fragrant sandalwood paste, auspicious kanku, rice, coconuts, and sweet and savoury food that has been prepared using cleaned grain, can be offered to God, these same articles can be used for the worship of God’s powers.”
Bansidhar’s thinking was in accordance with the ideas of the Shakti-panthi cult. Therefore, he thought that the answer to his question would give credence to the use of alcohol and meat in worshipping the Shaktis (powers) of God. However, he was given a completely different answer. The other Brahmins also said that by worshipping and performing adoration to God, everyone else is also being worshipped and therefore, there is no purpose in offering adoration or worshipping them separately.
Endeavours of the Adversaries to Create Havoc
Having heard all this, Bansidhar and all his disciples became extremely angry and vowed amongst themselves to take their revenge; and cause mayhem in any manner possible during this festival. They decided to call everyone with whom they had an affiliation together, and resolved to convince the king of Ahmedabad, ruler of the Peshva empire, Vithhalrav Babaji, who was also of the Vam-margi cult, to impose his might. The king agreed to help them. He put a restriction around Ahmedabad and confiscated all the carts of ghee, which were coming from Ahmedabad to Jetalpur to be used in the preparation of the food. Furthermore, Bansidhar and his disciples managed to persuade the Brahmins who were in the kitchens to throw all the food that had already been prepared into the lake. The next day, the adversary Brahmins started to yell, ‘all the food has run out! Bring us more ingredients. Thousands of Brahmins are still to be fed!’
The sants who were looking after the food stores started looking through the vessels of ghee, but they were all empty. As some time had passed since the Brahmins had asked for more ghee, and still it had not been given, the Brahmin cooks began to yell loudly so that everyone would be made aware of the situation, ‘bring us some ghee!’ Shree Hari knew that this was the work of the evil minded Brahmins. Furthermore, word had now reached Him that the Brahmins had thrown away food into the lake and they had imposed a ban on any ghee from leaving Ahmedabad. Immediately, Shree Hari went to the storeroom where the vessels of ghee were kept. After looking through them all, He found one vessel, in which there was approximately five kilograms of ghee. Shree Hari struck His stick on the side of the vessel and said, “You may remove as much ghee as you need from this one vessel.” In accordance with the Lord’s words, the sants obtained as much ghee as they required from this one vessel. The adversary Brahmins were stunned by this miracle. They realised that no-one had the ability to defeat Shree Hari.
Ploy to Take Charge of the Festival Kitchens
Shree Hari knew that whilst these adversary Brahmins were in charge of the kitchens, they would continue to create more havoc and mayhem. However, removing them, without offending them, was not going to be an easy task. Shree Hari realised that He would have to be tactful so that they move aside by their own will. Shree Hari went to the kitchens together with several of His own disciples, who were also Brahmins. Shree Hari showed that He had become extremely pleased with the cooks and said, “Oh My devoted Bhudevs! You have prepared the food for many days. You must all have become very tired. So now, go and take some rest. Give these Brahmins the opportunity of preparing some food for the festival.” In this manner, Shree Hari removed the adversary Brahmins from the kitchens. He then said to the Satsangi Brahmins, “Make sure that you do not relinquish control of the kitchens in any manner. If the adversary Brahmins cause a commotion, make sure that you oppose them, even if you have to threaten them with sticks.”
The festival concluded on Tuesday, Posh Vad 10. The festival kitchens were still under the control of the Satsangi Brahmins. In order that no-one would cause a commotion on the final day, Shree Hari had told the Kathis to be ready with their sticks and guns, just in case. When the Brahmins had sat down for their final feast, Shree Hari said to them all, “My dear Bhudevs! I wish to offer food to each of you Myself. So take your time in eating. Do not be hasty in any manner and do not cause any kind of a commotion. These Parshads are ready and prepared, so that no-one creates any kind of disorder.” Due to the measures that Shree Hari had put in place, none of the Brahmins were able to carry out any of their plans to create unrest. In this manner, the festival was celebrated without any setbacks. After the ceremony, Shree Hari presented each Brahmin with a gift of money. Seeing this all, those Brahmins who had a genuine understanding and were virtuous understood the greatness of Shree Hari; they abandoned their own faiths and became disciples of Shree Hari. Word swiftly spread everywhere ‘the festival held by Lord Swaminarayan was such a wonderful occasion, no event like it has been previously held and furthermore, no-one in the world, other than He, can hold such a magnificent festival’.