The stories of true bhaktas are very
interesting. They are lovable souls. They live in their own sweet world.
They don’t accuse anybody. They are not attached to the mundane
world. They don’t show miracles to gain name and fame. Even if any
miracle happens through them, they think they are only an instrument of
God. They don’t find fault with any one, but if they commit any
mistake, they punish themselves ruthlessly. That is their devotion to
There is a village called Barsi in Sholapur. There was a bhakta called
Joga. Right from his childhood, he longed for the darshan of God. Unlike
other children, he always prayed to God. In fact he gathered other children,
not to play, but to chant the name of God. Whenever he heard of a saint’s
visit to his village, he was the first one to have his darsan.
As he grew older, the piety in him, which was deep rooted, flourished
into a full grown tree. His sole aim was to see God. His eyes always watered
since his heart was brimming with the love of God. He used to lament,
‘Oh God! I cannot bear this sorrow! I am mad after you. I cannot
bear this separation from you anymore. I have spent my tears but still
you are not kind enough to me. Of course I know I shouldn’t blame
you, since I have no right to seek a blessing from you. When I haven’t
done any good deed in my life, how can I hope to have your darshan ?
Joga was by birth a low caste man. He was an oil merchant, but the way
he entered the temple was really wonderful. He got up before dawn, had
his bath in the holy river and walked to the temple from there. He knew
the slokas of Bhagavad Geetha by heart. So he chanted one sloka and fell
prostrate on the ground. Thus he chanted all the 700 slokas and prostrated
700 times! He carried on this ritual for quite a few days.
One day he entered the temple. It was Krishnastami. He stood before Panduranga
in tears. His quest for God reached its Zenith that day. He prayed to
God with trembling lips. ‘Oh God! I cannot bear it anymore. I want
liberation I am chained to this mundane world. Why don’t you liberate
me? I am not allured to the earthly pleasures. All I seek is a union with
you. Oh God! I had a misgiving that only I am suffering in the whole world.
Only later it dawned to me that the world itself is troublesome. This
knowledge has wounded my heart. Will you please relieve my troubled soul?
Will you please fill my heart with your love?
God was touched by his genuine prayer. He sent rays of his love into the
heart of Joga. How lucky he was! On Krishnastami day, Lord Krishna was
born in his heart. He could feel the waves of love sent to him. His body
tingled. His heart melted. The tears of sorrow were turned into tears
of joy. All his life long misery disappeared leaving him in a state of
calmness. He was filled with gratitude. He continued to stand before God.
He was then blessed with the darshan of God. Joga’s joy was beyond
expression at the dazzling beauty of God. God spoke to him ‘Joga
from this moment you are relieved of your misery. Your bhakti has reached
its perfection. Today, a Guru is coming here. He will bring about a turning
point in you. You are a blessed soul.’
All his sorrow disappeared to God knows where! He was jumping with joy
at the darshan of God. He went home singing in the name of God and dancing
As God proclaimed, a saint landed in their village from North. Joga knew
at once this was the guru that God spoke about. He rushed at once at him.
The saint was seated in the temple with a smiling face. He was named Paramananda
Swami. People gathered to see him and Joga joined them. The saint was
on his pilgrimage to south. Any Sadhaka requires faith and vairagya. The
sight of the swami increased the vairagya in Joga and doubled his faith
Swami started his Satsang. He was singing melodiously the Leelas of Sri
Krishna. His song was describing how Sri Krishna was playing his flute
melodiously. Joga could visualize that scene. When the Swami was narrating
how Krishna killed the demons, Joga felt that the feelings of Kama, Krodha
etc in him were being killed by God.
The Swami described how the Gopikas being lured by Krishna started chanting
Madhava, Damodara, Govinda instead of calling out the names of the items
they had to sell. Joga had a sudden feeling that he too should stop selling
oil and should live by begging alms.
Yes! The turning point in his life had come! He was moved to tears as
he touched the feet of the Swamji. Swamiji could see through Joga. He
realized the Vairagya in Joga. He lifted him up and asked what his worry
Joga explained, ‘Swamiji, I am not a man of letters. I am not a
Jnani. All that I do is chant the name of God. My heart tells me you are
my Guru. Please accept me as your discipline and enlighten me.’
Paramananda Swami, with a smiling, friendly face said, ‘Oh Joga,
you are a blessed soul. You have the love of God and so you will attain
moksha. You continue your practice of chanting the name of God. You realize
the truth ‘Eko Vishnu.’ God is present in everything and everyone
around you. So don’t hate anyone. Remember the world which allures
you to material comforts brings about your downfall. We know behind every
rose there is a thorn, but we pluck the rose carefully. Our behaviour
should be thus. Give up falsehood. Finally this is a must for every Sadhaka.
You may bear dangerous poison within you, but should never nourish ego.
The words I or my are the worst enemies.’
The guru’s words are like verdict to a true disciple. There is no
going against the verdict. There is no scope for any further doubt. He
started leading a peaceful life. Seeing his spiritual life in accordance
with his guru people called him Joga Paramanand.
As he desired, he gave up his oil business and lived by begging alms.
One day it was raining cats and dogs. The roads were filled with muddy
water. Remember his practice of prostrating on the ground 700 times before
reaching the temple. He continued his practice that day too, being unmindful
of the dirty atmosphere. A merchant happened to see this scene. He was
impressed by the piety simplicity and selflessness of the devotee. So
he bought him a new silk dhoti and requested him to accept it.
Initially Joga refused to take it. He said that he was interested only
in God and not in dressing up, but the merchant insisted. He added a convincing
statement ‘Why don’t you treat this gesture as ordained by
God?’ Joga had no answer to it.
The next day as usual Joga had a bath in the holy river, but wore the
new silk dhoti. How vainglorious are these clothes we don! He hesitated
to prostrate because his new dhoti may get stained. He tied it up to his
waist and instead of falling flat on his stomach; he just bent on his
knees for a short distance. But that was not convenient and he was not
ready to soil his new dhoti. So that day he did not bend down. He was
folding his hands in standing posture itself.
But lo! When he had the darshan of God in the temple, God was not in his
usual smiling manners. Joga wondered why! It did not take him long to
guess the reason. He did not do his regular pranams to God. He was more
interested in his new clothes rather than God Himself! What does that
convey? He was still in love with his body. He wanted to get over this
desire. He wanted to do atonement for his sin.
He happened to see a farmer with his oxen on his way to his farm. Joga
struck a bargain with him. Oh dear! I will give you my costly clothes.
In return you lend me your oxen for four hours. He tied one end of the
rope to his legs and the other to the cows. He makes them run. They run
madly, dragging Jogi all along. He was dragged across thorns, over rocks,
along heaps of stones. You can imagine Joga’s plight. His skin was
peeled off, blood was overflowing like a river the nerves and muscles
were torn out, leaving only a skeletal structure of him. In a few minutes
he would breathe his last breath. Joga was not worried; he was chanting
the name of panduranga throughout the ordeal.
Why will God bring the tragic death of his disciple? He appeared before
him and childed him who looked like a pound of flesh. ‘Joga what’s
wrong with you? You haven’t committed any crime. You are punishing
yourself unnecessarily. How will I leave you to your fate?”
He embraced Joga. The divine touch of the Lord was the healing touch for
him. Joga lost all the physical pain and experienced. Waves passing over
to him from God. God disappeared.
Joga continued his spiritual life till his eightieth year till he breathed
Joga Paramanand’s Kirthanas were penned down by Visobha Knechar.
One of his devotional songs found its place in the religious book of the