There are various ways to reach God. Bhakti yoga is one of them. The word Bhakti yoga means total surrender to God. There is no element of doubt in the Almighty. All their thoughts, words and deeds will be decided to God. God too doesn’t ignore such staunch devotees. He comes to their rescue.
The Bhakta stories reveal to the world two aspects. One is the all pervading; omnipresent God yields to the whole hearted faith of his devotees and settles down in their heart. Secondly God comes down personally to drive out the problem and sorrows of His devotees. They are revealed to the world as the miraculous powers of the devotees.
A five year old girl called Janabai was taken to Pandaripuram to have the darshan of Panduranga. That visit decided her fate. She wanted to devote her life to the services of the Lord and so she refused to go home with her parents.
Her parents’ grief was unquenchable. They asked her to consider their love for her and their plight in separation from her.
Janabai coolly answered, ‘I agree you love me, you miss me! But can you keep me with you for ever? Won’t you give me away in marriage to an eligible bachelor? All these bondages are but temporary in this world of Maya. The bondage with God is the only everlasting one. I have decided to lead the rest of my life here. That’s final. There is no going against it’.
Her parents had no other go. They had to leave her alone. Janabai went back into the temple and said, ‘Heh God’ I’ve freed myself from the fetters of the world for your sake’ She sang extempore a keertana.
Yere yere maadhyu Rama
It meant oh God! You have entered my heart and my life purpose is fulfilled. Let me continue to be detached and let me get the company of satsang.
In answer to her prayer Namadev guru entered the temple then. She fell to his feet and explained ‘God is my father and you are my guru’. Namadev took her to his house to the loving care of his mother Gunabai.
One night there was a heavy down pour of rain. The matted roof top was blown away by the rain. Panduranga Himself came down to his devotee’s rescue. He held his Sudarshan Chakra as an umbrella for the inmates so that they could sleep undisturbed, while He repaired the roof top. Janabai happened to open her eyes and witness this miraculous scene. She was thrilled at it.
We may wonder at this incident. Why should God come down to repair it when He can at one waive of his hand, replace Namadev’s house with a palatial building. But that is distracting the devotee from the main path. If the devotee is overflowing in material comforts, he may be lured by the earthly objects.
Janabai fell to the feet of the Lord ‘Oh Lord! How happy I am to witness such a scene! How great a devotee is Namadev to you! How lucky I am! I could serve such a great devotee. Through my services to your special devotee, I was blessed with your Darshan. What else can I ask for in life?’
Panduranga answered with a smile, ‘How can I ignore the suffering’ of my dearest disciple! His every word, thought and action is centered round me. He becomes restless if he is separated from me! I enjoy his devotional songs. It is my utmost duty to help him in his suffering.’
Janabai felt convulsions in her body, ‘Oh God! We cannot describe your Krupa in words. Bless me also to be as staunch a devotee of You as Namadev. I will serve you and him for the rest of my life.’
Namadev woke up in the meanwhile and was surprised to see the ever shining Almighty in his poor house. He asked innocently what brought Him there. God answered even more innocently, ‘Namadev! I am very hungry. I came to eat food prepared by Janabai’.
Namadev made arrangements and in the meanwhile looked after God. Janabai cooked food in a jiffy and all the members of the family sat with God for dinner. Human nature is very unpredictable. Janabai spoke to God personally, cooked food with her own hands, was to serve Him personally, but still she was not happy. She cried to herself in the kitchen for being deprived of the company of God. Panduranga, who lives in the heart of His devotees, knew at once the desire of Janabai. He immediately got up from food saying, ‘Namadev! I need some rest. Keep my food aside. I will eat it after a little while. God pretended to go to sleep till Namadev himself went to bed.
Then God woke up and beckoned Janabai to serve him food. Janabai served him with great love and was staring at him with rapt attention. God tasted a little and said, ‘Janabai it is so tasty. Why don’t you try? He fed her personally. Tears of joy rolled down her cheeks. How, many devotees had such a privilege of eating from God’s hands? God discussed spiritual topics with her and disappeared early in the morning.
Once a few devotees like Jnanadev, Nivrithinath, Sopan, Muktabai, Ramananda Swami and Kabir Das came to Namadev’s house. At that time, Namadev was away. Janabai was deeply engrossed in fight with neighbouring lady over the cow dung cakes. Kabirdas questioned Jananai ‘How can you claim those cow dung cakes to be your own?’ Janabai said, ‘You are truthful people. You should give a proper judgment. While I was preparing the cow dung cakes, I chanted the name of Panduranga. So you can hear his name from my cow dung cakes. How strange but how true! Her cow dung cakes were chanting the name of Panduranga very melodiously. The other devotees were taken aback at her devotion.
Gradually Janabai’s name spread far and wide. People flocked together to have her darshan. She did not believe in Jnana. Her path was Bhakti Yoga. She totally surrendered herself to God. She explained the same in her song.
‘Dharila Pandariche chora gala.
One day she was asked to grind Jowar. That night, after everybody went to bed, she was grinding it; the philosophy of life was churned out in the course of her grinding. Panduranga was impressed and touched by her philosophical rendering and helped her in her task. He sat beside her and discussed various aspects.
The day broke and the voices of devotees were heard from a distance. Janabai hastened Him to his sanctum sanctorum. God in his hurry left his jewelry beside her and covered Himself with her rug.
When the priests opened the doors what did they see? All the jewels of God were missing and in their place was a torn rug. Somebody identified it as the rug of Janabai. Immediately the priests lodged a complaint against her. A search warrant was issued. The jewels were found beside her grinding stone and at once she was arrested and death sentence was passed against her. Namadev’s pleadings fell into deaf ears.
Finally the day of her execution had come. She was dragged along the streets. She was badly injured but nobody cared. She requested not to drag her along, but to no use. Finally she was brought to the place of execution. Her disciples cried for her but some self seekers gloated over her misery. Little did they know, God likes one for his Bhakti but not for his caste or creed.
Janabai with folded hands prayed to God ‘Oh God! Why are you so cruel to me? Are you angry with me because I made you do household works? Frankly speaking, did I force you to do them? Did you not volunteer them? How can you ignore me now when I am punished for no fault of mine? I am not scared of death. In fact that takes me closer to you, but should not the people know the truth?’ Then she addressed the people thus, ‘Why do you gather here. Is it a feast to the eyes? Go home and pray to God. God alone can save you.’
She was about to be hanged. The name of Panduranga rose in the air and echoed into the sky. The onlookers’ could not believe their eyes. The rope disappeared and in its place a garland of flowers decked her neck. Janabai was filled with joy. The self seekers were ashamed of the mischief
One day Panduranga was writing something seriously. Jnanadev was surprised to see it and asked him the same. God answered, ‘I am copying the song s of Janabai’, Why, when there are so many songs of Vyasa and Valmiki, where is the need for these songs?’ God answered, ‘whoever sings these songs and leads a life accordingly, will be blessed by Me.’
Janabai is a realized soul. She was blessed
and she laid an ideal path to others.