Bhakti doesn't mean mere praying to God or following the rituals
blindly. It means total faith in God. It means surrendering oneself
to God totally. To such people God manifested himself in human form.
This shows how God moved with his devotees !
The fact that God lives in the heart of his devotees is proved literally
in this story.
Once upon a time there lived a bhakta called Savithamali in a village
called Arunabhendi. He had seeds of bhakti in him by birth. They were
nurtured and promoted by his father through his devout songs, stories
and his ideal life. Savithamali's bhakti grew up with him as he grew
He took up the gardening work like his father. He woke up before dawn
, had his prayer, served his parents and went to the garden to do
his duty there. As he was performing his gardening work, his mind
was engrossed in the name of God.
His garden turned out to be an epitome of God. Every flower that shone,
every plant that grew, every fruit that was borne seemed to speak,
every brook that sang seemed to speak volumes about god.
His parents performed his marriage with Janabai. Marriage was no hindrance
to his spiritual path. He balanced his marital life with his spiritual
life in such an ideal way that he became a role model to his generation.
His parents were proud of him. They breathed their last breath without
any worry about him. Their death enhanced the already existing bhakti
and vairagya in him. He observed the transient nature of human life
and realized that there was no point in being attached to the material
world. So he engrossed himself more in the name of God.
Janabai's relatives visited them once Savithamali who was in his own
sweet world was not paying any attention to the guests. They were
offended at his indifference and complained to Janabai. She took it
to heart and fought with her husband .She opined that he was indifferent
to them just because they were her relatives.
Savithamali clarified her doubts in a pleasant way. ‘If my ways
look strange to you, I am helpless. I don't have any differences between
your people and my people. My mind is centred round the Lord Almighty.
So I am not interested in the mortal human beings with whom our relations
are but a passing phase. We took up many janmas before this janma.
What happened to relatives of those janmas ? Remember one thing !
Only one bondage comes with us forever. That is the bondage with God.
Our ananda is satchitananda. My relatives are those who have faith
in God. I will honour them wholeheartedly. I am not inclined towards
these relatives. I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings. Janabai
felt sorry for misunderstanding her husband since she could see the
divinity in him. So she fell to his feet and asked for forgiveness.
Savithamali's name and fame spread far and wide. It reached the ears
of the great bhakta Namadev. He came to visit him. Savithamali was
thrilled at his visit and Namadev was pleased with his bhakti and
devotion. Both of them spoke at length the miracles of the Lord Vittala
and the 'Vibhutis' they experienced.
The next day as they just sat for their lunch, a ‘phakir’
reached his doorstep. He looked very shabby and poor. He expressed
his desire to have lunch with them. Savithamali strongly believed
in 'Athidi Devobhava'. So he had no objection to it, but Namadev couldn't
take it lightly. He appreciated the broadmind of Savithamali earlier,
but he could not face it first hand. All the same he sat through the
ordeal silently. Savithamali unaware of the conflit in his guests
mind carried on his work peacefully. Later the phakir left them.
Namadev and Savithamali went to the temple in the evening to have
the darshan of God. But lo ! They couldn't believe their eyes. The
idol of Lord Vittala disappeared and the ‘phakir’ who
ate with them appeared in His place. Namadev was shocked and Savithamali
was stunned. The next minute, they could see the Lord they prayed
to, in his usual form.
Savithamali's joy knew no bounds when he could realize that God came
down personally to his house in the guise of a ‘phakir’
to bless him. Namadev felt ashamed of himself. He knew God is Omnipotent
but he couldn't see God in ‘phakir’. God wanted to teach
him a lesson. He appreciated Savithamali for his knowledge of Brahman.
One day, Jnanadev and Namadev were singing bhajans on God. God appeared
before them and said 'I am going to a village called Bahula' to save
a devotee of mine. Why don't you accompany me! 'They were more than
delighted at the invitation and silently followed Him. As they reached
a garden, God said that he was feeling thirsty and that He would go
inside to quench his thirst. Panduranga asked Namadev Jnanadev to
wait outside till He came back.
That was the garden of Savithamali. He was busy watering the plants.
When he saw God in human form he fell to His feet and prayed to Him.
He felt that his life purpose was fulfilled by touching the Lotus
feet of the Almighty, God said, 'Savitha! I need your help.
'Oh God! you help all the living beings in three lokas. Imagine me
helping the Omnipotent God! Why do you pull my leg ?'
Then God said, 'Oh Savitha ! You are mistaken. I never make fun of
my devotees. Trust me! I am speaking the truth. I really need your
help. You should save me from two thieves who were following me. I
ran into your garden to avoid them. You hide me somewhere so that
they cannot find me.
Oh Bhagavan ! What a test for me ? Where can I hide an Omnipresent
Can we confine the infinite sky in a small pot or a vast ocean in
a mere well ? Impossible ! Hiding you somewhere is equally impossible.
‘Savitha is this the time to discuss Vendanta ? Do something
quick!’ ordained God.
Savitha thought over it for a while and then struck upon an idea.
He picked up his garden knife, cut open his heart and said, 'Oh God!
I can't think of a better position than my heart. So please enter
my heart. God became as small as a thumb and entered his heart.
There outside the garden, Namadev and Jnanadev waited long enough
for God to return, but there was no trace of Him. Unable to wait any
more they stepped inside. They saw Savithamali lost in deep meditation.
Namadev was glad to see Savitha again and asked if he had seen Lord
Vittala. Savithamali wished them and replied in the negative.
Namadev was worried as to what could have happened to his God! Unable
to bear his grief, Vittala spoke from inside, 'Oh Namadev' I am here!
They realized that God wanted to show them that He resides in the
heart of his devotees ! They prostrated before God when He stepped
out of Savithamali's heart. Namadev reminded God of their errand.
Savithamali was curious to know where they were going. The lord answered
“Oh Savitha we are on our way to save a devotee like you. We
happened to see you on our way.” Savithamali wanted to know
more about the disciple.”Oh God! May I know the name of the
devotee?What a blessed soul is he to have gained your special attention?
“ “Jnanadev” narrated the story of Kurmadas and
Savithamali also proceeded with them.
Thus Savithamali continued to be a special devotee of God and composed
many keertanas in praise of the Lord. He joined paramathma ultimately
on an auspicious day !
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