Bhakta Gunavathi bai
Once upon a time, there lived a king called Madhav Singh. His wife’s name was Gunavathi Bai. She was a pious lady, a dutiful wife and a kind hearted woman. She had two sons. A servant maid was appointed to take care of those young ones. Gunavathi bai observed that the servant maid was incessantly chanting something since her lips were in constant movement. When she asked her what she was doing the servant maid answered, ‘I am chanting the name of Srihari to liberate me from this earthly life.’ Gunavathi bai expressed her desire to be initiated into the mantra. Seeing her keenness, the maid agreed. She gave her an idol of Lord Sri Krishna and initiated her into the mantra and taught her the way of prayer. Gunavathi bai carried on her puja with total faith everyday. She prayed to the idol of Lord Krishna and served devoutedly sadhus and Haridasas.
As her bhakti increased, her interest in mundane life decreased. Her husband observed this detachment in her but did not know the reason behind it. He mistook it as madness and tried various ways and means to drive it out of her but in vain. Finally he called her and asked her the reason for her strange behaviour. She said, ‘I am praying to God incessantly. I will continue to do so till I am blessed with his Darshan. But this only irritated the king all the more. Gunavathi being scared of his angry looks closed her eyes. Lord Sri Krishna manifested Himself before her with his Sankha and chakra. Gunavathi’s joy knew no bounds. She prostrated herself before God. God touched her head and said ‘I’ll take care of you. Don’t worry.’
‘Oh God! even if the world turns topsy turvy, the sun sets in the west, the seven seas become dry, come what may, see that I don’t stop your prayer.’ God blessed her and said, ‘Your wish will be fulfilled. Don’t you worry’ and vanished.
Gunavathi opened her eyes gladly. Her husband being unaware of all this, threatened her once more and left the scene. Before leaving he warned the sentry at the door not to allow any sadhu into her room since she was falling into mad bhakti. He went to the forest to hunt.
Gunavathi carried on her pooja, and her bhajan. She continued to honour sadhus. Mantri sent a letter to the king regarding her behaviour. This added fuel to fire and he sent four people to kill his wife. They saw her being lost in prayer and so waited outside.
Lord Sri Krishna knew his devotee was in danger. So He came out of his idol in the form of a tiger. She asked why he came thus but he gave her no answer. He silently came out and killed the four waiting outside.
Those who were within ear shot, heard the roar of the tiger and hastened there. They were shocked to see the four people dead. They ran for their lives. Later Gunavathi came out and saw the dead bodies. She was touched by their tragic end and prayed to God! ‘Oh God! You and Goddess Lakshmi are our parents. You should take care of us all. These people have come to harm me, only to fulfil their duty to the king. If you want to save me, is there, no other way ? Please bring them back to life.’ God manifested himself before her and said, O.K. I’ll grant your wish’ They came back alive, pleaded guilty and became her disciples.
She explained to them how the body is transient while the atma is permanent. One who realizes this and prays to God and leads a righteous life will be blessed by God. The minister who came to know about her miraculous powers, prayed to her and sent word to the king about this. The king sent back a message to the minister to allow her to carry on her pooja in peace. He felt sorry for his cruel behaviour. She carried on her service to the sadhus and the poor undisturbed. The rest of the time she spent in prayer.
After some time the king was returning to his kingdom. On the way, at one place, he had, to cross a river. When he was half way through the river, he was about to be drowned and he prayed to his wife. ‘If your prayer is sincere you save us from sinking’ Amazing! The boat silently reached ashore. Everybody was surprised.
The king praised Gunavathi, ‘You are a blessed soul. I tried to harm you, unaware of your miraculous power. I experienced it when we were saved by you. You please forgive me.’
Gunavathi explained, ‘Nobody can harm anybody. Things happen based on the balance of good and evil in a person. God is there to take care. This life on earth is a bubble which will blow out any moment. Wealth, family, comfort all these are transient. Only God’s love is permanent. But people being lost in earthly comforts and attachments are getting detached from God . They are not making an attempt to attain moksha. So who am I to forgive you?’
The king was impressed by her teachings. He became a transformed man and began to pray to God, treating his wife as his Guru.
One day Gunavathi said, ‘Oh dear ? you can attain Gnana only through the initiation given by God. So seek the lotus feet of a good guru and get initiated. You should give up desires. Riches pull you towards desires. Desires are unlimited. A man may have all the riches, all the power ,all the beautiful women but he will not be satisfied. A wise man learns that he has to give up desires, while a fool seeks desires and thereby seeks downfall.
The king said that since she was his first guru, she should take up the responsibility of finding him a Sadguru. Then she brought the servant who initiated her into bhakti, prayed to her and requested her to do initiation for her husband too. The servant readily agreed. ‘Gunavathi you have Jnana, bhakti, vairagya. Being in your company, your husband too has changed for the better. If I don’t agree, it means I am going against the will of God.’
The king came, fell to her feet and asked her to show him a good path. She initiated him into a mantra and explained, ‘Oh king! your wife is a jnani, she has enkindled a jnana jyothi in your house. Now with your encouragement the jnana jyothi is being illuminated well. By God’s grace, you too are blessed. You think of God, you pray to God and you serve God’s devotees. If you do thus God will be pleased and will be with you. Treat others as yourself. If God is pleased, nothing will be impossible.’
The king arranged a special ashram for the servant and stopped treating her as a servant. He went to Brindavan and prayed to God. ‘Oh God! being an ajnani, I was lost in material comforts. I ignored the blessings given to me -the blessings of a human form. Now I am a changed man, please forgive me.’ Krishna being impressed by his sincere prayer, manifested Himself before the king. ‘Like Namadev and other devotees, you too have become my special devotee. I won’t leave you. I’ll be in your heart for ever.’ The king stayed there for quite some time, went to Dwaraka, prayed to God there, visited many holy places with other sadhus and came back to his kingdom and was leading a blissful life with his family.
After a few days, Gunavathi expressed her desire to go on a pilgrimage. The king readily agreed and took his family to many holy places and finally they came to Dwaraka. They prayed, danced and sang there. God bring impressed by their Jnana, bhakti , vairagya manifested Himself before them. Their joy knew no bounds on his Darsan and prostrated themselves before him. God lifted them up, embraced them and promised to manifest Himself whenever they desired for it.So saying,He vanished.
They continued their pilgrimage, went to Pandharpur, prayed there and proceeded further. Thus they were leading a life of piety till their last breath.
This shows it is easier to please God
than fellow human beings and to have God’s darshan. God was impressed
by the sincere prayer of the family, manifested before them and promised
to manifest as and when they wanted. What else does one require ?