One need not be a man of letters to be devoted to God. A pure humble devotion
takes him closer to God than a sea of learning.
Once upon a time there lived a gardener called Manidas in Poori. He made
his livelihood by selling flowers. He was not an educated man nor was
he rich as per the norms of the modern society. But he is more than any
educated man by virtue of his nature. He was compassionate , truthful,
god-fearing and honest man. He was free from the petty jealousies and
hatredness since he believed in ‘God Manifests Himself in every
small object and every human being.’ He was not a landlord but Lord
of himself. He might not be appreciated by people around but he won a
special place in the heart of Puri Jagannadh. Since he prayed to God not
for material gains but for spiritual bliss, he led a happy life.
In due course, Manidas lost his wife and children one after the other,
but he was not grieved by their loss like any other human being. He took
them as God’s blessings. He felt ‘If I have family, I will
be tied down to them and my attention to God will be deviated. But God
freed me of my family ties and responsibilities. Now I will devote my
full time in praise of God and in service to God.
Such people are rare ! When we flourish in life we give the credit to
ourselves. When we suffer we blame God. When we face any suffering we
ask ‘Why me ?’ When we enjoy we don’t ask ‘Why
me ?’ Manidas did not seek material gains or name and fame, so he
turned to God totally.
Now Manidas donned the dress of a Sadhu and devoted his full time on prayer
of God. Everyday he woke up early and went to the temple. He sang songs
in a melodious voice till the temple door was opened. Sometimes he danced
ecstatically. When the door was opened he went inside, stood behind a
pillar close to God and stared at God to his heart’s content. He
prayed thus to God everyday with tears rolling down his cheeks. ‘Oh
Lord ! blessed are they that enjoy your love. How I wish that I breathe
my last breath here in your divine presence. You are a touch stone to
orphans like me. You are my God Father. You are my Protector. You are
He would continue his singing once again. Some times he would dance vehemently,
In his ecstatic mood he would go close to God and his ‘chandanam’
vessel and would come back. He experienced different types of satvik feelings
- He laughed, cried, sang loudly, became dead silent, sang songs or praised
the Lord. He described the lord’s beauty thus ‘Oh Lord! Oh
Jagannadh ! your beauty is indescribable. Your mighty chest resembles
the fragrant lotus flowers. Your neck is decked with many garlands and
you are decked with various diamond studded ornaments. The crown on your
head has a radiant glory. The pleasant, cool face fills the hearts of
the devotees with happiness, Your lotus eyes liberate the suffering souls
from their misery, Your hands bless the world and the sankhu, chakra,
gadha in Your hands are a feast to the eyes. One who seeks your feet will
have a great relief Oh Lord ! You are Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient
God. I surrender myself to You. I know nobody except You. Don’t
You ever separate me from You.
There arose an occasion which separated him from God. He had been dancing
in and around the temple as long as he liked and ate whatever was offered
to him. He dedicated his body, heart and soul to the Lord himself. This
practice continued till something happened oneday, Religious discourses
were arranged in one part of the temple and many pilgrims listened to
them intently. Once one pandit was delivering lectures. His lecture was
captivating, but he was not captivated by God. There was no depth in his
prayer but people continued to be inspired by his speeches. One day Manidas
came there in his usual vein, singing loudly and dancing away happily
unmindful of the surroundings or the nuisance he was causing. He danced
very close to the pandit and disturbed his concentration. He was so deeply
engrossed in his love for God that he was unaware of the situation. The
pandit was angry at him but nobody bothered, since they were used to his
pranks. But when the pandit got angry for the second time all the audience
joined hands with him and started beating him black and blue. Manidas
was forced to come back to his senses and he was very much offended. He
was offended not for the behaviour of the people but for the silence of
God. If they could beat him very much in the presence of God, it conveyed
the fact that God too supported them ! He left the place at once and sat
in a ‘matam’ Poor Manidas or the poor pandit did not know
then that God did not support their foolish action ! God wants not an
intelligent mind but a pure divine soul surrendered to him totally !
The sun set in the evening. The evening prayers were conducted. The temple
doors were closed with the original pomp and show but there was no sign
of Manidas. He did not touch his food too !
That night the king of Puri had a wonderful dream. The Lord Jagannadh
Swami appeared before him and said, ‘Oh Lord! you are unmindful
of the injustice meted out to my priya bhakta. The day doesn’t end
happily for me if I can’t hear mesmorizing song of Manidas but today
he was kicked out by your ‘Praja’ ! He is brooding over in
the imatam’ outside my temple without touching food. You hasten
at once to him and make arrangements for his song and dance ! Mind you,
they should go on eternally unperturbed by such speeches henceforth !
Hereafter you arrange such things in Lakshmi Mandir but not in the main
sanctum sanitorium ! That is to be left out exclusively for my dear devotees!’
How devoted is the Almighty to his devotees. He made arrangements thus
and went to the suffferer. He appeared before him as a glow of light,
touched his head caressingly with his hand and said lovingly’. Dear
Manidas ! why are you starving ? You know something ? Even I did not have
food today ! How do you except me to eat when you are starving ?’
When Manidas came back to his senses, he saw before him the plate containing
Mahaprasad ! He forgot his anger against God and accepted it.
In the meanwhile, the king woke up from his sleep and wondered whether
it was his hallucination or whether it was really God’s command.
He couldn’t leave it lightly and when he probed into the matter
he found that it had really happened. The king brought Manidas with royal
courtesy to the temple and said ‘You are a realized soul! You need
not be born in a high caste to win the heart of God. You dance happily
before God and I too will derive the pleasure out of it.
Manidas needn’t be requestsed a second time. He was so thrilled
at this gesture that he danced his best dance and sang the best song.
He continued thus as long as he lived and inspired the lives of thousands
around. Ultimately his Jeevathma joined paramathma.
Ever since then speeches were arranged in Lakshmi Mandir and the main
temple was open to true devotees for their bhajans !
God takes care of them who surrender themselves to God and who shower
their ‘navarasas’ on God himself as if he is their friend
or son !