Mahabhagavat Jyothi Panth
The name given by parents has a great
significance. Jyothi is one which enkindles light in many more. Jyothi
Panth enkindled the light of Bhakti in many more.
Once upon a time, there lived a brahmin called Gopal Panth in a village
called ‘Bite’ in Satara district in Maharastra. In his time,
i.e., in the 18th Century, the educational system was different. There
were no universities then. The students learnt in Gurukul. They had to
serve their master and learn from him at his will. Though Gopal Panth
made his students slog a lot, he was renowned as a good teacher. His students
were not only trained in the shastras but were also trained in good behaviour.
They were known for dharma, truth, politeness, dedication and determination.
As the saying goes in Telugu ‘Pandita putra parama sunta’
[A pandit’s son is the stupidest person], his son proved to be a
blockish student. His son reached 20 years of age but hasn’t learnt
a single thing from his father. He knows only Rama nama and has learnt
only Gayathri mantra. Nothing more than that. Imagine the plight of the
father who could shape hundreds of students by his knowledge,but proved
himself utter flop to his own son. One day when he was feeling terribly
upset over this, his poor son, Jyothi Panth, appeared before him. He told
him point blank. ‘I would have been happier still if I had no children
rather than have a senseless brat like you. Don’t show me your face
again till you have learnt something worthy of use’. The boy left
the house at once. The mother burst into tears and cursed her husband.
Any woman loves her husband but when there is a clash between the son
and the father, she supports the weakling, i.e., the son. Her love for
the son blinds her reasoning power. So she said, “He may be dull
and stupid but he is the only son we have. You drove him away mercilessly
! Who will take care of him ? What will befall him ?” Gopal Panth’s
heart melted at the tears of his wife. After all, he had no grudge against
his own son. In an angry moment he broke out and that brought a heartache.
‘Children are a headache when they are near and heartache when they
are far.! He too cried for his son and went in search of him. Little did
he know then that his angry words would bring him luck. Parents’
curses always turn out to be blessings to their young ones since they
don’t really mean to curse them !
Jyothi panth stepped out of the house and followed by his friends went
into the forest. There he came across a Ganesh Temple in dilapidated condition
but he treated it as a lucky sign. He told his friends, ‘Here is
Vidya Ganapathi. I’will pray to him to teach me 14 Vidyas and 64
kalas. Won’t he bless me ?’ He wanted to sit there and pray
till God blessed him, but his friends were not inclined. They said that
their parents would be worried and left him to his fate all alone. Of
course Jyothi panth was not scared. ‘You have to fight the battle
of life all alone. Nobody will come to your rescue.’ So he told
his friends to close him inside the temple and to seal the door with cement
and mud so that nobody would disturb him. He asked them to keep it a secret.
They did keep it a secret even to his parents.
Days were rolling by ! For six days the father and mother did not touch
a morsel of food. On the sixth night Lord Siva appeared before Gopal Panth
in his dream and said,’Don’t you worry about your son! He
will become a great devotee and a famous man with my blessings.’
Lord Siva spoke about his blessings because there in the temple, Jyothi
Panth sat in the same posture for those six days and chanted the name
of Lord Siva, unmindful of food and water. On the seventh day, the four
handed Vinayak appeared before him and asked him to seek his wish ! ‘Oh
My God ! I prayed to you to seek education initially but now my mind has
changed. You provide me just Tatvagnana and selfless devotion to you.
I don’t require anything else !’ said Jyothi Panth - Lord
Ganesh was pleased by his desire and has imprinted ‘Om’ on
his tongue. He said, ‘As per your first desire, you have become
an educated man. Your second wish too will be fulfilled but it takes time.
You have to go to kasi after some time and you have to do meditation and
prayer for about six months there. Once you attain perfection Vyasa Maharshi
will give you Mantropadesa ! Have faith in me and chant my name whenever
you face any problem. I will come to your rescue. Now, you can go home.’
Accordingly, Jyothi Panth went home. His parents, friends and relatives
were delighted to see him back and see him as a learned man. They believed
his story. His friends were slightly jealous of him.
Jyothi Panth’s uncle, Mahipati was the chief accountant with the
Peshwa in Poona. He was a richman. Jyothi Panth’s mother sent him
to his uncle to earn a livelihood there. Unwillingly he offered him a
low job for Rs. 4 a month.
Jyothi Panth did not mind it since in those days that was not a meagre
A lot of work was pending in the office and one day the Peshwa ordered
them to clear all the accounts within three days. Even if all the employees
were put to work it would take atleast one month to clear the accounts,
but the boss generously granted three days time ! Nobody dared to raise
it since ‘Boss is always right.’ Jyothi Panth came to the
rescue of his uncle and requested him to leave him alone in the room with
all the required material like water, food, ink, pen, papers and account
books. They should open the door only when he asked for it. The officers
laughed at his proposal but the uncle wanted to try his luck as a last
resort. Everything was arranged as requested. Jyothi Panth prayed to Ganesh
and promptly Ganesh came to his rescue as promised. Jyothi Panth explained
the situation and Ganesh solved his problem and disappeared.
In the meanwhile, the officers chided Mahipathi ‘How foolish you
are ! How can you ever expect a mere boy to achieve wonders ? Suppose
he gets choked in the closed room and dies, what will be the feelings
of your sister ? Will she ever forgive you ? Even now it is not too late
! Open the doors, pull him out and make an alternative arrangement.’
Jyothi Panth overheard these words as he was about to beckon them. The
work was completed in neat handwriting. They were thrilled at it. Mahipathi
presented the work before the Peshwa. Peshwa was impressed by the work
and sent for the personnel who had done it. Though Jyothi Panth was instructed
to come in royal robes, he came in ordinary clothes. Still the glow on
his face and his decent behaviour impressed the Peshwa. He called the
boy to his side and asked him who he was. He introduced himself thus -
‘My Lord ! I am the nephew of Mahipathi. I am working under him
for a salary of Rs.4/- a month. I am quite happy about it.
The Peshwa asked how he could complete the work in a matter of three days,
that too with such a neat performance.
Jyothi Panth explained the whole truth humbly. Peshwa was impressed by
the story and honoured him with royal robes and made him the chieftain
of the army in protectionof the palace. Now the tables were turned. Mahipathi
attained fame as Jyothi Panth’s uncle. So he treated his nephew
with due courtesy. When he could win the heart of God, couldn’t
he win the hearts of the people ?
Jyothi Panth sent for his parents and looked after them well as a good
son, though he was in a good position. After a few days, the patans attacked
the kingdom and Jyothi Panth had to partake in the war. During the war
he heard God’s voice in his dream. He was asked to proceed to Kasi.
The very next day, he resigned his job, distributed his property to the
poor and proceeded to Kasi with one brahmin. There he led the life of
renunciation. He chanted prayers till afternoon being waist deep in Ganges.
Then he went round begging for alms, offered it to God and ate it as God’s
prasad. He lived thus for six months.
One day, when Jyothi Panth was praying half immersed in water, an untouchable
sprinkled water on him. Jyothi Panth had his bath again and continued
his prayer. But the untouchable was repeatedly disturbing him. Jyothi
Panth mildly chided him. ‘This type of behaviour is not expected
of you.’ The untouchable laughed at his mild anger and showed his
real person. He was Veda Vyas himself. Jyothi Panth prostrated before
him. Then Veda vyas ordained’ ‘oh dear ! you have reached
the right time to acquire your second wish. Go and sleep in the Vyas Mantap
tonight. I will get you there Sri Madbhagavatam. By studying that you
acquire Tatvagnana, love and faith.’ ‘He taught him ‘Om
Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’ mantra and vanished.
As ordained by Vyas Maharshi Jyothi Panth slept in Vyas Mantap. Vyas Maharshi
kept Bhagavatam at his bedside. The next morning Jyothi Panth saw it and
after his holy bath he had read Bhagavatam for the whole day. This continuous
practice for quite a few days enhanced his knowledge and intensified his
glow. One day Kasi Viswanath disguised as an old brahmin stood before
him. Due to God’s leela, Jyothi Panth could not chant properly.
The old brahmin asked angrily ‘Are you chanting wrongly thus everyday
? Jyothi panth could guess at once that he was God Himself and fell to
his feet. Then Siva appeared before him and said. ‘Now your desire
is fulfilled. You attained Tatvagnana, love and bhakti. You don’t
require any more practice. You lead the people into the Bhakti Marg henceforth’.
Then the Lord disappeared.
His name and fame spread all over Varanasi. The pandits there honoured
Jyothi panth ‘Mahabhagavat’ and decked his scripture on a
throne. Then Jyothi Panth went back to Maharastra. There he toured all
over the places to spread the Bhakti Marg. He built many temples as a
part of the programme. Finally he passed away in 1845.
Many of his writings were published in Marathi on Bhakti, Gnana, Vairagya
yogas. He had written word to word meaning in Marathi for 12 chapters
of Bhagavat, but unfortunately it is not available today. There is a belief
in Maharastra that the Bhagavat given personally by Vedavyas is still
with the descendants of Jyothi Panth in the village called Chincharena.’
Thus if one devotee is blessed by God, the blessings are not limited to
that one man. His parents, his friends, his contemporaries and his descendants
are all blessed by being in association with him. If we seek the darshan
of God, we will be blessed with his devotee first.
Madduri Rajya Sri