God’s leela is very mysterious.
A pandit’s son is a fool. An ugly duckling has a very beautiful
daughter. Some attain gnana at a very early age whereas some continue
to remain fools even in old age. Some people wish to lead a philanthropic
life but are fooled by kith and kin. Some are cheats but they are kings
We don’t know how our past janma
was. We have no idea how we will be in the next janma. But we can guess
by what we are today! If we are in a better position now, we must have
done something good in our previous janma. Our future is based on our
present actions. So we can guess how we will be in our next janma.
What has happened has happened. We cannot
undo it. But moulding our future is in our own hands. But how many people
realize it ? How many try to follow it ? If we lead a spiritual path
now, we will be born as a Mahatma in the next birth. We come across
such Mahatma rarely. One such rare Mahatma is bhakta Rohidas.
There lived a shoe maker called Raghu
in the holy place of Kasi. He worked as night watchman in the king’s
court. He had no children for a long time. After many years of prayer,
he was blessed with a boy. Raghu named him Rohidas.
Rohidas acted strangely. He did not cry ever since his birth. He looked
with a calm face. He did not touch food and water too. The parents were
surprised at his strange behaviour and slowly the news spread around.
People gathered to see him as a specimen. His face had such a glow that
they wondered at him. They felt he must have attained ‘Brahma
Gnana’ but he must have been born to the earth by some strange
Their guess work was not incorrect. The news spread to the Royal dancer
and she camedown to see him one day. She was taken aback at the spiritual
glow in his face. She expressed aloud ‘What a divine face! He
must have been a gnani in the previous janma. What bondage brought him
to this house ? How will we know what he was earlier ?’
Rohidas, who heard her loud thinking, smiled and said, ‘I came
to your doorstep once to receive alms from you, but I refused to accept
your donation based on my Guru’s verdict. I was born into this
house being cursed by my Guru.
The dancer was shocked. She still remembered the incident, though it
took place a few years ago. How strange ? When all the others were still
alive, he was dead and was born again.
The story goes this way. There was a guru called Ramananda Swami in
Kasi. He had many sishyas with him. One day he called a sishya and assigned
him the job of bringing raw materials for preparing prasadams to God.
But he laid a condition. ‘The one who gives you alms must be a
bhakta with good morals. He should be leading a good life.
Accordingly the sishya proceeded. He asked a lady. She brought all that
he needed. As she was about to give him, he asked her name. She said
‘I am a royal dancer.’ The brahmin felt she might not fulfil
the conditions of the guru and so left her without accepting her generosity.
In the meanwhile, it began to rain suddenly. There was a heavy down
pour. He was forced to take shelter before somebody’s house. The
owner came out, took pity on him and offered him all that he wanted.
The owner was a harijan, a shoe maker, but he pleaded to oblige him.
The brahmin had no other go. So he reluctantly accepted. The guru could
visualize the whole scene , being a Brahma gnani.
‘Dear Sishya ! You acted against my orders. You brought alms from
a harijan. So you will be born into that harijan’s family as an
atonement for your sin’ cursed the guru.
The brahmin fell in to the feet of the guru and cried bitterly. ‘I
became your sishya to attain moksha. Please don’t punish me thus.’
The guru consoled him and said, ‘Don’t worry. You are destined
to face this situation. I am only a tool in God’s hands. This
is God’s making. The next birth will be your last birth. You will
attain Moksha in that janma. You can spread to the world that Bhakta
has no caste, creed colour differences, through your life.’
That brahmin was this Rohidas born into the house from where he received
alms. This dancer was the dancer from whom he refused to take.
When the dancer heard the story, she told him, ‘oh saint ! You
are great gnani. You know everything, but I would like to remind you
of the sloka which tells you not to harm the body. The body is provided
by God and you have no right to harass it. Why don’t you eat and
proceed on your spiritual path ?
Rohidas was impressed by her teaching and began to eat normally but
his behaviour was not normal. He was not willing to take over father’s
business. His heart refused to stitch slippers out of the skin of animals.
Raghu was becoming old. He was worried about his son. One day Ramananda
Swami happened to pass that side. Raghu explained his problem to the
Swami and brought him in. The swami could guess at the first sight,
he was his brahmin sishya cursed to be born into this house. The sishya
too could identify his guru and was delighted to see him alive. The
guru asked the sishya, ‘What are you doing ?’ He replied,
‘Presently, I am chanting the name of God , but I will do what
you order me to do !
The guru advised, ‘ you take up your profession without any second
thoughts. Do your work with hands and feet, chant the name of God with
tongue and heart.
Rohidas followed his suggestions exactly. He prepared slippers and gifted
them to Vishnavites.. The parents were thrilled at the change in him.
One day the father was not well and so Rohidas had to take up the night
watchman’s duty in the king’s court. He sang aloud melodiously
the songs of Rama but the queen who couldn’t appreciate them only
complained to the king against him. The king wanted to punish him but
he was impressed by his bhakti. He made him sing the songs all over
The king was surprised at his jnana, since he not only sang the songs
but he also explained the meaning in them. The king asked how he could
attain such gnana. He humbly answered, ‘I don’t know. I
chant the name of God always. The name is so powerful that it increases
‘Oh God, you are like a light and we are wicks in the light. We
shine the whole day due to your light’ is the meaning of one song.
The king was impressed by him and give him many presents.
One day a brahmin came to Rohidas is house to examine him. He was surprised
to see him praying to the idol of God made out of skin. He shouted at
Rohidas for such an act.
Rohidas explained, ‘Oh brahmin! you are a saint, you know everything.
How can you call the skin a sinful thing ? I pray to God and I am covered
by skin. I sit on the skin of deer to pray. We use Mrudanga made out
of skin for our songs. The hands that are made out of skin play over
the mrudanga that is made out of skin and the music that comes out of
it reaches the ears that are made of skin. How can you then look down
upon skin ? How is the image of God made out of skin sinful ? If you
still feel my prayer is wrong, please direct me the rightful path.
The brahmin, instead of being impressed by his argument was irritated
at it. How do you a low caste, expect to be guided by me, a high caste
? You were not blessed by Upanayanam (the thread ceremony performed
for brahmins )
Rohidas explained, ‘Oh Swami! by birth everybody is a sudra. They
become brahmins by their karmas. These caste differences are man made
but not God made. For that matter God performed my ‘Upanaynam’
before he sent me to this world.
The brahmin couldn’t believe it. Then Rohidas opened his heart
and showed the sacred thread within. Then the brahmin realized that
bhakti has no bar of caste, creed or colour and apoligised to Rohidas.
In course of time many changes took place in his life. His parents passed
away. He was married and had children, he remained poor but he did not
give up his chanting. One day Bhagavan appeared as a sadhu before him.
He was impressed by his pooja and blessed him with a sparsavedia touch
stone. Whatever metal he touched with it would turn into gold. He asked
him to keep it carefully. Rohidas asked the sadhu to keep it in a shelf
since his hands were busy.
Surprisingly, Rohidas did not bother to touch it even after many years.
The sadhu came back and asked for it. Rohidas replied, ‘Oh Swami,
it is where you left it.’ When asked why he did not use it, he
said, ‘Life on earth is temporary and material comforts are still
more transient. Why long for such short lived comforts ? The true happiness
lies in the name of God. The God was impressed by his bhakti and presented
him with a ‘Salagram’ and asked him to pray to it. He showed
his Viswaroopa before He left him.
Everyday Rohidas prayed to the salagram and a golden coin appeared before
the salagram. Rohidas treated it as God’s gift. sold it and spent
the money for charity to the poor. He continued thus everyday.,
The news spread like wild fire. It reached the ears of the king. The
king was jealous of the name and fame of Rohidas. He beckoned Rohidas
to his court and ordered him to hand over the salagram to him. Rohidas,
requested not to take it away from him since God had personally handed
it over to him but it fell into deaf ears. The king made his soldiers
bring it by force and kept it in his pooja room. Rohidas walked back
home with a heavy heart.
Amazing! The next morning the salagram was missing from the Raja’s
pooja room. It was seen in the pooja room of Rohidas! How Great God
The king realized his mistake and pleaded to him. The bhakta is given
equal importance with God. Take any temple we have Hanuma before Rama,
Nandi before Siva etc. in Hindu temples. This speaks about the greatness
of Bhakta ! We are not supposed to stand between the too, because the
bhakta looks at God always. This rule applies in real life too ! We
should not venture to punish a true bhakta.
Bhaktas have kindness, love and sacrificial nature in them. They treat
everybody as God. They try to help others but don’t try to harm
others. We can’t understand their mysterious ways but that doesn’t
give us a right to disturb their life. We should be happy we are acquainted
with such bhaktas. We too can be blessed like them.
The great bhakta Rohidas spent the rest of his life in the name of God
and finally his jeevathma joined paramathma.