84 Vaishnavon ki Varta #3
Shri Damodardasji sambhalvare, a kshatriya from kannauja
Even as a child, Damodardasji S. was attached to the Lord and pondered upon how he could meet Him. On one occasion, he went to Prayag to bathe in the Sacred waters of the Triveni Sangam on the Makara Sankaranti [Spring Euinox] day.
There he met Krishnadasji Meghan who told him that Shri Vallabhacharyaji was now present on the earth, but that he was in the south of India at the court of King Krishnadeva where he had defeated the impersonalist Brahmins in open discussion.
Krishnadas told Damodardasji S that Shri Acharyaji could bless him to have the direct sight of the Lord. He told Damodardasji S about his journey, i.e. that because of his misdirected affection for his previous Guru, he had not, at first, been worthy of receiving the Divine Reward! But, he said, now he would follow Shri Acharyaj to the ends of the earth and, taking his leave, proceeded to the south.
After Krishnadas Meghan left to see Shri Acharyaji, Damodardasji S suffered intense pangs of separation. All the time he pondered upon how he would be able to meet Shri Acharyaji.
It was in this state of mind that he was, in the month of Magha, taking his bath at Prayag. Whilst he was bathing, a message inscribed on copper came into his hand at the confluence of the Shri Gangaji and the Shri Yamuna rivers. He took the letter back to his home.
That night, as he lay asleep, he had a dream wherein he was instructed to take as his Guru whomsoever was able to decipher the inscription.
Many great Pandits of advanced learning had come to Prayag for the sake of the Holy Bath and Damodardasji S asked all of them to read the inscription, but, none of them was able to do so.
Shortly after, Damodardasji went to Varanasi to visit Seth Purusottamdaji on business. He took the message with him and showed it to Purusottamdaji who told him, “Shri Acharyaji will be able to decipher this. No-one else will have the ability.”
Damodardasji S told the Sethji about how Krishnadasji Meghan had said the same and had told him that he could only attain full surrender to the Lord through Shri Acharyaji. Hearing all of this, Seth Purusottamdaji became very excited and began to crave the sight of Shri Acharyaji.
This story has been recounted in his own Varta.
Damodardasji S stayed for 15 days in Varanasi. No one was able to read the inscription. He returned home to Kannauj. He suffered severe pangs of separation until Shri Acharyaji himself came there some months later.
Mahaprabhuji camped in a garden some distance from the town.
Shri Acharyaji arrived in Kannauj and set up camp in a garden a short distance from the town. He sent Krishnadasji into town to bring supplies but asked him not to announce his arrival.
Shri Achryaji knew that if Krishnadasji met Damodardasji S he would tell him where to visit Shri Acharyaji. Damodardasji S was a monied man. Shri Acharyaji did not want Krishnadasji to even think that he had invited him because of his wealth. This is why he asked him not to publicise his arrival – those who were inspired with pure love would arrive of their own accord.
Another reason for not announcing his arrival was that Shri Thakurji had told Shri Acharyaji to go to Kannauja to purify and accept the embodied souls of divine orientation who were living there. Shri Acharyaji knew that since this was the Will of the Lord, those souls would naturally gravitate towards him and so it was not necessary to spread the news of his encampment there.
Krishnadasji went into the village to purchase the necessary supplies. On his way back he met Damodardasji S who was coming from the king’s palace. Recognising Krishnadasji he got off his horse, bowed to him and enquired from him if Shri Mahaprabhuji had arrived.
Upholding Shri Acharyaji’s wish, Krishnadasji said nothing and walked on. Damodardasji S concluded that Krishnadasji would not be there if Shri Acharyaji had not come and so, having sent his horse home, he followed Krishnadasji. Shri Acharyaji saw them both approaching the camp.
Damodardasji S bowed down to Shri Acharyaji then Shri Acharyji asked Krishnadasji why he had told him of his prescence. Krisnadasji denied that he had told. Damodardasji S told Shri Acharyaji that he had not been told but that he had followed Krishnadasji. Shri Acharyaji asked him to give him the message engraved on copper. Damodardasji S asked him why he wanted it.
Shri Acharyaji recounted, “you have already been told that the one who can decipher the writing thereon will be your Guru. Therefore give it to me”. Damodardasji S had the letter brought there.
Shri Acharyaji asked Krishnadasji why he had told Damodardasji S of his arrival when he had been told not to. When Damodardasji S interjected that Krishnadasji had not told him anything but that he had followed him, his humility was perfected.
Thereafter, Damodarsdasji S asked why it was necessary to bring the letter. From this it is understood that Damodardasji S had already recognized Shri Acharyaji to be non-different from the Lord. Shri Acharyaji told him to obey the command of the Lord and bring it over there.
When the letter arrived, Mahaprabhuji read the inscription. He told Damodardasji S what it meant and then gave him the first stage initiation. Damodardaji S invited Shri Acharyaji to his house.There Shri Acharyaji initiated Damodardasji S and his wife along with a third person, the house maid who lived with them, for she was a divinely oriented soul.
Damodardasji then asked Shri Acharyaji how he should live from now on. Shri Acharyaji ordered him to find a Krishna Deity and to serve Him.
Damodardasji found one at the house of a tailor, paid for it and brought it home. He and his wife changed all the cloth and pots in the house and Mahaprabhuji established that Deity in Seva at their house by bathing him in the Vedic manner with five substances [ghee,honey.water,milk and yoghourt] and named Him Shri Dvarakanathji.
Shri Acharyaji called this Svarupa [deity form] Shri Dvarakanathji because, when he gave this Seva to Damodardasji S, it was the first time he had established the Service of Shri Dvarakanathji Who is the glorious kingly Form of Shri Krishna.
They set Shri Dvarakanathji up on a fine altar. Shri Acharyaji prepared the food offerings and then accepted the foodstuffs back as Prasad and followed them with an offering of the fragrant paan leaf. However, the leaf was not ripe.
Shri Acharyaji admonished Damodardasji S by telling him to only ever offer the very best and perfect things for the Lord best enjoys the best offerings. Husband and wife began to serve the Lord very carefully and enthusiastacally.
Mahaprabhuji taught them that it is not appropriate to offer the Lord anything that has already been used for a personal purpose for example cloth from a roll from which something has already been made. The first part of anything must be offered to the Lord. No part of anything purchased for offering should be used for any other purpose before making that offering.
For example, their offerings of mango juice were made in a bowl of gold. The bowl and the, juice matched so well it was almost impossible to know that there was anything at all in that bowl.
Then Shri Acharyaji taught them about the principles of offering, for example, the cloth – anything already used should not be presented to the Lord. Anything that has been offered to Him is known as ‘prasadi’ [already offered and accepted back as His Grace]
The first part of everything and anything must go to Him. These are the ways of the Path of Grace.
The yellow mango juice offering matched the golden bowl. So it was secret and part of the intimate play of Shri Svaminiji and Shri Krishna: Gold is always regarded as Shri Svaminiji’s Form and silver as Shri Chandravaliji.
Soon afterwards, Shri Acharyaji again set out on his circumnambulation of India.
Damodardasji S used to fetch all the well water for his seva by himself. One day, his father-in-law came there and said that from the point of view of family prestige, it seems shameful for him to do so, andtold him to get their maidservant to bring the water. But Damodardasji S remembered the words of the great poet Suradasji who wrote. “in this age of Kali do your service without fear of worldly opinion” and again, “Don’t concern yourself with societal law. Surrender exclusively to the Lord’s service”.
He then asked his wife to join him in fetching the water. She was an accomplished Vaishnava and agreed. The next day they both went. He carried one pot and she the other and they passed by the father-in-law’s shop on the way and on the way back.
The father-in-law again came to Damodardasji and this time held his feet and apologized to him for asking him not to carry water but also implored him to go by himself and not take his wife along, after which he would no longer interfere.
Damodardasji S continued to fetch water by himself. The Lord began to communicate with Damodardasji S who pleased the Lord through his service and the Lord began to ask him for whatever He wanted and speak to him directly.
Shri Acharyaji was very happy with the way Damodardasji S served His Thakurji. He commented that Damodardasji S’s seva was as good as that of the great King Ambarish, but added that Ambarish’s seva was done with attention to lawful limitations whilst that of Damodardasji was done totally according to the ways of the Path of Grace and was therefore far superior.
When Damodardasji S was fetching water from the well, his heart’s sentiment was that he was bringing water from the Shri Yamunaji river. That is why Shri Acharyaji compared this Seva to the great King Ambarish’s which was also nicely elaborate but within the Path of lawful Limitations.
Damodardasji S’s Seva was superior within the Pushti Realm, the Grace–filled Path and Way and therefore Shri Acharyaji docked it as far superior and to which Ambarish’s could not even compare. Just as it is a failed comparison to say that the Lord’s Lotus-Face is like the moon. Pushti Margiya seva ways are millions of times superior.
At first, when Damodardasji S’s father-in-law asked him not to allow his wife to fetch water he agreed but then afterwards reasoned to himself that he had already asked his wife to participate in the service of fetching water and if he were to stop her now that would mean that the father-in-law’s defective reasoning would fall upon his shoulders. So, he thought that he would ask her not to go but then if she was happy to be doing this seva then she herself would not want to stop.
He thought, “if she can do it, she can do it a hundred times. The village people are already used to it, so why should I stop her from doing this service? If she is doing it out of affection for the lord then she will continue. It’s not that I am forcing her and, anyway, if she was not doing it out of love for the Lord then He would not accept that service. But, I will tell her just once not to go.”
He told her he would just go by himself in the future in order not to upset the father-in-law. The wife agreed but this meant that the father-in-law’s instructions of wrong intention affected her and later on she lost her pure faith. Damodardasji S on the other hand reasoned that if he were to stop fetching that water for his Lord then it would constitute a devotional obstruction for both of them. Thus he continued with the water service.
One day, in the very hottest part of the year, Damodardasji put his Shri Thakurji to bed and then went up to sleep in the open on the roof. Shri Dvarakanathji requested the maid to open the door to the temple room because he was feeling so hot.
She opened the door and then He requested her to fan Him, which she did. After a while, He let her go back to sleep and she left the door of the temple room open. When Damodardasji S saw that the door was open when he went there in the morning he asked who had opened the door.
The maid recounted how the Lord had asked her to do so. Damodardasji S was puzzled as to why the Lord had not asked him to open the door but reasoned that it was the Lord’s wish to bless the maid in this way and that in Shri Acharyaji’s Path of Grace all are equal. The rules of high or lowly status no longer apply, for the Lord only requires Love from His devotees.
Later on the Lord personally informed Damodardasji S that He had told the maid to open the door and that he had no right or reason to be annoyed about that. Apart from that He said, “You go up to the open air on the roof to sleep but you keep me locked in this room.
Damodardasji S immediately took a vow not to eat until he had completed a much better arrangement for his Seva. His wife asked him why he took such a vow because the work could take quite a long time to finish. He agreed to fast from grains but to only eat some fruits till that time.
Damodardasji S upheld this vow until the changes had been completed. He moved His Lord’s seva into the new place on an auspicious day and celebrated by making nice offerings and inviting Vaishnavas to take prasad.Only then did he break his fast.
The Lord blessed the maid with the service of fanning him, not Damordasji S’s wife. This is because she had, because of her fathers opinion, given up the fetching of water seva just like that, and was not even concerned about this in her heart. Therefore He chose the maid to open the door and to fan Him.
Here we find Shri Acharyaji’s instructions that one must nurture full love for the Lord in the heart and do for Him in exactly the same way as one would for their own comfort, as, for example, in the consideration of how to serve appropriately for the seasons.
Damodardasji S slept on the roof but there was no way for cool air to come into the temple room. The Lord called the maid to open the door and thereby established the correct ways for the Lords personal quarters.
The maid had the Lord’s service firmly established in her heart and she always considered His comfort. 24 hours a day she was thinking of the Lord. She had reached the perfection of heartfelt service but never exposed this publicly. Therefore the Lord was most pleased with her.
Damodardasji S had been angry with the maid about her opening the door at first. The Lord was annoyed that he was treating someone so dear to Him quite inconsiderately. However, He did not want Damodardasji S either to be guilty of the offence of anger so He said that it was His personal request to the maid to open the door, and that Damodardasji S should be kind to her, not angry, recognising her true spiritual form. He reprimanded Damodardasji S for shutting Him in an airless room whilst he slept in the open on the roof whilst failing to remember his true original identity as the Sakhi named Citra who was in charge of the temple room arrangements.
Damodardasji S subsequently realized his identity and his relationship to the Lord. In the mood of Citra sakhiji he swore to eat only after making the necessary changes to the room. He called the workmen but then his wife objected saying that it might take a long time to complete the work and how would he manage on a full fast? He agreed to have some fruit. The construction of a suitable place went on and was completed including carvings, windows, the main Seat for Shri Thakurji to be enthroned, the Veranda, the courtyard, small and large curtains [for dividing and concealing] etc. just as in Shri Thakurji’s original home [in Vraja].
In fact, the new temple was made according to those ancient concepts and designs. He chose an auspicious time to present it and celebrated the occasion by feeding all the Vaishnavas and making offerings to Shri Acharyaji.
One day, after the Rajbhoga lunch period, Damodardasji went into Shri Thakurji’s sleeping chamber to tidy up the bed etc and noticed that a cat had been there and messed the floor. Damodardasji S said “Thakurji can’t even look after His own bedroom”. Shri Dvarakanathji then threw a tray down onto his head and hit him with a stick.”Are you the servant or am I?” He asked. “Should a servant speak in this way?” He was very upset.
Damodardasji S tried to pacify Him with nice food offerings and Shri Thakurji accepted them, however, He did not speak to Damodardasji S for over two months. And it was only after a lot of imploring that He even began to speak to him again at all.
Shri Thakurji partook of the food offerings after he had had to hit Damodardasji with the stick. Shri Acharyaji had given Damodardasji S the right to serve Him in the mood of a servant but not in the mood of one of His friends, such as when he laughed at Shri Thakurji. He had gone beyond the right to serve that Shri Acharyaji had granted him.
A Vaishnava should always understand the difference between these service moods and modes and behave accordingly.
One day, Damodardasji Harsani came as a guest to Damodardasji S’ home and stayed there for about a week. Damodardasji S looked after his every need until he left to go to Adel.
Shri Acharyaji then asked him where he had been staying and where he had been taking Prasad. He told him about his stay with Damodardasji S, mentioning that he had not partaken of grains cooked in water [sakadi]. Shri Acharyaji bcame displeased with Damodardasji S saying that he should have offered sakadi Prasad to him.
Damodardasji S got ruse of this and, telling his wife to take very good care of Shri Thakurji’s service, decided to go to Adel too.
Reaching there, he met Shri Acharyaji and bowed down to him, but Shri Acharyaji turned his back on him. Very upset by this, Damodardasji S asked him how he had offended him with the plea that embodied souls are prone to making mistakes and that it is always good to learn about such offences. Shri Acharyaji then asked him why he had fed Damodardas Harsani with anasakadi Prasad but not with sakadi.
Damodardasji S asked Shri Acharyaji to ask Damodardasji Harsani the reason for this. Shri Acharyaji did so and Damodardasji replied that he had taken the morning Prasad from the Balbhog Seva and therefore was not hungry when it was time for the sakadi Prasad at lunchtime.
Shri Acharyaji said, “You purposely did not partake. I am very displeased about this. The Lord always brings about such situations in order to expose the state of the devotees hearts.”
Damodardasji S was at home in Kannauj but he knew what was going on in Shri Acharyaji’s heart. And Shri Acharyaji is always situated inside his devotees’ hearts so why would the devotees not know his heart too? However, the Lord often tests love in the devotees’ hearts through creating various situations.
Shri Acharyaji was very kind to Damodardasji S and then sent him home to Kannauj where he and his wife continued to serve their Lord very nicely.
It was really just to grace him that Damodardas Harsani went to Damodardasji S’ home to take Prasad. Damodardasji S had an opulent service arrangement and used his body and wealth generously therein. He used to invite all and any Vaishnava who passed through to take Prasad and then if they were going onwards to meet Shri Acharyaji he would send all sorts of offerings to Shri Acharyaji through their hands.
He was very generous to those Vaishnavas as well. He would secretly put money for their expenses into their travelling bags. They were always singing his praises to Shri Acharyaji. But Shri Acharyaji wanted to make sure that his heart and consciousness were entirely pure too and that there was no hint of his misplaced loyalty. Knowing all this, Damodardasji Harsani came to his home to take Prasad;really it was only to grace him. He saw that Damodardasji S’ heart was completely pure but because of his wife’s adherence to her father’s rule rather than to the Graceful Path he did not honour the prasad of grains cooked in water at their house.
He stayed their for five days but did not reveal any of the inner secrets of devotion to him. When he came back to Shri Acharyaji he told him where he had been but that he had not eaten the sakadi prasada there. He had however honoured the Prasad of grains cooked in ghee. This indicated that he trusted the heart of Damodardasji S but not that of his wife. Shri Acharyaji was perturbed that even though Damodardasji S had had the chance during Damodardas Harsanis visit he had still not set his wife upon the proper path through this great devotees auspices, and that this type of opportunity would not always arise. Damodardasji S was able to perceive this in his Gurus heart but his wife did not have that perception.
When Vaishnavas from Simhananda went to see Shri Acharyaji they always passed through Kannauj and stayed with Damodardasji S. He fed them all. He also gave them all a coin and a coconut to take to Shri Acharyaji so that none of them went there empty handed when they conveyed his respects. That was the kind of great Vaishnava that Damodardasji S was.
Damodardasji S’ father in law was wealthy. He employed a hundred maidservants for his daughter’s service so she wouldn’t have to do any lowly work. But his daughter still did her own work because it was related to her Divine Service. That was her devotional greatness.
Once Shri Acaryaji was taking rest at Damodardasji S’ home. Damodardasji S was pressing his feet. Shri Acharyaji asked him if he wanted anything. Damodardasji S replied that, besides his Grace, he required nothing.
Shri Acharyaji then told him to ask the same question of his wife. When he asked her if there anything that she had her heart set on she told him that she really wanted to have a son. Damodardasji S told Shri Acharyaji who replied that she would certainly have one.
After this Shri Acharyaji traveled onto Jatipura [here also named as Shri Nathijidvara].
A short while afterwards she fell pregnant. Some time after this, a fortune teller arrived in the town. All the ladies began to ask about their future and they persuaded Damodardasji S’s wife to ask whether she would give birth to a son or a daughter. A girl went and asked him and he replied that she would bear a son.
Some time passed and Shri Acharyaji again came to Kannauj. Damodardasji S went to touch his Gurus feet but Si Acharyaji forbade him from doing so, saying that he was guilty of disloyalty. Damoardasji S implored that he could not understand this accusation.
Shri Acharyaji suggested that he ask his wife. He did so and she told him all about the fortune teller and his prediction.
Damodardasji S went back to Shri Acharyaji who then said that yes, a son would be born to her but that he would be a person of bad habits and faithless behaviour. Shri Acharyaji then returned to Adel.
When Damodardasji S’s wife heard this she stopped touching the Lords food preparations and water saying that if she had such a demonic being in her belly she should not touch the Lord’s things.
When she was about to give birth she told her mother to take the child away as soon as it was born because she didn’t even want to see its face. The mother did exactly that and removed the child as soon as it was born. The boy was brought up by a maidservant.
When Shri Acharyaji had come to Kannauja and asked Damodardasji S if he had any heartfelt desire it was all a test because he knew that the latter’s wife was fostering some inappropriate feelings which would keep her away from attaining the true fruit of the Path of Grace.
Shri Acharyaji did not want Damodardasji S to become tainted by her shortfalls. Damodardasji S’s faith was full and pure. He only wanted to be able to serve his Guru’s feet.
Shri Acharyaji did not speak to the wife directly – her plea and his answer were made through Damodardasji S himself. She had desires other than pure service. She had not requested a son who would be dedicated to and help in the service of the Lord, but only a son and so it was evident to Shri Mahaprabhuji that she was not fully surrendered to the Path. She was serving but holding other desires in her heart and mind.
The poet Mukundadasji has written, whilst describing the Prahladji story from the 7th canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, “Asking your guru to fulfill any selfish desire is tainted devotion”. Expecting one’s Guru to grant worldly or scriptural wishes does not lead to the state of pure devotion. Shri Acharyaji granted the wife’s wish for a son and then moved on to Shri Giriraji to be close to Shri Govardhannathaji.
When she committed the offence of taking shelter elsewhere, Shri Acharyaji traveled on to Kannauj. There he did not allow Damodardasji S to touch his feet because he had been partaking of Prasad prepared by her. In was in this way that he instructed Damodardasji S.
No other fault is as bad as disloyalty, like in a marriage if either partner dishonours the other by going with someone else. A striving Vaishnava should never rely on or take refuge in anyone other than their Lord and their Guru because this will destroy their entire Vaishnava Dharma [Way of Devotional life].
When Damodardasji S’s wife realized this she stopped touching the Lord’s food offerings. Her disloyalty exited from her being through the boys birth. It is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam that a devotee’s possessiveness should be directed uniquely at the Lord, otherwise the Lord will remove the other objects of affection from that devotee. Then knowledge and renunciation develop and total loyalty ensues.
A person without a devotional character will lose that object of affection but still be disloyal. Shri Acharyaji allowed the situation with the son to be played out because he regarded the wife as one of his own.
The wife understood this lesson and blindfolded herself at the time of the birth so as not to even espy her sons face. The mother took the son home. When he was about 10 years old, he developed into a very demonic being. Damodardasji S and his wife continued to serve their Lord very nicely.
Following this, Damodardasji S left his body. His wife hid his corpse in the house. She asked some Vaishnavas to hire a boat to go to Adel. When the boat came she packed it with absolutely everything that was in the house along with Shri Dvarakanathji and asked those Vaishnavas to take it and all the stuff in it to Adel and give everything to Shri Acharyaji.
The Vaishnavas did as requested. When the boat had traveled about sixty miles only then did she tell of her husband’s death. Vaishnavas came and performed the last rites. When the son heard of his father’s death, he rushed over there to look for what he could get but saw that nothing remained in the house.
There was a pot full of water which he threw down. Then Damodardasji S’s father-in-law arrived and asked her where everything was and how she would eat. She said “Well, I will eat what you give me” since it was the custom in their family for a widow to be fed by her relatives.
However, Damodardasji S’s wife neither ate nor drank and she too soon left her body.
Both of them were cremated together. It was a few days after this that a Vaishnava told Shri Acharyji the whole story and he commented that this was a fitting end. Both husband and wife were worthy recipients of the Grace of Shri Acharyaji whom they served
Thus concludes varta 3 the story of damodardasji sambhalvare although it truly has no end.
Damodardasji S left his body. His wife reasoned that since their son was of a demonic nature he would probably try to get all the worldy goods for himself and so she hid the body, packed all the stuff in a boat and sent it to Shri Acharyaji. She let the boat get at least sixty miles away before announcing her husband’s death.
Her relatives performed the usual rituals for the body. When the son arrived, all he could find was the pot of water. He tried to reach the boat but could not. He beat his head – it is not possible for a worldly person to attain transcendental goods, however hard they try.
The wife’s father asked how she would survive. His meaning was worldly and her answer was “I will eat whatever you give me”. It was the Kshatriya [warrior caste] way for a widow but her meaning was that without Shri Thakurji’s service, how would she be able to eat anything anyway?
She regarded her life without Shri Thakurji’s service to be totally worldy, so she said she would take the worldly food. But of course she didn’t and she also left her body very soon. She was cremated along with her husband.