This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the fifth varta, part 5.
Once Sri Satyaji, who is Sri Gopinathji’s daughter, went to Sri Jagannath Puri to have the Holy Sight of the Lord. The party arrived in Narayandas’ village. He heard this news and sent one of his men to keep an eye out for them.
When they were close to Narayandas’ village the man sent the message that the Betiji* had arrived there. Narayandas went there and invited her to his house. Not far from his house there was a prison. All the prisoners began to shout at the same time.
Satya Betiji asked Viram what the noise was all about. She explained that these were prisoners of the state. The Patshah had locked them all up and now they were all shouting out. Satya Betiji enquired as to why they had all been locked up in one place, and Viram told her that they had either wronged the Patshah is some way, or had been stealing in the village. Or, the Patshah had demanded taxes or funds and they were not able to pay. Therefore, one large house had been requisitioned to keep them all in.
Satyabetiji again enquired of Viram, “What do these helpless beings get to eat?” She told her that they all got a small handful of raw chick peas in the evening. “They eat that and then just lie around.” Satya Betiji exclaimed, “Oh! Have mercy! These poor souls are all hungry!” A short time elapsed. Viram said to Satyaji, “Oh Maharaj, why don’t we bathe and start to cook?” Satyaji told Viram, “I will only start to cook when I have left this village.” Viram asked why this was.
Satya Betiji replied, “So many people are hungry in this village, so it would not be fair to eat or drink here. I will go outside of the village to bathe and cook.” Hearing these words of Satya Betiji, Viram sent one man to Narayandas telling him to inform him that there was something very important for him to do at home and that he should bring Narayandas back with him. The man went and told Narayandas everything and he came home immediately.
Viram told him the whole story. Narayandas went to the Patshah and urged him, “Oh Sir, these men have been imprisoned for a long time. You should take an account of whatever little they have paid you and then reinstate them into their jobs. In this way they will be of much better financial use to the palace.” The Patshah agreed.
Narayandas went to the prison. When the prisoners saw him they began to shout out. Narayandas opened the gate and let them all out. They said, “Oh Sir! Please free us!” Narayandas then asked them, “Why did you not pay your fines or taxes? They replied, “We have been stuck in here, so how could we have paid up?” Narayandas called the Court scribe. He made them all stand as guarantors for each other and in this way wrote off all their fines. Thus Narayandas had all the prisoners released.
Afterwards he went to Farad Patshah and read out to him each of their given punishments and then told him all the ensuing information. The Patshah was very pleased with Narayandas who then returned home from the Court. He bowed to Satya Betiji and addressed her: “Oh Raj! With your blessings, all the prisoners have been released. They have all gone home.” Satya Betiji was very pleased with Narayandas and proceeded to bathe, cook and make offerings to Sri Thakurji. When it was the right time she accepted the Prasad, took her meal and then gave a plate each to Narayandas and Viram.
Having partaken of the Prasad, Narayandas returned to the court. At this very time, someone criticized Narayandas before the Patshah, thus:
“Oh honourable Sir! Narayandas’ Guru’s daughter is staying at his house. It was on her say-so that Narayandas freed all the prisoners.” Then the Patshah asked Narayandas, “What were you thinking when you released all the prisoners at once?” Narayandas replied, “Oh Sir, it was costing the Court fifty rupees daily to keep them locked up, and they were bringing in no income. I made them all stand as guarantors for each othr and released them all.” Then Narayandas told the Patshah what Sri Betiji had said, and explained that this was the reason he had them all released at the same time.
Seeing his dedication to his Guru, the Patshah became very happy with Narayandas. Very slowly some income came in from the released prisoners. Narayandas again urged the Patshah, “See, Sir, only yesterday those men were released, and today some income has started to come in. This could not have happened if they were still kept prisoner. Furthermore, they cannot run away because they have all stood as guarantors to each other. This is all an issue over money. Now we don’t have to waste money keeping them locked up in jail.”
The Patshah was very pleased with Narayandas. He rewarded him with a ceremonial robe of honour and sent him home. Narayandas donned the robe and went to bow to Satya Betiji. She stayed for some time in his house and then left to continue on to Sri Jagannath Puri to have the Lord’s Holy Sight.
Having fulfilled the purpose of the journey, she started back and stayed some more time with Narayandas on the way. When she announced that she was about to leave to go back to Gokul, Narayandas presented her with a large amount of jewellry, cloth and cash. He also sent a lot of offerings for Sri Gusainji. He gave a postman a horse so that he could present the offerings when Sri Satya Betiji arrived. This man got Sri Gusainji to write a note confirming Satya Betiji’s safe arrival and the delivery of the goods, and he brought it back to Narayandas. The messenger gave the letter to Narayandas and went home with his permission.
Narayadas first put the letter on his head and then read it. It made him very happy. This is how Sri Gusainji was most merciful to Narayandas.
Satya Betiji sang Narayandas’ praises to her father. He said, ”that is just how my Narayandas is!”