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 twelfth varta. See previous.
The story of Manikchand Kshatriya, who lived in Agra
Manikchand is a devotee with a tamasi disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Ragini. She manifests from Champakalata and is a form of her divine loving sentiment. Ragini has a Sakhi named Anuragini and she became his wife.
In a part of Agra named Gopalpura there were two Kshatriya families living nearby. These two were born into these two houses. The two families were very friendly to each other and therefore decided to get their son and daughter married together. They did this when the two had grown up a bit. Manikchand’s father worked in the King’s palace and amassed a lot of wealth. When his father died Manikchand also worked for the king.
One day Sri Gusainji set off for Adel from Sri Nathdwara [Jatipura]. In Agra a family of Vaishnavas lived in a house behind that of Manikchand. Sri Gusainji stopped off there.
It was the hot season and so Sri Gusainji was sitting up on the roof where the window looked out onto the market. Directly opposite this was Manikchand’s house. Manikchand’s wife had gone up onto her roof. From there she caught sight of Sri Gusainji who appeared to her as the most blissful manifestation of the Lord Himself with His Face, hands and Feet etc. Simply through the effect of having his sight she began to feel tired and then lost all consciousness of her body.
When Manikchand came home from work he asked the maid where his wife was. She replied that she was sitting up on the roof. He also went up there, but she was not aware of his arrival. Her vision was totally fixed on Sri Gusainji’s form.
She then spoke to her husband, “Look! The Supreme Lord is sitting over there.” Hearing these words of his wife, Manikchand also felt weak as he also stared at Sri Gusainji’s form.
Sri Gusainji stayed there for a few hours into the night and then he went to take rest. The two of them stayed standing there and kept looking at Sri Gusainji. Then Manikchand came round and said to his wife, come on, let’s get on now.
She said, “Now where else is there to go?”
They stayed sitting there the whole night. When morning came they performed their daily ablutions, bathed and went over to Sri Gusainji, bowed to him and entreated him, “O, Maharaj! Please fulfill us!”
Sri Gusainji blessed them by giving them the Name initiation and the Brahma Sambandha. At that very moment, Manikchand sang this celebratory poem to Sri Gusainji.
*Raag Dev Gandhaar*
In all the four Ages You uphold the promises of the Vedas.
Whenever the righteous Way dwindles,
You Yourself manifest.
In the Satya Age You came as the divine boar
and split the demon Hiranyaksha’s chest.
In the Treta Age You were Ram in Dasarathas home
and wiped out Ravan’s race.
In the Dwapar Age you saved the Land of Braj from drowning,
and Indra fell at Your Feet
You killed Kamsa and all his demon entourage and thus
relieved the burden of the world.
Now You have manifested in Sri Vallabh’s line
and defeated the impersonalist philosphers.
Manikchand the poet now says,
“I have seen Your divine Form in Sri Gusainji.”
Manikchand then sang many such poems before Sri Gusainji. In them he describes how he sees the Supreme Lord within Sri Gusainji.
Manikchanand was firmly fixed on this vision of Sri Gusainji. Seeing this, Sri Gusainji was very pleased with him. Manikchand requested Sri Gusainji to grace his home. He did, and stayed there for three days.
Afterwards when Sri Gusainji was about to set off to return to Adel, the couple stood outside their house dressed in very simple clothes. Manikchand said to Champabhai, “Please take away whatever there is in this house. It all belongs to Sri Gusainji.” When his horse had gone to the stable and the goods were all tied on to the camels he made the offering to Sri Gusainji. He gave everything he owned.
Sri Gusainji then invited the couple to partake of Prasad there. Sri Gusainji stayed there an extra three days. On the fourth day he set off for Adel.
Manikchand gave one camel’s rope to his wife and held one rope himself and they walked together with the party. Quite a lot of stuff remained in Manikchand’s home. They sold it all for 76000 rupees.
The two of them accompanied Sri Gusainji for some distance outside the village. The camels were up front. Sri Gusainji took some time to say goodbye to all the Vaishnavas present. Then his palanquin caught up with the camels. Sri Gusainji then asked his personal servant who the lady was who was walking with the camel. He answered that she was Manikchand’s wife. Sri Gusainji stopped the camel and his palanquin in that very place and then asked the man again where Manikchand was. He answered that Manikchand was walking behind.
Sri Gusainji called him to his side and told him to turn round and go home. Manikchand kept quiet.
But his wife spoke up and said, “O, Maharaj, just where should we go? We have no other shelter than your lotus feet.” He tried to make her understand in so many ways and told her again to turn home.
She said, “O, My master. Please give me some service in your home for me to do. I will even collect cowdung and make patties out of it. But we have no other place to go. If you don’t want me to come with you then please just sell me and take my price with you. To whomsoever you sell me, I shall serve them well, but I no other shelter than yourself.”
Sri Gusainji tried to persuade her but she would not listen. Sri Gusainji then said, “I need to ask something from you” She replied, “But I have nothing left, what can I give you? I only have his body left and that already belongs to you. Do whatever you wish to me, but I have nothing else to give.” Sri Gusainji then spoke to Manikchand, “Please listen to what I have to say.” In this way Sri Gusainji conveyed the message to his wife that she should go home and make Seva there. He instructed Manikchand to do some type of business.
Manikchands wife then said, “But I do not know how to make Seva.” Manikchand asked what kind of business he should conduct. “I have no funds”, he said. Sri Gusainji’s store manager was standing next to him. Sri Gusainji asked him whether Manikchands donations had reached the store yet. The store manager replied that a donation of 76,000 rupees had been deposited from Manikchand. “They also kept absolutely nothing at home” he revealed.
Sri Gusainji asked Manikchand how much he would need to start up a business and he replied that he could start with ten thousand rupees. Sri Gusainji instructed the store manager to give Manikchand 10,000 rupees. Manikchand objected, “But, O, Maharaj, how can I take your wealth?” Sri Guainji told him, “Take this money and use it to earn more. Then you can send this money back!”
Manikchand again asked, “But, O, Maharaj! If I take this money from you I will have a loan hanging over my head. Should I then make business with that money? The body is impermanent. If I die without paying that money back then I will have that loan on my head. Therefore I do not feel that I should use your money for business.”
Sri Gusainji said, “Please do earn money from this loan. It will never be considered as a debt hanging over you.” After this, Sri Gusainji instructed Manikchand’s wife, “Please accept whatever I give you. I am very happy with you. I promise you that, where I usually stay in Sri Nathdwara for five months every year, now I will spend four months there and one month, when I am traveling to and from there, I will reside in your house.”
Having received these orders, Manikchand came home. Sri Gusainji gave Manikchand one Deity of Child Krishna for them to serve. Sri Gusainji showed Manikchand’s wife how to make the Seva for some days and then, whilst he was making the Seva, both husband and wife would stand and observe.
Sri Gusainji thus taught Manikchand everything he needed to know about Seva. They both began to serve most lovingly. Manikchand began to earn money using the funds he had been given. They lived off a quarter of the earnings and put three quarters away as savings. They soon earned back the loaned amount. When Sri Gusainji came to their home they placed the ten thousand rupees in a money pouch before Sri Gusainji.
Manikchand requested him to accept it so that he was now free of debt. “I now have, through your blessings, enough funds with which to make business. I wish to no longer keep the loaned money.” Sri Gusainji was very pleased with Manikchand and said, “King Bali also made an offering but Manikchand’s offering is different.”
A doubt may arise here – King Bali also made an offering to the Lord and he took nothing back. Manikchand took money out of his offering to make business with and in this way paid off the loan. How could this be called an offering? Because King Bali made his offerings according to the ways of the Path of Lawful Limitations. The Lord accepted and took the offerings. Things that are thus offered can never be taken back. In the case of Manikchand he made the offerings according to the ways of the Path of Grace, with love only. It was done in the same way that, in the world, a master and his servant should interact.
Sri Acharyaji has written in his ‘Siddhant Rahasya Treatise’,
“Therefore, at the start of any undertaking, everything should be offered up. The teachings that ‘that which has been given all belongs to the Lord and cannot ever be accepted as His Prasad’ belongs to another Path. The higher realization is perfected just as in the world a servant perfects his relationship with his master.”
Therefore Manikchand borrowed money as if it were a worldly transaction. And that too under Sri Gusainji’s instruction. His dedication was thus perfected. This is the way to look at this.
[This story is taken from Krishna Bhatt’s book]
Once it was the wedding of Manikchand’s son. Manikchand wrote an invitation to Sri Gusainji and then welcomed him into his home. Sri Gusainji came to Agra from Gokul. After some days it was Sri Gokulnathaji’s birthdy. Sri Gusainji wrote and sent a letter to Sri Giridharji in Gokul saying, “Please make the arrangement for the celebration of Vallabh’s [Sri Gokulnathaji’s] birthday. I will return after this wedding.” When the wedding was over, Sri Gusainji took his leave of Manikchand and went back to Gokul. So great was Sri Gusainji’s grace upon Manikchand.
Thus concludes Varta 12, the story of Manikchand and his wife who were great recipients of Sri Gusainji’s grace and accomplished Vaishnavas. In truth there is no end to their story.