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The Bengali Brahmin and why Srinathji was still hungry

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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 vartaSee previous.

Varta 13

The story of a Brahmin who lived in Bengal and was a cloth trader.

*bhav-prakash*

He is a devotee with a tamasi disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Anandini (a gopi). She manifests from Ratikala and is a form of her divine loving sentiment. The Brahmin was born in a village in Bengal. He was married when he was 11 years old. His wife was not a Divine Soul, thus unrelated to the Divine Lila. His father died when he was about 25 years old. That was when he started to trade in cloth.

*Part 1*

One time the Bengali came to Mathura for business accompanied by a lot of business people. These businessmen used to go to Delhi where the king lived in order to sell cloth. The Bengali joined them in such business dealings. He was a capable Brahmin and he was able to support himself on the business he did in Mathura and so he resided there. In that group there were some Vaishnavas and they were going to Gokul to have the sight of Sri Gusainji. The Brahmin went with them. He had the sight of Sri Gusainji along with all the others. The Brahmin resolved to become Sri Gusainji’s disciple.

He supplicated Sri Gusainji , “O, Maharaj! Please accept me as your servant.”

Sri Gusainji made him bathe and then initiated him with the Name and Brahma Sambandha. Afterwards he went to Delhi to sell cloth. On completing the trading he returned to Bengal taking the earnings with him. An idea sprang up in his heart to use the wealth to buy the most special cloth and send it to Sri Gusainji to make a garment for him to wear. He obtained a length of cloth of the very best quality which cost 250 rupees. Then there was a tax of 15O rupees. Only then he was able to bring the cloth out of the town.

He rolled up the cloth and hid it in a hollow bamboo tube and, using it as a walking stick, left the town. He took his wife with him.

*bhav-prakash*

Why? He wanted to have his wife initiated by Sri Gusainji.

*Part 1 continued*

The security men who stood at the town gates thought that he was just a Brahmin who was going along for his bath. He had taken the roll of cloth out of his house and gone on his way. He arrived in Gokul after some days and bowed to Sri Gusainji. He took the cloth out of the bamboo and placed it in front of Sri Gusainji. He was very pleased by it. He said, “This cloth would be very nice for Sri Nathji.”

*bhav-prakash*

Why? Because the Lord alone may enjoy things of the very highest quality. Therfore one should only offer Him the finest items. This is the duty of a good servant.

*Part 1 continued*

At that very moment he called the tailor and had him make a garment for Sri Nathji. It was ready on that very day.

Taking that garment with him Sri Gusainji set off early the next morning together with the husband and wife and they went to Sri Nathdwara (Jatipura). Sri Gusainji bathed, went up the mountain and entered Sri Nathji’s temple. He had His Holy Sight and then offered Him His lunchtime meal. After the time for the meal elapsed he accepted the offerings back as Prasad and then opened the doors of the temple. The Brahmin experienced great love as he had the Holy Sight of Sri Nathji.

On the next day Sri Gusainji offered the new garment to Sri Nathji. When the Bengali Brahmin Vaishnava had the Holy Sight of Sri Nathaji he was overjoyed. After completing Sri Nathaji’s Seva, Sri Gusainji came down from the mountain. The Brahmin bowed to Sri Gusainji over and over, considering his life purpose to have been fulfilled. He then requested Sri Gusainji, “O, Maharaj! Please initiate my wife.” Sri Gusainji explained to him that she was not a Divine Soul and therefore he would only give her the first, Name initiation. He did so.

Then the Brahmin began to think, “That very special cloth has been offered to Sri Nathji. I should now bring some more cloth of the same quality so that Sri Gusainji may also wear a garment made from it. Then my life will have been successful!

Thinking thus he took his leave of Sri Gusainji and went back to his homeland of Bengal. The couple took a few days to reach home.

Some days later the Brahmin announced to his wife , “Lets beg to survive. If any money comes from trading then we will save it.”

His wife objected, “We are surviving very nicely on the money you make from trading, so where did you get this idea from?”

He replied, “None of these folk give up their way of making a living, so why would we give up? Our best way to earn is to beg, so why would we leave this?” The Brahmin did not reveal his intention to her.

[Translator’s note: the normal way for Brahmins at that time was to receive alms from the community according to strict rules. He wanted to use the earnings from his trading to buy another roll of cloth]

*bhav-prakash*

Why? Because her mind was worldly. People of a worldly mindset do not understand Divine ways and so one should never reveal such matters to them because this will only lead to conflict. This is the principle here.

*Part 1 continued*

So the Brahmin began to live from begging. Soon enough money came in for the Brahmin to buy another roll of special cloth. He went and purchased the cloth and brought it to Gokul in the same way as before. He arrived after a few days and bowed low to Sri Gusainji. He presented the cloth to him.

Seeing it, Sri Gusainji announced, “One Vaishnava previously brought such a roll of cloth. It was offered to and accepted by Sri Nathaji.”

The Bengali Vaishnava bowed down to Sri Gusainji and said, “I was the one who had brought that roll of cloth.” Sri Gusainji was delighted with him. He began to hand the cloth over to his personal servant but the Bengali Brahmin interjected.

He bowed low and said, “O, Maharaj! That first cloth was accepted by Sri Nathji. Would you yourself now please accept this one? After seeing you wearing the cloth, I will return home.” Sri Gusainji replied, “Sri Thakurji can accept these excellent offerings over and over again. I don’t usually accept them. lt is only through the likes of you that such items as you have come here, otherwise who would be able to bring such special things? This roll of cloth is worthy of being offered in the temple.”

The Vaishnava again said, “ This is the Lord’s house. There is no shortage of anything here. But I would still like you to accept some garments made from this roll of cloth. When I have seen you wearing them I will return home. Sri Gusainji called the tailor and had many garments sewn for Sri Nathaji, After that he had something made for himself.

*bhav-prakash*

A servant should never enjoy any thing, especially something of the best quality, without first offering it to his Lord and Master. Otherwise it will be an obstacle in the devotional path.

*Part 1 continued*

The Bengali Vaishnava was very happy. The tailor sewed the garments and brought them there. Sri Gusainji dressed Sri Nathji in one of them and, after finishing the temple service and taking his Prasad and after a short rest, he wore the other one and came to sit in his Baithak.

The Vaishnava was overjoyed to see this. For as long as the Vaishnava stayed in Gokul, Sri Gusainji made a point of wearing it every day for a while. After quite some days the Vaishnava took his leave from Sri Gusainji and set off back to his own part of the country.

Sri Gusainji asked him before he left, “What business do you do in Bengal?”

He told Sri Gusainji everything about his life, and Sri Gusainji was pleased with his condition.

Then the Vaishnava addressed Sri Gusainji, “O, Maharaj! I had heard that you are known as the ‘the one who fulfills all his devotees’desires’. Now I have experienced this for myself. I have seen the truth in this name. If you give your permission, please may I now go home?”

Sri Gusainji was very happy and saw him off. The Brahmin reached his home in Bengal home after a few days. On the day he reached home it was the day he should have to worship his dead father. The previous day his wife had obtained some urad dal [white lentils] and some oil. She soaked the lentils and then ground them and prepared some little dumplings. The Brahmin arrived home at this time.

His wife saw him and said, “It is good that you have come home. Today is your father’s celebration day. I have prepared some dumplings.” She called him and told him to bathe and go to honour the day and to return soon.

The Brahmin asked his wife, “What exactly is to be done on this day?”

When she had finished the cooking, she told him it was all ready. The Brahmin offered it all to Sri Nathji. The dumplings were not enough so he asked her, “Do you have any sweets at home?” She replied that she had a little jaggery left. She brought it over to him.

The Brahmin sat and lost himself meditating on Sri Nathaji’s Form. He imagined Him wearing the new garments as he had seen just before he left. Sri Nathji’s Form was inside his heart and he said to Him, “O, Maharaj! My wife has made these preparations with a worldly mindset: However, please do accept them for Yourself.”

The Brahmin most lovingly placed them before Sri Nathji. Seeing the intensity of his love, Sri Nathaji came all the way from Sri Girirajji to Bengal and accepted the dumplings and the jaggery.

*bhav-prakash*

The question that arises here is why did he offer the shraddh* [death anniversary] preparations to Sri Nathji? This is opposed to the ways of the Path of Grace. Why did Sri Nathaji accept those offerings? The Brahmins wife had made the preparations from goods put aside for the Shraddha. However the Brahmin, in his mind, had not thought of the Shraddha day. On that day there was actually nothing else in the house. Therefore the Brahmin offered those preparations to Sri Nathji with a very pure heart. Seeing this love in his heart, Sri Nathji was pleased to accept the offerings. Sri Nathji is also known as, “The one who fulfils the devotees’ desires to please Him.” If one offers up anything to Sri Nathji with true and perfect love then He will certainly accept it. This is the principle here.

*Part 1 continued*

The Brahmin realized that Sri Nathji had come to his home. When He had enjoyed the offerings and was about to leave to go back to His temple He said, “I have partaken of your dumplings and jaggery and now I am going.” The Brahmin was so happy and felt that his life had been fulfilled.

“My fortune is immense, that Sri Nathaji came to my home. Out of respect for Sri Gusainji’s Path, He accepted my offerings of dumplings and jaggery.” At that same time when Sri Nathji came to the Brahmins house, Sri Gusainji was up on Sri Giriraji offering Sri Nathji His lunch. However Sri Nathji had gone to the Brahmin’s house without Sri Gusainji knowing.

At the appropriate time, Sri Gusainji accepted back the lunchtime offerings as Prasad, performed the Rajbhog Arati*, came down from the Mountain, partook of the Prasad and went to rest. However he could not sleep. Then Sri Nathji, carrying a red cane in His hand, came to Sri Gusainji.

Sri Gusainji bowed down to His Lord and then took Him up onto His couch with him. He kissed His Face, rubbed His cheeks and asked, “O Baba, why are you out of sorts today?”

Sri Nathaji said, “I am hungry today.” Sri Gusainji said,

“Oh! But You just had lunch! Nevertheless, tell me what You would like and I will get it for You.”

Sri Nathji said, “You had already taken the offerings away when I came back. That is why I did not have my lunch.”

*bhav-prakash*

The inner meaning of this is that the Lord, in His Form as the Uplifter of the Devotee [Bhaktodharaka*], had not eaten the offerings. He had partaken of them in His ‘Sarvodharaka *[the Lord Who uplifts everyone] Form and thus was still hungry according to Sri Gusainji’s Loving Mood for Him.

*Part 1 continued*

Sri Gusainji was perturbed and asked Sri Nathji where He had been. Sri Nathji told him that he had been to the Bengali Brahmin’s house, the one who had offered the roll of very special cloth, to eat dumplings and jaggery. Sri Nathaji told him all about that Brahmin’s situation.

When Sri Gusainji heard all this his heart was filled with emotion. Sri Nathaji left Sri Gusainji and went back up into His temple.

Sri Gusanji made all the inner temple servants bathe and told them to get together and make more lunchtime offerings for Sri Nathaji. They did just that. Sri Gusainji also bathed, went up to the temple, sounded the conch and offered a plate of sweet balls. The main cook then informed Sri Gusainji that all the offerings were ready.

Sri Gusainji accepted the sweet balls back as Prasad and then offered all the rest of the lunch. After the appropriate time, Sri Gusainji cleared the offerings and put Sri Nathji to rest, then descended the mountain and came to sit in his Baithak where he wrote a letter to that Bengali Brahmin. He sent it off with two Brajwasis.

He wrote, “On that day, what was it that you offered to Sri Nathji? Please write back to me with your answer.”

The two Brajwasis soon reached that Vaishnava’s home in Bengal. He was overjoyed to see them. They put Sri Guainji’s letter in his hand in which he had recounted all the events of that day. The Brahmin was filled with overwhelming love and put the letter onto his head, bowed down to it and then became even more happy after reading it.

He settled in the two Brajwasis comfortably, cooked, offered and fed them with Prasad. In the evening the Vaishnava wrote his response. In it he supplicated Sri Gusainji over and over and wrote about everything that had happened on that day.

He wrote, “O, Maharaj! It was my very great fortune that Sri Nathji, with respect for your Path, granted my wish. There were only a few dumplings!” Then he sent the letter with the two Brajwasis after showing them every hospitality. It took them a few days to get back from Bengal to Gokul and deliver the Brahmin’s letter to Sri Gusainji.

Sri Gusainji gracefully read the letter. He felt very happy. He then went to Chacha Harivamsji and told him the whole story. He also experienced overwhelming love in his heart when he read it.

Thus concludes Varta 13, the story of the Bengali Brahmin who was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace and an accomplished Vaishnava, although, in reality, there is no end to his story.

 

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