The lives of Sadhus and Sants become living testimony of God. Religion and philosophical thoughts and even spiritual discipline remain dry intellectual exercise till we come across someone who can attest to the truths experientially. The greatness of dharmic tradition is most visible in the lineage of pious and Sadhus and Sants throughout the ages. Bhakti texts claim that the contribution of Sants in establishing of Dharmic values surpasses even that of Avatars! How? It says, Sadhu-Sants though their complete devotion attain all qualities of God; but they possess on quality more that their God; it is that of Puraskara or power of recommending to God for bestowing grace on devotees! This is something that God can’t do. Thus Bhaktamaal (Garland of Devotees), the most exalted text of Bhakti school puts down a principle that Sadhu-Sants should be considered as the Guru of one’s own Guru. In India innumerable popular stories are part of our rich tradition that becomes vehicle for imparting moral and spiritual truths to generations; and this collection of stories is ever expanding. This is a part of our spiritual heritage that spreads to Iran-Iraq in West and to Cambodia in the East. In this column we shall share some inspiring anecdotes of Sadhu and Sants whose lives encapsulate the essence of perennial wisdom of Dharma.
Years passed by and Nabhadas Ji’s “Bhaktmaal”, that enshrined lives of devotees in it, made him famous all across the country. Nabha ji wanted to choose one saint as the Sumeru of his Mala (Garland) of Bhaktas. Sumeru is name of Divine Mountain, which was used for churning of ocean in ancient times; it is believed that Gods reside on this. In every Mala or Rosary a big bead is placed at the top so that on right side of it the Mala starts and finishes at the left end.
Sumeru is sacrosanct and inviolable, thus even during Japa counting; Mala is turned once Sumeru is reached. In effect Nabhasdas ji was searching for a Sadhu, whom he can name as the greatest among all! Now this was not an easy task for what can be the criteria of absolute greatness? Moreover “Bhaktmaal” embraced and celebrated saints of all ages right from Devarshi Narad, Bhaktaraj Prahalad, Ambarish to Nabhaji’s contemporaries like Sant Raidas, Peepaji, Dhanaji etc. The search of “Bhaktmaal Sumeru” remained unfulfilled.
One day Goswami ji came down to holy Brij region. Sri Nabhadas ji used to reside in Brij. When Goswami ji reached Nabhadas ji’s Kuti (hut), he was busy with “Jhara Bhandara”. In “Jhara Bhandara”, food Prasadam is offered to every person who happened to reach that place. It was a massive event. Big Jamats of Sadhu-Sants and devotees from near and distant places were coming to share prasadam. There were long Pangats (queues) of people waiting to be served Prasadam. Goswami Tulsidas silently sat in the end of Pangat. Now the Pattals (plate made of khakhar leaves) finished before it could reach Goswami ji. Sadhus started serving Prasadam of Kheer, Puri and other delicacies. Some Sadhus took out their Kamandals (pot) to receive Kheer.
But Tulsidas ji wasn’t carrying anything with him. The Sadhu who was serving food became angry and shouted : “Ae Re Baba! Why are you sitting in Pangat if you don’t have Pattal or Kamandal? Where should I serve you Kheer?” Goswami Tulsidas ji picked a shoe of Sadhu and said : “Maharaj! What can be a better bowl than this that carries the holy feet of a Sadhu.” All Sants and Sadhus were astonished by Goswami ji’s gesture. By then Nabhaji reached there and understood the whole thing. Overwhelmed to see such humility and faith in Sants he took Goswami ji in embrace.
Tears were flowing from his eyes; he said – “Today I found “Sumeru” of my “Bhaktmaal”. Baba, what is your name, from where have you come? Watching Sant Nabhaji standing in front of him tears swelled in Goswami ji’s eyes. He couldn’t utter a word for long. After a protracted pause Nabhaji regained composure and announced arrival of Goswami ji to the Sadhus. All Sadhus honoured “Bhaktmaal Sumeru”. Sri Nabhadas ji has described Tulsidas ji in his “Bhaktamaal” as:
Kali kutila j?va nist?ra hita b?lam?ka tulas? bhayau
Tret? kabya nibandha kariva sata koti ram?yana
Eka ak?ara uddharai? brahmahaty?di par?yana
Aba bhaktani sukhadaina bahuril?l? bisat?r?
Ramcarana rasa-matta rahata aha-nisi bratadh?r?
Sa?s?ra ap?ra ke paar ko sugama r?pa navak? layau
Kali kutila j?va nist?ra hita b?lm?ka tulas? bhayau
To save the sinful beings of Kali age, Valmiki appeared on earth as Sri Tulsidas ji. He recomposed the Ramayana of Treta age. He augmented Leelas of God in detail for the joy of devotees. He followed discipline and day-night remained immersed in the nectar of lotus-feet of Srirama. He brought a boat to easily cross over the difficult ocean of world.