Ghanshyam Arrives in Chhappaiya
The evil people born before Dharma & the Rushis now began to harass them. They saw Dharma and Bhakti as their greatest enemies. They began wrongly accusing the couple and abusing them. The evil people rained down on Dharma & Bhakti with such indecencies. They even came to their home and scorned the religious duo.
In order to get away from all this harassment, Dharma Dev took his family to live in Ayodhya. The same fate befell them there also. So they moved again. This time to Kashi. But there was no peace here either. After a month in Kashi, Dharma Dev & Bhakti Mata went to Prayaag Raj (known today as Allahbad). They had observed so many fasts, that they had become very feeble. Journeying through the pilgrimages of Prayaag, Dharma & Bhakti remained anonymous.
Here Dharma Dev met up with Ramanand Swami, the Acharya of the Vaishnavs who was giving discourses to his disciples, explaining about liberation and God, qualities of good people. Seeing Ramanand Swami, Dharma thought to himself, could this be Uddhavji?
At Prayaag, Dharma Dev served and accompanied Ramanand Swami. One evening, while massaging Ramanand Swami’s legs, Dharma Dev fell asleep and in the dream-state he had darshan of Lord Shree Krishna. Dharma Dev believed that this darshan was because of Ramanand Swami’s blessings, so he accepted Swami as his guru. Swami told him to wear a two-fold necklace made of Tulsi wood and gave him two mantras. In this way, Swami initiated Dharma Dev and Bhakti Mata and began to teach them.
Ramanand Swami said, “The male and female followers of Uddhav Sampraday shall never take a life. You should never kill animals in the name of sacrificial rituals. Never kill any person in order to gain a female, wealth or kingdom. The followers of Uddhav Sampraday shall never commit suicide in a place of pilgrimage, whether by taking poison, jumping into a well, strangulation, and similar methods. Meat eating shall be avoided in any circumstances. Liquor and intoxicants and any medicines made form them shall not be consumed. The followers of the Uddhav Sampraday shall not associate with unrelated people of the opposite gender. Additionally, the ascetics shall shun the eight types of femininity. The householders shall not touch unrelated widows and the widows themselves shall avoid contact with unrelated males. Also, never steal even to do religious deeds. Never defame or degrade others. Never associate with those who are engrossed in evil habits such as; gambling, hunting, etc. Never abuse any demi-god, place of pilgrimage, Vedas, cow, Brahmin or saintly person. Never listen or believe any scriptures which promote God as anything other than in a real form. Our followers shall always bathe first thing in the morning and then shall mark their body with the Urdhvapundra Tilaks. Such tilaks shall be marked on the forehead, chest and two arms. In the middle of those tilaks, you shall place a round mark (Chandlo) made from either Sandalwood paste or KumKum. Married women shall mark only the Chandlo. Then you should perform the worship (poojan) of Shree Radha-Krishna, recite the Raas-Panch-Aadhyaayi, and recite the mantras morning and evening, forever remembering the Lord Almighty. All satsangis shall wear the two-fold necklace made from Tulsi wood. Understand the qualities of Souls, Maya & Ishvars. Never become attached to anything other than God.”
Ramanand Swami said, “O Dharma! You are very fortunate and full of qualities. You are principal among my students. With my instruction, go to your home and initiate worthy souls and promote the devotion of Lord Shree Krishna.”
Dharma & Bhakti left Prayaag and began living in Chhapaiya, again. They lived according to the instructions of Ramanand Swami. They studied the scriptures. Appreciating the exceptional qualities in Dharma Dev, other people left their life-long gurus and began accepting Dharma Dev as their new guru.
Dharma’s disciples stopped doing evil things and began to radiate like demi-gods. Dharma also became wealthy from the gifts he received from those disciples. Afterwards, he performed the sacred thread ceremony (Yagnopvit Sanskaar) to Rampratap in such a grand manner that it amazed even kings and he also gave gifts to brahmins.
The evil people became envious upon seeing this. They began to harrass Dharma and his disciples. They would steal things such as; clothes, vehicles, jewellery, grain, cattle, etc. Additionally, they would come to Dharma’s house uninvited, fill their stomachs and then insult both Dharma and Bhakti in their own home and leave. Hence, Dharma’s household became very poor. Nevertheless, they never turned away any guests without feeding them.
One day, the very benevolent Bhaktidevi exclaimed to her husband, “O Dev! What kind of ill-fate has befallen us! There is nothing in the home, yet the guests are never-ending. We will go without, but we must give food to the guests. We are just about making do with eating something every 3rd or 4th day. O Husband! You are very patient. But I cannot suffer this. I am not saying this for my sake, but so that I can fulfil my duties as a dutiful wife. With nothing in the home, the husband eating every third day, how is a devout wife supposed to serve her husband. You are wise. Please find a way out of this predicament.” Dharmadev responded to his distraught wife, “O Lady! Intelligent people are able to manage such difficult situations through patience. Therefore you should be patient. All souls are bound by their fate. We must have a difficult fate, which we must suffer. Even the demi-gods have to suffer their ill-fate, so what can we say about humans? The great Indra suffered at the hands of Vrutrasur. The pure-hearted Nall-Damyanti also suffered many pains. The great sage Vashist and his wife Arundhati suffered many difficulties at the hands of their enemies. The mighty Pandavs also suffered their ill-fate with great patience. Yet they said nothing to anyone, anywhere.”
Bhakti broke down in tears upon hearing Dharmadev’s words. Dharmadev continued, “O Kalyani! Difficulties are not permanent. Be calm, I shall do my best to find a solution to our predicament.” Having calmed Bhakti down, Dharma began to think and recalled that his father had said, “Pray and worship Hanumanji in times of difficulty. He is our household deity and will rescue you from such circumstances.” So we should worship KashtaBhanjan Dev. With this thought in mind, Dharma and Bhakti moved to Ayodhya and without the evil people knowing began to worship Hanumanji. In the Temple at Hanuman Gadhi, they began reciting the Hanuman Stotra;
Namaste Aanjaneyaay VaayuputraayDhimatte | Raamaduttaay Mahatte Sugreev Sachivaay Cha ||
After completing the Stotra, they created a Mantra from it:
Aum Namo Hanumatte BhayaBhanjanaay SukhamKuru PhatSvaha|
and began to recite that. Then, standing on one foot they recited the Stotra;
Niti Pravina Nigamaagam ShastraBhuddhe
RaajaaDhiraaj RaghunaayakMantriVarya |
Sindur CharchitaKalevar Naishtikendra
ShriRaamdut Hanuman Har Sankatam Mei ||
Dharma and his wife were living on root-vegetables and on some days, they ate nothing. After spending two months like this, Hanumanji visited Dharmadev and said, “O Dharma! I am pleased with you. You will be relieved quickly from your sorrows. Go to Vrindavan and perform a Vishnuyaag with mantra recitals.”
Saying this much, Hanumanji disappeared. The next morning, Dharmadev completed his religious observances and left Rampratap with his maternal uncle. He and Bhakti then left for Vrindavan. The light bodied couple, who did not have anything to eat, arrived at Naimishaaranya after ten days and at Vrindavan after one month. On their arrival, the festival of Fuldol was being held. Thousands of people had gathered there. Dharma and Bhakti were pleased at seeing the idol of Baal Krishna in the swing.
Just as Dharma & Bhakti had arrived in Vrindavan as per Hanumanji’s guidance, thousands of sages harassed by evil people also came there by divine wishes. While circumambulating the great mountain Govardhan, Dharma-Bhakti recognised the great sages and the sages also recognised Dharma & Bhakti. The mutual recognition gave mutual pleasure. They all talked about their personal experiences and difficulties. They spoke of their births, lives thus far and the harassment they had suffered under evil hands. Upon hearing each other’s pains, they realised that it is because of Durvasa’s curse that they were in this predicament. When will the boon of deliverance come true? Dharma said, “O Great Rushis! Just as Durvasa’s curse has come true, so will his boon. Until then, we should be patient and do what pleases God.”
“For that reason Hanumanji has instructed us to perform a VishnuYaag. So, let us start that today. I shall commence the recital of the eight-syllabled Mantra. You all should read appropriate scriptures.” So deciding, on Thursday, the 2nd day of the dark half of the month Phalgun, during the Hasta Nakhshatra they started the VishnuYaag. Some rushis recited the Shreemad Bhagwat. Some the Bhagwat Gita, some Vasudev Mahaatmya, many the Vishnu Sahastra Naam and some the Vishnu Gayatri, while some recited the Narayan Kavacham and others continuously recited God’s name. Bhakti recited the Raas Panch Aadhyaay. All day the recitals continued and in the evening they all sing kirtans.
In that way, the VishnuYaag continued until Mohini Ekadashi (the 11th day of the bright half of Vaishaakh). That night, everyone was awake in prayer and kirtans. 2 Ghadis remained of that night. It was the auspicious Braahm-Muhoorta. At that moment, there was a great light. Then in that light, Shree Krishna gave darshan in the company of His many divine servants, such as His queens, the cowherds, cow-girls, cows, Parshads, etc. The Lord carried a flute in His Lotus-like hands.
Dharma and the Rushis performed Saastang Pranaam. With their whole body totally attracted by this Divine vision, Dharma and the Rushis began to sing the Lord’s praises.
Dharma Dev says, “ O Lord! We have had Your sin-destroying darshan. We are very fortunate. You are the God of gods. You are the creator and destroyer of innumerable universes. All powers are in your obedience. You are the Lord of all Supremacy. You accept the wishes of your devotees. You have protected religion, culture and your devotees by assuming the 24 Avtaars.”
After Dharma Dev had praised the Lord, Bhakti Mata began to sing His praises. “O Lord! You performed many childhood acts in Vraj, gave Yashoda great pleasure, gave the cowherds and cow-girls the pleasure of your persona. O Vraj-Vihaari! Remembrance of your name destroys all ignorance and gives liberation. I bow before You with love. I am in your refuge.” Everyone praised the Lord as above, which He listened and began to reply, “O Devotees! I have listened to your praises, ask of Me whatever you wish.” So Dharma spoke, “O Lord! The evil people have harassed us greatly. They have stolen our wealth. We are your refugees. O Merciful One! There is no-one to protect us except You.” God replied, “You will no longer suffer at the hands of the evil people. They are my enemies from their previous lives. They worry you because you are My devotees. O Dharma! In a short while, I shall become your son. I am also caught in Durvasa Rushi’s curse. I shall be known in this world as Hari. I shall protect you, these Rushis and all the demi-gods also. I shall perform many divine acts and will also re-establish religion. From today your poverty will be no longer. You will become very happy. I shall relieve you from Durvasa’s curse. O Dharma! Like you, if anyone comes to Vrindavan, performs recitals and rituals they will have all their wishes fulfilled and will in the end go to my abode.” Having said thus, the Lord disappeared. Dharma Dev and the Rushis completed the VishnuYaag.
Having been blessed with the darshan of Shree Krishna, Dharma and the rushis decided they should not tell anyone of the boon given by God. When God appears, that fact will not remain secret. Then they all departed from Vrindavan to go to their own homes. Dharma Dev on his way to Chhapaiya with his wife, arrived in Naimishaaranya. In the dense jungle, Dharma Dev could see that some evil people were coming towards them. To avoid them, Dharma Dev left the main road and entered the jungle. In a short while, they lost their way. After sunset, they could not see any village nearby. Not knowing which way to go, they became worried. Hungry and thirsty, Dharma & Bhakti sat down in the jungle.”
At that time, they saw a man. He was very dark. He had red eyes, a big lock of hair and frightening appearance. He looked like an ascetic. Innocently, Dharma Dev thought this man to be an accomplished ascetic and stood up before him. The visitor asked, “Who are you in this darkness and isolated jungle?” Dharma Dev not only introduced himself, but also told him of the story of Vrindavan. “We performed a Yagna and prayed to Shree Krishna. Shree Krishna has given a boon to appear and now on our way back home we are lost, hence we are seated here.” The ascetic-looking man said, “Quick tell me what Shree Krishna has booned you.” Dharma Dev said, “We have been harassed by evil people and prayed to God. God said that all the evil people are past helpers of Duryodhan, they had held an enmity with Him and harass us because of that enmity. Now He shall be born to us as a son and will destroy the evil people. Giving this boon, God disappeared.”
On hearing Dharma’s explanation, the ascetic-like man became angry. Gritting his teeth he started saying, ”O Dharma! I am Ashvatthama! I know exactly who that Shree Krishna is, the One who is to be born to you as a son. No one knows Him better than me. That Shree Krishna is the one who has done injustice to my dear friend Duryodhan. He became Arjun’s charioteer and has given pains, and now He is going to be reborn and give more pains to the evil people. Before that I shall curse Him. Your son Shree Krishna shall not be able to take up weapons. Should He take up weapons against my curse, He will lose.” Cursing God in this way, Ashvatthama disappeared. The worried couple sat there talking. “This is a great obstacle in our auspicious event. Observance of Ganpati is said to relieve obstacles. From today, we shall undertake to observe the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadarva as Ganesh Chaturthi and Ganpati will relieve us of all obstacles and rescue us. O Devi! Don’t think that we are the only distressed people in the world. The world is distressful. In the Treta Yug, Lord Shree Ram despite being God, left home with His wife Sita and brother Laxman, at the request of His father Dashrath and suffered many distresses. In this way, they talked about the pastimes of Lord Shree Ram and three quarters of the night passed by. Dharma Dev said, “Hanuman is our household deity and has served Shree Ram extensively. Still, why does he not care for us!”
No sooner had they prayed to Hanumanji in this way, than Hanumanji appeared in the form of a brahmin. Hanumanji started talking to Dharma & Bhakti, “Don’t worry about Ashvatthama’s curse. I am your household deity, Hanuman. God will be your Son. He will have no need of weapons. He is capable of enticing the three worlds with His intellect.” Saying this, Hanumanji showed Dharma & Bhakti the way to the main road and disappeared. The couple began walking towards Chhapaiya with the remembrance of Hanuman that made them fearless. On the way, Bhakti Devi asked, “How did Hanumanji become immortal?” Dharma Dev replied, “Having slain Raavan, when Shree Ram return to Ayodhya Hanumanji, Vibhishan, Jaambuvaan etc assumed handsome forms and stayed there for a year. They were serving Shree Ram in numerous ways, such as; shading, fanning, etc. Once, Shree Ram summoned everyone and prepared to bid them farewell. Hanumanji could not leave Shree Ram and asked that he should remain on this earth as long Shree Ram’s recitals remained here. Shree Ram embraced Hanuman and blessed with the boon to remain immortal. O Devi! To this day, he remains immortal. Wherever Ram’s pastimes are recited, Hanumanji is present.” Bhakti Devi was very pleased to hear this story and reached Chhapaiya one and a half months after leaving Vrindavan. All of Dharma & Bhakti’s long lost wealth had returned. Not only that, but the Almighty was wishing to appear in this world. God enjoined the dual forms of Nar & Narayan and entered Dharma’s heart. Because Dharma was the recipient of God’s pleasure, he became known as Hariprasad. Then the Lord entered Bhakti’s womb and she began to blossom.
On Ram Navmi day of Vikram Samvat 1837 (Monday, 2nd April 1781), Lord Swaminarayan was born to Bhakti Devi in Chhapaiya. At birth, The Almighty God gave divine darshan to His mother to confirm to her that He was born to her as a Son. Bhakti Devi sang God’s praises. When Bhakti completed the praises, the divine image of The Almighty God merged into the child laying beside her. She hugged her baby with great fondness. Meanwhile, the demi-gods heard the news of the God’s birth. They all manouvered their divine vehicles towards Chhapaiya. The sky was filled with infinite objects in the sky above the birth place. The demi-gods sang the Lord’s praises in one voice, showering him with flowers, sandalwood powder, rice, etc. They brought numerous gifts for the infant God.
Due to His complexion, the females of Chhapaiya called Him Ghanshyam. The great rushi Markandey bestowed three names upon God: Hari, Krishna & HariKrishna. Markandey said the child would also be known as Nilkantth during His life.