It is the Lord Himself who gives His faithful devotee the experience of His absolute, unchanging Truth.
Who is a faithful devotee?
The one who has total faith in the doings of the Lord is called a faithful devotee. Such a devotee surrenders unto the will of the Lord without questioning, without complaining.
The Lord in turn takes care of everything of such a devotee – whether worldly botheration or spiritual liberation.
This is the story of Jayadeva, famous for his work Gita Govindam.
Jayadeva was born in the 12th century in Bengal in a village called Kendubilva. He lost his parents even when he was a child. He earned his livelihood by singing the glories of the Lord going house to house.
Niranjan, a Brahmin in his village, decided to deceive this poor boy. He made a false document, approached Jayadeva and said: “Your father had taken a huge sum of money from me. Either give me the money with interest, or sign this document so that your house and land becomes mine.”
Jayadeva signed the papers without a murmur. For him, everything happened by the will of the Lord. A vicious smile dawned on Niranjan’s face. But the smile was short-lived.
No soon than these papers were signed, Niranjan’s little girl came running to him and cried out: “Father! Hurry up! Our house is on fire!”
Even before Niranjan could digest the news and run to his house, Jayadeva ran! Anybody in Jayadeva’s place would have cursed: “He deserved it for his villainous action.” But Jayadeva’s heart was so pure that he wished for the welfare of even his enemies.
Seeing the house burning, Jayadeva entered into the house engulfed in blazing fire. And lo! The moment he walked into it, the flames disappeared.
Niranjan at once understood the greatness of Jayadeva. He tore off the documents and with tears running down his cheeks, he fell prostrate before Jayadeva and said: “Please forgive me. I have wilfully cheated you by being greedy. You saved my house. You are indeed a divine soul protected by Lord Himself! Please bless me!”
This incident transformed Niranjan and he spent his remaining life in spiritual pursuits.
This miraculous incident melted the heart of Jayadeva and he wept thinking how much the Lord loves His devotees. He decided to go to Puri Jagannath temple along with his brahmin friend Parashara and live a sannyasi’s life.
Without any money, with the Lord in his heart and the name of the Lord on his lips, he kept on walking. It was mid-summer. The heat was unbearable and there was no trace of water in the vicinity. Jayadeva, unable to bear the heat, fainted and fell on the way.
How can the Lord allow His beloved devotee to perish! A cowherd boy saw Jayadeva fall. He came running and offered them water and milk. He guided him and his friend to Puri. The minute they reached Puri, the boy disappeared. Till then, neither Jayadeva nor his friend could realise that the boy was none other than the Lord Himself! They searched Him everywhere, but in vain.
In Puri, Jayadeva lived the life of an ascetic. He had no permanent abode. He spent his time in prayer, meditation and chanting. He begged alms for his living.
There was a pious brahmin named Sudeva in Puri who had a daughter. The Lord came in his dream and advised him to perform his daughter’s marriage with Jayadeva.
Accordingly, Sudeva and his wife went in search of Jayadeva and found him. He told him of God’s wish. Jayadeva refused to marry since he was leading the life of a sannyasi and hence unfit for grhasthashrama. But Sudeva refused firmly and said: “It is the commandment of the Lord. Who are we to go against His orders?”
Surrendering unto the will of the Lord, Jayadeva married Padmavati and came back to his village Kendubilva.
After sometime, Jayadeva went on a pilgrimage. On his way back, a king was very much impressed with him and he forced Jayadeva to take a huge amount of money. Jayadeva tried to advise him: “O king, wealth makes a person arrogant, greedy and cruel. Hence for a seeker of God, wealth is poison.” But the King would not listen. Hence, just to please the king, Jayadeva took some money from him and proceeded back to his native.
In a lonely place, four robbers attacked Jayadeva from behind, cut off his hands and feet and threw him into a nearby well. They took away his wealth and fled.
Fortunately, there was no water in the well. Jayadeva escaped unhurt. On a stone, he comfortably sat and continued chanting the name of the Lord. Jayadeva prayed for the wellbeing of those robbers. He considered even the robbers as manifestations of Lord Himself!
After a short while, a king named Lakshmanasena of Gouda passed by that way along with his retinue. Hearing keertans from the well, he sent his servants and took Jayadeva out. The king brought him to his kingdom and treated him back to health. The king inquired about the details of the robbers. But Jayadeva refused to speak a word about them.
When Jayadeva was cured of his wounds, the king, seeing his knowledge and devotion, made him the Rajaguru of his court. After a few days, Padmavati too joined him. The king showered the couple with lots of wealth but Jayadeva took only as much as he needed to lead a simple life.
One day the king organised a grand festival in the kingdom and many beggars, guests, brahmins and sadhus were invited. The four thieves who harmed Jayadeva came in the guise of sadhus, but they were shocked to see Jayadeva on the seat of prominence. They could not believe that he was still alive.
Before they could escape, Jayadeva saw them and was very much delighted. He did not have even the least bit of ill-feeling towards them. He felt: “These people harmed me only because they were badly in need of wealth. The king is ready to shower me with money. Why not I make him donate that to these people!”
The robbers shuddered when they were called. They thought this was the end of their lives. Jayadeva introduced them to the king and said: “These people I consider them as my own. Please be charitable to them.”
The king was only happy to give them lots and lots of wealth. The thieves couldn’t believe their eyes. They were honoured and sumptuously fed. For their safe return, the king sent an officer and four soldiers for their protection en route.
While returning, the officer, out of curiosity, asked the robbers: “How is it that you are so close to a saint like Jayadeva?”
The thieves spun a wicked story against Jayadeva. They said: “‘Jayadeva and we worked under a king. We were officers there and he was our servant. For some crime of his, the king wanted us to behead him. In the forest, he pleaded for his life. So we let him go. Hence he is grateful to us.”
The minute the thieves spoke these words, the earth under their feet cracked open with a thundering noise and all four robbers were buried underneath. The officer was stunned! He went back with the treasure and narrated the story to the king. The king went to Jayadeva and informed him of the same. Jayadeva was deeply pained hearing their demise.
When the king requested to solve this mystery, Jayadeva narrated the whole story and said: “O King, I am an unlucky soul. I am responsible for their tragic death. In spite of knowing the ill effects of money, I carried it with me. It was my mistake that I created greed in them and forced them to do the sinful act. Again, I wanted them to be free from this ignoble profession of robbery. Hence I made you donate some wealth to them. I am the cause of their suffering and death. May God bless them!”
Bhagavad Geeta says: अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्र: करुण एव च | = “The one who has no hatred, but who is friendly and compassionate to all beings is dearest to Me,” says the Lord.
The next moment a wonder happened. Jayadeva’s feet and hands grew and he came back to his normal physique! The king and the courtiers were wonderstruck.
Realising Jayadeva to be an embodiment of divinity and an ocean of compassion and goodness, the king became his disciple.
Jayadeva’s wife, Padmavati, a highly spiritual lady, treated her husband as God. She spent her leisure hours discussing spiritual matters with other ladies in the court. The queen too was one of her disciples.
One day, Padmavati was discussing Sati-dharma. She opined: “Whoever dies on her husband’s funeral pyre is not a great lady. A true wife breathes her last the moment she hears of her husband’s demise.” The queen felt this was impossible. She decided to test Padmavati.
One day Jayadeva had gone out with the king. Considering this as the right time, the queen came to Padmavati with a sad face, and with tears in her eyes, lamented: “ Your husband has been killed by a lion.”
The moment the queen uttered these words, Padmavati fell dead, chanting, “Krishna! Krishna!!” The queen was shocked. She became extremely repentant. The king was plunged in sorrow.
Jayadeva came to know the matter from the servant maids. He told them: “Tell the queen not to worry at all. If the news of my death caused Padmavati’s death, the news of my being alive will surely enliven her.”
He wanted his wife back alive, not because he was attached to her, but because he wanted to free the king and the queen from their sorrow and guilt which would otherwise ruin their life.
Keertan started. Jayadeva wept and prayed from the depth of his heart seeking Divine intervention. The Lord, who is the Servant of His devotees, had no other go. The prayer was heard. Padmavati woke up as if from sleep. The queen’s joy knew no bounds and everybody was thrilled at the devotion of Jayadeva and the pious nature of Padmavati.
After some time, Jayadeva came back to his village. He decided to compose Gita Govindam there. One day while he was composing it, he was stuck in the line:
स्मरगरल खण्डनं मम शिरसि मण्डनम् | He struggled in vain to compose the next line. Padmavati advised him to go for his bath and prayer. Jayadeva welcomed the idea and left for the Ganges.
But he came back in a few minutes and called: “Padma, get me the palm leaves. On the way, I got some wonderful lines, and so I came back.”
She brought the palm leaves, the ink and the pen. He completed the line as:
देहि मे पादपल्लवमुदारम् |
He made Padmavati arrange water for his bath. Then he had his bath, his prayer, and had food which was offered to the Lord as Prasad. He then dozed off comfortably on his bed.
As usual, Padmavati began to eat the remnants, but she was surprised to see Jayadeva standing before her. Jayadeva was more than surprised. He questioned her “What’s wrong with you today? Have you ever dined before offering food to the Lord or before I had my food? I have never seen such a thing before!”
Padmavati was even more shocked: “Lord! You came back halfway from your trip, completed the poem, had your bath and food, and you were relaxing inside. I am not able to understand anything!”
Jayadeva rushed to his bedroom but nobody was there. He asked Padmavati to bring the palm leaves. There was a new line not written by him. Jayadeva realised – the Lord himself had come down in his form to complete his poem!
He grabbed the food from Padmavati’s leaf against her wish and had the Prasad since it was the food left by the Lord Himself!
After this incident, Jayadeva completed Gita Govindam with renewed vigour. He believed that it was the Lord Himself who was composing these verses sitting in his heart. Hence when he sang those verses he would get immersed in devotion and would lose his body consciousness.
Jayadeva left the body in Vrindavan with his mind single-pointedly fixed upon the lotus feet of the Lord.
Even to this day, on Shankranti day, people come in lakhs to the village Kendubilva to offer their respect to Jayadeva, one of the dearest devotees of the Lord.
O M T A T S A T