History of Narsi Mehta

Narsi Mehta was a family man and a great devotee. He was a poet-saint and is considered to be the Jaydev of Gujarat. He was born in Junagarh in Gujarat. Ravmandalik was the ruler of Junagarh those days, who was under Humayun, the Emperor of Delhi. The central rule of Humayun was facing many problems, as there was unrest, disruptions and instability all-around. Narsi Mehta was born in a reputed Nagar-Brahman family. His elder brother Vanshidhar Mehta was the Kotwal of Junagarh city and people respected their family. At such a time Narsi Mehta propagated the message of devotion. He stated:

‘BHARATKHAND BHOOTAL MAN JANMI JENE GOVINDANA GUN GAYA RE;

DHAN DHAN RE ENA MATA PITA NE, SAFAL KARI ENE KAYA RE.’

He announced that for human beings bhakti is the greatest objective to achieve as bhakti is not possible even for gods. Those, who reach the heavens due to their Punyas (good-deeds), have also to fall back after they have exhausted their quota. On the other hand the devotees ask for birth as human beings again and again in order that they could do bhakti. He said the parents of those people are fortunate, who devote themselves to bhakti. Those, who are not devotees, their mothers bear their burden unnecessarily. Narsi Mehta led people from darkness to the light of bhakti. Narsi Mehta was born in Junagarh in 1470 Vikram Samvat. His father Krishna Damodar and mother Laxmigauri, both were great devotees and highly religious. They, however, left this mortal world when Narsi Mehta was only five. The responsibility of looking after Narsi Mehta fell on the shoulders of his grandmother Jayakunwari, whose pious life had a great influence on the life of Narsi Mehta. Narsi Mehta was dumb by birth. When he was about eight, one day he was going with his grandmother to visit the Shiva temple that he started speaking by the grace of a Sadhu. Jayakunwari requested the Sadhu to visit their house but he instead went away to Girnar. It is believed that in the form of that Sadhu it was Lord Krishna who had graced Narsi Mehta. While departing the Sadhu had asked Narsi Mehta to recite “Radha-Krishna” as the mantra.

At the age of nine, Narsi Mehta was married to Manikgauri, who was about seven then. She was extremely beautiful and a noble person, who acted according to the wish of her husband. Narsi Mehta spent his time in reciting the Radha-Krishna mantra and their time was passing peacefully. His elder brother Vanshidhar was kind to him but his wife Duritgauri was not well disposed towards him. She used to behave harshly with them and used to torture the Narsi-couple. Narsi Mehta was now fifteen. He used to fetch grass for the horse in the evening and the remaining time he used to spend in Bhajan. His grandmother was still alive. In due course Narsi Mehta was blessed with a daughter and a son. His daughter was named Kunwaribai and son was named Shamaldas. Narsi Mehta’s grandmother persuaded

Vanshidhar to get Kunwari Bai married to Vasantrai, son of Shrirangdhar Mehta of village Una. After the death of Jayakunwari, Narsi Mehta’s sister-in-law Duritgauri started torturing them openly. She could not see them eating on the money of her husband. One day she threw them out of the house. Narsi Mehta took shelter in a Shiva temple and after severe Tapa (penance) for seven days Lord Shiva appeared before him.

Lord Shiva took him to Dwarka for giving him a divine glimpse of Lord Krishna. Narsi Mehta has described this divine place very vividly. He said that the land there was of gold; in the palace the pillars were made of jewels and every particle was charged with divinity. Lord Shri Krishna welcomed him and he started living there with the Lord. On the day of Sharad-Poornima (full moon night in the beginning of the winter season) Lord commenced ‘Raslila’ (the divine dance of the Lord Krishna with Gopis). Narsi Mehta filled with the feeling of a Gopi started playing music. He was holding a torch-light. Lord Shri Krishna put his ‘Pitambar’ (the yellow robe worn by Lord Krishna) on Narsi Mehta. Narsi Mehta was so engrossed in the Raslila that he did not notice that the torch-light was burning his hand. After the Raslila the Lord and others noticed it. The Lord pleased with his devotion embraced him. Rukmaniji (the concert of the Lord) gave her necklace to him. A month thus passed. Then by the order of the Lord he returned in the attires of a Vaishnav to discharge his responsibilities and to propagate Lord’s bhakti. Lord Shri Krishna gave him His idol, Kartal, peacock feather and Pitambar, as souvenir. People were surprised to see Narsi Mehta in the attires of a Vaishnav. No one believed him that he was with the Lord. On provoking by Duritgauri, Vanshidhar expelled Narsi Mehta and his family out of the house. Their only belonging was the idol given by the Lord. They took shelter in a Dharmshala (a low-fare inn used by pilgrims etc.). He had the firm faith that whatever was taking place was Lord’s grace. He then had a Darshan of Akroorji (a courtesan of Lord Krishna), who told him that by the order of the Lord, he had made all arrangements for his food and living. Narsi Mehta was overwhelmed, he and his family, who were all devotees of the Lord now had no worry. They all started spending their time in Bhajan. The Lord took upon him all the responsibilities of Narsi Mehta and his family. There are numerous miraculous incidences related to Narsi Mehta. Once the family-priest of Shrirangdhar Mehta came to take Kunwari Bai along with him to her inlaws’ house. Narsi Mehta had no money with him and the very next day he had to send his daughter with the family-priest. In the night he started doing Kirtan before the Lord along with the entire family. The Lord arranged for the requisite jewelry etcetera, which Narsi Mehta gave to his daughter and happily sent her to her in-laws’ house.Narsi Mehta promised to get his son Shamaldas married to the daughter of Madan Mehta, who was the ‘Diwan’ (a high ranking courtesan) of Badnagar. Sarangdhar Mehta, an acquaintance of Madan Mehta used to live in Junagarh. He wrote to Madan Mehta that the priest who had fixed the marriage of his daughter with Shamaldas had done so without knowing that Narsi Mehta was a poor person, as people had sent the priest to Narsi Mehta for making fun of him (Narsi Mehta). Madan Mehta wrote to Narsi Mehta that if he was not able to come with people suited to his (Madan Mehta) status for the marriage of his son, he (Madan Mehta) would not allow the marriage to take place. Narsi Mehta replied that he had faith in the Lord that whatever the Lord would do, it would be auspicious for him. On the Magh-Shukla-Panchami day Narsi Mehta proceeded towards Badnagar with a group of Bhakts (devotees) to get his son married. People were thinking that this would provide them an opportunity to laugh at Narsi Mehta, as he would makefun of himself. But at the entrance of Badnagar his Lord, Nand-Nandan Himself was present with a divine procession to welcome and accompany Narsi Mehta. The Lord embraced Narsi Mehta and joined him. Madan Mehta was thrilled to receive them. He considered himself fortunate that his daughter was being married in such a family. On the other hand the Lord said that he is always at the call of Narsi Mehta. Whenever he remembers Him, He appears before him. Narsi Mehta was overwhelmed at the kindness and grace of the Lord. The marriage took place happily but after a few days Shamaldas fell ill and passed away. Narsi Mehta made a lot of effort to save his life but could not save him. Narsi Mehta consoled his wife (Shamaldas’s mother) saying it was Lord’s wish and that now we shall spend all our time in remembering the Lord.

‘BHALU THAYO BHAGI JANJAL,

SUKHE BHAJISHUN SHRI GOPAL.’

Narsi Mehta was completely dependant upon the Lord. He was happy in the way his Lord wished him to live. Once on the day of his father’s death anniversary Vanshidhar Mehta, his elder brother, invited him to participate in the ‘Shraddh’ ceremony. Narsi Mehta told him politely that he would be able to attend only after doing Pooja and Kirtan. Vanshidhar considered this to be insulting and, therefore, asked Narsi

Mehta if it was so, he should do the ‘Shraddh’ at his own residence. Narsi Mehta accepted it and said that he would try to do so. He then mortgaged his wife’s jewelry to arrange for the food and invited about seven hundred Nagar-Brahmans. As ghee fell short, he went to market to buy the same. In the market, he started singing Bhajan for the shop-keeper. The Lord sent Akroorji asking him to make all arrangements for the ceremony and then the Lord Himself appeared in the form of Narsi Mehta to feed the Brahmans and after they finished the meals the Lord gave a gold-coin to each one of them. After feeding everyone when the Lord sat for taking food, Narsi Mehta returned with ghee. The Lord immediately disappeared. The Lord takes care of all the needs of his Bhakt and does not let him down.

The incidence related to ‘Hundi’ (a bill of exchange) is an unforgettable one in the life of Narsi Mehta. On the death of Narsi Mehta’s wife the Brahmans advised him to perform some rituals. Narsi Mehta, however, had no money to spend. He was sitting outside his house a bit concerned when four Sadhus appeared and told him that they were going to Dwarka and that they had seven hundred rupees with them, which they did not wish to carry and instead asked Narsi Mehta to keep that money with him and write a Hundi for them to be honored in Dwarka, where they could get their money. Narsi Mehta accepted the offer and happily wrote the Hundi in the name of Seth Shamalshah, his Lord rishna, believing firmly that this money was sent by his Lord and that it is He, Who would take care of the Hundi, as well. It turned out the same way; the Lord took pleasure in appearing as Seth Shamalshah in Dwarka and encashed the Hundi for the Sadhus. Narsi Mehta utilized the money in performing the rituals and in the service of saints. After the death of his wife, Narsi Mehta lived for five years. He devoted all his time in Bhajan. He had completely surrendered himself to the will of the Lord. Once the people of Junagarh conspired against Narsi Mehta at the behest of Sarangdhar Mehta, who was a great opponent of Narsi Mehta. They sent a beautiful prostitute, who had dressed herself in white attires and was wearing a lot of jewelry on her person. She entered into the hut of Narsi Mehta when he was deeply engrossed in Bhajan. When Narsi Mehta noticed her, she said that she was going to visit Lord Shri Krishna in Dwarka and that on the way she wanted to rest in the hut for a night. Narsi Mehta made the necessary arrangements for her stay. At midnight she tried to seduce Narsi Mehta.Narsi Mehta, on the other hand told her to focus all her attention on the Lord, as by seeking the Lord, one is filled with divine bliss, beyond which there is nothing to seek.

The words of saint had their impact on her. She fell at the feet of Narsi Mehta and went away to her home, as a completely changed person. Sarangdhar Mehta went to her hometo know what had happened in the night but he was surprised to see her as a completely changed person. While he was returning, on the way a snake bit him. Narsi Mehta cured him with Lord’s Charnamrit (sacred water offered to the Lord). Sarangdhar Mehta, however, still did not mend his ways. He wanted to disgrace Narsi Mehta. He provoked Ravmandalik (the ruler of Junagarh) by complaining against Narsi Mehta that he was a vicious person. Ravmandalik asked Narsi Mehta to appear in the royal-court and prove his innocence. While he was proceeding to the royal-court, Narsi Mehta met a Brahman on the way, who was in the need of sixty rupees for the marriage of his daughter. He asked Narsi Mehta for help. Narsi Mehta took sixty rupees from Dharnidhar Brahman by pledging ‘Kedar Raag’, which was very dear to him and which he used to sing to invoke the Lord. Ravmandalik gave him a garland asking Narsi Mehta to put it on the idol of Radha-Damodar and if in the morning, the Lord puts that garland in the neck of Narsi Mehta he would be proved innocent. The doors of the temple were then closed. Aworried Narsi Mehta sat in the court-yard of the temple. He could not sing Kedar-Raag,as he had pledged the same and the Lord would not wake-up till he (Narsi Mehta) sings Kedar-Raag. On the other side, the Lord took the form of Narsi Mehta, went to Dharnidhar and paid him the money. The Lord then dropped the receipt of the payment made to Dharnidhar in the court-yard of the temple. Narsi Mehta was overwhelmed by the grace of the Lord. He sang Kedar-Raag to invoke the Lord. He sang that he was not afraid of death but he was afraid of bringing disgrace to the Lord that the Lord could not save his Bhakt. It was about to dawn that the doors of the temple opened up on their own and the Lord put the garland in the neck of Narsi Mehta. Everyone started shouting in the praise of the Lord. Ravmandalik felt ashamed and sought forgiveness of Narsi Mehta. After this incidence Narsi Mehta went away to Dwarka. The last five years hespent in Dwarka. In Vikram Samvat 1577, he left this mortal world to live with his Lord for the eternity. One of his most famous Bhajan is:

VAISHNAV JAN TO TENE KAHIYE, JE PIR PARAI JANE RE,

PAR DUKHE UPKAR KARE TOYE, MAN ABHIMAN NA AANE RE.

SAKAL LOKMAN SAHUNE VANDE, NINDA NA KARE KENI RE,

VAACH, KKACH MAN NISCHAL RAKHE,

DHAN-DHAN JANANI TENI RE.

SAMDRISHTI NE TRISHNA TYAGI,

PAR STREE JENE MATA RE,

JIHVA THAKI ASATYA NA BOLE, PARDHAN NAV JHALE HAATH RE.

MOHMAYA VYPE NAHI JENE, DRIDH VAIRAGYA JENA MANMA RE,

RAM NAAM SHOON TALI LAGI, SAKAL TIRATH TENA TANMA RE.

VAN LOBHI NE KAPAT RAHIT CHE, KAAM KRODH NIVARYA RE,

BHANE NARSAIYO TENU DARSHAN KARTA, KUL EKOTERE TARYA RE.