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Guest is God in Hindu tradition

A majority of Indians follow the adage, ‘Athidhi Devo Bhava’ or ‘Guest is God,’ giving priority to guests and cater to their needs, even in times of stress.

Feeding all, and especially the poor, is not only a humane but also spiritual act.

Virpur is a very famous village in Saurashtra, India, where the great Saint Sri Jalaram Bapa was born in 1856 to Pradhan Thakkar Rajbai.

He married Virbai when he was 16 years old.

Apart from daily worship, he fed people, especially the hungry, every day.

He said, “I am actually feeding ‘Narayana,’ the Lord (Vishnu),” he said.

Even today, the Jalaram Bapa Ashram in Virpur feeds thousands of pilgrims, and the kitchen never runs out of food. The food, given as ‘Prasad,’ nourishes not only the stomach but also the soul.

Jalaram termed this mass feeding ‘Sada Vrat’, an all-time and every day duty, and as his principal ‘Sadhana.’

He commenced Sada Vrat when he was 20 years old with forty measures of grain. The first guest was a saint, who presented him with the idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman for daily prayer.

On the third day, he got a vision of Hanuman, following which Jalaram constructed a Temple in which he installed the idols.

Jalaram stood the test of time. According to some, one day, Lord Rama, dressed as a sage appeared before him and said that he needed someone to look after him.

Without hesitation, Jalaram sent Virbai to look after him. As they approached a river, the sage disappeared. At the same time, Jalaram heard a voice saying that it was Lord Rama who had visited to test his credentials as a follower of ‘Athidhi Devo Bhava.’

“You have proved true to your reputation. Now go and fetch your wife,” the voice said.

The stick and the bag, which Lord Rama brought in the guise of the sage, are now on display at the Ashram.

The Sada Vrat continues to this day.

Ravin Tailor is an Executive Committee member of the Auckland Jalaram Samiti Inc, which will celebrate ‘Jalaram Jayanti’ at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre at Eden Terrace (145, New North Road) on November 13, 2010. For further information, call 021-1917777.

Photo : Jalaram Bapa

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