This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the Fourth Varta, in its entirety. See Previous.
VARTA 4: The story of Muraridas, a Suryodvij Brahmin from the East
Bhavaprakasha : Muraridas is a devotee with a Sattvik disposition. In the eternal lila his name is Mandakini, who manifests out of Vishakhaji and is therefore the form of Vishakhaji’s divine loving mood. She is attached to the Lord’s pastimes as a child. Mandakini is always engaged in Seva at Nandabhavan, the house of Nanda Maharaj, and Sri Thakurji is always very pleased with her. She tells Sri Chandravali where and how to meet Sri Thakurji and is thus very dear to Sri Chandravaliji also.
Muraridas was born into a family of Suryodvij Brahmins in the East. He was only six when his parents died. He went to live with his uncle. His uncle used to teach him and he gained some knowledge. When he was fifteen he began to keep company with one renunciate. He went to stay with him in Varanasi. He had no contact with anyone from home. His uncle and other relatives went searching for him but could not find him. They sat down, defeated.
At the same time Sri Gusainji was living in Varanasi. Once Sri Gusainji was bathing on the Manikarnika Ghat. Muraridas also came there to bathe. He only had to see Sri Gusainji and he became attached to his form. He stood there, motionless, for an hour! Sri Gusainji recognized that Muraridas was a divine soul and called out to him. “O Muraridas, you have arrived!”
Muraridas prostrated before him and humbly spoke, “O Maharaj!It is purely by your grace that I have come here. I have been uselessly wandering about for a long time. Please bless me and take me into your shelter.”
Sri Gusainji instructed him to bathe in the Gangaji and that he would then take him into his shelter. Muraridas went and bathed. Sri Gusainji then gave him both the Name Initiation and Brahma Sambandha. Seeing that Muraridas was most innocent to the world, Sri Gusainji kept him close to him for some days. Muraridas, with Sri Gusainjis blessings, began to understand the ways of the Path. He reqested Sri Gusainji to give him a Sri Thakurji to serve because he wanted to engage in Seva. Sri Gusainji gave him a deity of the child Krishna and instructed him to serve him in his child-like form. He said, “This Sri Thakurji will grant you his direct experience.”
Muraridas bowed low to Sri Gusainji, placed the Sri Thakurji in a casket and brought him home with him. He cleaned the whole house and then began to serve him. However there was no way of making any income in that village so he moved to Patna and became a servant in the house of one letter writer and worked by writing, for which he was paid five rupees per month. After not much longer that Kayastha died. Muraridas left that place and arrived in Gaudadesh.
Muraridas went to Gaudadesha and became a servant of Narayandas who was a very important court minister for Daud Patshah. Whatever Narayandas decided, that would become the law throughout the whole empire. Muraridas worked for him as a servant but never let him see his Tulsi mala or forehead mark, thus not revealing that he was a Vaishnava.
Narayandas offered to pay him twelve rupees per month. Muraridas said, “I will take only eight rupees per month from you, but I will only come in to work three hours after sunrise and leave two hours before nightfall. If you still want to employ me then please do so, or just tell me no.”
Everyone who heard this was astonished at Muraridas’ words and the stipulations he had made: “Goodness me, what is this he has asked for?”
Bhavaprakasha: Why? Because most people would ask for more pay than offered and Muraridas was asking to be paid less while making demands. Neither Narayandas nor the rest of those folk understood the reason for this this. Therefore they were surprised.
Narayandas accepted Muraridas’s demands and employed him as a servant within those guidelines. When they went together to the emperor’s court Muraridas, being so bright and effulgent, seemed to be the master and Narayandas the servant! If there was anything that would normally take twelve hours to write, Muraridas would complete the task in a third of that time. Narayandas and all the others were very surprised to see Muraridas’prowess. Narayandas really did not recognize Muraridas.
Muraridas was responsible for the Seva of that Svarupa Sri Bal Krishna Lalji that Sri Gusainji had granted him. Sri Thakurji gave Muraridas his direct experience all the time. Sri Thakurji spoke directly to Muraridas and asked him for whatever he wanted. If Muraridas did not give him exactly what he wanted when he wanted it then he would quarrel with Muraridas, who seeing this, immediately gave Sri Bal Krishna Lalji whatever he asked for. In this way Muraridas tasted the nectar of the eternal lila.
Muraridas would get up three hours before sunrise and, after performing all his necessary ablutions, then bathe and cook, wake up Sri Bal Krishna Lalji and offer him his breakfast. He would then go back into the kitchen and then, after the stipulated amount of time, accept those offerings as prasad and take them out of the temple, then perform the ceremony of waving of the lights. He would then dress and adorn his Sri Thakurji and then offer him snacks for the period of his getting dressed. He then re-entered the kitchen, and having finished up there, accepted the snacks back as prasad and again performed the waving of lights around the Lord.
He then swung Sri Thakurji in his cradle, offered him his lunch, tidied up the resting area, sat and chanted the Lord’s name, accepted that meal back as prasad, performed the arati and then put the Lord to rest, placing there a fresh water jug and some snacks. Each stage of the seva was accompanied by the appropriate food offerings.
After this when Muraridas ate prasad, got dressed and started to get ready to set off to go to work at the court, Sri Thakurji would be right behind him. Muraridas gave his Lord lots of different toys and would say to him, “Today I will bring something nice back with me.”
Then Sri Thakurji would let go of Muraridas’ scarf. Only then could Muraridas lock the door and come outside. Sri Thakurji would put the chain on the door from the inside and start to play. In the evening when he came home Muraridas would come to the door and shout to Sri Thakurji to open the door chain. Thakurji would come to the door and ask “What have you brought for me?”
Muraridas would tell him the names of all the fruits he had brought. Only then would Sri Thakurji open the door chain! Some days Muraridas would buy things and bring them home but would hide them for a joke. When the Lord came to the door he would ask the same questions. Muraridasji would joke, “O my dear, today I did not get anything.”
Sri Thakurji would then say, “O well, then I shall not open the door chain!”
So Muraridas would have to stand outside and try to persuade Sri Thakurji to open the door by telling him the names of all the treats he had really brought. When Muraridas entered he would again lock the door and go into the courtyard where Sri Thakurji would mock fight with him and climb up on him. When Muraridas washed the fruits and presented them to Sri Thakurji, he would enjoy eating them.
Bhavaprakasha: Here the question arises, “Why did Muraridas offer these fruits to Sri Thakurji without bathing first? This is not the correct way of following Sri Acharyaji’s Path? And why did Muraridas touch Sri Thakurji without first bathing?”
The answer given here is that the Lord appears in two forms: Sarvoddhāraka (“delivering everyone”) and Bhaktoddhāraka (“delivering his devotee”). They have been mentioned before. In this story Sri Thakurji is granting Muraridas the bliss of his Bhaktoddhāraka form. In this case there is no need to consider the formal rules of purity. The Lord in this Form requires only love. Seeing the great love of Muraridas the Lord manifested from his own private and personal form and came to play with Muraridas. Playing as a child, he granted Muraridas the experience of many great joys.
Then Muraridas would bathe and cook. Then he would offer Sri Thakurji the evening preparations. He would clean up and purify the kitchen and pots, accept back the prasad, perfom the arati ceremony and put Sri Thakurji to bed.
He would finish off all the service, partake of the prasad, prepare the offerings for the next day, put them ready in the kitchen and then go to sleep. This is how Muraridas served the Lord. In the evenings on his way home from the court he would go to the shops and look for ever fresh and new varieties of fruits and vegetables, buy them and bring them home. He never came home without bringing something for his Sri Thakurji. If on any particular day he could not find any nice fruit for the Utthāpan Bhoga (offerings given upon waking Bal Gopalji up) he would get some dried fruits or nuts from the grocer and bring them home with him.
Bhavaprakasha: Why? Because both fresh and dried fruits are essential in Utthāpan Seva. The Seva is offered in the mood of the forest ladies, the Pulindis. When Sri Thakurji awakes from his afternoon nap in the caves on Sri Govardhan the Pulindis offer him flowers and fruit.
This is the way in which Muraridas played lovingly with his Sri Bal Krishna Lalji, although no one was aware of it. Some days later Narayandas set someone to spy on Muraridas and told him to stay with Muraridas but not to be noticed. When Muraridas left the court to go home, the spy followed him and observed everything he did. When Muraridas had the door opened and went inside, the spy went to Narayandas and told him what he had seen. However he was not able to report on what went on inside the house. Narayandas was very curious. He asked Muraridas to te’l him what he did at home but Muraridas would not tell him anything.
Bhavaprakasha: Why? Because Narayandas was not a Vaishnava, so how could Muraridas reveal his Path and ways to him? When one reveals one innermost practices they can dissolve. So Muraridas said nothing.
One evening Muraridas left the court to go home. Narayandas followed him all the way there. Muraridas reached home in the usual way and was about to close the door when he noticed Narayandas standing there. He addressed him, “O Muraridas! Today I have come to take a look at your house.”
Muraridas replied, “Look, sir, at this time of the day I am not your employee. The talks that we have cease in the evening and remain in the workplace. I will return to your service when I come to work in the morning. Why have you followed me home?”
Having said this Muraridas closed the door without allowing Narayandas to enter.
Bhavaprakasha: Why? Because Muraridas only relies on his Lord. Therefore he had absolutely no fear of Narayandas. Muraridas also knew that if Narayandas was truly curious then he would return with some humility. So for this one time he did not let him enter.
Narayandas went home. He thought to himself, after witnessing all of this, that Muraridas must be some great soul who never reveals his true form to anyone. So the next day when Muraridas left the court and went home Narayandas followed him again. This time when Muraridas went to close the door Narayandas touched his feet and begged. Seeing this humble behaviour Muraridas let him enter his house.
Bhavaprakasha: Muraridas knew that only a divine soul would be capable of such humility. In the eternal lila, Narayandas is Premlata who is a sakhi of Mandakini. Here, then, it is Muraridas who has to accept him. For this reason, seeing his humility, Muraridas allowed Narayandas to enter his home.
Again, very humbly, Narayandas asked Muraridas to which spiritual lineage he belonged. “I don’t see anyone else living here to help you. So what do you do when you come home?”
Appreciating his humility Muraridas told him that he belonged to the Sri Vallabh Sampradaya and that his guru was Sri Gusainji and that he was his sevak, his disciple. Hearing this Narayandas fell at Muraridas’feet and asked him to allow him to be his disciple. Muraridas told him that he would be able to fulfill his wish when Sri Gusainji came there. “Or,” he said, “You can go to Arail and sort this out with him there. Or you can write a letter to Sri Gusainji and send someone to deliver it. Then, when he gives his answer I will do as he instructs.”
Narayandas replied, “Sri Gusainji does not know me so please will you write a letter to him and send a mssenger to deliver it?”Afterwards Muraridas went off to get on with his Seva and Narayandas stayed sitting there. When Muraridas came out of his Seva then Narayandas again asked, “Please now write the letter to Sri Gusainji and I will go back to the court and find a pair of messengers to deliver it.”
Having said this Narayandas got Muraridas to write two letters, went back to the court and and got two messengers to travel to Arail to deliver it. Narayandas said to the messengers, “I will give a reward to the one who is first to bring me a reply.”
The two messengers set off and soon reached Sri Gusainji. A Vaishnava read out Muraridas’s letter and said to Sri Gusainji, “O Maharaj! What should be the response to these two letters from Muraridas?”
Sri Gusainji wrote out the eight-syllable mantra with his own hand and said, “Write to Muraridas telling him to give Narayandas the Name Initiation in front of his Sri Thakurji. Tell him that I will be coming there in a few days’ time.”
The letter was written according to Sri Gusainjis instructions and sent to Muraridas. The messengers set off carrying Sri Gusainji’s letter of reply. After a few days they reached back to Narayandas. He was very happy with the messengers. He gave them each a gold coin and a turban and sent them off. Narayandas then came to Muraridas’s home and personally delivered the letter to him. After reading it Muraridas addressed Narayandas, “Go and bathe right now.”
Narayandas bathed there and then. When Muraridas completed the lunchtime offerings he advised Narayandas according to Sri Gusainji’s instructions in his letter. He then greeted Narayandas with “Jay Sri Krishna!”
Narayandas asked him, “It seems inappropriate for you to humbly greet me.”
Muraridas explained, “From now on we should greet each other with the words ‘Jay Sri Krishna.’ Don’t feel otherwise in your heart.” He then allowed Narayandas to have the Holy Sight of his Sri Bal Krishna Lalji. Narayandas felt great joy.
Then both of them sat and partook of prasad before setting off for the court. After that Narayandas came daily to Muraridas’ home to have the Holy Sight of his Sri Thakurji. If any day he was not able to do this in the morning then he would go home with Muraridas in the evening to have the Sight of his Sri Thakurji. On the fifth day after this, Narayandas sent messengers to Sri Gusainji in Arail requesting him to come there soon. Sri Gusainji saw that Narayandas was longing to see him and Muraridas also wrote to Sri Gusainji asking him to visit them.
Sri Gusainji was planning to go to Sri Jagannath Puri. Then Muraridas told Narayandas that Sri Gusainji would be coming there in a short while and Narayandas became overjoyed. Ever since Narayandas had taken the Name Initiation from Muraridas he showed Muraridas great respect, thinking of him as his all in all. In this way Narayandas became a great Vaishnava through the company of Muraridas. Therefore know that it is very important to seek the company of accomplished Vaishnavas.
In this way Muraridas was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace.
Thus concludes Varta 4, the story of Muraridas, although there is truly no end to his tale.