Here is a heart-touching story of a devotee who witnessed the manifestation of God purely out of his devotional sentiment.
Around six hundred years ago, when the Indian belief system was deeply rooted in casteism, there lived a devotee called Dhanna Jat.
Unlettered, devoted, and hardworking, Dhanna was a servant in the house of a brahmin. His master, considered elite, was a priest, well versed in chanting the Vedas and an expert in conducting religious ceremonies. The brahmin was a Vaishnava and an ardent devotee of Krishna. He was devout in carrying out his daily rituals. He worshiped Krishna on a shaligrama shila, a type of stone found in the Gandaki river. Since time immemorial, it has been common practice among the Vaishnavas to worship a shaligrama.
Dhanna always felt a natural attraction towards the shaligrama and he longed to worship Krishna on that sanctum stone. Many times he made a request to the brahmin for a shaligram shila and the method of worship. The brahmin, however, considered Dhanna a simpleton.
Whenever Dhanna raised the topic, his master told him that he was unworthy and unfit. He told Dhanna that elaborate procedures and rituals were needed to worship God and that since Dhanna was not a brahmin he had little chance. Dhanna was disappointed but not disheartened.
He kept on serving his master and pleaded at every opportunity to have a shaligrama. Ultimately, his master thought that there was no harm in giving him just any other stone; Dhanna wouldn’t know the difference anyway, he thought. So, he gave him an ordinary rock.
Dhanna thanked his master and genuinely believed the stone to be a saligrama sila. He asked his master the method of worship. The master said, “Just offer him food twice a day and bathe him and so forth. In summary, treat him like a living entity, like your very own, as your God!” Dhanna, obviously, took to abiding.
During his lunch hour, he bathed that ‘ordinary stone’, offered it clothes made from used but washed tatters, and gave it a seat on the floor where he sat. He opened his tiffin; it had four chapatis (unleavened bread) made from corn flour and spinach. He spread them in front of the stone and invited Krishna with the greatest fervor. A few minutes passed but there was no sign of Krishna. Dhanna increased his intensity and resolved not to eat until Krishna partook of his lunch. The lunch hour passed. No sign of Krishna. Dhanna was starting to feel really hungry. He persisted, however.
Another two hours later, his master came looking for Dhanna. Upon inquiry, Dhanna told him the whole story. The brahmin laughed his head off and called him the greatest fool of all time. He told him that this was how God accepted offerings. That, Dhanna’s job was to offer and that God had accepted it. But he sat unmoved.
He said that God was real, his food was real, therefore, if God really accepted his food, He would have eaten for real. The brahmin shook his head in disgust and disbelief and told him that he had better either show up at work right away or lose his job. Dhanna did not respond, he was too lost in his own world.
Tears of love and devotion started trickling down Dhanna’s face. He sat there motionless calling out for Krishna, not using any Vedic mantras but his own language. Many hours ticked by. Pangs of hunger were shooting like poisoned arrows in his stomach. He decided to persist. It almost became a battle between his resolve and God’s grace. The food started to go stale. One after the other, eight days passed. Dhanna was as good as dead; almost breathing his last.
Gallons of tears, thousands of calls, eight sunsets, and almost two hundred hours later, Krishna manifested his form in front of Dhanna. Krishna, in His glory, with that most charismatic smile, with that maddening fragrance that emitted naturally from Him, with those eyes that contained the brilliance of a million suns, that radiance on his face like that of infinite full moons, sat right next to Dhanna. He started eating the chapatis. Dhanna watched unblinking; he was not surprised though, for, his faith and resolve underscored his belief of Krishna actually partaking of his offerings.
Krishna took one chapati and ate it. Dhanna was overjoyed. Krishna took another. And then another. God had manifested to satisfy His devotee. The King of the Kings, the One who dined in great majesty, was sitting on the floor eating His devotee’s offerings.
After Krishna had eaten three chapatis and He was ready to take the fourth one, Dhanna, looking askance, held His hand. He told Krishna that he was very hungry too and that at least one chapati should be left for him, especially since he had not eaten for eight days straight. With a mellifluous and soft laugh Krishna put his divine hand on his devotee’s head. A billion darts of bliss pierced through his very being. Tens of the finest dishes manifested right there and Krishna fed Dhanna with His own hands.
Resolve is the name of the living thought, the sublime emotion, that has gone beyond reason. Resolve, when accepted by the conscious mind becomes belief. Belief coupled with devotion gives birth to faith. And there is nothing that I know of that is unattainable with faith. However, faith alone does not suffice. The recipe of self realization requires faith plus other ingredients; for another time. One such is devotional service. You can read about it here.
The next post in the series will shed light on the practice of resolve.