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Sant Sakhu

The supreme sadhana to attain bhagavan is through prema bhakti. ”What is the use of money, tapas, education without pure prema” says the baktisampraday. So to reach god and attain divine bliss one should leave all the worldly possessions and indulge in pure Prema bhakti which will surely lead to Krishna darshan. A person who earnestly cries for god with real thirst is surely a blessed soul.

There was a small village near Pandharpur called” Sinchirunipuram” and there lived a rich man named Gangadar Rao who was a great devotee of lord Vitthal. He was a honest, truthful and straightforward man involved in numerous bhagavatsevas. His wife kamala Bai was also a great bhakta. The couples were childless for many years. One night lord Vitthal blessed them in a dream, saying that soon they would get a beautiful girl child. Both of them were happy with this and they praised lord Vitthal and chanted many hymns on him. Soon kamala Bai gave birth to a girl child and she was named Sakhubai. At a very young age Sakhubai started singing bajans and at times due to divine ecstasy she used to dance and shed tears. Everyone was amazed on seeing her bhakti, beauty and on hearing her melodious voice.

One day Sakhubai was playing with her friends; building small sandcastles. At that time Vitthal disguised as an old man came over. He wore anklets in his legs, thulasi malas around his neck and carried a chipla and thambura; and came there singing ‘pandurangavitthalapandarinathavitthala’. He came near to Sakhubai and walked over the sandcastles she had built; completely destroying them and stood as if he did nothing. Sakhubai got angry and shouted,”Swami, I spent a lot of time in building a beautiful sand house, why did you walk over it. I will not let you go till you answer me.”The old man answered,”My child, on singing lords name I was engrossed and was lost in it. I didn’t notice it and walked over it by mistake. I will build you a better house than this. ”Sakhubai seriously said,”you talk sweetly and politely but you have done a great mistake. Just imagine, If you have walked over us instead of these small sandcastles what would have happened to us. Vitthal replied mischievously,”I apologize. Why are you not leaving me for such a small mistake? ”Sakhubaireplied,”this may be a small thing for you but it is a marvelous thing for me.” Vitthal then said,”ok, I surrender, you punish me.” Sakhubai immediately said,”You should handover your thambura to me.” Vitthal pretended as if he was not willing to give the thambura. Sakhubai begged him and finally got hold of it .Her face blossomed like a lotus after getting the thambura; she didn’t know to play it however. Vitthal on seeing this taught Sakhubai tuning and playing the thambura. Vitthal blessed her, raising his arms,”My child, you have to render songs in praise of the lord daily with this”. He initiated her with the AshtaksharaJapam and asked her to chant repeatedly and said she would get dharsan of lord Vitthal for whom she longed so much. Vitthal narrated the Gajendra moksha to make her realize the essence of Ashtakshari. Sakhubai looked at the old man so gracefully and returned the thambura to him and asked him to forgive her. Then Sakhubai eagerly asked,”where are you going and when will you come back?” Vitthal happily said,”My child, I am going to Pandharpur and I will come back in five days.”At first her eyes sparkled hearing the name of Pandharpur and then became sad that he was leaving. Vitthal then said,”don’t worry child, I will come back and tell you about Pandharpur” saying so he went away. Days went by, Sakhubai waited anxiously for the old man, but he didn’t return. As years passed her thirst for Vitthal began to grow more and more.

She by then attained the age of marriage, but she only wanted to marry Vitthal. She was not attached to anything and she had lost her heart to Vitthal and didn’t want to marry anyone else. But finallySakhubai was forced to marry Krishna Sharma. He was not a good soul &was very arrogant and miserly .She however served her husband with great love and respect. Whenever possible, she would sing, dance, meditate on Vitthal and shed tears and would be in a state of ecstasy. Without knowing about Sakhubai’sprema bhakti towards Vitthal, Krishna Sharma thought that she had become insane. Her mother-in-law also tortured Sakhubai by beating her and giving her a lot of household chores. But in spite of all this; while milking the cow, cleaning the house, cooking and moping the house she would always be in thinking and chanting about Vitthal.

One day she went to the pond to fetch water thinking all the while of Vitthal. At that time a group of bhaktas came that way. She was delighted to see them & asked them,”Where are you going?”Theysaid,”we are going to Pandharpur to see the lotus-feet of our Vitthal, Who are you?” On hearing the very mention of Pandharpur her heart leapt out in great happiness and tears rolled out of her eyes. Sakhubai asked,”Pandharpur, My name is Sakhubai, shall I come along with you?. I too want to touch the lotus feet of Vitthal on ekadasi day with you sadus.” All were surprised on Sakhubai’s bhakti. They said,”Surely there is no problem taking you with us. But you should get permission from your husband.”That very moment Sakhubai with great eagerness ran to the house to seek permission from her husband. But her husband was unwilling to send her. He said,”Sakhubai, be patient, it is not possible to allow you to go to Pandharpur all of a sudden. We shall go together on an ekadasi day. But Sakhubai again asked,”Today I met great bhaktas, going along with them and serving our beautiful Vitthal would be a great pleasure. Please let’s both go along. If you cannot come, at least let me go.”But Krishna Sharma was so stubborn and he didn’t let her go. Her heart was broken and she burst out into tears and pleaded him. Krishna Sharma’s face became red with anger and he began to beat her and dragged her to the next room and tied her to a pillar. Her in-laws too slapped her.

Sakhubai with extreme pain and distress prayed to Vitthal,”Prabu, pandarinatha, prananatha, I don’t know anything about sastra or about worldly matters. I am just bound in the tides of samsara and swirling in it. O lord,”show mercy on me and take me to your lotus feet.”My eyes want to see you alone. Just then there was a bright radiance in the room, a lady came in and she totally resembled Sakhubai& told her that she was Maya Sakhubai. Now Sakhubai couldn’t believe her eyes. She explained her situation to Maya Sakhubai. Maya Sakhubai said, ”I have come here to help you have darshan of Vitthal .He will welcome you with his beautiful eyes, sweet smiling face, his lotus feet and both his hands will be ready to embrace you; this will surely make you blissful. ”Sakhubai was thrilled, but out of concern said,”If I leave you alone here you will have to face lot of difficulties.”MayaSakhubaisaid,”Don’t worry nobody can identify me, I will manage everything. You start immediately and enjoy the darshan of our divine Vitthal.”

Everything seemed like a dream, she could hardly believe it, but her eyes sparkled and with great joy she ran towards Pandharpur. As she kept nearing Pandhari the joyous singing of,”vitthalavitthala, jai jaivitthala, pandurangavitthala” was heard by her.

On entering Pandhari she ran straight into the temple and she finally had darshan of Vitthal and her happiness knew no bounds. She was stunned and screamed with extreme happiness .She drank the nectar of his beauty. She then ran towards him and touched his face, embraced him and her soul rested on his lotus feet and was totally consumed and she became one with him. All were surprised and shocked on her intense bhakti and a few bhaktas who witnessed all the happenings came back to the village and narrated the unbelievable divine incident to Krishna Sharma; he immediately went home to check on the Sakhubai who he thought was there all along, but found that she had vanished now. Krishna Sharma was at first surprised to find her missing, but he soon realized this divine leela of lord Vitthoba, and cried at his great loss & misfortune of not having known about his wife’s greatness. ThusSakhubai who was completely immersed in gopibava got relief from samsara as she totally desired & happily united with the lord.

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