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Monday, 13 January 2020

Margazhi Blogotsavam: Day 28: For Whom Vitthal Got Tied Up to a Pillar: Sant Sakhubai

Gangadhar Rao and his wife Kamalabai lived in the village of Sinchirunipuram near Pandharpur in Maharashtra. After praying for long to Lord Vitthal, they were blessed with a baby girl, whom they named Sakhubai. From a very young age, Sakhubai was devoted to Vitthal and would sing bhajans in His praise in her sweet melodious voice, enthralling everyone.
Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur
Image courtesy: Vitthal Rukmini Mandir


After she grew up, Sakhubai was married to Krishna Sharma of Gopalpur, who was an arrogant man. Sakhubai’s husband, and in-laws were very cruel to her; they would torture her by beating, give her lot of work that kept her occupied from early morning to late in the night, never allowed her to rest, and gave her very little food to eat. 

Yet, Sakhubai did not harbor any ill-will towards them, nor did she retaliate in any way. She accepted all this as the fruit of some previous birth’s sins. Whatever work she did, it was with the name of Vitthal on her lips and in her heart – and it was only chanting His Name that gave her any solace. Deep in Sakhubai’s heart, a strong desire grew to visit Pandharpur and see her Vitthal of whom people sang such praises. 

One day, when Sakhubai went to fetch water from the pond, she chanced on a group of devotees who were going to Pandharpur. She was desperate to join them, because she wanted to see her beloved Vitthal at least once in her lifetime. When she rushed home and asked permission to go with the pilgrims, Sakhu’s husband was furious. He and his parents beat her, and then, to make sure she didn’t go anywhere, they tied poor Sakhubai to a pillar with strong ropes, locked the room, and left her there to starve. 

In extreme distress, Sakhubai kept crying and calling out to her Vitthal, “All I want is to see You, but I’m tied up here and can’t reach You! Show mercy on me, dear Lord, and let me have your darshan for which I have been thirsting for all these years!” In her agony, she fainted, and yet, kept chanting the name of Vitthal in her mind.

Vitthal rescuing Sakhubai from bondage
Image courtesy: Coimbatore Bhavsar
Suddenly, the room was filled with a divine radiance. A woman looking exactly like Sakhubai appeared, and untying Sakhubai, told her to go to Pandharpur, saying, “I will stay here till you come! Go and have a darshan of your Vitthal! Don’t worry, I’ll manage things here!”

Filled with divine joy, Sakhubai rushed out of the house and made her way to Pandharpur. When she reached the temple, she rushed through the crowds and clinging to her Vitthal, she was lost in the bliss of uniting with Him, and gave up her life then and there.

In the meantime, in Sakhubai’s house, her husband had taken pity on his poor wife and worried that she may die, he untied her. This Sakhubai now carried on with her usual duties, serving her husband and in-laws. The food she cooked seemed to have a divine taste for the family. Strangely, they now felt good-natured towards her.

One day, a neighbor of Krishna Sharma came and told him that he had seen Sakhubai in Pandharpur and that she had passed away there. Krishna was shocked to hear this. “What are you babbling?,” he shouted, “Sakhu never went to Pandharpur. She has been here as usual with us! Come and see with your own eyes,” he insisted and pulled the man to their house.

But Sakhubai was nowhere to be found! Her husband and in-laws looked everywhere in the house and outside, but they couldn’t find her anywhere! Now, finally, they understood why they had been feeling so different towards Sakhu of late. The Lord of Pandharpur had come to his devotee’s rescue! It had been Lord Vitthal Himself who had taken Sakhubai’s place!

Like Sakhubai, can we learn to not react when people behave badly with us?

Can we try to stay focused on our goal, heedless of all the obstacles - physical and emotional - that come in our way?

Can we work towards developing deep faith that the Lord is our sole refuge, and surrender totally to Him?
References

http://coimbatorebhavsar.blogspot.com/2018/08/saints-of-maharashtra-devotees-of_75.html

Bhakt Charitank (Bhaktamal). Gita Press, Gorakhpur


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