|February 18, 2005 |
Narsinh Mehta (1414-1480) was born in a Brahmin family in Talaja, a village near Junagadh. His parents died at an early age, and so he lived with his grandmother (Jayakunvar), brother (Bansidhar, who was 17 years older than Narsinh), and sister-in-law (Gauri), with his wife (Manekbai) and children (Shamal and Kunvarbai). Several personal stories and bhajanas (devotional songs) depict Narsinh's devotion.
Narsinh indiscriminately valued devotees of Lord Krishna. For him, "Hari-jans" were not low-caste people, but devotees of God. Because he kept the company of lower class devotees, he was outcast and many of the townspeople would not do business with him. Lord Krishna thus took the form of a businessman and gave him money to help fund the marriage of his daughter. (His famous bhajana is, "Vaishnav-jan to tene kahiye re, je peed paraai jaane re" or "A devotee is he who understands others' misery.")
In the face of hardships, Narsinh remained protected by Lord Krishna. After his grandmother passed away, upon his sister-in-law's insitence, Narsinh and his family had to move to Junagadh. Once, during a function at his home, a jealous neighbor invited all of the Brahmins to Narsinh's home. Narsinh who was to buy some groceries, however became absorbed in singing devotional songs with devotees. Lord Krishna thus delivered groceries to his home.
Shortly following the death of Narsinh's son (at the age of 17), his wife also passed away. At the time, however, Narsinh sung, "Bhalu thayu, bhaangi janjaat, sukhe bhajishu Shree Gopal" or "All is well - free of worldly clutter, I can peacefully worship Lord Krishna."
Throughout his life, Narsinh composed extensive bhajanas (~740) extolling devotion to Lord Krishna - in fact he is heralded as the first poet of the Gujarati language. In Vadtal 11, Lord Swaminarayan states, "One should constantly sing these two bhajanas and remember their message:" "Maaraa harjishu het na dise re, tene gher shid jaiye" or "Why should one visit the home of a person who has no love for my Lord?" and "Maaraa vaahaalaajishu vaalap dise re, teno sang kem tajiye" or "Why should one forsake the company of a person who has love for my Lord?" In Vadtal 12, Lord Swaminarayan asks the following bhajana to be sung: "Dhanya Vrundaavanavaasi vatni chaayaa re jyaa Hari besataa" or "Glorious are the shades of the banyan trees of Vrundavan, where the Lord often sat." Yogi Bapa was fond of singing Narsinh Mehta's bhajanas, such as "Praan thakee mune Vaishnav vhaalaa" or "More dear than my own life are devotees of God."