The Fruit of Seva

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Totally mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty of the majestic black idol of Pandurang Vitthal in the Vitthal temple in the village of Pandharpur, I finally found a spot where I could watch Him to the satisfaction of my eyes, heart and soul. I offered my prayers and asked for this and that for myself, and for the success of Swami Niranjan’s undertakings. The Sannyasa Peeth was on my mind.

Then I remembered Swamiji’s words as he gave his blessings for my pilgrimage. Pointing to his head, he said, “Ask God to give sat buddhi, positive and sattwic intelligence, to my head too.” I told Vitthal, “I do not understand why Swamiji, who is sat buddhi incarnate, has requested this boon from you. I am asking you to grant him sant buddhi, saintly intelligence, because he is now entering a new phase of his life.”

Instantaneously the Lord answered, in a clear, unmistakable voice, “I am waiting to grant Swami Niranjan whatever he asks for, he just has to go ahead and ask. Whoever asks with a heart full of nirmal bhakti, pure bhakti, I will always grant it.” I was in a different world, overcome with surprise, adoration and ecstasy. When I gradually returned to my normal senses, I was overjoyed by the blank cheque Pandurang had issued to Swamiji. Pandurang was still honouring his promise given to Pundalik centuries ago.

Pundalik

Pundalik was a poor Brahmin living in a village named Pandharpur on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga. He was a devotee of Vishnu. He looked after his aged parents, believing that serving one’s parents is serving God. Serving his parents was the main purpose of his life, and the years passed by.

One day, pleased with his service, Lord Krishna and his wife, Rukmini, came to Pundalik’s house to give darshan. Massaging his parents’ feet, Pundalik welcomed the Lord with a smile and looked for something suitable for the Lord to sit on. Finally, he requested Krishna and Rukmini to wait on a brick until he had finished with his parents. Krishna and Rukmini happily stood on the brick with both hands resting on their waists.

When his parents were asleep, Pundalik attended to the Lord and Rukmini. He begged their pardon for making them wait and causing them so much inconvenience. However, Krishna was extremely pleased with Pundalik’s devotion and granted him a boon. Pundalik said, “I only want your bhakti, and as you are waiting for me, your devotee, continue to wait for your devotees and give them your darshan.”

Service

In the local language the word for brick isvitand a person standing on a vit isvitthal. The deity Vitthal-Rukmini is also lovingly known as Vithoba, and as Pandurang he waits on his devotees. The Lord had been pleased with the Brahmin’s service to his parents, and Swami Niranjan’s pure, unparalleled service and devotion to guru had won over Vithoba’s heart.

I was privileged to be a special messenger. Reminded of Swamiji’s greatness, I learnt that proximity or familiarity can make one underestimate a person or situation, and that service without expectation and personal motives to parents, guru or society compels even God to go to His devotee. It washes away our negativity and takes us to the highest achievement of spiritual life, God-realization or darshan.