In the heart of Gujarat, there is an important temple town called Dakor. Originally known as DankaPur, it is here that the Lord Shri Dwarkadhishji migrated to get away from the iconoclastic muslim armies and decadent temple priests of Dwarka.
A devotee called Bodanaji was a frequent visitor to Dwarka. In his old age, Bodanaji was finding it increasingly difficult to get to Dwarka, the distances were just too great and the roads were becoming increasingly more dangerous for lonely travellers. On his last pilgrimage to Dwarka, tears welled up in his eyes as he bade farewell to the Lord and said, " I am too old to make this journey on a regular basis now. Unless You decide to come to live with me, I am afraid, this might be my last visit to you. I am sure to meet you in my after life, but, farewell until than."
The Lord had no wish to be parted from His most beloved devote and so He spoke to Bodanaji in his incorporeal voice, "I will not abandon you, in life or death. Organise a cart for me and I will come with you to your town." Elated by the Lord's response, Bodanaji went in search of a cart. As he had so little money, no one would sell him anything decent and the best he could acquire was a broken old cart and a pair of bullocks at death's door. Their owner sold them to Bodanaji, glad to be spared the time and trouble of organising their funeral !
As agreed, Bodanaji brought the cart to the Lord's temple late at night. All the servants had gone to bed and the various gates of the temple were locked. But, who can keep the Lord of the Universe behind locked doors ?!!? The Lord came out of His ancient abode and boarded the rickety old cart. Initially, Bodanaji set at the helm, coaxing the old bullocks to make their getaway from Dwarka. It took them several hours just to reach the outskirts of town and the Lord decided to take matters into His own hands.
The Lord, ever caring for his devotees, said "Bodanaji, I am so inconsiderate as to ask such an aged person to do such a hard task so late at night !! Rest for a while, and you can take over the reins once we are nearer to your town. I know the roads around here and will be able to guide us out of here quicker than you can." Lord Shri Dwarkadhishji set at the helm and took the reins in His hands as Bodanaji rested in the back.
What is impossible for the Lord ? With-in a few seconds, they traversed hundreds of miles and alighted 4 miles from Dakor at Umreth in Gujarat. Just before dawn, the Lord awoke Bodanaji and gave the reins back to him. Though surprised, he knew the Lord's maya was impossible to fathom and considered himself to be lucky enough to have the Lord draw his cart for him !
Between Umreth and Dakor, Ranchodrai touched a brach of a neem tree near a Shiva temple. Ever since that time, that one branch has sweet neem leaves, whereas the rest of the tree has bitter leaves ! By mid morning, they were at Bodanaji's house and his wife, Gangabai, was pleasantly surprised.
Next day, in Dwarka, the priests and guards were very upset and puzzled as to how the Lord went missing from such a secure place as the temple !?! None of the gold and jewellery was missing, just the Lord ! Upon enquire, they discovered that an aged devotee from Gujarat had recently bought a cart and was now missing from the town. Suspecting him to be the thief, they rode out to his town with many soldiers and high priests of Dwaraka.
Hearing that a large group of men were coming to get the Him, the Lord advised Bodanaji to hide Him in the lake on the outskirts of DankaPur. When the brahmins from Dwaraka came, they could not find the Lord anywhere in town. Suspecting Bodanaji to have hidden the Lord out of town, they searched the local wells and lakes. A stick, used to dwell the depths of the lake Gomati, accidentally hit the Lord and stained it's clean waters with divine blood ! The brahmins of Dwaraka were unrepentant and instead of considering the sin of having struck the Lord, they blamed Bodanaji of having caused them untold anguish and grief !!!!
The Lord was brought to the banks of the Lake, but the Lord refused to move and none of the men from Dwaraka could budge Him an inch ! A major argument ensued. The priests were determined to take the Lord back and Bodanaji insisted that the Lord had come of His own free will. The evidence was insurmountable. The silent escape from the well guarded temple at night, the impossible journey overnight, the blood in the lake, and now their inability to move the Lord from the banks of the Lake - all indicated that the Lord wished to stay here. But, the priests were not going to give up their livelihood so easily. They demanded that if Bodanaji wanted to keep the Lord here, he would have to pay them His weight in gold !!!
Thinking the Lord to be made only from stone, and Bodanaji too poor to pay, they thought, either way, we will win. They thought, "We know he doesn't have the gold, so we are sure to get the Lord back. If he manages to beg or borrow enough to weigh the Lord, we will have enough to live on and so will not need the Lord !!!!" No wonder the Lord wanted to leave such greedy priests !
Ways of the Lord are truly wonderful and impossible for mortals to understand. Just a few days before this incidence, Gangabai, Bodanaji's wife, accidentally discovered a small piece of gold wire while cleaning the house. She asked her neighbours to see if it belonged to them. No one seemed to know anything about it, so she decided to keep it and use it as a small nose ring. Now that the Lord needed to be weighed in gold, Gangabai came forth with all the gold they had - the wire nose ring !
Praying to the Lord for His understanding and infinite grace, she offered the nose ring along with some sacred tulasi leaves (basil). Laughing at her innocence, the priests from Dwaraka readily placed the Lord on some large scales and placed the nose ring and basil opposite Him. Lo !! The scales were suddenly tipped and the Lord's side proved to be lighter of the two !!
Stunned and speechless, the priests from Dwaraka now realised that they were dealing with the Lord Himself and not just an image of Him. Begging the Lord to show some mercy, the priests requested the Lord to safeguard their income from serving the Lord. The selfish priests wanted money above God - none of them volunteered to serve Him here, they all wanted to get back to their home comforts in Dwaraka !
Forever merciful, the Lord decided to give them another chance and ordered them to return to Dwaraka and look in a specific well for a new image of Him. However, the Lord told them to wait till a specified auspicious day and not to be impatient about it. Just as a dog's tail can not be made straigh , these priests could not be dissuaded from their greed. When they went back to Dwaraka, they decided to excavate the well and bring the Lord into the inner sanctum. The economic cost of having the temple closed for so long was unacceptable to the priests. In their greed for gold, they hurried the process of finding and installing the new image of the lord. As a result, the image that they found was smaller than the original !
However, with the blessings of the Lord, the icon at Dwarka was imbibed with the same spirit of the Lord and continues to region over the western-most holy city in India.
At Dakor, the Lord stayed in a Shiva temple for a number of years before an official of the Baroda kingdom established a bigger temple for Ranchodraiji on the banks of the Gomti lake.
You can have live darshan of Ranchodrai http://ranchhodraiji.org/LiveDarshan.html
Some great videos of Kesar Snan, Shringar and artis of the Lord :-
Kesar snana of Lord Ranchodrai of Dakor - darshan of the Lord being bathed in saffron water every morning.
Mangala Arti of Lord Ranchodrai
Artis through the day from Shringar to Shayan - note how children of the priests trained from young age in details of rituals.
© Bhagwat Shah
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