In a village called Chandanwadi there lived a poor farmer by name Suryaji. He had a small piece of land. Somehow be used to make a living from it.
Suryaji was a devotee of God Panduranga. He used to sing devotional songs of Panduranga at night before going to bed.
Pandharpur is a pious seat of God Panduranga. On the 11th day of the month of ashadh a big religious fair is held at Pandharpur. Suryaji used to attend that fair every year without fail after crossing a distance of 60 kms on foot.
Whenever any problem relating to farming arose, Suryaji would say, ?I am a devotee of God Panduranga. Panduranga will solve my problem why should I bother??
Similarly whenever any problem relating to family arose, Suryaji would argue, ?After all I am the child of Panduranga, He will take care of my problem. I will keep quiet and wait for His grace to come.?
In a certain year, it rained heavily. The rains were incessant. People were afraid of rains. Fields were submerged under water. The elderly people from Chandanwadi said, ?During our life-time we have never seen such terrible rains.?
As a result of incessant showers the river flowing near Chandanwadi was inundated. The floodwater became unruly. It entered into the lanes of Chandanwadi. The residents of the village were horrified. In panic, they left the village for safer places. However, Suryaji was unaffected. He said, ?My Panduranga is all-powerful. He is kind hearted. He will save me. Why should I run away??
So saying, Suryaji kept quiet. He did not heed the warnings of neighbours and relatives.
The water went on rising. So the government sent one jeep to Chandanwadi to trace the trapped people and rescue them.
But Suryaji turned down the request of the rescue team to get inside the jeep. He said, ?Are you stronger than Panduranga? My God, Panduranga will save me. I don'twant anybody'shelp.?
Almost all the people had left the village. The flood water went on rising further. The house wherein Suryaji lived was almost submerged. So Suryaji went on the roof. He started chanting the name of Panduranga there.
At this hour the government sent a fairy boat to rescue the people, if any surrounded by the flood water. The fairy driver requested Suryaji to get seated inside the fairy forthwith. But Suryaji was very firm about the grace of Panduranga, the supreme. He refused the hand of help from the fairy driver.
There were no signs of the rain receding. The flood occupied practically the whole area. Suryaji'shouse was engulfed by the water. So Suryaji climbed the nearby neem tree. He went to the top of the tree. The top of the tree was moving fiercely with the roaring winds. The waves of water were thrashing the tree.
Soon there appeared a helicopter sent by the government to rescue the unfortunates left behind. The pilot of the helicopter loudly appealed to those caught in the flood to climb the rope ladder and come in the helicopter and so save their lives. Suryaji was tossing over the wind, holding tight the uppermost branch of the tree. The appeal went on his deaf ear. He was sure that Panduranga alone will save him.
The flood became more furious. The last vestige of Suryaji proved of no avail. Suryaji was swirled by the flood water. Suryaji breathed his last.
After his death, Suryaji reached Vaikunthaloka. He met Panduranga there. Suryaji did not prostrate before Panduranga. On the contrary he started complaining. Blaming the God Suryaji said, ?Nobody should worship You. You have cheated me. You have deceived me. I waited and waited for You. You did not rush to my help?.
?Who says I did not hasten to save you?? Asked God Panduranga.
?I do say that, I am completely disillusioned.?
?I rushed to your help not only once but thrice?But you did not heed my appeal?.
?It'sa green lie?, said Suryaji.
?I appeared firstly as a jeep-driver, secondly as a ferry driver and lastly as a helicopter pilot. But you did not recognise me?, said the God.
?How could I recognise You??
?I appeared in various forms. A real devotee can perceive me properly. One should devote me in a right manner. Only then one can recognise me properly,? said Panduranga.
Suryaji kept quiet. He realised his mistake. He understood the meaning of real devotion.
Devotion doesn'tmean that one should not help oneself. Infact God helps only those who help themselves.
(The author can be contacted at 16, Jeevanchchaya Hsg Society, Opp. Civil Hospital, Satara-415001 (Maharashtra))