Contributed by Mrs. Narmadha Sundar
Narahari was born into a family of goldsmiths. He was a pious man .He was doing his family business with utmost sincerity, devotion and honesty. He was an ardent devotee of lord shiva “MALLIKA ARJUNA”whose temple is situated on the mahadwar of Vitthal Rukmani temple in Pandharpur. He firmly held lord Shiva in his heart and chanted NAMASHIVAYA panchaksharam. He was a non-compromising staunch saivite and even though he lived in Pandharpur and though his house was just a stonesthrow away from the Vitthal temple yet he never once visited Vitthal’s temple as he wanted to have nothing to do with lord Vitthal or even his devotees. During festival season at Vitthal’s shrine Narahari would move away from pandarpur to the neighboring villages as the festivities did not interest him and the crowds of devotees bothered him. Everyone in the village knew of this peculiar quality of his.
However one day a devotee of Vitthal who was a trader by profession and was from a different town visited Narahari. Narahari was busy making gold ornaments. The trader told Narahari that he had come to see him with a special jewel order. Narahari asked him, what he wanted. The trader said, ”Swami, on hearing your extraordinary skills I have come here to make an exclusive one of a kind waist band. ”Narahari said, ”surely I will make one for you.”The trader replied, ”you are indeed a lucky person and do you know to whom you will be making this ornament. It is for our great Vitthal. ”On hearing this Narahari became furious. The trader did not know much about Narahari’s resolve, not to have anything to do with Vitthal. Again he said to Narahari, ”Swami, you are going to make this for our Vitthal. It is indeed your great fortune and it is very appropriate as there is no such skilled person in this village to do this job. Kindly accept my request. ”Narahari shouted, ”I don’t know anything about Vitthal and have no intention of entering the temple for any reason whatsoever.”
The trader persisted as ”I have been childless for a long period. We prayed to Vitthal and we got all our prayers answered and now we want to show our gratitude and keep up our vow by offering this special jewel. Finally the trader pleaded with him and half-heartedly and reluctantly Narahari accepted to do a waist band for Vitthal. Even then, Narahari said, ”Take measurement of Vitthal’s waist and I will make the jewel. I will not come to the temple myself.”The trader was surprised to hear this and he agreed to bring the measurements. The trader then went to the temple and took the measurement of Vitthal’s waistline and gave it to Narahari. He also gave a few valuable diamonds and various other precious stones for embedding on the jewel. Narahari started making the waistband and finished it in a short period of time. The jewellery came out so beautiful and dazzling with excellent workmanship and the trader was pleased with it.
On an auspicious day the trader took the jewel to the temple and made elaborate pooja arrangements and offered it to Vitthal. But unfortunately the waistband didn’t fit the lord and it was tight. Disappointed he took it back to Narahari and told him to make it longer. Narahari added an extra link to the jewel to increase its length a bit. Again the trader went to the temple and tried the jewel, but this time surprisingly the waistband was too loose.At first the trader was confused and the next moment he thought that he had committed some mistake causing unhappiness to the lord and tears rolled over his eyes. Then he pulled himself up together and came to a final conclusion. He went back to Narahari and said, ”The waistband does not fit Vitthal. It is very surprising and confusing. Will you please come to the temple and take measurements yourself?”
Narahari got angry and shouted, ”I am a staunch saivaite. I will never come to the temple and look at your Vitthal. I have done my job perfectly. Please go away. ”But the trader was adamant and told him that he would blindfold him and take him to the temple and to this Narahari agreed. Both of them went to the temple.
The blindfolded Narahari took a thread to measure Vitthal’s waist and began his work. But while touching Vitthal’s body he felt Vitthal wearing tigerskin as his garment. This made him curious. Then he held his hands and felt the deer, axe, trishul, agni, drum and all of Shiva’s paraphernalia and this made him very suspicious. He even felt rudraksha mala around his neck, cresent and Ganges on his head ,his third eye on his forehead and snakes over his body. Having felt all this his suspicion made him so anxious and he wanted to have darshan of Vitthal as he was almost sure of seeing lord Shiva. The very next moment he removed his blindfold with great expectancy but he was utterly disappointed to see lord Vishnu instead of lord Shiva. At first he felt as if he had made a grave mistake. Immediately he closed his eyes with his hands, but he felt lord Shiva’s presence in front of him. He then understood this leela of god and he prostrated in front of lord Vitthal.
Narahari immediately bursted out crying , Oh Vitthala, ”please forgive me, I have done a great mistake all my life due to my ignorance. I didn’t realize Hari and Shiva are the same. I will have to forsake moksha for my fanatic attitude and the sin I have committed. ”Then a voice was heard from the sanctum sanctorum” this leela was performed to show to all through you that there is absolutely no difference between Vishnu and Shiva who are both aspects of the same Parabhramam”. Narahari was excited with what he heard and the realization that he had and with great love offered the waistband to the lord and it fitted perfectly. From then on, Narahari became devoted to Vitthal whom he realized was Hari & Shiva in one form. In one of his abangs on Vitthal he says “it is immaterial to me whether this deity is Shiva or Vishnu, all I seek is your unconditional love and grace oh Vitthal”.
Gurumaharaj Sri Sri Anna says that one should have exclusive love towards ones ishta deiva but at the same time he should never entertain any type of hatred towards other forms of god and must respect all his forms and more importantly respect the devotees of all his forms.