We have heard countless gems of Vedic wisdom from Swami Mukundananda. One of these infinite gems is about the power that souls have to develop a loving relationship with God. A beautiful thought is that God is Bhakt-Vatsal and Bhakt-Vashya. What this means is that God is not only bound by the selfless love of His devotees, but He also becomes enslaved by their pure love. On the occasion of Mahashivratri, we present a few leelas of Bholenath Mahadev that characterize this virtue of God.
There are many beautiful stories in our scriptures of how pure, unadulterated, and selfless love binds God to his devotees. Whether God appears as Lord Krishna, Ram, Shiv, Ganesh or Yogmaya Shakti, the Law of Love is as eternal as God Himself and so are the leelas! In every avatar or form, God manifests leelas that captivate the heart and serve as a basis for enhancing bhakti or devotion. Devotees are particularly interested in leelas which illustrate how material souls can attract divine grace. We present a few leelas of Bholenath Mahadev that will fill your heart with devotion and love for God.
Vidyapati was a 14th century poet and saint from Mithila whose devotional compositions are revered even in this day and age. Also called Maithil Kavi Kokil (the poet with the voice of a cuckoo), he was very deeply devoted to Lord Shiv. As we all know, Bholenath is very easy to please. He became very captivated by Vidyapati’s loving devotion expressed through poems, bhajans, and prayers. Mahadev decided to serve His devotee by reciprocating his love. Just think about the magnanimity of Lord Shiv!
Lord Shiv disguised Himself as an ordinary servant and went to Vidyapati’s house. He said that his name was Ugna and requested Vidyapati for employment. Not knowing Ugna’s identity, Vidyapati employed him. Ugna became a model servant to the poet-saint and took care of all of his needs.
One day, the king of Mithila invited Vidyapati to his court. Vidyapati and Ugna took off together to go to Mithila. While traveling, Vidyapati was very thirsty but could not find any source of water anywhere. Out of concern for him, when Vidyapati was not looking, Ugna (Lord Shiv) squeezed some water of the Ganga from His hair locks and gave it to him. When Vidyapati sipped it, he realized that it was none other than the water of the holy and sacred Ganga. He asked Ugna about how he procured the holy water in that arid place. When Lord Shiv could not keep the secret any longer, He revealed His original form as Gangeshwar but laid the condition that if Vidyapati revealed His identity to anyone, He would leave immediately.
Vidyapati’s heart was filled with remorse upon having engaged his Divine Lord in his service even though he did not know His identity. The ever-gentle Bholenath placated Vidyapati by saying that it was His own desire and that He would continue to live with him as long as His identity remained concealed from others. However, Vidyapati could no longer allow Ugna to serve him. In fact, he started doing things to ensure the Lord’s comfort and served Him instead. This bothered Vidyapati’s wife, who became upset with both, her husband and Ugna. One day, in anger upon Ugna, she started to beat Him with a broom when Vidyapati, in a state of shock, stopped her and shouted, “Do you know what you are doing? This is Lord Shiv Himself, my Ishtdev!”
As soon as the words came out of Vidyapati’s mouth, he realized his mistake, but it was too late. In a state of panic, he had broken Lord Shiv’s condition for living with him. The Lord immediately disappeared. Vidyapati searched for Him everywhere – in forests, country-sides, and temples. Finally, the bhakt-vashya Lord Shiv gave His darshan to Vidyapati briefly and told him to continue with his life mission of propagating the glories of pure devotion. That place is known today as Ugnasthan and the Shivling there is named Ugna Mahadev.
This awe-inspiring story where the divine Lord became a servant of his devotee, teaches us about the principle of the power of selfless love of devotees for God.
Narsi Mehta was a 15th century poet-saint known for his beautiful kirtans and poetry in the glory of Lord Krishna. The story of how he became a Vaishnav is even more compelling.
Narsi was born in a Nagar Brahmin family in Gujarat. Having lost his parents at the very tender age of 5 years, he first lived with his grandmother and when she passed away, he moved in with his brother and his wife. His family worshipped Lord Shiv as their Ishtdev. Since his childhood, Narsi showed signs of disinterest in worldly things. He was more interested in listening to the spiritual narratives of saints in temples. His brother’s wife was ill-tempered and always found ways to taunt him for being lazy and for not contributing to the family’s income.
On one occasion, when Narsi Mehta was fed up with his sister-in-law’s abuse, he left home and went to the temple of his Ishtdev, Lord Shiv. He prayed for seven days non-stop without having any food or water. Pleased with his devotion, Bholenath appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon. Narsi bowed down and said that he did not know what to ask anymore. He related how he had asked his sister-in-law for hot water to bathe, but the temperature was so hot that his body got badly burned. He told the Lord that He should give him whatever was dear to the Lord.
The ever-compassionate Lord Shiv gave Narsi the vision of the Maharaas of Shree Krishna and the Gopis of Braj. At first, Narsi could not see anything in the dark, so the Lord gave him a lighted torch. When Narsi saw the divine vision, he was so mesmerized and filled with devotional sentiments that he did not realize that the flame from the torch had started to burn his hand. God healed his burned hand with His divine touch but the bhakti ras he instilled in Narsi, made him an eternal Vaishnav.
This is how Lord Shiv was enslaved by the love of his devotee. He gave Narsi the most valuable treasure that no other soul was bestowed in this Kaliyug.
Lord Shiv is known as the most devout Vaishnav of all souls.
There is a beautiful story about how Lord Shiv participated in the Maharaas with Shree Krishna and the Gopies of Braj. Lord Shiv was in a state of samadhi in Kailash when He heard the divine and magical sound of Shree Krishna’s enchanting flute. Shiv ji was so mesmerized by the sound that He broke His samadhi and went to the source of the sound - Vrindavan. Upon arriving there, He saw that Shree Krishna was doing the Maharaas with the Gopis. He too wanted to participate but Radha Rani told him that Shree Krishna was the only Param Purush and that all other souls were Prakriti. She said that He could participate only if He came as a Gopi. So, Lord Shiv went to bathe in Lake Manasarovar and emerged as Shivani Gopi and participated in the Maharaas.
However, his real identity was revealed to Shree Krishna, who told Mahadev that the Maharaas was only for the Gopis who were born as women. However, in honor of Lord Shiv's devotional sentiments, Shree Krishna made Mahadev the Dwarpal of Vrindavan. Later a Shivling was established in Vrindavan and it is called Gopishwar Mahadev. With inspiration from this exquisite leela presented very briefly here, the Shivling at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen) is also called Gopishwar Mahadev.
These awe-inspiring stories teach us about the power of selfless love for God. The gentle and compassionate Lord Shiv has descended from Kailash in his form as Gopishwar Mahadev at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen). In His honor, the Temple is hosting a 3-day Mahashivratri Mela for the entire local and global community.
There are many devotional and fun activities for adults and kids including Rudrabhishek, Shivling pooja, chants, Shiv-Parvati vivah (wedding), cultural program, Mahashivratri Kids Fest, food festival, and many more fun activities!
The Shiv-Parvati Vivah, the highlight of the Sunday Satsang, symbolizes Mother Parvati's selfless devotion to Lord Shiva. For her sake, Lord Shiva transformed from his terrifying form into the beautiful Lord Chandrasekhar for the wedding.
The Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas invites everyone to come for the most amazing 3-day festival. We look forward to your participation. We are especially grateful to our Platinum Partner Nanban and annual sponsors Priya Living and Discount Power. We also thank our community partners, DuPriest Pop and Radio Caravan for their support.