Friday, 10 September 2010

Bhaktha Goma Bai

There was an old lady called Goma Bai who used to make her living by making food at home and selling it to people in her locality. One day she happened to attend a discourse on Pandhari Mahathmiyam (the greatness of Pandharpur) and decided to go on a yatra to Pandhari. She started her journey towards Pandharpur and reached the banks of Chandrabhaga one morning after walking for several days. Chandrabhaga was flooded then and one had to cross the river only on a boat. On this side of the river was a dense forest and she had been standing on the banks of Chandrabhaga since morning trying to get across the river to visit the Vitthal Rukmani Temple. There was a boatman who was taking people on his boat from here to the other side of the river for a fee. As the old lady did not have any money with her, she pleaded him to take her to the other side of the river for free. The boatman however refused to take her with out any money and told her that if he does this for one person, others will also ask him to take them for free. The boat went up and down several times and she was asking the boatman and the others who travelled in the boat to take her to the other side of the river, but none of them came forward to help her. She then thought that the boatman would take her on his last trip as she was very old and would not leave her alone in the forest. The last trip was at 8pm and the boatman left her and went to Pandharpur. The next day was ekadasi and Gomabai was sitting under the tree thinking about Vitthal. It was very dark by now and foxes started howling. Gomabai was now afraid and prayed to Vitthal asking him to somehow take her to Pandhari and said that it would be better to die in Pandhari after seeing Vitthal rather than dying in the forest. As she was praying the boatman came back calling Gomabai and asked her to board the boat. Gomabai was happy and came on board. She then asked him why he had come now, after saying no to her several time during the day. The boatman then told her that as she was old and there was a dense forest nearby, he was worried if something might happen to her and so he came back to take her to Pandhari. She then told him that she would sit outside the temple tomorrow and beg for alarms and get him the money required to pay him for the trip. The boatman then dropped her in Pandhari and she came to the temple the next morning. She had a darshan of Vitthal and then came out and sat down to beg for alarms. As soon as she had collected the amount required to pay the boatman she came to the banks of Chandrabhaga in search of him. When the boatman saw Gomabai he asked her how she had come here. Gomabai then told him that it was he who had dropped her here yesterday night and as promised she has now has got the money to be given to him. The boatman then told her that he did not bring her yesterday in his boat. Gomabai immediately started crying and knew that it was Pandurangan who had come yesterday to bring her to the other side of the river. She then went back to the temple again and thanked Vitthal.