Narsi Mehta

Introduction

Belonging to a poor Vadanagar Nagar-Brahmin family, Narsi Mehta was born at Kathiawar, Gujarat in 1414. He lived till 1481.  He had tremendous devotion to Lord Krishna, right from his childhood. His devotion was so intense, that he sporadically burst into singing and dancing, in praise of Lord Krishna. He left his house and started performing Tapasya at Gopinath and was able to get the Darshan of Lord Krishna, through the grace of Lord Shiva. He later returned to his house and got married to Manekbai probably in the year 1429.

Narsi Mehta’s Works

Considered as one of the pioneers of Gujarati literature, Narsi Mehta is a poet of immense calibre and has developed the literary forms of PadaAakhyan and Prabhatiya. A majority of Narsi Mehta’s works have been orally preserved and the oldest available manuscript belonging to him is dated back to 1612, which was discovered by K.K. Shastri, from the Gujarati Vidya Sabha. He also wrote numerous Bhajans and Artis, dedicated to Lord Krishna.

The works of Narsi Mehta may be categorized as follows:

Autobiographical Compositions

Mameru, Putra Vivah, Har Same No Pada, Hundi and Jhari Na Pada are some of the works in this category. These works are directly related to the personal incidents from the life of the poet.

Miscellaneous Narratives

These are the earliest examples of the Akhyana or the narrative type of compositions. They are as follows:

Chaturis– They are the 52 compositions dealing with the erotic exploits of Krishna and Radha.

Dana Leela poems– They deal with the episodes of Lord Krishna, collecting his dues from the Gopis.

Sudama Charit– It narrates the well known story of Lord Krishna and Sudama.

Govinda Gamana– It is related to the story of Akrura, taking away Lord Krishna from Gokul.

Surata Sangrama– It depicts the amorous play between Radha and her girl friends on one side and Krishna and his friends on the other.

Songs of Sringar-They deal with the adventures of Radha and Krishna.

Narsi Mehta and Miracles in his life

Narsi Mehta’s Daughter’s Marriage  

Narsi’s daughter was of marriageable age and on a certain day a rich merchant came with the proposal of marrying his son with Narsi’s daughter. However, the merchant’s wife was evil-minded and after the marriage, demanded a huge sum of money as dowry. Since Narsi was very poor, he was very distressed on learning about the demands. He later went to the in-laws place and assured them that he would soon pay them the dowry and left his daughter there.

Soon a group of Sadhus brought a large amount of money and wanted Narsi to arrange some means to transfer the money to Dwarka, so that they do not have to fear about robbers in the path. Narsi took the money and handed it over to the in-laws of his daughter. Later, he was deeply anguished and cried a lot, as he felt that he had cheated the Sadhus. After some time the Sadhus came back to Narsi and thanked him very much for his help in transferring the money. Soon, Narsi broke down in amusement and wonder and was able to understand that it was all God’s Leela.

Marriage of Narsi Mehta’s Son

A Vaishnava Bhakta named Krishna Bhatt, once dreamt about the divine matrimony of Tripurantak’s daughter (a wealthy merchant) and Narsi’s son. Krishna Bhatt immediately went to Tripurantak and explained to him about his dream and sought his permission for the marriage. Upon hearing, Tripurantak ridiculed Narsi and stated that he sought a dowry equivalent to his status, if he has to agree to the marriage. Krishna Bhatt soon went to Narsi and explained to him about his dream. They planned a visit to Tripurantak’s place the next day, to finalize the date of their marriage.

As Narsi and his relatives started their journey towards Tripurantak’s place, soon Lord Krishna, Rukmini and Sathya Bhama joined the procession, disguised as rich businessmen. Together, they reached Tripurantak’s place and overwhelmed him with the grandeur they had brought along with them. Tripurantak was highly ashamed of his deeds and fell at Narsi’s feet and sought his forgiveness. Soon, the marriage took place, to give effect to the divine communion.

Narsi Mehta and Lord Krishna’s Darshan

Once, when Narsi and his brother were travelling, both of them felt very hungry and could not find any food nearby. Lord Krishna, disguised as a shepherd boy, appeared before them and offered food to both of them, after taking them inside his cottage. Narsi explained to his brother that it was Lord Krishna himself, who was offering the food. But, his brother refused to believe him and did not receive the food. Later, his brother realised that he had left his vessel in the cottage and when he went to the cottage, he found that there was no shepherd boy. Thus, he believed his brother and realised his mistake.

Narsi Mehta and His Father’s Sraddha

On the occasion of Narsi’s father’s Sraddha (the annual offerings for the departed soul), there was shortage of ghee for the rituals and he went to the market to purchase some ghee. On the way, he met a Sankirtan Party and started dancing with them in ecstasy, completely oblivious about the Sraddha. Later in the evening, upon returning to his house with the ghee, he discovered that Lord Krishna, disguised as Narsi, had brought the ghee and performed the duties of Narsi, on his behalf.

Narsi Mehta becomes Ativarnashrami

Narsi was more dedicated and devoted towards Lord Krishna, after the death of his wife and son, and became an Ativarnashrami. He performed Kirtans and Bhajans, even in the houses of sweepers and inferiors. Initially the upper caste members of the villages abhorred Narsi’s practices, but later they understood the divine significance of Narsi’s activities.

Narsi’s Sister-in-Law Rebukes Him

Once, Narsi Mehta came home and sought water from his sister-in-law. She rebuked and cursed Narsi a lot, upon which Narsi was deeply saddened and ran to a nearby Shiva Temple. He worshipped Lord Shiva for seven days, upon which he appeared in front of Narsi and asked for a wish from him. He dressed Narsi like a Gopi and made him experience the Ras Leela in Kunjavan. Lord Krishna directed Narsi to write poetries on the Leela, that he had just experienced.

Hymns

Whom do you see in the sky, suffusing it all I must die at the feet of that Dusky One.

None is here with whom you could liken Krishna, Beauty of my Lord is beyond compare.

My puny intellect cannot perceive Him

His veil sight can throw me into a trance,
Synchronising love with unending life.

We must comprehend all the universe,

With its planets and spirits as One Soul

Where innumerable and upsurgmg suns

Glow with their limpid and majestic light.

Where the sky’s aflame with exotic hue.

Sachidanand’s enjoying sway in golden crib.

Though there is no wick, no oil, no thread.

It burns clearly and perpetually.

Narsinh Mehta, Vaishnav jan to…

वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये जे पीड पराई जाणे रे,
पर दु:खे उपकार करे तोये मन अभिमान न आणे रे,
सकल लोकमां सहुने वंदे निंदा न करे केनी रे,
वाच काछ मन निश्चल राखे धन धन जननी तेनी रे,
समदृष्टि ने तृष्णा त्यागी, परस्त्री जेने मात रे,
जिह्वा थकी असत्य न बोले, परधन नव झाले हाथ रे,
मोह माया व्यापे नहि जेने, दृढ़ वैराग्य जेना मनमां रे,
रामनाम सुताली लागी, सकल तीरथ तेना तनमां रे,
वणलॊभी ने कपटरहित जे, काम क्रोध निवार्या रे,
भणे नरसैयॊ तेनु दरसन करतां, कुण एकोतेर तार्या रे ॥
English translation:

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je

One who is a vaishnav

PeeD paraayi jaaNe re

Knows the pain of others

Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye

Does good to others, esp. to those ones who are in misery

Man abhimaan na aaNe re

Does not let pride enter his mind
Vaishnav…
SakaL lok maan sahune vande
A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the the entire world
Nindaa na kare keni re
Does not say bad things about anyone
Vaach kaachh man nishchaL raakhe
Keeps his/her words, actions and thoughts pure
Dhan-dhan janani teni re
O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed
Vaishnav…
Sam-drishti ne trishna tyaagi
A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice
Par-stree jene maat re
Considers someone else’s wife/daughter as his mother
Jivha thaki asatya na bole
The toungue may get tired, but will never speak lies
Par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re
Does not even touch someone else’s property
Vaishnav…
Moh-maaya vyaape nahi jene
A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments
DriDh vairaagya jena man maan re
Who has devoted himself to stauch detachment to worldly
pleasures
Ram naam shoon taali laagi
Who has been edicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram
SakaL tirath tena tan maan re
For whom all the religious sites are in the mind
Vaishnav…
VaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit chhe
Who has no greed and deciet
Kaam-krodh nivaarya re
Who has renounced lust of all types and anger
BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta
The poet Narsi will like to see such a person
KuL ekoter taarya re
By who’s virtue, the entire family gets salvation