Saurashtra is known as “The Land of Saints and Braves” and by the Grace of Gurudev, I got the chance to learn the reason for this title firsthand. As per the instruction of our Gurudev, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, Rishi Jatilananda and I had the privilege to travel to Saurashtra for the purpose of collecting saints’ relics for Bhakti Marga’s Saints Museum. Saurashtra is a region located in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is famous for many things including a unique culture and great food, but it is most famous for its collection of knowledgeable saints, righteous kings and brave martyrs. The famous saints whose relics we searched for included Jalaram bapa, Bajragdas bapa, Aapa Giga, Dashijivan Saheb, Gangasati Panbai, Ranchhoddasji Maharaj and more.
Along the way, we encountered countless people from different social backgrounds who showed us how Saurashtra is drenched in the sweetness of Bhakti and how it seeps into all its inhabitants. One day, we visited the samadhi of Dashijivan Saheb, who is believed to be an incarnation of Shrimati Radharani. When we arrived, the sun was blazing and not many people were outside. One woman, seeing that we were outsiders, came out to offer us water. After we received darshan of Bappa’s samadhi and relics, the priest insisted that we come to his home for food. The hospitality and care of the people could be felt in every spoon of food they served us. The food was sweet, but the love that they poured on us was even sweeter.
Before long, it became very apparent to us that the people of Saurashtra embodied many virtues simply from their association with the saints and this land. Our rickshaw driver, Irfan, who drove us around for 2 full days, was a very special example of this. I’ve experienced most drivers get agitated and impatient when we take a long time visiting saints, especially during peak sun hours, but Irfan was unusual. Not only did he never complain, but also, he went out of his way to guide us to saints and speak to local people in their dialect. His immense love and respect for the saints of Saurashta was beautiful to witness. On the second day traveling with him, I noticed that he was not eating all day. Later, I realized that it was Jumma, a day of congregation in Islam and that Irfan, as a Muslim, could not eat before offering his prayers. Irfan drove us in the scorching sun for a full day without food, yet he never wavered in his love, patience and kindness towards us. I could tell that his virtues stemmed from his love and respect for the saints.
It is only by the blessing of my Gurudev that I can recognize the value of the saints and this holy land. I have been to many places in India, but not all cultures have displayed the same beauty which we experienced in Saurashtra. Each place that is touched by a saint maintains a culture of kindness and hospitality. This culture is sustained by the Masters who come to teach us service, humility and compassion. They set the example for us all to follow and people who value and worship these saints often exhibit similar qualities as the saints. This is why Guruji tirelessly reminds us of the stories of great bhaktas in His Satsangs. The places and cultures that have been protected and nurtured by Masters know the true meaning of ‘Just Love’.