SAINT JALARAM BAPA
|Saint Jalaram Bapa|
Born : 14th November 1799
Passed away : 23rd Feb. 1881
Jalaram (Gujarati: જલારામ) popularly known as Jalaram Bapa (Gujarati: જલારામ બાપા) (14 November 1799 – 23 February 1881) was a Hindu saint from Gujarat, India.
Jalaram Bapa was born in Virpur, Rajkot district, Gujarat, India in 1799, on the seventh day of the Kartika month. His father was Pradhan Thakkar and his mother was Rajbai Thakkar who belonged to Thakkar, which is a sub-group of Lohana clan. He was a devotee of the Hindu god Rama.
Jalaram Bapa was however not willing to live the householder's life and to continue to do the business of his father. He was mostly engaged in serving pilgrims, sadhus and saints. He separated himself from his father's business and his uncle Valjibhai asked Jalaram Bapa and his wife Virbai to stay in his house.
At the age of sixteen, in 1816, Jalaram married Virbai, the daughter of Pragjibhai Thakkar (Somaiya) of Atkot. However, he was inclined to completely withdraw from materialistic life and become an ascetic, Virbai proved to be an asset to him in his works of feeding poor and needy. She was also a pious and saintly lady and she also decided to follow the path of serving mankind. At the age of twenty, Jalaram, accompanied with his wife, decided to go for a pilgrimage to the holy cities like Ayodhya, Varanasi and Badrinath.
At the age of 18, Jalaram Bapa became the disciple of Bhoja Bhagat of Fatehpur and accepted him as his guru and was given the "Guru Mantra" (mantra) and Hindu prayer beads in the name of Rama. With blessings of his guru, he started "Sadavrat", a feeding center, a place where all sadhus and saints as well as the needy could have food any time.
One day, a sadhu who came to his house gave him an idol of Rama, forecasting that Hanuman, the monkey-god and devotee of Rama, would follow soon. Jalaram Bapa installed Rama as his family deity and after a few days, an idol of Hanuman appeared out of earth, on its own. The idol of Rama's consort Sita and his brother Lakshmana also appeared. Due to a miracle the container in the house of Jalaram, where grains were stored, became in exhaustible. Later other devotees and village folk joined him in his works of human welfare.
Soon his fame spread as an divine incarnation. Whoever came to Virpur, whether Hindu, Muslim irrespective of caste, creed and religion were fed by Jalaram. This tradition of feeding people continues to this day in Virpur.
Once a tailor named Haraji, who was suffering from severe stomach-ache came to him to get himself cured. Jalaram Bapa prayed to God and Haraji was cured. He fell at Jalaram Bapa 's feet and addressed him as Bapa. Since then the name by which he was known as Jalaram Bapa. Soon his fame spread and people came to him to get rid of diseases and problems. Jalaram Bapa would pray for them in name of Rama and miracles happened. Both Hindus and Muslims became his disciples. In 1822, son of a rich Muslim merchant named Jamal fell ill and doctors gave up all hope. At that point of time, Haraji, told Jamal of his experience (parcha). Jamal, prayed from his house, that if his son is relieved of the disease, he would give 40 maunds of grain to Jalaram Bapa for sadavrat. His son recovered and Jamal visited house of Jalaram Bapa with cart load of grains and called as him Jalla so Allah!!.
At one time, God in the guise of an old saint told Jalaram to donate Virbai to serve him. Jalaram consulted her and taking her consent sent her with the saint. But after walking some miles and reaching a nearby forest, the saint asked Virbai to wait for him. She waited but saint did not return. Instead, there was an Akashwani stating that it was only to test the hospitality of the couple, this test was taken. Before the saint disappeared, he had left a Danda and Jholi, with Virbai. Virbai returned home to Jalaram, as instructed in the celestial voice with Danda & Jholi. This Danda and Jholi are still there at Virpur and are kept in display in a glass enclosure.
Jalaram Bapa and Virbai had a daughter named Jamnaben from their marriage. Jamnaben's grandson Harirambahi was adapted by Shri Jalaram Bapa and his direct descendant, Giridhar Bapa and now his son Raghuram Bapa now heads the gadi of revered Virpur shrine of Jalaram Bapa.
The main shrine of Jalaram Bapa is located at Virpur. The shrine is actually the house complex where Jalaram lived during his lifetime. The shrine houses the belongings of Jalaram and the idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshamana and Hanuman worshipped by him. It also has on display the Jholi and Danda said to be given by God.But the main attraction is the portrait of Jalaram Bapa. There is also an actual black and white photo of Jalaram Bapa, taken one year before his death.
Devotees have offered so much money to this temple in the past, that the temple is no longer taking any more donations since 9 February 2000. In fact, it is only temple in India to set such a trend to not to take any offerings and donations.
In modern time, devotees of Jalaram have experienced that if they pray to the saint sincerely, he blesses them and fulfils their wishes. These experiences are known as Parchas. They pray to Jalaram Bapa and if their wish is fulfilled they fastin and visit a temple on Thursday or would send Parchas to be printed on Jalaram Jyot - a magazine published from Rajkot. These Parchas are printed free-of-cost in the magazine every month with name and address of the devotee.Today there are large followers of Jalaram Bapa, who worship him like a God, similar in line of Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Today Jalaram Bapa's birthday is celebrated on 7th day of the Hindu month of Kartika as Jalaram Jayanti. It falls on seven days after the festival of Diwali. On this day, Jalaram devotees feed people food as prasad. There is a huge fair and festival at Virpur on the occasion and millions of devotees visit Virpur, on this day to pay their respect to the saint and have prasad of chiefly of khichdi with Bundi and popular farsan item Ganthiya.The Jalaram Jayanti celebrations are also held at all Jalaram temples spread throughout India & abroad with festivities, where devotees participate to pay their respects and have prasad.
The idol of Jalaram Bapa is shown as a smiling man holding danda and wearing often a white paghadi and white dhoti-kurta.The idols of his patron deities Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are also mostly found along with his idol. Temples of Jalaram Bapa today can be found in almost all big & small towns throughout India.Outside India, temples are in East Africa,United Kingdom,United States of Americaand New Zealand.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jalaram