JALARAM BAPA (1799-1881 A. D. )
The saying goes - Guest is god-'Athidhi Devo Bhava'. That is why
among Indians, it is a tradition, whether there be sufficient food for
the family members or not, but whoever comes to the house at the meals
time, are first fed. Feeding all, and especially the poor, are not only
a humane but also a spiritual act as per Indian thinking.There is no greater
meritorious act than feeding the poor and hungry. Actually allaying the
hunger of whosoever he is, whether he is rich or poor, is a highly meritorious
Virpur in Saurashtra is very famous. It was the place of birth of one
of the great saints of recent times, namely Sri Jalaram. He had sanctified
the place by his devotional and spiritual sadhanas. Feeding the people
was one of the routine daily chores in his life, besides his other devotional
exercises. He used to delight himself allaying the hunger of people. "It
is Narayana, the lord himself I am feeding" - that was his bhavana and
belief. Even today in the Jalaram Ashram at Virpur, thousands and thousands
of people are fed daily. The kitchen is run there at all times of the
day. What is fed there is 'Prasad', which not only fills the stomach and
nourishes the body, but also nourishes the soul. Jalaram termed this mass
feeding by the name 'Sada Vrat', that is an all-time and every
day duty, which he undertook as his principal Sadhana.
Jalaram was born in Virpur in the year 1799, on the seventh day of the
Kartika month. His father was Pradhan Thakkar and mother was Rajbai. At
his sixteenth year, Jalaram was married. His wife's name was Virbai.
Jalaram's uncle Valji, who had no children, had always loved Jalaram.
He asked Jalaram and his wife to stay in his house, as members of his
own family. He had a grocery shop of his own, and made Jalaram to attend
to it. Jalaram was working very sincerely at the shop. But here his charitable
deeds continued as ever.
Many miraculous events happening in Jalaram's life brought a tremendous
change in his mind. His spiritual yearning, which was dormant in him so
far, burst forth in a new blaze. It made him completely restless. His
uncle, who noticed this, thought that it was good and advisable to send
him on a pilgrimage to some of the holy places. Jalaram visited Ayodhya,
Kasi, Badrinath and several other sacred places. He also visited Fatehpur
and took Diksha from one saint named Bhojalram.He
sought also the Guru's blessings to start ' Sadavrat'.
started the Sadavrat at his 20th year. He just started it with forty measures
of grain. The very first guest to his Sadavrat was a saint. The guest
saint blessed Jalaram and gave him the idols of Sri Rama, Lakshman and
Sita and told him that he should offer worships to the idols daily. On
the third day itself after Jalaram started the worship of the idols, he
got a vision of Hanuman, Jalaram got a temple constructed and installed
the idols gifted to him by the saint, along with the idol of Hanuman also.Jalaram
was doing the daily worship of the idols till his very last day, with
the deepest devotion.
For his Sadavrat, the inflow of the people was increasing day by day.
Jalaram's gentle and hospitable nature, combined with his humility, used
to win the admiration for all. But his means were meager and limited to
meet the ever-increasing expenses for the daily mass feeding of the visitors
and the pilgrims. He used to work very hard in the field" to make both
ends meet", to keep the "Sadavrat" ever going on without any slackening.
But his ever-lasting faith and dependence on Lord Sri Rama guided him
Inspired by his insatiable desire to feed the poor and needy, many became
his devotees, and used to serve him, helping in the 'Sadavrat'.
Mulubha Thakore, Jam Saheb and many others, who experienced Jalaram's
grace, gave contributions to his Ashram. Whenever there was any shortage
in the ashram, help used to come from unknown sources. His wife always
stood by his side with total devotion and used to toil all the time in
the Ashram- services and kitchen work.
The maharajah of Dhrangadhara presented two big grinding stones for use
in the kitchen, which are still there. The Nawab of Junagadh donated some
land for the Ashram.
stood the test of time, wavered. One day an old sadhu came. He appeared
greatly fatigued and tired. Jalaram welcomed him and offered to serve
him. The visitor made a strange request. He said" I do not want your food.
I have no one to attend to me, if you really want to help, you give away
your wife and send her along with me to serve and attend on me." Jalaram
after consultation with his wife offered Virabai to him. The sadhu left
the place along with Virabai. They reached the outskirts of a forest.
The sadhu asked her to wait there for some time and said he had a little
work to attend to and would come back soon. He left with his 'Danda'
and 'Jholi' asking her to keep watch on them while he would be
away. As he walked along in to the forest, Akash vani was heard saying
"Virabai, my child ! you are a great sati. Your husband Jalaram is matchless
in his charity; he excels even Sibi and Karna. He is my dearest devotee.
I bless you both always. Go back to your husband, install my Danda and
Jholi in your Ashram, and worship them. Go on serving your husband and
people. That is your worship to me. I shall be ever with you." The Danda
and Jholi were installed in Virpur and they are worshipped even now. Jalaram
and his wife thus stood the severest test of God, passed through it unscathed
and earned the fullest Grace of God.
had one daughter. She was married to Bhaktiram of Kotdapitha. She had
one son Hari Ram. In the year 1881, Jalaram Bapa took his Samadhi. At
Virpur, the Sadavrat goes on still, in a most magnificent way.