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Hindu Bhakti (Devotional) Stories Index
Bhakta Karma Bai


Stories of Devotees, Stories from Puranas, Stories from Hindu Mythology, Stories of Bhakthas, Stories of Alwars, Stories of Nayanars, Stories of Hindu Saints, Biographies of Hindu Philosophers, Stories of Hindu Sages, Stories of Hindu Gods and Goddesses,
What is self realization? How does it help us come out of the sorrow of life? What amount of happiness do we get in treating God with love more than with Bhakti?

Once there lived a pious lady called Karma Bai in the pilgrimage centre ‘Jagannadh Kshetra’. Unfortunately her husband died while she was pregnant. She was torn between her grief for her husband and the love for her new arrival. By God’s grace she was blessed with a boy baby. She put her life and soul into him and looked after him well. She performed Upanayanam for him, provided him all the classical knowledge required and performed his marriage. History repeats itself. Her son died when her daughter-in-law was pregnant. Both the women pinned their faith on the new arrival, but God seemed to test them. She had a grandson, but he soon died suddenly.
She was brooding over her state of affairs. Why should she alone suffer thus? She was stripped off of her husband,, her son and ever her grandson. Who would take care of her? How would she lead the rest of the life? When she was thus cursing herself one day a learned pundit halted in her house.

The pundit asked her the reason behind her sorrow day in and day out. When she let our story he taught her Atma Jnana. He spoke thus, ‘Look here! Is there any one who can proudly proclaim I am happy? So you give up your misery. Kindly follow my words of advice. Don’t ignore them. I will not gain anything by such an advice. Don’t you know that every man who is born has to undergo the various phases of life? He has to pass through childhood, adolescent stage, adulthood, old age and he has to end this eventful history of life in miserable death! Punarapi Jananam, Punarapi Maranam’. Man is born again and again as proclaimed in the Sastras. His atma takes the physical form based on the good deeds or bad deeds associated with it. He enters the world crying and has to continue crying till he breathes the last.

It is foolishness to assume that happiness lies in material comforts. People think they are happy if they can satiate their hunger or if they have electric gadgets to protect them from seasonal changes. Eating food may give them happiness but what about the suffering behind procuring that food How much effort has to be put in to make both ends meet? Leave aside even this suffering. Let’s come back to mere eating food.

Is one happy always by eating all the rubbish he likes? Doesn’t he face indigestion, acidity, gastric trouble etc? One that does physical labour makes somebody press his feet. One who is interested in lady love spends a greater part of his time in pleasing her or in pleading her.

It is foolish to treat this body as a combination of nerves and senses and to be carried away by the sense organs. People feel the importance of Agni in winter, of water when thirsty and of food when hungry. When they can’t get these, they suffer. So these are sources of suffering for them. The more a man amasses wealth, the greater is his misery. The larger is his circle of family and friends the greater in his sorrow. ‘Dhanagamana trushna’ leads him away from God. When his heart is filled with money, kith and kin, where will he have place for God?

You cannot confine misery to one phase of life. You see a soul struggling at death bed. You see the labour pains of a mother during child birth. You hear of the suffering of the soul in Yamaloka. So tell me, at which stage are you happy? The whole world is a miserable world. Then how do you come out of this misery? Only by clinging to the creator of this world! He alone can save us from the troubles of this world. You don’t have to doubt the truth of my statement. You don’t have to doubt your capabilities. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood old age and death are passing stages of the body but not of the ‘atma’. Atma is devoid of these stages. People postpone acquiring spiritual knowledge until old age. But when they reach old age they become ‘sans teeth, sans eyes , sans taste, sans memory and reach a pitiable childhood stage. So they do not have energy to pray.

A man spends his childhood in sports, his youth in pleasures and his old age in helplessness. For instance let us say a washer-man is at the bank of river Ganges, washing his clothes. If he feels thirsty, he should drink water immediately. There is no point in postponing it till he completes his task.

Now, what has happened has happened! There is no meaning in brooding over past, ignoring the present. Every moment is precious. Remember, Atma has no stages. Make it live peacefully. Develop this vairagya and have faith in Srimannarayana. You don’t have to face any difficulty in praying to him. In kaliyuga, just by mere chanting of God’s name you get the result. Make friendship with holy people. Their influence will drive out your attachment to the world. If you acquire spiritual knowledge you won’t hate the world around which is filled in misery. Even if you feel the whole world around you is happy and only you are suffering, don’t hate them. Hatred leads to downfall. So don’t have ill feeling towards others. Please follow my advice and treat everyone around you as an incarnation of the Lord.
The Learned man, after having taught her thus, gave her a Krishna deity and added, ‘Just as you looked after your son or grandson, take care of this deity!” He left her house later.

She thought that her God-son couldn’t wait for food. So without having her bath, she prepared food for him, offered it to him, made him sleep and then she resorted to her household chores.

She had been doing thus for a long time. One day a few versatile Brahmins came to her house and asked. ‘Oh mother! You seemed to have cooked food early in the morning! But now you are going to have your bath, why so? She replied, ‘I served my baby food, made him sleep. After all mother’s priorities are her children first and next come her personal interests. They couldn’t believe her, ‘But there doesn’t seem to be any child in your house. Please tell us the truth. Then she brought her baby and narrated the story behind it.

The Brahmins were impressed by her fond love and service to the Lord and they saw personally God eating the food served by her. They appraised her but still couldn’t appreciate her unorthodox behaviour. They insisted on her having her bath before she cooked food.

Poor innocent lady meticulously followed their instructions. That night, Lord Krishna appeared in the dream of a Poojari and said. ‘Poor Karmabai’ was carried away by silly suggestions of some people. I had to wait for long for my food. I was very hungry. Go tell her she need not follow these rituals. She is such a great devotee. Let her do as of yore!

The Poojari was surprised and came to Karmabai’s house to convey the message. Karmabai felt very sorry for her baby. ‘How stupid I am! I made my son starve’ she thought and as advised by God, she followed her previous methodology. The Brahmins who suggested a different method and the Poojari who brought God’s message all were stunned at her faith. They praised God and her and left the place. Karmabai continued her normal method and attained Moksha after her death.


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