|Unflagging obedience to God’s moral and spiritual commands has its own profound benefits. God protects, cares and blesses such devotees with inner peace and harmony. The story of Jethur Ayar’s unstained character and faith in Shriji Maharaj is inspiring and heartening.
The wedding ceremony festivities had ended. Tired and exhausted, everyone was fast asleep. On this quiet and peaceful wintry night, everyone was sleeping peacefully. Everyone, that is, except a group of four partially-hooded Kathis standing at the rear of the house.
Their eyes reflected cruelty and guile. They were holding pickaxes and crowbars and had swords tied to their waist. Stealthily, each member of the group was busy executing his duty. The atmosphere was so peaceful that even their breaths could be heard. But they were focussed only on one target – the jewellery trunks inside the house.
Fachariya is a small, but prosperous village, situated to the south of Dedan in the region of Babariyavad. Jethur Ayar was a wealthy and respected resident of the village. His grandson, 20-year-old Ram Ayar – the son of Kandha Ayar – had just got married today. After dinner, the women-folk of the family had given their precious jewellery to Ram’s aunt, Kali Ayar, to look after. Together the jewellery of Ram’s wife and that of the other women of the family filled four trunks – two trunks of gold jewellery and two trunks of silver jewellery.
Soon it was past midnight and the Kathis were busy making a hole through the back wall of the Ayars’ home. As soon as they had penetrated it, their tools hit a container of grains and they were faced with a heap of grains that emptied themselves through the hole in the wall. Their entry into the house was blocked. Undeterred, they moved along the wall and carved out another hole, working at a frantic pace. Within a short time, they were through. They could see a dim light inside. But when the leader put his head through the hole, he saw a sight which brought him to a standstill. He gasped in amazement. In the faint light, he saw two shining men, with rosaries in hand, protecting the jewellery trunks. He immediately retreated, and signaling with his eyes, informed his accomplices to backtrack. Soon they had mounted their horses and raced out of the village. Their mission had been totally unsuccessful.
At sunrise as the Ayars and other villagers awoke, they saw the hole in the wall. Quickly, a security cordon was thrown around the house with the thought that someone may still be inside.
When 70-year-old Jethur Ayar heard the news of the break-in, he was bewildered and wondered, “For many years I’ve followed all the codes that Bhagwan Swaminarayan has prescribed in the Shikshapatri. I haven’t lapsed in observing even one of them. I have totally surrendered to Maharaj and yet why has this happened!” He became lost in thought and then instructed, “Find out what has been taken.”
And so, all four trunks were emptied and the jewellery items counted. To everyone’s surprise and pleasure, not a single piece was missing. The thieves had taken nothing. The family breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Jethur acknowledged, “Maharaj, You’ve protected us… You are so merciful.”
But as they rejoiced, two of the family’s farm workers rushed in, “Jai Swaminarayan Jethurbhai,” they said breathing heavily.
“Come in, what brings you here in such a hurry?” Jethur enquired.
The workers revealed, “A group of thieves had stolen our 13 buffaloes. We were fast asleep at the time. But two men came, woke us up and told us, “Wake up! Thieves are stealing your cattle. Go and stop them.” So we rushed there, and because of the commotion the thieves were startled and ran away empty-handed.”
Jethur Ayar listened with interest to the story. Then he raised his right hand in which he was holding a rosary and said, “Maharaj, your compassion is great. You are always protecting us.”
Jethur Ayar’s face glowed with conviction in the divine powers of Shriji Maharaj.
Kandha Ayar had a 50 vigha farm on the village outskirts. He had planted millet, and the conditions had been so good that a bumper yield was expected. Kandha looked at the crop, swaying gently in the wind, and felt totally satisfied. He planned to harvest the crop after his son’s wedding. For the next several days, Kandha left his farm unattended. Seizing this opportunity, a group of Kathis from the nearby village of Dedan entered the farm. They harvested the entire crop, then decided to rest a while before packing it into bundles to take away. With this thought, they sat in the shade. But suddenly, a posse of 25-30 mounted riders attacked them. They wielded their sticks and beat the Kathis. The Kathis had only one option – to escape. But the riders made their escape difficult and painful. Eventually, leaving everything behind, the Kathis managed to escape. They didn’t even have time to collect their shoes and tools, let alone the harvested crop.
Next morning, after the wedding, Kandha Ayar paid a visit to his farm. He was dumbfounded by what he saw. He realised that thieves had come to take his crop – but that some protective force had also come to his rescue preventing the thieves from escaping with even one grain from the farm. And the bonus for him was that the crop had been harvested – saving him the effort!
When Jethur Ayar heard this story, tears of joy flowed from his eyes. Once again, he thanked Shriji Maharaj for His protection. In the span of just one night, Shri Hari had protected them three times! God is truly compassionate towards His devotees.
Jethur Ayar and his family had always freely helped the poorer Kathis of Dedan. But despite this, they planned to rob him of his jewellery and crops. The Kathis realised their mistake and approached Jethur to seek pardon.
The Kathis fell at Jethur Ayar’s feet and said, “We didn’t realise that you had so many people working for you!”
Jethur was a little amused at that and revealed, “Brothers, I don’t have anybody working for me. But our Lord is all-powerful. And it is He who has come to our protection. So why don’t you all also seek His refuge and resolve to tread the path of righteousness.”
The news of Maharaj’s grace on Jethur Ayar and his family spread, and everyone realised that it was Jethur Ayar’s strong faith and disciplined life that had earned this favour from Shriji Maharaj.
Translated by Sadhu Mukundcharandas