Jiva Joshi's scarifice and steadfastness for Satsang is inspiring. Despite the opposition he faced in his local town of Jetpur, Jiva did not give up the disciplines of Satsang...
Jiva Joshi was a pious Brahmin who lived in Jetpur in the Saurashtra region. He was a devout follower of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. For him Maharaj's word was his law. He would carry out every command of Shri Hari sincerely. His wife, Putlibai, their sons, Govardhan and Shivo, and daughter Kadvibhai (Mota Rambai) excelled one another in their devotion to Maharaj.
Jivabhai's righteous conduct was the talk of the town. Even those who prided themselves in their knowledge of dharma bowed their heads in salute to the pious Brahmin. But such high standards of dharma naturally created detractors. Some Brahmins of the town did not take kindly to the high rectitude of Jivabhai. He was so particular about his faith that he would not eat any item which contained garlic or onion even when he went to feasts arranged for Brahmins. He would sit separately and eat only ladus as they did not contain any objectionable ingredients. This was the case even when his own relatives invited him for meals. The word naturally spread about the strict dietary habits of Jivabhai.
The other Brahmins resented Jivabhai's attitude. They thought the best way to make him act as they did (by eating any food that was placed before them) was to make him give up Satsang. But Jivabhai, being a staunch follower of Sahajanand Swami, could not even dream of leaving Satsang. Such was his conviction. His detractors failed to make him give up his faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan, even when other Brahmins abused him. Jivabhai was as cool as a cucumber and continued his devotion undisturbed. This irritated his detractors all the more.
Once, Shriji Maharaj came to Jetpur. All the satsangis gathered for His darshan. Jiva Joshi and his family paid obeisance to Maharaj and they sat in the assembly. At that time Sahajanand Swami asked, "Joshi, your sons have grown up. Why have you not invested them with the yagnopavit (sacred thread)?" Joshi was an humble householder with modest means. He had just enough to feed his family and little to spare. So he replied, "Maharaj, my financial condition is weak. Moreover even the time is not favourable." Shri Hari asked, "How much will it cost for you to perform the ceremony?"
He said, "If the ceremony is performed in a simple manner, it would cost 200 koris, if it is conducted in a becoming manner, the expenses will come to 500 koris."
At that moment a merchant came for Maharaj's darshan. Maharaj told him, "On my account supply to this Jiva Joshi 500 koris of the necessary articles from your shop. The Sheth agreed. Maharaj set the auspicious time for the next day and decided to go ahead with the ceremony.
In the evening the brothers were to be taken out in a procession. Jivabhai requested Maharaj to come to his house on His Manki. "Because of Your kindness the sacred thread ceremony will be completed. I want You to participate in the procession." Maharaj readily agreed. The procession was headed by Maharaj on Manki and the two brothers. They went to the houses of satsangis. This way the procession concluded and Joshi was immensely happy.
The next day the sacred thread ceremony was held. Maharaj performed the rituals. Invitations had been sent out to relatives and friends to attend this ceremony. But strangely nobody turned up. Joshi was terribly upset and thought as to what he should do. The word of boycott reached Maharaj's ears. He wanted to know what had happened.
Somebody said, "It has been written in the scriptures that if somebody else (other than the parents) gives the sacred thread then the boy is not entitled to perform the shraddh of his parents. The food offered at shraddh goes to the one who invests the sacred thread. This is the reason for the boycott."
On hearing this, Maharaj had a hearty laugh. He said, "It is good. Whatever is given to Me belongs to the entire world. Jiva Joshi served the feast prepared for the occasion to the sadhus, attendants and satsangis, besides the poor."
In the evening Maharaj declared in the assembly, "Jiva Joshi is a pious Brahmin. So, I invested both his sons with the sacred thread. I asked the Sheth to give 500 koris worth of provisions, etc. for the ceremony and to debit it to My account. Now I have to repay the Sheth. A number of wealthy devotees were present in the assembly but none of them uttered a word."
The next day Shriji Maharaj went to Faneni. During an assembly there, He brought up the topic of repayment. But there also nobody volunteered to help Him. There was however a devoted satsangi who was not present, but his wife was sitting in the women's section. She thought, "If we have money and it is of no use to Maharaj, what is the use of such wealth?" She returned home and dug up the container in which her husband had put 1200 koris and placed it before Maharaj."
Maharaj said, "Have you asked your husband?"
The lady replied, "My husband has gone out of the village. There is no need for me to ask him. He will be happy with what I have done. He is ever eager to serve You."
Maharaj realised the spirit with which the satsangi was giving the money but retained only 500 koris which He had to repay to the Sheth and returned the remainder to her.
When the husband returned and learnt of what his wife had done, he was very happy.
Despite great hardships, he had saved 1200 koris. They were his life's earnings. Such was his love for Maharaj that he felt that Maharaj should have retained the entire amount instead of keeping only a part of it.
Maharaj was able to repay the Jetpur Sheth with the money given by this satsangi.
Kadvibai, the daughter of Jiva Joshi, was a devout satsangi from her childhood. She used to stay at Gadhada. She was a companion of Jivuba and Rajbai. She used to conduct spiritual assemblies and initiated thousands of women devotees into the Satsang.
Once the chief Darbar of the village held a feast for the Brahmins. The Brahmins of the village wanted to teach a lesson to Jiva Joshi because of his fastidious food habits. They disliked the idea of Joshi eating only ladus. "We are also religious-minded. Why can't he eat with us sitting in the same row?" they questioned. "His wish is to show that only he follows the injunctions of dharma," they accused. So they devised a plan whereby every item served at the feast contained onions or garlic. Even the ladus were not spared. Hence, there was not a single item which Jivabhai could eat. The Brahmins' plan was to make him sit with them in the common row. If Jiva wanted to eat separately, then they would complain against him to the Darbar and disgrace him. They went in a delegation and told the Darbar, "Bapu, today the entire Brahmin community of the village will eat at your house, except one. He does not care for your dignity. He will go hungry. If in your house all the Brahmins eat and he goes hungry it does not look good, either to you or us. You will not be fulfilling your role as a host."
After listening to them the Darbar lost his temper. He exploded, "Who is this fellow who wants to remain hungry when I am arranging a feast? Send him to my house, I shall find out what is the matter."
The Brahmins were delighted. They thought their plot was succeeding.
When Joshi came to his house, the Darbar asked him, "Joshi Maharaj, I hear you are not going to eat at my house today. May I know the reason."
Joshi replied, "Bapu, I have no objection to eating at your place. But I don't eat garlic or onion. And today they have been put in every item. Therefore I cannot eat any of them. That is the reason why I am not going to eat at your place. It is not out of any disrespect for you."
The rival Brahmins would not give in so easily. One Brahmin got up and said, "Bapu, today a lot of learned Brahmins who are versed in the scriptures have come here to partake of your feast. They know what dharma is. It applies to all. If they have no objection then why should this solitary Brahmin have any hesitation? So you pronounce in the presence of all of us that this man will not go without eating at your place."
Then the Darbar asked, "So Joshi, you will eat along with these people!"
Joshi replied, "Bapu, I may lose my life but not my vow (of not eating garlic, onion, etc.). It is a matter of principle for me. I am unable to fulfil your order. If you insist that I should eat with these people, then I shall cook the food myself and eat it."
At the prompting of the Brahmins, the Darbar told Joshi in plain words, "If you want to eat, sit with others in the same row and eat. Or else leave this village at this very moment. You do not have to bring anything from your home. You do not have to waste your breath. Leave this village quietly and go somewhere else."
On hearing this from the chief Darbar of the village, Joshi left the place with his wife and children and settled in Junagadh.
At that time Shri Hari was at Junagadh. Joshi had His darshan and told him of the events that compelled him to leave Jetpur. Maharaj asked him to bear with the misfortunes and to be of good cheer. He also gave Joshi the costly clothes and articles presented to Him by the devotees. He also wrote some letters to prominent people of the region commenting on Joshi's virtuous qualities of head and heart and also his being a staunch satsangi. One of the letters was written to Patel Bhaga-Mula of Pithavadi and other satsangis. Therein it was mentioned: "Jiva Joshi of Jetpur is a noble satsangi. That is why he left Jetpur, placing his obligations as a satsangi before his residence at Jetpur. You have to help him. I am sending Joshi with his family. He does not have anything. So, in order for him to have comfort at home I request you to give him whatever articles are needed to set up his house. He is a true devotee and a pious Brahmin. Please take proper care of him."
Joshi took the letter and went to Pithavadi. Bhaga-Mula and Bhaya-Ruda and other satsangis read Maharaj's letter and extended a warm welcome to the Joshis in their village. Then all the satsangis jointly gave them beddings, quilts, utensils, boxes and grain and filled Joshi's house with necessary articles.
The satsangis also gave Joshi's sons and daughters-in-law saris, clothes and other essential articles. They also gave Joshi three milch cows. In this manner the satsangis of Pithavadi helped Joshi due to the letter written by Maharaj.
Wherever Joshi went he and his family were treated with great respect by other satsangis. Encouraged by this Shriji Maharaj wrote a letter in the name of all satsangis of the Valak region. [The letter was got from Shri Jayantilal Bhanushankar, a descendent of Jiva Joshi.] The letter says:
"Written by Swami Shri Sahajanandji. Convey Jai Swaminarayan to one and all.
"The letter is being written because Joshi Jiva resides in the Valak region. He is a poor Brahmin. So if any devotee has to feed a god, let Jiva Joshi be fed (at his house). If any field is to be given in donation let Joshi's name be kept in mind. If any service is needed, let Joshi's help be enlisted. Joshi Jiva's welfare should be the concern of Valak satsangis.
"Samvat 1876, Ashad Sud 7."
Till the end, Jiva fought against evil doers and kept his record as a staunch satsangi. His name is written in letters of gold in the history of the Swaminarayan Sampraday..