~by Rukmini Walker
In late December we were in the state of Gujarat in India, and my friends, Sadanandi, her husband, Vamsi Bihari, and their tiny son, Vaisnava, took me to the city of Dakor to visit the famous temple of Ranchor Rai*.
As referenced in the footnote below, this temple celebrates the pastime of Krsna, Who is called Ranchor, or the One Who ran away from the battlefield.
But several thousand years later, in the year 1153, another charming pastime transpired. A simple farmer named Borana lived in the village of Dakor in Gujarat. Every six months, he would walk the four hundred fifty kilometer distance to have the darshan (sacred viewing) of his beloved Deity of Krsna, or Ranchor, in Dwaraka.
He would stay there for a few days, seeing the beauty of his Lord, and then walk the long distance back to his home again. This was his vow and this was his great joy, to visit the Lord of his heart in this way twice each year.
When he reached the age of seventy-two, he again came before his Krsna. He explained that now he was so elderly and could no longer walk the long distance again. The Deity of Krsna spoke to him and instructed him to speak to a certain man who owned an oxcart, and ask if he could borrow the oxcart to go to see his Krsna, or Ranchor. Krsna then instructed Borana that next time you come to see Me, I will come back with you in the oxcart and come to live in your village with you.
The simple farmer, Borana, followed the Lord’s instructions. The man who owned the oxcart agreed, and Borana set off in the oxcart to again go see his Lord.
When he arrived in Dwaraka in the oxcart, the pujaris, or priests of the temple, who has known him for so many years, asked him why he had come in an oxcart this time. The simple farmer told them that Krsna had told him to bring an oxcart and that He would now go with him in the oxcart to live in his village. The pujaris concluded that now the old man has gone mad.
But that night around midnight, after the Deity had been put to rest, and the temple doors had been locked up tight, by the Lord’s mystic power, all the locked doors opened, the heavy Deity of Krsna came out of the temple and came onto the oxcart that had been brought by the farmer, Borana. The oxcart was full of grass, so Borana carefully covered the Lord with grass and they drove away. But due to his age and invalidity, Borana was driving very slowly. Krsna told Borana that He would drive the cart Himself, and they made it to the village of Dakor in one night.
Meanwhile, in the morning, when they went to awaken the Lord in the altar room, the pujaris found Him to be missing. They panicked, but having heard the preposterous story spoken by the farmer, Borana, they suspected him and began the long journey to Dakor to get their Lord back.
Upon reaching Dakor, Krsna instructed Borana to hide Him in the nearby lake and to tell the pujaris when they came that he didn’t know where the Lord was.
To make the long story shorter, when the pujaris rested after their long journey to Dakor, the Lord came in their dreams and told them that it was His desire now to stay there with His loving devotee, Borana. He told them that He would appear in another form in a well in Dwaraka, and after six months, they could find Him there, and take Him to their temple and begin to worship Him there.
And so it happened, that the original Krsna Deity of Dwaraka, originally installed by Vajranab, the great-grandson of Lord Krsna, came Himself driving an oxcart, to live with and be worshiped by His simple devotee, Borana in the village of Dakor.
Krsna is called Bhakta Vatsala, or the One Who loves to serve His devotees. If our hearts become as simple and pure as the farmer, Borana, then we can also taste such a sweet reciprocal relationship. Out of love, the Absolute Truth becomes relative, to enjoy relationships with His devotees as a driver of his cart, as a friend, as a parent, or even as a lover.
Ranchor Rai Kijaya!
All the best,
*(Ranchor means one who ran away from the battlefield. In Chapter 52 of his Krishna Book, Srila Prabhupada narrates the story of Krsna, Who is worshiped as Ranchor. The temple we visited is the temple of Ranchor Rai, which celebrates this beautiful pastime.)