Here comes the Vasudev!
Screamed the children of the relic 110-year old building in south Mumbai.
My ears suddenly shot up like the ears of the rabbit who hears the sound of a predator. Immediately, I ran to the 110-year old window of the 110-year old building to see who this dude is. And I saw this man, dressed like a court jester, singing and dancing some devotional songs. I understand Marathi and I could understand that he isn’t a beggar but someone who’s much awaited for and a classic character from the Indian, rather a Maharashtrian culture.
गोविंद राम हो, गोपाल राम जी-जी |
केशव राम हो, माधव राम जी-जी |
He sang these words while playing a musical instrument, to praise Lord Krishna. I was impressed by his act and by then I could make out that he is not a jester, but a servant, rather a messenger of God. I couldn’t control myself and went outside to talk to him, with a currency note.
I bowed down to him, touched his feet — as per our great Indian tradition — and asked for his name and about his songs. His name was Dharmadayal Dhumal, a middle-aged man from a village in Maharashtra. He told me that he lives in central Mumbai, and came there every day to sing songs of devotion and spread the message of God. The message ripped my heart.
You’re born in a religious house, don’t leave agriculture. Listen, cattle owner, keep worshiping Lord Krishna. God has given you wealth, don’t be proud. If your cows grow old, don’t sell them to the butcher. Put your child in school, don’t pamper him or her. Your elder brother is like your father, speak respectfully with him. Your father has bred you and does not shirk your responsibilities towards him. Your mother has given birth to you, so don’t use foul language with her. If ever there’s a dispute with your brother, don’t go to court but resolve it amicably between yourselves.
We talked about half an hour, while was busy collecting coins and currency notes that people were showering — actually throwing — on him. He was wearing a conical crown bedecked with peacock feathers, a long and white flowing shirt, trousers, and a scarf tied at the waist with a lute inserted in it.
The combined sounds of the melody which he plays with one hand, the musical instrument called Chiplya with the other, and the tinkle of his anklets beautifully complement his high treble. His entire appearance had a mesmerizing effect on young and old alike. He was enchanting!
All you ladies, please donate a blouse for my wife and a coat for my daughter.
There was an old man who noticed my curiosity and explained to me the whole concept.
We’ve to bestow only a handful in his bag as a token of appreciation for his contribution to society, and he’ll sing and will bless us for our charity. And then, his sweet lute will continue to educate the impressionable mind of Maharashtra through his songs in his melodious voice.
Our messenger was slowly moving out when I inquired me and he sweetly said something that took my breath away.
I’m a messenger of God. In olden time, I used to be the messenger but now there’s WhatsApp. My time is slowly fading away as people don’t have time and have cultivated material Gods.
It’s such a painful fact!
In this age of the internet, the world has become small; it has brought people from one corner of the globe to our home but separated us from our physical neighbors. Vasudev is nothing less than what WhatsApp is today; just in an ancient format.