This is a 2 page feature on Narsinh Mehta. CLICK HERE to see page 2.
Narsinh Mehta, also known as Narsi Mehta or Narsi Bhagat (1414 – 1481), was a Nagar Brahmin poet-saint of Gujarat, India, notable as a bhakta, author of many Vaishnava poetry. He is especially revered in Gujarati literature, where he is acclaimed as its Adi Kavi (Sanskrit for “first among poets”). His bhajan, Vaishnav Jan To is Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite and has become synonymous to him.
Narsinh Mehta was born in Vadnagar Nagar community at Talaja and later moved to Junagadh (then Jirndurg) in Saurashtra, Gujarat. He lost his parents when he was 5 years old. He could not speak until the age of 8. He was raised by his grand mother Jayakuwar
He married Manekbai probably in the year 1429. Mehta and his wife stayed at his brother Bansidhar’s home in Junagadh. However, his cousin’s wife did not welcome Narsinh very well. She was an ill-tempered woman, always taunting and insulting Narsinh Mehta for his worship (Bhakti). One day, when Narasinh Mehta had enough of these taunts and insults, he left the house and went to a nearby forest in search of some peace, where he fasted and meditated for seven days by a secluded Shiva lingam until Shiva appeared before him in person. On the poet’s request, the Lord took him to Vrindavan and showed him the eternal raas leela of Krishna and the gopis. A legend has it that the poet transfixed by the spectacle burnt his hand with the torch he was holding but he was so engrossed in the ecstatic vision that he was oblivious of the pain.
Mehta, as the popular account goes, at Krishna’s command decided to sing His praises and the nectarous experience of the raas in this mortal world. He resolved to compose around 22,000 kirtans or compositions.
After this dream-like experience, Mehta returned to his village, touched his bhabhi’s feet, and thanked her for insulting him. In Junagadh, Mehta lived in poverty with his wife and two children, a son named Shamaldas, and a daughter for whom he had special affection, Kunwarbai. He revelled in devotion to his hearts’ content along with sadhus, saints, and all those people who were Hari’s subjects – Harijans – irrespective of their caste, class or sex. It also seems that he must have fallen into a somewhat ill repute for his close relations with Lord’s sakhis and gopis, Narsinh mehta’s women followers, with whom he danced and sang. The Nagars of Junagadh despised him and spared no opportunity to scorn and insult him. By this time, Mehta had already sung about the raasleela of Radha and Krishna. The compositions are collected under the category of shringar compositions.
Soon after his daughter Kunwarbai’s marriage (around 1447) to Shrirang Mehta, Kunwarbai became pregnant and it was a custom for the girl’s parents to give gifts and presents to all the in-laws during the seventh month of pregnancy. This custom, known as Mameru, was simply out of the reach of poor Narsinh who had hardly anything except intransigent faith in his Lord. How Krishna helped his beloved devotee is a legend depicted in ‘Mameru Na Pada’. This episode is preserved vividly in the memory of Gujarati people by compositions by later poets and films.
Other famous legends include ‘Hundi(Bond)’ and ‘Har Mala (Garland)’ .
CLICK HERE to see page 2 and leave any comments.