PandurangaVittala. Though suffering hardships from a cruel mother-in-law and
a foolish husband, she bore it and reposed pure 'Bhakti' (devotion) in Lord
vittala who, for her sake, served her people.
Devotee of Panduranga Vittala. Though suffering hardships from a cruel
mother- in- law and a foolish husband, She bore it and reposed pure 'Bhakti'(devotion)
in Lord Vittala whom, for her sake, served her people and transformed them.
A poor man and his wife lived in a town near Pandharapur. Though poor, they
were lead- ing a peaceful, contented life. They would, within their
limitations, make dona- tions to charities; they would welcome and entertain
guests.They were partaking in others' joys and helping those in
difficulties. They were liked by all. Pandharapur is a holy place.
Panduranga Vittala is the presiding deity there. There were a large number
of devotees in that vicinity worshipping Him. The poor couples too were
among them. They had no children and it distressed them. They ardently wor-
shipped Vittala daily and prayed for getting children. As though in response
to their devout prayers, the poor man's wife gave birth to a female child.
The baby grew up into a beautiful girl possessing many good qualities since
childhood. Sakhu had imbibed in her a deep sense of devotion of God. She
assisted in the 'Puja' at house by preparing flower-garlands, sandal- wood
paste, etc., tended the cattle, assisted her mother with cooking and was
constantly engaged in useful domestic chores. The parents loved her
immensely. Neighbors looked upon this smiling, active girl with delight. She
would never hurt anybody nor utter harsh words. She made friends with other
children and played with them. She respected the elders and was devoted to
them. Everybody loved her.
Miser Of Karaveerapura
There lived in the town of Karaveerapura a Pandit. He used to carry the
Vedic texts with him and was always reciting mantras (hymns). But all that
was for no good purpose. He would not even drive away a crow with his
unwashed hand after meals lest any morsel of rice should fall down and the
crow might eat it! He was not poor but miserly.
Bharat is a big country. There are many mountains, rivers, forests and open
plains. In the North, Ganga, Yamuna and Brahma- putra are very big
rivers.Likewise big rivers
like Cauvery, Krishna and Godavari flow in the South.
Karaveera town was on the banks of Krishna. There was much greenery; good
crops grew on the fertile lands, and Mother Earth was bountiful to the
people. But the pandit was so miserly that people had named him
Krupanaraya'('Krupana' means a miser). His wife Gayyalibai was an amazon,
quarrelsome woman, and was always insulting -people and picked up quarrels
with them. She was neither a devotee of God nor helpful in any way to
others. No charities for her, and she would not entertain any guests at
their house. The couple had a son whose name was Oaduraya. Neither the
father not the son
dared to open their mouth, and the woman ruled the household as per her
Krupanaraya had taught the Vedas to his son but it was mere parrotlike
Matters from the sacred texts filled his brain, but his heart was barren. He
developed any good qualities like being friendly, helpful and kind to
People used to keep away from this family.While some feared the wife'sverbal
onslaughts, others did not like to have any contact or dealings with these
only loved money.
As the son reached marriageable age, his parents began to look for a bride
to him. But who would offer their daughter to such a person and the family?
'Better throw the girl into a well than marry her into such a household,'
they would say. Realizing that none in the town were willing to offer their
son a bride, his father began to search for one in neighboring places.
In his search, Krupanaraya came to living and the town where Sakhubai was
living and someone directed him to her house. Her father received him in a
friendly manner. Sakhubai brought water for him to wash his hands & feet
helped her mother in preparing the lunch for the guest; she set the plate
and tumbler for him.
Krupanaraya was impressed with the girl's intelligence and helpful
disposition. He asked for her to be given in marriage to her son.
Though Sakhu's father had heard about the wealthy pandit, they were unaware
of the bad name he had earned. The poor, good-hearted couple felt happy;
they thought it was a boon from Lord Vittala that their daughter should be
married into such a wealthy family.They were poor and some times would not
have enough food even for two meals a day and they had to wear old and worn
clothes. They now felt that at least their daughter would enjoy a happy life
and readily agreed for the proposal.
Krupanaraya fixed the muhurta (auspicious time) to with his wife and son
marriage without the bridegroom’s coming to light. Gayyalibai had brought
presents for some gold Jewelry were impressed and was lucky. Krupanaraya
then returned to Karaveerapura.
Sakhu's father-in-law fixed an auspicious day for bringing their
daughter-in-law. Sakhu was then only twelve. Her parents brought her and the
function of welcoming her was gone through. Sakhu's mother felt that as she
was too young, they would take her back and send her when she matured. But
Gayyalibai insisted that the girl would remain at their home from now on.
Sakhu's parents could not have their say and returned thinking of bringing
their daughter after home sometime.
Tender girl Sakhu revered her father-in-law and mother-in-law as her own
considered her husband as God. But she was shocked to see the manner in
which they behaved. The Mother-in-law would scold her all the time. She had
to Pound paddy, churn the grains cleanse the vessels, store the water, wash
the clothes There was no end to the tasks she had to perform. Still
Gayyalibai was not satisfied with anything she did. She would angrily shout
about the dishes not property washed and go on to denounce that her mother
had not taught her any work well. Sakhu had to constantly weep, suffering
the scolding. Her mother-in-law, after serving meals to the mate members,
would throw a little rice and a bit of other dishes into her plate. It was
like the care- less feeding of dogs. By the time Sakhu went to the river
for washing clothes and returned, even that little food would have become
stone cold. But she silently sat in a corner and ate it silently shedding
tears. Sometimes, it would be infested with ants, flies etc. Many days she
would not eat at all.After coming to her husband's house, Sakhu was now like
a lost and forlorn deer.
Can You Live In a House Where There is No Dharma
Though she had grown up in her poor parents' house, Sakhu had never aspired
for rich,sumptuous food or anything of the sort. One may starve if no food
is available but the atmosphere in this house was shocking. Sakhu had heard
that her father- in-law was a great Vedic scholar and she had thought that
such learned men had greater faith in God. She had felt that Krupanaraya,
rich and learned, was helpful to others in a liberal manner, donate for
charities, etc. Now all her illusions were shattered. One day when she was
pound- ing rice, a beggar came to the house for alms. She got a handful of
rice and came out to give it to him. Seeing it, Gayyalibai poured insults on
her and accused her that she was trying to destroy their house. Krupanaraya
supported his wife. Sakhu felt extremely sad, Should one not have some
sympathy, dharma and be charitable ? Though her parents were poor, there was
always provision for a little charity; a handful of rice was always
available to those coming for alms. Here there was so much abundance.
Krupana- raya was also engaged infinancial dealings involving large sums.
Still, charity was absent in this house. No guests came. There was no formal
worshipping of God even once a day nor were there may prayers. What was the
difference between human beings and other species without these, lamente
Sakhubai. She could not even have her meals in company, because of this
dejection.Yet,she never openlycomplained against her mother-in-law or
father-in-law. With tears in her eyes, she would only pray to Lord Vittala
to bless these people with good thoughts and deeds."
Worries About Sakhu
After leaving her daughter-at her husband 's place, Sakhu's mother was
constantly worried about her. "She is a very young girl. It would have been
better it we had brought her," she used to lament, Worried for her
daughter,she would even forgether daily domestic chores. The calf in their
shed would shout 'Ambaa' before she rushed to feed her grass."It our Shaku
was here, you would have your food on time," she would mutter caressing the
calf.There were no modern postal facilities at that time, you see. So they
had to seek infor- mation about their daughter from travelers and the sadhus
who went from town to town and came after visiting Sakhu'splace. When guests
came from Karaveerapura, they would inquire about their daughter. But, at
the outset, they were disheartened.
After leaving Sakhu at her father-in-law's house, they never had nay
information about that household. On the verge of a breakdown, Sakhu's
mother entreated her husband that they go to Karaveerapura and he, equally
worried, readily agreed. The couple started on their journey in happy
anticipation of seeing their daughter living a good, comfortable life.
Parents Bemoan Sakhu's Fate
When the parents came to Karaveerapura and saw their daughter's condition,
they were shocked. She looked pale and weak; her clothes were worn out; her
hair had become ruffled without any application of hair-oil.The moment she
saw her daughter, Sakhu's mother cried, "0, my dear child!" and embraced
her. Sakhu had not heard such loving words for years. Both broke down with
grief and wept.
Gayyalibai suddenly appeared on the scene. Shouting with fory, she demanded
of her daughter-in-law:"Aren't youashamed to tag on like this to yourmother?
Go get inside. There is a lot of work to do." Sakhu faithfully went inside.
What had happened to Sakhu?
She was active as a deer. Now, this girl walks with
wobbling steps and mortally afraid of her mother-in-law. Where is that glow
on her face? She looks like a forlorn orphan. Unable to bear her grief,
Sakhu's mother mildly inquired:
That was enough of a cue to Gayyalibai to explode into a harangue. "She eats
well thrice a day and has grown lazy. Now, those who cannot afford a meal a
day come to Enquirer about the welfare of their daughter," she shouted in an
insulting tone and continued her condemnation of them for quite sometime.
The Poor couple stood
dumbfounded. The lady of the house did not invite them to have a wash, did
not offer them a glass of water to quench their thirst after travel, did not
inquire about their welfare, did not even spread a mat and ask them to sit
down. What sort of a 'Master of the house' was Krupanaraya? He would not
utter a word against his wife's objectionable outbursts.
Sakhu's parents remained silent and Gayyalibai could not quarrel with them.
After sometime, tired by her own outburst, she went inside. Sakhu went to
wash the clothes. Silently, her mother followed her to the riverside. Many
women of the town were there engaged in washing and conversing.
When the women learned that Sakhu's mother had come, they asked her: "Don't
you have any wells or tanks in your town?" Sakhu's mother could not
question and gave an obvious reply: "Why do you ask that? Which place could
be there on earth without well or tanks?"
The women replied: "Instead of giving Sakhu to the family of a devil like
that, you could as well have thrown her into a well."
"My friends, we are ruined.... We did not know the kind of people they are,"
lamented. Everybody sympathized with Sakhu and their mother, but what can
they do? None to advise Gayyalibai to be reasonable. Sakhu's mother had
already a taste of her tongue-lashing.
Sakhu consoled her mother."Do not worry. Go home. It is time for meals."
Worried that there could be trouble if it was found - she had gone to the
river with Sakhu, she rushed back.Gayyalibai served the lunch. Krupanaraya
and Oaduraya ate heartily and belched with content. Sakhu's parents could
Hesitatingly, Sakhu's parents requested that she be sent with them for a few
days. In fact, they begged with folded hands. But Gayyalibai scorned them
saying: "You your selves have no means for a square meal. Here she can eat
as much as she wishes.
We won't send her."
Sakhu's father pleaded: "It is only just and proper that the girl remains
at least till she attains maturity. We may be poor. But one fruit will not
be a burden to
the plant," said Sakhu's mother feelingly.
But Gayyalibai was not one to bother about justice or 'dharma'. No argument
could move her. She shouted still louder and would not budge.
parents took leave of their daughter, with tears in their eyes.
"God's will be done," said her father who told her as they were leaving: "My
daughter, after we married you off, you are now in their possession. Vittala
will never let his devotees down. Here, keep this statuette of Him. He will
Sakhubai's Husband Oaduraya
When Sakhu saw her parents, she was a bit optimistic that she could go to
her house with them at least for a few days.
But that was not to be. Sakhu steeled her- self thinking it was her duty to
stay with her husband. And how was her husband Oaduraya? Sakhu, a girl of
tender age, had come from her parents' home with the belief that her husband
would maintain the household well. Parting with one's parents is sad and it
would be difficult for one to adjust to a new home. The newly married
husband should genuinely love his wife, and treat her with affection. But
Oaduraya had no such feelings. He was not even inquiring whether she had her
meals nor was he bringing her any flowers, clothes etc.He was very much
afraid of his mother.
Sakhu's husband treated her as his slave and not as a life-partner. Even
mother-in-law ill-treated her,she could have had some solace if only she
enjoyed her husband's love. Even Krupanaraya, eldest member in the family,
did not have a sympathetic word for her. In these circum- stances, she would
wonder why she should live at all.
Are My Only Refuge"
With her parents away, Sakhu had to spend her days without any affection and
love either from her husband or from his parents. She now began to love only
Lord Vittala. Being a devotee of God since childhood, she considered her
husband and his parents as good. She implicitly believed in her father's
words: "Vittala will never let you d ' own." She recited His name throughout
Gayyalibai became more and
more cruel towards her. But Sakhu bore all the suffering silently. The
mother-in-law saw everything wrong with her. If she sits down for a while,
"You are lazy and want to escape from work." If she sat down when elders
were present, "How dare you sit before the elders?" Sakhu toiled from the
daybreak till late in the night. She would eat only when her mother-in-law
threw a few morsels of food at her; if she become angry, food would be much
less. At times Sakhu would be very hungry; pained both physically and
mentally, she would take out Vittala's statuette and narrate her woes to
Him: "For how long should I undergo this punishment, Vittala? How much more
should you test me? You are my savior, mother, father, everything." She
solace in her prayers.She used to hide the statuette in the folds of her
saree at her waist and proceed with her household chores. If her
mother-in-law noticed the statuette, she would be annoyed. Even worshipping
God was a sin in that house.
Mother-in-Law Finds Out
Gayyalibai had noticed that her daughter - in-law talked to herself at
times. Not bold
enough to talk back to her, she murmurs to herself, thought Sakhu's
decided to 'teach her a lesson'. She stealthily listened to Sakhu's
murmuring but only heard the chanting of Vittala's name. But she did not see
the idol, which was hidden, in her waist. Another day when Sakhu was talking
to herself and narrating her troubles to the idol the mother-in-law suddenly
appeared and seeing the idol seized it and threw it away. "0, He is my Lord!
0 God! Vittala!" bemoaned Sakhu. Gayyalibai condemned Vittala with mean
words and Sakhu could not tolerate it. She said: "Mother-in-law, condemn and
drub me as you like. But what did that idol do to you? Please don't denounce
Gayyalibai raised' a terrible rumpus saying her daughter-in-law was opposing
complained to Krupanaraya. "I seem to be less than a broomstick to her!" she
son and heaped complaints on Sakhu.
Oaduraya did not bother to inquire into what had actually happened. Nor did
he bother to note how extremely patient his wife was and sweating away in
household work. He took up a cane and thrashed his wife as he would some
animal. At her father's place, Sakhu could not even mildly wield a stick
against their cattle. Sakhu silently received her husband's beating.
Swelled marks dotted her body and in the night she wept in agony. 'Even
then, she was only chanting "Vittala, Vittala! You are my only savior."
Interest In Domestic Life
Sakhu's devotion to 'God continued to grow and she was constantly reciting
His name. Gradually, she was losing interest in domestic life though she was
fulfilling all her duties at home perfectly. Her health had broken down and
shewas now nothing but skin and bones. Neighbors; felt sad at her plight and
thought that they should tender some good advice to Gayyalibai. But who is
to go and talk? Each wanted others to undertake that task. 'Who is to bell
At last, some men made bold to talk to Krupanaraya. They told him: "Your
daughter-in-law appears to be ill. As the elder, you should think of her
welfare." For which he retorted: "What has happened to her? She eats so well
"You should not let a girl from another family suffer and cry. After she
came here, you have not sent her to her parents' home even once. Send her
for a few days," they
Gayyalibai had ordered Sakhu not to move about in the house in the presence
of elders. Even her father-in-law had not seen her closely recently. When he
saw her and noticed how weak and bony she had become, he told his wife about
the talk among the town's menfolk.
Gayyalibai denounced the men with all sorts of harsh words. She accused
Sakhu of having complained to the men and told her son that the girl was
spoiling the good name of their family. Again,Sakhu received a cruel
thrashing. People of the town felt sorry when they heard this episode.
Next day, when Sakhu went to the river to wash the clothes, the women there
sympathy: "Sakhu, why do you suffer here like this? You are killing yourself
un- necessarily. Go to your parents. Don't you have any relations?"
Sakhubai replied in a stern voice: "Dear ladies, I appreciate your affection
sympathy for me. Everything happens as per Lord Vittala's wish. He is my
mother and everything. He has to protect me. Do not worry."
Though she was suffering such cruelty and harassment, she did not utter a
her husband,father-in-law or mother-in-law. The women of the town were
surprised at the manner in which Sakhu bore the suffering silently and
hercomplete faith in God impressed them. They were all praise for her
devotion to God and peaceful disposition.
One evening, Sakhu, accompanied by Shantabai, a neighbor, went to the
Krishna River to fetch water. A group of pilgrims were on way to Pandharapur.
The Devotees had to walk for miles, as there were no transport facilities
in those days. They had to stay at riverbeds, cook their food, rest for a
while and proceed further. When Sakhu sighted these devotees, she forgot her
chores and joined the people who were chanting Vittala, Panduranga Vittala'.
She was feeling enthralled. Overcome by this devotional emotion, she said:
"Shantabai, I will also go to Pandharapur to see Lord Vittala."
"If your mother-in-law
comes to know of this, she will give you a good thrashing. Let us go home
without any fuss." But Sakhu joined the pilgrims' party and went on.
No sooner did Sakhubai's mother-in-law come to know of this than she began
to rant. She and her son came and saw the daughter-in-law dancing in ecstasy
reciting the name of Lord Vittala. Her eyes were closed. She was lost to
this earthly world. Only when her mother-in-law rudely pulled her by the
hair did she open her eyes. Her husband and mother-in-law beat and dragged
her home. They told the people she wanted to run away from home and tied to
a pole. She was also refused meals.
Lord Answers Her Prayers
Devotees narrate how God blessed Sakhubai. It is a very interesting story.
More than the physical beatings she received, Sakhu suffered a lot of mental
agony. She did not worry about her food, sleep, clothes, etc. Though
physically weak, she was unflinching in her devotion to God. She was
always chanting "Vittala ! Vittala! Please fulfill my desire."
Vittala must have heard His devotee's prayers. Around midnight. He disguised
himself as a woman, came and untied
Sakhu. He told her: "Dear Sakhu, you are keen on having a 'darshan' of
you? Go ahead. Till you come back, I will look after your work."
Sakhu ran and joined the devotees. God had assumed Sakhu's form and stayed
in her place.
Came the morning. Sakhu's husband and his mother noticed that in spite of
haranguing and beatings, she was calmly immersed in chanting Vittala's name.
Actually, noticing the intensity of her 'bhakti’, they became afraid. 'Is
such terrific devotion possible for any being?' - they wondered. They then
untied her. As they thought she would collapse with fatigue, she stood
erect. Her mother- in-law, though ruffled, ordered her, "Go, have your bath
and cook the meals."
Sakhubai silently went in and prepared the meals. What luck to eat food
God Himself! And what wonderful meals! It was like savoring nectar. The
families are heartily praising the dishes prepared. But the constant
chanting of Vittala's name
irritated Gayyalibai, who angrily ordered Sakhu not to mention 'that bad
God in Sakhu's guise did not utter a word in reply and continued to chant
Vittala's name. He attended to all of Sakhu's duties. She went to the river
to fetch water, wash the vessels, and wash the clothes; she pounded the
grain. All the work was being done perfectly. Some days passed and now the
people in the house began to look at this 'Sakhu' with a sense of fear.
Gayyalibai could no longer scold 'Sakhu' as before. Nor could the husband
Oaduraya raise his hand to beat her. In the divine presence, the whole
atmosphere in the house had been transformed.
Meanwhile, Sakhubai arrived at Pandharapur and had the 'darshan' of Lord
Vittala. Overcome with devotion, she prayed in an enthralled mood. By now,
she had lost all interest in this worldly life. Several days passed and she
was in no mood to return home. She spent all the time in prayer. One day, as
she prostrated at the feet of Lord Vittala chanting His name, she breathed
The news of Sakhu's passing away in this manner soon spread in Pandharapur
people came rushing to have a last look at this great devotee who died
whole town was full of praise for her. People raised a pyre of sandalwood
and camphor and consigned her to flames.
As narrated by people, the story of Sakhubai becomes still more interesting
While Sakhubai passed away, Lord Vittala was working in her guise at
"I will look after your duties until you come back," He had promised her.
consort Rukmayi now was at a loss as to how to get Him back. She decided
that the only solution was to revive Sakhu back to life. She gave 'darshan'
to Her devotees in their dreams and asked them to bring Sakhu's mortal
remains to Her. Rukmayi touched them with Her divine hands and revived
Sakhubai and told her: "Dear great devotee, go back to your Karaveerapura
home. Lord Vittala is staying there taking your form. Send Him back. You are
Sakhubai walked back home.
Vittala in her guise was standing on the banks of river
Krishna carrying a couple of pots. Sakhu ran and fell at His feet
exclaiming, "0 Lord!
What a mad woman I have been to make you undertake these tasks! I did not
even ask who you were. I don't know what tasks you were asked to attend to.
Please forgive me."
Lord Vittala laughed and replied: "There is nothing I will not do for my
Hereafter, your life will be happy. You are blessed. Lead a life of help and
Sakhu, blessed by her Lord, returned to her house joyfully.
Gayyalibai was surprised when she heard her daughter-in-law's story. "0 God!
made you to toil for me!" she cried remorsefully. Now she felt immensely
happy that Sakhu had received God's blessings. "My dear, please forget the
past. You are the light of our family," she emotionally told her.
Sakhubai's entire life-mode had now changed. Her husband, the mother-in-law
and the father-in-law had all changed their attitude towards her and treated
her with great respect. She continued to be affectionate and friendly to all
of them. She explained the greatness of God and ' 'Bhakti' to all the people
around her and led a life of peace and happiness.
Was Sakhubai's Strength
Every country has its own tales extolling the greatness of its saints and
devotees of God. Sakhubai's story has been a popular one in our country.
People venerate her.
Sakhu suffered much hardship right since her childhood. After coming to her
husband's house, she could not go to her parent's home at all. Poverty at
home may not appear to be a major problem. There is happiness in sharing
one's love and affection with others. But even when the household is wealthy
and there is abun- dance and a person is thrown a morsel or rice as to an
unloved dog, how much mental agony the person suffers! She had
also to suffer endless scolding and beatings. Her parents were helpless. But
Sakhubai bore all this patiently and her devotion to God Vittala gave her
strength to bear the suffering. She surrendered herself completely to Him.
She blamed nobody for her sufferings and her devotion to Lord Vittala was
total. Thus, Sakhubai lived a life worthy and dedicated to the welfare of