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Damaji

Sant Damaji Pant was a great devotee of Lord Vitthal. He was pious, kind hearted and spent most of his time in Harichintana. He was appointed by the king of Bidar as the caretaker of a warehouse where grain was stored. As the story goes, there was once a severe drought in that region due to which people and cattle were dying of starvation.

One day, during lunch, a Brahmin visited Damaji’s residence and as courtesy would demand Damaji offered him lunch. Damaji learnt from the Brahmin that his family was starving in Pandharpur. On hearing this, Damaji promised to give some grain to the Brahmin. After lunch, two bullock carts were loaded with rice for the Brahmin. On his way home, the Brahmin was attacked by hungry masses who looted his gift. On asking, he informed the people that Sant Damaji of Mangalwedha had gifted him with the rice. Hearing this, all the people rushed to Damajis house with great expectations.

They prayed to Damaji to give them some grains during this difficult time. Sant Damaji’s heart melted to see the starving men and with his wife’s suggestion, he distributed grains from the royal granary to the poor people without permission from the king. Though Damaji gathered a lot of well wishers through this act of kindness yet a Kannada clerk who worked for the same king at Mangalwedha was jealous of Damaji Panth. He immediately went to Bidar and informed the king that grains from the royal granary has been distributed at will by Damaji. The king was enraged by this news and ordered his soldiers to capture Damaji.

The soldiers arrived at Damaji’s residence and showed him the king’s order to capture him. Damajipant was unmoved, but requested them to take him to Bidar via Pandharpur. The soldiers agreed and when they arrived at Pandharpur, Damaji wished to take bath in the river Chandrabhaga and wanted to pray to Lord Vitthal thinking that it would be the last time, he was going to see his god. There, he intently looked at the Lord and told him, that was the last he could be seeing him.

Lord Vitthal came to rescue his devotee immediately disguised as Vithoo Mahar. Lord Vitthal arrived at the court of the king carrying a huge load on his back. He showed a letter written in the handwriting of Damajipant to the guards who let him in.

He introduced himself as Damajipant’s servant and told the king that there was a great deficiency of grains all over Mangalwedha and the adjoining areas due to famine and that Damajipant had sold all the grains for a very high price and has earned huge profits. He gave the huge bag of gold coins to the king and the letter written in Damajipant’s handwriting to the king and requested him to issue a receipt for the same.

The king was astonished after checking the authenticity. He asked the people working in his treasury to count the money. The money was uncountable and amounted to several lakhs. The king felt ashamed about the hasty decision that he had taken about the arrest of Damaji believing in a false allegation from an employee. The king thanked Vithoo Mahar, issued a receipt to him and also presented ornaments, a horse and an elephant and rich clothes to be handed over to Damaji. Vithoo Mahar took everything and went to Mangalwedha and gave it to the family of Damajipant and disappeared.

While these incidents were taking place, Damaji was on his way to Bidar and was not aware about any of the happenings. When Damaji reached Bidar, the king was surprised to see him but greeted him with great affection and extended his sincere apologies. When Damaji was narrated the whole incident that had taken place, he immediately understood that Lord Vitthal had come to his rescue. He resigned from his job as he did not want to trouble the Lord again. He distributed all the gifts among the poor which were extended to his family by Lord Vitthal. Damaji thereafter moved to Pandharpur and serve the Lord there till the very end.

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