Faith in God and faith in one’s personal deity are the pillars deeply rooted in India, due to which our country has stood up to many difficulties for thousands of years. There is a saying in Gujarati that “Vishwase vahan tare” which means ‘it is faith that saves one’. In line with this saying, great human beings have lived life in our land of India. Whether it was Narsinh Mehta or Mirabai, their faith in God became the key that took them to God. And we recently saw an incident that proves that the same trust in the almighty is intact even in today’s time.
We saw in this incident how an elderly cow worshipper trusted his god Dwarikadhish to save his cows from a deadly disease like lumpy, and as soon as his faith was realized, he travelled on foot from Kachchh to Dwarka taking his cows along. Mahadevji Desai, who made this trip, had an exclusive conversation with OpIndia.
It is important to clarify here that it is not about fostering any superstition. But it is about Mahadevji Desai, who walked from Kutch to Dwarka with cows, not even knowing the name of the dreaded disease, to set a living example of how strong faith and belief in Sanatan Dharma remains intact even in today’s era of science and so-called modernity.
A conversation with Mahadevsingh Barad, a social worker and a resident of Kachchh Vagad, revealed that the name of the veteran who has come to Dwarka Darshan with cows is Mahadevji Desai. Giving more details, he said, “This is the land of desert, hills, and people dwelling here. There are so many settlements here that are surrounded by the desert. Many such places have their own religious and historic significance. Melak Bet is one such place of religious importance where lives cow worshipper Mahadevji Desai.”
Cow worshipper Mahadevji Desai wanders in the deserts of Melak Bet
Mahadevji Desai is a wanderer of the Kutch desert. He is a Bhomia of the region. Bhomia is a Gujarati word that means one who knows the local Bhoomi i.e. land. In deserts, it is very difficult to know the exact location. But a Bhomia is an expert in locating exact places.
Mahadevsingh Barad said, “Mahadevji Desai is a religious person and has been performing puja services at the temple and gaushala of Varneshwar Dada, a religious place at Melak Bet, for the last 20 years. Apart from this, He also manages the arrangements for pilgrims coming to the Melak Bet.”
Barad narrated his first-hand experience in the deserts of Kutch as he said, “Once the pilgrims of Bhimasar were going to get the Darshan at Muli, during which they were lost in the desert, at that time the local administration was also finding it difficult to locate them. When Mahadevji Desai came to know about this, he spoke only once on the phone and reached there with the police, guessing the location of the lost pilgrims in the vast Desert, and helped in bringing the pilgrims back.”
Mahadevji Desai belongs to the family of the great son of the soil Ranchhodji Pagi
According to Barad, the reason behind Mahadevji Desai choosing to remain a Bhomia in this vast desert is his uncle Ranchhodji Pagi. This is the same Ranchhodji Pagi who helped the Indian Army during the Indo-Pak war and made the war in the desert easier for the Indian army by giving accurate information about the direction with his intelligence. It is worth mentioning that the Indian Army has named the Nadabet post after Ranchhodji Pagi. Sanjay Dutt played the character of Ranchhodji Pagi in the recent Bollywood film ‘Bhuj – The Pride of India’.
Our team had a special conversation with Mahadevji Desai
At present, Gaubhakt (cow worshipper) Mahadevji Desai is returning from Dwarka with his cows and has covered half the distance. In the meantime, OpIndia contacted him. In a telephone conversation, he said that he is originally from Soi village. His full name is Mahadevbhai Kesrabhai Desai and he is the nephew of Ranchhodji Pagi. About serving cows, he said, “For the last 20 years, I have been serving cows and performing puja in the temple and gaushala of Varneshwar Dada in the desert of Kutch. Apart from this, I help to find the lost passengers in the desert.”
Speaking about his unique journey, Mahadevji Desai said, “When the lumpy virus had wreaked havoc across the country, we were afraid that around 100 cows in our cowshed would be affected. At that time, I had the idea that if the cows of the gaushala survived this epidemic, then I take the vow of making the cows see Lord Dwarikadhish by travelling on foot from the desert of Kutch to Devbhoomi Dwarka with these cows. By the grace of Varneshwar Dada and the grace of Lord Dwarikadhish, not a single cow or calf in the cowshed showed any symptoms of the disease. So I fulfilled my vow.”
It is worth mentioning that the distance from Melak Bet to Dwarka is more than 468 kilometres. Travelling with so many cows on the way was a big challenge during the journey. Describing it, he told, “Although it was a little difficult to travel so long by walking with so many cows, trusting Lord Dwarikadhish, we started the journey with two to four volunteers serving the cows. On the way, we were worried about getting enough fodder and drinking water for the cows. But people from small villages along the way were very supportive. Wherever they came to know that the cows are walking to Dwarka to have the darshan of Lord Dwarkadhish, they arranged for food and water for the cows. In this way, we didn’t even know when this long journey was over and we reached Dwarka.”
Historic parikrama by the cows in the Dwarka temple
It is pertinent to mention here that no such incident has happened in the past in which such a large number of cows have come together after such a long journey to see Lord Dwarikadhish. Sharing the experience of the visit to the Dwarka temple, Mahadevji Desai said, “Since many devotees were in the temple during the day, it was not possible to have darshan during the day, so the local administration made arrangements for darshan at night. But as the news of this unique journey spread, many people were present in the temple even at night and enjoyed this divine vision.”
Talking about the temple administrators, he said, “We just went for darshan. But the local administration and the temple administrators were so pleased that they got the feeling of making all the cows circumambulate the temple, and made special arrangements for it. It is for the first time in history that such a large number of cows have performed the parikrama of the Dwarka temple at the same time.
The feeling after darshan is supernatural: Mahadevji Desai
When asked about the fatigue of travelling after reaching Dwarka, he said, “Not tired at all. It’s just contentment. The cooperation by the people and the way we had the darshan of lord Dwarikadhish, is a feeling we can never forget. Lord Dwarikadhish has somehow brought these cows here. we are just a medium. Not a single cow of ours has suffered during this journey. We traversed such a long road only by the grace of God. For two minutes after the Darshan, it was as if even the cows had calmed down, which was like a miracle for us.”
He said that now they are returning and had reached halfway. He added that he will reach home in four to five days. Even during the telephone conversation, he did not seem to be tired.
Melak Bet loses contact with the rest of the world during monsoon
After talking to Mahadevji, we got to know about the Melak Bet and found that this Bet is a series of hills 10 kilometres away from the Varnu village in the small desert next to Adesar in Rapar taluka of Kutch. This range is 17 kilometres long and its width is 3 kilometres. In some places, the width is half a kilometre. Here, the Melak Bet is inhabited by crocodiles, foxes, and boars, as well as many other animals and birds. Even in the midst of the dry desert, there is a well on this bat, in which drinking water is still available today.
There is a temple of Varaneshwar Dada, the heroic man of Vagad, located in Melak Bet. According to folklore, dada’s body fell on this place during the war to save the cows. 10 km away from there, there is a place near Varana village. According to popular belief, dada’s head fell there. It is also believed that from there, while fighting against the Islamic tyrants, Dada’s body came up to Melak Bet and dada’s body was lying in this place. This is the place where Mahadevji Desai lives and serves cows.
This place is considered very sacred by the locals. Green and dry fodder is also arranged for the cows in the gaushala (cowshed) so that the cows get enough food during the four months of the monsoon when the place is turned into an island. This is a unique feature of Sanatana culture, that by behaving so intimately with an animal, it is given a revered place like a mother.