Narsi Mehta (1414 - 1481)

Mahatmaji included in his daily prayers Narsi Mehta's song `Vaishnava Jana to tene kahiye'. The song has become so popular that it has been rendered into almost all Indian and many non-Indian languages. Herein are idealised the virtues of a gentleman. They are so universal that every social thinker would endorse them, and accept them as his own ideal.

Narsi Mehta, the great Gujarat singer, lived for a while with his brother. He and his wife Manek Ba had no peaceful time in the house where the brother's wife subjected them to great ridicule and trouble. Narsi bore this patiently but, on one occasion, when unsalted food was served and he was told that he deserved nothing better as he earned nothing, he left the brother's house.

Narsi went on singing the Lord's name. In his great love he even said that it was because of his brother's wife he was blessed with the darshan of the Lord. This moved the brother, who asked him to return to the house. But as Narsi's mind was turned inwards now, he had no need of family or the pleasures of the world. He could only be the slave of Krishna, Nandakumar. So he bade good-bye to his brother and went his way, singing.

The spiteful Nagar community laid many charges against Narsi before the ruler of Junagadh. Narsi submitted himself to the trial in the Raja's temple. A miracle took place. All those assembled including the Raja saw the temple door open by itself and a garland came out of it and fell round the neck of Narsi. Others saw this, but seeing the Lord Himself doing all that, Narsi fainted. The ruler was astounded at the devotion of Narsi and Lord's love for him.

Vaishnava Jana to

He is a Vaishnava who feels for the suffering of another
And forgets the good he does to another, never taking pride in it.
Who cares not for the praise and condemnation of the world nor himself indulges in it.
He is not attached to women and wealth; such a one is praiseworthy and a jewel to his family.
He is the same to all, is desireless and the women of others he considers like unto his mother.
He never speaks falsehood nor has he his eye on another one's wealth.
He is no slave of any passion or attachment, and the spirit of renunciation rules his mind.
His heart is fixed on the Lord, whom he is restless to meet, really his body is indeed a pilgrim's garb.
He is neither avaricious, nor vile nor a victim to wrath and desire.
Says Narsi, verily he and his family shall cross the cycle of rebirth.

(Source: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan)