Birbhadra is an 11-year-old devotee shown here before a painting of one of the great saints in the disciplic succession, Gour Kishore Das Babaji Maharaj.
Long, long ago there once lived brahmin devotee of Lord Krishna. One day a mercantile man came to the brahmin’s house and said, “My dear brahmin, will you marry my daughter? She is very pretty and so nice. Please marry her.”
The holy brahmin said, “I cannot marry her on my own free will. I can only marry her at Krishna’s will. If Lord Jagannath will come to witness this marriage, the big Lord Jagannath which is six feet tall, I will marry your daughter.” Of course, the huge Jagannath Deity installed in the temple was never seen to move at all, except by pure devotees who can see transcendentally.
So, the mercantile man went happily home and told his son all that happened: “O my sons, I have good news! A holy brahmin has said he will marry my daughter. Isn’t that nice?”
The sons said, “Oh, father—what have you done? This brahmin has no money! What have you done? You cannot allow this marriage to take place.”
“But I have promised,” said the mercantile man. “I cannot go back on my word.”
“We have a plan,” said the sons. “Just do as we say and all will be well. Go out through the village and tell everyone you meet that the brahmin is crazy and that you never said he could marry your daughter. They will all believe you over him, and he will become the laughingstock of the village.”
And so it happened. When next the brahmin walked down the village road all the people laughed at him. He asked them why they were laughing, and they aaid, “Oh, you’re the one who thinks you are going to marry the rich man’s daughter! You are so crazy!” And immediately they would fall into fits of laughter, because everybody knows that no rich man would marry his daughter to such a poor fellow.
When the day came for him to marry the mercantile man’s daughter, the brahmin went to Lord Jagannath and said, “O Lord Jagannath! If You want me to marry the mercantile man’s daughter, please witness this marriage.”
Lord Jagannath replied, “I want you to be married to her, so I will witness this marriage. Go to the gate now—but you must not look back.”
As the brahmin walked to the gate he heard the beautiful sound of Śrī Krishna’s ankle bells and he knew that the Lord was walking behind him; but he would not turn around. Finally at the gate he could resist the sound of the bells no longer; it was too beautiful. He looked back and immediately Lord Krishna turned back into His wooden incarnation, Lord Jagannath!
At once all the village heard the news and came to see Lord Jagannath standing before the gate. They all knew that the brahmin could not have picked up Lord Jagannath and moved Him out of the temple, for He was too heavy. Those that had laughed before laughed no longer. They knew now that this was not just a poor man, but a very holy brahmin, and that the Lord had bestowed great mercy upon him.
The wedding took place that very afternoon with great feasting and rejoicing in the Holy Name of Hari. Through the association of such a holy brahmin the rich man’s daughter also became a great devotee of the Lord, and together the holy brahmin and the rich man’s daughter are eternally chanting the Holy Names of God: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.