Long ago, in the holy Kshetra of Pandarpur(in present day Maharashtra), there lived a great devotee of Lord Sri Panduranga (who was none other than Lord Sri Krishna himself) by name Chokamela. Sri Chokamela’s hailed from a slum and as was customary those days the inhabitants were not permitted to enter the temple. Though Lord Panduranga saw no difference between his devotees based on their birth, colour, race, wealth, region or religion, the selfish world did! To the Lord, the only thing that mattered was the depth of one’s devotion.
The friends, relatives and neighbours of Chokamela led lives without any values, orderliness or sense of direction. They ate whatever they wanted; slept whenever/wherever they wished and were addicted to all sorts of bad habits such as alcoholism. Like a beautiful lotus that blooms in a stinking marsh, Chokamela though, led the life of a pure Vaishnava. He would wake early in the morning, have a bath, wear Tulsi maala and Gopi chandan and chant the divine names of the Lord. As he was not permitted to enter the temple of Lord Sri Panduranga, he stood near the compound wall and sang the divine names joyfully.
Constantly, he advised his kith and kin to mend their ways and about how it was very easy to win the grace of God by simply chanting his Divine Names. Though they all mocked at him in the beginning, gradually his purity and goodwill won their hearts and they gave all their vices. Following his example, all of them woke up early in the morning and accompanied him to the temple where they all stood outside the compound wall chanting the lord’s glorious names. Lord Panduranga Himself relished every nama they chanted, much more than the puja offered by the priests. Like Nandanar, the great devotee of Lord Sri Shiva, Chokamela too, had transformed the entire slum. They were all a group of pure-hearted bhagavatas now.
On a particular Dwadasi day, Chokamela was seen beating and cursing his wife. The priests from the temple who had come to the river witnessed that scene and felt sorry for the poor woman. ” You have lost all your respect and commitment. Is this the way to serve the Lord? You have committed a great sin by spilling curd on his robe, careless woman!” Chokamela screamed.
These words of Chokamela shocked the priest. They told each other “Oh! What is he saying? He is saying that the Lord has come to take food in his place. How can that be? He is definitely mocking at us. The punishment has not taught him a lesson. He has become more arrogant! We should report him to the king again’
Saying so, they went to the temple and opened the doors. What they witnessed was the most unbelievable sight. The robes of the Lord were drenched in curd. They could not believe their own eyes. “Chokamela was right after all. Lord Panduranga had been to his place. Oh! What a blunder we have committed by insulting and ill-treating a true Mahatma. Let us all go and seek his pardon. Only then the Lord will accept us” they all said in one voice and rushed to Sri Chokamela’s hut. They all narrated the happenings and fell at Chokamela’s feet. Chokamela though, was embarrassed by this act of the priests. He said with tears in his eyes ‘Great Priests! I am just a humble servant of Panduranga. Please do not fall at my feet. I am speck of dust!”
The entire town and the king realized the greatness of Sri Chokamela and hailed his bhakti. The Lord had once again enacted a divine play to make the world understand true devotion.
Please check these: Excerpts from a discourse by our Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji
God gives whatever is required (by His devotee), removes whatever is not needed, leads the devotee in the path suited to him/her; Since Bhagavãn takes utmost interest in the devotee's needs the latter will not earn/attain any 'siddhi'