Â Shri Devnarayan was born on the seventh day of the bright half of the month of Maagh in the Hindu Calendar in Vikram Samvat 999 (943). He was a Gurjar medieval hero from Rajasthan.
He is worshipped as a folk deity mostly in Rajasthan and MP. He was the son of to Sri Savai Bhoj and Sadu mata Gujjari and was believed to be an avatar of Vishnu.
The story behind his birth
Shri Devnarayan’s father Savai Bhoj was most well known and courageous among those twenty-four Bagaravats who were born from Bagh Simh(who had a head of a tiger and the body of a man).
Bagaravats and Rana became dharma-brothers. One evening they were drinking and the drink jar overturned with wine onto a hillside flooding the earth to such an extent that the wine actually flowed down into the kingdom of Basak Nag (serpent lord of the netherworld, who holds the earth on his hood). Angered king Basak deposited the earth temporarily on a bull’s horns and went to Bhagavan Vishnu’s court to complain about the Bagaravats. But neither Basak, nor Hanuman, nor Bhagavan did anything to remedy the situation because the Bagaravats were very powerful.
Finally Bhagavan assumed the form of mendicant (jogi) and visited Sadu Mata, the wife of Savai Bhoj, begging for alms. Sadu, who has just completed performing ablutions and bathing, appeared in front of the mendicant covered only by her long tresses. Struck by her devotion, the mendicant (Bhagavan) granted her a boon. Sadu desired that Bhagavan be born as her son. Bhagavan promised to be born as her son on the 13th day after the Bagaravats have been killed.
Devnaaraya’s mother, Sadu Mata did penance on a hill near the battle field. After eleven days, she called out to Bhagavan, who has promised to be born as her son. Devnarayan, who is playing a game of dice at the time with king Basak, rised up on a stream of water that split apart the rock on which Sadu is seated. Borne on that jet of water in a lotus blossom, the infant Devnarayan fell into Sadu Mata’s lap.
Devnarayan spent his childhood without any knowledge of past events. After eleven years Chochu Bhat, who was the bard and genealogist of the 24 Bagaravat brothers, came to Malwa in search of Devnarayan. Devnarayans mother Sadu Mata knew his intentions and tried to kill by poisoning, but Devnarayan revived him. Chochu Bhat then informed him of the battle between the Bagaravats and the Rana. Devnarayan then decided against his mother’s will to return to his father’s ancestral land and take revenge on the Rana.
Devnarayan shrines and Phad
After the battle Devnarayan left for heaven and before leaving, he gave a boy Bila and a girl, Bili to his wife. The boy Billa became the first priest of his father. Shri Devnarayan worshipped by the Bhopas, the priest-singers by means of a scroll known asphad, depicting various episodes of the narrative of life of Devnaryan. A Bhopa, usually erects the phad shortly after nightfall in the villages where he is invited to sing different episodes from the epical narrative of Devnarayan in front of the phad during the jagarans.