Jalaram Bapa was born in Virpur, Rajkot district, Gujarat, India in 1799, on the seventh day of the Kartikamonth. His father was Pradhan Thakkar and his mother was Rajbai Thakkar who belonged to Thakkar clan, which is a sub- group of Lohana clan. He was a devotee of the Hindu god Rama.
Jalaram Bapa was however not willing to live an householder’s life and continued to take care of his father’s business. He was mostly engaged in serving pilgrims, sadhus and saints. He separated himself from his father’s business and his uncle Valjibhai asked Jalaram Bapa and his wife Virbai to stay in his house.
At the age of sixteen, in 1816, Jalaram married Virbhai, the daughter of Pragjibhai Thakkar (Somaiya) at Atkot. However, he was inclined to completely withdraw from materialistic life and become an ascetic, Virbai proved to be assets to him in his works of feeding poor and needy. She was also a pious and saintly lady and she also decided to follow the path of serving mankind. At the age twenty, Jalaram, accompanied by his wife, decided to go for a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Badrinath.
At the age of 18, Jalaram Bapa became the disciple of Bhoja Bhagat of Fatehpur, who accepted him as his disciple. Jalaram was given the “Guru Mantra” (mantra) and japa mala in the name of Rama by his GuruBhojalram . With blessings of his guru, he started ” Sadavrat”, a feeding center, a place where all sadhus and saints as well as the needy could have food any time.
One day, a sadhu who came to his house gave him an idol of Rama, forecasting that Hanuman the monkey- god and devotee of Rama, would follow soon. Jalaram Bapa installed Rama as his family deity and after a few days, an idol of Hanuman appeared out of earth, on its own. The idol of Rama’s consort Sita and his brother Lakshmana also appeared. Due to a miracle the container in the house of Jalaram, where grains were stored, become inexhaustible. Later other devotees and village folk joined him in his works of human welfare.
Soon his fame spread as a divine incarnation. Whoever came to Virpur, whether Hindu or Muslim irrespective of caste, creed and religion were fed by Jalaram. This tradition of feeding people continues to this day in Virpur.
One a tailor named Haraji, who was suffering from severe stomach-ache, came to him to get himself cured. Jalaram Bapa prayed to God and Haraji was cured. He fell at Jalaram Bapa’s feet and addressed him as Bapa. Since then he was known as Jalaram Bapa. Soon his fame spread and people came to him to get rid of diseases and problems. Jalaram Bapa would pray for them in the name of Rama and miracles happened. Both Hindus and Muslims became his disciples. In 1822, Jamal, son of rich Muslim merchant fell ill and doctors gave up all hope. At that point of time, Haraji, told Jamal of his experience (parcha), Jamal, prayed from his house, that if his son is cured of the disease, he would give 40 maunds of grain to Jalaram Bapa for sadavrat. His son recovered and Jamal visited house of Jalaram Bapa with cart load of grains and called hism Jall so Allah!!.
At one time, God in the guise of an old saint told Jalaram to send Virbai to serve him. Jalaram consulted her and with her consent sent her with the saint. But after walking some miles and reaching a nearby forest, the saint asked Virbai to wait for him. She waited but saint did not return. Instead, she heard and Akashwanistating that it was only to the test the hospitality of the couple. Before the saint disappeared, he left a Danda(staff) and Jholi [Cloth bag] , with Virbai. Virbai return home to Jalaram as instructed by the celestial voice with Dand & Jholi. This Danda and Jholi are still at Virpur and kept on display in a glass enclosure.
It is the birthplace of Shree Jalaram bapa. The main shrine of Jalaram Bapa is located at Virpur. The shrine is actually the house complex where Jalaram lived during his lifetime. The shrine housed the belongings of Jalaram and the idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman worshipped by him. It also has on display the Jholi and Danda said to be given by God. But the main attraction is the portrait of Jalaram Bapa. There is also an actual black and white photo of Jalaram Bapa, taken one year before his death.