Ilari Olodumare or God’s favorite by Oluwo Fasola Faniyi.
Basically there is a difference between being God’s favorites and God’s servants. In most cases God’s favorites can be described as those human beings God assigned a specific duty to, such as teaching the word of Ifá, since Ifá is the word of Olodumare.
The reason why God’s favorites have not been categorised as a servants is because they do not go to the farm to cut trees or to the plantation, they do not go to the river to fetch water and they do not go to the bush to gather firewood. They are Ifá priest’s truly, but not ordinary or common Ifá priests. These priest’s are unique and special.
This gave rise to the distinction of various types or qualities of Ifá outlooks and practice.
(1) Ifá as a means of livelihood.
(2) Ifá as a means of religion, inner-fulfillment and outlook of divine spirituality concepts.
Ifá as a means of livelihood is when a babalawo only believes in using Ifá to get his day-to-day earnings; or makes of Ifá as his primary or sole means of living. Thus this kind of babalawo could be referred to as having short or limited knowledge of his faith because he cannot inspire and bring other people to appreciate and worship Ifá or change peoples mindset through explaining and sharing the deep, profound and high religious, spiritual, scientific, mystical and philosophical teachings about Ifá. The primary aim of this type of babalawo is just
to make Ifá consultation for a client, perform the sacrifice for the client, collect his fee and then send the client on his way.
This is a sample of a certain class of babalawo that does not believe in or has not been made aware of the fact that Ifá is beyond just ordinary means of living. These type of babalawo never learned about the deep and profound spiritual, religious, metaphysical and theological facets of Ifá. Some of these misguided babalawo also blend Ifá together other religions; or peradventure such babalawo go to church or mosque in most cases, and when they give birth to their child the child has been named by christian or muslims and/or with a christian or muslim names instead of a divinely given Ifá name. So these kind of babalawo can be considered to be ordinary babalawo; and they are truly babalawo it’s just that they don’t have deep knowledge of Ifá as regard to doctrine.
While Ifá as a means of religion, spiritual-devotional fulfillment and spiritual conceptions, these kind of priest’s are babalawo that have combined two things together, as both are necessary and go with each other: Ifá as a spiritual and religious system/practice and Ifá as a means of livelihood. In most cases these divine priests or Ilari Olodumare are concerned about Ifá propagation. They are the ones that keep spreading the word of Ifá to people and teach the people how to use the word of Ifá to set a standard of living. They preach about Ifá from Ifá corpus in original and distinctive ways to non-believers of Ifá thus bringing and drawing in more people to the worship of Ifá.
This could be best done by setting up a temple of Ifá where people come together and worship Ifá. This could be called an advanced form of observing ose Ifá. In this case a temple has been built and established where all Ifá worshippers of all lineages and traditions come together, leaving their various home lineages temporiliy aside to come and worship Olodumare together through Òrúnmìlà the divine savior and prophet, at the temple. Such temples could be and are “Ijo Òrúnmìlà Adulawo”, “Ijo Ifákayejo”, “Ijo Ose Meji in Ibadan”, “Ijo Idin Gbe in Ibadan”, “Ogunda Meji Temple”, “Ijo Òrúnmìlà Ato” and so on.
In these temples, we have as many qualified priests as possible that anchor and support all the services and activities done every week; and they may be referred to as Asiwaju Isin, meaning someone that leads the doctrine and/or divine service.
These kind of devoted holy people are and could be referred to as Ilari Olodumare; meaning God’s favorite because they work for Ifá-Olodumare and they do not go to the farm or do hard labour, they make a good means of living because Òrúnmìlà knows they are working for him, so he blesses them with fortune, honor, success and prosperity. While other ordinary and common babalawo are just at home waiting for clients to show up and bring them money, these Ilari Olodumare babalawo will be at the temple changing peoples mindset and encouraging the people to follow Ifá and to love Ifá. These divine and knowledgeable priests support their activities, their noble teachings and manner of living with evidence from their vast and deep knowledge of Odu Ifá that they bring out to astound, enlighten, inspire, empower and enrich others; all of this is bound together with the impeccable and irreproachable example they set.
These Ilari Olodumare babalawo have at all times and in all places where there are interested, sincere and open minded people preached the holy word and divine discourses and mysteries of Ifá, thereby bringing them closer to Ifá. These Ilari Olodumare awo take away the sorrow, worry and suffering away from the people and give them happiness, joy, courage and hope! God blesses these kind of awo and makes them his “ilari” because, they never go to bush or to the river to pursue a materialistic life. God makes them his “Ilari” or special chosen ones because of their great love for, devotion to and service to Ifá-Olodumare and because of their sincere, compassionate and disinterested service to the people. All that these rare and special priests want to do is to orient and educate the people about Ifá and Esin Orisa Ibile with accurate knowledge, exemplary character and inspirational motivation. These Ilari Olodumare may be called the true, perfect and ideal servants of Olodumare.
We may call them perfect servants. Olodumare considers them His true and mature children.
The Odu Ifá Irete Meji supports this fact/proof:
Erun yan n fodo kete
Adifa fun atoka ti n se ilari Olodumare
On tikole orun bo waye
Nje ilari oba ko roko,
Ilari oba ko ro do,
Atoka lo di lari oba ,
Emi n ba di ilari Olodumare
E run yan fodo kete
Cast divination for Atoka that was going to be God’s favorite
God favorite does not go farming
God favourite does not go fishing
It is Atoka that became God’s favorite
If I become God’s favorite
I will be supremely happy (satisfied).
This verses teache us and encourages us to become proclaimers and practitioners of the message of Ifá more than only using Ifá as a means of work to make daily earnings.
We have to spread the good message of Ifá to mankind for people to know that Ifá is existing; and to communicate that Ifá knowledge and religion is of greater advantage since it is the only religion which clearly and repeatedly emphasizes how you can have or exhibit iwa pele which is good character, in all the aspects of life in a real, practical and systematic way. True religion and genuine worship consists of good character, faithfulness, devotion and upright clean living. This is the message, grace, power, charisma, motivation and manner of living of the Ilari Olodumare.