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Sripada Srivallabha is the fi rst incarnation of the Lord Dattatreya in Datta Guru Parampara. The present text is the English translation of the abridged Telugu version of the biography of Sripada Srivallabha’s life story, the miracles, conversations and teachings over the years of His life, authored by Smt.Prasanna Kumari, who also brought out the book in Hindi language. The book covers all the 53 chapters which the original Telugu version had and details the life history of the Lord, His birth, childhood His miracles, His teachings and the fascinating encounters the original author Shankar Bhatt (who was the Lord’s contemporary) had with the Lord’s disciples, ascetics, yogis, siddha purushas etc.


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A Biography of Lord Sripada Srivallabha

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Published by

Sri Pranee a3-6-494/101, St.No.7, Himayathnagar,Hyderabad-500 029.

First E : 2013Copies : 1000Author : Ms Prasanna KumariPrice : Rs.160

All rights resereved

F t Cell: 9010039671 / 9010089641 ormail to : [emailprotected]

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Sripada Srivallabha is the fi rst incarnation of the Lord Dattatreya in Datta Guru Parampara. Lord Dattatreya is Supreme Power and GURU for entire VISWAM.

I felt extremely happy to know that Smt.Prasanna Kumari is bringing out “SRIPADA SRIVALLABHA CHARITAMRITAM” in English Version with the Divine blessings of Lord Dattatreya. The proposed English Version Book comprising 53 chapters is very elaborate,illustrative, and covered all events as in Original Telugu Version Book Written by Sri Malladi Govinda Deeksh*tulu of Sripada family.

This book enables the readers to read as “Nitya Parayana Grandham” who live in India and abroad.

My hearty Divine blessings to Smt.Prasanna Kumari and wish that many more spiritual books be written in future also.

With Divine Love Viswa Yogi Viswamjee Maharaj


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It is a great honour for me to pen a few words about this sacred book ‘Sripada Srivallabha Charithamritam,’ an abridged version in English. I had gone through this book and proclaim that each and every letter in this book is impregnated with divine wisdom and power. This book takes the true seeker on a spiritual journey eventually quenching the spiritual thirst with its Divine nectar. In short, this book is an encyclopaedia of spiritualism covering various subjects Astrology, Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Mineralogy, Homeopathy and lot of other relative subjects. The writer of this book is fully blessed by Lord Dattatreya and His Incarnations. The confl uence of divine consciousness and human consciousness has manifested in this sacred text through the words, emanating the spiritual fragrance of thousand-petalled Lotus fl owers. Verily these words express the devotion and the dedication and the pure energy of Prasanna Kumari. She has successfully accomplished the challenging task of translating the higher aspects of spirituality in a lucid language. I am sure that this book will defi nitely ignite the divine spark of devotion in the minds and hearts of the readers. I have thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful narration of the book, which resonates the complete essence of the unabridged version. I sincerely feel that words fall short to express the inner joy and happiness I felt while going through this text. May LORD SRIPADA SRIVALLABHA shower His grace and blessings on Prasanna Kumari and also the readers! Best Wishes! Sri Ramani Babaji


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One evening, Sriram Sharma Kondamudi, a friend of mine introduced me to his cousin sister, the author of this biography, Smt.Prasanna Kumari and she mentioned about her work –an English Translation of the biography of Sripada Srivallabha and expected me to write a Foreword for it. I excused myself, pleading my ignorance of the subject, as I never read anything about this Avatar, though my eldest daughter has been a staunch follower of this deity.

But Srirama Sharma insisted and persuaded me saying that I am qualifi ed enough, having seen two of my published books in English, one on Bhgawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Teachings, titled ‘The Universal Truth’ and the second Compilation titled ‘The Culture Of India and Its Spiritual Heritage’, published by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Trust, A.P.

Smt. Prasanna forwarded me a soft copy of her English Translation so that I could go through the book fi rst. I promised to get back to her and sought a week’s time. I soon started reading it and found the subject very absorbing and the narration so beautiful that I could not put the book aside and went ahead and fi nished reading it. I was curious to look at the original Telugu version as well and to my dismay, found that the very original Telugu version by Shri Malladi Govinda Deeksh*thulu and the abridged Telugu version by Smt.Prasanna Kumari were both available right in our bookshelf, though I never knew rather noticed it. I realized that this was no coincidence, but is as ordained by the Lord and felt that the Lord for some reason, wanted me to read the text .

Bharat has been blessed with many Saints and Sages due to the high level of spirituality that is evident in this land; there have been many manifestations of Divinity in human form in this land. The purpose of such Divine Manifestations is to ignite a Divine Spark in the minds of those who witness them, hear about them and to turn the individual thoughts from concentration on ego to contemplation of the Inner–self.

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Sripada Srivallabha is considered as the fi rst incarnation of Dattatreya in kaliyuga. He is supposed to have lived during the period 1320 AD to 1350 AD and was born in Pithikapuram, (Present day Pithapuram), 20 km from Kakinada, a town in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state, in India. Lord Sripada’s divine sport and glory are unheard of and indisputable. He makes His identity known in no uncertain terms when He declares about Himself thus, during a questioning by one of His disciples: “I am the primordial power, which remains latent in each and every atom and cell of this entire creation. It is I who appear in the form of a mother and a father in all the living beings. I am the Guru to the entire creation.”

A biography on Sripada which included various episodes on the life of Sripada was originally written in Sanskrit by One Kannada Devotee Shankar Bhatt, (contemporary of Sripada Srivallabha) recording the various encounters and miracles witnessed by himself and by those whom he came into contact with.

A comprehensive book in Telugu language, on the Life of Sripada Srivallabha was brought out by a devotee named Malladi Govinda Deeksh*tulu belonging to the Lineage of the maternal Grandfather of Sripada Srivallabha. It is claimed that this book has been preserved as a secret for 32 generations of Sripada’s maternal side before publishing it in November 2001, after receiving a message from the Divine to disclose it.

Shankar Bhatt, the biographer himself says ‘Sripada Srivallabha Charitamritam’ written by me would for some time, remain with the family of Sripada’s maternal uncles. Then it will be translated into Telugu. Soon after the translation, this Sanskrit manuscript will disappear’.

The present text is the English translation of the abridged Telugu version of the biography of Sripada Srivallabha’s life story, the miracles, conversations and teachings over the years

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of His life, authored by Smt.Prasanna Kumari, who also brought out the book in Hindi language. The book covers all the 53 chapters which the original Telugu version had and details the life history of the Lord, His birth, childhood His miracles, His teachings and the fascinating encounters the original author Shankar Bhatt (who was the Lord’s contemporary) had with the Lord’s disciples, ascetics, yogis, siddha purushas etc.

Smt.Prasanna is surely a blessed person and one with the rare talent and fortune of authoring the abridged versions in Telugu, Hindi and in English as well, of this sacred and holy text. She writes in simple and elegant English prose. The simplicity which, at the same time, contains such a depth of meaning, is unique. But for the divine intervention and blessings of the Lord Himself, one could not have performed this task.

What makes this new volume unique is that though an abridged version, it contains an exhaustive account of Sripada’s life history, His leelas and His amazing miracles, encounters with holy men, avadhootas, the prophecies and the Lord’s Spiritual teachings, as also deals with varied subjects like theory of karma, astronomy, cosmic powers, the God Principle-various Gods and Goddesses and other spiritual revelations. All this, in a small volume.

It is an exceedingly diffi cult task to present such complex and enlarged concepts and advanced truth, and enhance spiritual perception, when one is restricted to mere translation. The text elaborates on the teachings that transcend to more universal concepts on spiritual and human life. The teachings are very profound, but mostly easy to read and understand.

The author deals with the whole process of divine revelation and divine teachings of Sripada Srivallabha, the reincarnation of the Supreme Godhead, Dattatreya, in a masterly way and elucidates the points and deserves full compliments.

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The book is bound to be a wonderful treasure and a boon for all followers of Lord Sripada in particular and to all the spiritual aspirants in general, where one can fi nd answers to the many doubts and delusions which torment us and in which we are embroiled and are here treated by the Lord and the answers provided.

I am grateful to the author for giving me the rare chance of going through her book and through her, getting acquainted with yet another facet of the Supreme Lord.

Ramakrishna Vithal Kunduri (M) Cell : 8886152299 ; Email: [emailprotected]

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After reading my abridged version of ‘Sripada Srivallabha Charitamritam’ in Telugu, many a devotee asked me whether I experienced any divine visions or witnessed any miracles. Verily, assigning the pious task of translating this sacred text to a person like me is itself a divine experience and nothing less than a miracle. Even then, I narrate few incidents, which I believe are divine experiences.

A devotee in Malaysia told me that when the book (Telugu Version) was placed at the altar of Sai Baba, he witnessed the manifestation of Vibhuthi in the form of Aum on the book, the next day.

More than 300 devotees together carried out Group Parayana of this book on the auspicious Guru Purnima day in Ongole this year (2013). Many devotees shared their spiritual experiences and personal problems with me over the phone though they know nothing about me personally. The proximity they show and the trust they confer upon me certainly makes me feel privileged. Surprisingly we cannot recognize one another even if we happen to meet accidentally but yet I am listening and uttering a word of solace to some. Are not these miracles, though we brush them aside as plain occurrences?

Fortuitously, because of this book I met many great souls. At the onset, I happened to meet Sri Malladi Govinda Deeksh*tulu who with a lot of trust entrusted me the task of translating this book and guided me at every step during the translation of Sampurna Charitamritam into Hindi. Further, while working on the book, I have come into contact with Smt. Anita and Kalyani – two extremely devotional and generous sisters, Smt. Kalyani Diwakar, who is a treasure-house of spiritual experiences, Ms. Lata Nagender and


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Sri Premchandra Rao, Sri Guptaji, Sri Vithalji et al, who apart from their spiritual outlook are extremely humane, helpful, humble and service-oriented.

Lord Dattatreya has been exceedingly merciful and kind to me for He brought sunshine and perennial spring in the autumn and arid land of my life. Prostrating at the Lotus Feet of our primordial Guru, I humbly express my heartfelt gratitude to Him for blessing (in spite of my fl aws), guiding and leading me on to the Spiritual Path.

I humbly bow at the feet of my beloved parents and spiritually elevated souls - Dr Rama Rao and Smt Raja Rajeswari who touched the lives of countless people through their generosity and philanthropy.

I humbly bow to my revered Guru Sri Sri Ramani Babaji. I am thankful to Sri Vishwamji Maharaj and Sri Vithalji who despite their busy schedule spared their precious time to read and write few words about the book.

I am eternally grateful to Sri Sairam, who literally thrust the book ‘Datta Darshanam’ into my hands and persuaded me to go through it, thus bringing me into the fold of Lord Dattareya and to Dr Prasant for stabilising me in this path, explaining and expressing his spiritual experiences to me from time to time.

I am thankful to my siblings who always encouraged me and express my sincere gratitude to all those who directly or indirectly helped me in completing the book.

I am thankful to and express my love to my dear ones Vinay, Papa(Aparna), Nimisha, Vijji (Vijay Kamal), Smita Virin, & Kartik whose unconditional love and affection makes my journey comfortable, smooth and joyful. Special thanks to my daughter Aparna for editing and for taking lot of pains to beautify the language and the narration.

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I express my sincere thanks to Google Search Engine and to all those who posted their informative articles and pictures in various websites, which helped me a great deal in bringing forth this book.

I am ever thankful to the generous benefactor who contributed towards the publication of this book, yet desires to remain anonymous. My sincere thanks to my soulmate Sri Sriram Sharma who always guides, helps and supports me in all matters be it mundane or spiritual.

Prasanna Kumari

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Lord Krishna in Bhagawad Gita and Lord Sripada in this scripture time and again reiterated the statement that the Grace and the Mercy of the Lord depends upon the feelings and the depth of the devotion of a devotee. Hence devotees should perform Parayana placing utmost faith on the Power of the Ultimate without nourishing any doubts or negative feelings.

On completion of parayana, one has to feed 11 persons preferably poor, as Lord Datta gets propitiated with Annadanam, feeding the hungry. Due to some reason or the other, if one is unable to perform Annadanam, an amount suffi cient to feed 11 persons may be donated in any temple.


Day Chapters tobe read1 - 1 to 62 - 7 to 123 - 13 to 184 - 19 to 225 - 23 to 346 - 35 to 427 - 43 to 53

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1. Journey of Shankar Bhatt to Kuruvapuram.......... 1

2. Shankar Bhatt encounters Sri Siddha Yogindra.. 6

3. Darshan of Palani Swami and Vision of

Kuruvapuram. Propitious effects of chanting the

name of Sripada ................................................... 16

4. Vasavambika Darshan in Kuruvapuram ............. 24

5. Shankar Bhatt arrives at Tirupati ........................ 35

6. Sripada showers angelic grace upon

Tirumala Das ....................................................... 42

7. Astronomical Description ................................... 53

8. Shodasavataras .................................................... 60

9. The Philosophy of Karma ................................... 66

10. Encounter with Subbayya Sreshthi...................... 76

11. Subbayya Sreshthi, Bilwamangala and

Chintamani .......................................................... 85

12. Kulasekhar............................................................ 89

13. Anand Sharma ..................................................... 92

14. Pledge of Protection to Dattadas ......................... 96

15. Bangarappa and Sundara Ram Sharma................ 102

16. Tale of Srimannarayana ...................................... 111

17. Encounter with Sri Namananda .......................... 117

18. Portrayal of Ravidas............................................. 124


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19. Linganna Shastri & Ganapati Shastri ..................... 129

20. Episode of Vissavadhani ........................................ 134

21. Dandi Swami............................................................ 140

22. Sripada adjusts the Horoscope of His Devotees...... 144

23. Shiva Yogi ............................................................. 149

24. Transcendental Aspects of Lord Shiva ................... 151

25. Signifi cance of Rudraksh ........................................ 156

26. Kala Purusha ......................................................... 160

27. Encounter with Virupaksha..................................... 163

28. Birthday of Vasavi Kanyaka ................................... 165

29. Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari and the

Arya Vaishyas ....................................................... 169

30. Samsayatma Vinashyati – The One Who

Doubts Shall Perish.................................................. 171

31. The Ten Cosmic Powers.......................................... 172

32. Navnaths ................................................................ 180

33. Marriage of Ramani and Narasimha Raya............... 185

34. Sharabheshwara Shastri .......................................... 187

35. Ugra Tara Devi ....................................................... 190

36. Vedanta Sharma ...................................................... 193

37. Encounter with the devotees of Chinnamastadevi 197

38. Goddess Bagalamukhi ............................................ 199

39. Nagendra Shastri...................................................... 202

40. Encounter with Bhaskara Shastri............................ 205

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41. The Episode of the Pseudo-Ascetic ...................... 207

42. Datta Digambara! Datta Digambara!

Sripada Vallabha Datta Digambara! ..................... 210

43. Description of Anagha Lakshmi ........................... 213

44. Golden Pithikapuram ............................................ 217

45. Sripada commands Hanuman to descend.............. 219

46. Encounter with Dhanagupta,the

Affl uent Merchant. ............................................... 221

47. Divine play of Sripada ........................................... 223

48. Description of Darbar in Panch Dev Pahad........... 225

49. Ways to destroy Karma.......................................... 227

50. Signifi cance of chanting the name of Lord ........... 229

51. Protection from perils............................................ 231

52. My Yogic Experiences .......................................... 232

53. The way Sripada Srivallabha

Charitamritam reaches Pithikapuram .................... 233

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Aum. Offering my humble salutations and invoking the Grace of Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Sri Krishna, the lineage of my reverend Gurus and all Gods and Goddesses, I relate the glory of Sripada who is the recent incarnation of the Primordial Lord Dattatreya, the Master of the Universe. With all humility, I confess that but for the gracious blessings and divine conviction of Dattatreya, an illiterate and ignoramus like me who is neither a scholar nor profi cient in any subject, would not have mustered the courage to write the biography of the Omniscient Lord, when even the most scholastic pundits expressed their inability to eulogise His glory. There is not much to detail about myself except that I am Shankar Bhatt, a Karnataka Smarta1 Brahman of Bharadwaja lineage. I belong to the ‘Smarta’ tradition which is liberal and do not believe in sectarianism. However, I am slightly inclined towards Shaivism and cherish a special veneration for Lord Shiva. We consider the head priest, Swami Shankaracharya of Shringeri, Mysore in Southern India as our preceptor. Once during my pilgrimage I visited the shrine of Lord Sri Krishna in Udipi2. Looking at the exquisite idol of Lord Krishna as a cherub, richly adorned with jewels, and a peaco*ck feather in his crown, holding a butter churn in one hand and its cord in the other, I totally lost myself in Him. From there I went to Kanyakumari. There the Divine Mother, Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari instructed me to go to Kuruvapuram and to

Chapter 1Journey of Shankar Bhatt to Kuruvapuram

1Smartas accept all the major Hindu deities as forms of the Brahman. They emphasise the universality of Hinduism instead of an exclusive worship of Vishnu, Shiva, or other deities They believe that the worshipper is free to choose a particular God, or a particular aspect of a God to worship, and that they should adhere to and not contradict the Vedas and Smritis during their practice of rituals and worship. As they lay emphasis on ‘Smritis’ they are known as Smartas.2 It is an important Vaishnavite town, 58 km north of Mangalore in Karnataka. It is believed that the idol of Lord Krishna as an infant, installed by Sri Madhavacharya, carved by the divine sculptor Viswakarma, out of Saligram stone, as per the instructions of Lord Krishna himself.

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sanctify my life by obtaining the Darshan of Lord Sripada and seek His blessings. She said that His Darshan sanctifi es the body, mind and soul of the devotee and bestows upon him inexplicable and indescribable bliss and joy.” Thus began my journey to Kuruvapuram at the behest of the benevolent Divine Mother. En route to Kuruvapuram I arrived at a village called Marutvamalai. It is believed that when Lord Hanuman was carrying the Sanjivani Mountain back to Himalayas, a small fragment of it fell at this very place giving the village its name Marutvamalai - Hill of Hanuman, the son of ‘Marut’, the Wind God. On being informed that Siddhas perform penance in the caves of this picturesque hill, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them. While glancing through the caves, much to my consternation, instead of Siddhas, I noticed a tiger standing in front of a cave. Panic-stricken I frantically yelled the name of Sripada. The tiger stood still, staring at me with a serene calmness and roared the sacred hymn ‘Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye.’ Just then an old ascetic came out and addressing me by my name, smiling benignly invited me into the cave. I mutely followed him. The sage with his sheer will created a sacred fi re for yagna, and other sacrosanct articles like fl owers, fruits, sweetmeats, ghee etc for offering oblations into the sacred fi re. He then diligently performed the yagna following the scriptural injunctions, chanting Vedic hymns and offering those articles into the fi re with great piety. Later on the sage lamented, “The sacred sacrifi ces and yagnas are gradually becoming extinct. Man, in spite of being constantly benefi ted by nature, viz. the fi ve elements, is failing to express his gratitude to the Absolute - the Epitome of Five Elements. Yagnas should be performed to propitiate Gods. The main attraction is ‘Kanakana Kindi’ (the window of Kanaka), which is in the western wall of the temple. In ancient times, when Krishna’s ardent devotee, Kanakadas had been denied access to the temple as he belonged to a lower class, a portion of the wall collapsed and the statue turned towards him to grant him a full view. Even today it is in the same position. All pilgrims must have initial Darshan of Lord from this place.

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Gods, thus pleased, bestow their blessings upon humankind by altering the nature favouring them. Son, I performed this yagna for the welfare of the human race.” I was inquisitive to know about the tiger and also about Lord Sripada. The sage said: “In a village named Atreyapuram, located in the Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, a child was born in an orthodox Brahmin family of Kasyapasa lineage. He was named Vyaghreshwar Sharma3. His father was an eminent scholar. In stark contrast the child was a dunce. In spite of the best efforts of his father and teachers, the boy could not recite even the Sandhya Vandana mantras, and so was naturally ill-treated and belittled by his peers and parents as well. One day, in his dream, the boy saw a celestial form, who after consoling and assuring him of His constant presence, directed him to go to Badarikaranya. Relieved by the cosmic assurance, the much taunted and insulted Vyaghreshwar Sharma proceeded to Badarikaranya. While he was taking a holy dip in Urvashi Kund, a spring there, a great sage with an entourage of his disciples arrived. Vyaghreshwar Sharma gazed ardently at the great soul, prostrated at his lotus feet4 and beseeched him to accept him as his disciple. The Saint consented. “But for the benign mercy of Sripada Srivallabha, you would not have been drawn to this holy place - the great land of penance of Nara-Narayana,” he said. “Gurudev! Who is Sripada Srivallabha? Why did He shower His benevolence on me?” he inquired anxiously.

3Vyaghra refers to tiger and ‘Ishwar’ to God; the word indicates Shiva, as the tiger-god. A temple of Lord Shiva as Vyaghreswar is situated at the junction of the rivers Gomati and Sorjuin Bageshwar in Almora district, 66 kms away from Nainital. It is believed to be 1500 years old.4Feet in the scriptures represent the base on which one stands or on which something is estab-lished. The Omnipotent God is established in truth, and all that is pure and noble; so His feet represent the same. When one touches the feet of the Gurus, elders etc., it is symbolic of one’s expression of respect to the noble ideals on which they are deeply rooted. When one worships the Lord’s feet (Padukas), it is nothing but adoration of the great ideals for which He stands.

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“Son, Sripada Srivallabha is the embodiment of Lord Dattatreya. In Treta Yuga when Sage Bharadwaja performed Savitri Kathak Chayan in Pithikapuram, Lord Datta promised to descend into a family of Bhardwaja lineage at the end of Kali Yuga. True to His promise, He incarnated as Sripada in Pithikapuram.” “I am leaving now to spend some time in the service of my Guru Sri Mahavatar Babaji and will return only after a year. Till then remain in the caves assigned to you and practise Kriya Yoga to attain self-realisation.” The sage set out for Dronagiri, situated near Sanjivani Mountain. Vyaghreshwar Sharma could neither understand Kriya Yoga nor the preaching on self-realisation imparted by his Guru, except that one should concentrate on one’s self to attain self realisation. On serious contemplation he concluded that just as his name implies, his soul too must be that of a tiger. He thought that the tiger is a blessed and fortunate animal as its hide is used as a seat by yogis for meditation and by Lord Shiva as a garment. Thus justifying and substantiating his chain of thoughts he sat in meditation devoutly focussing on the tiger as a process to attain self-realisation. Gurudev returned after year and went into each and every cave enquiring about the spiritual progress of his disciples. When he looked into the cave of Vyaghreshwar Sharma, he saw a tiger instead. With his Yogic power he comprehended the truth that his disciple on constant contemplation, had turned into a tiger. He felt pleased with the unblemished innocence of this soul. Gurudev blessed him and taught him Pranava nadam - OM and counselled him to chant the mantra “Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye,” constantly. Vyaghreshwar Sharma once went to Kuruvapuram. One had to cross the river Krishna to reach the other bank, Kuruvapuram. Sripada Srivallabha, was amidst his devotees

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on the other bank informed them that one of his devotee, was waiting for him on the other bank and hurried towards the river. Walking on beautiful lotus fl owers blooming beneath each step, he reached the other bank. How could he balance and walk on the soft fl owers fl oating on water? How they remained intact? These matters are beyond comprehension of an ordinary intellect. Srivallabha, reached the other bank and riding on the tiger’s back returned to Kuruvapuram. The tiger took its last breath the moment Sripada Srivallabha had got down from its back, and a radiant celestial soul emerged from its body. The celestial soul prayed the Lord to accept the hide - the skin of his previous body as his seat. Sricharan lovingly consented and narrated the details of his previous birth: In one of his past lives, Vyaghreshwar was a great wrestler who used to fi ght with tigers, harassing, chaining and starving them, and forcing them to do his bidding to entertain the audience for earning his livelihood. As a result of these brutal acts, he was destined to be born as an animal for many births to come. But the Lord with his grace restricted the karmic effects to that birth alone and liberated him from the transmigration cycle of births and deaths. The Lord then granted him a boon saying that as he remained tiger for many years, he may assume the form whenever he wishes it. He ordered him to proceed to Himalayas.” You have seen the same Vyaghreshwar Sharma at the entrance of the cave. He guards the great yogis in Himalayas. The great yogis are capable of communicating telepathically; they do not need any messengers to convey their messages amongst themselves. However, they do exchange messages through Vyaghreshwar Sharma as a joyous sport.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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I renewed my journey fondly reminiscing on my wondrous experience in Marutvamalai and chanting the name of Lord Sripada. On the way I visited many holy lands. As soon as I set foot in ‘Kadambavan’ in Pandya kingdom, I experienced a state of weightlessness, as if my body was about to levitate. At that moment I came upon a powerful Shiva Lingam, after beholding which, I felt normal again. I rested for some time and resumed my journey. Presently I came across a hermitage. A saint called Siddhendra Yogi lived there. I paid obeisance to him. Listening to the perplexing experience that I had at Kadambavan, the saint narrated an interesting story related to it. “Son, Shankar Bhatt! The Shiva Lingam which you chanced upon is the most effi cacious one. In times yore, Lord Devendra annihilated many demons in a fi erce war. One of the demons who managed to escape started performing severe penance. Lord Indra beheaded the demon mercilessly when he was absorbed in deep penance and hence Indra’s effulgence started waning. He visited many holy places to be absolved from this sin, but of no avail. However, the moment he stepped into this ‘Kadambavan’ he was completely purged of his sin and regained his resplendence. Realising the mystic powers of the Shiva Lingam there, he got a temple built in that place. Son, the very glimpse of the Shiva Lingam expunges all sins and brings in opulent good fortune. Only the good and meritorious people can see it. However, the devotees of Lord Sri Datta are blessed and destined to meet holy people and visit holy places in an unexpected and effortless manner.” The yogi then asked me to visit the place once again. When I reached the place second time, I felt amazed to see a magnifi cent temple substituting the earlier one. On

Chapter 2Shankar Bhatt encounters Sri Siddha Yogindra

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enquiry, I came to know that it was the temple of Sri Minakshi Sundareshwar in Mathura. After obtaining Darshan, I returned for hermitage. The place secluded earlier, was now crowded teeming with population giving it the appearance of a city and hence I found it diffi cult to locate the ashram. Groping around, fi nally I reached the Ashram. Sri Siddha yogi took me inside with exceptional warmth and offered me fried chickpeas in a plantain leaf. I ate to my hearts content. Then, the Yogi explicated my experiences, “Son, the fi rst Shiva lingam you have seen is not different from the second one, in fact both are one and the same. These experiences were given to you as per the instructions of Lord Datta, taking the time back to two different yester years and creating the same milieu and scenario existed at those times. Son, the mere conviction of Lord Datta, turns the future into present; the present into past and the past into present. Whatever happened in the past, or happening in the present or will happen in the future, every thing depends on His Will and conviction. His conviction, the free will is the keynote for an event to take place or not to take place or to transpire in a distinct manner. Dear! One has to forego the subjective ‘I’ and the preceding ego considerations and other types of foibles to realize the true form of Absolute and to receive His benign grace.” Then elucidating the sanctity of Madhura* he said, “A merchant named Dhananjay happened to see the Shiva lingam installed by Devendra. He conveyed the news to Kulasekhara, the king of Pandya dynasty. By the command of Lord Shiva, Kulasekhara Pandya renovated the temple and built a city called ‘Madhura.’ His son Malayadhvaja Pandya performed ‘Putra Kameshti’ Yagna to beget children.’ Three year old female child emerged out of sacrifi cial ground, as ayonija (not born out of womb), who later renowned as Minakshi Devi and married Sundareshwar. Lord Maha Vishnu himself performed

*Currently known as Madurai located in Tamilnadu

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their marriage with all grandeur. The river Vegavati, emanating from the matted locks of Shiva further sanctifi es this Madhura.” Out of exhaustion, soon I slipped into a deep slumber. Next morning, when I opened my eyes, I could neither see Ashram nor the yogi. My wits failed to comprehend whether the events of previous day were my hallucinations or were they real. In utter bemusem*nt, I renewed my wayfaring and by noon reached a small village, which was inhabited by tribal people and no single Brahmin soul lived there. Following the adage ‘marga madhye shudravat acharet,’ the travellers are not confi ned to any inhibitions rather they are at liberty to enact like sudras on the way during their journey, I accepted the honey and fruits offered by the indigenous people, and I was about to eat when from nowhere a fl ock of crows fl ew towards me and started pecking me all over my body. Scared to death I tried to fl ee hither and thither. But they appeared determined not giving up the chase. Nobody came forward to help me presuming that I might have incurred the wrath of gods by condemning them, and gods might divert their resentment, towards them if they try to help a heretic like me. Though fully exhausted I managed to reach a fi g tree with faltering steps. It is believed that Lord Dattatreya dwells in this tree. So I thought that taking shelter under it would defi nitely shield me against this peril. But the providence had different plans for me. I didn’t even secure myself enough against the crows menace; some gigantic snakes crawled hurriedly towards me and bit me everywhere. Some washer men who were returning home noticed me lying more dead than alive with body fully poisoned and foam streaming out of my mouth. Feeling pity at my predicament they laid me on donkey’s back and took me to a cobbler cum doctor. The area was permeated with some kind of foul smell. They made me lie down on a cot outside his hut, the cobbler-doctor administered me with some herbal medicines, during which I had literally undergone through infernal chastisem*nt with the body still alive.

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After sometime, which appeared ages to me, the poison got detoxifi ed and I was cured. Throughout the night the cobbler sang the Kirtan of Lord, “Datta Digambara! Datta Digambara! Sripada Vallabha! Datta Digambara!” Reclined on the cot, listening to the kirtan rapt with an unknown joy I felt certain that as we were the co-disciples of a same guru were soul mates. The next moment, I swayed by the thought that I belonged to a higher Brahmin caste but he- to a lower caste, and it pained me hard.Sermons of CobblerWhen he had fi nished his carols he spoke to me in a tender note, “Son, Shankar! I am Vallabhdas, the cobbler. No doubt I belong to a lower caste, but throughout my life, I stayed in the company of virtuous intellects. Son, I knew that you are going to Sripada Srivallabha and I also knew why you were preyed by crows and snakes as well,” and he started his narration: Pithikapuram is the abode of knowledge and scholarship and is blessed and sanctifi ed with the descent of Sripada Srivallabha in human form, praising whose glory Vedas got exhausted and uttered ‘Neti, Neti.’5 Insensate philosophy or meaningless and irrational logic never fetches you the grace of Sripada Srivallabha. Son, Realise that the scholarly knowledge is not the prerequisite to obtain His grace. The ego, outcropping due to profound scholarly knowledge takes the devotee farther away from the Lord. The crows that pecked you were the scholars, who lived in Pithikapuram in their previous birth. They could recite Vedas even backward. They reached heaven after their demise. Lord Indra and the celestial angels welcomed them eulogizing their knowledge. But these scholars were eager to have

5The Divine is ‘not this and it is not that.’ We can never truly defi ne God in words. All we can say is,’ It isn’t this, it isn’t that either.’ In the end, one must transcend words to understand the nature of the Divine. In this sense, neti-neti is not a denial. Rather, it is an assertion that whatever the Divine maybe, when we attempt to capture it in human words, we inevitably fall short, because we are limited in understanding; and words fail to express the transcendent.

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ambrosia, much-talked-about drink of the celestial beings. On being asked for, Indra elaborated, ‘Vedas are considered as the manifestation of Para Brahman. Unwittingly you acclaimed the glory of almighty through your recitation of Vedas. In return, you are being praised by us, the celestial deities. Had you given a grain in alms to anyone, we would have given it back to you increasing it in multitudes. If you want to be fed, you too should have fed someone else in your world. We are helpless since you never offered even a single grain to anyone. You can stay and roam freely here till the lapse of your prescribed time, without longing for food.’ Thus warning sternly he continued further, ‘You reluctantly performed the annual obsequies of your forefathers. You were much engrossed in calculating and recalculating the expenses incurred and the food consumed by the Bhoktas, the Brahmins. Alas! The basic feeling ‘Sraddha, the reverence’ was missing totally in the rites performed by you. So, the souls of your forefathers could not attain liberation. You never in your lives showed minimum respect, concern or a small amount of love to your parents. Moreover, Lord Vishnu himself stayed amongst you in the form of Sripada, and you responded with criticism and condemnation. False ego blinded your eyes and wits. You cursed souls, horde like crows till you get salvation. You will be freed of your bad karma only on tasting the blood of a member of your progeny, whose body, speech, mind and soul are sanctifi ed by the holy name and propitious grace of Sripada Srivallabha.’ Sir! That is why they were born as crows and were relieved of their ill-fate after tasting your blood,” I realised that Vallabhdas was not an ordinary soul. He continued, “The snakes that came attracted by the odour of your body and bit you had also attained salvation.” I could not control myself without pouring out my anguish, “Sir, Vallabhdas! It annoys me much if my body thus gets preyed by crows, snakes and other animals. I’ll be under constant fear and should remain on guard round the clock anticipating threat from any quarter at any moment of time.”

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Vallabhdas consoled me with a broad smile “Oh! Dear, Don’t get scared. This is all the Divine play of Sricharan. Be rest assured that no more such events will occur in future,” and resumed his recount. “Actually some of your forefathers worshipped ‘Smashana Kalika’ and acquired occult powers. Using those powers they killed the persons, whom they despised. As a result of their sin they were born as snakes. But luckily for them, you too are associated with their lineage. Just because of this small punya this event had taken place and they got elevated. Look my son! These are the subtle laws of Dharma. If one aspires to reap the best effects of one’s deeds, they must be accomplished in accordance with the Dharma.” He added with a benign smile, “Since you are a patient now, to remain in the care and custody of a doctor, irrespective of whether he is a cobbler or a Brahmin, becomes your Dharma now.” He paused for a moment and renewed, “When you were a child, out of fun and frolic, you used to interpret the prayer Shloka of Ganesha “Shuklambaradharam ..” in a comical manner - Suklambaradharam means the one clad in white, Vishnum - that pervades everywhere, Sashivarnam - which is of grey colour, Chaturbhujam - which has four legs, prasanna vadanam - which has an appealing face (while braying) Dhyayet - I shall pray. ‘Requesting to remove all the problems from my life, I pray and meditate upon the grey donkey with four legs, clad in white and which has a pleasant face while braying.’ This is how you interpreted the shloka. Sir! Shankar Bhatt! Dattatreya is a very unique Lord. He rectifi es the fl aws of his devotees administering his own methods of treatment. Just recollect, wrapped with dust you appeared grey when the washer men brought you here. Unable to stand or walk, you bent downwards placing your arms onto the ground and walked like a four-legged animal. But for the severe pain, you had a pleasant face while yelling. Making you undergo all these teething troubles Sripada Srivallabha apart

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from teaching you a lesson had liberated the souls of your forefathers. So remember my son, we are all under constant vigilance of The Divine Almighty, Sripada Srivallabha. With his substantial explanation, the ego of being a Brahmin has evaporated totally and I felt an affectionate bondage towards him as if he were my sibling. After enjoying the hospitality of Vallabhdas for two to three days, I resumed my trek. Before reaching Chidambaram, I was entrapped in strange circ*mstances in Vichitrapuram6 but came out unscarred by the grace of Lord. While I was walking along the roads in Vichitrapuram the royal soldiers approached and asked me humbly, “Are you a Vaishnavite or Shaivite?” “Though I belong to Smarta sect I am slightly inclined towards Shiva,” I replied. They asked me to accompany them to the king. I proceeded to the Royal Court. On the way I came to know the strange details about the king: If the king happened to know any Brahmin passing through his kingdom, immediately he summons and shoots them with the question, “If that much accrued this much, how much this would fetch?” so far nobody could answer it satisfactorily. He punishes the loser in a strange manner; if the Brahmin happened to be a shaivite he makes him clean shaved and applies Vaishnav marks on the forehead and takes him on procession on a donkey’s back. If the Brahmin is a vaishnavite the vertical vibhuti marks on the forehead change their direction into horizontal, but the rest of the treatment is same. Few years ago the king performed yagna to beget a son. Fortunately he was blessed with a son, but unfortunately for the Brahmins, the prince turned out a dumb. The king was convinced that the Brahmins performed the yagna with all shortcomings and the sin fell heavily upon, turning his 6Vichitra means strange or queer, puram –a city, befi tting its name was ruled by and populated with a strange king and people respectively, where Shankar Bhatt got entangled in eerie circ*mstances.

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offspring speechless and he became vindictive. The ill fate and the bad times started for the Brahmins have been heading for worst in leaps and bounds. Suddenly, the king started giving cart loads of Amaranth/Tanduliya Leaves in alms to them and strictly prohibited them to cook or eat any other food. What the poor Brahmins can do except to bear the brunt silently? Madhava, an associate suggested that Lord Dattatreya alone is their saviour. Accordingly, they started observing Mandala Diksha, i.e strict observance of vows and austerities for forty continuous days, and began to worship Lord Dattatreya. The king resolved to patronage and to propagate the sign language, the language of his son. He ordered the royal priest to conduct an elaborate research and to author a book on dumbness and sign language.Dialogue between the king and Shankar Bhatt I stood in front of the king muttering incessantly Sripada’s name under my breath. The king shot his usual question, “If that much accrued this much, how much this would fetch?” “Of course, this much would accrue this much alone, nothing else?” I replied with ostensible gravity, The king was stunned and said, “O Brahmin! How felicitous your answer is! Please let me explain. Recently I had a vision of my previous birth. I was a poor Brahmin then. I used to grow Amaranth herbs in my backyard and give away the leaves generously to all, rich or poor. Because of my selfl ess generosity, I am born as a king whereas the rich who accepted Amaranth Leaves and did not help me in my dire poverty are born as my Brahmins subjects. Now I am donating cart loads of Amaranth Leaves to them all. What great benefi t will this generosity fetch me? I have this simple query. Nobody, except you, could answer it.” I enumerated, “O king! In your previous birth, as per the circ*mstances you were in, Amaranth Leaves were more precious to you. But now, you are in a position to offer

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inestimable stones, diamonds, gold etc. Hence if you donate Amaranth Leaves now, in return, you obtain hundred times more of it, nothing else.” The king was pleased with my answer. Fortuitously my reply hit the mark. The second test - test on sign language was started. Royal priest, the examiner showed one fi nger and two fi ngers alternatively as if asking one or two? I thought that he was asking me whether I had come alone or somebody accompanied me. So, in reply I showed one fi nger indicating that I have come all alone. Next he showed me three fi ngers. The number three recollected me the Triune form of Lord Dattatreya. I thought that he was asking me whether I was a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. So to indicate that devotion is purely personal, should not be revealed to any one I closed all my fi ngers and showed my fi st. As if in reply to it, he offered some sweetmeats and was persuading me, in sign language, to take them. I refused and gave him some beaten rice from my bundle. I wanted to express that I don’t like sweets, rather I am fond of beaten rice and he too can relish its taste. The royal priest then declared the test results in a tone of complacency, “O king! Undoubtedly he is a great scholar even in sign language too. Showing one and two fi ngers, I asked him whether Shiva and Keshava are one and the same or different. Showing one fi nger he replied that they are one and the same. With three fi ngers I conveyed the existence of trinity -Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. In reply, he showed the fi rst implying that though they are different in forms they always coordinate united. Giving sweetmeats I entreated to accept me as his disciple. He not only refused, but offering me beaten rice in turn expressed that he did not want to get entangled in the disarray of sishyas and prasishyas. Like Sudama he feels pleased and contented with whatever little he has.” I felt astounded the way he interpreted the whole questionnaire. The fi nal test began. The royal priest asked me to recite ‘vanasas’ from chamakam, explaining their meaning. Mentally

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chanting Sripada Srivallabha’s name I started my explanation, “Ekaacha me’ means 1. Trisaschame means 3. Add 1 to 3, 1+3= 4 and the square root is 2.” Thus I explained up to ‘navatrinshatishchame’ that is 39 adding the earlier sum 361 to it gives the sum 400 and its square root is 20. I wondered at my own comment. But everyone in the court was more than convinced and applauded. I further added, “This is the secret behind the atoms of creation. Sage Kanada7 was well versed in it. According to him the universe is made up of Kana, the atom. Every object of creation is made of atoms; all matter that exist in the universe is formed of Paramanu (atoms). Different metals are formed depending upon and difference in the number of atoms.” I walked out of the court with a sigh of relief thanking and offering prayers to Sripada for protecting me from the disgrace ‘of riding on donkey in procession’ for second time.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye

7Though the modern ‘atomic theory’ is generally considered a new advance of science, it was well-known to the ancient Hindus. One of the six systems of Indian philosophy is VAISESIKA; from the Sanskrit root VISESAS, “atomic individuality.” One of the foremost VAISESIKA expounders was Aulukya, also called Kanada, born about 2800 years ago.

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By the benediction of Sripada I came out from Vichitrapuram unscathed. The next three days I had a pleasant journey. On the fourth day, I stood in front of a Brahmin house, seeking alms. The landlady rushed out furiously and thundered, “There is nothing to give you. Get out of here!” and vanished like lightning. After sometime a crestfallen and gloomy looking person, probably her husband came out and bleated meekly, “Sir! I am not destined to serve any guests. My wife is a scornful and quarrelsome lady. Whenever she is furious, she breaks pots on my head and then demands that I pay the cost of the broken pots by seeking alms. Since such a histrionic mishap took place just now, I am under obligation to settle my current dues. So let us together seek and share the alms. By the grace of God we may receive food and money too.” Listening to the landlord’s anecdote, concealing my feelings of astonishment, together we went to each and every house in that Brahmin colony. Let alone money, we were unable to procure even a single morsel of food. Tired and affl icted with pangs of hunger we dragged ourselves unto a banyan tree; leaning against it we started chanting the name of Sripada in a faint and feeble note. Presently, some royal attendants approached me and announced that the king summoned me to the royal court and led us to the court with due respect. “O Great Soul,” the King said with great deference. “Accept my apology. Though I realised that you are an erudite scholar, I did not render my veneration befi tting you. Just after you left, the crown prince fell unconscious. After many futile efforts, he fi nally regained his consciousness and started chanting ‘Sripada Digambara! Sri Datta Deva Digambara!’ He then said that an elegant and well-built, 16 year old yogi of unparalleled beauty put ‘Vibhuti’- the sacred ash into his mouth

Chapter 3 Darshan of Palani Swami and Vision of Kuruvapuram.

Propitious effects of chanting the name of Sripada

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and the next moment he regained consciousness. Venerable Sir! Please enlighten me about that yogi in detail.” “O King! I do not know much about Him except that He is the reincarnation of Lord Dattatreya and is at present in Kuruvapuram. I am on my way to Kuruvapuram with an earnest desire to sanctify myself with His Darshan.” I humbly expressed my ignorance. Everyone present there were pleased with the progression of the events. The Brahmins felt happy and complacent that owing to their devout adherence to ‘Datta Mandala Diksha’, not only was the crown prince cured of his disability, but also the king metamorphosed into a reposeful and prudent person. The royal priest promised me that they would all stay united without any sectarian differences of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. The king honoured and offered me gold. Bidding farewell to them, we left Vichitrapuram; Madhav also accompanied us. We handed over the gold to the landlady who now transformed into a peaceful woman altering her ways of living, and became a devotee of Sripada. Madhav and I started for Chidambaram. Madhav belonged to the ‘Nambudri’ family who were profi cient in Vedic knowledge and well conversant in the fi elds of mantra, tantra and yantra. But Madhav had no knowledge in any of these disciplines. As he lost his parents early in his childhood, he had to struggle hard for his survival from a tender age. He earned his livelihood by cooking in Brahmin houses. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Dattatreya. He heard the glory of Sripada and was looking forward to obtain His Darshan. On the way, we went to meet a celebrated saint who lived in the caves near Chidambaram. Even before we could reach the mouth of the cave, the saint, Palani Swami came out and greeted us. “What good fortune! Both Madhav and Shankar have come together to see me,” he said genially. We immediately realised that he was a ‘siddha’ who

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knew everything about us and does not require any formal introduction. The Swami then revealed to us the message he received. “Sons, as per the mandate of Sripada, the time has ripened for me to leave this 300 year old worn-out body and to encase it afresh into a younger one.” Then addressing me, he asked, “Son! Shankar! You told something about the atomic theory of Sage Kanada in Vichitrapuram. Please elucidate it to me.Atomic theory of Sage Kanada Pleading my ignorance, I said, “Swami! I know very little about Sage Kanada and his doctrine. You are well aware that whatever I spoke was blurted out unknowingly, like an unconscious impulse, by the grace of Sripada.” Sri Palani Swami peerlessly expounded the theory. “The entire creation is constituted by the infi nitesimal structures of atoms. If every infi nitesimal atom and molecule is further divided into infi nite parts, each and every atom becomes equal to ether. The entire creation is the result of the unison of these infi nite vacuums. Lightning is caused by the existence of atoms tinier that these atoms. Just like the way the planets revolve around the Sun in a particular orbit, similarly these atoms too revolve around their pivotal point, with lightning speed. The emotional vibrations of all beings exist in a form tinier than these tiniest atoms. The entire universe is of vibratory nature, so nothing remains stable and static. Inconstancy is its characteristic feature and hence it keeps changing all the time. Consciousness of Lord Datta exists in an even more subtle state than that of the microstate of these vibrations. Therefore, He is more powerful than the most powerful.” Then diverting his explanation onto hymns and mantras, he said, “Prana pratishtha is nothing but invoking and imparting life into the idols by chanting Vedic hymns, wherein the idols get replenished with vital force and become capable of consummating the wishes of the devotees. All mantras

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including Gayatri Mantra originate in the Kundalini. Devotees are under the impression that Gayatri Mantra is a 3-lined verse. However, ‘Paro Rajasi Saavadom’ is its fourth line. Four-lined Gayatri Mantra indicates a formless and ineffable Brahman.” “Son, Shankar Bhatt! 108 years prior to His descent in Pithikapuram Lord Datta visited this place in the form of Sripada. Sometime after His arrival the ascetics of Himalayas worshipped Badari Narayana of Badari Kshetra near Himalayas with ‘Brahma Kamalasm’- the celestial fl owers. I witnessed that each and every lotus offered there, fell here on the sacred feet of Sripada.” Palani Swami’s ethereal experiences fi lled my body, mind and soul with divine intoxication. I asked eagerly, “Swami, please tell me more about the celestial fl ower and its signifi cance.”Nature of Brahma Kamalam Palani Swami explained, “Maha Vishnu worshipped Shiva with these fl owers. The lotus that emerged from Vishnu’s navel is the original Brahma Kamalam. If a devotee worships with these fl owers, he will be graced with both material and spiritual wealth. The Brahma Kamalam blooms once a year, at the uppr reaches of the Himalayas, at an approximate height of 12,000 feet, only at midnight. Its blossom emits a heavenly fragrance permeating the entire area with its aroma. The saints in the Himalayas wait for days and months just to behold this magnifi cent spectacle. They believe that a mere glimpse of it mitigates all sins, removes all hurdles and facilitates the path of yoga. Very few people are fortune enough to view the fl ower and its blossom.” Swami then instructed me, “I will remain in Samadhi for the next 10 days. Please see to it that I am not disturbed by the infl ux of devotees. If a person who died from snake bite is brought, ask them to either to dispose the body in the fl owing waters of a river or to bury it.

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Seated in the lotus posture, Palani Swami went deep the people who came seeking Swami’s Darshan. Madhav went to bring some fi rewood to prepare food for us. While collecting fi rewood, a cobra bit him and Madhav passed away. I wept bitterly unable to bear the separation from a noble soul; with a heavy heart I buried Madhav’s body as previously instructed by Palani Swami. I felt tremendous pain in my heart recollecting his innocent and pure heart, and his unconditional faith and devotion towards Sripada. This was followed by one more grievous incident. Bemoaning the death of an 18 year old youth, who also died of a snake bite, some relatives brought his dead body to Swami. I conveyed them the instructions of Swami. Left with no other alternative, they too buried the youth. Ten days elapsed at a snail’s pace. On the 11th day Swami opened his eyes and called out for Madhav. Weeping like a child, I narrated the entire incident to him. “Son, be comforted,” Swami spoke soothingly. “Madhav was not destined to see Sripada in his physical body. So for the last 10 days, he was in his astral body in Kuruvapuram with Sripada. Sripada had resorted to this method to fulfi l Madhav’s single-hearted desire. Son, the ways of the Lord are incomprehensible.” The Swami then said it was time to resurrect Madhav as decreed by Sripada. Joyful anticipation fi lled my heart that had a while ago been lamenting. After digging out his body, as per the instructions of Palani Swami, we cried aloud, “Here is the message for the cobra that had bitten Madhav! You have to come to Palani Swami at once. This is the command of Sripada.” Palani Swami took four small conch shells from his loin cloth and placed them on four sides of Madhav’s body, muttering some mantras. After a while the conch shells levitated and darted into the sky, one in each direction. Subsequently, we saw the cobra coming out hissing angrily. The four shells

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stuck like glue on its hood and as if it was being forcibly drawn by them. Obeying the order of Swami it sucked the venom out from Madhav’s body. Swami sprinkled some holy water on it, uttering the name of Sripada. All at once the snake became sober, kissed his feet, circumambulated around him thrice and calmly crawled away. Madhav was resurrected. But for His nectarine mercy, how could the deceased body of Madhav remain intact even after being buried for 10 days and how could he breathe once again? How can one delineate the fortuity of a person who makes himself worthy to receive His grace?” I thought in mounting astonishment.The effects of feeding a Datta devotee “This cobra in its previous birth was an old woman who earned ample sin,” Palani Swami explained to us. “However she even earned a meagre amount of virtue as she once fed a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. After her death when she went to Yamaloka, the hell. Yamadharma Raja, the ruler of Yamaloka informed her that Lord Dattatreya ordered him to reduce the effects of her sins and to increase in manifold the good effects of her single meritorious deed. He then asked her whether she wanted to undergo the effects of her virtue fi rst or of her sins fi rst. As the effects of sins were less, she preferred to undergo chastisem*nt fi rst and then enjoy the good effects leisurely for a long time. So she was born as a snake. But as she could not change her basic (Rajas) livid nature, she ruthlessly bit everyone who came across her way. Thus she once again accrued sins. Son! Realise how Sripada protects the interests of His devotees in incredibly miraculous ways. By biting Madhav she acquired some virtue, while Madhav died because of the sins of his previous birth. By the ambrosial grace of Sripada, the old lady’s sins extirpated and her soul departed to higher worlds; and Madhav obtained the divine Darshan of Lord Datta in his astral body.” “Lord Dattatreya is propitiated if a devotee satiates the hunger of a virtuous person in His name. Of course the one who

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offers food acquires lot of punya. A fraction of the essence of the food gets converted into heart, the seat of emotions. The heart, intellect, chitta, ego and body of a person who offers food to the other selfl essly are fi lled with auspicious vibrations. These in turn enhances his power to attract the objects of the world. The abundance of objects itself is called ‘Laksmi Kataksham’- Grace of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.”Description of Nagaloka Madhav related his wondrous experience. “I reached Kuruvapuram in my astral body and beheld Lord Sripada, the epitome of love and compassion. As per the order of Sripada I went deep into the island. I realised it was the Nether world. I saw gigantic snakes; some had thousand hoods with a gem radiating on each hood and some stretching their hoods remained motionless as if they were in Yoga Samadhi. Reposing on a thousand-headed snake and blissfully listening to the Vedic hymns, Sripada looked like Maha Vishnu. One big snake who lay beside me told me that Sripada was none other than the son of the great seer Atri and his chaste wife Anasuya. He taught Kriya Yoga to Gorakshanath of Nath sect and appeared Nirakara – formless, to saint Gnaneshwar.” Another snake told me, “Son, after ruling the world for thousands of years, the Lord concealed himself under the river waters. We waited for Him for many years with a hope that he would emerge from the water. Eventually after many years he came out totally inebriated, holding a jug of wine in one hand and embracing a semi-clad 16year old maiden of stunning beauty in the other. We cursed ourselves for having wasted our time waiting for a frivolous drunkard. We were about to return to our abodes when suddenly they vanished. It then dawned upon us that the wine the Lord held in his hand was ambrosia and the maiden, none other than Mother Anagha, the embodiment of the three energies. In deep contrition for our misconception, we performed severe tapasya to burn out our sin and to persuade

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the Lord to descend onto earth. Pleased with our unrelenting devotion, the Lord to fulfi l our earnest desire, incarnated as Sripada in Pithikapuram. Son! Madhava! Kuruvapuram is an exceptionally holy place. It is here that our Lord Dattatreya concealed his body under water in the past, and now He made it His abode. This is the same place that sanctifi ed with the sermons preached to ‘Kuru’ the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas.”About Sadashiva Brahmendra Madhav continued, “Unable to believe my own fate, I knelt down at His lotus feet. The Lord blessed me and said that one of the snakes that talked to me would be born as Jyoti Ramalinga Swami and would disappear in the form of a light and the other would take the form of Sada Shiva Brahmendra and would perform numerous divine healings for the good and welfare of the people. Then He asked me to proceed to Pithikapuram and visit the holy place where His Padukas would be installed in future.” “Son,” Palani Swami interrupted, “right now we should take bath and sit in meditation. This is the order of Sripada. Recount your experiences after our meditation.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye

Sadasiva Brahmendra Swami Jyoti Ramalinga Swami

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“Dear Shankar and Madhav! Let us meditate contemplating on the elegant form of Sripada and discuss our experiences afterwards. If I receive His command during my meditation I shall at once go to Kuruvapuram in my astral body.” Palani Swami remarked. “Swami, I said expressing my confusion, “Madhav has seen the sacred form of Sripada and you have always been in contact with Him through your astral body. But how can I meditate upon His form when I have never seen him at all?” “Son, have faith in him,” Palani Swami smiled benignly at my naivety. “Shankar, initially He protects His devotees like a mother tortoise, which though miles away from its babies protects them through its thought waves. As the devotee progresses and evolves further on his spiritual path, He safeguards him like a mother cat, which moves its kittens from place to place until it is sure that the place is safe for them, and later like a mother monkey which keeps a close eye on its baby that holds on to her all the time. Then as and when a satisfactory level of progress is attained, like the baby fi sh which tail their mother, the devotees too mentally and physically always follow the Divine. So rely on His grace; you will certainly receive His Darshan during meditation.” I felt reassured.Story of Shiva Sharma After meditation Palani Swami cheerfully recounted his experience. “In my meditation I saw a Brahmin called Shiva Sharma who resides in Kuruvapuram. He is a great scholar and realised the transcendental nature of Sripada. His wife is Ambika. He was apprehensive about his son and his future as he was dim-witted. One day, after reciting Veda, he stood silently before Sripada. Sripada noticed his melancholic mood. “Dear one,” Sripada’s tone was inquiring, “Tell me what do

Chapter 4Vasavambika Darshan in Kuruvapuram

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you grieve about? And what do you aspire for?” “Contrary to my hopes and expectations my son turned out to be an imbecile. Beloved Lord! You can do or undo anything. Your Infi nite Mercy can turn him into a gifted scholar in the twinkling of an eye.” Explaining the implications of karma, Sripada said, “Dear Son! No matter how great a person is, he has to endure the causative effects of karma. The entire universe runs on this principle and it cannot be violated.A woman gets a husband as a result of her devotion to God and a couple begets their children depending upon the effects of their charity. When one gives alms, the donor accrues a part of the virtue or sin depending upon the good or bad actions or deeds performed by the recipient. Also, the donation yields good results only when it is offered without any covetousness. Because of the karma of your previous birth you begot a dim-wit as your son. Both you and your wife pleaded for a son who has a long life. If you insist that I destroy the sins of his previous birth and make him prudent, as per the law of karma you should be ready to sacrifi ce your life. Only then it is possible.” “Lord! I am willing to give up my life for the good of my son.” There was no hesitation in Shiva Sharma’s words or in his heart. “What more can I ask if he equals Brihaspati, the preceptor of Gods in prowess and knowledge?” “So be it! Sripada said solemnly. “You will soon leave this mortal body and later will be born again in Maratha.”Sripada’s birth in future Shiva Sharma died shortly after. Ambika and her son started living on alms. Unable to bear the never-ending criticism of the neighbours any more, the Brahmin youth one day hastened towards the river to give up his life. His helpless mother too followed the suit. Sripada, the Ocean of Compassion prevented them on the way and instantly turned him into a scholar and counselled Ambika to lead the rest of

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her life worshipping Lord Shiva. He blessed her that in her next birth she would beget a son equal to Him in prowess. But as there is none like him in the three worlds, he resolved to born to her in her next birth8.Vasavi’s birth Today I was fortunate enough to sanctify myself with the much awaited Darshan of Goddess Vasavi Kanyakamba. She emerged out of the Yoga fi re kindled by Sripada, by his soul energy. I reverentially touched her lotus feet. Vasavi maa and Sripada resembled alike and appeared like twins. After some time Kausumbi and Kusuma Sreshti, the parents of Vasavimaa, Sri Nagareswara Swami, and Viroopaksha, her younger brother, and 102 couples who immolated themselves along with Vasavi emerged out from the yogic fi re. The Lord told me that his maternal grandfather Sri Bappanavadhanulu in his previous birth was Bhaskaracharya, the Royal priest of Kusuma Sreshthi, the King of Brihatsilanagar. The next moment out of ether He materialised a magnifi cent palace with rich gigantic rooms adorned with gold and dazzling precious gems. We were all seated on diamond studded thrones inside the palace in a big hall. Enumerating the different attributes of different Yugas the Lord said that in Krita Yuga people used to be truthful and ‘siddha sankalpas’, i.e. they could materialise whatever they desired. Sacrifi ces and yagnas were performed abundantly in Treta Yuga. Mantra shastra was very much in vogue in Dwapara Yuga. The discipline of occult gets prominence in Kali Yuga. Occult is nothing but the expansion of consciousness.” He then expounded His nature, “I am the basic truth, the prime transcendental nature of this entire creation. 330 million deities, all the living things, millions and billions of Brahmandas are born out of me, attain consciousness and possess myriad powers because of me. Just like the rivers that ultimately merge into the sea, similarly a

8Keeping His word Sripada was born as Nrisimha Saraswati to her, in the next incarnation. In this birth she was called Amba Bhavani.

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prayer offered to any deity reaches me alone. Worshipping me is equal to worshipping all the Gods put together. I alone manifest in the form of Shakti – the primordial cosmic energy and Adi Parasakti-the eternally limitless power, the ultimate feminine power inherent in all Creation. Paratattva - absolute truth is above and beyond Stri and purusha (male) Tattva, the female and male tattvas respectively. My male energy is called Datta, whereas the female energy is known as Adiparashakti. All those places and the surrounding areas where I move in my physical form are consecrated by the rays emanating from my physical body; my astral body pervades the entire globe and my causal body stretches over zillions of Brahmandas. My Mahakarana - the great causal body is of Sacchidananda9

form. My consciousness fl ows simultaneously in all these four forms. A devotee is allowed to come to me, enjoy my grace and mercy only if I am appeased with him. Anagha Lakshmi, the triadic image of the three Energies (Trishakti svaroopini) is my Shakti form. She resides in the left part of my body and the Trigunatmak Trinity resides on the right side of my body. The entire universe lies in me only. Creation, sustenance, destruction, disappearance and mercy - these fi ve activities are carried out continuously. Each and every object is nothing but a solidifi ed form of a syllable. All syllables do posses vibrations, and are embodiments of mantras. This nature of Nada (sound) characteristic by its vibration is the form of Mahasaraswati. Mahalakshmi is the form of this solidifi ed energy while the unfathomable hidden energy is the form of Mahakali. One moment I remain as Shakti and the next moment I change into Shakta, the bearer of Shakti and vice versa. The Divine Mother is the symbol of boundless mercy and compassion while the Divine Father is the symbol of strict discipline, virtuousness and justice. The

9Sat, Chit, Ananda is ‘Sacchidananda.’ Sat is the nature of God –truth, positive being, and chit –mind, intelligence, and anand- bliss. The state of ‘Sacchidananda’ indicates complete union with the Ultimate reality, which alone is capable of giving total bliss. In this context it refers to the totality of all the forms of the Supreme.

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father in me strictly ordains that one should reap the fruits of one’s bad deeds whereas the mother in me showers love and mercy upon devotees. No matter how grave the mistake is, no matter what its multitude, the mother disregards it and loves her child unconditionally; and at the same time if her child does a good deed, no matter how small, she rewards him liberally. I indubitably play both these roles while assisting my devotees, be it in temporal issues or spiritual matters. I am the mother, father and guru of this entire universe.” Looking at me intently and apprehending my inner thoughts, the Omniscient narrated this incident, “One day, rocking me in the cradle, my mother Anasuya wished to have a daughter. As she is a chaste woman her wish materialised instantly. When the cradle moved to and fro, the baby in it appeared in turns, once as Datta and once as Vasavi. She could not comprehend whether it was real or delusion. Then Sage Atri explained the phenomenon, “Anasuya! We had performed severe austerities and penances to realise the true transcendental nature of the Trinity form. As a result we were gifted with a son, our Datta- the integral form of Trinity. If the child takes the female form realise that it is Kanyaka, who is the manifestation of Adi Parashakti. They are siblings from primeval times itself.” There after, obeying the wish of Anasuya and Sage Atri, we appeared separately, in two different forms. Ambika tied a Rakhi on my wrist.” Thus clarifying my doubt as to how Sripada and Vasavi became siblings, he turned towards Vasavi and said that he wants to conceal his form on that day. Vasavi implored him to retain the eternal auspicious form for some more time and requested that even during his retreat, he should continue to materialise to sincere devotees irrespective of time and place. The supreme guru benevolently conceded her wish. Later He declared the arrival of a foreign devotee and commanded Virupaksha to lead him to that place. At the very sight of Sricharan, the enraptured foreigner fell on His feet,

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embracing and kissing them, sobbed like a child. Sripada addressed him as John and spoke in Telugu, which John understood in German. Sricharan assured him, “Beloved John, I shall shoulder your burden and responsibility. So be at peace.” And then he elaborated his divine cosmic nature,“I am the creator and controller of this Universe. I am not confi ned to any single place or to a particular sphere. I am everywhere at once, heeding and responding to the prayers of all who call me out with fervent desire. There is no burden I cannot shoulder, no work which I cannot accomplish and no problem that I cannot solve in the universe.” He then enumerated about the unblemished devotion of Dhruva and said, Dhruva, the Polaris, the prime star in the Ursa Minor or Little Dipper is signifi cant to and is seen near the constellation group known as the Saptarishi Mandala, the Seven Sages known as the Ursa Major, the Big Dipper or the Great Bear. This Dhruva star appears stationary at the same location irrespective of the earth’s movement. How a separate constellation, the Ursa Minor was created for Dhruva is an interesting story. Dhruva who was deprived of his father’s love and who desired to sit in father’s lap determined to establish his just right and performed severe penance to appease Lord Vishnu. But when the Lord appeared before him he forgot the objective of his penance. Pleased by his penance and his innocence, Vishnu lifted and took him onto his lap with parental affection and warmth, which Dhruva could not forget in his next birth too. The Lord decreed that the lad would attain Dhruvapada - the state where he would become a celestial body which would not even be touched by the Maha Pralay, the great deluge. Dhruva was born as Jesus Christ in Kali Yuga. He believed that the God almighty as his father. Vasavi bestowed her energy on Mary, the unalloyed soul. Dhruva was born as Christ to Virgin Mary. He did not born out of physical contact of his parents. The Christ often praised His Father who was

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none other than Lord Vishnu and He is currently manifested as Sripada - that is me. He prophesied that John would be re-born in a Brahmin family in Himalayas and become a Yogi. Acknowledging the innate desire of the foreigner, Guruji ascertained that Biography of Sripada Srivallabha would certainly be written and translated into German in the next Century and bid farewell to John. Subsequently, those who emanated from the Holy Yoga Fire had re-entered and disappeared in the fi re.” Thus swami shared his experiences with us.The Legend of Sri Saibaba While narrating my own experiences, I disclosed having seen a young saint, who declared himself a Muslim to some and a Brahmin of Bharadwaja lineage to others. I recollected having seen four earthen lamps in the cave under a neem tree and overheard him declaring it as his ‘Gurusthanam’- the sanctum of his Guru, and instructing to keep the place closed. Palani Swami detailed the legend of the saint as follows, “The Saint you saw is in fact a Bharadwaja Brahmin. Having lost his parents in childhood and later brought up by a Muslim, he acquired knowledge of both Islam as well as Hindu Dharma. A great yogi initiated him into Kriya Yoga in Varanasi. Drawn by the magnetic Datta Consciousness, he reached Dhishila Nagar, performed penance in that cave, the ‘Gurusthanam10.’ Swami further clarifi ed, “Mind you, dear ones! All these instances are bound to happen in the next century.Destruction of Karma With the lapse of time and change in Yugas, man is becoming fl accid and feeble both mentally and physically. Hence in Kali Yuga mere contemplating and chanting the name or mantra of the Lord enables to procure Divine Liturgy and 10Devotees of Saibaba, who have read “Sri Sai Charitra” might be well aware that this cave is the abode of the reverend Guru of Saibaba and that he ordered to close the holy place as usual and, proclaimed that ‘those who offer prayers there to Gurus on Guru Purnima would attain Salvation.’.

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opens the channel of interaction between the devotee and His consciousness. Consequently all the vices and yearning for sensual desires get transferred into the consciousness of the Lord and in return the devotee without his knowledge receives auspicious vibrations from the Lord. Sripada thus, abates the Karma of the devotees in different methods.” Apologetically interrupting him I put forward my query, “Reverend Sir! How can a Guru prevent or protect the devotee from the adversities of planetary infl uences?” Swami replied, “Planets or stars as such are neither amiable nor inimical towards humans; nevertheless they undoubtedly govern or have some power over certain organs of human body; in other words they are the ruling planets or stars or deities of particular organs. According to the natal chart11 if the Planets of a particular person are in an adverse position, the ruling Lord or the Adhidevata of an organ infl uences and infl icts that particular organ or the system related to it, resulting in ill-health, disease etc. Furthermore under the infl uence of a malefi c planet, a person attracts and receives negative vibrations12 from the Universe, which in turn lead to misfortune, diffi culties, strong pull towards bad association and bad deeds separation from kith and kin, and so on. On completion of the scheduled time period of the planetary infl uence, these vibrations leaving the affected person enter into the body of another, who has to undergo tribulation according to his destiny. These adverse effects can be minimised if one is attuned with God through prayers, meditation, worship and other religious rites. Great seers perform Yagnas for the welfare of beings and dedicate the 11A natal chart of a person is the refl ection of his virtuous or vicious deeds of his previous births which manifest in present and future lives; accordingly he takes birth on a particular day at a particular time when the planets and stars are located at specifi c positions in tune with his Karma.12Our feelings, emotions and the words spoken vibrate in the universe at a particular frequency. We constantly send and receive vibrations from the Universe. Positive feelings like joy, confi dence, concern, compassion etc vibrate at high frequency and attract good people, good fortune, good mental-physical health, etc. In contrast, negative feelings like anger, hatred, jealousy, etc vibrate at low frequency and are drawn by a receptive negative person. Hence we feel elated and inspired with some people or at some places, and feel suffocated and distressed in the company of some people or at some places.

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fruits of their rites to the World. Because of these auspicious acts of great people the negative vibrations, instead of infl icting one after the other, would retreat and immerge into the very source from where they have emerged.” Thus clarifying, he further added, “Dear Shankar! You are greatly blessed to see the hallowed Gurusthanam and the four ‘Akhand Diyas’, the ever-burning earthen lamps. I perceive some divine design behind it. Nothing happens without a cause in His realm.” I felt elevated at his prophesy and good wishes. For the fi rst time I felt a surging desire to pen the unparalleled Divine play of Lord. Swami instantly read my thoughts and blessed me, “May your desire be fulfi lled by the grace of Sripada.”The Dialogue between Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati and Sri Venkavadhanulu Having witnessed, a serious discussion between a Vedic scholar and a Brahmin monk in his meditation, Madhava narrated his experience thus: I saw a Brahmin saint asking a Vedic Scholar, “I intend to send the Sriphala you gave me to the young saint in Dhishila Nagar. Give me the palm-leaf manuscript of the biography of Sripada. Let me get it reviewed by that saint to fi nd out its authenticity.” The Scholar with slight vexation, replied, “Sir! This is our sacred possession and we have been safeguarding it from generations as an ancestral property. Moreover we consider it as the manifestation of Lord and never regard it as a mere book. None can gain access to it without His Command. In compliance with His wish, it has to be immersed in a river, when once it is translated into Telugu. Besides, you cannot offer this Sriphala13 to the saint in Dhishilanagar. If you can deliver this Sriphala to Dhishilanagar, I will defi nitely hand over this manuscript to you. Your efforts to install the Padukas (sandals) of Lord at Pithikapuram would

13On his way back from Jagannath Puri Dasaganu beheld the Darshan of Vasudevananda Saraswati, who handed over a full coconut and asked him to offer it to Saibaba. But on the way, as per the suggestion of a lawyer called Pundalikrao Nandedkar the coconut was broken; the pieces were mixed with chivda without the knowledge of Dasganu. All of them ate it relishing the taste. Thus it could not reach Sai.

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turn futile, for it is not the conviction of Sripada.” Palani Swami analysed Madhava’s vision thus‘: “The Vedic scholar is the maternal uncle of Sripada. They consider Him a divine child and treat him with parental affection coupled with devotion. Few years after Sripada left Pithikapuram, they migrated to a different place. The Muslim saint in question is none other than Sri Sai Baba. In course of time, Sripada will transmit divine energy to him, and Goddess Kalika will confer a part of her energy upon him; thereupon he will shower motherly affection on all his devotees.”Futile Efforts to Establish Padukas of Lord Palani Swami later explained how the efforts of the Brahmin ascetic to install Padukas turned futile in an unimaginable and amusing manner. “The saint adamantly installed the Padukas in the house of Sripada’s maternal grandfather which by then was bought and occupied by some other residents. When a thief sneaked in to rob the Silver Padukas, the owner of the house confessed to the thief that he hadn’t any faith either in Sripada or in the so called ascetic and made a pact that he should be given half of the share from the amount the thief gets after selling the silver padukas. So imperially consenting the terms the thief walked away with silver padukas, feeling a sense of pride fi rst time in his life. Though annoyed and distressed by the theft, the ascetic adamantly installed new Padukas and patrolled at night without batting an eyelid. Suddenly the Padukas soared high and disappeared in mid air. The ascetic then heard Sripada’s divine voice declaring that the Sriphala sent by him would be eaten mid-way and would not reach Dhishila Nagar and fi rmly warned him not to aspire to possess his biography and not to try to install his Padukas, as someone else is graced with this blessing. The next day the ascetic, on charges of theft, was unceremoniously driven out of the village. Dear Ones! Remember, nothing happens without His conviction.”

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When Madhava conveyed that he entered into a house in Pithikapuram with his subtle body and was attracted to a particular spot there, Palani Swami said that it was the exact spot where Sripada took birth and the Padukas together with the statues of Lord Dattatreya, Sripada and Nrisimha Saraswati would be installed there in future whereupon the biography would gain momentum. After this, he asked us to take out the corpse of the youth and entered into it leaving his own. Witnessing this legendary miracle- ‘Parakayapravesham,’ entering into other’s body leaving his own, we stood stupefi ed and frozen. Vyaghreshwar Sharma took the deceased body of the Swami and left it in the river. The young Swami asked me to move towards Tirupati and Madhava to Vichitrapuram. Paying salutations, both of us advanced in our respective directions.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye

Dhruva and Vishnu

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I reached Tirupati. After taking a holy dip in Pushkarini Lake and after the Darshan of Balaji, I sat in meditation in the temple premises. In my meditation Balaji appeared in different forms, as Balatripura Sundari, Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu and fi nally like a sixteen year old ascetic with exquisite beauty and charm. Meanwhile a black and ugly looking demigod approached him and declared, “O Lord! According to the horoscope of your devotee the 7 ½ years Shani period starts from today. During this period I’ll make him undergo immense infl iction and the worst suffering one cannot ever dream of. Reverend! I am waiting for your command.” The Lord replied composedly, “O Shaniswar! You are responsible for all the karmic fl ux. You make the beings reap the fruits of their actions and thus eliminate their karma. So, go a head with the duty assigned to you. My duty is to protect Shankar Bhatt, my devotee from the hostile critical circ*mstances and from your iron fi sts.” Then both of them disappeared from my mental vision. Some strange uneasiness crept in my heart; I could no longer continue my meditation after this experience. I realised that ominous time has started in my life and Sripada is my saviour. I started meandering on the streets of Tirumala. Suddenly a barber stopped me grabbing my hand and said, “Why! Subbayya! Haven’t you ever thought of your parents and your wife after absconding from your house? Your wife and your parents are counting days waiting for your return. Please go to them.” I protested and said, “Sir, I am Shankar Bhatt, a Karnatic Brahman and a bachelor. I am on my way to Kuruvapuram, the abode of Sripada Srivallabha. You are confused, sir, I am not Subbayya.” I hastily gave out all my details to clear the misunderstanding.

Chapter 5Shankar Bhatt arrives at Tirupati

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Meanwhile a throng gathered there to enjoy the live play. The barber dramatically narrated his version of the story illustrating the pathetic conditions of parents and wife. The crowd unanimously pronounced me guilty persuading and reprimanding me for my indifference dragged me to Subbayya’s house without heeding my repeated protests. There the parents too misconstruing me as their missing son gave parental sermons that I should not have left them at all, that too a newly married wife, absconding was a great crime so on and so forth. I was taken to the head of the Brahmin community of Tirupati and I was lingering with an exiguous hope that they might protect me. I tried to convince them in many ways about my real identity but in vain. After a prolonged debate and combined discussions they unanimously concluded that I was possessed by a Brahmin spirit. So, a sorcerer was called upon to expel the evil spirit, in spite of my vehement protests the sacred thread was removed, my head was clean shaved and I was tied to a pole. The sorcerer made a cut with the knife on my clean-shaven head then squeezed lemon juice and other varieties of juices, whose names were unknown to me over the cut. Oomph! What a horrifi c burning pain!! Wriggling and wobbling with pain due to cut and juices poured over it I became unconscious. My yelling and wailing fell on deaf years. I underwent hellish infl iction, as the sorcerer did not allow the wound to heal pouring all types of concoctions, brutally fl ogged me with whip shouting and ordering the spirit to leave my body. I did not cease, even for a moment to chant the name of Sripada mentally. Gradually, my pain reduced and it worked on other way round. On fourth day a strange thing happened, the whip was falling savagely all over my body but Lo! The necromancer was yelling and wailing out of pain. How can a person ever undergo any nefarious pain when he takes His name with devout devotion?” He was astounded as to why I was not experience any pain whereas he the one who was whipping me was under severe pain. He

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looked at me in bewilderment. I could not control my laughter. Yes! Sripada sports in such a grandiose manner! I was taking salubrious diet, but still they tasted delicious and I was gaining stamina. On the contrary, though he was sumptuously eating meat and fl esh of goats and hens sacrifi ced as a part of my treatment grew weaker and weaker. Now he abandoned the thought of infl icting me, instead was passing the time with chanting mantras and other rituals. On the 5th day the fi re got ignited by itself in his house turning it into a heap of ash in its blazing fl ames. On the sixth day he came with a sunken face and announced grudgingly that as the evil spirit was an occultist he required a huge amount of money to pacify the wrath of petty gods. The pathetic condition of Subbayya’s parents moved my heart. So I declared, “Mother and father! Please don’t go for additional expenses. Now I realised and convinced that you are my parents.” My eyes were fi lled with tears of joy, observing the glimpse of ecstasy and triumph as at last they could win their child to their side and on my part, I was relieved of that monster-sorcerer. But wife of another person is equal to one’s own mother. Hence I silently prayed and appealed to Sripada to take me out of the sensitive situation. On the seventh day, I questioned Subbayya’s wife to express frankly to me whether she believed my identity as Subbayya. She answered me in a placid tone, “I don’t know whether you are my husband or not as I got married when I was two years old. I have been adhering to the principles prescribed to our caste. If you are really my husband, I implore you not to leave me. Or otherwise, let us pray your Sripada to lead us onto a virtuous path.” Her discernible logic appealed me to a greater extent. On the same day a Jangama, a Shaiva mendicant of low caste came to our house, who was profi cient in Ramala Shastra, the prediction of the past, present and the future with the help of scriptures called ‘Nadi Granth.’ He gave me some shells and asked me to throw them like dice. After

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calculating for some time he opened a leaf from the scripture and read it: ‘He is Shankar Bhatt, a Karnataka Brahmin. He will write the biography of Sripada Srivallabha, the epitome of Lord Dattatreya. In his previous birth, he and his companion were born in a village called ‘Mogalicherla’ near‘Kandukur’ in Andhra Pradesh. He was the younger brother of a Brahmin who was a priest in Swayambhu Datta temple. In the absence of his brother he used to perform the priestly activities in the temple. He used to play game of dice with his friend in temple premises which was an unpardonable crime. One day he was playing with this friend with a strange stake. If the friend is won, he would be given the amount he bid but if Shankar Bhatt is won, the friend had to entrust his wife to Shankar Bhatt. They made Lord Dattatreya as their witness. In fact Lord Dattatreya was witnessing the most detestable thing happening before his very eyes. Shankar Bhatt won the bid, but the friend straightaway denied entrusting his wife. Both of them approached village head with their dispute, who gave the verdict, “such a reprehensible act in a sanctum like Datta temple is not at all pardonable. To cast eyes upon other’s wife with an evil intention and try to possess her using unscrupulous methods are outrageous crimes. Hence boiling oil should be poured on this person and the private organ of the person who staked his wife, forgetting the sacred vows of protection in marriage should be cut and both of them should be expelled from the village. As Shankar Bhatt acquired a small amount of punya in his previous birth by occasionally serving Lord Dattatreya, he was born as a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. His friend was born as Subbayya in Tirupati, but because of his fi ckle-mindedness absconded from the house after marriage. But Subbayya’s wife is a devout lady. Hence, owing to her chastity, Subbayya returns home the next day after this ‘Ramala Shastra’ was being listened and he regains health as Sripada transfers a fraction of punya to him from Shankar Bhatt’s account. The biography of Sripada - a sacred scripture on His divine play - gets published few centuries

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after Sripada’s disappearance and a few centuries after that, Akshaya Kumar a Jain of Tripura will fi nd the horoscope of Sripada, which he will send to Pithikapuram.” Subbayya returned home the other day. His insanity was cured. I started for ‘Kanipakam’ a village in Chittur District. I expressed my gratitude to Sripada for shortening the span of affl ictions from seven and half years to 7 ½ days. There were three famous temples in Kanipakam - of Varadaraja Swami, Manikantheswara Swami and Varasiddhi Vinayaka. After having Darshan of Lord Vinayaka, as I came out, I saw four beefy dogs standing outside the temple premises. The priest carefully handed over the bundle of ‘Prasadam’ to those dogs and turning towards me explained, “These dogs belong to a washer man, who is a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. Though there is no prohibition on the entry of washer man into the temple, he never visits the temple. I tie Prasadam in a bundle and give it to the dogs; they hand it over to their owner.” The four dogs came and stood around me, immediately the priest declared, “These dogs want you to accompany them. Go with them you will be blessed.” I realised that from the day I started my journey to Kuruvapuram Lord Sripada was invisibly leading and protecting me at every step and whatever was happening now in my life is His command.Conversation between Tirumaladas and Shankar Bhatt I entered in dhobi’s colony. 70 years old Tirumaladas welcomed me and offered a seat on the cot. As my aristocratic pride of Brahmin genesis was already in a low ebb I unhesitatingly sat on it and reverently ate the ‘Prasadam’ brought by dogs and offered by a washer man. Tirumaladas stated excitedly, “Sir! What an auspicious day! I have been waiting impatiently for your arrival to narrate all the events related to Sripada. Son, commence the auspicious work- writing the biography of Sripada, the Absolute today itself. You will receive the blessings of Sripada in Kuruvapuram.” Then he started his narration: “I was a great scholar in my

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previous birth, but a stringent and greedy person. While I was on my deathbed I noticed that the newly born calf was chewing a ragged cloth. Immediately I gave instructions to my children to take care of that cloth. Since I died with my attention upon the old cloth I am born as Dhobi. Son, a person takes rebirth befi tting his thoughts at the time of his death14. However, in my case as luck would have it I was born in Malyadripuram in Gartapuri (Guntur) District – where Malladi Bapanavadhanulu a pre-eminent scholar lived. He belongs to Haritasa gotra and married Rajamamba the sister of Malladi Sridhar Avadhanulu of Koushikasa gotra of same village. Once in Ainavili, in East Godavari district yagna of Lord Ganesha was performed. Both the scholars went as head priests of that yagna. At the end of yagna, Lord Ganesha appeared in radiating dazzling golden light, took the last oblation with his trunk and said that he would soon incarnate as Sripada Srivallabha on Ganesh Chaturthi day. Three atheist brothers present in the yagna started arguing that it was just an illusion. If it was really true Ganesh, should appear once again. The ash in the sacrifi cial fi re pit manifested as Lord Ganesha and admonished, “O trio of brothers! I am cursing you. Even after viewing my form and listening to my words you reacted like atheists. Hence you will be born as disabled siblings and will be cured only after beholding Swayambhu idol of mine.” So three of them were born blind, deaf and dumb in Kanipakam and were cultivating a ‘Kani’15 land. There was a step well in the farm and the brothers used to irrigate the farm with that water. In certain year water in the well was completely dried up due to drought. So they started digging the well with spades. The spade stuck to a stone beneath and

14“O Arjuna, one who remembers me at the fi nal moment…attains my being; one who gives up his body remembering any idea what so ever certainly become the object of that idea. Bhagavad Gita Ch:8, verses 5&615‘Kani’ was the lowest denomination coin, 1/64 of a rupee, of the monetary system in Indiaprevalent earlier up to 1957. Kani in terms of measurement of land which was in vogue in India, especially in South, was equal to 1.25 acre land.

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blood splashed up. The well soon fi lled with water. It was the idol of Swayambhu Ganesh. As the spade hit the idol, a small splinter fl ew out of it and blood splattered of from the wound. The few drops of holy blood fell on the brothers redeeming them of their sins and physical disability. Bapanarya, who is also known as ‘Satya Risheeswar’-great seer of truth, and his brother-in-law Sridhara Avadhanulu came here, to Kanipakam to install the idol of Varasiddhi Vinayak. The lord asked Bapanarya to impart divine energy from the solar energy into the Lingam of Srisailam. He also said that with his divine grace on the same day at the same time divine energy would be imparted in Gokarna, Varanasi, Badari and Kedar.” Son! Shankar! Satya Rishiswar shifted from Malyadri to Pithikapuram. I witnessed many divine plays of Sripada with my own eyes. Tomorrow I will elaborate them to you. With regard to my personal life, I have a son from my fi rst wife, he is called Ravidas and stays in Kuruvapuram and is engaged in the service of Sripada. Obeying the orders of Sripada, I am staying here in this Kanipakam along with my second wife and children and engaged in the profession of our caste. Dear son, you will be certainly blessed by Sripada to carry out your noble spiritual task of writing his biography. Other than your biography, no treatise will so elaborately reveal about Sripada and his divine plays. This is his commandment.”

Sripadarajam Saranam Prapadye

Tirupati temple

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The next day Tirumala Das renewed his recountal, appraising the circ*mstances that prompted Bapanarya to become a resident of Pithikapuram: “On one occasion Bapanarya was invited to offi ciate as a High Priest to a yagna in Pithikapuram. There was heavy rainfall after the yagna connoting good tidings. Vatsavayi Narasimha Varma, an affl uent Kshatriya present there requested Bapanarya to make Pithikapuram his homestead; however, the latter declined. At that moment, Varma was informed that Gayatri, his favourite brown cow was nowhere to be found. As Bapanarya was well conversant in astrology, he made some calculations and stated, “Narasimha Varma, your cow was nabbed by a butcher and taken to Syamalambapur, the present Samarlakot. Hasten someone to the spot immediately to save it or else it may be slaughtered.” Thereupon, Varma put forth a condition. “I will send someone to bring back Gayatri only if you accept 24 acres of land and a well-built house as a token of gift.” Bapanarya, who never accepted any gifts from any one, was in a dilemma. Unwillingly he yielded to the condition, as he did not want to accrue the sin of cow slaughter. Thus, Gayatri was saved and Bapanarya became the denizen of Pithikapuram. Eventually, He was blessed with a son, Venkavadhani and a daughter, Sumati. As she was born with all auspicious characters in her horoscope and as she walked elegantly like a queen, she secured the name ‘Sumati Maharani’- Sumati, the Queen. Within a short span of time, Bapanarya became a highly notable person. A youth called Ghandikota Appala Lakshmi Narasimha Raja Sharma of Bharadwaja lineage, came to Pithikapuram to learn Vedas and scriptures from Bapanarya. The latter arranged his stay in his house.

Chapter 6Sripada showers angelic grace upon Tirumala Das

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Sri Bapanarya used to worship Lord Shiva on every Saturday at Pradosha time along with the families of Varma and Sreshthi. On a certain Saturday, after the customary worship of Lord Shiva, an oracle was heard from the Shiva Lingam, “Son! Bapanarya! Arrange for the marriage of Sumati with Appalaraju. This is the command of Lord Dattatreya.” Consequently, a message was sent to the close relatives of Raja Sharma in Ayinavilli and soon the marriage was performed with great pomp and show. In time, Sumati gave birth to two sons. However, one was blind and the other lame, which made the couple miserable. Once, a relative gave Sumati some prasadam of Lord Ganesha of Ayinavilli. Sometime later Sumati once again conceived. She started seeing auspicious objects like Airavat, the white elephant, the conch, the mace etc., and Gods, Goddesses, sages and seers in her dreams. Raja Sharma was an ardent devotee of Kalagnishamana Datta. Everyday Lord Dattatreya used to manifest in human form and converse with Raja Sharma and later merge back into the idol. That day Raja Sharma resolved to ask Him about Sumati’s dreams. Even before he could ask, the Lord gently touched his forehead. With His magnetic touch, Raja Sharma recollected that in his previous birth, he was Vishnu Datta, a pious and devout Brahmin and his wife was Sushila, a chaste woman. He recalled all other incidents of his past life. The Lord then explained in a soft and sweet tone bespeaking His intense love towards His devotee. “In your last birth, I appeared before you and asked you to seek any boon. As both of you did not know what to ask selfl essly you invited me to the death anniversary of your father, as a bhokta16. After partaking the Sraddha meals offered to us - me, the Sun and the Fire God, I granted salvation to your ancestors.”

16‘Bhokta literally means the one who enjoys an enjoyer or a recipient; in this context the Brahmins or Brahmin priests who are invited and offered food to appease the departed soul.

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He added, “I shall soon descend as Sripada Srivallabha, taking birth as your son.” Raja Sharma became speechless and remained completely oblivious of the surroundings and of his own self, intoxicated in ineffable euphoric bliss of the Lord’s blessing17. When Bapanarya was informed about it, he said, “Son! Raja Sharma! You are indeed blessed to be able to feed the Primordial Lord Dattatreya, the Sun and Fire Gods. So in this birth too, Lord Dattatreya may approach you in any form and seek alms. Bear in mind to offer Him alms without any hesitation even if that day happens to be Pitru shraddha Day and the priests have not yet lunched.” It was Mahalaya Amavasya18 and Raja Sharma was busy making arrangements for conducting the ceremonial oblations to his departed father’s soul, when an Avadhoot turned up at his house. After receiving alms, he asked Sumati to seek any boon. Sumati expressed her desire to behold the form of Sripada Srivallabha. The next moment a radiant sixteen-year-old eremite appeared in front of her and said, “Mother! I am Sripada Srivallabha and I am Datta. Mother! Bad deeds executed with conviction accumulate bad karma and good deeds performed

17If the Omniscient Lord manifests before a devout devotee and declares that He is going to take birth as his son, what the devotee’s reaction would be, is beyond comprehension. Hence, words fall short to express the feelings and state of mind of Raja Sharma and so I leave it to the vision and imagination of the reader. 18The waning moon period or the dark fortnight of Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapad (Sept- Oct), (in North India and in some States it is Ashwin month), is Mahalaya Paksha, which is especially sacred for offering oblations to departed ancestors. Anyone who wants to perform this Pitru Tarpanam - libations to fore fathers, should do it on the same day/tithi that their ancestors died, which falls within any one of these days. Particularly Mahalaya Amavasya is the most important day for performing obsequies and rituals, which free the ancestors from their sins. It is also believed that the ancestors come and remain on this earth plane in our body, mind and soul, for those 15 days, creating positive energy in us. However, any result depends upon the receptivity of a person concerned.

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intentionally or unintentionally acquire good karma.Accomplishing good deeds without any expectations in return is Akarma. This is neither Sukarma (which bestows good karma or virtue) nor Dushkarma (bad karma or sin). The outcome of Akarma is different from that of good or bad karma and its effects or results are dependent solely on the discretion of the Absolute. Your husband and you performed lot of Akarma. Also, you fed me affectionately. Therefore, I wish to grant you a boon. Please ask me.” Looking at His radiant form, Sumati could not but prostrate at His lotus feet. Sripada lifted her and said, “Mother! Do not prostrate at the feet of your child, as this inappropriate deed reduces the longevity of the child’s life.” Sumati entreated, “O Sripada! My Lord! You called me mother, let your words come true.” Granting the boon, Sripada said, “I will be born to you in this form that you now see. However, if a mother salutes her child, it will cut short his span of life. Hence, I will remain as your son only for 16 years.” Seeing Sumati remorseful, Sripada consoled her, “Mother! I shall obey your every word until I am sixteen. Varshe Shodase Prapte Putram Mitravat acharet! When the child turns 16, he should be treated as a friend, without imposing any kind of restrictions on him what so ever. So, you should not force me to get married and should grant me permission to renounce. If you go against my will, I will not stay in your house.” Thus saying, He disappeared. Sumati narrated the entire incident to her husband and father. Bapanarya consoled Sumati saying, “Touching the feet of one’s offspring shortens his life span, nevertheless prostrating at the feet of an Avadhoot is a propitious act and so it is not applicable in your situation.”

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Tirumala Das then narrated another interesting event: When Sripada was about a year old, a conference was held in Pithikapuram to discuss whether the sacred thread ceremony for different castes of people should be performed according to scriptures or as per epics. But they could not arrive at a unanimous decision; the Brahmins convened a meeting to be presided by Bapanarya to discuss the matter. Asutosh, a scholar from Navadweep, Bangladesh came to Pithikapuram. He had the ancient Nadi texts with him. He too was invited to attend the meeting. Bapanarya declared, “Since all the three castes – Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas devoutly follow the austerities and scriptural injunctions alike, it is appropriate for them to perform the sacred thread ceremony as prescribed in the Vedas. The rest of the varnas should follow the method laid down in the Epics.” The decision was not acceptable to Narasavadhani, a pandit who was present there. He wanted to confute the verdict of Bapanarya. He was uncanny in putting forth illogical argument. He was the worshipper of Goddess Bagalamukhi. It was his customary habit to wash his face, recite Bagalamukhi mantra before commencing any argument; no one could beat him in the debate that followed afterwards. On the other hand, Bapanarya chanted Gayatri Mantra more than million times to date. So far, both of them never faced each other in any discourse. That day also Narasavadhani washed his face, and while chanting the mantra he saw Sripada, who accompanied His grandfather. Somehow, Sripada’s presence displeased Narasavadhani. After fi nishing chanting the Bagalamukhi mantra, he in a contemptible tone insisted, Sripada! Why did you come here uninvited? Kindly leave at once.” Sripada turned to Narasavadhani and addressing him said, “Grandpa, I came here since you have invited

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me19;nevertheless, I will leave if you ask me to.” Raja Sharma left the assembly taking his son away with him. Thereafter when Narasavadhani tried to put forth his argument, he could not utter a single syllable no matter how hard he tried. The members unanimously accepted the decision of Bapanarya. Later that day, Asutosh went to Sripada’s house. Sripada asked him to express his desire. “I hoped to perceive Bagalamukhi with the help of Narasavadhani who was blessed with Her divine grace. However, my wish could not be fulfi lled. It seemed to me as if the Divine Mother was somewhat annoyed with Narasavadhani today.” Asutosh said in a disappointed tone. “I am verily the Goddess Bagalamukhi who left Narasavadhani after he asked me to leave the assembly.” Sripada smiled consolingly. “You shall indeed be blessed with the Darshan of Goddess Bagalamukhi.” So saying, He then manifested as Bagalamukhi to Asutosh and blessed him, “You shall be born again in Maratha and shall become one of my chief disciples in my next incarnation. Set out immediately for the Land of Penance of the Great Seer Kanva in Penusilakona20 and spend the rest of your life in divine communion.” With joyful anticipation, Ashutosh left for Penusilakona. My hunger for listening to His glory was not satiated; so expressing my inquisitiveness, I greedily asked, “Sir! Please narrate some more tales of Sripada which you have personally witnessed.” Tirumala Das started his narration with a broad smile, “Shankar Bhatt! Narasavadhani held Bapanarya responsible

19Sripada is the personifi cation of all gods and goddesses. Therefore, He came to the assembly as Narasavadhani prayed to Goddess Bagalamukhi and asked her to help him.

20Also known as Penchalakona, it is located near Nellore (Andhra Pradesh, India).

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for the deprival of the grace of Goddess Bagalamukhi. He started propagating that Bapanarya had snatched away his powers using black magic. He argued that Sripada, merely a tot, is incapable of being the Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent Lord Dattatreya, discoursing scriptural topics in Sanskrit and exhibiting extraordinary cognisance surpassing His age do not validate His divinity, rather they prove beyond any doubt that He was possessed by a spirit of a Brahmin scholar. After Sripada was born, a three-headed cobra spread its hood over His head, wherever He slept, for 18 days. Immediately after His birth, Sumati became unconscious. Auspicious musical notes were heard from inside her room. Four Vedas, eighteen Puranas, great yogis visited Sripada in their luminous forms. People outside the room could hear the chanting of the sacred Vedic hymns. Even as a few months old baby, Sripada used to walk about freely, involve in spiritual discourse and perform strange and unique divine plays. The residents of Pithikapuram were sceptical that the boy might have been possessed by the spirit of a dead scholar; and Bapanarya and Raja Sharma instead of getting him treated, were under the misconception that He was the incarnation of Lord Dattatreya which for the denizens seemed quite incredulous. The latest accusation of Narasavadhani against Bapanarya fanned the fl ames.” Tirumala Das continued, “Son, as I too belong to Malyadripuram21, I used to wash the clothes of Bapanarya and Raja Sharma. My eldest son, Ravidas used to wash the clothes of the Narasavadhani family. Since childhood as I consociated with the family of Bapanarya, I became spiritually inclined and preferred good company. If I ever came across Narasavadhani, I would go through a palpable feeling of nausea and would not

21Malakonda, also known as Malyadri and Malladi is located near Nellore. The temple ofLord Malyadri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy in this place, is one of the most prestigious andfamous temples of Lord Vishnu.

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be able to eat even a single morsel that day. “Narasavadhani came to know about this. So he ordered that I personally wash their clothes. Unable to refuse, I washed their clothes that day. No sooner did Narasavadhani put on the clothes washed by me, than he felt an agonising pain and burning sensation all over, as if he was on fi re. He complained to the arbitrator that using occult powers, I made some evil spirits enter into his clothes. The judge however acquitted me and declared me innocent. When I returned home, I beheld Sripada in the form of a 16 year old lad in our house.” I uttered in a choked voice, “Beloved Sir! You are born in the highest priestly Brahmin family. You should not come to the washer men’s colony.” Sripada downplayed my words. “Who do you think Narasavadhani is? He is a washer man carrying a bundle of sins on his head. On the contrary, you who are seeking Brahma Gyana are a righteous Brahmin, though born as a washerman. Hence, it is not unbefi tting for Me to come to your place.” Thus speaking Sripada gently placed His divine hand on my head and the divine touch awakened my kundalini power. Sripada slowly walked away, and His form faded, my eyes fi xed on him lovingly.” Tirumala Das resumed the story of Narasavadhani: “Narasavadhani used to grow Amaranth herbs in his backyard and it is said that it tasted scrumptious. However, he never offered it to anyone, unless he felt that he could get a special favour in return. Sripada one day insisted His mother to fetch the vegetable from Narasavadhani and prepare a dish with it. It appeared as an impossible and impractical task for the family members. But as Sripada kept on insisting to have it, Bapanarya fi nally yielded. “Tomorrow I will personally ask Narasavadhani for the vegetable. But if he refuses, you should let go of your obstinate demand.” Sripada conceded.

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The next morning Bapanarya took Sripada to Narasavadhani who sat on the porch fronting his house, ready for a shave. Sripada saluted him humbly and His piercing glance fell on Narasavadhani’s long shikha22; it at once fell to the ground, much to the bewilderment of the barber and Narasavadhani. “It is not the right time to ask for the vegetable, as the grandpa looks quite upset at the loss of his much-adored shikha. Let us go back home.” Sripada told his grandfather. Later in the day when Narasavadhani sat in meditation, a radiant fi gure, which looked exactly like him, came out of his body and lashed at him, “I am your virtue and I am leaving you. In spite of your ardent love and devotion to Lord Dattatreya, you failed to recognise Sripada, the Manifest of the Unmanifest. Soon you would be driven deep in penury. Sripada sought Saka Danam- alms of green vegetable, just to obviate your forthcoming adversity. Had you offered Him the same, you would have not only acquired immense wealth, but would have also obliterated your impending calamity. I will re- enter your body when the time is ripe.” The radiant fi gure merged into Sripada. Slowly the fi nancial position and the divine vitality of Narasavadhani started deteriorating. Nobody either cared for or respected him.Then Tirumala Das illustrated another divine play of Sripada: An uncanny event transpired in Pithikapuram. The idol of the self- manifested Datta was found to be missing from Kukkuteshwara temple. A sorcerer who was jealous of Narasavadhani blamed him for the idol’s disappearance. When the Brahmins searched Narasavadhani’s house for the same, they uncovered human skulls and other necromantic paraphernalia. He was branded as a culprit and a necromancer.

22A tuft of hair grown at the crown of the head of male Brahmin

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Narasavadhani owned a sterile cow with which he ploughed the fi elds. He never fed it properly. The sorcerer brought the cow under his spell. It unchained itself and butted all the family members and destroyed the kitchen garden where the Amaranth herbs grew in abundance. No one dared to bring the cow under control. Incidentally it was the day of the death anniversary of Narasavadhani’s mother. Different types of food were prepared for the occasion. The cow entered into the kitchen and ate everything. While chaos was reigning in Narasavadhani’s home, elsewhere Sripada was adamant to visit him. So, Raja Sharma brought Him to Narasavadhani’s home. The cow came out of the house, circumambulated thrice around Sripada, prostrated at His feet and breathed its last. The residents of Pithikapuram came up with their own different versions of the incident attributing the sin of Gohathya, the cow slaughter to Narasavadhani. Unable to endure the pain of the malicious gossip, Narasavadhani became bedridden and fi nally one day collapsed. Preparations were made to take the dead body of Narasavadhani to the burial ground for the last rites. Clasping Sripada’s hands tightly, Narasavadhani’s wife wept bitterly, “Son, Sripada! I used to attend all the religious occasions conducted by women, irrespective of the distance, just to receive a pinch of turmeric and vermillion, which is a symbol of a woman’s married status and her husbands’ long life. If you are really Lord Dattatreya incarnate, can’t you resurrect him?” Sripada silently wiped her tears. Narasavadhani’s eldest son was about to light the pyre when all of a sudden Sripada thundered, “I have seen a son lighting the pyre of his dead father, but never did I come across a son like you who sets his live father afi re.” Sripada went near the pyre and touched Narasavadhani between the eyebrows with His thumb, and Narasavadhani came back to life. The gloomy funeral procession turned cheerful radiating happiness everywhere. With the divine touch

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of Sripada, Narasavadhani became aware of subtle karmic principles. He came to know that the sterile cow and the old ox in his house were indeed his parents previously, who got a vile birth and had to suffer drudgery as they failed to take proper care of their parents. While dying, the barren cow pleaded Sripada to drink her milk and Sripada assured her that He would drink her milk in her next birth. He saw that in his forthcoming birth, Sripada as Nrisimha Saraswati would bless him with two pitchers full of golden coins after taking food prepared with Amaranth leaves in his house, and would liberate the evil soul of necromancer who plotted against Narasavadhani and who would become a Pisacha the demon after his demise.” At this juncture, Tirumala Das stopped his narration, and said that he would continue it the next day and suggested that they would spend the remaining day chanting the divine name of Sripada, as He remains in His subtle form at the place where His hallowed name is chanted. How can I describe to the reader, the joy and the supreme bliss that I experienced when I became aware of the unfathomable depths of divine glory!

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Sumati mata

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“Son, Shankar Bhatt! Lord Sripada’s divine sport and glory are unheard of, unprecedented and indisputable. You are blessed with the rare fortune of authoring His biography. But for His divine conviction, you could not have attained this rare yoga, which even the best scholars were deprived of,” remarked Tirumaladas the following morning, after completing his daily prayers and rituals. I listened to his engrossing narration. “After his close call with death, surprisingly Narasavadhanulu lost his charm and power of attraction. He could barely make both ends meet. Brooding over his despondent condition, Narasavadhanulu was meandering on the streets. Suddenly he saw Sripada with Bapannavadhanulu, a few moments later he saw Sripada in Sreshthi’s shop and in a while, he saw Him again playing with Varma. Sripada looked at him and smiled suggestively. Narasavadhanulu failed to comprehend the ubiquitous Lord and wondered how He could appear at three different places at the same time. Finally when he returned home, Sripada, the compassionate Lord appeared in their Puja room. The couple was thrilled with joy indescribable. Both of them persuaded Sripada to have food at their house but Sripada forthrightly refused saying that the rarest yoga knocks the door when all the three - time, fate and karmic effects are on high tide at the same time. A sagacious person recognises it immediately, seizes the opportunity with a positive mindset and benefi ts. Whereas the ignoramus not realising the exceptional opportunity, remains a passive loser. Sripada nonetheless consented to partake of a meal in their house in His next birth. He then counselled the couple with benevolence, which is valuable to every Datta devotee. Narasavadhani: Who are you, a God, a yaksha or a wizard?

Chapter 7Astronomical Description

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Sripada: I am the primordial power, which remains latent in each and every atom and cell of this entire creation. It is I who appears in the form of a mother and a father in all the living beings. I am the Guru to the entire creation. N: Are you an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya? S: Undoubtedly. Since you don a physical form, I also descended in the same form. As a matter of fact, I have neither form nor attributes. N: Does it mean that you are formless and attributeless? S: ‘Formlessness’ itself is a form; similarly ‘attributeless’ is an attribute by itself. I am the base for all the forms and formless, the attributes and attributeless and I also transcend all these. N: If Thou art the entirety, wherefore the weal and woe to mankind? S: The ‘self’ existing in you giving identity to your body is a soul, while I am the ‘Self,’ the Supreme Soul –Param Atman residing in you. As long as you attach the feeling of ownership to your body and to your deeds, you cannot integrate yourself with me and until then you cannot come out of this intricate web of dualities23 of joy and sorrow, sin and virtue, etc. When the egoistic ‘I’ the ‘self’ within you fades away and the non-egoistic ‘Self’ in you reaches its zenith, it is only then that you will come close to Me. The more the proximity with me, the lesser will be the burden of your responsibilities and the greater will be your joy and bliss.

23The knot of duality is an ignorance which is unable to seize on the spiritual truth of things and concentrates on the imperfect appearance, but meets them not with a mastery of their inner truth, but with a strife and a shifting balance of attraction and repulsion, capacity and incapacity, liking and disliking, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, acceptance and repugnance; all life is represented to us as a tangle of these things, of the pleasant and the unpleasant, the beautiful and the unbeautiful, truth and falsehood, fortune and misfortune, success and failure, good and evil, the inextricable double web of Nature. Attachment to its likings and repugnances keeps the soul bound in the web of good and evil, joys and sorrows. The seeker of liberation gets rid of attachment, throws away from his soul the dualities…” - The Synthesis of Yoga, By Aurobindo Ghose. (Publisher’s Note)

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N: Some say that the soul of beings and the supreme soul are not one and the same, while others claim that the soul of a being can be integrated with the supreme soul. Yet others say that the soul itself is God and hence there is no question of merging. Which one of these three is true? S: There is nothing to lose if you and I exist separately. Irrespective of our dual existence when your ego is blotted out completely, and you realise that everything plays its role merely on My conviction and is dependent on My mercy and that you are a mere spectator, then you will experience the inexhaustible haven of bliss. Know that salvation is nothing but destruction of delusion and greed. Nevertheless, you can attain liberation in the dual state too. If you stay in my propinquity, I will manifest myself through you. When I exhibit all my powers through you, yet if you remain equanimous, your ego and arrogance totally supplanted in identifi cation with the Divine, then know for certain that you are devoid of any delusion. Such a state is nothing less than liberation. When your egoistic ‘self’ and the feeling of bodily proprietorship extinguish completely, then the identity with your self does not exist anymore; what remains within you, is only the Self. At this stage, a superior and everlasting bliss will dawn upon you which your mind fail to envisage. Thus even in the advaita24 state you can obtain salvation. The all-pervading bliss is one and the same irrespective of the state you are in – be it Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita or Advaita (duality, non- duality (monism) or qualifi ed dual state). This ever”joyous ocean of bliss is ineffable; one just has to experience it in order to understand it. N: Some individuals who are in Avadhoot state maintain that they are the Brahman - the Supreme Universal Spirit. Then are you also an Avadhoot?

24Advaita (literally, non-duality) is a system of thought where “Advaita” refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman).Recognition of this identity leads to liberation.

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S: Nay, I am not an Avadhoot. Avadhoots experience the state of ‘I am Brahman, the Supreme Soul and Brahman is everything. On the contrary, I am the Brahman, the Universal Supreme Soul and I am everything is my permanent and true nature. N: Lord! I fail to perceive the subtle difference in both of these states. S: After freeing himself from the mundane bonds, the Avadhoot merges in me and enjoys the state of supreme bliss. He does not have his own identity. As there is no separate identity, there is no independent conviction also. I exist in the Supreme Conviction and Supreme Power of this creation. I even exist in all the delusive forms, i.e. the living organisms. If I command, even the Avadhoot who had coalesced in me should take birth once again. Conviction combined with truth, knowledge and bliss is my form; whereas his form comprises truth, knowledge and bliss, devoid of conviction. N: Roasted seeds do not germinate again, isn’t it? How can one who has already achieved transcendental knowledge and amalgamated with the Supreme Soul take birth once again? S: Of course, it is an indisputable fact that roasted seeds do not germinate; but the power and ability of the Cosmic Maker lies in making those seeds germinate once again. The very cause behind my descent is to establish the truth of these theories. N: Lord Datta! Sripada! Kindly elucidate it further. S: My mother with the strength of her chastity and virtue, and power acquired through penance, transformed pellets of iron into cooked pulses.25 The consciousness (chaitanya) in

25At one time Narada wanted to test the power of Anasuya’s chastity. He took some iron pellets to the wives of the Trinity and asked them to convert them into cooked pulses to satiate his hunger. The Goddesses brushed aside his request as being absurd. He then approached Anasuya requesting the same. Meditating on her husband’s name, no sooner did Anasuya touch the pellets, than they converted into cooked pulses. The happy Narada ate some and took some to the Goddesses. Thus, he proved that Anasuya’s power of chastity is unparallel.

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minerals is totally dormant, whereas plants and the like are in semi-conscious state; the living beings are completely evolved organisms with total-consciousness (purna chaitanya). After being born as a mineral and dying, a soul then assumes the form of a plant, a tree and an animal respectively, before fi nally assuming the human form. The human being who had evolved from and gone through all these stages should be sapient and detached towards temporal possesssions and attain salvation by awakening the divine power, which lies quiescent within him. Nevertheless, my mother Anasuya proved that one can change the course of evolution with divine grace. As the consciousness of the Trinity was in the state of awakened awareness, she mutated that into dormancy and transformed them into babies.26 You should be able to comprehend that the Absolute who had created the entire universe on His mere conviction, can also have the ability and power to change the laws governing the creation to suit the need of the hour. N: Lord, when You have the power to change even the laws and attributes of Creation, then You can extirpate my poverty, isn’t it? S: No doubt, I can. However, I am deferring it to your next birth, wherein you will lead a comfortable life only after weathering poverty for some time. You assigned great value

26Narada, the celestial musician and divine sage taunted the wives of the Trinity that they cannot hold a candle against Anasuya’s fi delity. Besmeared with jealousy, they prevailed on their husbands to besmirch the name of Anasuya. The Trimurtis appeared before Anasuya in the disguise of saints, when sage Atri was away. Beholding the three resplendent saints, Anasuya offered them Bhiksha. The saints however say that they accept only Nirvana Bhiksha (one who offers alms should be so pure that even the garment that covers the body should be discarded). The unfazed Anasuya, perceiving them to be the Divine Trinity, meditated upon her husband, sprinkled the water washed off his feet on the three gods and turned them into babies. She then discarded her garments and suckled the babies. Atri returned and cognised everything and was pleased with Anasuya’s devotion and chastity. Later on the supplication of the three Goddesses, Anasuya restored the Trinity to their original glory. They blessed the couple and granting their wish, the three Gods who are in actuality the manifestation of the supreme principle, the Brahman, were born to the pious couple in a single form with the attributes of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, as Dattatreya. (Publisher’s note: One should bear in mind that to manifest on earth, the Lord works his way through various mediums, here Narada and the three Goddesses).

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to a paltry thing like the Amaranth and developed a delusional attachment towards it. How much food would I, a mere kid, have? You should have let Me have the vegetable when I fondly asked for it. Now it is too late. Man himself is the instigator of whatever effects are prevalent in his life produced by the grinding wheels of cause and effect. Depending upon the resultant effects of one’s own meritorious deeds, a person enjoys longevity of life, wealth, beauty, fame, etc. whereas he would be cursed with short life, poverty, ugliness, diseases, disgrace etc. as a result of his sins. I have silently helped you to work out much of your bad karma and using your good karma gave you longevity. As you still have some bad karma, you have to suffer poverty. Nevertheless, as you have been worshipping Swayambhu Datta, I grant you with resources just enough to make both the ends meet. N: Sripada! The scriptures advocate leading a life following the arrangement of Varna system. Your grandfather declared that even Vaishyas also could undertake the holy thread ceremony. Is it not wrong? S: What is Dharma, and what is not? When such a dilemma arises, one should refer to and follow the scriptural injunctions. However, when a question crops up whether to follow the scriptural injunctions in a particular context or not, then the interpretation and opinion of virtuous people becomes the scriptural mandate, the vedic verdict and the commandment of Dharma, the deity of justice and virtue. Take for example the battle of Kurukhshetra. Scriptures pronounce that it is a sin to kill anyone. Nonetheless, the battle was fought in the very presence and commandment of Lord Krishna and it was deemed as Dharma Yuddh – righteous battle. Thread ceremony is meant for purifi cation of the mind, body and soul and for awakening of spiritual wisdom. The Supreme Brahmam transcends religion, region, caste, creed, and time. The Divine never loves or appreciates the fl aunting of one’s devotion and divine faith; rather He can easily be

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propitiated by the innate feelings of loyalty, unconditional surrender and devoutness of a devotee. Sripada then elaborated about the origin and existence of creation, the abodes of deities, gods and demi-gods. Further, He elucidated that it is not easy to comprehend the Datta Tattva but requires millions of births and incessant contemplation. Narasavadhanulu and his wife were left in utter bewilderment hearing the one year old Sripada authentically explaining the most complicated and striking ethereal subject with such ease. They wanted to touch His feet, but He refused saying that they will have that privilege in their next life. He assured that He would be present in His subtle form wherever His name is uttered with sincere devotion. With a deafening sound, His body melted gradually within the piercing light.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!


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Our mind is what our diet is! You are what you eat! The next day Tirumaladas continued his engrossing narration. “Shankar Bhatt! A quest for knowledge demands a pure mind, which propels precautions in food27 intake and food habits. Mind is moulded by the subtler substances present in the food we eat; when food is consumed, the fi ne particles which rise upwards form the mind. Hence verily the mind is food. Chhandogya Upanishad says that ‘By the purity of food one becomes purifi ed in his inner nature.’ Intake of impure food contaminates your body, mind and soul. Son, Shankar, Even Bhishma could not escape from the infl uence of impure food. Lying on ‘Ampashayya,’ the bed of arrows in Kurukshetra, the battle fi eld, Bhishma preached Raja Dharma, the royal qualities and the science of governance to Yudhishthira. During the discourse he said, “Son, a Kshatriva should never remain passive should always resist the evil with his might, and particularly when a vicious act is being conducted before his eyes. Owing to circ*mstances if you are unable to express your detest either in words or in deeds it is better to leave that place.” Even before the completion of the sentence Draupadi who was also present there laughed aloud. Bhishma apprehending her thought replied, “Yes, I could not resist the heinous attempt of Duryodhana and Dusshasana to dishonour you in the royal court; I did not utter a single word either to admonish them or supporting you. I was at that time nourishing my body with the food of Duryodhana; food and drink become impure when they come from a source of impurity, hence my mind became blemished and my discernment lay dormant. The impure blood has completely drained off my body and hence I regained my

Chapter 8Shodasavataras

27Food here stands for not only for the body but also for the senses which should be brought under control and fed only with pure and divine thoughts. Satya Saibaba emphatically says the more sattvik the food, the more pure will be our thoughts. He adds ‘One meal a day makes a person yogi, two meals a bhogi and three meals a rogi.’

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original unalloyed conscience.” Unblemished food makes the mind stable and stronger and consequently positive thoughts arise. When the fl ow of thought is streamlined and regulated, the representation of such stream of thought is a Mantra. Devout performance of yagnas, sacrifi ces, oblations and such other rituals along with methodical chanting and recitation of mantras is called Karma28. Self-realisation is possible only when one totally frees identifying himself with the shallow ego of self. Spurning the transitory truths when a self-realised yogi gets rid of his accumulated Karma and its effects inherited from previous births and of his ego-centre and coalesces into the Supreme Spirit or the Cosmic Beloved, the Paramatma, he attains Siddhavastha - a state of perfect being. Here the sadhaka does not do anything consciously; all the actions get done which ought to be done. If the yogi does not have any bodily consciousness, though the gross body is undergoing through the karmic effects, he is said to be in Muktavastha - a state of liberation. The Cosmic Beloved sometimes displays His divine plays through such a yogi who attains the state of perfect being. If the yogi becomes arrogant attributing credit of these divine powers to himself, the Supreme Source withdraws them and humbles his pride. 2498 years prior to His birth as Sripada Srivallabha on Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Dattatreya appeared to the yogis of Badarika Ashram who were performing severe penance for His Darshan, as a youth of 25 years and taught them Kriya

28In ancient texts of the Vedic religion, karma referred simply to ritual and sacrifi cial action,mainly for the construction of a religiously viable self. The notion that these rituals had determinative consequences either good or bad over one’s present and future, both in this lifetime and the future rebirths, led to the resultant causal and moral law of karma, whereby good deeds reap good results and bad in suffering and pain.

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Yoga,29 which accelerates the human evolution. The perfect mental consciousness or evolution, which in normal course takes more than million years, can be attained within a few years by Kriya Yoga. By practicing Kriya Yoga, the human body is decarbonized and the atoms in the body are transmuted into life current rejuvenating the brain and spinal centres. By removing the impurities of the body, which is represented by black colour, the yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy, electrifying the vital force like a spiritual elixir. Kriya Yoga is an ancient science taught by the great guru, Babaji. Babaji, who still exists in human form, was the one who enlightened Adi Shankara in the guise of a Chandala. “Son! Sripada was born with rich spiritual wisdom and insight. Hence, He requires no Guru in this incarnation. In order to prove that His identity is beyond that of the Trinity, He took birth on Chaturthi, which coincides with the birth date of Lord Ganesha, the Lord of Pravritti and Nivritti. Mars, the Angaraka, ruler of the star Chitra, is considered malefi c and causes adversities. In order to remove all the adversities and shower blessings He took birth in Chitra star and in Tula Rashi, the Libra constellation to prove that He is none other than Swamy Ayyappa. His Lagna was Simha, the Ascendant Leo, which is ruled by the Sun, the King of the Planets, indicating that Sripada is the Ruler of the Universe. A prayer to Him when in crisis will lead the devotee on to the path of virtue.” “Lord Dattatreya himself is the Trinity, from whom three crore deities and thereafter 33 crore Gods and Goddesses have emanated. Hence, the very utterance of His name yields the fruits equivalent to the worship of all the deities. All the powers of Goddesses lie on His left side, while those of the Gods on His right.”

29A yogic technique whereby the sensory tumult is stilled, permitting man to achieve an ever- increasing identity with cosmic consciousness. A yogi who faithfully follows its technique is gradually freed from karma or the universal chain of causation. It is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened. (Reference:Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda)

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“Sir, the explanation of ‘duties of caste and order’ the varnasrama Dharma of Sripada is somewhat different to that of our ancestors. Please clarify.” “Child! A Brahmin should perform his Dharma with a quest for enlightenment, the quest to know the Absolute Brahman, the Supreme Self. If he succumbs to evil passions, he is wanting in the gracious nature of a Brahmin in him. Even the vital atoms metamorphose in such a way that he becomes a Chandala. A Kshatriya, with quest for spiritual wisdom (Brahmavidya) can become a Brahmin like Viswamitra through constant penance. If a Kshatriya (warrior) takes up a trade, or other peaceful line of work like agriculture, etc his mind, brain and body undergo various changes and he becomes a Vaisya. In ancient times Parasurama, Drona, Kripacharya and others who were Brahmins by birth, chose to become Kshatriyas; Kusuma Sreshthi, a Vaisya became a King by taking up the Kshatriya profession. I attained spiritual wisdom by the benign grace of Sripada in spite of being a Sudra. Punishments and rewards would be based only on the causative effects of one’s deeds and not one’s caste. Shankar Bhatt! You are our guest today. Due to incessant chanting and prayers to Lord Sripada, our house and its surroundings are fi lled with auspicious and holy vibrations and hence the food in our house is unblemished and akin to a Brahmin food. In contrast, the house of Narasavadhanulu, a Brahmin is fi lled with toxic physical, spiritual and mental vibrations. Owing to such impure environment, both mental and physical, Sripada never accepted his hospitality. Castes are formed to enable mankind to take birth either in evolutionary, the progressive or devolutionary, the retrogressive order depending upon the deeds, the karmas performed. “Does every caste have a soul, Sir?” “Every caste has a soul. It is a spiritual substance, a part emanated from the Omnipotent Soul of Lord Dattatreya. A caste is not a group of people born in a particular caste. It is

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the collective substance of spiritual consciousness depicting the powers and abilities of the persons. Likewise, each village, city or town has a soul. We call the soul of the earth we live in, as Bhumata - Mother Earth. Tirumala Das continued: “Positive and negative vibrations exist in ether. A person attracts pleasant and positive vibrations owing to his virtuous deeds, and distressing negative vibrations due to his bad and sinful deeds. The cumulative virtue and sin of the people of Pithikapuram ripened and lead to the descent of Lord Sripada. Those who could comprehend Him as Datta were graced with auspicious effects and those who derided and behaved arrogantly faced diffi culties. The just desires of the people, who by thought, word or deed, utter the Lord’s blessed name, will be fulfi lled undoubtedly and effortlessly. The people who doubt and criticise Him face unexpected problems, diffi culties and impediments30.Tirumala Das went on to narrate an incident. “An ascetic, who was strikingly eerie, arrived at Pithikapuram. His swearing remarks worked as blessings whereas his blessings acted like a curse wiping out all merit. When asked about the missing idol of the Self- Manifested Datta (Swayambhu Datta) he said that after taking holy dips in all the sacred rivers, the idol was reposing in Yela River. The idol was brought back and was installed once again by Sumati and Raja Sharma in conformity with the scriptural injunctions, in a grand celebration. The ascetic obliging the invitation of Bapanarya went to their house. Looking at the two-year-old divine form of Sripada, he experienced supernal bliss. Sripada sportively prostrated to the ascetic who was taken aback.

30Ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. Refer Bhavad Gita, 4:40

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“Madhava,” Sripada spoke quietly, his eyes calm and gentle, “when I attain 16 years, you will help Harihara and Bukkaraya to establish the Vijayanagar Empire and become famous as Sage Vidyaranya, the Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham. In the next century, you will be reborn as Govind Diksh*tulu and become the Prime Minister of Thanjavur31. And in the forthcoming centuries you will be born as Krishna Saraswati, a yogi who in My incarnation as Nrisimha Saraswati, will initiate Me into the monk order as My spiritual mentor.” Concluding his narration for the day, Tirumala Das said, “Son, tomorrow I shall recount some more anecdotes of Sripada.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Mahavatara Babaji

Vidyaranya Swami, Krishna Saraswati31Formerly Tanjore, it is in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The famous Brihadeeswara Temple is located here.

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It was Thursday morning, auspicious Hora32 time. Both Tirumaladas and I were meditating in the same room. A beam of scant sunlight entered our room, suddenly increased to an intense brilliancy in which both of us could see the resplendent fi gure of 16 year old Lord Sripada. Within seconds, the effulgence faded into piercing light. The sun’s rays falling on the chickpeas kept as offering to the Lord, transformed into pieces of metal. Deliberating if the Darshan of the Lord symbolised His grace, did the metamorphosis of the chickpeas into iron pellets refl ect His anger, I voiced my fear to Tirumala Das. Tirumala Das laughed softly. “Dear One, There is a small doubt in your heart whether Sripada is really Lord Dattatreya incarnate or not. To clear this doubt the Lord transformed the peas into iron pellets indicating that He is indeed Datta, the son of Mother Anasuya, who had converted iron pellets into edible chickpeas. Further, the planetary position of Jupiter in your horoscope is malefi c, because of which you may fall sick. The planet Jupiter is associated with chickpeas. Sripada changed these seeds into iron pellets thus preventing them from sprouting, signifying that He warded off your impending ill health. “The divine conviction of our Supreme Lord is beyond imagination, contemplation and works at lightning speed. Every moment He accepts millions and billions of prayers.

Chapter 9The Philosophy of Karma

32Hora of a particular day is calculated based on the sunrise and sunset time of one’s city. Each Hora lasts an hour starting from sunrise. The Vedic system of time division divides each day (from one sunrise to the next) into 24 horas. A planet, starting from the Lord planet of the day, rules each hora. The horas are auspicious for certain activities and inauspicious for others, according to the nature of the ruling planets. Seven horas occur daily on a cyclic basis, one Hora for one hour. The fi rst auspicious time of the day will be the weekday’s own ruling planet. Sunday is ruled by Sun (Surya), Monday by Moon (Chandra) and so on. There is one important thing to keep in mind. While the Western day (Sunday, Monday, etc.) begins at midnight, the Vedic weekday begins at sunrise.

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He responds to every prayer that is pro- Dharma, removes affl ictions and fulfi ls the just desires. The speed of His ‘Atimanasa’ (Supra Mind) is unimaginable and excels even warp speed. He is the source of all visible and invisible powers and knowledge and is attributeless and formless. However, because of His immense love towards the world, He descended with form and attributes as Sripada Srivallabha. Until and unless one dives deep into the ocean of spiritualism, one cannot comprehend His transcendental nature. “It is self-evident that human beings turn towards the Almighty God, similarly God also crossing all the limits and boundaries descends, bending and stretching His helping hand to men. This is known as ‘Avatar’ or Incarnation. Sripada incarnated to establish many divine truths of creation. Once truth is installed in the world, it keeps working in a self-determined manner.” “Holy Sir, I am in a dilemma. I have come to know many new things from you. Nevertheless, I am unable to fathom the true nature of the Lord. I am uncertain how His divine biography will take shape and how I will interpret it. I heard about installing idols but establishing the truth is something I never heard of. Please let me know such a thing is possible?” “Shankar Bhatt, you have been chosen to write His divine biography.” Tirumala Das spoke with calm assurance. “Just write whatever you learnt from the devotees of Sripada whom you have met so far and will meet in the future. Do not worry about interpretations or commentaries. The Lord Himself scripts His biography through your pen. Your contemplation beyond these lines is unnecessary. “Human beings consume a variety of foods. All the food that is eaten is digested and supplied as energy. There is neither any intervention nor any great effort of man in this issue. Man is assigned with the duty of eating at proper intervals, and body with digestive work. Man has a mind and so can think what

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is good or bad, what to do or not to do, and so on, while the body has neither a mind nor independent thinking. Irrespective of whether the person concerned likes or dislikes, the body performs its actions mechanically. In other words, the duty of the body is predetermined and the related truth is established. A task or work that is carried out on the bedrock of truth does not require any effort or resolution; it transpires spontaneously. Sunrise, sunset, seasonal changes, revolutions of planets etc. occur in this manner. It is an inviolable law. “The Omnipresent Lord, who made natural laws for the welfare of humankind, sometimes relaxes the rules depending upon the Dharma of a particular age. The Omniscient Lord simplifi es the laws in proportion to the decrease of vitality, intellect, concentration, etc. of man. Sripada manifests and blesses those who contemplate on Him and chant His name continuously for three consecutive days and nights. If there are million ways for man to go astray, God has provided him with a billion ways to reform himself. As I was listening to Tirumala Das, suddenly incoherent thoughts probed my mind. “I am writing the Biography of Sripada Srivallabha on Palmyra palm leaves. I wonder what type of leaves the future generation will use for writing. When did Lord Krishna leave His physical form? When did this Kali Yuga start? How the time is measured in future? If Sripada provides answers to all these queries on a leaf that will be used by the future generations, only then will I fi rmly believe that Sripada is verily the incarnation of Lord Dattatreya.” Without betraying my inward thoughts, I pretended as if I were listening attentively. All of a sudden, Tirumala Das lost his voice. Then there was a thunderous sound, after which I became stone deaf. He tried to say something but was unable to. I tried hard to hear but I could not. Remorse seized me for entertaining such atheist thoughts. Meanwhile the iron chickpeas formed into alphabets reading ‘Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye’ in Telugu script.

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There was a rectangular white sheet over them. Its thickness was lesser than that of Palmyra leaf and was soft to touch. On it was written in Telugu: “Krishna’s Niryana took place in B.C. 3102, on the 18th of February at 2.27 a.m. As per the Telugu calendar it was 1st day of bright phase in Chaitra month on Friday, Aswini star in Pramadi year. Kali Yuga started after Krishna’s Niryana.” A riveting wave of cold fear passed through me, at the unprecedented preternatural experience. I was certain of Sripada’s indiscernible presence there. Slowly the iron grams turned into fresh chickpeas once again and the white sheet disappeared. I understood that Sripada had pardoned me. Tirumala Das spoke quietly, “After leaving this mortal frame, I will take birth as Gagde Maharaj in a washer man family in Maratha and will lead a worthy life serving the poor, depressed and down-trodden. The Lord will manifest as Sai Baba in Dhishila city in Maratha; He promised me that He would defi nitely sanctify me with His grace in that incarnation also.” “Sir, I am puzzled. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita said that one must undergo the effects of karma. In such a situation, how can Sripada obliterate the karmic effects without violating the law of Almighty?” “Yes, Krishna said that one has to undergo the karmic effects, but He did not delimit enduring the karmic effects only in a conscious state. One can burn one’s karma even in sleeping state. Hence, the karma that ought to be borne by the physical body for a period of say 10 years may well be endured only for a few minutes through mental trauma of nightmares or night terrors. Bad karma is also destroyed by giving alms to righteous people or yogis. By worshipping and praying to the idols of deities, our sins are exchanged with the virtue and purity of the idols. If one meditates upon a virtuous and saintly Guru, the karma is exchanged through the power of meditation. A virtuous Guru accepting the service of his disciples takes

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their sin and lavishes his merit to them. Nevertheless, the effects of sins should indubitably be borne by someone. As the idols or images of deities are resplendent with refulgence and are epitomes of illuminating fi re, they can burn into ashes, the sins they have taken on. The transfer of karma takes place even when one devoutly offers leaves, fl owers, fruits, etc., to the Almighty. The acceleration of this transfer of karma depends upon the intensity of one’s yearning, devotion and submission. Sometimes Sripada transforms the bad karma of His devotees into stones and boulders and then by breaking them or by some other means He annihilates their sins.” After a little pause, Tirumaladas continued, “I will narrate an incident in this context. From the very day He was born, Sumati did not have enough milk to breastfeed Sripada. They had a cow which whenever sucked by the calf would get its fi ll. However, very strangely whenever they tried to milk the cow, there would be hardly any. The couple felt agonised for not being able to provide suffi cient milk to Sripada, the Heavenly Provider. Narasimha Varma and Venkatappayya Sreshthi tried several times to give them a cow, which gives more milk. However, Raja Sharma did not accept anything in charity as it was against his vow. “Dear One,” a distraught Sumati opened her heart to her husband one day, “my parents are well-to-do; moreover, they are honest and devout. So what is wrong if we accept a cow from them for the sake of Sripada?” “Whatever you say is right, Sumati,’ Raja Sharma answered trying to calm her disquietude. “Even so, I need scriptural evidences substantiating this matter. If Sripada is really the incarnation of Datta, our cow should produce more milk, or you should have enough milk to feed him; why did not Sripada cure his elder brothers of their disability? The Lord should not have put me in such a situation where I am on the horns of a dilemma, and compelled to compromise with my principles.”

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Sumati discussed the matter with her father, Bapanarya. “Dear daughter, Sripada is prudent in both creating and solving the problems. Sripada is indeed Lord Datta If Sripada cures His brothers of their disability; His karmic link with the family gets severed and He will no longer stay with you, for He would have then transformed into the Preceptor of the Universe. So do not broach about their disability with Him. Everything in the world is in the hands of ‘Time’ and time is under the control of Sripada. He created a problem let Him solve it.” “Why were the brothers of Sripada handicapped? Is it because of some bad karma of His family?” Deeply engrossed in the story, I ventured this question. “Son,” Tirumala Das spoke tenderly, “there were some lineal karmic sins. Raja Sharma’s family who belonged to priestly class, were also village heads. Sridhara Raja Sharma, the paternal grandfather of Sripada was the village headman of Ainavilli. The villagers had to pay revenue to Zamindars, irrespective of the yield. Being the village headman, Sridhara Raja Sharma had to collect the revenue from the farmers, sometimes using force though unwillingly. His action complied with his duty, nevertheless in the eyes of the Heavenly Magistrate it was a sinful deed. Because of his grandfather’s sin, Sripada’s brothers were born disabled. In spite of being the incarnation of Datta, Sripada also had to undergo the karmic effect of this inconsequential sinful act; hence, there was dearth of milk for Him. The commandments of the Universal Lawgiver are applicable to one and all. Likewise, when He descend on earth in a human form, He is also subjected to the laws of karma, thus becoming a role model for us to follow His path.” Appalaraja Sharma being the family priest was called to perform a religious ceremony in Varma’s house. Varma gave him Dakshina suffi cient to buy a cow. As the amount was much greater than usual Raja Sharma declined it. Varma also refused to take back the money, as he was a righteous Kshatriya who

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never takes back anything once given away. The dissention was reported to Sri Bapanarya who convened a meeting with all Brahmins present. Bapanarya announced that any Brahmin who so wishes may take that amount. Many vied with each other to claim the same, as it was a substantial amount. In the crowd was Papayya Shastri, a young Brahmin. He stood up and spoke with obvious pride, “I received ‘Swetarka Raksha’ from my Guru. I perform lot of Japa regularly, and I am a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. Hence, acceptance of any type of alms would not blemish me.” The assembly handed over the money to Papayya Shastri, who went home infl ated with the pride of victory. At his home, he saw that his maternal uncle, who had just arrived, was waiting for him. After conversing for a while, Papayya asked his uncle to have food with him. His uncle refused saying that he eats only once in a year. Declaring that they would meet again very soon, he left in a hurry. Papayya Shastri’s wife, who saw the uncle leaving said, “Doesn’t this man resemble your uncle who had passed away last year?” Papayya was thrown off balance, his thoughts raced in confusion: “Am I losing the grace of Datta? While leaving uncle said that we would meet again soon. Does it imply my impending death?” He tried to chant the mantra “Om Dram Dattatreyaya Namah” but could not concentrate. So he went to Kukkuteswara temple. There he was shocked to perceive Lord Datta without His head. When the priest muttered some blessing while giving ‘prasadam’, it sounded to him as if he was saying ‘may you die soon after you eat this ‘prasadam’, which itself appeared like poison. A depressed Papayya returned home. Seeing his wife without vermilion, he shouted at her for not applying the same, when he was still alive. The poor woman wondered why her

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husband failed to see the penny-sized tilakam on her forehead. Soon rumours spread all over Pithikapuram that Papayya had become deranged. He was given all kinds of treatment, but in vain. Papayya’s wife went to Sripada and implored Him when He was alone. Sripada solaced her grief and counselled her to construct a house immediately. He assured that everything would return to normalcy after the house-warming ceremony of their new house.” The house was constructed using boulders, which were sized by hammering. Papayya became sane soon after the house-warming ceremony. “Son, Shankara! Papayya was in fact passing through a malefi c yoga period due to his inauspicious planetary combination at that time, which would have resulted in his death. Sripada saved him from this untimely death. He burnt his bad karma by making him undergo mental agony, humiliation and monetary loss. The recuperated Papayya met Sripada. “Papayya, what a fool you have been! You did not recognise Lord Dattatreya, even when He was right in front of you in a human form. I attracted your karma into the boulders used for constructing your house and destroyed it through the act of breaking them into small stones. Had you maintained faith in Me, I would have attracted your sins onto My body and made you unblemished. The grace of a Deity varies depending upon the sentience of the devotees.” With the dark veil of delusion lifted, Papayya clearly realised his blasphemy. Meanwhile, Sri Varma and Sri Sreshthi were no longer able to contend with the problem of scarcity of milk for Sripada. So once again they tried to convince Raja Sharma. He however, straight away refused the proposal. Swamy Sri Sacchidananda an illumined sage who lived in Himalayas and whose age goes back to centuries came to Pithikapuram at that time. The issue of bestowal of the cow to

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Raja Sharma was put in front of him. Sacchidananda Swamy declared very fi rmly that Raja Sharma has to accept the cow, as Sripada is the verily Lord Dattatreya and that Raja Sharma should not deprive himself of the good fortune of offering milk to the Heavenly Provider. He even proclaimed that he would make the fi ve elements give evidence in support of his stand. The yagya began. Goddess Earth appeared and proclaimed that accepting the cow is not against the scriptures, as Sripada is Lord Dattatreya. After a while, rain poured all over and wind blew heavily everywhere except near the yagya. Thus, the Gods of Rain and Wind gave their evidence. The God of Fire emerged out of the sacrifi cial fi re, and personally accepted the oblations. A celestial voice reverberated that Sripada is none other than Datta himself. Thus, fi nally convinced, Appala Raja Sharma accepted the cow and Sri Sreshthi and Sri Varma obtained unprecedented meritorious effects of donating a cow, Godaan.Previous Birth of Sumati and Appalaraja Sharma “O denizens of Pithikapuram,” the indefatigable Swamy spoke didactically, “How ignorant you are! You could not recognise and realise that Sripada, is the manifestation of Lord Dattatreya, the unmanifest. I have come all the way from Himalayas to behold the Divine form of Sripada. The great souls Vishnudatta and Sushila, who were illustrated in Datta Purana, are none other than Appalaraja Sharma and Sumati.” “Sons,” the patriarchal sage went on, “Sripada’s eldest brother Sridhara Raja Sharma will be cured of his blindness and become a profi cient scholar. After demise, he will take birth as Samartha Ramadas in Sajjangarh in Maratha. Varma will born as a great Warrior-King Shivaji, and become the beloved disciple of Samartha Ramadas. Sripada’s second brother will also be cured of his disability and he also will become a great scholar. He will be reborn as an exalted renunciate called Sridhara.

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“It does not make any difference whether you believe my words or not, as truth remains a truth forever. The Absolute and His prowess are unparalleled. He holds the reins of the universe in His hands and can do or undo anything; he can turn the haves into have-nots and have-nots into haves.” I was blessed to hear some marvellous incidents and wondrous truths from the lips of the saintly Tirumala Das.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Samartha Ramdas & Sivaji

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Humbly thanking Tirumaladas for being my mentor and for sharing with me his wondrous experiences, I started towards Kuruvapuram. Whenever I refl ected the divine plays of Sripada, I felt intoxicated in ecstatic joy. Along the way, tired and hungry, I made for the shelter of a peepal tree on the wayside. I saw a Brahmin under the tree. He greeted me with friendly warmth. A big basket with an empty copper vessel in it was lying in front of him. He was often chanting the name of Sripada. “Noble Sir, are you a devotee of Sripada? Have you ever seen His divine form?” I felt a lively curiosity about him. The man smiled at my eager face. “I was born in an affl uent righteous Vaishya family and my name is Subbayya Sreshthi. Though I lost my parents at a tender age, they left me plenty of money. I travelled to far-off lands carrying out trade in various products. I developed relations with a harlot by name Chintamani, on whom I spent money like water and also made a friend Bilwamangal, a Brahmin trader. We used to buy the fi nest Arabian horses and sell to Kings and Chieftains for profi t. However, after some time we were supplied with horses of poor quality because of which we incurred heavy losses and lost all our property and wealth. My wife died from mental agony and my mentally-challenged son also died soon after.” “Son,” Subbayya continued, “What’s more, I was extremely harsh and merciless while collecting debts. Once Appalaraja Sharma, Sripada’s father bought on credit one Varaha33 worth of provisions from my shop, as he had some unexpected guests. I fraudulently computed more interest and coerced him to pay ten Varahas as my due. Appalaraja Sharma would have to sell his house to clear my debt. I made

Chapter 10Encounter with Subbayya Sreshthi

33Varaha (a gold coin of 3.4 gms) was a standard unit of coin of medieval South India.

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it a point to tell all and sundry that in keeping with the existing evaluation, I could takeover Appalaraja Sharma’s house, by paying a paltry amount of one or two Varahas. I wanted to see them shelterless. One day when Sripada was at Venkatappayya’s shop, I demanded Sripada’s service at my shop to clear off His father’s debt, as His disabled elder brothers could not work. Three-year-old Sripada addressing me said, “Subbayya! I will clear your debt working in your shop. But beware! Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth will no longer dwell in your house thereafter. Blinded by vanity, I agreed. Venkatappayya Sreshthi brought Sripada to my shop. “Subbayya! I will work in your shop in place of Sripada,” he urged. I smiled in acquiesce. Just then, a matted hair anchorite came to my shop. “I want to buy a copper vessel. I am willing to pay any amount,” he said pressingly. Though I had 32 copper vessels in stock, eager to make a quick buck, I asserted that I had only one copper vessel and it costs 10 varahas. The ascetic readily agreed to pay the sum. “I want to take the copper vessel from the hands of this little boy,” he said looking at Sripada. I was more than willing, for I was making extra money in just one transaction. “Now the Goddess of Wealth dwells permanently in your house. Forsake your reclusion and return to your home. Your wife and children are waiting for you.” Sripada pronounced oracularly handing the copper vessel to the ascetic. The ascetic left happily. High and mighty, I said, “I am clearing off the debt of Appalaraja Sharma because of the huge profi t I made. Sripada is free from bondage. Goddess Gayatri is a witness to my statement.”

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After Sripada and Venkatappaya left, to my bewilderment, I saw that there was only one copper vessel instead of the remaining 31. Son, whatever we utter before Sripada comes to pass. As I tried to swindle Appalaraja Sharma, Sripada saw to it that I learnt my lesson the hard way. Fortunate is the one to whom an avadhoot or a great saint gives a small piece of copper. The same happened to the ascetic who received a copper vessel from none other the Blessed Benefactor. With this divine drama, Sripada cleared the wrongful debt of 10 Varahas and indirectiy informed His father that refusing charity from a righteous person is a sin.But from that precise moment, the Goddess of Wealth abandoned my mind, body and soul.” “Sir! It is widely believed that by accepting alms or donation one’s punya decreases; however, you say that by refusing alms one attains sin or bad karma. Please shed light on it.” “You are hungry,” said Subbayya abruptly discontinuing his narration, “Sripada often says one should offer food and water to whoever comes to you without any discrimination of caste or creed. Quench your hunger fi rst. There is a lake nearby; go and wash yourself. Meanwhile I will make arrangements.”Whether hunger gleamed in my eye, I know not. Nevertheless, I was puzzled because there was nothing in the basket except the copper vessel. There were no food grains or vegetables. Glancing at him doubtfully, wondering how the food would be prepared or wherefrom it would come, I went towards the lake. When I returned Subbayya was sitting with two plantain leaves and two bowls which he made using the palm leaves. I was looking at him with awe. He closed his eyes, prayed for few moments and poured water from the visibly empty copper vessel into the bowls. He then served on the leaves, ridge gourd dhal and rice from the same empty vessel, which we ate to our hearts’ content as prasadam of Sripada. Once happily surfeited, the vessel became empty again.

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Effects of Worship of Lord Shiva on Saturdays at ‘Pradosha’34 Time (Twilight) “Lord Saturn is in charge ofthe consequences of one’s karma. Among the planets, Rahu and Ketu are shadow or mirror planets. Rahu gives results like Saturn while Ketu like Angarak (Mars). Saturn is the son of the Sun God. Hence, twilight time of Saturdays, especially a Saturday35, which falls on the 4th and 13th day of every lunar month, is extremely auspicious. All the sins of one’s previous births are completely wiped out if one worships regularly to Lord Shiva with devotion at the time of twilight on that day. “As Sripada was born in Chitra, presided by Angarak, whoever worships Sripada on the day of this star, will be relieved of the infl uence of unpropitious planets. “Venkatappayya Sreshthi and Narasimha Varma worshipped Lord Shiva during every Sani Pradosha along with Bapanarya, while Appalaraja Sharma spent the whole day contemplating and meditating upon Datta. Sumati on the other hand, contemplated on Anasuya tattva, which is an integral part of Lord Shiva’s form. As a result, Sripada descended in their family. Hence, if Appalaraja Sharma accepts money from any three of them it would not amount to alms or charity and it would not incur any sin. On the contrary refusing their offering is sin. Sripada, through His actions made sure that His father understands this. Shankar Bhatt! Sripada is the epitome of all deities. Blessed are those whose lives are touched by the Divine Hand.

34Pradosha is twilight time. It marks the end of the day light and beginning of night. It is thetime that Lord Shiva absorbs the karma of people. It is the window of opportunity to dissolve one’s bad karma. Pradosha occurs once every 13 days. It falls two days before Amavasya (No moon day) and two days before Pournami (Full moon day). Pradosha that falls on a Saturday is Sani Pradosha.35The Holy Sabbath is actually the worship of the planet Saturn. If you “keep the Sabbath,” then you are carrying on the ancient worship of this pagan god. That is why He is worshipped on Saturn’s Day — which today we call “Saturday.”— Jordan Maxwell;

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“News of how Sripada freed His father from debt spread like a wildfi re. Sripada was then a three-year-old toddler. I went to Appalaraja Sharma’s house. In front of all elders present there, I announced that Raja Sharma was completely free from debt. However, Appalaraja Sharma argued how his debt is cleared if some ascetic buys a copper vessel from Subbayya? Thereafter an interesting conversation ensued between Bapanarya & Sripada:Who is Sripada? What is His Transcendental Nature?Bapanarya : Do you know that ascetic?Sripada : I know about all the ascetics.B: Just your are a three-year old tddler and you talk beyond your age. Are You omniscient?S: You think that I am just a three-year-old, but I am the primordial form that existed even before creation and will remain even after the deluge of the universe. There is no creation, sustenance or destruction without Me.B: Sripada! If a child thinks that he is on the moon it does not mean that he is really on the moon, it should be factual. Omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence are the attributes of Parabrahman.S: I alone remain in all the beings and at all places.My presence is felt wherever there is a need. If My presence is either not felt or not visible, it does not mean that I am not there. I dwell in Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vignanamaya and Anandamaya kosas (sheaths) of the human beings. They function due to My existence there. Entire knowledge lies at the base of my foot. Creation took place because of My conviction. Appalaraja Sharma: Dear One! You have been a riddle for us since birth. Time and again you repeat that you are Lord Dattatreya and that you will incarnate as Nrisimha Saraswati. Listening to your words people are convinced that it is either

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some kind of drama or fraud, or you are mentally ill.S: Father! What you say is true. Nevertheless, in spite of the fi ve elements bearing testimony, if one says that I am not Datta, then is it not tantamount to the sin of lying?B: Sripada! After the ascetic left, there was only one vessel in Subbayya’s shop in place of 31. Are you responsible for that?S: Everything happens depending upon the time and one’s karma. No act takes place without appropriate reason. This is the intransgressive law of the nature. In his previous birth, though Subbayya was a priest in a Datta temple, he wallowed in sensual pleasures. His lechery reached such a peak that he sold the sacred copper idol of Datta, which had been worshipped by his ancestors from times immemorial, gave the money to his concubine and allegedly said that the idol was robbed. The ascetic who came to his shop was the goldsmith in that birth, who bought the idol out of greed to earn money and melted it. He was born as a pauper in this birth, whereas the priest was born as Subbayya in a wealthy family, as he served Lord Datta for many years. The molten idol was made into 32 vessels and sold. The goldsmith, who was born with the cognition of his previous birth became an ardent devotee of Datta and served Me earnestly. He made a silent appeal to Me to eradicate his poverty. I appeared in his dream and ordered him to come to Pithikapuram, buy a copper vessel for 10 Varahas from Sreshthi, take it from My hands and to relieve Me of the debt. He followed every letter of my command. I solved his fi nancial problems in an inconceivable manner. He was in the guise of an ascetic to escape from the eyes of his creditors. Now don’t you agree that I know everything about the so-called ascetic? Subbayya increased My father’s debt unscrupulously. So I saw to it that he gets his 10 Varahas and in return, I took all the punya of his previous birth.

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“Subbayya Sreshthi,” Sripada said in a stentorian voice turning towards me, “a buffalo will enter your house today night from the southern gate. It is a message from Lord Yama that your death is fast approaching. But I am giving you a lease of life. Feed the buffalo rice, ridge gourd curry and dhal, which you have prepared with your own hands. After eating the food, it will die in place of you. From the next instant, your business will run in continuous losses, until you become a pauper. Hawk around selling edibles for children. If you are in a position where you do not have any food to eat and money to buy, then this copper vessel will come to your succour. With the money taken from you, My parents were able to feed only rice, and ridge-gourd dhal. So, only rice, and ridge gourd dhal will materialise from the copper vessel for you and for your guests.” Everyone was convinced that Sripada was none other than Lord Datta. But I was still obdurate. “O Sripada,” I laughed derisively, “when incarnations have many women in their lives, it is Divine Play, but when a common man like me involves, it is lewdness? How biased!” A slight smile hovered about Sripada’s lips, “Even though Sri Krishna had eight chief queens and sixteen thousands gopikas, He was an Eternal Bachelor. He was not licentious and His relationship with them was not mundane, as you think. It was a divine relationship between the Supreme Lord and His devotees. “When Lord Indra was cursed to be born a human, his chaste wife Sachidevi was born as Draupadi. Indra was born in fi ve forms as fi ve (Pancha) Pandavas. Draupadi, in spite of her polyandry, remained a true wife only to Arjuna. There is lot of difference in Dharma (Code of Conduct) and the subtle aspects of Dharma (Dharma Sukshma). Draupadi liked only Arjuna and it was he, who hit the Matsya Yantra and won her hand. But because of mother Kunti’s word, Draupadi became wife of fi ve

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Pandavas. A virtuous wife has six attributes. She should have the graciousness of Goddess Lakshmi, which Draupadi had in abundance; and the forbearance of Mother Earth. Sahadeva, who had the faculty to see the future, knew the inevitability and consequences of the battle of Kurukshetra. Draupadi dealt the perturbed Sahadeva with utmost tolerance. With Bheema who was a glutton and indolent, Draupadi conducted herself like a slave, serving and doing all his chores. With Yudhishthira who was always engrossed in political affairs, she acted like a minister advising him on various issues. Nakula was an extraordinary swordsman who could play the sword with such dexterity that it would not get wet even when handled in rain. Because of his constant practice for excellence, he would be ravenous. Like a mother who ensures that her child has tasty, yet healthy food, Draupadi used to take care of Nakul’s nourishment, in the similar manner; and with Arjuna she was like Rambha, providing conjugal bliss. Thus in spite of having fi ve husbands, she led a chaste life.

My ignorance and arrogance reached its zenith. “You claim to be Lord Krishna also.” My voice was sarcastic, tinged with supercilious mirth. “Then I suppose you will enjoy the company of eight chief queens and sixteen thousands gopikas, in this birth also?” I was defi ant.

Sripada smiled angelically. “My eight-fold nature epitomises my eight wives and My incarnation is replenished with sixteen kalas, the potencies. Every second, My divine soul emanates powerful vibrations in all ten directions. Thus, every single second, vibrations emanate from every kala through My body, mind and soul in all ten directions - i.e. 10 x 10 x 10 = 1000 vibrations of power and energy from each kala. Thus altogether 16000 vibrations per second emanate from my 16 kalas. These are my sixteen thousand wives who took a human form in their previous birth, while they remain as formless vibrations in this birth.” He continued, “I may be worshiped in

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any form36 - Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or in the form of any other deities; all are My forms. All the divergent spiritual paths, austerities and rituals ultimately lead to Me. One’s spiritual progress, nevertheless, depends upon karma, time, progress, and other factors.” “Son, tomorrow I will relate some more divine plays of Sripada,” Subbayya Sreshti concluded his narration. “Let us sing the glory of Sripada all through the night. Chanting His Divine Name will wipe out all the sins accumulated over innumerable lives.” He then took me to a small hut nearby.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

36I personally take care of both the spiritual and material welfare of those ever-steadfast devotees who always remember and adore Me with single-minded contemplation. (9.22) O Arjun, even those devotees who worship the other deities with faith, they also worship Me, but in an improper (indirect) way; (9.23) because I — the Supreme Being (Parabrahman) — alone am the enjoyer of all sacrifi cial services (Seva, Yajna) and Lord of the universe. But people do not know My true, transcendental nature. Therefore, they fall (into the repeated cycles of birth and death). (9.24)

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The next morning, Subbayya Sreshthi explained the transcendental nature of Lord Dattatreya. “Since the elevated state of Mother Sumati is equal to that of Mother Anasuya, Sripada took birth from her womb. He was not born out of the physical union of His parents, but out of the union of yogic lights that emanated from the eyes of devout Rajasharma and chaste Sumati when they were in deep meditation. When different deities are worshipped, the consciousness of Datta refl ects on those deities transforming into a new consciousness, thus fulfi lling the just desires of the devotee. The Absolute can manifest Himself in any form to guide the sincere spiritual seeker. If one surrenders oneself to Lord Datta, He allocates the work to the concerned deities and makes sure that the devotee is well protected. Lord Datta is the Parama Tattva – the Supreme Truth, which forms the base for transcendental nature and is the transpersonal aspect of the Divine. He is beyond Saguna, the attributes and Nirguna, the atrributeless. It is the primordial nature, which has no beginning or end. “Once Sri Bapannavadhanulu questioned Him, “Are you Datta, or a devotee of Datta?” Sripada touched gently between Bapanarya’s eyebrows. ‘At once, he beheld the form of Mahavatar Babaji in the Himalayas. He then saw Him taking a holy dip in the confl uence of the three rivers at Prayaga. Later He took the form of Sripada and merged into the idol of Datta in Kukkuteshwara temple. He saw an Avadhoot emerged out of the idol, to whom his daughter Sumathi was giving alms. The Avadhoot transformed into an infant who was playing in the lap of Sumati. The infant then changed into 16-year-old youth who appeared like a yogi. The yogi took a holy dip along with his disciples in the confl uence of the two sacred river. He then looked at Bapanaryulu and said, “I am Nrisimha

Chapter 11Subbayya Sreshthi, Bilwamangala and Chintamani

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Saraswati and this place is Gandharvapuram.” Then he threw His upper garment into the waters and sitting on it proceeded to Srisailam, where after centuries of penance, He appeared like an aged yogi with only a loincloth around Him. He then told Bapanaryulu that he is Swamy Samartha. Transmitting His life energy into a Banyan tree, and His divine soul into the idol of Mallikarjuna in Srisailam, He left His mortal body.’ All these incidents transpired one after the other like a moving picture, before the eyes of Bapanaryulu, who remained in a state of inexpressible ecstasy. When he regained normalcy, he saw little Sripada sitting quite innocently in front of him. He hugged Him affectionately. After a while, Bapanarya began his customary ‘Agnihotra’ - Oblation to Fire. Just by chanting mantras, after placing sacrifi cial fi rewood (samidhas) into the fi re pit, he would miraculously ignite the fi rewood. On that day, however, in spite of his repeated chanting, there was no fi re. Then Sripada addressing the Fire God ordered, “O God of Fire! Do not obstruct the sacred rituals of my grandfather!” No sooner did He utter these words, than the fi re lit up. Sripada poured some water into the fi re from a small pitcher. Instead of extinguishing, the fi re blazed with even more intensity as if ghee was poured over it. “Grandfather,” Sripada asserted, “know this for certain that without My prior conviction, even a great seer like you cannot accomplish a simple task like lighting the fi re. I can grant any wish of My devotee. However, before granting the wish I make sure whether he deserves it or not, and whether he can withstand such magnitude and uses it selfl essly for the welfare of the mankind.” The following day Narasimha Varma took Sripada to visit his fi elds as per His request. Narasimha Varma apprised Sripada that though the soil there is very fertile and yields all types of crops, ridge gourd was one crop that was failing

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constantly. The plant rarely fl owered. If in case, the fl ower did develop into a tender vegetable, it withers away. Fortuitously if it grew into a full-fl edged vegetable, it tasted terribly bitter and unfi t for consumption. Sripada spoke with calm assurance, “The soil is long yearning to be sanctifi ed by the touch of My Feet. Since its longing has been fulfi lled, from today the fi eld will yield very good and tasty ridge gourd crop.” “Shankar Bhatt, it was indeed a miracle that the soil thenceforth yielded delicious ridge gourd crop in abundance. “After a while when Sripada was walking in the fi elds, a few tribal people showed up. They prostrated humbly before Him. Sripada explained, “These people belong to the period of My incarnation of Lord Nrisimha and are My staunch devotees. If you so desire, they will help you behold the Lord.” ‘Do you people know the whereabouts of Lord Nrisimha?” Varma too responded playfully. “Of course we do, dear Sir. He is rather striking in appearance with a lion’s head and a human body. Our sister Chenchu Lakshmi and He like each other. So we married them. If you wish to see them, we will bring them to you.” Saying so, they scurried away. “Seeing me passing by, Sripada beckoned me. Just then two people were walking towards us. They were none other than Chintamani and Bilwamangala. Sripada commanded me to make fi re collecting some dry twigs. I silently obeyed His order. As the twigs were set ablaze, Chintamani and Bilwamangala experienced severe burning sensation as if their bodies were set on fi re. After a while, two dark shadowy silhouettes resembling them emerged from their bodies and weeping bitterly, jumped into the fi re. Within no time, the fi gures turned into heaps of ash. Chintamani and Bilwamangala returned to normalcy.With the effects of their past bad actions burnt in the fi re of wisdom, Bilwamangala and Chintamani renounced the world

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and became ascetics. Meanwhile the tribals came there with Lord Nrisimha and their sister Chenchu Lakshmi. Sripada shot abrupt questions, “Are you Lord Nrisimha? Is Chenchu Lakshmi your wife? Are you the same Lord who killed the demon Hiranyakashyapa and saved Prahlada?” Lord Nrisimha answered affi rmatively for all the questions and before the eyes of all the people present there, Chenchu Lakshmi and He transformed into radiant forms and merged into Sripada. Sripada proclaimed that the place where all these unique incidents transpired would in future be renowned as ‘Chitrada,’37 the City of Miracles.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

37Chitrada is about 6 km from Pithikapuram.

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Subbayya was silent for a moment, and then he continued obliquely. “Shankar Bhatt, if the Sole Giver sanctions 120 years of life span to a person, it does not mean that he will live till that stipulated time period; rather it means that he will live till the time he expends the count of both breaths, the inhalation and exhalation, generally taken within that stipulated time, here 120 years. “Restless and angry people, people with harmful or dejected emotions, would exhaust their life breaths within a short time due to the increase in breathing rate per minute. A restless monkey’s life span is quite short in comparison with a giant tortoise’s life span of 300 years, as it breathes only four times per minute. Moreover, the cells in our bodies are continuously evolving, the old dying and being replaced by the new. It is estimated that every seven years, the soft tissues in our body are completely renewed. “Similarly, there is transformation in the vital constructive and mental energies, which in turn purifi es the heart, mind and body. A devout reading of sacred books like the one you are about to write, helps to hasten this purifi cation process by merging our negative vibrations into the consciousness of the Lord and sending back the transformed pure positive vibrations into us. “When Sripada was about four years old, Kulasekhara, a wrestler from Kerala, profi cient in ‘varmakala’ came to Pithikapuram. Varmakala is a martial art. Varman means vital points and thus it means the Art of Vital Points. It comprises of attacking or applying pressure on the vital points in one’s body, which may either paralyse or kill the person depending upon the force and velocity of the strike or pressure applied. According to Varmakala, our body has 350 therapeutic points and 108 lethal points. In asmuch as it is a deadly martial art,

Chapter 12Kulasekhar

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quite surprisingly is used as a therapeutic art to treat patients suffering from different chronic ailments. Acharya Sushruta, Father of Surgery was the founder of Varmakala and he identifi ed the 108 vital points on the human body. “Kulasekhara was the devotee of Lord Venkateswara. Defeating several wrestlers and receiving numerous accolades, he arrived at Pithikapuram and challenged the wrestlers there. All the wrestlers of Pithikapuram were sure of facing either defeat or death in the hands of the Herculean Kulasekhara. They approached Sripada, with the hope that if He were really the incarnation of Lord Datta, He would defi nitely help them out of this crisis. Narasimha Varma had a hunchback servant, Bhima, who was born with deformities and was extremely weak. Bhima was a devotee of Sripada and had unfaltering faith in Him. Whenever he beseeched Sripada to rid him of his deformities, he would be told to wait for the right time. Sripada selected Bhima as the competitor of Kulasekhara. “The duel commenced. Seeing the frail and deformed Bhima, many wondered about the divinity of Sripada. They were convinced that Bhima would die at the very fi rst blow from Kulasekhara. Surprisingly, with each blow from Kulasekhara Bhima’s body became stronger and stronger, and soon he stood erect like a pillar with his hunch gone, Kulasekhara who was at the giving end became weaker and weaker and fi nally plunged prostrate at the feet of Sripada. “Kulasekhara, in spite of being profi cient in Varmakala, which you could have used for the benefi t of mankind, you turned conceited and egoistic. So I am taking away the knowledge and power of the art from you.” Sripada’s words were sharply reproachful. Sripada then momentarily appeared like Lord Venkateswara to Kulasekhara and asked him to lead an

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ascetic life. Words fall short to describe the Merciful Lord, who showers His benevolence even on unscrupulous and undeserving people.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Taking leave of Subbayya Sreshthi, I renewed my journey towards Kuruvapuram. Night descended by the time I reached a village. A Brahmin sitting on an elevated platform outside his house invited me to accept his hospitality. I partook of the sumptuous food that he offered. “Son!” he said affectionately, “I am Anand Sharma. During my midday devotions today, the Merciful Mother, Goddess Gayatri appeared in a vision and ordered me to offer food to a Datta devotee who would pass by. I am extremely happy that you accepted my humble services!” “Sir,” I remarked in astonishment. “Indeed I am a devotee of Lord Datta. My name is Shankar Bhatt. I am proceeding to Kuruvapuram to behold Sripada Srivallabha who is the incarnation of Lord Datta.” Ananda Sharma smiled enigmatically. “An avadhoot came to our house at the time of my thread ceremony. He explained in detail about Gayatri Mantra and its practice. He advised us to visit Nrisimha temple in Penchalakona. Accordingly, we visited the Nrisimha temple, where after Darshan my father was silently drawn into deep meditation, which continued for days together. I was frightened and hungry. Some stranger offered me food. He took me to a cave in the forest nearby and suddenly disappeared. Inside the cave, I saw a sage of noble countenance being served by 101 sages. I paid obeisance at his feet. The sage told me that he was Kanva Maharshi38. He further said that because of meritorious deeds of my previous births, I was able to step on their sacred land. He informed me that Lord Datta incarnated as Sripada Srivallabha in Pithikapuram. He passed his hand over my head and blessed me with the Darshan of Lord Sripada. The next

Chapter 13Anand Sharma

38Sage Kanva, a renowned rishi, is the author of several hymns of the Rig Veda.

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instant I found myself beside my father. After my father roused from his meditation, we returned to our village. “Time rolled by since the dramatic Penchalakona incident. Once, we joined some of our relatives on their pilgrimage to Rajamahendravaram39. Nearby to Rajamahendravaram, was a village called Yedurulapalli, where several sages from different places come to meet on the auspicious day of Maha Shivaratri. They hold spiritual discourses at Muni Kudali, another village close by. This time they held discussions about the incarnation of Lord Datta as the magnanimous Sripada Srivallabha. Later they continued towards Pithikapuram; my father and I joined them. “Bapanarya arranged a grand feast in his house for everyone. Sripada was a fi ve-year-old then. I offered my humble genufl ections at His lotus feet. He raised His hand in blessing and said, “Dear son,you will enjoy my grace for births to come. And in your last birth you will be born as Venkayya, an Avadhoot, capable of mitigating the sorrows of the people and bringing rain at the time of drought.” “Kindly explain the secrets in the practice of Gayatri Mantra,” overwhelmed by spiritual ecstasy I ventured this request after a long silence. “By constant practice of Gayatri Mantra, the practitioner evolves on physical, mental and spiritual planes.“Om bhurbhuvahsvah Tat saviturvarenyam Bhargodevasyadheemahi Dhiyoyo nah prachodayaat,” is a 24 lettered Gayatri Mantra. With the pronunciation of each letter, the 24 glands located at different parts of our body are awakened. This mantra is like a wish-fulfi lling tree.” Do incarnated Gods also need Gurus?” I asked diffi dently. Ananda Sharma regarded me kindly. “God descends in human form to uplift His devotees. Hence, He with His 39Present town of Rajahmundry of West Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh, India

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exemplary behaviour and code of conduct becomes the role model. If He desires to lead the life of a renunciate, as a mortal He needs a highly evolved spiritual mentor, a Guru. Even so, the person who is blessed to be His guru in this tangible world should be a paragon of virtue. Sripada chose Madhavacharya of Vajapeya lineage, son of Maayanacharya as His guru, for His next incarnation- Nrisimha Saraswati. In the next birth, Madhavacharya will be born as Swamy Krishna Saraswati and become the preceptor of Nrisimha Saraswati, the next incarnation of Sripada.” “Kind Sir,” I said with a boyish enthusiasm, “I would like to know more about Sripada.” Pleased with my enthusiasm, he narrated an enthralling story. “A certain astrologer in Pithikapuram could predict the exact time of death, with the precision of even minutes and seconds. There was not a single instance where his prediction proved wrong. He forebode Venkatappayya Sreshthi his day and time. He said that he would give a potion and a talisman to protect him from his untimely death, provided Sreshthi appoints him as his family priest in place of Raja Sharma. Sreshthi courteously refused the proposal. On the ominous day, Sreshthi suddenly experienced stabbing pain in his chest. Sripada, who was in his lap, shouted loudly ‘Leave at once.’ The next moment one of the bulls in their house died writhing in pain. Sreshthi was brought back from death’s door. Hearing the incident, the astrologer hastened to Sreshthi’s house. “Sir, there is no doubt you are the best astrologer who can foretell events most accurately.” Sripada’s voice was stern. “Your prediction about Sreshthi’s death is also correct. But how can the God of Death dare to approach Sreshthi when I am here? Your father, when he was alive, had taken a loan from Sreshthi and swearing on Goddess Gayatri, lied that he

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had cleared the debt. Consequently, he was born as a bull in Sreshthi’s house serving him in accordance with the karmic law of cause and effect. I interchanged their life forces, which resulted in the death of the bull and Sreshthi’s escape from death. Perform the funeral rituals of this bull, who wais your father in his previous birth, so that he can attain salvation.” The astrologer followed the instructions of Sripada. “Beloved son, Shankara, Sripada thus either by interchanging the destinies or transferring a portion of longevity from the ensuing birth to the present one or by adopting different inconceivable methods, commands life and death. He is Yoga Sampurna Avatar - an All-Embracing Incarnation of Yoga.” I was over drunk with ecstasy listening to Anand Sharma’s narration of the Ruler of Time and Space. The following morning I embarked on my journey to Kuruvapuram.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Venkayya Avadhoot

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Journeying for few days, I reached a village called Muntakallu. A man holding a toddy pot in one hand was approaching me. Unable to bear the stench, I doubled my pace. Still, he kept following me and jumped in front of me. “Is it proper for you to run away from me when I am trying to come to you?” He fl ushed angrily. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” I was annoyed. “Don’t you think that it is appropriate that fi rst you should know about yourself, who are you? Where have you come from?” His voice was shaky with laughter. “What now”? I thought. “A toddy-seller talking philosophy?” All of a sudden, he hollered gathering all the passers-by. “Please, everyone! Listen to my tale of woe. I am toddy seller of this area. I am a principled and honest man. For me, the palm tree is like a Kalpa Vriksha, the wish-fulfi lling tree. This man here confessed to me that though he was a Brahmin, he was addicted to drink, and pleaded me to give him some toddy free of charge, as he had no money. Feeling sorry for him, I was about to offer the drink, when, noticing that there were people around and that he might be heckled by them, he declined my offer I will become a sinner if I break my promise. This beverage is equivalent to ‘ambrosia’ for our caste. Frankly, I secretly nourished a hope that I would beget a lot of good karma if he accepts this from my hands. He threw cold water on my hopes. O respectable people, please save me from accruing sin of breaking my word.” Most of the people assembled there belonged to the same community of the toddy seller. So giving weight to his

Chapter 14Pledge of Protection to Dattadas

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words, they forcibly poured the toddy into my mouth. Then, everyone including the toddy seller dispersed, as suddenly as they had gathered. I cursed my wretched fate that in spite of being born in the highly regarded Brahmin caste, I had to drink the noisome drink that also when I set out on a noble cause of beholding Sripada, the incarnation of the omnipotent Lord Dattatreya I struggled my way with faltering steps and obnoxious smell emanating from my body. I saw a hermitage. But I did not stop as I felt that I was unworthy to set foot in such a sacred place. “Shankar Bhatt, Dattananda Swamy is asking you to come to the hermitage.” These words came from behind me. I was puzzled at the Divine Intervention. Dattananda Swamy, with eyes full of compassion asked me to take bath. He then offered me the sweetest of fruits. “Son, do not reproach yourself.” Swamy’s tone was heart-warming. “You are blessed that Lord Sripada showers such deathless love upon you. He with his ethereal hands administered Blissful Amritam to you. You were under the illusion that He was a toddy seller and the Heavenly Nectars toddy.” “In one of your births you were a toddy-brewer. You used to consume the drink in large quantities. You were nourishing a desire to have toddy, in your subconscious mind, in this birth. But for His mercy, you would have become a slave to the inebriant beverage. Even without you knowing it, like a never-departing shadow, He is taking care of you, making sure that no adversity befalls you.” These solacing and soothing words acted like an elixir instantly healing me off my intense sorrow and guilt and helped me to regain myself. I stated with spiritual enthusiasm. “Sir, I want to know more about the Blissful Emancipator.”

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“As a child, I used to stutter. As if rubbing salt in the wound, I developed a strange disease that causes accelerated aging, making me look like a 50- year-old when I was barely ten. I was the laughing stock of the whole village. “Getting to know the benevolent Bapanarya was performing a yagna, my father took me to Pithikapuram. Sripada was about six years old then. Ghee collected for the yagna was kept in an old Brahmin’s house. The old Brahmin was not only a miser, but also greedy. He stealthily took one fourth of ghee and sent the remaining three-fourths for the ritual. When offering the ghee to the deities, the Brahmins noticed that it was inadequate. To procure ghee immediately was not only diffi cult, but also impossible task. An obstacle in the performance of the yagna was considered as a bad omen. Everyone was worried. Sripada called the old Brahmin and asked him to write on the Palmyra leaf –‘Mother Ganga! Please provide us with enough ghee to complete the yagna. My grandfather Venkatappayya Sreshthi will honour the debt. This is the command of Sripada.’ Venkatappayya Sreshthi assented. The old Brahmin along with four other Brahmins took the leaf and dropped it in padagaya teerth nearby. They fi lled the pots with water from the sacred pond and returned. The water turned into ghee in front of everyone’s eyes. The Yagna concluded successfully without further hindrance. Venkatappayya Sreshthi true to his word offered ghee to the Merciful Mother Ganga in the same pots. Even as the ghee touched the sacred waters, it changed into water. After completion of the yagna, my father poured out his heart to Sripada. “Your son will be soon free of his illness and his stutter,” Sripada comforted. “A house needs to be put on fi re. Determine a proper auspicious astrological moment for it, Grandpa.” The Enigmatic Lord addressed the old Brahmin. “As far as my knowledge goes, auspicious time is determined for rites and rituals. I never heard of determining

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an auspicious time for burning down a house. May be such activities can be performed during an inauspicious constellation.” The old Brahmin replied rather perplexed. “Then, is such a portentous time running now?” “Of course!”The old Brahmin nodded. “Well, that is good news indeed!” Sripada continued. “As a scoundrel stole the ghee kept for the sacred yagna, Agni, the God of Fire is not completely satiated. So, he is consuming the thief’s house appeasing his burning hunger. Behold!” Sripada said gaily, pointing to the house of the old Brahmin. The old Brahmin was transfi xed with alarm. Within minutes all that remained in place of his house was a heap of ash. Sripada ordered the Brahmin to bring a little ash of his burnt house. He asked me to mix that ash in water and drink for three days. I fully recovered from my sickness and stuttering and was enjoying excellent health. After my miraculous recovery, placing His right hand on my forehead Sripada gave me Shaktipat40 initiation. “Henceforth you will be known as Dattananda. Faithfully discharging your responsibilities as a householder, preach Dharma and enlighten the people. May you obtain liberation. “This old Brahmin and you were business partners in your previous birth. Gradually, as hostility in business developed, you were concocting plans to kill each other. One day you went to his house and offered him some poisoned kheer.41 Your unaware partner died instantly after having the kheer. Exactly at the same time, your partner sent some men to burn down your house. Seeing your wife and children perish in the fi re in front of your eyes, you died of a heart attack. As you

40Shaktipat is the spiritual awakening of the dormant Kundalini, the source of Divine Energy.It leads to higher states of consciousness.41Rice pudding, a traditional Indian sweet dish.

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poisoned your friend in your last birth, you were born with this strange disease. As he set fi re to your house in his preceding birth, he lost his house in fi re in this birth. Thus, I liberated both of you from your past actions.” After receiving His grace in abundance, I returned to my village. Narasimha Varma built a house for that old Brahmin. “Son, Shankar,” Dattananda Swamy went on. “Reading the sacred books fetches good fortune. You are the chosen one to sketch Sripada’s biography. Though you will have written it in Sanskrit, in course of time, it will be translated into Telugu, Sripada’s mother tongue. Whatever language it is read in, it results in divine blessings. Wherever His biography is read, there Sripada is present in His subtle form. Let me narrate an event, which is apt in this context. “When Sripada was seven years old, His sacred thread ceremony was performed with festivity and merriment. Dattadas, a Maladasari and a devotee of Sripada could not attend the ceremony as he belonged to a low caste. However, the blissfully happy Dattadas intoxicated with divine ardour invited his equally ecstatic kinfolk to his house and began narrating the story of Lord Datta in his own words: “The Supernal Lord who was born to Mother Anasuya and Sage Atri in times yore, has now incarnated as Sripada Srivallabha in this Kali Yuga in our Pithikapuram. Today is an auspicious day, as His thread ceremony is being celebrated. After the ceremony, adorned with the sacred thread our Lord will illuminate with dazzling radiance. May prosperity be bestowed eternally upon our Lord , the protector of the helpless and the hapless.” Dattadas was not erudite enough to recount more than this about Sripada. So he kept repeating the same story over and over again; and his audience also listened to his narration, happily engrossed in the Infi nite. This happened 53 times.

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Meanwhile after the thread ceremony was over, Sripada suddenly announced that He had to go to meet Dattadas. When Bapanarya asked for the reason, Sripada said, “The guileless Dattadas is narrating my story. If the story he told once is considered as one chapter, then he narrated 53 chapters. Hence, I have to grant him the good fortune that is granted to a devotee who would read the 53 chapters of my biography with devotion.” The Brahmins however did not permit Sripada to go to Dattadas, as he was an outcaste. “The same people, whom you are suppressing as low caste, will receive my grace in abundance in the future and enjoy an elevated status. On the contrary, most of your class will lead a life of workers and will become licentious, degenerating from the path of religion and virtue. Nevertheless, I will protect those who lead a righteous life.” So speaking He manifested in the house of Dattadas. He ate juicy fruits and fondly drank the milk that was offered to Him with love and affection. He then distributed sweetmeats with His divine hands and blessed everyone present there. “Son, Shankar Bhatt, the Compassionate Lord fulfi ls any earnest desire of the devotee. He responds to all and works for all. He resides equally in everyone, whether superior or inferior.” With this Dattananda Swamy concluded his narration.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Sati Anasuya Mata

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Taking leave from Dattananda Swamy, I continued my journey. On the way, I felt thirsty and approached a nearby well. As I glanced into the well to draw water, a weird sight caught my attention. A man was hanging upside down from a thick branch of a tree that grew in the crevice of the well. The man greeted me affectionately by my name. Surprised, I asked him how he knew my name. He smiled at me and remarked: “I know everything about you. You are going to Kuruvapuram to behold Sripada Srivallabha. I have been waiting only to meet you.” I was wondering how to pull him out of the well, the man stood beside me. “You are thirsty. Let me quench your thirst.” Saying so, he drew some water and started drinking making gulping sounds. Surprisingly my thirst quenched. I was more than stupefi ed with both of his feats, hanging like a bat in the wall and quenching my thirst by drinking water himself. I looked at him boggled and confounded. Both of us moved together. He started narrating about himself, “I am Bangarappa,” the man began. “Though I was a goldsmith, I mastered the occult powers. I gained the power to kill anyone I disliked. I associated with evil spirits. People feared me. In the course of my wanderings, I visited Pithikapuram. “Though the city was sanctifi ed by the descent of Lord Dattatreya, yet it was an abode of mutual quarrels and jealousies. Giving ear to some hearsay about Bapanarya and Sripada I targeted to destroy Bapanarya fi rst. I went to a lake and began drinking water continuously. One of my methods to kill a person was by visualising the victim and drinking water in abundance.

Chapter 15Bangarappa and Sundara Ram Sharma

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The water that I drink in excess would overfi ll my victim’s stomach instead of mine and fi nally burst open, killing him instantly. As I was drinking water near the lake, Lord Sripada was with His grandfather, stroking His hand gently and affectionately on Bapanarya’s stomach. No matter how much water I drank, it was evaporating by the grace of Sripada. Eventually, I was exhausted and could not drink any more. Bapanarya was hale and hearty. I failed to understand why my black magic fell fl at. I knew a chant, which when I recite keeping the person in mind, innumerable snakes from nowhere would appear and bite him to death. I chanted the mantra thinking of Bapanarya. Many snakes did appear in his house, but they crawled onto the trellis, dangled like snake gourds from there for a while and disappeared from whence they came. Thus, my second attempt also proved futile. I tried to send the evil spirits, which were under my control; however, they refused point-blank, expressing their ineffi ciency to go anywhere near Bapanarya. My ego hurt, I went to the burial ground and with adamant determination to destroy, made a fi gure of Sripada with dough and pricked 32 sharp needles on it at 32 different places. Sripada should have died with this voodoo spell. Still, nothing happened. Blinded by presumption and vanity, I failed to understand why all my attempts foundered. All at once, in the middle of the night, I began to feel large amounts of water accumulating in my stomach. I was going through excruciating pain. The snakes that I conjured up to Bapanarya’s house, came back to my house in Pithikapuram and bit me all over. I underwent stabbing pain exactly at those points in my body, where I pricked needles onto the dough fi gure of Sripada. Thus, all my attempts to kill Sripada and Bapanarya backfi red. I preferred death to the infernal pain. But death was nowhere to be seen. When suffering reaches beyond a point of endurance, one automatically turns towards the Divine. Same thing

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happened with me too. I started praying lord Sripada “Help, Sripada, help! I am in unbearable agony! Forgive my wicked conduct!” and surrendered myself onto his feet. Lo! I could perceive Lord Sripada before my inner sight. “Bangarappa,” the Lord spoke in a stentorian voice. “When you tried to kill me or the saintly Bapanarya, you failed to realise that my life is linked with your own, so, where does the question of killing me arise? Bangarappa, For all your sinful and wicked deeds, you should have endured harrowing hell for man-years to come in this life and later in death also. But, I cut down the duration to one night. With the torment that you went through tonight, I am freeing you from all your bad karma. “I am withdrawing all your occult powers. If you perceive anyone to be thirsty, drink water and their thirst will be quenched no matter how far they might be. I am blessing you only with this faculty. Practice the Yogic exercise hanging upside down. You will derive bliss. Now that you know how boomerang karma works, never indulge in such nefarious activities. Tread on the path of righteousness. You will have to bear the effect of your sinful acts until you meet Shankar Bhatt, a Kannada Brahmin. Once you satiate his thirst using your ability, you will be atoned for your all sins. Shankar Bhatt is the chosen one to write My biography.” The ineffable vision disappeared. After a momentary silence, Bangarappa added, “Shankar Bhatt, I have been waiting for you ever since. Today is my blessed day!” I could not make out head or tail of this event. Everything appeared obscure to me. I queried, “Sir, I am puzzled. If you drink water, how can someone else’s thirst be quenched?” “I merge my pranamaya shakti, energy with that of the other through a yogic process; so both the energies get united and will remain in ‘oneness’ position. Thus, quenching thirst

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becomes feasible. Have you not heard about Vali?42 Vali would obtain half of the strength and energy of his opponent, using the same process. Hence, Lord Rama killed him hiding behind a tree. “Sir, it is said that Ahalya turned into a stone due to the curse of Sage Gautama and was redeemed from the curse when the dust of Rama’s feet fell on her. Had she really became a stone? Or is there any latent meaning in it?” I quickly jumped on to another question. Bangarappa cleared my doubt, “Indra wanted to marry Ahalya but was disappointed when Sage Gautama married her. An infatuated Indra approached Ahalya taking the form of Gautama. Seeing through his evil designs, Sachi Devi, Indra’s consort sent her shadow as Ahalya to the intoxicated and enamoured Indra. Without ascertaining the truth, Gautama cursed Ahalya to become a stone. When the sage realised his folly, he relented and advised the way out from his curse. “When Sage Gautama cursed the stupefi ed Ahalya, her body did not turn into a stone; rather her conscious became stoic, which means that she remained in the state of ‘stone consciousnesses. Hence, she persisted in the same state until she had the pious touch of the dust of Lord Rama’s feet. Son, Shankar, a human being passes through seven stages during his evolutionary process. During the fi rst stage, the organs of both the subtle body and the gross body are used at a time. At the second stage, one develops the ability to perform small miracles. In the third stage, the power to travel to distant places through astral body is acquired. When the soul reaches the fourth stage, it attains extensive yogic powers. If it uses these powers for the benefi t of the people, it reaches the succeeding higher stage. If the power is misused for selfi sh interests or to harm others, it will decline

42Vali, the monkey king of Kishkindha of Ramayana times, had a boon wherein if he battles face to face with a person, he could appropriate to himself half of his opponent’s strength, thereby making himself invulnerable to any enemy.

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back to the stone consciousness. Those in the fi fth stage are of ‘Erudites of Volition,’ Sankalpa Gyanis, who continue to perform mundane activities, even while striving for God realisation. In the sixth stage, the Percipients of Emotions, Bhava Gyanis are less bothered about material world and its activities. The one who reaches the seventh and fi nal stage merges with the Paramatma, the Supreme Being and acquires the knowledge of the State of Infi nity.” Listening to Bangarappa, doubts started popping up in my brains. To get the answers, I asked him, “Sir, is the evolutionary process applicable only to the human beings, or is it valid to incarnations as well?” “If a human being alters into an Omnipotent God, He is called Samarth Satguru. On the contrary, if God Almighty takes the human form, it is known as Incarnation or Avatar. Incarnations are a cosmological necessity. The form in each descent is different because the demands of the world each time are different. They are forged when the demands of desire clash with the quest for order. He descends as He is, or in a form, to do a specifi c activity, mission, or carry out a particular purpose. Each avatar is congruent to an attribute. For example, when the demon Hiranyaksha began to push the earth into the nether regions, the Lord assuming the form of a huge boar (rhinoceros… Shankar Bhatt clearly mentions ‘varaha is not a boar, but a rhinoceros,’ it’s a popular misconception), bore the earth on His tusks and lifted it out of hell. As Parashurama, He annihilated the wicked class of warrior kings in order to free Mother Earth of the burden of these nefarious rulers and establish righteousness. Throughout His avatar, Rama never declares himself as God who has come down on Earth, though the rishis of his time believed Him to be so. His purpose was to annihilate the demon-king Ravana who because of his arrogance of being most powerful, asks for a boon wherein only a mortal could kill him. Rama is the Lord’s incarnation as an ordinary mortal, but exhibits extraordinary human qualities

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and lives the life of an ideal man.43 The purpose of avatar is mainly to live a life of a human being and to show him the way to Eternal Life. Each avatar has a purpose, a specifi c message to impart to humanity. It becomes the duty of the “Preserver of the Universe” to vanquish the forces of evil that threaten Dharma and to display His divine nature in front of the conditioned or fallen souls. Assimilating the nature - unity from diversity, and diversity from unity of the entire world, Sripada Srivallabha descended onto the earth in an exceptional and remarkable form. There are no yogic traditions or religious or moral conventions associated with Sripada Srivallabha in the entire creation. Even the so-called intellects, fail to perceive the real state of Sripada Srivallabha. All the theories, doctrines and traditions ultimately merge with Him. Everything commences with and culminates in Him. The entire drama of this world is supervised, conceived and set in motion by Him.” I could not control myself without expressing my doubt, “Sir, If He is the Preceptor, who incites all actions (karmas) then why some people are virtuous and some evil?” I expressed my uncertainty. Bangarappa laughed merrily and said, “Child! That is indeed a very good question! The entire creation evolved, and runs on duality or polarity. Without this paradoxical duality, neither evolution nor development is possible. When we say that the God is omnipotent, it does not imply that He is equipped only with righteous powers. Deceit, fraud, and violence witnessed in the world are also part and parcel of His power. Pleasure and pain, good and evil, birth and death,

43Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. O son of Partha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything—and yet I am engaged in work. For, if I did not engage in work, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path. Bhagavad gita, Refer:

Ch:3, 21,22 23, http://www.asitis.com/3/

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peace and war, love and hate, night and day, hope and fear are two sides of the coin of Cosmic illusion. Nothing is stable or permanent in this world. A virtuous person in this life might have been evil in his past life and vice versa. Hence, a wicked person might enjoy all types of comforts and luxuries in his present life due to the good karma of his previous birth. Son, the scriptures explain the way to lead a virtuous life without causing harm to anyone. Bangarappa then narrated the story of the King of Pithikapuram. The King of Pithikapuram once nourished the desire to behold Sripada Srivallabha. He sent his soldiers to the house of Appalaraju Sharma with the orders that they should right away present themselves in the royal court. Sripada told the royal servants, “If your king wishes to see Me, he can come here in person. He is king only to this region, but I am the Emperor of the entire universe. Also, ask him to get Me an offering and not to come empty-handed. In case he perceives Me as his Guru, then following the long-accepted traditional practice, he should also bring ‘Guru Dakshina’44. Hearing the message of Sripada, the King was beside himself with rage. “I will show those wretched Brahmins what an all-powerful king like me can do to them,” he shouted. The very next instant, the king fell lifeless in abject helplessness. Suddenly there appeared an ugly and despicable female form before his inner vision. “Behold! I am Shakti. I am entering your body.” She thundered and forced her way into his body. The king’s already weakened body could not sustain the onslaught of Shakti. He pleaded in a feeble tone, “Please

44Guru Dakshina refers to the tradition of repaying one’s teacher or guru on completion of formal education. This tradition was meant to serve as a way of showing respect and thanks to the guru. Guru Dakhsina is not exclusively monetary and may be a specifi c task the teacher wants the student to accomplish.

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leave me.” No sooner did the king mumble these words than Shakti left his body with pain pulverising his bones. In this way, Shakti continued the phenomenon of entering the king’s body and exiting it, rendering him more dead than alive. The royal priest, Kota Sundararama Sharma was summoned. He worshipped Lord Datta and applied the holy ash on the king’s forehead, and made him have some Tirtham (holy water). With this, the king experienced some respite as Shakti ceased her entry and departure. “O King! Did you witness the power of my prayer and worship? Why do you want to see Sripada Srivallabha? Do you still under misconception that he is the incarnation of Lord Datta? O king, there is not even a shred of truth in it,” gloated the royal priest. “I think Sripada is a necromancer. He made Shakti enter and leave my body putting me through fi erce and brutal pain. You have to show a way out of this wretched plight.” the distressed king said, pleased by the royal priest’s prowess in resisting Sripada. Sundararama Sharma replied with delight, “O King! Let the Brahmins start Parayana of Datta Purana and worship Swayambhu Datta. Donate both kind and cash generously to the Brahmins. Feed the people of all castes. All these auspicious activities will propitiate Lord Datta. Sripada will remain in check and you will be immune to the power of His black magic.” The advice of the royal priest was soon put into practice. From the day Datta Purana parayana commenced, the situation had gone from bad to worse; rampant thefts and looting in the capital gained momentum. The king could not control them in spite of his best efforts. His troubles exacerbated when he began seeing his forefathers in his dreams, looking emaciated and hungry for a morsel of food. “The obsequies you have

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been performing for us are not reaching us, as they are not being executed with diligence or reverence. Our souls are not liberated.” They cried. Whenever he sat for food, there would be worms crawling all over it. The king could not get even a wink of sleep. His young daughter became possessed by evil spirits, laughing and screaming like a monster she tossed and turned all the articles out of the chamber and frequently fl ed away from the palace with dishevelled hair and improper dress. Situation in Sundararama Sharma’s house was no different. His peaceful and soft-spoken wife suddenly became belligerent and would bash him. His son in a state of senselessness would tie him to a pillar. His daughter would spit on his face and thrash him with slippers. Serving dry grass to eat they would threaten to brand him with a red-hot iron rod if he does not eat it. Ghosts and spirits roamed freely terrorising the people. Terror-stricken King, Sundararama Sharma and the Brahmins then realised what prompted such adverse state of affairs in spite of strictly performing the rituals. With tears and shattered pride, the King, Sundararama Sharma and the Brahmins sought out Lord Sripada. “Each and every human being in this creation is a labourer and I am the employer. If I am pleased and satisfi ed, I give more wages than what you deserve. On the contrary, if I am displeased and dissatisfi ed, I cut the wages and give only what is warranted. I am the Swayambhu Datta in the temple and I am Kalagnisamana Datta. How can you expect good outcomes offering prayers to My countenance while driving nails in my feet? If a devotee seeks my refuge and calls with earnestness and devotion, I will in a trice burn all his bad karma into ashes and make him a righteous person. You are undergoing all this suffering and agony because of disregarding and rejecting truth as untruth and accepting deceit and falsity as truth”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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I continued my journey recollecting the divine stories of Sripada and chanting His name. My heart leaped with joy as I was almost nearing Kuruvapuram. I was passing by a sugarcane fi eld, when a farmer sitting there, called me to his side. “Sir! Please rest here for a while and have drink some sugarcane juice,” he welcomed me affectionately. I drank the juice, which was exceptionally tasty. He felt happy when I told him that I was going to seek the blessings of Sripada Srivallabha. “Sir, I am Malladi Srimannarayana. I hail from Malyadipuram, which is now known as Malladi. Originally, we were cultivators but we moved to Pithikapuram after we lost everything and went totally broke and bankrupt. Sripada was then 8 years old. Bapanarya received us hospitably and readily arranged for our stay and food. Undesirous of living off a free-meal, I asked Bapanarya to lease some of his fi elds for cultivation. “I have already let out the land. It is not righteous to revoke it from them now. Be patient. We will fi gure out something for you.” Bapanarya assured. Sripada who was also present at the time gave me a fi stful of black gram and said, “Tie the gram carefully in a cloth, and proceed towards West. You will know when to discard them.” We crossed the Andhra region and entered Karnataka. We met an old couple there whose only son unfortunately died of snake bite and their daughter-in-law drowned in the river Krishna while taking a holy bath. They had none to take care of them in their old age. They received us with familial warmth. Their relatives, who were conspiring to grab their property, were ingratiating themselves with sugar-coated words. No

Chapter 16Tale of Srimannarayana

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matter how many times we tried to leave, we faced some obstacle and were forced to stay back. As a foul smell started emanating from the black grams tied in the cloth, we thought that it was Sripada’s will that we stay there. So we threw them away and decided to settle there. The old couple planned to adopt us, which obviously pained the relatives like needles in the chest. They bribed an astrologer to tell the couple that we bring misfortune wherever we go and to send us away as post- haste. The old couple did not budge at all. They urged the astrologer to resolve the situation. “For every problem, there is a solution. If there is an ominous condition in their horoscope as predicted by you, then there should be a remedy too. Without worrying about the expenses, kindly perform the needful rites and rituals to root out the problem.” With no option left, the astrologer performed the sacred rituals. The old couple declared us as their heir-apparent. The relatives were disgruntled by the unexpected turn of events. One day, when I reached the fi elds, I saw them stuffi ng sacks with the harvest of chillies and loading them into bullock-carts. They were ten of them and I was alone. I did not know how to stop them. All at once, a fi erce-looking bear from an adjacent palm tree jumped in front of them. The terrifi ed ten ran for their lives. Scared to death, I started chanting the name of Sripada. The monstrous beast became gentle and docile and started clapping its hands rhythmically whenever I chanted the Lord’s name. I reached home with the yield and the bear walking in front of the carts like a guard. From that day onwards, the bear became a loving member of our family. It participated in the customary chanting of the Lord’s blessed name every morning clapping its hands to the music of the clanging cymbals and ate prasadam. It watched over our lands and we never again faced any threat of robbery.

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In the meantime, a necromancer came to our village. Our relatives approached him and asked him to use his occult powers on the bear. The necromancer with one spell merged his consciousness with that of the bear, and with another spell attracted all its energy into him. The bear fell to the ground rendered helpless. The bear was going through indescribable torture. It wept silently. That day also we started devoutly chanting the name of Sripada. The bear, which hitherto lay dead, regained its consciousness and its powers and started jumping with joy. A strange thing happened while chanting the name. The yogic powers of Lord Dattatreya surpass all other powers. Sripada interchanged their consciousness, of bear with that of the necromancer and his with that of the bear. Hence, though still in a human form, he behaved like a wild bear.Unable to bear his bear-menace, his followers tied him with ropes and left him in the forest. With the soul consciousness of a human the bear started talking like a human. “I was a money lender in my previous birth. I mercilessly collected exorbitant interests and caused agony to the people. Consequently, I was born a bear in this birth. However, now, owing to some of the virtue I gained the grace of Lord Sripada, who is verily the embodiment of Lord Dattatreya, I’ll obtain a righteous life in my next birth.” Everyone continued chanting Sripada’s name. The bear sank into a deep meditative state. Suddenly, out of nowhere, three cobras appeared. They also fell into an ecstatic trance. A little later, the bear consciously left its body, peacefully, without suffering. The cobras circumambulated three times around the bear. We cremated the bear adhering to all the rites that are observed for a human being. The cobras took shelter near our house and drank the milk offered to Sripada. At the same time, the relatives who never really backed down in their efforts unlawfully occupied a portion of the land to usurp the old couple’s property. They lured the village

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headmen who declared the land as disputed and granted them permission to cultivate until a verdict was given. It was the festival of Nagula Chavithi45. This time no one offered prayers near the snake pit, as they were afraid of the three cobras. We, along with the old couple placed milk that was offered to Sripada near the hole and prayed with folded hands. The three cobras came, drank the milk and went back. On the same day, our relatives and the village headmen brought a snake charmer, who with his power of mantras could bring any type of poisonous snake under his control and could bring back to life anyone bitten by a snake. He also had a Garuda Rekha, the eagle line on his palm. It is believed that the snakes meekly submit to the person who has Garuda line on his palm. The snake charmer lit fi re around the pit and began chanting some mantras in a roaring voice. We were watching helplessly, praying to Sripada to save the harmless cobras. The cobras crawled out of the hole as if they were under a spell. But to the utmost shock of everyone present there, they grew rapidly in size and crawled through the blazing fi re. Wherever they crawled, the fi re there snuffed out. The snakes disappeared into the wilderness. Suddenly, the eldest son of village headman started behaving like a snake-bitten victim, while the second son lost his sight. The Garuda line disappeared from the snake charmer’s palm and he lay dead. The village headman and others came lamenting to our house. Stating that only the grace of Lord Sripada could save one from any calamity, we began praying to the Datta Incarnate, in the house of the village headman. The burning dead body of the occultist suddenly sat up on the pyre and he started shouting for help. Thinking that he turned into an evil spirit and entered his own body, no one

45A day when the Serpent God is appeased with offerings of milk, etc. and it falls on fourth day after Dipawali.

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came forward to save him. One kind-hearted person there, taking pity poured water on him. The fi re instead of being extinguished fuelled it. Though his body was blazing, the occultist was not actually burning, all the same, was enduring the torment of being on fi re. The occultist jumped out of the pyre and reached the village headman’s house leaping in pain, his body still in fl ames. The whole area was sanctifi ed with our incessant chanting of Datta Digambara! Datta Digambara! Sripada Vallabha! Datta Digambara! The occultist who ridiculed Sripada as Digambara46 and a lunatic, ran all the way from the cemetery to the headman’s house and stood in front of His devotees with his body in fl ames, fully naked, shouting like a lunatic. His pain would cease if he danced to the on-going chanting. The moment he stopped dancing, his torture would begin. Though he felt embarrassed to dance in the nude that was only his saving grace. Realising all his mistakes, he sincerely repented and surrendered himself to Sripada, the Cosmic Director. No sooner did such a change enter his mind, did the fi re extinguish and his body cooled. I offered my upper garment to him. He, with lot of enthusiasm participated in the chanting. Both the sons of the headman also recovered. Declaring that he would lead a pious life meditating on Sripada, the occultist went away. The village headman pronounced that the land snatched by our relatives rightfully belongs to us. Three fi g trees grew from the snake pit. Sometime later, Dattanand Avadhoot came to our place and said, “In Pithikapuram, Sripada used to meditate under the fi g tree in his grandfather’s house. His mother Sumati Maharani used to feed him ‘halwa’ affectionately from a silver bowl under the fi g tree. These three trees symbolise Sripada Srivallabha,

46Digambar means ‘sky clad’ or ‘unclad.’ The word literally means, ‘those who have the sky as their garment.’ Here in this context, nude.

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Nrisimha Saraswati and Swamy Samartha. The devotees, who offer halwa to Sripada under the fi g tree during Sanipradosha time, will open the treasure trove of His blessings.” The following day, thanking Srimannaarayana for sharing with me his wondrous experiences, I sallied forth to Kuruvapuram in high spirits, thinking of the Divine.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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En route to Kuruvapuram, a woman with dishevelled hair, ran towards me, and fell on my feet pleading me to save her from two men who were chasing her. I blurted involuntarily, “Mother, do not fear. Sripada will defi nitely protect you from these ruffi ans.” The large and well-built ruffi ans looked at me curiously. “O Brahmin, we have to kill this immoral woman. Do not try to protect her. You are in no way a match to us. If you cause any impediment, we will not hesitate to kill you also.” They said guffawing at my weak and puny body. “In spite of being Brahmins, last night you killed a cow, ate its meat and drank toddy. It is extremely easy for you, who are nothing less than vice and villainy to kill us. Nevertheless, after killing this woman, you will become lepers.” I said instinctively with an irresistible force. My unexpected words jolted them to the very core. As what I uttered turned out to be true, they confessed their guilt and asked for forgiveness. “Though born in the honourable Brahmin caste, we are slaves to meat, drink and debauchery. When we saw this woman sitting in a lotus posture on a hillock, we were desirous to have her. Chasing her, we fortuitously met you.” “Sir, by protecting me from these men, you have become like my father. So I can speak my mind to you without any hesitation. The woman spoke with tears coursing down her face. My name is Susheela and I was born in a chaste Brahmin family. I got married at an early age. My husband is impotent and suspicious by nature. Even so, I served him with utmost sincerity and chastity. He always tortured me with his words, blaming me with infi delity. Anything I do or do not do, would be a reason for him to nag me. My in-laws or other elders in the

Chapter 17Encounter with Sri Namananda

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house never questioned his behaviour towards me. “My in-laws invited a sorcerer to our house who told them that I was an ill-omened woman, and that their son turned impotent because of my evil effects on him. He advised them that everything would return to normalcy only if I am thrown out of the house. “Without the slightest compassion, they drove me out of the house. Left with no option, I proceeded to my parent’s home. On the way, the charlatan sorcerer accosted me and tried to molest me. Gathering all my strength, I lifted a boulder and threw it on him with all my might. He died an instant death. Unwilling to go to my parents’ home after committing such a felonious crime, I began to walk aimlessly. “After I walked some distance, I grew tired. So sitting in the lotus posture, I was meditating on Lord Dattatreya, when I fell prey to these two men and subsequently was saved by you.” “Mother, you were protected by the Omnipresent Lord, Sripada who is none other than Lord Dattatreya. He listens to and answers all sincere prayers of His children and unburdens their affl ictions.” I said comforting her. All three of them then joined me in my journey to Kuruvapuram. Along the way, we reached the hermitage of Namananda, who I learnt was an illumined yogi, a Trikala gnani, the one who has knowledge of past, present and future. He invited us in cordially and seated us. Namananda related his own fascinating experience with Sripada. “My father is Mayanacharya and I am Sayanacharya. We belong to the Bharadwaja family lineage. We are Vaishnavites. Namananda is my monastic name. Yearning for a self-realised guru who will initiate me into the spiritual path; I travelled many places and happened to come to Pithikapuram. At the Kunti-Madhava temple there, I saw a Chandala fast approaching me.

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Before I could avoid him, he confronted me and said in a booming voice, “Namananda! Give me my Guru Dakshina.” “I am not Namananda. I do not even know who you are. Why are you demanding Guru Dakshina from me?”I said struck with astonishment. “Soon people gathered and began to talk variously as the casteless chandala not only stood in front of me, but also demanded Guru Dakshina. Fixing his blinding fl ame like eyes piercingly on me, he pulled out a sword and said, ‘I am your Sadguru. Initiating you into the monk order, I am giving you the name of Namananda. Give me Guru Dakshina and pay homage to me by prostrating at my feet. If you disregard my words, I will slash your body and cause you to endure agonising and excruciating pain without letting you die.” “I bowed at his feet and gave him all the money I had as Guru Dakshina. The next minute a lustrous fi gure appeared before me. ‘I am Dattatreya. I am presently at Pithikapuram in the form of Sripada Srivallabha I am your guru. Propagate Dharma and sanctify your life.’ The fi gure then vanished leaving me aghast with wonderment. “The news, that I accepted a Chandala as my guru, circulated widely. No one came forward to proffer me alms as my behaviour was against Dharma. Tired and hungry, I unpremeditatedly reached the house of Sri Appalaraja Sharma. Even before I could gather my voice to ask for alms, Sripada Srivallabha came out with a plateful of food. He seated me on the veranda and fed me with His sacred hands. “There is no need for you to worry about anything. I will take care of you eternally.” He uttered this infi nite promise. Consoled by His wondrous blessing and reassurance, I embarked on my life as an ascetic. I feel His celestial presence with me at all time and every- where.” Namananda concluded. “Swamy, I heard that worshipping Lord Dattatreya dramatically speeds up the process of liberation. Kindly

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enlighten.” I politely revealed my doubt. Namananda smiled warmly. “Moksha, the liberation is nothing but the obliteration of Moha, the passion, delusion, infatuation, etc. There is no hard and fast rule that liberation is attained only after the death of one’s body. Sometimes, even while the body is undergoing the effects of karma of previous birth, the soul may remain in liberated state. Those people are Jivanmuktas liberated when still alive in physical form. Living in the region of one’s own beloved deity is called Salokyamukti. The one, who has earned more punya than this, will have the fortune of living in close proximity of their much-loved deity. This is Samipya mukti. Attainment of more punya, results in assuming the form of one’s deity. This is Sarupya mukti (identical form). The one, who attains a more elevated state than this, merges with the consciousness of his beloved deity. This state is Sayujya. In this state, the devotees of Lord Dattatreya can perceive His divine play with their internal vision and discern it analytically. When the soul is bound to the body, it remains in a bonded state with different traits, passions and desires. As it evolves into elevated state, the soul becomes lighter. When a devotee achieves this Laghutva, the weightlessness, the bliss he enjoys is unlimited and inexplicable. All deities are divine elements of Sripada Srivallabha. Hence, whatever form one prays to, Sripada showers His grace through that form or through that deity.” He explained this Tattva in simple words citing a parable. “Once, a brother paid a visit to the house of his newly married sister. Her mother-in-law complained, ‘Son, your sister steals milk, butter, curd, ghee and buttermilk in the house. If it were just one, I would have overlooked it. But how can I ignore so many?’ Her brother took his sister aside and persuaded, ‘Whatever you are stealing and consuming are the by-products of milk, and rather they are latent in milk. The strength one gets from having all those can be gained by drinking milk alone.

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So, take good amount of milk and nothing else. That way you will not be stealing and will not be giving a chance for your mother- in-law to complain.’ Namananda continued, “In the same way, worshipping Sri Datta alone would fetch everything. We know that whoever deity one prays to, that particular deity shows His or Her grace. Nevertheless, Lord Dattatreya who responds to His devotees’ affl ictions and adversities swiftly, orders the respective deities to fulfi l the just wishes of the devotee or mitigate the karma of past or present lives, or rewrite the fate, etc. And if need be, He too suffers along with His devotee. Everything depends upon His conviction. “Once a devotee of Sripada fell off a horse and was severely injured. The same day, a sceptic who had no faith in Sripada, found a 100 gold coins. Sripada unfolded the secret behind it to the puzzled Venkatappayya Sreshti. ‘I prolonged the life of my devotee by 20 more years who should have died when he fell off his horse. This is a reward for his exclusive devotion for me. The sceptic, who constantly derides devotees, gained only a hundred gold coins, while he should have become exorbitantly rich today. I cut short his fortune and granted him only hundred gold coins. I am a slave to my loyal devotee. One who can secure me in his heart is a monarch in the real sense.’Namananda then asked the two Brahmin men who were with me to observe Mandala Diksha and never to deviate from the holy path in order to mitigate their sins. He advised Susheela to perform Anagha Vratam and blessed that she will lead a happy married life with her husband “Dear Ones,” Namananda spoke looking at all of us, his eyes radiating divine ardour, “On the eve of fi rst birthday of Sripada when Bapanarya saw sacred auspicious marks in the feet of Sripada, which indicated that He was none other than Lord Dattatreya, he fervently kissed Sripada’s feet and broke into an extempore rendition of a few verses.

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This Siddha Managala Stotra is the most sacred verse of all stotras.

Siddha Mangala Stotram

Srimadananta srivibhush*ta Appala Lakshmi Nrisimha RajaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Sri Vidyadhari Radha Surekha Srirakhidhara SripadaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Matha Sumathi vatsalyamritha pariposh*tha jaya SripadaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Satya Rushisvara Duhithananadana Bapanaryanuta Sricharana Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Savitrikathakachayana punyaphala Bharadwaja rishi gothra sambhavaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Do choupathi dev Lakshmi Ghana Sankhyabodhita Sricharana Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Punyarupini Rajamamba Sutha Garbhapunyaphala SanjathaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Sumathi nanadana Narahari nandana Dattadevaprabhu Sripada Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–Pithikapura Nithyavihara Madhumati Datta Mangala RoopaJaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Mantra. Chanting it fetches you punya equivalent to feeding a thousand virtuous Brahmins after performing Anaghashtami Vratam. It grants you the good effects equal to feeding a thousand virtuous Brahmins with one’s hard-earned money after observing Mandala Diksha with only one meal a day. By devout reading of this Stotra, one can meet, converse and touch the lotus feet of Siddha yogis. Sincere rendition of the stotra will result in the fulfi lment of one’s just desires. The devotees who pray and worship Lord Dattatreya in words, deeds and pure mind will receive His grace immediately after reading this stotra. The Siddhas in their subtle forms move around the places where this stotra is read.”

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A divine ecstasy fell over me listening to the enlightening words of Namananda. “O noble yogi,’ I said, “I wish that we spend all night singing the divine Siddha Managala Stotra and listening to the glories of Sripada.”Namananda gladly consented. At the fi rst streaks of dawn, a cart pulled up in front of the hermitage.Namananda was in deep meditation. The cartman approached Susheela and informed her that her husband and her in-laws would reach the hermitage in a while. Shortly after the cart man left, Namananda came out and asked about the cart man. Wondering how he came to know about the cart man, we told him that he had already left. “Ah,” Namananda exclaimed in disappointment, “How unfortunate I am! All of you are blessed indeed. The cart man is none other than Lord Sripada. Susheela, your husband is cured. He along with your in-laws is coming to take you to your rightful home. Sripada himself came and blessed you with His Divine Presence.” Just as Namananda said Susheela’s in-laws and husband came and cordially took her with them. Taking the blessings of Namananda, I renewed my journey to Kuruvapuram joined by the two Brahmins.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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We reached Kuruvapuram. There we saw Lord Sripada Srivallabha, the Primordial Supreme Soul, the Spearhead of Myriad Brahmandas, the Ruler of the Fourteen Worlds and Adi Madhyanta Rahita, the one who has neither beginning nor end, much less a midpoint, coming out of the river Krishna after taking bath in it, irradiating splendour. I prostrated myself fully at His feet. The Supreme Guru sprinkled holy water on my head from his Kamandalu47 and spoke mellifl uously, “Son! Shankar Bhatt! I brought you here because of the immense love I have for you.” No language can either explain or describe the measureless sweetness of those ambrosial words and His compassionate soft eyes. He placed His divine hand on my head. Lo! The latent kundalini power within me awakened, immersing me deep in divine intoxication. I experienced inexhaustible bliss. All delusive limitations washed away in the swelling ocean of spiritual exaltation. The entire cosmos faded out from my eyes. My body became immovable and breathless. It was as though I was physically dead, yet it felt as if I had never before been fully alive. My sense of identity, the ‘I’ was no longer narrowly cramped in my body. I was all-embracing and all-perceptive rejoicing in inexplicable Divine Bliss. Once again, Lord Sripada sprinkled water on me from his Kamandalu. I became normal. I lost the infi nite vastness, and was once again imprisoned in the fi nite body.

47Also, kamandal or kamandalam is an oblong water pot made of the wood of Kamandalataru tree or a dry gourd, a coconut shell, clay or metal. It is often used by ascetics for storing drinking water. Water in a kamandalu represents Amrita, the elixir of life, it is symbolic of creation.

Chapter 18Portrayal of Ravidas

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Darshan of Lord to Vile Aliens “O Lord,” I said, pointing to the two men who came with me, “These two Brahmins accompanied me with the hope of beholding you.” The all-comprehending Lord said, “They do not look like Brahmins. On the contrary, they appear like beef-eaters.”The two men confessing that they were Moslems and not Brahmins, read the Islamic Kalma. I was speechless. “Both of you have committed many heinous sins. Yet, because of your meritorious deeds in your previous lives, and that of your ancestors, you are fortunate enough to behold me. There will be no dearth for your food. Nevertheless, all the cows slaughtered by you will be born as your children in this and in the coming births and will infl ict all kinds of miseries upon you. Because of the punya you gained by beholding Me here, today, you will be born as Bade Baba and Abdul Baba after many centuries, and will be liberated by My complete Satguru embodiment as Saibaba. For now, leave this place at once.” Sripada spoke gravely. After they left, a washer man called Ravidas and a Vedic scholar came by. Sripada smiled at Ravidas in acquiescence, but ignored the repeated salutations of the scholar. I looked at the Lord quizzically. Sripada gently tapped between my eyebrows. Astounding scenes passed in front of my internal eye. Ravidas was plying a boat towards Kuruvapuram in which the Vedic scholar was present. The scholar told Ravidas that he would pay his fare from the amount he would get from Sripada who will reward him appreciating his erudition. Ravidas agreed. Suddenly, water started gurgling into the boat through a hole and the boat began sinking. However, a dazzling light appeared and it seemed as if an invisible hand was emptying the water in the boat. Both of them reached the shore safely and came to Sripada, who responded to Ravidas

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with a smile but was indifferent towards the scholar. “You have become blind in your arrogance and lost all discernment. Being a brilliant scholar and born in a virtuous family, instead of performing righteous deeds, you are amassing mounds of sin. You separated a loyal woman from her loving husband and forced her to be your mistress causing her immense grief. The helpless woman is cursing you every second of her life. Your chaste wife is going through mental agony because of your indecent behaviour. Nothing has escaped from my vision. Though you were supposed to die today, I am extending your life for three more years. Mend your ways and lead your life as a changed man. In the next birth, those couple will enjoy immense wealth and luxuries befi tting a king, while you will be born as a eunuch to serve that woman. If you lead your life righteously for these three years, you will have food to sustain yourself in the next birth; else, you will undergo severe hardships. You may now leave the place.” Sripada upbraided the scholar sharply. From that day, Ravidas spent his time, serving Sripada.One day, he saw a king playing with beautiful women in the river. It struck him immediately that one needs to be lucky to be born a king and wished for such a life. Sripada perceiving Ravidas’ thoughts blessed him that he would be born in the Yavana Dynasty as the King of Vaidhurya. He further assured him of His Darshan as Nrisimha Saraswati in that birth. Then the Lord looked at him and smiled and Ravidas passed away then and there itself. I came out of my trance, amazed at seeing all the past, present and future events. Just then, a few people came to behold Sripada. Among them were a Brahmin youth Vallabheshwar Sharma, a Karnataka Brahmin by name Subbanna Shastri and a poor Brahmin. The poor Brahmin requested the Lord to arrange for a suitable groom for his daughter. Sripada comforted him. “Do not worry when I am there to protect you. This Vallabheshwar Sharma is your son-in-law

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and Subbanna Shastri will be the priest. But the souls of the ancestors of Vallabheshwar are suffering and angry as they are not liberated, since their oblations were offered without respect and devotion. Hence, mantras from Garuda Purana should be recited before reading the nuptial mantras to appease and liberate the souls of his forefathers. Only then will the couple live happily. Saying so, Sripada gave a piece of turmeric as Mangalasutram. We crossed the river and reached the village on the other side of the bank. Marriage preparations were made. Subbanna Shastri knew only the nuptial mantras. He meditated upon Sripada and began reciting the mantras. However, much to everyone’s surprise, he was reciting obsequies mantras. Subsequently, he recited nuptial mantras and the wedding concluded in a simple ceremony. The groom tied the piece of turmeric given by Sripada instead of a Mangalasutram. After the wedding was over, we went back to Kuruvapuram to seek the blessings of Sripada for the newly-weds. Swamy blessed us and said to Vallabhesha, “Son, when you were orphaned as a child, your uncles snatched away all your property and ill-treated you. They will be reborn as thieves. In future, you will carry out turmeric business. You will vow that if you gain good profi t, you would go to Kuruvapuram and feed a thousand Brahmins. Even though you earned good money, you will keep postponing your vow. Your uncles, who are born as robbers, will accompany you once, when you are travelling with a lot of money and kill you. Nevertheless, you take my name just before they kill you. I will at once appear and kill them and redeem you. You will then remember your vow and without much ado will feed four thousand Brahmins in Kuruvapuram with devotion and humility.”Sripada’s Motherly Feeling towards Womenfolk Listening to this, the newly wed wife of Vallabhesha started weeping. Sripada consoled her. “Mother, Do not grieve. You will live long with your husband. No harm will come to

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him.” When Sripada was speaking thus, a bell ringing loudly fell at His feet out of nowhere and disappeared immediately. The Lord explaining the incident said, “The bell which you have seen now, travelling through many places and bestowing blessings upon devotees will reach Pithikapuram when Shankar Bhatt completes the 18th chapter of my biography. The same bell will be hung in the grand dominion that will be established there in my name.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Resurrection of Vallabhesh

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Meanwhile, Linganna Shastri, an erudite scholar of Vedas came and joined us, when we were deeply engrossed in chanting the Lord’s name. “I came to Pithikapuram, to offer oblations to my deceased father and my ancestors at Padagaya here.” He began to tell about himself. “Both my grandfather and my father were highly religious but extremely miserly. In spite of being rich, they used to grumble that unnecessary money is being wasted in obsequies for the ancestors and that the guests were eating like gluttons. But I, on my part used to perform all the funeral rituals of my ancestors sincerely, as prescribed in scriptures, befi tting my fi nancial status. “Suddenly, everything began to go wrong in our house. Family members started quarrelling with each other for no reason. Even the most gentle person, would turn violent and abusive, the moment he set foot into our home. My wife causelessly sulked and left for her parents’ house. My son and daughter and their spouses began to ill-treat me. There was no peace of mind for me. Life became a burden. “One day after completing all the work assigned to me, I squatted on the ground and hurriedly dragged the bowl towards me to satiate my hunger and to silence the rumbling of the stomach. I greedily took out one big morsel and was about to thrust it into my mouth, I noticed that it was full of worms and stinking. In utter helplessness I hid my face between my knees pulling them together and sobbed silently. “O God, I have lost everything and every one. There is none to turn to, my Lord, None; Shall I call this a life just because I am alive? I am living because I am not dying. I am not dying because I am scared to commit suicide, lest I may turn into an evil spirit and may harm others. O God, Why me? I don’t fi nd any charm or sweetness in my life which has now become an inescapable

Chapter 19Linganna Shastri & Ganapati Shastri

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burden. Who is my saviour? Whom to turn to? O God, Mercy, Mercy,” I remonstrated my agony to the Unseen. Suddenly, an Avadhoot appeared in front of me. His calm eyes were full of compassion. I felt an unusual closeness to Him, as if I found my long- lost friend, as if I have known him from millions of years. Clutching his feet, I wept like a child. Tears of anguish deep in my heart poured forth in torrents. “Allaying my grief with the tender care of a mother, he gave me halwa to eat. I felt rejuvenated. He then asked me to dig in the northeast corner of our house. We found skeletons of two dogs in that pit. As per the instructions of Avadhoot, I discarded them and poured some ganji48 into the pit, and once again covered it with mud. He turned to me and said that he relieved me of the spell of evil spirits and that my house was purifi ed. He added that gradually our conditions would improve and asked me to leave right away for Padagaya in Pithikapuram. He said that he would meet me again in Pithikapuram and assured me that I would not have any trouble on my way there. “I set out for Pithikapuram immediately without informing anyone. On the way, I met Narasimhappa, owner of a mango grove, who welcomed me affably. He not only offered me food but also gave me a new pair of clothes and some money. He then said, ‘Yesterday night an Avadhoot appeared in my dream and ordered me to be hospitable to a virtuous Brahmin who would pass by my grove tomorrow and give him, clothes and money. I am just doing his bidding.’ I was surprised that just as the Avadhoot promised, I was not facing any problem in my journey to Kuruvapuram. I realised that the Avadhoot was no ordinary person. After resting a while, I renewed my journey wearing the new clothes. En route, I met a Vedic scholar. “You are extremely lucky that you have been invited to Pithikapuram by Sripada Srivallabha

48Also congee or conjee. It is a type of rice porridge or gruel

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himself,” he said gaily and added, “The farmer who extended hospitality to you worked for Subbaramayya Sreshthi, the father of Venkatappayya Sreshti in his previous birth. As he had food at the pious house of Subbaramayya Sreshti, he was reborn as a landlord, leading a luxurious life.” The Vedic scholar then went on to tell about himself. “I am Ganapathi Shastri, a resident of Penugonda, a village in Bruhatshila Nagar. I went to Vayasapuram (Kakinada) to learn the Vedas under a guru there. One day, when I was grazing my guru’s cattle in the fi elds, I saw a ten-year-old handsome cowherd. Noticing that he was wearing the sacred thread, I asked him if he was a Brahmin. Smiling enigmatically, he said, “If you presume that I am a Brahmin, then, you are not mistaken. Nevertheless, that alone is not the truth. If you consider me a Kshatriya, a Vaishya or a Shudra that also is not false, but it is neither the complete truth. I am above and beyond all limitations. I am beyond all that appears as truth or untruth. I am the supreme truth, and the supreme Dharma. If you consider me a male, I behave like a female and vice versa. If you look at me as Ardhanarishwara, I will prove that I am that primordial divine bliss, which existed long before the descent of Ardhanarishwara. How can you know about a person like me?” Listening to his delirious and meaningless prattle, I thought that he must be out of his mind. Before I could recover from his incoherent gibber, he said, ‘I am now talking to Lord Shani. He is telling me that he would shortly harass you by entangling you in a variety of troubles. But I told him that I will swallow all your karma in the form of cow’s milk, and free you from karmic bondage.’ I was awestruck, as according to my horoscope, I was indeed passing through a worst period. The cowherd then went to a barren cow and said, “Gayatri! I am hungry. Will you give me some milk?”

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The cow nodded its head. Its udder at once fi lled with milk, which was spilling all over. He drank the milk with contentment, and went and sat under a mango tree. I could not comprehend how the cowherd knew about my horoscope. I wondered if he really ridded me of my adversities. Thinking in these lines, I turned to look at him. This time there was a ten-year-old beautiful peasant girl with him. They were talking to each other and laughing. At that time, Venkatappayya came there to check on his fi elds. With him was a ten-year- old boy, who looked just like the cowherd. I learnt later that he was Sripada Srivallabha. Even Venkatappayya was taken back seeing the children. Sripada then said, “Those two children are none other than Lord Dattatreya himself, and Goddess Anagha Devi. Both of you are blessed to behold their divine manifestation.” Before our very eyes, the cowherd boy and the peasant girl turned into dazzling light and merged into Sripada. With tears of joy coursing down the cheeks, Sreshthi embraced Sripada endearingly. “My child, may your grace shower ever more upon our dynasty, our family and our Vaishya caste.” “Be it so,” Sripada granted his wish and continued, “During the 33rd generation of your family, a grand dominion will be constructed in my name. I will be an invisible instrument in establishing it. “All obstacles will be dissolved if one participates in any of the auspicious activities conducted in Pithikapuram. The one who worships me in Pithikapuram on the day of Chitta Nakshatra, which is my birth star, will be relieved of debts. Unmarried girls will fi nd able grooms. Sravana Purnima is an auspicious day as Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari ties a rakhi on my wrist on that day. The devotees who are present in Pithikapuram on that day will acquire a lot of punya. “But for the grace of Sripada, I would not have been rid of Shani or would not have witnessed all these wondrous

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events.” Linganna Shastri concluded.Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Kalagnisamana Datta

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Early next morning I went to Kuruvapuram to behold Lord Sripada and to seek His blessings. The Lord was radiating an aura of compassion, purity, peace and holiness. His eyes were calm and gentle. Looking at His resplendent form, I bowed reverently at His feet. The waves of bliss and tranquillity undulating from Him permeated all over my body and took me to an unknown world of spiritual peace. No sooner did I touch His feet than a dark and ugly wraithlike fi gure, which resembled me in appearance, emerged out of my body. “Child,” Sripada spoke to me soothingly, as I staggered in astonishment. “This is your sinful self. Now you are unblemished and virtuous, free from every form of sin. In every human being, sinful and virtuous nature exists. He, who is devoid of both sin and virtue, attains liberation. When one gets the privilege to be born as a Brahmin, one should remain devout and aligned with the sattvic nature and endeavour not only to destroy his sinful side, but should be able to uplift others by virtue of the effect of his meritorious deeds. When a Brahmin accepts Dakshina, he involuntarily takes their sins on himself. He burns those sins in the fi re of adoration and meditation. A Brahmin who leads such a life is a Brahmin in the true sense. Else, he is just a namesake.” Silent for a while, Sripada made a sweeping gesture with His right hand from which a blaze of illumination emerged, bringing forth a Homa (sacrifi cial) fi re surrounded by fruits, fl owers, turmeric, vermilion, ghee etc. Sripada signalled the sinful form, which came out of my body and which appeared exactly like me to jump into the fl aming altar. I went through unbearable and indescribable torture as my deformed alter ego was engulfed in fl ames. I gradually slipped into a state of

Chapter 20Episode of Vissavadhani

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Samadhi. It was a Thursday afternoon. Lord Sripada sat amidst His devotees. Gurucharan, a Padmashali, a weaver by caste came seeking the Darshan of Sripada. After we had Halwa, the special prasadam, I looked expectantly at Gurucharan whose face was lit with an angelic divine smile and who was lost somewhere in his past. He thus shared his experiences with us fi rst singing the glory of the Lord: ‘The formless, attribute less unmanifested form of the Great Conviction which maintains the progress of the creation, sustenance and dissolution has embodied as Lord Dattatreya in ancient times and as Lord Sripada in this age. He is the macrocosmic form of all deities, gods and goddesses. “I was born in a pious and devout family. We are all staunch devotees of Lord Dattatreya, who is our family deity. Suddenly we were deep in a fi nancial crisis and we used to pray to Lord Dattatreya for help. But our troubles kept increasing. We were advised to pray to some other God. Though disinclined at fi rst, I started to give some thought to the advice of the elders. That night I had a dreadful dream, in which I saw a horrendous butcher, with his butcher’s knife. Scathingly reproachful and eyes like daggers, he thundered, “I am Lord Dattatreya. Irrespective of whichever form you worship, it will reach me alone. I will kill you if you lose your faith.” I could no longer sleep. The next day, at dawn a Haridasu49 came to our house. He had a fi g sapling in the Akshaya patra50 on his head. It is generally believed that sending away a ‘Haridas’ without giving alms is a bad omen. So I offered him a fi stful of broken rice that I found in the house.

49A barefoot minstrel who goes from house to house, seeking alms, singing the Lord’s glory, mostly found in Andhra Pradesh, during the festival, Uttarayan/Pongal/ Makara Sankranti.50In this context, a copper pot, which looks like a pumpkin cut fl at, in which the Haridasu collects his alms.

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The Haridasu took the rice and said, “Last night a butcher killed a devotee called Gurucharan. His life force, leaving his body entered into this fi g sapling, which is the abode of Lord Dattatreya. Plant the sapling in your courtyard and take good care of it.” “Sir, I am Gurucharan. I am alive; nobody killed me. I am also a devotee of Lord Dattatreya. I did dream of a butcher, last night, threatening to kill me but it was just a dream. If a person is dead but his corpse is not found, sticks and logs of a fi g tree are arranged in the shape of a person and cremation rituals are performed. But I have never seen or heard of a person’s life force being drawn into the fi g plant, when he is still alive with life force in his body.” I said half confused and half shocked at the Haridas’s revelations. Haridas laughed loudly. “You consider that physical death alone is death? When a person is passing through Maraka yoga, a Satguru gives him a new life by burning out his karma either by infl icting inexplicable pain, causing mental agony, unforeseen troubles, and heavy losses or by making him undergo humiliations. An incarnated soul may resurrect him, subjecting him to trivial problems. However, Lord Dattatreya attracts the life force of such a devotee into the fi g tree and transfers the life force of the tree into him, thus, saving his life. As soon as the Maraka yoga elapses, the life force passed from the fi g tree into the body of the devotee is stabilised within and his life is prolonged for a few more years.” I planted the fi g tree in my courtyard, and nursed it with love and care. If we faced any diffi culty, we would circumambulate the fi g plant and tell our problem to it. Our problem would be resolved in unforeseen ways, amicably. An aged relative, who loved me immensely, and who was into silk business, handed over his business to me as he grew old and did not have any children. He started to live with us. Travelling many places on business, I reached Pithikapuram and went to Bapanarya’s house. Sripada was in

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the backyard, zealously watering a cactus. Bapanarya smiled at him affectionately. “Dear One,” he said, “this plant will grow irrespective of whether you water it or not it.” “Grandpa, this plant is none other than Vissavadhani, who in his previous birth lived in the same street. As he ridiculed and constantly derided all of you, he was reborn as thorny plant befi tting his nature.” Sripada then took me to the cactus, and questioned it, “Vissanna grandpa, Because of your caustic words, you were born as a thorny plant. Gurucharan was your son in your previous birth. Do you want him to perform your obsequies, so that you attain liberation?” We could clearly hear Vissanna’s spirit say ‘O, Merciful Lord, there is no greater fortune than that.’ Obeying the order of Lord Sripada, I uprooted the plant and burnt it in the fi re of fi g tree branches. Sripada instructed me to take a bath. “Vissavadhani was not only born in Pithikapuram, but also beheld me. Hence, though he was undeserving, I blessed him with salvation. No one comes into your life without a karmic link in previous births. Hence, if someone asks for your help, help the person, if it is in your capacity, else, politely decline. One should never be rude or harsh. “I am the root of all existence. I am the supreme truth, the truth of all truths. I am the Brahman mentioned in the Upanishads as Satyam-Jnanam- Anantam Brahma - pure being, pure consciousness, and infi nity. The Supreme Brahman has no limits. He is eternal and full of knowledge.” “The Devi Bhagwata Mahapurana suggests that Adi Parashakti is the active energy, the original creator, sustainer and destroyer of the whole universe. She is the Eternally Limitless Power, and the source of all other gods and goddesses. She created the Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara and their Trishakti-consorts Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati

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respectively. Then who are you?” A puzzled Bapanarya inquired. “Adiparashakti and I are one and the same. I am the Great Conviction that led Adiparashakti to the creation of the Trinity and Trishaktis. The great Guru is the manifestation of that great conviction. “As I reside in all the beings, I take their bad karma onto myself and burn it in the fi re of my penance, thus helping them to evolve and elevate. As a matter of fact, there is no need for me to perform any penance. Nevertheless, I undertake penance to distribute the punya thus acquired, among my devotees. Therefore, I am Adi Guru, the Primordial Guru. Just as one’s children are heirs to their parents’ property, similarly the disciples are the rightful heirs of the fruits of austerity (tapa) of the Guru. “I am Smrutimatra Prasanna, one who is pleased just by mere remembrance. I am easily appeased. I respond immediately to the call of devotees. If a devotee takes one step towards me, I take 100 steps towards him. I will protect him and shield him from all harm,” Sripada answered with enchanting smile. Just as Gurucharan completed his narration, Lord Sripada came out of His yoga nidra. He blessed us and instructed, “Go to Manchala51 village beyond the Krishna River and receive the graceful blessings of the deity there. In future the Manchala village will become a famous pilgrimage spot because of Sajeeva Samadhi52 of a great person, whose divine play will be wondrous. “Dear Son! Shankar Bhatt! After a few centuries, an organisation will be established in my name. Idols of My 51Present day Mantralayam, in Kurnool District, in Andhra Pradesh, India, the abode of Raghavendra Swamy, who is none other than Prahlada.52A great soul, by his spiritual practices, fi xes his mind on the Absolute and stops the physical function. His body never shows any signs of decay, even after thousands of years as the magnetic force of body works as life force.

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incarnations of Dattatreya, Sripada and Nrisimha Saraswati will be installed. My Padukas will be instated in the temple under the Audumbara (fi g) tree at my birthplace. Behold!” Saying thus, He touched us between the eyebrows. We were enthralled to witness the spectacular spectacle and felt blessed. “A Brahmin of Vasishtha lineage will become the priest of my temple.”The Lord said in conclusion.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Raghavendra Swami

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Obeying the orders of Sripada, we set out to Manchala. “Lord Sripada said that a person born in Vasishtha lineage will become the priest in His temple. I wonder who that blessed person might be and when he will come.” I expressed my thought to Gurucharan. Gurucharan replied, “It is His conviction that a virtuous person should be a priest in His temple. But it will not happen as soon as the temple is established. Initially, the place and the atmosphere should be purifi ed with sincere and devout meditation, prayers, worship, chanting of sacred mantras and with rites and rituals. Thus purifi ed, the place will emanate and transmit pure thought vibrations in all the directions of the universe, which in turn attract pious and righteous people. That is when the command of the Lord will be fulfi lled. The ether is fi lled with both good and bad vibrations, attracting like-minded people. Hence, one should nurture healthy and positive thoughts, and associate with pious people. Money or food should be accepted only from honest people. At the same time, arrogance takes one away from the blessings of God.” Gurucharan continued, “I, along with four friends, once went to Puri to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath. In the temple, we saw Lord Sripada in the place of the idol of Lord Jagannath. Thus, we were silently enlightened that He alone is the form of all gods and goddesses. Just then, Dandi Swami arrived there with the entourage of his 108 disciples. We touched his feet, with the customary gesture of respect. No sooner did we touch his feet, than the swami lost his speech. We prayed to Lord Sripada and he regained his voice back. The angry disciples of swami vowed that they with their guru would come to Pithikapuram and prove to everyone that Sripada is just a necromancer who

Chapter 21Dandi Swami

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controlled the speech of their guru with his black magic. Few days later, Dandi Swami came to Pithikapuram. He was welcomed with pomp and gaiety. Dandi Swami went to the Kukkuteswara temple and had the Darshan of Swayambhu Datta and other deities. “Lord Datta has chosen me to shoulder the responsibility of humbling the pride of Sripada who boasts to be the epitome of Lord Dattatreya. The charlatan Sripada has to seek public apology, accepting his deceit, by prostrating at my feet, along with his father and grandfather. They have to handover the idol of Kalagnishamana Datta which they have been worshipping for generations together, and should undergo the punishment given by me,” Dandi Swami arrogantly asserted. Dandi Swami with his entourage of disciples, old and new, set out to enter into the village amidst the recital of Vedic hymns and mantras. While walking it appeared as if the ground underneath was stretching itself, and no matter how much he walked, he was still at the same place. His staff then fell to the ground and broke into two. With that, Dandi Swami dropped to the ground as if his spine broke. Everyone present there, was fi lled with fear.Destruction of Moha (Attachment) Is Moksha Meantime, Abbanna, a snake charmer came to Sripada’s house. Sripada said to him, “Go along with Madiga53 Subbayya to Kukkuteswara temple with a pot full of water and curd rice. Convey my message to them that ‘baseless accusations will lead to taking birth as a demon. Sprinkle water from your pot on those who want to stay clear of such a birth,’ and ask Subbayya to distribute them curd rice from his pot, as prasadam.” Abbanna and Subbayya went to the temple and brought everyone along with them. “Dandi Swami,” Sripada shouted, quivering with wrath, “What insolence! You are not willing

53A low caste, people born in this caste were considered untouchable.

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to recognise the same Lord Datta, whom you have been worshipping, who has descended in human form and is in front of you. I am like a fi re tornado and playing with it is tantamount to peril. Nothing in this creation exists without my conviction and no organism exists without my identity. You exist and the creation exists due to my existence. Do not entangle yourself in the delusive bond of disciples. Go to the Himalayas leaving your disciples behind, and perform penance.” The chided Dandi Swami retired meekly. We reached Manchal village. At the temple, we were sanctifi ed with the divine manifestation of the village deity. The village deity, with motherly affection, offered us Prasadam with Her own hands. “Lord Dattatreya who preached Guru Tattva to Prahlada is born as Sripada. Prahlada will descend in the form of Guru Sarvabhouma and this place will become famous as Mantralayam.” The gentle Mother’s refulgent form vanished. Krishna Das, a Mala Dasari54 joined us on our return journey. During our conversation, Krishna Das apprised us, “The numbers 16, 116 and 1116 are called as Shodasadi Tridakshina. It is said that the one, who gives Tridakshina, attains Brahma Gnana. With this type of donation, one gets punya and results equal to the donation of body, mind and soul.” Krishna Das then narrated an unusual incident. “Once, Narasimha Varma slept, resting his head in Sripada’s lap in their fi elds. Suddenly many cobras came there. Sripada separated their hoods from their trunks and threw them aside. Then large ants started gathering. Fearing that His grandfather’s sleep would be disturbed, Sripada killed all the ants. When Varma woke up from his sleep, he felt pity looking at the dead ants.

54The name of this Dalit community is derived from the words Mala -agricultural labour, and Dasari – a servant in the service of the deity, Lord Vishnu. The community is also known as Bokkullu. Their main livelihood was singing bhajans and kirtans to the Vaishnavite communities and selling religious materials.

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A smilet played on Sripada’s lips. “A Monarch has to protect his subjects. Look here it comes!” He said pointing to a large white ant crawling near to the dead ants. It circumambulated around the dead ants, and all at once, they came back to life. Sripada continued, “This king has the power of Sanjivani, because of which it could bring back its subjects to life. The world is full of many mystifying things, Grandpa! If you wish, I can show you many such things.” Narasimha Varma then was awestruck seeing the dead cobras. He understood that Sripada was responsible for it. Sripada attached the hood of one cobra with the body of another and granted them life. They circumambulated Sripada and went away. Sripada explained, “If the Rahu planet is weak in one’s horoscope, then the person faces obstacles in each and every thing that he does; he feels suffocated as if he was caught in the strong grip of a python. This is known as Kalasarpa yoga. The planet Rahu is the ruling planet of snakes. By performing this type of task, I protect my devotees from the malefi c effects of Rahu.” We reached Kuruvapuram. Sripada smiled at us in blessing.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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One day an astrologer called Gurudatta Bhatt came to behold Sripada. I asked, “Sir! Does everything happen as per the predictions of astrology, or is it possible to alter the effects? Is the life of a human being, determined by the Karmic fl ux of previous births, or can it be controlled by his efforts?” Gurudatta Bhatt obligingly explained. “A person is born in an auspicious or inauspicious planetary position depending upon his past karma be it meritorious or de-meritorious. Planets, as such do not have either hatred or fondness towards any human being. However, they work in accordance with one’s karmic qualifi cations. They emanate rays and vibrations that have the power to affect certain events in a person’s life, in a particular way. If the effects are malefi c, one should be equipped to confront such situations to mitigate, limit or nullify those rays and vibrations, depending upon their intensity. This is possible only by the positive and propitious vibrations gained through the power of mantras, meditation, prayers, or one’s own yogic power. The workings of one’s karma or the effects of planets on a person’s life can be manipulated by the intervention of such divine wisdom. Nevertheless, if the karmic fl ux of previous births is very strong, then none of the above-mentioned methods will work. In such critical circ*mstances, only Sripada can change our fate. The overwhelming fl ood of love and compassion surging out of His heart for His devotees makes those planetary deities powerless. “I will tell you an incident from my own life, Gurudatta continued. Though I was an ardent devotee of Lord Dattatreya, I was arrogant that I was a profound scholar in astrology. So, when I came to know about Sripada declaring himself as Lord Dattatreya, the embodiment of Trinity, I laughed derisively thinking Him to be foolish braggart. I even mocked that Sripada is like the idol of Swayambhu Datta idol which has no pulse

Chapter 22Sripada adjusts the Horoscope of His Devotees

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and no heartbeat. One day, when I sat in meditation in front of the idol of Lord Swayambhu Datta, at the Kukkuteswar temple in Padagaya, a voice spoke to my inner consciousness. “Fool! Are you aware that you have been dead for a while now?” “I tried to ignore the voice, but I kept hearing it repeatedly. Finally, I abandoned my meditation and sat down to calculate my horoscope. I realised that I should have left my mortal body, on that very day, at the exact time when I was meditating before Swayambhu Datta. I could not hear my heart beat, or feel my pulse. When I looked into a mirror, I could see my own dead face. Shocked to the point of death, I ran to Sripada’s house. 10-year-old Sripada came out and berated harshly, “You imbecile! With your superfi cial knowledge, you have ridiculed me. What you have uttered about me has come to pass to you. I took away your life force, but retained your thirst and hunger. You appear to be alive, but the truth is that you are dead.” Sumati Maharani, who came out, took one look at me and shrieked, “Who is this horrid looking Aghori55?” “Mother! He is not an Aghori yet.” Sripada told his terrifi ed mother and asked her, “Is there some tarvani56 for him to eat?” “His mother gave me, the Tarvani she kept aside for Sripada. I ate the food near Kukkuteswara temple. As soon as I ate the food, I got rid of my plight. I sought the blessings and His forgiveness of Sripada and left for my village. “Son! Shankara! But for the grace of Sripada, I who listened to hearsay and derided Him would have been born as an Aghori. By offering me food through the hands of the

55The Aghoris or Aghoras are a Shaivite Hindu sect ascetics, who are known for their extreme and grotesque violations of customs and traditions and unorthodox taboo rituals. They are known to engage in ritual cannibalism on the dead.56Rice gruel soured in an earthen pot by fermentation.

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virtuous mother Sumathi57 at His home, He saved me from falling deep into a moat of misfortune. “Let me tell you one more incident. Gurudatta went on. I was more than happy to listen to the enthralling stories of Sripada. “One day during conversation Bapanarya said with Sripada that one should always speak the truth and should never lie. The same afternoon Sreshthi came to Bapanarya’s house, and invited him for lunch on Mahalaya Amavasya and asked him to accept Dakshina on that day. Bapanarya agreed. However, both of them forgot about the whole issue. On the day of Mahalaya Amavasya, Sripada reminded them of the promise they made to each other. Both of them felt sorry for their mistake. Sripada consoled them. “I made both of you forget your promise. It is not your mistake. Every individual is enveloped in the inherent feeling of I and me. It is inherited from parent to child. Thus making, it a hereditary karmic bond. If one renounces family life and joins ascetic order, he gets liberated form these bonds. However, it is not necessary that a promise made should be fulfi lled in this birth itself and between both of you alone. Sometimes the promise may be kept in the forthcoming times or births, at any time or place by your descendants, even without their knowledge, as a chance incident. So, according to physical time this event should have happened on Mahalaya Amavasya, but as it did not take place, this event is postponed to a remote future. One has to undergo the inviolable law of karma. Nevertheless, with the grace of a Sadguru, the malicious effects of karma get nullifi ed at a Yoga kala, and at a Yoga Desa- favourable time and favourable place respectively, in the present life itself.

57Even the cruel demon transformed into a righteous soul after partaking food prepared by chaste Sushila and offered by Pious and selfl ess Vishnudatta in their previous birth. (Datta Darshanam)

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In the light of the previous words of Sripada, Gurudatta went to narrate another wonderful story. Narasimha Varma had a help by name Shivayya. One day, all of a sudden, he started behaving in a bizarrely disoriented manner. “I am the creator, sustainer and destroyer of this universe. The entire creation originates within me, emerges from me and once again merges within me.” He chattered nonsensically, fl inging his arms in meaningless gestures. Narasimha Varma took pity on him and asked Sripada to make him sane again. Sripada took him to the burial ground and arranging the wood of fi g tree like a funeral pyre, made Shivayya burn it. Shivayya became sober. Sripada explained the karmic law of cause and effect to the dumbstruck Narasimha Varma who witnessed the entire drama. “Grandfather, There is nothing strange or improbable in what just happened. A scholar-devotee of Lord Dattatreya lived in the city of Vayasapuram. When he heard about me, he developed deep-rooted hostility and antagonism towards me as he thought that people fancied about an infant being considered as his cherished Lord Dattatreya. As he died with animosity in his heart, he turned into a ghoulish spirit. In one of his previous births, Shivayya was in debt to the scholar. Hence, he possessed Shivayya. I created this moment as yoga time, converted the crematorium as yoga place, and made him perform the cremation using the wood of the fi g tree as yoga karma, simultaneously liberating the scholar- ghoul and protecting Shivayya from the disembodied evil spirit of the scholar.” There is no hard and fast rule that a planetary effect should take place at a certain time in a certain place. The yoga time, place and karma may be altered by the conviction of Sripada. Yoga time, yoga place and yoga karma are nothing but the Supreme Lord’s conviction, to alter the effects of a devotee’s karmic causal nexus to a time, place and method of

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His choice. “Once when Sreshthi was about to break a coconut to offer it to the deity, Sripada took it from his hand and broke it. Instead of coconut water, blood came from it. Then Sripada explained, “Grandfather, today you were supposed to have received a grievous life-threatening head injury. However, I transferred the time and place of that deed into this coconut and saved you.” “Thus Sripada can alter the astrological indications or karmic destiny of His adherents, burn their karma to ashes and redeem them.” As it was dusk, we crossed and went to Kuruvapuram on the other bank of Krishna River.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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I met Dharmagupta, a merchant who was also a relative of Venkatappayya Sreshthi, at the shore of river Krishna at Panchadev Pahad. So far, all the people met narrated some extraordinary event illustrating the glory of Sripada. Strange as it may sound, His divine instances hitherto were divulged to me, a piece at a time, in a chronological order, commencing right from His birth till His 10th year. Walking along with Dharmagupta, I was wondering what this noble merchant would narrate. “Shankar Bhatt,” Dharmagupta began. “I am a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. When Sripada was about11 years old, a Shiva yogi came to Pithikapuram. He had no possessions of a mendicant, not even a begging bowl. He used to take alms in his palms. He always remained joyful, intoxicated with divine love. He ceaselessly chanted the Shiva Panchakshari58 mantra. The Shiva Yogi entered the Kukkteshwara temple. Two cobras accompanied him. The priests and the devotees were frightened. However, he pacifi ed them saying that they are the jewels of Lord Shiva and would do no harm. He asked the priest to continue Namakam59 and Chamakam60. The cobras swayed their hoods to the rhythmic utterance of the hymns. Suryachandra Shastri, a sincere and devout priest took the yogi to the house of Bapanarya. Sripada fed him with His own hands and enumerated the transcendental nature of Lord Shiva: ‘In truth, Shiva has no form at all. Shiva Lingam is nothing but the light, which illuminates in our hearts. The Sphatika, the crystal Lingam refl ects the purity of the heart and

58A fi ve-syllable mystic mantra of Lord Shiva, starting with each syllable of His name, (Na-mah-si-va-ya) in the same order. One can chant the mantra without knowing its meaning and still benefi t from it.59Namakam, the heart of Yajur Veda are hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.60Chamakam is also an epithet taken from Yajur Veda in praise of Lord Shiva.

Chapter 23Shiva Yogi

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the soul. It represents the Nirguna Brahman or the attribute less Supreme Self or formless and attribute less Shiva. Kapali, the skull represents the revolution of time and the appearance and disappearance of the human race, the perpetual revolution of ages. Rudra jadas, the matted hair represent the veins that stretch from brain downwards. With the begging bowl that He holds, Lord Shiva destroys the sins of the humankind by seeking and accepting alms from them. Joyfully dancing to the rhythm of the great vibrations of creation, sustenance and destruction, He is Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. His name as Chidambaram is derived from chit - consciousness, and ambaram - sky or ether. It refers to the sky of consciousness (self-realisation), which one should attain. The twelve traditional Jyotirlingas represent the twelve signs of the zodiac. Hence, He is called Kalaswarupa, the Epitome of Time. The fi ve elements are His fi ve faces. The fi ve sense organs, the fi ve organs of knowledge and the heart put together are the Ekadasa Rudra Kalas (eleven). He is called Tripurantaka as He destroyed Tripura, the three space cities of the demon-king Tarakasura. The third eye represents wisdom. The sacred Ganges is the purity and sanctity that radiates from His body while he is in meditation. Mithuna Rasi (Gemini) is the symbol of the form of the primordial couple, Shiva and Parvathi. Only after crossing Vrishabha Rasi (Taurus, Bull) it is possible to reach Mithuna Rasi. Similarly, to approach Shiva and Parvati, one has to cross Nandi, the Vrishabha (bull) fi rst. His Arthanariswara form is a composite male-female fi gure of Himself and His consort representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. I listened to the words of Dharmagupta, engulfed in the waves of rapture.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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I asked Dharma Gupta if the weapons and ornaments of Lord Shiva indicate any transcendental meaning and to shed light on those aspects. “The three prongs of His Trishul, the Trident symbolises the deity’s transcendence over the three Gunas, the dispositions, the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas61. It is an emblem of sovereignty. He rules the world through these three Gunas. They indicate His three fundamental powers - Ichcha, Gnana and Kriya- Will, Knowledge and Power of Action respectively. The Trishul symbolises the balance of the three forces of preservation, creation and destruction. Further, they represent the junction of the nadis, three major currents or energy at the base of the spine- Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.The shaft or the central pole symbolises the central channel of Sushumna, through which the Kundalini Shakti or creative divine energy ascends to unite with Lord Shiva in the thousand-petaled lotus of the Sahasrara or Crown Chakra. The point at which these three vital energies unite is the centre of knowledge known as Triveni Sangamam or Confl uence of three holy powers. A small hourglass-shaped drum, Damaru, tied to the Trishul, with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolises two entirely dissimilar states of existence: unmanifest and manifest. The Damaru produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together to create the cosmic sound, Sabda Brahman, the Pranava Nadam - Aum. Shiva is called Nagabharana as He adorns himself with a snake around His neck indicating the awakening of

Chapter 24Transcendental Aspects of Lord Shiva

61Gunas are the mental temperaments: tamas or inactive, rajas or active and sattva or transactive. Tamas is the state of lethargy, indolence and indifference. A person steeped in tamas lives a dull, inactive life, with hardly any response to the world. Rajas is the state of passionate, desirous and agitated thoughts. Sattva is the state of thoughts in equanimity, serenity, objectivity detachment from worldly activities. Every individual possesses all three gunas.

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Kundalini, cosmic energy coiled and slumbering in man. The three coils of the snake represent the cycle of time – the past, present and future, symbolising His transcendence over the cycles of creation and time. He is Trilochana or Tryambaka Deva, the three-eyed Lord. His right and left eyes are the sun and moon respectively, while His third eye is the eye of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. The third eye represents an awakened Agna chakra, the spiritual enlightenment, the power of cognition to perceive past, present and future. The tiger skin, which He sits on or wears, symbolises potential energy. He is the source of the creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe. Of His own Divine Will, the Lord activates the potential form of the creative energy to project the universe in endless cycles. The tiger also represents lust, and His draping of the tiger skin, indicates that He has conquered lust. Mother Ganges at the top of His head symbolises the perennial fl ow of pure consciousness. The crescent moon in His long knotted hair signifi es the cyclical nature of the universe; the waxing and waning of the moon through which creation evolves. Furthermore, it also indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly. Every person possesses both the male and female aspects. The male energy fl ows in the right side of the body and the female energy on the left. Ardhanarishvara represents the fusion of masculine and feminine energies of the universe-Purusha and Prakriti and exemplifi es how Shakti, the female aspect of God, is inseparable from Shiva, the male aspect of God. The union of these aspects is the very core of all creation. Besides this form indicates the cycle of time which consists inseparable and interdependent pairs, like day and night, dawn and dusk, no moon and full moon days, spring and autumn, etc.

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Shiva is Laya Karaka, the Divine Destroyer. His destruction is not negative. He destroys in order to renew and regenerate. Hence, it is positive and constructive destruction that is necessary to build and transform life and energy in the world, and to restore the order of the universe. All that has a beginning, by necessity must have an end. So, by destruction, nothing is actually destroyed other than the illusion of individuality. Thus, the power of destruction associated with Lord Shiva has great purifying power, both on personal and universal levels. He is the cause of dissolution implying the destruction of the ego, the false identifi cation with the form and the shedding of old habits and attachments. When one totally obliterates desires and passions in the fi re of penance, a desire less, blissful state is achieved and one experiences liberation, whilst living. For such a person, there is no rule of time or place. He attains Brahma Gnana in perfect form. This is the underlying meaning of Smashana Vaasi, the dweller of the crematory. He is free from all bonds and His heart is the cremation ground where all passions have been burnt away. It also symbolises that He is the controller of death. Since birth and death are cyclic, controlling one implies controlling the other too. Thus, Shiva is the ultimate controller of birth and death in this phenomenal world. Tripurandras, the three parallel-horizontal stripes of Vibhuti, the sacred ash on His forehead personifi es the three activities of God – Creation, Sustenance and Destruction, which in turn represents the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Thus theTripurandras signify the Supreme God himself. Vibhuti, the holy ash signifi es purity and the burning away signifi es trimuktis or the soul’s release from the three bonds: anava, the ego consciousness, the sense of I, me and mine; karma, the cycle of cause and effect, and Maya, the delusion, a veiling of the true Self. Maha Shivaratri means the great night consecrated to Lord Shiva. Maha Shivaratri falls on Magha Bahula

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Chaturdashi i.e. the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Magha (February–March). It is considered very auspicious if Maha Shivaratri falls on a Tuesday, and Shani Trayodasi, the thirteenth lunar day of any phase, falls on a Saturday. As Lord Shiva is the Adhidevata, the patron deity of Saturn, one can get rid of the malignant effects of Saturn, the deity of Karma by venerating Lord Shiva at Pradosha (twilight) time, on a Shani Trayodasi day. Lord Shiva is personifi ed as one with fi ve faces; four of the fi ve look in the four directions while the fi fth looks upward. Sadyojata faces west, represents the creativity of Shiva and earth element. Vamadeva faces north, represents water element and the preserving and healing nature of Shiva. Aghora faces south represents the destructive and regeneration aspect of Shiva and fi re element. Tatpurusha looks east, represents air and ego aspect of Shiva. The copper face looking upward is Ishana represents the space and Ishwara aspect. Accordingly, the Pancha Bhuta, the fi ve elemental Lingams should be worshipped by the devotees to purify the mind, body and soul. Ekambeshwar, the Prithvi Lingam at Kanjivaram (T. N) is associated with Muladhara, the base chakra. Jambukeshwar or Appulingeshwar, the water Lingam, at Jambukesvaram, Tiruchirapalli (T. N) is associated with Swadhishthana, the Sacral Chakra. Runa means sin, Aruna means without sin, the one who destroys sin is Arunachaleshwar. Arunachaleswar, in Tiruvannamalai (T. N) is Tejo Lingam and is associated with the Manipuraka, the Solar Plexus Chakra.

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Kalahastishwar in Kalahasti (A. P) is worshipped as the Vayu Lingam, and is linked with the Anahata, the heart Chakra. Koppu Lingeshwar at Chidambaram (T. N) is worshipped as Akasha Lingam and is associated with Vishuddha, the throat Chakra. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped in the formless form.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Mode of worship of Lord Shiva and Its results I inquired Dharmagupta to explain how to worship Lord Shiva and the related rituals. Dharmagupta elaborated. “There are different gods, goddesses that we pray to. Each one is merely a different aspect of the Supreme Brahman. A particular deity is appeased in a particular way. For instance, Vishnu is Alankara Priya. He is said to like adornments and being offered fl owers, garlands and perfumes. The Divine Mother is Stotra Priya. She likes to hear the chanting of Her hymns and to be worshipped with fl owers, vermilion and turmeric. The Moon God is Arghya Priya. He likes to be honoured by the offering of water. The Sun God is propitiated by Namaskaras - reverent obeisance, Lord Ganesha by the offering of Modakas (a type of sweetmeat) and the God of Fire with the oblation of clarifi ed butter. Lord Shiva is Abhisheka Priya. He likes being bathed with water, milk, sugarcane juice, honey, clarifi ed butter, sacred ash, etc., amidst chants and mantras. Chanting Shiva Panchakshari Mantra is the fi rst method to worship Lord Shiva. Mahanyasa62 is the second and performing Rudrabhishekam is the third. The Panchakshari Mantra is the very essence of Shiva, constituting the power of the universe, the fi ve primordial elements, and directly stimulates the chakras in the body of the devotee. The Mantra is described as fi ve- angled star. The mantras for these fi ve angles are of two types. While some liberate the soul from the transmigration cycle, others bestow wealth and riches. As the fi ve syllables in the Mantra constitute the fi ve elements, the Lord is worshipped with fi ve types of

Chapter 25Signifi cance of Rudraksh

62The word ‘Nyasa’ means placing; the worshipper touches various parts of the body pronouncing a mantra and visualizing a deity. Nyasa is supposed to divinize the body of the worshipper. Mahanyasa – the great nyasa – is recited to purify the body, mind and soul of all the impurities. Normally it is recited before performing the Rudrabhishekam of Lord Shiva.

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offerings: Sandalwood paste for the earth element, coconut water for water element, lighting of lamp for fi re, offering lighted incense sticks, which permeate fragrance for air, and the reverberating sound of the bell for the sky. Devotees, who focus their attention on the fi ve letters of Shiva Panchakshari and the relative, the transcendental natures, will be blessed with the vision of the fi ve elements in fi ve different colours: Silver (water) Red (fi re), Earth (Yellow) Blue (sky) and Pure White (ether). This fi ve- coloured light that appears shining between the eyebrows, i.e. in Kutastha Chaitanya, during the devout chanting of Shiva Panchakshari, is called as Sandhyopasana. Chanting of Mantras, knowledge of the Pancha Tattvas, Yoga Sadhana, the communion of vital life force, with one’s body mind and soul, and complete self- surrender are the means of spiritual empowerment, which help to abate and obliterate physical and the egoistic I consciousness, to metamorphose the body into a sanctum sanctorum, and to become one with Lord Shiva himself. Thus, the soul is liberated eternally. If a devotee aspires to elevate himself to this blissful state, he has to chant Panchakshari Mantra incessantly, worship Shiva along with Mahanyasa and perform Rudrabhishekam.”Description of Rudrakshas A devotee of Lord Shiva must wear beads of Rudraksha. Different coloured Rudraksha are associated with different castes, like white Rudraksha belongs to Brahmin race and are seldom found. Red and honey coloured belong to Kshatriya race, those of tamarind seed colour are of Vaishya race and black belong to Shudra race. When worn according to one’s caste, the Rudraksha bestows benefi cial results, annihilates sin, and fulfi ls just desires. Rudraksha drowns when dropped in either water or milk. Weightless and tender Rudraksha should not be worn. A Rudraksha is considered of good quality if it rotates clockwise,

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when placed between two copper coins. Those that rotate anti-clockwise are of substandard quality, and have negative energy. If a householder wears such Rudraksha, he will be infl icted with poverty, separation from spouse, familial feuds, etc. Nevertheless, ascetics can wear them. Five to sixteen-faced Rudraksha are widely and easily available. Single-faced Rudraksha symbolises Lord Shiva and double-faced one represents Ardhanariswar. A three-faced Rudraksha is symbolic of the God of Fire, the four-faced of Lord Brahma, fi ve-faced of Kalagni Rudra, six-faced of Lord Kartikeya, seven-faced of Manmatha, - the God of Love and eight-faced of Rudra Bhairava. The nine-faced Rudraksha, which is very hard to obtain, as it is very rare, jointly represents Bhairava Yama (Lord of Righteousness and Death) and Sage Kapila. The signifi cance of this Rudraksha is that it is empowered with nine powers- powers of Vidya (Learning), Gyana (Knowledge), Kriya (action), Nama (Fame), Shanta (Peace), Jyeshtha, Roudra, Anga and Pashyanti. The ten-faced Rudraksha is Lord Vishnu and the eleven-faced Rudraksha manifests as an ansh of Rudra himself. The twelve-faced represents Dwadasa Adityas, the 12 different facets of Sun God. Thus, there is a close relation between Rudrakshas and different deities. “Sripada Srivallabha comprehends in His conscious body the transcendental nature of Lord Ganesh, the leader of Pravritti and Nivritti ganas of nature. Hence, He represents the form of 330 million gods and goddesses. Besides no single atom or sub-atomic particles can either stir or move without His prior conviction. He is the causal form that acts as the root cause of all the motions in the universe. He is the dormant cause of all the causes. If one comprehends Him in the form of Shiva, He appears as Vishnu and if one perceives him as Vishnu, He takes the guise of Shiva. So only when the devotee abates his logical and argumentative nature and surrenders himself with total submission then only He reveals His original

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form.” Thus Dharmagupta elucidated the methods of worship of Lord Shiva and the quintessence of Rudraksha beads and their signifi cance. He also accompanied me to Kuruvapuram to behold the sacred Darshan of Sripada Srivallabha, the Lord of Universe. We prostrated at Sripada’s feet in obeisance and sat in meditation for some time. After some time, as it was time for sunset, Sripada asked us to cross the River Krishna and go to Panchadev Pahad. We obeyed His orders. We spent that night conversing devoutly about Sripada and His divine plays. Listening to the euphonious chanting of Digambara Digambara! Sripada Srivallabha Digambara!, from a remote distance we slowly slipped into sleep.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Early next morning, we came back to Kuruvapuram and paid obeisance to Sripada. Dharma Gupta humbly requested Sripada to enumerate about Kali Yuga and its characteristics. “Dear Sons, Kala – time, is the Divine cosmic form of the Supreme. Samvatsara, the year is also known as Samvatsara Purusha. A Samvatsara comprises of several tiny constituents of time, broadly classifi ed into Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. Narayana Upanishad describes Lord Vishnu as the Time – Kalascha Narayanah. Thus, time is reckoned as Lord Vishnu who is known as Kalatma- the Soul of Time. Hence, some worship Kala Purusha as the embodiment of Lord Maha Vishnu. The body of Kala Purusha is divided into 12 limbs or months. The Dwadasakshari Mantra (12-syllabled mantra) represents one syllable for each month. It exalts the glory of Kala Purusha. It is also known as Dwadashakshari Vidya. A yogi fi nds this time cycle in his body itself. According to this Vidya, the body is considered as Brahmand, the thought centre in the brain as Brahma Loka, navel as Vishnu Loka and the heart as Rudra Loka. Further, the yogi visualises the six chakras in his body as six seasons.63 This Vidya is also known as Raja Yoga Vidya. “Janyu deities reside in the sem*n. They transfer the karmic effects of previous generations of their lineage to the next generation and make them undergo the effects. These deities also known as Pitru Devatas accept the obsequies offered to the ancestors and personally offer these libations, there by liberating them. Pitrudevatas are the Janyu deities and not our dead ancestors, as commonly believed. Time plays a crucial role in handing over the Karmic effects from one generation to another.

Chapter 26Kala Purusha

63The Hindu calendar has six seasons. Vasant, Grishma, Varsha, Sharad, Hemant and Shishir– Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Winter and, Winter and Fall.

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“Catastrophic disasters due to natural calamities like fl oods, earthquakes, etc., deviation in the orbit of the planets, unexplained darkness during day, and appearance of massive comets are some of the characteristics that portend the end of Kali Yuga.” “During the last phase of Dwapara Yuga, Sanatana Vedic Dharma - the eternal truth of life, was shining in a blaze of glory. The Dharma of Kali Yuga is immorality, treachery, and disbelief in the existence of God. Kala Purusha, the personifi cation of Kali Yuga was fi nding it impossible to spread immorality, as people were righteous. He performed a penance to the Supreme Lord underneath a western sea for thousands of years. When the pleased Lord appeared in front of him, Kala Purusha questioned Him. “Lord! People everywhere are adhering to the scriptural injunctions and leading pious lives. How can I follow my duty to spread immorality in the minds of people, when Dharma is shining like fi re in every direction?” The Supreme Lord in reply said, “As long as I am on earth in a human form (as Krishna), it is impossible for you to spread evil. However, as it is your duty to spread evil I grant you the power to infl uence the minds of people after I leave my mortal frame. On a distant land, are two people Adama and Havyavati. They are siblings, virtuous by birth. Try to provoke and infl uence their minds to indulge in incest. Since it is a sin for a man to breed with his sister, they will fall from my grace, if they comply. Thereupon, they will become progenitors of the Mleccha race (the non-aryan or non- vedic race). This race will not follow the Vedas. They will eat uncouth food without any regulations. Not being able to control their senses, they will indulge in forbidden relationships not sparing even mothers and sisters. Since they are sinful in nature, you will be able to spread evil in the era that follows by largely infl uencing their minds. However, I will not abandon them. I will continue to affi rm my existence revealing the Sanatana Dharma, (Eternal

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or Divine Law), to the sincere spiritual seeker, no matter how sinful they are64.” Sripada paused for a minute; then concluded solemnly. “I have to descend in the form of Kalki and re-establish Satya Yuga destroying all the vicious and immoral people.” Dharma Gupta expressed his wish to know about Mother Vasavi. “Kusuma Sreshthi, a vassal king ruled a kingdom consisting of 18 cities, with Brihatshila Nagar as his capital. The King under the guidance of the royal priest Bhaskaracharya performed Putra Kameshti Yaga (a religious ritual to have progeny) and was blessed with twins; a boy Virupaksha was born with theAnsh of Nandishwara, and a girl Vasavi Kanyaka Parameshwari. Vaishya Swamis of 714 gotras lived in his kingdom. However, out of them, 102 families who more strictly adhered to their Dharma were known as Arya Vaishyas. They worshipped Goddess Parameshwari.” Sripada then said, “Tomorrow is the birthday of my sister Vasavi. I wish to hold an assembly in Panchadev Pahad. So, leave at once for Panchadev Pahad and construct a small house of reeds there. I will defi nitely elucidate the glory of Vasavi tomorrow.” “So long as the devotee does not forget Datta, He too will never ignore His children. Forsaking and forgetting Him is equal to death. Constant recollection of His name will bestow inexplicable bliss and joy, apart from sanctifying and elevating the soul.” These were the parting words of Lord Sripada for the day.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

64This story is mentioned in the Prathisarga Parva of Bhavishya Purana, one of the eighteen major Hindu Puranas. It is written in Sanskrit and by Rishi Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas and contains prophecies regarding the future.

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We reached Panchadev Pahad and started looking for a place to build the hut. Not knowing what to do and where to begin, as we were new to the area, we wandered aimlessly. After some time, we reached a small clearing in the fi elds. The farmer there was building a cowshed. He told us that his name was Virupaksha. Inviting us cordially, he offered us food. Even while we were speculating whether to eat the food offered by a low caste or not, he coerced us to eat. He then snatched all the money that Dharma Gupta had. Meanwhile some Mylaras65 and Viramushtis66 came there. These people sing the glory of Kanyaka Parameswari, the family deity of Vaishya community in ceremonies in their homes. The Viramushtis were the soldiers of King Vishnu Vardhan. Some of these soldiers, who were the devotees of Vasavi Kanyaka, fought against their king as they felt that it was unbecoming for the aged and already married king, to want to marry her by force. Vaishyas honour them as they kept their wealth, personal honour and lives at stake in the fi ght against their own king supporting the cause of Vasavi . The farmer offered food to these people also. He then asked all of us to help him in building the hut. We complied. Giving us food in the evening also, he asked us to stay there for the night and watch over his fi eld. Then he left along with the Mylaras and Viramushtis. In the morning much to our astonishment, the place was empty. There were no cattle in the cowshed. The neighbouring farmers who saw us there, asked us at what price we bought that land. When we told them what had happened, they looked at us as if we were crazy. Utterly perplexed, we reached the

Chapter 27Encounter with Virupaksha

65A migrated tribe of shepherds.66Literally the valorous-fi sted. These people are profi cient in stick-fi ghting.

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bank to go to Kuruvapuram. Since we did not have any money, the ferryman extorted the golden fi nger-ring of Dharma Gupta as his fare, and instead of safe keeping it, threw it into the river. Already nonplussed, the ferryman’s action all the more increased our state of bewilderment. We reached Kuruvapuram in a state of stupor and narrated our incomprehensible experiences to Sripada. Sripada said, “The farmer was Virupaksha, the twin-sibling of Vasavi. The cattle and all the other people belong to the times of Kusuma Sreshthi. It was your providence and good fortune that you were able to see Virupaksha and partake of food served by him. The ferryman-extorter was none other than me.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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It was Friday. Sripada sat in meditation in the newly built cowshed. Suddenly He turned into a radiant form and merged into the Sun. After a while, divine-looking infant descended from the sun. The infant changed into a three-year-old girl. Sripada held the little girl fondly in His arms. Watching all this, I wondered if it was some magic or trickery of Sripada. Sripada answered my thought. “Son, there is no magic or trickery in this. This is my essential nature. With My conviction, I can convert land into sky. I am the cause of all causes. I am the Supreme Para Brahman who motivates Brahma for creation and Lord Vishnu for sustenance. Also, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati and Maha Kali are different from Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali respectively. Saraswati is the knowledge necessary for creation. Lakshmi is the abundance essential for sustenance. Kali is the source of divine energy necessary for the destruction (of evil) and regeneration. The motivating power behind the Tridevi, (the three Goddesses, or Shaktis) is Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati and Maha Kali, who in turn are the forms of Anagha Devi. Anagha Lakshmi along with Anagh is My Datta form, both of whom are beyond and distinct from the Tri Shaktis and Tri Murtis. “Goddess Padmavati is also the form of the supreme eternal consciousness and creative energy - Parashakti, Saraswathi, Mahalakshmi and Parvathi are all her emanations, which form her basis, yet is beyond them. Similarly, Lord Venkateswara emanates as Para Brahman with the combined consciousness of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who form His basis and yet is beyond them. Even though Maha Lakshmi and Padmavati belong to the same consciousness, depending upon the form she assumes, I assume the corresponding Maha Vishnu or Venkateswara form.”

Chapter 28Birthday of Vasavi Kanyaka

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Sripada turned towards me and said, “Shankara, do write in my biography whatever is transpiring here today in Panchadev Pahad.” Then, Lord Venkateshwara and Padmavati emerged out of the body of Sripada. The three-year-old girl turned into Mother Vasavi. The cowshed turned into a palace with Kusuma Sreshthi, Virupaksha and other ministers seated on golden chairs embedded with precious gems. The 108 Arya Vaishya couples who jumped into the fi re along with Vasavi also came one after another and occupied their respective seats. Sumati, Raja Sharma, and Sreshthi couple arrived in their subtle forms. Nageshwara emerged from Mother Vasavi. We watched all of this in awe. Addressing the assembly Lord Venkateshwara raised the issue of engagement of Vasavi and Nagareshwara. “Today is an auspicious day. I wish to perform the engagement ceremony of my sister Vasavi and Nageswara. All of you are aware that the aged King Vishnu Vardhana proposed the hand of Vasavi in marriage and invaded Brhihatshila Nagar when she refused to marry him; and she gave up her life entering the sacred pyre to safeguard her honour. Along with her, 102 Arya Vaishya couples gave up their lives. Some Arya Vaishyas who were the ardent devotees of Parameshwari used to offer their offspring to the goddess. Such boys were called Bala Nagaras and girls as Gaura Balikas. The Guara Balikas should marry only Bala Nagaras. As Vasavi is a Gaura Balika, we can consider Nagareshwara as Bala Nagara and settle the match. But as he has no parents, no family lineage, is it correct to give my sister’s hand in marriage to him just because they like each other? I request you all, to please think deeply and come up with a solution.” The assemblage was in dilemma at this twist in the marriage proposal of Vasavi and Nageshwara. They prayed to Lord Ganesha. He declared, “Vasavi and Nagareshwara are none other than my parents Goddess Parvathi and Lord

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Shiva respectively and hence their marriage can be performed without any hesitation.” To this, Lord Venkateshwara raised one more objection. “A marriage is considered as having the sanction of Dharma only by the prior consent and blessings of Lord Ganesha. However, Ganesha was not yet born at the time of the marriage of Parvati and Lord Shiva. So, in the fi rst place, their marriage itself has no sanction of Dharma, let alone the marriage of Vasavi.” Everyone present there, were taken aback at the words of Lord Venkateswara. Lord Ganesha spoke seriously. “Isn’t it I who always existed in the basic chakra of all the deities and beings, even before my manifestation? As such, I existed in the basic chakra of Lord Shiva and gave my consent for their marriage and so it has been performed according to Dharma. It is not right to say that my father has no lineage. Since My son sage Labhadi is the progenitor of Labhadi clan, obviously my father, Lord Shiva also belongs to Labhadi family lineage. Seeing that the Labhadi Gotra is one amongst 102 gotras of Arya Vaishyas, Nagareshwara without any doubt is an Arya Vaishya. “As such, I think your objection to this marriage is only that you think my father is poor. So, I proclaim that henceforth whoever worships Lord Shiva by performing Abhishekam will be blessed with the mercy of Goddess Lakshmi; and those who worship Him on Saturdays during Pradosha time will enjoy both mundane and ethereal bliss.” Then Vasavi made it clear that though she remained in the form of Kanyaka, Her consciousness was ever fi lled with Shiva consciousness. Moreover, after the incarnation of Kanyaka, which lasted for only 18 years, she once again turned herself into Goddess Parameshwari, Her primordial form. After these revelations, the engagement ceremony of Vasavi and Nageswara was performed in all pomp and revelry.

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Words fall short to eulogise the benign mercy of Lord Sripada who made us a part of this grand ceremony. The next day, the palace that materialised, once again turned into the cowshed.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Back in Kuruvapuram, Sripada spoke to us quietly. “My sons, blessed are you, who witnessed the birthday and engagement ceremony of Vasavi. Time and place are like play things in my hands. I can interchange occurrences of the past, present and future. I can only be comprehended depending upon the level of one’s cognisance. When you surrender yourself completely to me, the I, the Self, the Parabrahman within you, and perform your actions according to my mandate, then I will shoulder all your burdens and troubles, and help you navigate across the sea of your life.” “The humankind in Kali Yuga is like the demon-king Hiranyakashyapa. They will scale new heights in the fi eld of physical science but their attitude towards Mother Nature and fellow human beings will be similar to that of Hiranyakashyapa. So I will incarnate as Narasimha Saraswati in Gandharvapuram with the attributes of Lord Narasimha to mercilessly tear apart the evil, and of Goddess Saraswati to govern and control the ways of the world with my words.” He then narrated the story of Vasavi Kanyaka 14 of Divine Mother, was born as Kusuma Sreshthi, a Vaishya King of Brihatshila Nagar, and ruled a kingdom that stretched over 18 paraganas. He was a vassal king of Vishnu Vardhana Chalukya of Vengi. He was blessed with a son Virupaksha and a daughter Vasavi, who was none other than the primordial Shakti incarnate. Smitten by her beauty, Vishnu Vardhan expressed his desire to marry her. Apart from the fact that the king was aged and already married, as his daughter dedicated her life to spiritual attainment and was not interested in marriage or mundane affairs, Kusuma Sreshthi refused the proposal. Vishnu Vardhan sent his army to capture Kusuma Sreshthi with an evil intension to marry Vasavi by force. But his army was defeated. The furious king took the command in

Chapter 29Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari and the Arya Vaishyas

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person, and set out with a huge army. Meantime, the Vaishyas were divided in their opinion about Vasavi’s marriage to the aged King, as he was very powerful. In order to prevent further bloodshed and destruction, and to safeguard her honour, Vasavi decided to immolate herself in the sacred fi re. The King and the Queen and Arya Vaishyas of 102 Gotras, who were in their favour, and who believed in the incarnation of Vasavi, expressed their desire to follow her. Before plunging into the fi re, Vasavi revealed Her true self, appearing as Arya Maha Devi, with brilliance surpassing the brightness of the sun and said that those who worship Lord Nageshwara - the Adhi Devatha (ruling deity) of Vaishyas, the gotras and the family deities would be blessed with Her presence in a subtle form and with eternal happiness. The moment radiant Vasavi and the others entered the holy fi re Vishnu Vardhana, who marching ahead, reached the main entrance of Brihatshila Nagar fell dead with his head splitting into pieces.” Sripada then told the names and gotras of the 102 couples who entered into fi re along with Vasavi and added that recollecting their pious names would obliterate the sins of a person.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Sripada enumerated the levels of spiritual practice and their consciousness in the following manner: “Human beings have sixty four levels of consciousness. Sadhakas, the spiritual aspirants of Natha tradition carry out sixty four Sabara occult practices, uniting their own consciousness into these sixty four consciousness levels with an aim to uplift the mankind. I, Lord Dattatreya, am the Adi Guru of Natha tradition. The speed of spiritual evolution depends upon the levels of consciousness of a person. The radiance of a soul depends upon the methods of yoga practiced, mantras chanted, meditation, rites and rituals performed and the charitable works and services undertaken and the level of consciousness attained. The more the radiance, the greater will be the purifi cation of nadis. This in turn enhances the physical, mental and spiritual powers of the person. Divine grace and mercy depends upon the way a devotee uses his powers - whether for fulfi lling his selfi sh interests or for the welfare of the people. Thus, they are the basis and based on one another. Similarly, if one acquires the spiritual powers of Goddess Saraswati, Lakshmi or Durga and practices and develops them selfl essly, that person is bestowed with immeasurable mercy of Mother Ambika. The good or bad deeds of human beings keep moving back and forth from the manifest to unmanifest. The sins committed in the previous births remain in the unmanifest, and manifest themselves in the present birth in the form of affl ictions in personal and familial life. Similarly, the sins and meritorious deeds of this birth reach the unmanifest, and manifest in the next birth. Nevertheless, the evilest sins committed and the greatest meritorious deeds performed, will yield results in the present birth itself.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Chapter 30Samsayatma Vinashyati –

The One Who Doubts Shall Perish

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It became a welcome habit for us to go to Kuruvapuram in the morning and return to Panchadev Pahad in the evening. During this time, the Supreme Guru would reveal to us many divine secrets. One day Lord Sripada enumerated the Dasa Maha Vidyas, the Ten Cosmic Powers. “These are the ten great paths of knowledge leading to transcendental reality. These ten Vidyas or Disciplines of Knowledge are ten cardinal deities and ten outstanding personalities of the Divine Mother. Each is a particular cosmic function and each leads to the realisation of the Supreme Reality. Though all these Vidyas lead to the same goal – self-realisation, they are all not one and the same. They are distinct and distinguishable manifestations of the Supreme Consciousness. “The earnest seeker of any one of these Vidyas ultimately attains the supreme purpose of life, self-realisation and God-realization. All these Vidyas are benevolent and munifi cent deities and so, do the utmost good to the sincere seeker of the Vidya. These ten Maha Vidyas, Great Sciences or Great Disciplines of Knowledge, hold the creation in their celestial grasp. Their great names are: Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamalatmika. “Worshipping Sri Vidya (Lalitha Tripura Sundari) is one of the most powerful spiritual practices and highest form of worship of the ultimate divine energy. In times yore, Sage Agastya learnt this from Hayagreeva67 and taught it to his wife Lopamudra. Lopamudra ardently practised it and comprehended its esoteric aspects and implications and

Chapter 31The Ten Cosmic Powers

67Hayagreeva is a plenary incarnation of Vishnu. Depicted in human form, he has a head of a horse and eight hands, and is believed to be the storehouse of knowledge.

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explained it to her husband. Thus both of them had unique guru-disciple relationship with each other. “Among these ten great powers, Kali, the fi rst form, is the embodiment of all existential powers like the power of knowledge, glory, prosperity, etc. Kala primarily means black, time or death. Kali is the supreme time-force. Kali is described in the scriptures as a dreaded deity, with a dark body and a lolling red tongue with a garland of skulls. She is dressed in a skirt made of severed human hands with a sword dropping blood. She carries in her wake death and devastation. However, Her act of destruction is a right action as it is done with a purpose and divine discernment. As She is the destroyer of evil and restorer of bliss, She is portrayed in this terrible form. Destroying unrighteousness and evilness, She restores divine order. Her black complexion symbolises Her all-embracing and transcendental nature. Just as all colours disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in Her. She devours Kala (Time) and then resumes Her own dark formlessness.A sincere devotee of Kali can obtain enormous spiritual benefi ts within a few months, rather a few days, unlike a regular spiritual practice that takes many long years. “The second of the Maha Vidyas is Tara. Taarayati iti Tara - the One who bestows liberation, by helping one cross the ocean of samsara - the perpetual cycle of repeated births and deaths - is called Tara. She is the beacon for one at crossroads or in crises. She is the saviour, who ferries the seeker across the waters of trials and tribulations. She grants the ultimate knowledge, rooting out all ignorance and propelling the beseecher from non- being to being, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. She is also known as Neela Saraswati - the One with the power of the word or speech, the radiance of knowledge that pierces through the darkness of ignorance. In the practise of this Maha Vidya, the seeker should strictly adhere to truth. He should never even contemplate falsity in any form or for any reason whatsoever, for, falsehood drives

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away the Goddess. The noble seer Vasishtha was an ardent worshipper of Tara. “The third of the Dasa Maha Vidyas is Shodasi Maheshwari, Bala Tripura Sundari or Tripura Sundari, the beauty par excellence. In this form the Divine Mother appears as a beautiful young girl (bala) of sixteen (shodashi). The Supreme Mother manifesting herself in the threefold aspect is known as Tripura or Tripura Sundari. She is inherent in every triad, and yet transcends them - the three worlds, the trimurthi, the three states of existence (jagrat, swapna and sushupti), the three forces (iccha, gnana and kriya), the triputis (perceptible, perceiver and perception, responsible for all karmas), the stages of development - gnatri, gnana, gneya (know, knowledge knower), and so on. The Divine Mother in this form is the most auspicious and does the utmost good to the worshipper. “The fi rst mantra initiated in Sri Vidya is the Bala Tripurasundari mantra. Liberation here and now, and not elsewhere, is the goal of the worshippers of Sri Vidya Mantra. The higher mantra is the Shodasi or Shodashakshari mantra, a 16-syllabled mantra. The worshipper enjoys luxuries in this life and attains salvation after death. “Fourth among the Dasa Maha Vidyas is Bhuvaneshwari Devi, the sovereign of the three worlds. Bhuvana means the universe, Eswari means ruler. She reigns the universe according to Her will. She not only creates the worlds but also enters into them, sustains, supports and nourishes them. She is the all-pervasive force, permeating the whole fabric of creation. Bhuvaneshwari represents knowledge and intelligence. She is believed to be giver of health, wealth, and happiness. She, being the ruler of the world, her worshipper always emerges victorious on all fronts in life and becomes all- powerful. King Rama also had to propitiate the almighty Goddess before he fought with Ravana, who already conquered heaven. She has three eyes and her complexion is red like a rising sun. She possesses moon in her crown. A goad and a noose in her hand

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represent her controlling power. One hand is raised to dispel fear and the other extended to grant boons to the devotees. “Tripura Bhairavi, the fi fth of the Maha Vidyas has a fi erce appearance with a garland of heads around her neck. She represents divine anger and wrath, which is directed towards impurities and negative karmic forces that impede spiritual growth. Though her force is diffi cult to bear, it is necessary both to protect and guide the aspirant from harmful infl uences. She is the dreadful mother whose wrath is directed to safeguard her child from anything that could endanger it. This deity is worshipped to gain wealth and prosperity, to stay away from diseases and to achieve victory in all the fi elds. She is the Goddess who saves one from all evils. “Sixth is Chinnamasta. Legend goes that once Parvati went to Mandakini River with her two companions - Dakini and Varini. After bathing, the companions felt extremely hungry and asked Parvati to quench their hunger. She asked them to wait until they reached home. But when they started pleading again and again, Parvati cut off her head with a sword to quench their hunger with her blood. From then onwards she became famous as Chinnamasta - she who is decapitated. “The self-decapitated goddess, holds in one hand her own severed head and in the other a scimitar. From the headless body, three streams of blood gush forth. While two attendants, Dakini and Varnini (also called Jaya and Vijaya) standing on either side of the Goddess drink two streams, her own mouth in the severed head held in her hand drinks the middle stream. She is usually depicted trampling Rati and Kamadeva, who are lying in a close embrace. The dramatic, rather ghastly imagery of Chinnamasta usually raises many questions in the minds of people, making them wonder if she is even fi t to be deemed a goddess. “Shocking at fi rst, but in fact it symbolises sublime spiritual truths, and each feature of the iconography has an important point to make. Chinnamasta is associated with

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the awakening of the kundalini – the spiritual energy. The severed head is transcendent consciousness. Decapitating her own head suggests cutting of the earthly moorings, the knots of ignorance, and the conquest of the senses and the kleshas, the fi ve affl ictions that come along with a human birth: ignorance, egoism, attraction, repulsion, and attachment to life, that are the obstacles to spiritual enlightenment. The ability to remain alive despite the beheading is associated with awakening of the kundalini. The message here is that the Self is indestructible and eternal. The three spurts of blood represent the fl ow of consciousness, the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, associated in turn with the Dakini and Varnini on both side, and Chinnamasta in the middle. Gaining mastery over the fl ow of one’s own awareness through yogic practice leads to the experience of the supreme Self. The middle stream representing the cosmic energy passing through Sushumna is consumed by the head of the Goddess herself, as Chinnamasta is the energy in Sushumna. The streams on either side are consumed by the attendants Varnini and Dakini representing Ida and Pingala, as her attendants are not yet fully self-realised but will be, with her help and example. This imagery tells that instead of looking outward and engaging in the delusive acts of Maya, one should look inward, purifying oneself and enable the Kundalini to rise. “The couple - Kamadeva and Rati under her feet represent the rising of the Muladhara chakra, awakening the kundalini, traversing through the central passage in the body – the Sushumna nadi, and hitting the topmost chakra, the Sahasrara at the top of head, with such force that it blows her head out. As it travels upward along the sushumna, it cuts through the various knots of ignorance. It symbolises that the worship of Chinnamasta, gives one, complete mastery over the sex-impulse and other impulses of the senses. She is also known as Prachanda Chandi for she is more terrible than Kali

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who is also known as Chandi, for while Prachanda Chandi destroys instantaneously without taking time, her action as Kali though strong and swift, works with the aid of Time. “Dhumavati, the smoky-one, is the seventh Maha Vidya, also known as Ugra Tara. She is portrayed as a widow. She is the Shakti bereft of Shiva, the feminine principle devoid of the masculine principle. She is depicted as ugly and repulsive. Pale face, long limbs, sparse teeth, sagging breasts, old with dirty clothes and dishevelled hair, she is seated on a cart with a raven as a banner. She has a winnow in one hand and the other hand is raised as if granting a boon. A spiritual aspirant has to transcend her external delusive ominous ness to experience the internal ultimate knowledge of the universe. Not lucidity, rather obscurity is her nature. However, by veiling all that is known, Dhumavati reveals the depth of the unknown and the unmanifest, leading to total cognisance. She leads one from the non-being to the being, from the darkness to the light, from death to immortality. By propitiating this deity one is free from mundane and familial problems. “Bagalamukhi, the eighth Goddess smashes the ego with her cudgel, shattering it so that one may be liberated from delusions. Bagalamukhi is most commonly portrayed as holding a cudgel in her right hand with which she is beating a demon, while pulling his tongue out with her left hand. The demon is Madan, who had been bestowed with a boon of fruition of speech – that is, anything he said came to be. He immediately began abusing this power and killing people with it. Bagalamukhi confronted him, grabbed his tongue, and stopped him from speaking. This image is symbolic of removing the impurities associated with speech and tongue. “She is also known as Pitambara Maa, as she has a golden complexion and is dressed in yellow. She helps her worshippers to overcome familial, spiritual, social and worldly problems, which hinder their progress in those fi elds. Mostly kings used to worship this deity to suppress and subjugate

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their enemies. Brahma, Vishnu and Parashurama were the worshippers of this deity. Lord Venkateshwara was worshipped in the form of Bagalamukhi for a considerable period of time. “Matangi,68 is the ninth form. When Matanga Maharshi was doing tapas to please Kali, Devi appeared to him in this form and hence came to be known as Matangi. She is also called Syamala. While Kali is a terrible form, Syamala is a pleasant form. She is praised as Marakata syama or light emerald colored, and holds a parrot. The Goddess Meenakshi at Madurai is worshipped as Mathangi. Matangi governs all forms of speech, especially poetry, and music. She is the mother of knowledge and arts, and is praised as jnana Shakti swarupini. She is the minister of Lalita Devi, and the presiding deity for wisdom. She is worshiped in different forms, Raja Syamala, Sangeeta Matangi etc. Worshipping her enables one to gain control over enemies, attract people, and acquire mastery over the arts and gaining supreme knowledge. Matangi is often represented as emerald green in colour which is associated with deep knowledge and profound life-energy. She is the deity for defeating evil and establishing peace, tranquillity and prosperity. She graces the devotee with a peaceful family life. “Kamalatmika or Kamalalaya is the last of the Dasa Maha Vidyas. She is the most beautiful deity with an enchanting smile and a golden lustre in her appearance. She is the symbol of abundance and material fulfi lment. She is Goddess Lakshmi in her highest form. She can be propitiated both for ordinary worldly goals and for spiritual realisation. One who worships her enjoys royal luxuries, wealth, name and fame.” Explaining in detail about the Dasa Maha Vidyas, Sripada addressing us said, “Anagha Devi is the combined form of all these powers, and the devotees who worship her

68It is said that Kalidasa worshiped Matangi for the poetic genius She bestowed on him. Refer, http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Sakta_Vidyas

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realise all their desires.” He then turned to me. “Shankara,” he said, “the devotee who completes the Parayana of My biography, and performs Anaghashtami on the eighth lunar day and feeds eleven people will derive great benefi ts immediately. Son, do not perceive the Biography as mere annals of history or a simple story book. While reading the book, the devotees will be in communion with me even without their knowledge. Hence all their just desires will be fulfi lled at once. If placed in the prayer room, the auspicious vibrations that emanate from it will drive away all negative forces and negative energy.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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I then asked the Primordial Guru, Sripada about Navnaths. The moment I uttered the word ‘Navnaths’, His countenance lit up with joy. He said with a benign smile, “Beloved Sons! Recalling their very names is suffi cient to ward off one’s sins. Moreover, the devotees of Navnaths receive the grace of Lord Dattatreya.” He continued, “Emperor Rishabha, a partial incarnation of the Lord, had a hundred sons, of whom Bharata was the eldest who ruled this land, known thereafter as Bharat. His last nine sons, who became ascetics, were embodiments of Lord Narayana; hence, were called Nava (nine) Narayanas. The remaining sons had Brahmanic qualities and became Brahmins. At the end of Dwapara Yuga, Lord Krishna instructed these nine higher entities to incarnate as Navnaths to establish Dharma and sampradayas (traditions) of spirituality, increase the importance of Bhakti yoga, initiate people with mantras and advise them on the path to Yoga. Nava means nine and Nath means Lord; so Navanath means Nine Lords. They were the greatest Avadhoots ever witnessed. The Navanarayanas and the corresponding Navanathas are as follows: NAVANARAYANAS NAVNATHS(1) Kavi Narayana - Matsyendranath(2) Hari Narayana - Gorakshanath(3) Antariksha Narayana - Jalandharnath(4) Prabuddha Narayana - Kanifnath(5) Pippalaya Narayana - Charpatanath(6) Aavirhotra Narayana - Naganath(7) Drumil Narayana - Bhartarinath

Chapter 32Navnaths

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(8) Chamas Narayana - Revananath(9) Karbhajan Narayan - Gahaninath Sage Vyasa, much earlier had described their birth in his Bhavishya Purana. The births of Navnaths are mystical, unthinkable, and unbelievable; however, their enigmatic births are because they are Ayonisambhavas. As described by Sage Vyasa in Bhavishya Puranam, eighty eight thousand rishis were born from the seed of Lord Brahma. Some of it fell in different places on earth. A fi sh swallowed the part that fell in the River Yamuna, in whose womb Kavi Narayana incarnated as Matsyendranath. Once, Lord Shiva was expounding to Goddess Parvati the sacred doctrine of Yoga and Tantra in a place of solitude on the banks of River Yamuna. Parvati fell asleep during the lesson. Matsyendranath who was in the womb of a fi sh at that time heard the doctrine of Lord Shiva and attainting enlightenment lost all kinds of Dvaita-bhava. When Shiva asked Parvati few questions Matsyendranath replied from the womb of the fi sh. The Lord understood him to be the incarnation of Kavi Narayana. “O Great One! You shall be initiated by Lord Dattatreya,” saying thus Shiva and Parvati left for Kailasa. Remaining in the belly of the fi sh for the next 12 years, Kavi Narayana dedicated himself to Tantric Yogic practices. When a fi sherman caught the fi sh and slit it open, Matsyendranath emerged out of the fi sh as a fully realised soul. During his wanderings, a childless Brahmin woman implored him to grant her a child. Matsyendranath gave her some sacred ash and instructed her to consume it. When her neighbours derided her naivety for believing in such things to have a child, the apprehensive woman threw the holy ash into a heap of cow dung. Matsyendranath returned some time later and asked her about the child. The woman avowed that she had discarded the holy ash in the heap of cow dung. Matsyendranath

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went to the heap and bid the child to come out. A twelve-year-old boy emerged out of the heap. He took the boy with him and named him Goraksh – (cow [dung]-ash) and made him his disciple. Thus Harinarayana incarnated as Gorakshanath. On one occasion a king named Brihadrava was performing Soma Yajna at Hastinapur. Antariksha Narayana emerged out of the fl ames of the yajna as Jalandharnath. Kanifnath incarnated from the seed of Brahma, which fell inside the ear of an elephant, sleeping in the Himalayan forest. Afterwards Prabuddhanarayana entered it as pre-planned and emerged as Kanifnath and became the disciple of Jalandharnath. Soon after, he meditated for twelve years standing on his big toe. He later became famous as Karnakanifa and Konoba. The seed of Brahma fell near the bed of River Bhagirathi and got stuck in a reed. Pippalayana entered it and emerged as a child, who later became famous as Charpatinath. When King Janamejaya of the Kuru dynasty was performing Sarpayaga, Sage Aastika with his power, hid a serpent under a Vata, Baniyan tree. From the seed of Brahma swallowed by this serpent incarnated Aavirhotra Narayana. He became famous as Vata Siddhi Naganath. Once, the seed of Sun God fell in the begging bowl of Sage Kaulik. The sage by virtue of his cognitive power could previse the birth of Drumilnarayana. Drumilnarayana entered it and emerged as a child. As he incarnated from a begging bowl (Bhartari), the child came to be known as Bhartarinath. As instructed earlier by Lord Krishna, Chamas Narayana entered the seed of Brahma which fell on the banks of River Reva and emerged as Revananath. Once, Gorakshanath while making a clay statue was chanting the Sanjeevani Mantra to by heart it. As he was chanting the Sanjeevani Mantra, the statue came to life. It was none other than Karbhajan Narayan who emerged as

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Gahaninath as commanded by Lord Krishna and predicted by Sage Vyasa.” “Reverend Guru! I asked. “Is there any difference between Nava Narayanas and Navnaths, the latter being the plenary incarnations of the former?” “I am the great conviction of the entire creation, and the convictions of the remaining deities form a part of my conviction. They enjoy only a limited freedom like a cow secured by a halter to a peg; beyond that, they need the permission of the Master. I constrain the Anshavataras who descended with a plenary portion of my power within some moral and karmic purview. They act as a bridge or a link between the supreme power and the beings. As they do not breed any negative feelings like hatred, jealousy etc., unlike human beings, they can perform all the tasks performed by the Almighty. Hence, for a normal human being, there is manifestly no difference between a plenary incarnation and a complete incarnation.” “Then, is Vasavi Kanyaka a complete incarnation or plenary incarnation?” “The earth cannot endure the infi nite power of Universal Mother had She descended as a complete incarnation. Hence, only a single ray of Arya Maha Devi incarnated as Vasavi with a limited purpose - to save the Vaishya caste from peril. If Arya Maha Devi had not descended as Vasavi, the daughter of Kusuma Sreshthi, the Vaishya caste would have been extinct totally in the hands of malicious kings like Vishnu Vardhana, who would have made the beautiful daughters of their vassal kings as their concubines, which would have, led to either collapse or adulteration of Varnas in the society. Vasavi immolated herself taking the wretched fate of members of Her lineage onto Her body and blessed that the future generations of Arya Vaishyas would never feel shortage of anything in their lives and would lead a life of abundance.

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In times to come, Sai Baba, a Samartha Sadguru incarnation of me would descend in Dhishila, which later will be called as Shirdi. Remaining in Sayujya state, the state of perfect communion with Me, He will ward off the affl ictions of the devotees.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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As per Sripada’s instructions, we proceeded to Pithikapuram. Crossing the river Krishna we reached Panchadev Pahad, where we saw the footprints of Sripada on a boulder. We were told that Sripada used to perform Surya Namaskaras standing on that boulder. We proceeded a little further when at the out skirts of Panchadev Pahad, a millet farmer graciously extended his hospitality and shared his experiences with us. “I am Narasimha Raya. I lost my parents at an extremely tender age and my maternal uncle brought me up. My aunt was extremely avaricious and a duplicitous shrew. She being an autocrat never missed a chance, rather created occasions to keep me under her feet and on my toes, the weakest of all the three subjects of her vast empire. Ramani, their daughter is an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and used to worship a small idol. She was in love with me and wanted to marry me. Her occasional revolts supporting my cause were subdued either sternly or benignly. Malnutrition coupled with drudgery and constant consternation I not only became week and frail but also turned docile mentally. Meanwhile a charlatan sanyasi came to our village. Enticing my aunt that he would procure hidden treasure for her, he performed occult worship in our house. In spite of her repeated protests, he fi rst got rid of Ramani’s Krishna idol. Sacrifi ce of hens and goats and performing rites with their blood had become a daily routine. The house looked more like a burial ground with fresh carcasses and bones of animals scattered everywhere. On the pretext that Ramani was possessed by Goddess Kali, he gave her only blood as food. One night he tried to molest her by casting the Vashikaran mantra, the spell of enchantment on her. But she thwarted his attempt and hit him hard with an iron object. The impostor was unable to grasp why his mantra failed to mesmerise her.

Chapter 33Marriage of Ramani and Narasimha Raya

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The following day a serene-looking young ascetic came to our house, seeking alms. We were all in a state of disorientation and disarray. In the same chaotic mind-set, we told him that all we can offer him in alms is our penury, the unholy and unruly mess, and the evil spirits wandering freely in our home. The charlatan heckling derisively offered skulls and bones. I gave him my silver talisman. The ascetic smiled and accepted everything. Suddenly a dazzling light radiated from his body. A ray from him penetrated into Ramani’s body making her normal and another into mine making me robust, strong and brave. My aunt was affected with paralysis. The imposter-swami’s powers were pulverised and, he left the place in shame. The dazzling light transformed into a twelve-year-old Sripada. Sripada elucidated, “Mother Kali is the epitome of might and power. She is the fearful goddess with the heart of a mother. She is in fact, the destroyer of Maya (false consciousness), the Seven Deadly Sins69 and the eight affl ictions of bondage70. She does not seek the sacrifi ce of innocent animals. The truth is that the demonic forces that exist in the Pranamaya Jagat (the vital world), assume the form of any deity display some Kshudra Vidyas (necromancy), and demand sacrifi ces. Though they assume the form of a deity, they do not have similar powers.” “Sripada, the Merciful Lord, then made my aunt healthy once again. Furthermore, He personally performed my marriage with Ramani. He was then twelve years old only.” Giving us some sacred akshatas71, Narasimha Raya continued, “That day Sripada gave us these auspicious akshatas and said that subsequently we would meet the both of you - Dharma Gupta and Shankar Bhatt, and asked us to give a portion of these to you.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!69Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Among these Sloth means apathy, or habitual disinclination to work or exertion.70Bhaya (fear), Daya (pity), Ghrina (contempt, disgust), Kula (pride of family), Lajja (shame, embarrassment), Moha (delusion), Shîla (pride of character), and Varna (pride of caste or race).71Rice grains mixed either with turmeric or vermillion.

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Wondering at and conversing about the incomprehensible divine play of Sripada, we renewed our journey towards Pithikapuram. On our way, from time to time we were offered food without even seeking for it. We reached a village where we saw that a poor Brahmin’s house was being sealed by his debtor. All their house hold articles were thrown out. The embarrassed and humiliated family members stood outside pale with fright. I intervened and requested the money lender to give the Brahmin 15 days respite to clear his debt. The debtor conceded to the proposal but asked us not to leave the village till his debt is cleared and added that I must undergo punishment if the Brahmin fails to repay the money. Dharma Gupta and I decided to leave the matter to Sripada and we weare confi dent that He would certainly pull us out of this self-invited trouble. Dharma Gupta and I sat there and started chanting Sripada’s name. Presently, all the people residing in that locality joined us in chorus. Some of them spread a message to the effect that I was a disciple of a great guru and that I knew astrology and possessed spiritual powers, and hence I stood a guarantor for the Brahmin and so on. Soon the villagers split into two groups of supporters and sceptics, who started placing bets on me. Sharabheshwara Shastri of the same village was a scholar in the science of incantations, and an astrologer, as well. He used to predict accurately about the past, present and future of a person with the help of a spirit. Some villagers approached Sharabheshwara Shastri and enquired about my prophecy. Consulting the spirit he emphatically announced that the Brahmin would not be able to repay the loan. His statement fanned the fl ames, and the wager increased up to hundred Varahas.

Chapter 34Sharabheshwara Shastri

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Sharabheshwara Shastri’s sister also lived in the same village. Her husband was away on business to a far-off place. One day, at dawn she dreamt that some bandits had killed her husband. Terrifi ed, she informed her brother about the dream. Her brother consulted the spirit and told that her husband had already been killed by the bandits. My supporters brought the wailing woman to me. The moment she saw me, she fell on my feet imploring me to save her husband. I gave her some Akshatas and assured her of her husband’s safe return after three days. Enraged at my prophesy, Shastri challenged that if his brother-in-law returns, he would not only clear the debt of the Brahmin, but would also become my disciple and worship Sripada all through his life. On the fourth day, his brother-in-law returned to the village and said that some bandits had attacked him, but was fortunately rescued by a Muslim wrestler. The pride of Sharabheshwara Shastri was humbled. He cleared the Brahmin’s debt and invited us to his house. He narrated, “Dear Sirs, I am an ardent devotee of Dhumravati Devi, who is one among the ten great cosmic powers. If she is pleased with the devotee she provides a happy and luxurious life devoid of any problems. On the contrary if she becomes furious, life will become wretched and miserable with all sorts of affl ictions. I was lucky enough to receive her grace. I used to cure people possessed with evil spirits or affl icted with black magic. Initially I was conscientious and selfl ess and never covetous. Slowly I started hankering for money. “Around that time, I accidentally came into contact with a Kshudra Devatha72 who helped me in soothsaying and

72Kshudra Devatas are endowed with capacities and powers, but they are not divine in nature. They promptly respond to those who seek their help but only to get hold of the particular human vehicle and convert it into a centre for their activity on earth. Initially they answer every call of the seeker, but let him down, once their purpose is fulfi lled. They mislead the seeker’s spiritual progress with petty glamorous gifts, and by fulfi lling all his demands, inducing a false sense of progress. Thus, his actual spiritual awareness and advancement comes to a standstill or sometimes ends disastrously.

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soon I began accumulating money greedily. It is said that one should spend at least a portion of his acquired money for the welfare of the penurious. However, instead of giving alms I demanded money even from the poor and wretched. The Divine Mother admonished me for my peccancy, but I did not heed. Thereafter the predictions of the spirit began to be inaccurate, rather erroneous which put me in a humiliating situation. I realised that one should never associate himself with the spirits irrespective of whether they are good or not. Please accept me as your disciple and lead me on the path of true realisation.” “There is no Guru other than Lord Sripada in the entire universe.” I replied, “Chant His holy name to safely cross the Ocean of Life.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Dhumavati Devi

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We took leave of Sarabheswara Shastri and renewed our journey. On the way, we came upon a hermitage. Two disciples standing outside the hermitage addressed us by our names and led us inside to their guru. There we saw a tall graven image of Tara Devi. After worshipping the deity, we had our lunch. The Siddha then explained: “Mother Tara Devi helps the devotee to emancipate himself from this mundane existence and attain salvation. She protects her devotees from adverse circ*mstances and affl ictions and blesses them with the power of knowledge and eloquence. She is Neela Saraswati. By worshipping her devoutly, even a layman can transform himself into a scholar with sapience equal to that of Brihaspati. Sage Vashishtha was the foremost worshipper of Tara Devi.” The Siddha continued, “The Ugra Tara Siddh Pith, at Mahisha village in Mithila73 has the three Goddesses - Ugra Tara, Ekajata and Neela Saraswati installed on the same altar. After offering my prayers to the deity, when I came out of the temple, a captivatingly beautiful young girl of thirteen, approached me and asked, “Son! Who are you searching for every whither? Is it for me?” I stood dumbfounded gazing at the divine beauty and charm of the little girl. She had anklets on both her feet. Suddenly she transformed into a boy who exactly resembled her. He asked me to remove the anklets on his feet as they became too tight. He gave me those anklets and said that they possess vital life force and would lead and guide me at every step. Saying thus, he disappeared. Pausing a while, the Siddha continued his narration, “Visiting the temples of Puri Jagannath and Nrisimha Swami

Chapter 35Ugra Tara Devi

73The city of Mithila is identifi ed as present Janakapur in Dhanusa district of Nepal.

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at Simhachalam, I arrived at Pithikapuram and worshipped Swayambhu Datta at Kukkuteshwara temple. My Kundalini awakened with the Darshan of a divine snake there, and I lost my self-awareness. Wandering on the streets in a trance, I reached the house of Narasimha Varma. There, I saw the same boy whom I met in Mahishi. Varma had a handcart in which Sripada sometimes used to return home. Varma called out the servant to draw the cart, but Sripada forced the servant to sit along with Him in the cart and ordered me to pull it. Initially I refused to obey His command but then again I yielded to his coercive admonitions. With only two people in it, the weight nevertheless was as though I was drawing an overcrowded cart. As if adding insult to injury, the boy started lashing me with a whip. Panting heavily under the weight of the cart and bleeding from fresh wounds of the whip I lugged them home. Sripada at once rushed into the house, brought a handful of chilli powder and ruthlessly rubbed it over my injured body. I underwent infernal pain with unbearable searing all over my body. After a short while, His maternal grandmother Rajamamba came out, and to my surprise, I instantly felt relieved of my agonising pain. The servant narrated the entire matter to Bapannavadhanulu and Rajamamba. Sripada denying everything said that He had in fact applied sandalwood powder on my body. When they checked, His statement appeared true; it was sandalwood powder indeed. Sripada then said, “This man took initiation by himself without taking the consent of either a guru or his parents. His mother suffered a lot giving birth to him. His father brought him up with great love and care, facing many diffi culties. Under the pretext of being a Sanyasin, he did not perform any funeral ceremonies for his deceased parents. They were reborn as servants in Varma’s household. If he serves his parents for nine days, the souls of his ancestors will be liberated.”

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I humbly followed His instructions and received His blessings. Later I placed the anklets at the altar, and worshipping Goddess Ugra Tara, I acquired powers by her grace, which I have been using for the selfl ess service of mankind. I was pre-informed of your arrival by Sripada when I sat in meditation. He asked me to give you the anklets.” Following the command of Sripada, he then handed over those anklets to us. We thanked the Siddha for his hospitality and took leave of him.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Ugra Tara Devi

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The sweet tinkling sound of the anklets made our journey pleasant and we experienced the fl ow of some mysterious, divine power from our heart chakra to other chakras rejuvenating us with renewed vigour. As we reached the outskirts of a village, we were puzzled to see a hermitage amidst the shacks of low-caste people. As soon as we approached the hermitage, the tinkling anklets became silent. A highly effulgent ascetic roughly 60 years old and a serene-looking woman of about 30 years came out and welcomed us. The ascetic spoke. “I am Vedanta Sharma, an inhabitant of Pithikapuram. I am now known as Bangarayya. This is my wife Bangaramma, a cobbler by caste. I am a devotee and worshipper of Matangi, one of the ten great cosmic powers.” The words of Vedant Sharma did not actually soak in our minds. We failed to understand that while he was a Brahmin of the highest priestly caste, she was a lower caste woman. How can they be a couple? As if he read the chain of our thoughts, Vedanta Sharma elucidated, “During my stay in Pithikapuram, I got married thrice, but thrice I became a widower. Sripada often teased me, ‘Grandpa, I shall grant you liberation, provided you accept the woman I show you, as your wife without either marrying her or indulging in conjugal life.’ “One day Sripada threw a tantrum for leather sandals. His family members refused His demand and tried to convince Him that Brahmins wear only wooden sandals and are forbidden from the use of leather items. A cobbler couple Bangaramma and Bangarayya, who was ardent devotees of Sripada, lived in Pithikapuram. That day Sripada appeared in their house. Bangaramma intoxicated by His divine presence, yielded to His demand for leather sandals and took the measurement of His feet.

Chapter 36Vedanta Sharma

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Overwhelmed with intense devotional awe, she exclaimed, “Beloved Lord! How I wish to sew the sandals for thy lotus feet with mine own skin!” Sripada smiled affectionately and disappeared. After few days the cow of Vedanta Sharma died and the body was given to the cobbler. The cobbler couple made sandals for Sripada with its hide. Meantime the Brahmins of Pithikapuram proposed a meeting to discuss philosophical issues and I was assigned the task of preparing the list of discussants. I was aware that even after His sacred thread ceremony, Sripada did not learn any Vedas; nevertheless He used to quote hymns from the Vedas and make excellent analytical commentary on them. The Brahmins however were on a look-out for a chance for Sripada to say anything against the Vedas, so that they can ostracise His family. This was their secret motive behind organising the philosophical discourse. I joined them in this plan and included the name of Sripada in the list of invitees. The meeting started as scheduled. The Brahmins were discussing about Adi Shankaracharya - his soul entering the body of the dead king leaving his physical body under the care of a disciple, the queen’s attempt to cremate the body, Shankaracharya re-entering his own body leaving the king’s body behind so as to protect it from being burnt, etc. Sripada asked them, “Do you think that the soul remains only in one body at a time? Does it not occupy three to four bodies at the same time and obliterate its karmic effects?” The assembled members unanimously negated saying that they did not fi nd mention of any such thing anywhere. Sripada smilingly replied, “No! You are mistaken. There is ample evidence. Following the curse of Lord Shiva, Indra was punished for his arrogance to be born a mortal, as fi ve incarnations – the Pancha Pandavas. His consort Sachi was born as Draupadi. Though they descended on to the earth,

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their fundamental soul remained in heaven.” I remarked, “Sir! Those instances might have occurred in times yore, in the Purana Yugas, but such things do not transpire in the present times!” “Just because some things are simply beyond our natural, fi nite comprehension does not mean that it cannot be so,” thus saying Sripada turned towards me and stated, “your soul is born concurrently as Vedanta Sharma, a Brahmin, and also as Bangarayya, the cobbler. Your female energy is simultaneously present in your late three wives, and in the cow that died recently and fi nally in Bangaramma too. The chaitanya of your three wives and that of the cow have now merged into the chaitanya of Bangaramma. Thus, though chaitanya enters into three to four different bodies at a time, each body believes it to be its own identity. However, when one body possessing the same chaitanya dies, then that chaitanya merges into the other body which is still alive. This is the secret of creation. Hence, treat Bangaramma who has your female energy in her, as your wife. Nevertheless, since her body in this birth has been given to Bangarayya, do not expect any sensual pleasures from her. Overpowered by devotion, she said that she wished to make a pair of sandals for me with her skin. She made sandals for me with the hide of the dead cow. Since the cow has her chaitanya, whatever she uttered in devotion has come to pass.” “I am aware that this council was held to expel us from the caste.” Sripada turned solemn. “Vedanta Sharma,” He said sharply, “I expel you from the caste. Henceforth, you will be known as Bangarayya.” Before the very eyes of everyone present there, a small fl ame from the body of Bangarayya merged within me. “Right in front of you, the soul of Bangarayya has merged into the consciousness of Vedanta Sharma. Now tell me, what is his identity? Is he a Brahmin, or a cobbler?” Sripada put the congregation in a moral dilemma.

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“I desire that the people of all castes perform their respective duties and lead a righteous life. Else, one will endure misery and suffering. Reform in a person can be brought about, in two ways. The fi rst one is voluntary, where an impetus for reform arises from within the person. The person then looks out for ways and means to redress and redeem. This is a pain-free process. The second method is coercion and a painfull process, wherein the person needs to be compelled and pressurised as he is neither susceptible nor receptive. Change in this case takes some time. All of you fall in the second category. So if you do not take a proper decision, it will lead to complete and utter annihilation; and I will establish Dharma even at the cost of annihilation.” He said emphatically. Everyone in the assembly sat struck dumb. Left with no choice, I started living with Bangaramma here, at the outskirts of the village, worshipping Goddess Matangi. Quite some time ago, Lord Sripada visited us on His way to Kuruvapuram and informed that in course of time Shankar Bhatt and Dharmagupta would pass by this place and that we should take His anklets from them and to entrust these Padukas in return. Then Vedanta Sharma explained about Goddess Matangi. “The daughter of sage Matanga is Matangi Devi. She is also known as Raja Matangi and Karna Matangi. She is described as Saraswati in the Vedas and as Udgita in the Upanishads. She represents Vaikhari Speech. The devotees of this deity will be blessed with amiable marital relations. I was blessed to witness Sripada’s manifestation of Raja Matangi,” he said with a sense of overwhelming joy. Then he gave us Sripada’s leather padukas and took His anklets from us.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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We resumed our journey taking the padukas of Sripada. On the way, we rested under a tree in a forest. Some yoginis who came there instructed us to leave the place right away as they were about to worship Chinnamastadevi, and men were barred from the vicinity of that divine, sacred land. However an elderly Yogini who seemed to be their superior allowed us to remain there and asked us to change into woman’s garments. No sooner we dressed up in woman’s clothing than we were transformed into women with all feminine attributes. They addressed us Shankaramma and Dharmamma. They took out the idol of Chinnamastadevi from a basket, placed it in the middle and engaged in a frenzied dance around it. Not even in our wildest dreams, did we ever imagine the existence of such a bloodcurdling dance to appease a deity. The elderly Yogini elucidated. “The self-decapitated headless goddess, Chinnamastadevi, held her own severed head in one hand, a sabre sword (scimitar) in another. The headless trunk represents the feminine deity of power and energy, the ruler of this transient world. Worshipping this Goddess at midnight would yield benefi cial results. She is prayed to win over the enemies, to conquer and expand the territories of a kingdom and even to attain liberation. A headless trunk notwithstanding, this divine mother is alive. This Yogic Prakriya is known as Paripurna Antarmukhatvam, the inward retreat or inward-facedness.” This was rather a bizarre and terrifying experience for us. Then at the onset of midnight, with an intention to offer us as ritual-killing to the Goddess, they tied Neem leaves around our necks and applied Tilak on our foreheads. Then with one stroke of the sword they beheaded us. With our head separated from the body, we experienced

Chapter 37Encounter with the devotees of Chinnamastadevi

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agonising pain. Soon we felt drowsy and passed out. Yet we could sense the approach of a dazzling radiance, and the disappearance of the Yoginis into thin air, followed by the restoration of our severed heads back to our bodies. We then slipped into a deep slumber. When we woke up the next day, we regained our masculine forms. We changed into the new garments kept there for us and continued onward. A wayfarer we met on the way said, “Sons! Every individual possesses both male and female energies within him/her. Your feminine energy got purifi ed with what transpired yesterday. The power and energy from the cosmos, the universal consciousness does not fl ow into one’s body unless both these energies in the person are purged. You are fortunate that it is now fl owing freely and abundantly into your bodies. Sons! Sushumna, the central channel which is not easy to open has been opened up for the two of you. What else do you aspire? The padukas of Sripada brought about this fortune into your lives.” Thus saying he went away. Levitating in the gaiety of the newly acquired knowledge that we were in tune with the universal consciousness, we moved on singing His benign glory.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Chinna Masta Devi

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We met an ascetic on our way. He addressed us by our names and asked us to give the padukas to him and take the Kalanaga Mani, the gem of the cobra from him. We agreed. He began to tell about himself and his experiences. “I am a devotee of Bagalamukhi, one amongst the ten great cosmic powers. One can attain power of speech by worshipping her. Once in Satya Yuga, a fi erce storm broke out, which could have destroyed the entire universe. Answering to the prayers of Lord Vishnu, Sri Vidya emerged in the form of Bagalamukhi at midnight on Tuesday, the fourteenth lunar day and put an end to the cyclone. She is also known as Vaishnavi Devi, Badabamukhi, Jatavedamukhi, Ulkamukhi and Brihadbhamukhi. She represents the slaying power of Lord Shiva and she is the striking force, the paralysing power and stupefying Shakti, that extirpates the evil, negative and dark powers. Lord Vishnu and Parashurama were the foremost devotees of this Mother.” He continued. “Once, I went to Kukkuteshwara temple in Pithikapuram. I saw an extremely adorable three-year-old boy standing outside the temple. He complained that until recently he remained in captivity in the temple. He came out as the priests were not taking proper care of him. I could comprehend immediately that He was none other than Swayambhu Datta and as the fanatic Brahmins did not allow the people of other castes to enter into the temple, He came out to personally attend the needs of His devotees. He gave me Darshan in the form of Bagalamukhi, my cherished deity. With my egoistic I consciousness being dispelled at the glimpse of her enchanting form, I remained in an ecstatic state for eight consecutive days. Meantime, the people started talking variously about me. The priests propagandised that I was a necromancer who tried to seize the cosmic energy from the idol Swayambhu

Chapter 38Goddess Bagalamukhi

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Datta, but due to their rigorous and reverential religious rituals, I became immobilised. The priests proclaimed that by the performance of special individual rituals, no misfortune would befall them and they would be blessed with utmost wellbeing. As the people did not know what had happened to me, they believed the priests and a mad rush for carrying out these special services began. The priests earned loads of money. But strangely all the money they earned would vanish by morning. Abiding to their own propaganda, they had to continue performing the rituals; however they could gain nothing from the situation as the money kept disappearing. They could not disclose the matter for it would be humiliating and they would lose the importance they were newly acquiring. While on one side, the rituals continued, on the other side, everyone was still wondering about me. They were not sure if I was dead or alive and if I should be cremated or not. They were afraid that if I, a necromancer were to be cremated, I might wake up, becoming more powerful. With these fears in mind, they approached Bapanarya. He examined me and told them that I was in a state of Samadhi. On the eighth day, when I regained my consciousness, people were wary of me. So they made me stay in the settlement of the shepherds. Lakshmi a young widow in the settlement, used to sell milk to the Venkatappaya Sreshthi family. During my stay in the shepherd’s colony a scholar who discourses on the Puranas came to Pithikapuram. Bapanarya invited him to his home. The scholar would drink the milk offered by Lakshmi before commencing his discourses. The scholar with his power of cognition had identifi ed the other forms of his soul and had already merged them into him in order to attain liberation in this birth itself. He cognised that his last form is held in the newly-born son of Zamindar; he decided to merge it too into him. When he saw Lakshmi, he realised that the infant would be the husband of Lakshmi in her next birth. Sripada having perceived his thoughts condemned

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him saying that he should not go against the divine law, as the infant was destined to marry Lakshmi in her next birth. If he merges the consciousness (Chaitanya) of the infant into his own, Lakshmi would remain a spinster in her next birth, which contradicts the will of the Para Brahman. The scholar realised his mistake and withdrew. Sripada blessed him to lead a happy life with Lakshmi in her next birth. Thus, Sripada, the Universal Lord averted the untimely death of the Zamindar’s son and the interlinked fate of His devotee Lakshmi.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Bagala Mukhi Devi

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We took the gem and continued our journey. On the way we halted at a Brahmin’s place. He introduced himself as Nagendra Shastri. Many cobras were moving about freely in his house. He was taking care of them like his own children. They did not harm anyone. We sat raptly mute, wondering what account of Sripada we might get to hear. “Dear Ones, I visited Pithikapuram when Sripada was a fi fteen-year-old boy.” Nagendra Shastri spoke unpretentiously. “In Kukkuteshwara temple I saw the gem on the hood of Kalanaga that was coiled around the neck of Swayambhu Datta. I was told that the one who possesses the gem holds the power to repel any sort of trouble from his life and to eliminate the malignant effects of the planet Mars. So I resolved to own one. “While wandering along the streets I happened to pass by the house of Narasimha Varma. I noticed that Narasimha Varma was making beds, while Sripada was watering the plants. Suddenly, Varma saw copper padukas under the soil of the Audumbara tree. “Sripada beckoned and gave me those Padukas and said, “I am the Lord who is worshipped by the Kalanagas. Place these Padukas at the altar of Nagendra and worship them. Offer the water sanctifi ed by worshipping the Padukas to those suffering from any ailment. They will be cured. One will be free of Naga Dosha as well. Nevertheless, some amount from the maternal home (parents, uncles or aunts, etc.) has to be included in the Dakshina, when praying for ridding of Naga dosha. In course of time, Shankar Bhatt and Dharma Gupta will approach you. Give them these Padukas and take the gem of Kalanaga from them. Then He explained how the Nagamanis were created by Him.

Chapter 39Nagendra Shastri

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“In times yore, Mother Parvathi took the form of Kali to slay the demons, Sumbha and Nisumbha. She vanished so as to return to her normal self. Kalanagas who control Kala (time), were the ones who infuriated her to save the mankind from the clutches of the two demons. I being the brother of Goddess Parvathi had created serpent gems to honour the Nagas for their service to humanity and granted a boon that they be bedecked by Kalanagas on their hoods. As I created the gems for my sister, hence, while performing puja and rituals to obliterate the malicious effects caused due to Nagadosha a portion of money should be contributed from any member of maternal family, else the rites and rituals performed would not yield required results.” Nagendra Shastri continued. “Taking the Padukas from Sripada, I took leave from Him, and set up an Ashram here. Abiding to the Lord’s wishes, I am leading a simple life healing the sick, serving the mankind and encouraging them to lead a virtuous life with my religious sermons. After a while my wife passed away. Around the same time, the wife of a barber died of snake bite. With the power of my Nagavidya, I made the snake withdraw the venom from her body. But the barber’s wife did not want to re-enter her body, rather decided to roam freely in Pranamaya jagat (vital world) and to possess and affl ict the people. The barber implored me to resurrect her using my powers. I said that I would make the soul of my wife enter into her body, but he should treat his wife as his mother. The wife of the barber was unscrupulous and a shrew and hence her body was fi lled with evil and negative vibrations. So, when my virtuous wife’s soul entered her body, she started experiencing suffocation and burning sensation as if she were on the blazing fi re. She often approached to me seeking my permission to leave the body. This created suspicion among the barber community that we were having an illicit relationship. The elder members of their community passed a verdict that I should give 3/4th of my earnings to the barber

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as a compensation. To make matters worse, the spirit of the barber‘s wife started possessing the womenfolk of the village and pleaded for justice declaring that she was my wife. I surrendered myself to Sripada, who admonished me. “Just because you are the husband, you should not have forced your wife to enter into the body of the barber’s wife. Because of your inappropriate action, you made all these people suffer. So, henceforth, you should use your power to help people without expecting any kind of remuneration from them and gracefully accept whatever they offer to you.” He then created such a situation, where in my wife’s soul could leave the barber’s wife’s body. This time her body was duly cremated. Thus, He saved not only the dead, but also the alive.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Tripurabhairavi Devi

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We reached Tripuranthakam74, a pilgrimage centre. Bhaskara Shastri, the priest in the temple of Tripuranthakam was a native of Pithikapuram and an ardent devotee of Shodasi Rajarajeswari. He received initiation in his sleep from Goddess Rajarajeswari, the consort of Lord Kukkuteswara. The moment we placed the padukas on the altar in his prayer room, we heard a celestial voice. “Sons, after being worshipped for some time by Bhaskara Shastri, these copper Padukas will transform into golden Padukas by virtue of his devout prayers. Then they will be taken by saints and Siddhas to Hiranyaloka75 and Karanaloka76. After being worshipped there for some time, they will be brought back to me in Maha Karanaloka77, wearing which I will circumambulate all the three lokas. After being sanctifi ed thus, they will be taken away in a golden aircraft by siddhas and will be installed deep beneath the ground at my birthplace in Pithikapuram. Only those bestowed with cognitive power will be able to see the swarna (golden) Pithikapuram.” The divine voice faded away. We felt blessed listening to this immortal promise. I asked Bhaskara Shastri to enumerate about Rajarajeswari. He obliged. “Goddess Rajarajeswari establishes herself in the Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra. Generally, our

Chapter 40Encounter with Bhaskara Shastri

74Tripuranthakam is a village in Prakasam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Ac-cording to the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva killed the three demon brothers, who ruled the three worlds from Tripura (three fortresses like cities), at this place. Hence, the Lord here is Tripuran-thakeswara. Th is temple is on the top of the hill. Below is the temple of Goddess Parvathi, who is in the form of Tripura Sundari Devi.75An illumined astral planet, where the souls of illumined sages and seers live.76Th e spiritual realm or causal plane of existence, wherein Gods and highly evolved souls live in their own self-eff ulgent forms.77Plane of greatness, is the abode of certain classes of primeval deities, the seven rishis, as well as celestial spirits and gods. Its sphere of infl uence extends exoterically to the utmost limits of the solar system.

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mind, which is the seat of thoughts, transforms as the power of intellect. The Goddess helps to create and develop discernment to the intellect. She grants power with sagacity and intellect. The devotees who attain the power of Rajarajeswari can easily destroy their enemies mainly with their power of discernment. Rajarajeswari, the queen of queens, befi tting her name bestows her love equally upon all the beings, whether they are good or bad, demons or deities. Being a profi cient ruler, she neither dictates nor imposes her will on the devotees; rather she with her benevolence moulds and reforms them in such a way that they willingly tread on the path of virtue. She is also referred to as Bala Tripura Sundari, the loveliest in the three worlds and as Shodashi Maheshwari, who usually depicted as sixteen year old goddess with exquisite beauty and charm. Shodashi also means who is sixteenth, who goes beyond the fi fteen phases of the moon encompassing them all; it also refers to the sixteen syllable Mantra, which consists of the fi fteen syllable mantra and a fi nal seed syllable. The Goddess is adored and worshipped in these three aspects- Bala, Shodashi and Rajarajeshwari. Son, since I was blessed by Sripada, I could easily and swiftly gain her grace. Just before our arrival, Sripada had given me Darshan in the form of Rajarajeswari, and partook some Chitrannam78 that was offered to the Goddess. Please have some of the same.” After having the Prasadam, we sat in meditation for some time.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

78Chitrannam, also Pulihora or Puliyodhara is a very common and traditional rice preparation in Southern India. It is cooked on almost all festive occasions. It is made with spicy tamarind gravy mixed in rice. It is also commonly distributed in temples as Prasadam.

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I then asked Bhaskara Shastri to enlighten on the four forms of speech. He said, “There are four categories of human speech or sound vibrations. We are aware of only one level of speech that is, our physical tongue. Nevertheless, there exist four stages of speech - Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari which correspond to our four states of consciousness – Turiya, the transcendental state, Sushupti, the dreamless state, Swapna, the dreaming state and Jagrut, the wakeful state. Thus, Para represents the transcendental consciousness, Pashyanti represents the intellectual consciousness, Madhyama represents the mental consciousness, and Vaikhari the physical consciousness. Our ability to experience different levels depends upon the elevation of our consciousness. Vaikhari is the grossest level of speech, the speech of the physical tongue, which is heard through the external senses. Madhyama is mental speech or thought, which corresponds to the subtle body. It is verbalised but not audible. The third level of speech Pashyanti is where it is a state of visual imagery. Here sound leaves its audible nature and manifests as feeling. The fourth and highest level of speech is Para, the transcendent sound, which is beyond the perception of the senses. Para is all pervading and all encompassing. Para is pure intention. It is unmanifest. It is the sound of one’s soul, a state of soundless sound. It is the speech that fl ows directly from the Cosmic Creator. It expresses Ambika Shakti - the Universal Mother. It exists within all of us. All Mantras, infi nite syllables, words, and sentences exist within Para in the form of vibration in a potential form. After this, he detailed when and how Sripada left Pithikapuram. “Once, an ascetic - a devotee of Datta came to Kukkuteswara temple. He announced that he would give Datta Diksha (initiation for worship of Datta) to all those who were interested. He said that after taking the initiation, if one

Chapter 41The Episode of the Pseudo-Ascetic

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adheres to the prescribed injunctions for 40 consecutive days, all their heartfelt desires would be fulfi lled. The people of all communities started taking Datta Diksha. They offered him large sums of money. However, the lower caste people were not allowed to take the Diksha. Though they were denied of this privilege, but yet they were asked to offer Dakshina to the ascetic, saying that he would recommend their case to Datta and solve their problems. The outcaste felt dejected. The Brahmin council tried to force Bapanarya and his family members to take initiation, but he refused, as he did not like either discrimination in giving initiation or the forceful collection of Dakshina from the lower caste people. Venkayya, a herder who was a devotee of Lord Sripada was disheartened for not being able to take the Diksha. Lord Sripada appeared to Venkayya and consoled him that He would initiate him and all his people. He also told them that instead of a 40-day Dikhsa they can observe Dikhsa just for one whole day and appease Lord Datta. He initiated them all and spent the whole day encouraging and making them sing and chant the Lord’s name. He assured them that one sincere appeal with full devotion and faith is enough to draw Him towards them. Some Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas were also initiated that day. The next day, He visited the houses of Narasimha Varma, Venkatappayya Sreshthi and Bapanarya and informed them that the time had ripened for Him to leave Pithikapuram to uplift humankind. When He came home, His parents Sumati and Raja Sharma expressed their desire to see Him as a groom. Sripada reminded them. “I had previously told you that I will leave home the day you express your desire of getting Me married. I am an incarnation of Datta and as such, My consort Anagha is always within Me in a subtle form.” Then He gave Darshan to them in His divine and brilliant form of Lord Datta along with Anagha. He with His nectarine touch cured the disability of His brothers and assured

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His parents that both His brothers would become great scholars. They all looked at Him in awe. Meanwhile, Narasimha Varma, Venkatappayya Sreshthi and Bapanarya reached there. Sripada spoke with all of them with great love and respect. He told them that Narasimha Varma would be born as Shivaji, the great king of Maharashtra and His elder brother Sridhara Sharma as Samartha Ramadas, the preceptor, guide and philosopher of Chatrapati Shivaji. He also stated that His second brother Ramaraja Sharma would be born as Sridhara, a renowned ascetic. Everyone sat down and started chanting Vedic hymns. With a few words of blessing, and with the Vedic hymns still gloriously ringing in the air, Sripada disappeared gradually into the hidden radiance.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Balatripura Sundari

Shodasi Maheshwari

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After we had lunch, Bhaskara Shastri renewed his narration: “The Brahmins of Pithikapuram decided to ostracize the families of Bapanarya and Raja Sharma on the pretext that Sripada imparted Datta Diksha to the outcastes in their colony without any formal rites and rituals, and above all proclaimed himself as Lord Datta. Instead, the sudden disappearance of Sripada became the topic of debate. Even then, some opined that it was treason against the Almighty for a barely 16-year-old Sripada to declare himself as the incarnation of Lord Datta. Some poseurs expressing ostensible sympathy came to Bapanarya’s house to know the minute details of what exactly happened. Contrary to their expectations, everyone there was happy and joyful, saying that Lord Datta lived amongst them in the human form, showering and receiving love, concern and service. Apprehensive at the turn of events, they rushed to the ascetic in Kukkuteshwara temple and gave him a blow-by-blow account of the entire incident. The news disquieted the ascetic. He was petrifi ed that if Sripada is verily the incarnation of Lord Datta, the deity he revered, then the Lord would defi nitely penalise him for his guilt. Falsely attributing spiritual or esoteric powers to himself, he gave Diksha to the people in order to procure money. However, his repentance was short lived. Seeking Datta Diksha a devotee named Narasimha Khan came to him. The very sight of a bundle of Varahas tucked in at his waist was enough to raise the ascetic’s greed. Chanting mantras, he poured water into the hands of Narasimha Khan from his Kamandalu to initiate Diksha. “With the water that you poured into my hands, you have given away your entire good karma to me. I in turn

Chapter 42Datta Digambara! Datta Digambara!Sripada Vallabha Datta Digambara!

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offered that good karma to Pithikapuram.” With these words, Narasimha Khan vanished, much to the consternation of the ascetic. A scorpion, which fell along with the water from the Kamandalu, bit a Brahmin in the crowd. Many spells and incantations appropriate to counteract the poison’s virulence were chanted, but instead of giving relief, it aggravated the poor man’s pain. As foam started to come out of his mouth, people began to think that the ascetic used some occult mantras against the Brahmin, due to which a ghost in the form of a scorpion, emerged from the water, whose bite gave out the symptoms of a snake bite on the victim’s body. All of a sudden, the victim unable to bear the pain ran about jumping and twisting his body like one possessed by the devil. This all the more scared the people and strengthened their belief. Now they were sure that the man was indeed possessed by a ghost, which forcibly would enter their homes, loot them and give the pillage to the ascetic. A scholar there suggested that everyone should write ‘O ghost, please come tomorrow!’ on their door posts with charcoal seeing which the ghost would leave and return the next day to fi nd the same message again. Thus, the ghost would leave everyday empty-handed and the people would ultimately get rid of it. Leaving behind the victim writhing in pain, everyone rushed to their houses to follow the scholar’s bidding. Meanwhile, a farmer came there and told the Brahmin victim that Venkayya, an outcaste-devotee of Sripada sent some Akshatas given by Sripada, which would bring him back to normalcy. The Brahmin victim took the sacred Akshatas from him and became normal. The villagers realising their mistake, necked out the ascetic from their village snatching all the money he wrongfully collected from them. Under the guidance of Bapanarya, all the money was spent for providing food for the hungry and needy people of the entire village. Then all the people of Pithikapuram

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poured forth into a tuneful chant ‘Datta Digambara Datta Digambara, Sripada Vallabha Datta Digambara’, for the fi rst time. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere by the resounding praise of the Lord’s blessed name.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Bhaskara Shastri then enumerated the transcendental nature of Sripada. “The Almighty God exists in all the beings – from a tiny ant to the Absolute. However, Sripada is immanent in all beings, that is, He merges His consciousness with that of the respective being, remaining like a leaf in a leaf and a fl ower in a fl ower. Similarly, when He says ‘I am the form of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati’, He means that He is that consciousness which is inherent in them. Anagh along with Anagha is His Ardhanareeswara form. When the Parabrahman descends onto the earth with a form and attributes, He has to follow worldly injunctions. Since Sripada is an ascetic incarnation, His consort Anagha remains latent in His body. Hence, He alone plays the role of both parents showering love like a mother and disciplining like a father. As a result, a devotee receives His grace swiftly and with ease. Moreover, there is no need for Sripada to meditate, yet He meditates and offers the punya to obliterate the karmic effects of a devotee or to the world for the welfare of humankind. This is the signifi cance of this incarnation. Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati, Maha Kali and Rajarajeswari, these four forms of the Divine Mother emerged to control and govern the universe. The Divine Mother exists at three levels: Ateethasthayi– invisible primordial form, Vishwasthayi – universal level wherein she bears all the beings within Her divine cosmic form and Vyaktigatasthayi – at an individual level. At the third level, She works as a mediator between the people and the divine, encouraging and helping to hasten the progress of humankind. This is the main purpose behind the descent of Anagha Lakshmi. “Kali is an aggressive and destructive form, which attacks and destroys wildly whatever problems come in Her way. It is a feminine energy coupled with indiscriminate

Chapter 43Description of Anagha Lakshmi

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destruction. Whereas Maha Kali belongs to the higher elevated plane, shining in golden hue, she looks formidable. Devi is also manifested as Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. These are different from the Goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati. In the aspect of Mahakali she is considered as the personifi cation of the Tamo-guna, or mode of darkness and sleep or inertia. She is also Maya, the illusory energy of Lord Vishnu. Thus, one must rid of this Maya to awaken one’s real spiritual identity. It is within this Maya that the seeming powers of evil and divisiveness exist. Kali represents time, Kala, which devours everything in its terrifying ways. She is black because she represents Tamo-guna or the void which has swallowed everything, including space, time, and the ingredients of material nature. Rajarajeswari is the epitome of sagacity, discernment whereas Maha Kali represents strength, vigour and power. She helps the devotee to destroy the negative forces to progress ahead in his path. Maha Lakshmi is the embodiment of perfect gratifi cation (Paripurnata), i.e. she is perfect combination of prudence with discernment, and beauty with strength. Lakshmi symbolises material abundance (Ruddhi). Whereas Maha Lakshmi is the Shakti that motivates the beings to enjoy divine bliss by the selfl ess use of material and fi nancial abundance. Mother Saraswati is described as Udgita in Chandogya Upanishad. Udgita is equal to Pranavam, the Om. She is Ud- the highest of all, gih- sung by all and Ta- everywhere. Thus, Saraswati is the highest, the most adorable and all-pervading Shakti. She is Matangi, one of the ten divine cosmic powers. She represents Naipunyam, the divine adeptness and soul consciousness. With Her grace, we can acquire the skill in performing tasks; know how to make use of divine knowledge, how to correlate the soul consciousness to our lives, and how to coordinate different powers so as to enjoy the bliss and happiness.

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Dear ones, Anandam, the Bliss is a great deal stronger than gladness which is mundane, peripheral, which is felt with senses, mostly by acquiring or achieving something material. In contrast bliss is perfect happiness related with and connected to transcendent spiritual experience. One does not feel it with external sensory organs, rather one experiences it fully engrossed in meditation, Puja, Kirtan chanting the name of Almighty, Swadhyay, the reading of a scripture, listening to a philosophical discourse, he becomes unaware of the surroundings and transcends the bodily consciousness, and becomes one with the spiritual object. This state of bliss can be enjoyed by even an ordinary Sadhaka. Bliss is temporary, as soon as he returns to body there is no more bliss, only problems. In contrast, Harsha is permanent, can only be experienced by Yogis who are liberated from the limitations of body and mind and single pointedly focus and contemplate on the transcendental object and remain eternally in communion with the Supreme soul. Joy is also related with devotion and spiritualism. In its macro sense joy refers to the feeling of a person who transcends the desires. In its micro sense a staunch devotee, a sincere practitioner who constantly receives a gleam of His mercy and feels His presence everywhere and in all, experiences a state of ecstasy which chills the spine brings sudden tears in eyes and chokes up the voice. More or less this experience is same to all who tread the path of devotion. But Happiness is a relative term and its defi nition varies from person to person and is always impregnated with sorrow. Anaghalakshmi constitutes Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati, Maha Kali and Rajarajeswari. She resembles Lakshmi in physical form, whereas Anagh represents that of Vishnu and constitutes the trinity form. Hence, it is conducive to happiness to worship Anagh and Anagha. Then addressing me he said, “Son! Shankara! The biography you author shall prove to be a factual description

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of the glory of Sripada. Whoever reads it with sincerity, devotion and faith is blessed with auspicious and good effects. Be it in any language, every syllable of it works as a Bijakshara, the seed syllable of a Mantra.”

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Matangi Devi

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The next day we went to Tripurantakeshwar temple. There Bhaskara Shastri elucidated the glory of Sripada to us: “Because of the descent of Sripada onto Pithikapuram, the land there is fi lled with divine consciousness. After the establishment of Maha Sansthanam, the esoteric powers lying dormant in the earth will enliven, gradually awakening the divine consciousness of the entire earth. Like-minded people will be attracted to Pithikapuram by the divine magnetism of Sripada. All the places treaded upon by the lotus feet of Sripada, will be sanctifi ed, awakening the Kundalini power of the earth there. Moreover, a devotee whose earth element is awakened by the grace of Sripada will defi nitely be drawn towards the holy places like Kuruvapuram, Pithikapuram etc. All the same, depending upon the level of elevation of a devotee, one’s consciousness gets tuned to such places, thereby he acquires punya equivalent to that of visiting those holy places irrespective of the fact whether they physically visit those places or not. Golden Pithikapuram lies underneath Pithikapuram and covers the whole expanse of the place. Only an elevated devotee blessed with the eyes of wisdom can behold it. Similarly, Swarna Kashi (Golden Kashi) exists underneath Kashi. A person who sincerely yearns with all his mind, body and soul for a visit to Kashi acquires punya equivalent with that of a stay in that holy land, irrespective of wherever he is. At the behest of Mother Ganga, Sripada takes a dip every day in the holy waters, thereby destroying the sin accumulated by the holy dips of the multitude and restores its sanctity. Verily, Jala Yagna of Sripada is nothing but purifying the water element of the beings.” Perceiving my apprehensions about the authoring of Lord’s biography, Bhaskara Shastri assured, “The Lord

Chapter 44Golden Pithikapuram

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himself chooses the eligible author or translator of His biography. He continues to transmit His grace and mercy on to the writer of the sacred text. “Shankar Bhatt! Your authoring this book is just a lame excuse, for, in actuality it is Sripada himself who writes this text making you a mere agent.” “O Noble One! Why did the Lord choose a mediocre person like me to write His biography?” I expressed my doubt. “Verily the nature of Lord Datta is such that He cures the diseases with the things prohibited for the patient and makes a nescient perform extraordinary tasks. This is His divine play and an example of His divine power. Let me elaborate. “Once an ascetic praying at the Kukkuteswara temple wondered about the inner meaning in the Lord’s incarnation as a fi sh. Sripada who was in the temple at that time along with Varma and Sreshthi made him realise that initially the entire cosmos was fi lled with water alone, and the fi sh was the fi rst creature in the evolutionary process and the cells79, which create emotions, are in the shape of small fi sh in the human body. Sripada counselled the ascetic to observe the principle of Antarmukhatvam80, to remain drawn within like a tortoise controlling all his senses, and to practice yoga. He asked him to remain uninvolved in worldly affairs, and attain spiritual elevation.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

79Mirror and spindle (fi sh-shaped) neurons within our brains, help explain the intricacies of our lives, and most important, confi rm our relationship with the world. These cells defi ne for us in a concrete way how our feelings work and how we communicate empathically. Scientists only discovered spindle neurons and their role in the brain in 1999……http://johnbessa.com/empathy/Scientifi c_proof_of_Empathy.html (many related sites)80Bhagavad Gita 2:58 “One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is fi rmly fi xed in perfect consciousness.”Ch 5:21 “with the self unattached to external contacts one fi nds bliss in the self….”

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After lunch, Bhaskara Shastri exemplifi ed furthermore the glory of Sripada, “Sripada bestowed many yogic powers to many ascetics in Kashi. From there, He went to Nepal and approached Hanuman who was performing penance on a mountain there. He appeared to Hanuman like Rama, His beloved deity, along with consort Sita and his three brothers, Bharata, Lakshmana and Satrughna. He blessed Hanuman to incarnate as an ascetic who will become famous as Sai, the one who is in control of the senses, and whose spiritual mantra would be Allah Malik. Allah is the combination of two Arabic words: Al means Shakti (power) and Ah means the wielder of Shakti. Thus, Allah indicates the combined form of Shiva and Shakti. Once, Mother Sita gifted Hanuman a ruby-necklace. Hoping to fi nd the name of Lord Rama within the gems, he broke open each Manikya (ruby). Disappointed at not fi nding the name of his dear Lord, he discarded the necklace. Recollecting the incident, Hanuman apologised to Sita and explained his intention in doing so. Sripada who was in the form of Rama consoled him and said that every action has a purpose and that the necklace, which, was enlivened with His Atma Jyoti, the soul’s light would take birth as Manikya Prabhu, the great Guru in future. Then as per the wishes of Hanuman, the Lord blessed him to take birth as Sai, a complete incarnation, from the womb of Anasuya in the lineage of Bharadwaja. Sripada also ordered the great scholar Mehboob Subhani to take birth as Varish Alisah to teach Sai the yogic secrets to liberate the self from its non-eternal elements. He told Hanuman that Gopal Rao, a great devotee of Lord Balaji (Venkateswara) would be born as Venkusa, his spiritual preceptor, who would teach him all about the Hindu Dharma.

Chapter 45Sripada commands Hanuman to descend

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From there wandering through many holy places, Lord Sripada reached Gokarnam and encamped there for three years. Then He visited Srisailam and ultimately encamped at Kuruvapuram enlightening and elevating people and sanctifying the land with His divine presence.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Bhaskara Shastri kept the Padukas on the altar in his praying room and worshipped them with Akshatas whose quantity kept increasing in multitude. He gave some of those miraculous Akshatas to us. Bidding adieu we renewed our journey and distributed the Akshatas to all those whom we met on the way. En route, we encountered the wedding party of Dhanagupta, an affl uent merchant and his retinue who was travelling towards Kondavedu to perform the wedding of his son. We offered him some Akshatas. Dhanagupta asked us to travel along with them in his horse cart. Receiving the sacred Akshatas, the pleased Dhanagupta spoke, “I once met Sripada when I visited Pithikapuram on some work. He promised me that He would send some sacred Akshatas along with His blessings on the eve of my son’s wedding, through a merchant and a Brahmin. Sripada asked me to offer 100 Varahas to the merchant and 10 Varahas to his Brahmin companion. He further advised me to give my daughter’s hand in marriage to the merchant’s son and to perform the engagement ceremony in Kondaveedu.” Accordingly, the engagement ceremony of Dhanagupta’s son was celebrated in a grandiose manner. Dhanagupta offered 10 Varahas to me and 100 to Dharmagupta who stayed back in Kondavedu to carry out trade in diamonds. I was seen off with due honour to Vijayawada. After taking a holy dip in the river Krishna and beholding the Darshan of Goddess Durga, I met an elderly ascetic who was longing to behold Sripada. He accompanied me to Pithikapuram, where we visited all the four houses and the temples and listened to many stories eulogising His glory. The members of all the four families accompanied us to Kuruvapuram to see their beloved Sripada. We started for Kuruvapuram early in the morning in eighteen carts. Even though it was going to be a rather long and tiring journey,

Chapter 46Encounter with Dhanagupta, the Affl uent Merchant

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that we were going to behold Sripada, made it pleasurable. Suddenly we were in a trance-like state. It seemed as if the carts were fl ying in the sky. During mid-day, the carts halted at a place. We came out of our stupor and enquired some passers- by about the place. They told us that it was Panchadev Pahad and that day being a Thursday they were on the way to attend Sripada’s darbar where He would preach the scriptures, remove the affl ictions of the devotees and offer food as Prasadam to everyone. Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Were we awake or asleep? We were in a state of utter bewilderment wondering how we covered a journey of weeks within a few hours. Mother Sumati wrapped her son in a hug as tears of joy ran down her cheeks. We realised it was Sripada’s miracle that brought us there in short time.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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Supply of food in the darbar of Sripada was always inexhaustible. If there was any food leftover, it was thrown into river Krishna to feed the aquatic animals. During our conversation realizing that it was the grace of Sripada which brought us there within short time or no time, we looked at him with ardent admiration and devotion. Perceiving our thoughts, Sripada declared in a light tone,” There is no task in the universe, which I cannot perform, no weight I cannot lift and no problem I could not solve. So bringing you here in no time was a simple task for me.” Sripada’s mother Sumati and his grandmothers lovingly expressed their wish, “Dear One! We are keen to see your marriage and celebrate it with all pomp.” Sripada replied, “I shall surely fulfi l you wish in my next incarnation when I incarnate as Kalki in Shambala and marry Padmavati in Simhala, who is none other than Anagha Lakshmi and you will certainly be a part of that grand ceremony.” Seeing that His mother was sad, as her desire would not be fulfi lled in this life, Sripada snuggled close to her, wrapped his arm around her and diverted her attention. In a childlike tone He complained, “Mother! I went to Mother Anasuya in an infant form to quench my hunger, but sister Vasavi who was already there suckling milk from her, threatened me that if I am late in approaching you, she will suckle from you too without sparing any milk for me.” Thus saying he at once changed into an infant. Overwhelmed by love for her son, Sumati took Him into her lap and nursed him with her milk. She then lovingly called Vasavi who appeared on her lap in her infant form. Sumati nursed both of them forgetting her sorrow.

Chapter 47Divine play of Sripada

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Venkayya, the farmer who received Datta Diksha directly from Sripada was among those present there. He prostrated before Sripada and humbly beseeched, “Lord, may this place which is a testimony of your miracle become famous in the entire world.” “In future, this place will become famous and there will be a concrete structure where my Darbar is being held now. There will also be a Goshala, sheds for cows.” Sripada assured Venkayya that his desire would certainly be fulfi lled. I, Shankar Bhatt, am on my part writing whatever transpired right in front of my very eyes. There is not even a slight exaggeration or false presentation of facts. Following this incident, we once again drifted into a slumber. When I awoke, I could fi nd no one except Sripada, the ascetic and me. Even as I was wondering where all the others vanished, Sripada declared, “I sent every one back safely to Pithikapuram. I redeem those in the same way, as they think of me. I show my grace the way a devotee wants me to81.” This was the parting statement of Sripada for the day.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

81This is the oft repeated statement of Sripada. Certainly the omniscient Lord takes care of us the way we want him to. The same thing is ascertained in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4:11, “Ye yathaa maam prapadyante, taam tathaiva bhajaamyaham.” I respond to a devotee, the way he wants me to or the way he expects me to.

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Sripada used to conduct Darbars in Panchdev Pahad for which He used to cross the river Krishna by walk. The Darbar lasted all day. On Fridays, He used to distribute turmeric to the women folk. He addressed elderly women as Granny, elderly men as Grandpa, young men as Dear Son, and young women as Mother, Vasavi, Radha or Surekha. He conversed with everyone in an honorifi c and affectionate manner. Darbar on Fridays was conducted either at Kuruvapuram or at Panchadev Pahad as per His convenience. On Sundays, He delivered speech on Yoga Vidya, Mondays on Epics, Tuesdays on Upanishads, Wednesdays on Vedas and their interpretations, Thursdays on various aspects of a Guru, Fridays on Srividya and Saturdays on the worship Lord Shiva and its signifi cance. Thus, He used to enlighten the people on various matters. Every day without fail, He used to enquire about the welfare of the devotees individually and used to feed them regularly. On Thursdays, the meal included a sweet dish in the menu, which He used to serve personally. He fed some with His own hands. The devotees who came with physical, mental or fi nancial troubles returned home with a light heart as their problems were solved by the grace of Omnipotent Guru. No one was allowed to stay in Kuruvapuram at nights as deities, siddhas, yogis visited Him during the night seeking His blessings. However, He allowed the elderly ascetic to stay there for a few days, and after that He asked the ascetic to go to Kashi and spend his remaining life there. Cooking, washing the vessels, taking care of the amenities of the pilgrims were my primary duties. Irrespective of their time of arrival, Sripada offered food to every devotee and used to say that food should be partaken as Prasadam of the Lord. Sometimes when any food items or rice appeared scarce, He would sprinkle water from His Kamandalu over the dishes and Lo! There would be

Chapter 48Description of Darbar in Panch Dev Pahad

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inexhaustible supply of food. He never ate more than a fi stful. People who did not transform their frail ways after His Darshan faced unique problems. They would once again rush to Him to redress their grievance and returned home as reformed souls. He insisted that the funeral obsequies of the departed elders should be performed annually with concern, respect and faith but not as a grudging duty. He declared in clear words that all are same for Him, but each person reaps the effects depending upon their good and bad deeds and the resultant karma. He would insist that a person pay respect to his guru as it is equal to having paid respect to Sripada, the Primordial Guru. He used to forewarn the devotees that only a guru can save his disciple from the wrath of any deity, but if the guru himself becomes angry with a disciple, no one in the whole wide universe can save him.82 He counselled that one should fi x their soul, mind and reason on the Almighty and carry out all their chores. Chanting the name of God Almighty clears the path and makes the progress smooth, swift and easy.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

82The Grace of the Guru is considered more powerful than the Grace of the Lord Himself. We realise that even after surrendering to God we are not able to ingratiate ourselves into the Lord’s favour. A Guru actually pleads for us with the Lord on our behalf. In fact there is a saying: ‘Shive rushte gurus-trata, gurau rushte na kaschana’ (in Guru Gita) meaning, ‘When the Lord is angered the Guru becomes the saviour but when the Guru is angry, nobody can save.’ We need Guru for this role of his.

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“Shankar Bhatt!” Sripada one day addressed me. “The activity we are performing is called Agni Upasana - worship of Fire God. The fi re in the Gaadi Poyyi83 has no power of its own. Blended together with my Yogagni (yogic fi re), the food cooked on it gets purifi ed and transforms into Prasadam with the power to remove the troubles and sufferings of my devotees. This stove will burn for nine more years, till I become thirty, after which I will conceal my physical form. I will grant my vision as a radiant form, to only a sincere devotee. Nevertheless, the Agni Yagna84 initiated by us will continue even after that without any obstructions.” Once, a newly married couple arrived at Kuruvapuram. Sripada ordered them to attend the Darbar in Panchadev Pahad. On the second day, the young husband breathed his last. This was a sudden shock and a calamitous tragedy for the poor young girl who came there hoping to get the Lord’s blessings. The relatives of the couple waited for Sripada to come and give His permission to take away the corpse. After Sripada came to the Darbar, He asked them to perform the funeral rites of the dead according to the scriptural laws. The aggrieved widow lamented, “I am told that nothing is impossible for You, Illustrious Lord who are verily the embodiment of chaitanya and fi re. I beseech you to bless me with marital life and bliss by resurrecting my husband.” Sripada responded, ‘Viswaso phaladayakaha,’ faith yields results. If you have such faith in me, your husband will defi nitely come back to life. Since we all must obey and

Chapter 49Ways to destroy Karma

83Traditional three-stone stove or an open fi re stove.84Sripada says that cooking food and heartily serving it to a guest is Agni Yagna. Sripada is pleased when a hungry person is fed. In fact all the incarnations of Datta emphasise annadanam, feeding the hungry, not as a ritual to acquire punya or as a ladder to heaven but with sincere concern.

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cannot go against the principles of karmic law, I will suggest a solution which does not contradict the law of karma. Arrange for fi rewood equivalent to the weight of your husband. Prepare food for everyone using that fi rewood. All inauspicious elements like your widowhood, the cremation of your husband, the funeral rites and the karmic vibrations present in the form of death will purge in the fl ames of the fi rewood and your husband will be restored.” The young bride-widow followed His instructions verbatim and her husband came back to life. Thus through Agni Yagna Sripada attracted the bad karma of His devotees into the fi rewood and using it for cooking destroyed the consequent bad or inauspicious effects. A poor Brahmin who was vexed and on the verge of giving up his life came to Sripada seeking His mercy. Sripada took out a burning brand and lightly stuck him with it. “Had I not struck you with the burning log, as per your karma you would have committed suicide. I nullifi ed all your sins. Start your life afresh. Wrap this log after cooling and take it carefully to your home. You will be freed from all sufferings.” Sripada placed His healing hand on the Brahmin who was moaning in pain and consoled him. On reaching home, when the Brahmin untied the bundle much to his surprise, the log turned into gold. Thereupon, the Brahmin led a life of peace and prosperity. Sripada helped His devotees burn their karma in various ways. At times, He would ask a devotee to cook and serve certain vegetables or pulses and eliminate their bad karma. Sometimes He would ask them to light a lamp using ghee85 and to keep it burning until dawn. Thus, depending upon the faith and karmic action of a devotee, Sripada used to suggest different methods to annihilate their bad karma.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!85Clarifi ed butter made from cow’s milk

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Once, an elderly devotee came to Sripada, writhing with unbearable stomach pain. Sripada enlightened the cause. “Son,” he said,” in your previous birth you pained many with your venomous words and sarcastic comments. You demeaned the persons and hurt their souls. Hence, you are suffering with this ailment. Chanting the name of Parabrahman, the Almighty is the only remedy to obliterate the sins acquired because of foul speech.” Obeying the Lord’s orders, for three consecutive days and nights Bhajans and Kirtans were sung in Kuruvapuram. I was granted permission to stay in Kuruvapuram during those three days and nights. After three days the devotee was relieved of his pain. Explaining that chanting the name of God is Vayu Yagna, Sripada said, “In the present day world, the entire atmosphere gets contaminated with the indecent and lewd language spoken, without any moderation. When a word is uttered, any one of the three qualities lying dormant in the atmosphere, namely the Sattva, Rajas and Tamogunas- the state of tranquillity, activeness and inertia or dullness respectively, will get provoked. If we cannot create good and auspicious vibrations, they in turn blemish the fi ve elements of Mother Nature. This in turn will vitiate the mind, intellect, body and soul of man encouraging him to commit sins and unrighteous acts. This is a nescient cycle perpetuated by actions and their causative effects. To liberate oneself from one’s causal nexus, one should have Trikarana shuddhi- purity of thought, speech and action or mind, voice and body. The ideal person is one in whom all these aspects exist in complete harmony. Chanting the name of God purifi es the atmosphere charging it with auspicious vibrations; it also inculcates the

Chapter 50Signifi cance of chanting the name of Lord

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habit of talking softly and politely, as the sacred name of the Omniscient sanctifi es the speech. Besides, since the mind remains in commune with God, the mind becomes pure thereby creating good thoughts, which in turn encourage one to perform good deeds. Even in the midst of exacting worldly duties, a person should always remain in commune with God. In Kali Yuga, chanting the name of God liberates one from all mundane troubles. Vayu yagna is nothing but purifying the atmosphere by earnestly chanting the name of Omnipresent Lord and by being, doing, speaking and thinking good with a pure heart. Once a person suffering from Tuberculosis, diabetes and some other ailments came to Kuruvapuram to behold Sripada. Sripada became enraged at the sight of him. “You were a bandit in your previous birth. You robbed many innocent people throwing them into the dungeon of grief. You robbed the money of a father who saved penny by penny for the wedding of his daughter and thus became the cause of her death. So you are reaping the fruits of your karma now. ” The invalid fell on Sripada’s feet and implored for mercy. Sripada, the ocean of compassion, moved by his repeated entreaties and contrition, ordered him to sleep in the cowshed in Panchadev Pahad. Sripada forbade giving him even water to drink. That night the person dreamt that some fi ends were strangling his neck and felt immense suffocation for some time. Then he dreamt that a wrestler was pinning him onto the ground, sitting on a large boulder that the former placed on his chest, making him undergo inexplicable pain in the dream itself. Thus, Sripada burnt his karma in his sleep and cured him off all his ailments. Sripada obliterated his karma by making him suffer for a few seconds in his dream, which otherwise he would have had to endure physically for many, many years.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

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It was the 12th day of the waning moon in the month of Ashwayuja and the star of the day was Hastha. After bathing in the Krishna River, Sripada sat in meditation. In spite of repeated efforts, I could not light the gaadipoyyi that day. Looking at my predicament, Sripada smiled and revealed, “Beloved son, the time has ripened for me to conceal my physical body. Shankara, I shall disappear in River Krishna. However I shall visit this place in my subtle body. My biography that you are authoring now is a sacred text. It acts like a Kalptaruvu –a wish fulfi lling tree to my sincere spiritual aspirants. This text proves benefi cial to rectify and reform manomaya jagat - the world of the mind and to replenish both mundane and spiritual progress. A person belonging to the 33rd generation in the lineage of Malladi Bapanarya will bring forth the Telugu translation of this original Sanskrit text. You have served me loyally and affectionately verily like an offspring. Take my wooden Padukas, do not lament for me and stay in this place for three more years. After completing the sacred text, on this same 12th day of the waning moon in the month of Ashwayuja, read the text in the presence of my padukas. Whoever comes seeking my Darshan on that day and listens to the text will be blessed. I will appear in my radiant form and reveal many secrets of yoga to you.” Saying thus he went into the middle of the river and disappeared. I cried bitterly like a lost child in a seething crowd separated from its loving mother. Unable to bear the pangs of separation I fell listless. After some time, I bathed in the holy river, sat in meditation and perceived the radiant form of my beloved Lord Sripada, the Primordial Guru.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Chapter 51Protection from perils

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For three continuous years, I was blessed with the Darshan of the resplendent form of Sripada. I recorded all my spiritual yogic experiences, which was taken away by a Himalayan yogi as per the instructions of Sripada.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Chapter 52My Yogic Experiences

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Special features of Charitamritam I read my manuscript before Sripada’s sacred padukas. Five other devotees who were there listened to it. They were overwhelmed in an ocean of bliss, drinking from the pool of nectar of Sripada Charitra. “My Biography authored by you will for some time, remain with the family of my maternal uncles. Then it will be translated into Telugu. Soon after the translation, this Sanskrit manuscript will disappear. The Gandharvas will place it underneath my altar at my birthplace in Pithikapuram, where it will be read by Siddha Yogis. A destined member who belongs to the 33rd generation of my maternal grandfather’s family will bring the Telugu version into light. Prior to bringing the Telugu script into light the person chosen for this purpose by me should immerse the original script in Krishna waters in Vijayawada. The person entrusted with this noble task should read the book with great reverence and devotion in Sripada Srivallabha Mahasamsthanam at my birth place and then dedicate it to me. During parayana if the person unexpectedly receives unsolicited prasadam from Gangapuram, then it is for sure that he belongs to the 33rd generation of the lineage of my granfather.” Appearing like white dazzling light, Sripada himself proclaimed this.

Sripada Rajam Saranam Prapadye!

Chapter 53The way Sripada Srivallabha Charitamritam

reaches Pithikapuram

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Lord Dattatreya

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Siddha Mangala Stotram

Srimadananta srivibhush*ta Appala Lakshmi Nrisimha Raja

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Sri Vidyadhari Radha Surekha Srirakhidhara Sripada

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Matha Sumathi vatsalyamritha pariposh*tha jaya Sripada

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Satya Rushisvara Duhithananadana Bapanaryanuta Sricharana

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Savitrikathakachayana punyaphala Bharadwaja rishi gothra sambhava

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Do choupathi dev Lakshmi Ghana Sankhyabodhita Sricharana

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Punyarupini Rajamamba Sutha Garbhapunyaphala Sanjatha

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Sumathi nanadana Narahari nandana Dattadevaprabhu Sripada

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

Pithikapura Nithyavihara Madhumati Datta Mangala Roopa

Jaya Vijayi Bhava Digvijayi Bhava Srimadakhanda Sri Vijayi Bhava–

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“When Sripada was seven years old, His sacred thread ceremony was performed with festivity and merriment. Dattadas, a Maladasari and a devotee of Sripada could not attend the ceremony as he belonged to a low caste. However, the blissfully happy Dattadas intoxicated with divine ardour invited his equally ecstatic kinfolk to his house and began narrating the story of Lord Datta in his own words:

“The Supernal Lord who was born to Mother Anasuya and Sage Atri in times yore, has now incarnated as Sripada Srivallabha in this Kali Yuga in our Pithikapuram. Today is an auspicious day, as His thread ceremony is being celebrated. After the ceremony, adorned with the sacred thread our Lord will illuminate with dazzling radiance. May prosperity be bestowed eternally upon our Lord , the protector of the helpless and the hapless.”

Dattadas was not erudite enough to recount more than this about Sripada. So he kept repeating the same story over and over again; and his audience also listened to his narration, happily engrossed in the Infi nite. This happened 53 times.

(Reading of this one time is equal to reading of one chapter of this biography.)

Glory of Sripada eulogized by Dattadas

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