CHAPTER – 11
Namadharaka was eager to know the details of the miracle. So, Siddha resumed his account:
“Oh Namadharaka, in a town called Karvir, there lived a Brahmin couple. They had a son who was illiterate. People heckled saying, ‘You are indeed an animal without a tail and horns but endowed with only two legs. It is the good fortune of cattle that you do not feed on grass. Education is a treasure of which no one can be robbed. It grows by being given away to one’s disciples. It can make even the lowest of the lowly, a great man. Even a poor man can gain wealth through the power of education. Like a chaste wife, education affords pleasure and it protects us like a mother. It comes to one’s rescue in a crisis, like a friend. In doing good, it is like the father. It’s like the guru in enlightening us. You who are devoid of such precious education are indeed a beast’. The boy felt humiliated. He at once retired to the forest, forswore food and sleep and meditated on the Divine Mother. As she did not grant him her vision, he cut off her his head the next day. That night, the Divine Mother appeared in his dream and said, ‘There is a sannyasi on the other bank of the river Krishna. Seek refuge in him. It will do you good.’
Accordingly, the young man visited Sree Guru the next day and bowed to him in reverence. Sree Guru placed his hand on the young man’s head in blessing. At once the young man regained his tongue, and also attained mastery over all branches of learning in a trice. There is nothing strange in this. Such defects as dull-wittedness are destroyed in those who ever meditate on the sacred feet of Sree Guru, which have in them such mystic signs as Vajra. What to say then, when the Lord Himself personally blessed a man? The Brahmin youth returned to his native place, Mahurapura, and by leading a life of spiritual discipline, attained perfection.
Later, Sree Guru set out in the southern direction. After visiting the holy place of the eight sacred rivers (ashtateertha), he proceeded to the place of confluence of rivers Krishna with five other sacred rivers. Then he reached western shore and stayed there for some time. In this place, rivers Saraswathi, Siva, Badra, Surabhi and Bhogavathi join the two rivers Krishna and Veni. Thus, it came to be known as the confluence of seven rivers. It is the most sacred of all places of confluence of rivers. This place has the township of Kurupura which is as holy as Kurukshethra, a confluence of rivers as holy as Prayag and a Yugaalaya (shrine of the Yuga) like Kasi. The fig tree (Udumbara) in this place is as great as Lord Vishwanadha of Kasi. Here abide the sixty four yoginis. By worshipping them, man can attain godhood. He who battles at this confluence of the rivers in the lunar month of Maagha is sure to attain heaven. Here are a crore holy spots. The place can bestow liberation on those who aspire for it, worldly comforts on others and is pleasing to the pious. The Lord made his abode under a fig tree.
In this village of Amarapura lived many learned Brahmins. One day, Sree Guru went to the house of a Brahmin and called out for alms. As there was no rice in the house, the housewife offered him a vegetable. The Lord was satisfied with this. But while leaving the house, he uprooted the creeper that afforded vegetable to that family and walked away to his hermitage. The housewife saw that and said to herself, ‘Alas, why did he uproot this plant? I hope I have not committed any folly to incur his displeasure’. Her husband consoled her saying, ‘Oh pious one, do not weep. Joy or sorrow is the result of one’s own previous actions and are never caused by others. The whole creation is subservient to the Lord. One has got to experience pain or pleasure at the allotted time. No one can alter it. He, who gives us life, sustains us. The Lord who is the creator, preserver and destroyer of this universe looks equally on a beggar or a king, the intelligent and the unintelligent. Do not be sorry for the destruction of the plant. This act shall prove for our own good’. So saying, he tried to replant it and in the process, discovered a treasure pot underneath! At once he went along with his wife to Sree Guru and reported the matter. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Oh blessed couple, this is a profound secret. If you proclaim it, the treasure will vanish. Enjoy this wealth and pleasure along with your children. Later you shall attain liberation. Go home for the present!’ Returning home, the couple devoted all their time to meditation on the Lord.”
Namadharaka asked, “Oh! Holy one, why did the Lord live by alms? Besides, when the peepul tree is so sacred, why did he take shelter under a fig tree?”
Siddha replied, “Son, living by alms is the way of Lord Shiva. That is why Lord Datta manifested himself as a mendicant and accepted cooked food as alms in accordance with the scriptural injunctions. Now for your second question: Lord Vishnu, in his manifestation as Man-lion (Narasimhaavataara), tore the demon king Hiranyakasipu’s body to pieces and destroyed him. Afterwards, owing to the poisonous action of the demon-king’s blood the Lord’s claws pained very much. He was relieved of the pain only through the efficacy of the leaves of the fig tree. Henceforth, this tree has acquired the power to destroy the sins, agony and misery of the Lord’s devotees. Lord Vishnu proclaimed that he, along with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, would abide in the fig tree. Wherever the Lord who is the Self of the whole Universe is, there abide the Vedas, all the holy places of pilgrimage, holy rivers and gods. Therefore, the fig tree has come to be a veritable Kalpavriksha on earth. Hence, in this place, the Lord, then manifest as Sree Guru, was being worshipped by the yoginis and fed by them everyday. Not knowing this, certain Brahmins of this place wished to observe how Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi lived without seeking alms from the village of Amarapura and hid themselves nearby. One day at noon, seeing the manifestations of the yogic power of Sree Guru, they were scared and ran away in dismay. Then they employed one Ganganuja to keep watch over the Guru’s movements and ways. After witnessing several spontaneous manifestations of the master’s divine power, he was converted and became a staunch devotee. He used to visit the Master everyday and render homage to him.
One day, Ganganuja came for the darshan of the Lord and witnessed a miracle. As the water in the river Krishna gave way, Sree Guru walked into it! The devotee also followed him in amazement and saw him enter a heavenly city on an island. Then Sree Guru sat on a high throne and was accepting the worship offered to him by the Yoginis. The Lord noticed Ganganuja and said, ‘Who are you? Why have you come here?’ The devotee replied, ‘Lord! My name is Ganganuja and I belong to this region. I came for your darshan. How deluded are mortals that take you for a man!’
The Lord blessed him and said, ‘My son, as long as I stay in this part of the country, do not divulge what you have seen to anyone’. The man agreed. Henceforth, he used to visit Sree Guru every day and pay his respects with greater faith. One day he asked the Lord, ‘Holy one, they say that a pilgrimage to Tristhali is very meritorious. Please enlighten me about it’. The Lord was pleased with his question and said:
The three holy places, Prayag, Varanasi (Kasi) and Gaya are collectively called Tristhali (the trio of holy places). So too, in this place, the confluence of the rivers, the Yugaalaya and Karvir together constitute the Tristhali. Then the Lord made the man wear his own wooden sandals and mysteriously transported him to both the Tristhalis, i.e., to the six holy places in all, which are hundreds of miles apart. When they were back again, as mysteriously, the Lord said, ‘I have shown you both of them; you recognize the similarity between them, follow the path of righteousness that befits you and attain liberation’. Accordingly, Ganganuja broke the shackles of ignorance through meditation on the guru and attained liberation in course of time.
Later, once the Lord reflected: ‘The glory of this place is spreading fast. Hence, many unrepentant sinners will flock to this place, along with the righteous. So, I will have to change my abode’. The Yoginis of the place knew of this and one day, they entreated him saying, ‘Lord, leaving us all, where do you intend to go?’ and they wept. He consoled them and said, ‘Oh Yoginis! Indeed, I shall ever abide here, but to the eyes of the ignorant, I shall seem to have left this place. Lord Amareshwara, Goddess Annapurna, Lord Vighneswara and I shall ever be here, fulfilling the wishes of the devout. Henceforth, this holy place shall grow famous and become a populous town with many comforts. Such obstinate forms of illness as typhoid, diseases of the eye, leprosy, diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma, paralysis and chronic diseases of the digestive system shall be miraculously cured in this place. Barren women will be blessed with children. The poor shall be blessed with wealth and the devout shall be liberated. In short, every one shall be provided with the object of his desire. A sacred bath, taken at the confluence of the rivers on the days of sacred festivals, will bestow on devotees the merit of having given away a thousand cows as a gift. Even a little japa, homa (fire-oblation) and bestowing gifts on pious Brahmins will secure infinite religious merit to the performer. Every step which a devotee takes in circumambulating any holy object in this place will confer on him the merit of having performed the religious sacrifice called Aswamedha (the horse-sacrifice). Any ritual offering made shall elevate one’s ancestors to the divine realms’. Having thus comforted the Yoginis, Sree Guru left his wooden sandals under the holy fig tree and blessed them saying, ‘Whoever takes a bath in the Ashtateertha and worships my padukas along with the Yoginis shall secure the fulfillment of their wishes’ and he left the place for the banks of the river Bheema”.