CHAPTER – 22
Namadharaka said to Siddha: “Holy Sir, the more I listen to the stories of the Guru, the more my appetite for them is whetted. It is my good fortune that I could come into contact with such a one like you who is not tired of my insatiable thirst for the stories of the Guru.” Siddha replied, ‘Namadharaka, how long can you go on drinking thus of the nectar of the divine acts of Sree Guru who is the manifestation of the Supreme Spirit and is of the nature of Reality-Awareness-Bliss? And who can ever recount to you the unfathomable and infinite glories of the Lord? In the vastness of immense space, from the smallest moth to the biggest of birds, so many creatures fly. But each of them can cover only a little of it, in proportion to its own might. So too, I shall narrate the divine deeds of the Lord to the best of my ability.
Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi is very kind and loving to his devotees and he conducts himself in accordance with their attitude to him. The Lord is originally formless and of the nature of pure Satthva, free from all cravings and unborn. However, by manifesting buddhi or intellect as one of his attributes, he became the Self of the universe. Though He is all pervading, He manifested Himself as Lord Brahma in the Satyaloka, as Vishnu in the Vaikuntha and as Maheswara in the Kailasa, so that sages might be blessed with his sight. As there are many devout souls on earth who take refuge in Him only, He wished to manifest Himself to them. To this end, he has been manifesting himself on earth in every epoch and uplifting those who serve Him, by His grace. Who can ever capture in speech, the boundless love of the Lord for his devotees? For, though by Himself, in Spirit, He is ever complete and fulfilled, in his human manifestation, He wanders to the houses of His devotees for bhiksha. All these, His divine acts, but demonstrate His love for His devotees. He, who cannot be reached in other Yugas even through severe austerities, responds readily to us in this Yuga by our mere thought of Him, with a heart full of love. Therefore it is our good fortune that we are living in this age of Kali. The Lord, who is slave of His devotees, moves about like a begging sannyasi in this place.
Once several devotees coming from seven different villages visited Sree Guru on the eve of holy Diwali or the festival of lights. Every one of them came to him with a wish to take him to his house on the holy day. Accordingly, one from each of the villages, by turns, had put forth the same request: ‘May you be pleased to grace our house and stay with me for at least five days’. Sree Guru replied: ‘you are seven and I am one! How can I attend the celebrations, which go on simultaneously in all the seven places? I can only stay for one day with each of you. If all of you can agree on this, it will be nice.’ But the next moment, he added, “I am a slave of my devotees. I will accompany those who could take me with them!” there naturally ensued much argument and wrangling among the devotees as to who should take him. One of them appealed to the Lord, ‘Oh Sir, pray, do not ignore my invitation, simply because I am not as rich as the others.’ Another interrupted him saying, ‘My Master, I may be rich, but I will be a pauper without your grace.’ Every one of them finally bowed to him praying that his own invitation be honoured above the rest. Finally, the Guru said, ‘I shall visit all your houses. All of you may go home happily.’ When they were about to take leave of him, all of them had a doubt whether they can take his word for a promise. Sree Guru who knew their hearts called every one of them separately and told him, ‘I shall visit only your house. But do not reveal this to the others!’ every one of them thought that the Master really meant to visit his house only. Thus all of them departed happily. Later, however, the devotees at the muth sadly said, ‘Lord, if you leave us and go away to another village on the holy day, how unhappy do we feel!’ the Master said, ‘I shall not go anywhere! Do not be anxious on that account.’
Indeed, during the celebration of Diwali, the Guru assumed seven identical forms and graced the houses of all the devotees in the seven places simultaneously, with his presence in his eight forms, he stayed at his muth. The omnipresent Lord stayed for five long days in all the eight places! The seven devotees again visited the muth in the holy month of Kaarthik and they were telling one another that Sree Guru had graced their respective houses during the festivities of Diwali. The disciples at the muth intervened and said, ‘in fact the Lord had not left the muth at all during the five days celebration. He graced us all by his presence here. Consequently every one of them accused every other of telling lies. When the argument drew the attention of Sree Guru, he said, ‘Do not dispute among yourselves. I am everywhere!’ everyone was struck dumb with amazement and joy. Together, they all sang his glory: ‘Thus, Supreme Lord, unable to fathom your mystery, we wrangle and dispute about you. How could our common language ever acknowledge thy glory adequately, when even the Vedas have failed to do so? Verily, you are the in-dweller of the heart-cave of every creature. Oh Thou all pervading one, your divine birth and acts aim only at blessing thy devotees. Be pleased to bless us that we are not deluded by thy power of cosmic illusion. Ay, may we not be deluded by all that is seen and heard (by our illusory senses)’. The lord blessed them all saying, ‘Amen!’ (Thathaasthu!)
In this manner, the Lord who is the nature of Reality-Awareness-Bliss had sported his divine acts, which are inconceivable to us. The Lord is pleased only by our faith and he never cares for our race, ritual conduct, age, beauty, learning, wealth and resourcefulness. I shall illustrate what I mean:
There was a peasant who, by adhering to the occupation of farm labour that is enjoined on him by Sastras (swadharma), enjoyed worldly prosperity and finally attained liberation. Everyday, he attended to his labours and as Sree Guru passed that way towards the Sangama for his daily bath, bowed to him. In order to make the passage comfortable to the Guru, he removed stones and thorns on the path and leveled it. One day, as the Guru passed that way, the man bowed to him as usual and again resumed his work. Sree Guru then asked him, ‘Why do you bow to me every day? What do you hope to gain thereby? Tell me your heart’s wish!’ The man replied, ‘my lord, I hope to enjoy worldly pleasures and prosperity. By your grace, my farm looks luscious. Even though I am a Sudra I am your devotee and hence I hope I will not be ignored by you.’
Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi saw that the whole field was rich with ears of grain, though not yet ripe for harvesting. He turned to the labourer and said, ‘My son, if you have faith in me my word, harvest the field completely by the time I return from the Sangama.’ As soon as Sree Guru went away, the farmer went to the landlord and requested him to fix the terms of payment in grain, so that he could at once reap the corn. The landlord said in surprise, ‘But it is not yet time for harvesting!’ and refused to spell out the terms. The farmer said, ‘Sir, I promise to give twice the amount of grain I have given you last year’. He persisted and somehow extracted the needed document in writing.
Immediately, he called the labourers and started reaping the corn. His wife was shocked to know that he had started harvesting the field much in advance of the proper season. She at once ran, along with her children, to the field and tried to dissuade him. However, he put her off by threats and went ahead with his work. Such indeed, is true faith and devotion. For the love of the Lord, Bharata had sacrificed his attachment to his mother; Prahalada had left his father and Vibheeshana forsook his brother. The farmer’s wife ran to the landlord and complained to him saying, ‘Oh sir, in foolish obedience to the words of a sannyasi, my husband has started harvesting the crop before it is fully ripe. Pray, stop him!’ the landlord sent word through his man, commanding the farmer not to go ahead with his foolish plan. The farmer stood his ground saying, ‘You cannot frighten me out of my work as long as I have the record of terms of agreement!’ the messenger had to return to the landlord and conveyed his reply to him. The landlord was helpless. He said to the farmer’s wife, ‘Woman, how can I go back on my word? I cannot command him now, as he too has grown rich of late. The woman returned to her husband waiting. The man did not budge but finished his job. He calmly stood in wait for the master to return.
In a short while, Sree Guru came there, looked at the field and asked the farmer why he acted in such an odd manner. ‘You have done what no one else would ever dream of doing! Alas, I was only joking when I told you to do so. What is to become of your living, and how are you going to pay the landlord’s share now that the fruits of a year’s labour have gone a waste? Why did you harvest the field before it was ripe?’ unperturbed, the farmer said, ‘My Guru’s word is law unto me. Nothing else can bestow the like rewards on me. I am not worried about my living. For he who has blessed me with this birth shall Himself sustain me!’ then Sree Guru said, ‘If, indeed your faith is so great, it shall be so!’ and went his way to the muth. The farmer, with no other thought in his mind than the holy form of Sree Guru, carted the grain home. Shortly after, when the sun entered the constellation of moola, there was heavy rain and the whole field was full with corn, ripe for harvest! Everyone, including the farmer’s wife, marveled at the miracle. The woman touched her husband’s feet in reverence saying, ‘my good Lord, you are a true devotee of Sree Guru. Pardon me my ignorance.’ The farmer happily proceeded to the field and performed ritual worship to it. They saw Sree Guru returning from the Sangama and bowed to him.
The farmer addressed him, ‘My Lord, your holy feet are my wish fulfilling gem, your word is the life-reviving force and your form is of the nature of Divine Light. Just as the owl is not able to see the light of the day, the ignorant ones cannot perceive your true nature. By the fruit of my previous meritorious actions, I shall seek your divine abode. I am indeed blessed. May your holy self ever think of me lovingly’. Sree Guru said, ‘Even a man given to wicked ways will be made holy by serving me with singleness of mind. Such shall attain the same state of bliss as does the man of virtue and faith. Therefore, your house shall ever be blessed with plenty and your heart will ever be rooted in faith. You need not harbour any doubt in this regard.’
When Sree Guru went away, the farmer went to the landlord and said, ‘Sir, I shall give you twice the quantity of grain mentioned in our agreement. For the yield is twice as plentiful as every year.’ The landlord said, ‘No I shall not accept even a grain more than we have agreed upon. I do not want any grain earned in transgression of my word. What you have obtained is by the grace of Sree Guru belongs to you. It is enough if you give me what is my due.’ The farmer too took for himself what was his due and distributed the surplus to the needy. By the grace of Sree Guru, he grew rich and continued to serve his Master. I believe that the place where this miracle took place is hallowed.”
On hearing the words of Siddha, Namadharaka had a question to ask: “Oh Mahatma, leaving aside such holy places as Kasi, why did the Lord choose to live in this place?”
Siddha replied: “The Lord saw that the holy places in Gangapur are surrounded in all directions by deities and so he chose this as his abode. Once, some people of this place wished to go to Kasi. Then Sree Guru told them, ‘in this age of Kali, the holiness of all places of pilgrimage gets hidden from public access. I shall show you some such here itself.’ So saying, he showed them the holy spots at Gangapur and explained thus:
`This is Sangama. This verily is (as holy as) Prayag. These are the Shatkula teerthas. This Sangama is the confluence of the three rivers, the Triveni. This is the river Amaraja. Whoever takes a dip in it shall be freed from his sins and will achieve immense religious merit and his wishes will be fulfilled. Once Lord Shiva gifted nectar to god Indra to revive all those gods in his army who were killed by the demon Jalandhara in war. A little of it spilled in this place and it took the shape of a holy river. The same is this river Amaraja, which can destroy the fear of death. The peepul tree here is as holy as the famous Wish fulfilling Tree. The streamlet near it is what is known as Manoratha (lit. aspiration) teerthas. In front of it is the famous Santosha (beautitude) teerthas. The Shivalinga there (known as Rudra) is Vishweshwara, the Lord of the Universe. Whoever goes round the Shivalinga in the proper manner and, touching the genitals of the Nandeeswara with his left hand and keeping the thumb and fore finger of the right hand on the two horns, look at the Linga through the intervening space (between the two fingers and the two horns of Nandi) will attain status of a God. For the uplift of the souls on earth, Shiva had sanctified Kasi. A devotee of Lord Shiva who attained liberation while in body lived in this place, like one stupefied. He considered inner contact (identification) with the body as venomous as a snake, sensual pleasures as poison and women as corpses.
One day, he summoned all his kinsfolk and said, ‘Look here is Kasi!’ They requested him to show him the same, more clearly. Then he prayed to Lord Shiva. The Lord appeared before them along with the whole city of Kasi about him. Similarly the jeevanmukta showed them the Shivalinga of Lord Vishweshawara in the sacred water tank called the uttama kundah (lit., the excellent lake). He then told his people, ‘this is the city of Kasi. Everyone should undertake the holy pilgrimage here in a proper manner every year. Our family deity is Lord Vithal. Yet the pilgrimage to Kasi which is performed here will wash away our sins and grant us our wishes.’
As Sree Guru went on with his account, his sister by birth, a lady named Ratna, came there and bowed to him. At once he said to her, ‘Do you remember what I have told you?’ Then she recollected the former incident and noticed leprosy on certain parts of her body. When she was sorry for it, the Lord said, ‘if you are prepared to reap this consequence of a previous sin in your next life, you shall now be made clean’. Ratnadevi replied, ‘Lord, bless me that I have no more births. I do not want anything else.’ Then the Guru said, ‘If anyone takes bath is this Papanasa Teertha for three days, he shall be freed from all the sins of seven previous births, what to speak of freedom from leprosy?’ She did accordingly and the disease vanished. Then the Guru showed them Koti Teertha (the lake of crore holy lakes). Those who take the holy dip here on auspicious days, practice such devotion, as japa and religious charity will be blessed with infinite reward. He then showed them the Rudrapada Teertha and said that the ritual acts that are to be performed there are the same as for Gaya. He also said that the Chakra Teertha, which is at the end of river Krishna is equal in holiness to holy Dwaravati and even four times as holy. “Even a sinner who takes bath here will be blessed. To the east of this village is Gokarna, where abides Lord Shiva in the form of Kalleshwara and is also known as Mahabaleshwara. The Manmatha Teertha there is as sacred as the sea. By performing abhisheka to Shiva in the month of Shraavana and by celebrating the festival of lights in the month of Kaarthik, one’s wishes are fulfilled and much good accrues.’ Henceforth, the people started following Sree Guru’s instructions. Knowing that the place is so sacred, Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi had opted to live there. He is indeed the fulfiller of his devotee’s wishes. He uplifted a Muslim king spiritually. Even though such a holy one dwells amidst us, the ignorant masses cannot recognize him, just as the born-blind cannot see the sun.”