CHAPTER – 8
Namadharaka eagerly asked Siddha to recount to him all about the next manifestation of the Lord Datta. Siddha replied, “Indeed, the divine acts of the second avatar cannot be completely comprehended even by great yogis. So, remember that however much I might narrate them, my account is bound to be fragmentary and incomplete.
I have told you that earlier, Sreepada Swami told a Brahmin lady to devote her life to the worship of Lord Shiva. She did accordingly and as a result of it, she was born in North India in a pious family and was named Amba. She grew up into a handsome, chaste girl and she was married to a pious young man by name Madhava Sharma. She was devoted, heart and soul to the service of her husband. His noble company added to the noble tendencies she developed as a result of her spiritual discipline in her previous life. She now became an ardent devotee of Shiva. In course of time, she gave birth to a son. The child did not cry, as is usual, at birth. On the other hand, the only sound he uttered was ‘OM’ and everyone there was amazed at it. Astrologers assured Madhava Sharma that their child indeed was an avatar of the Lord. They also prophesied that he would renounce all worldly tied and that he would uplift fallen souls. They said that Madhava Sharma was indeed blessed by the birth of such a child.
The news that this child uttered the sacred syllable immediately at birth spread to the neighboring cities and towns. Devout men and women came to see the child in great numbers. At the proper time, the child was named Narahari. The name signified that he was the dispeller of the sins and miseries of human beings.
Another miracle took place a little after his birth. At first, his mother did not have enough lactation. The parents were thinking of purchasing a she-goat, or arranging for a wet nurse, to feed the child. But this was not necessary. For, when the little hands of the child touched the mother’s breast, there was profuse lactation. The parents who were already worried that the extraordinary child might suffer from evil eye of the large number of visitors, decided to keep this miracle a secret.
The child Narahari grew up to be a handsome boy of five, but he could not speak and the parents were very much worried about it. One day, the boy conveyed to them through gestures that he wished to invested with the sacred thread. Accordingly, Madhava Sharma performed the sacred thread ceremony of his son at that early age. Young Narahari learned the Gayathri Mantra, adopted the vows of a young celebate (Brahmacharya), accepted his first offering of food from his mother’s hands and at once recited the three Vedas. It was evident that he was indeed the Master of all sacred Wisdom. He then paced thrice round his parents with all the reverence due to them, as the physical representatives of the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God, the Creator and Sustainer; and as representatives of God, the Father, the Mother, and Teacher of all humanity said: “Owing to the profound realization that the human body is impermanent, dispassion has come over me. So please permit me to renounce all worldly ties and dedicate my entire life to the highest wisdom. As I am endowed with a keen understanding and steadfast discrimination, I am not in danger of swerving from my spiritual path. You need not worry about my life”.
The parents were shocked at his words and wept, saying, “You are our only child. If you desert us in this fashion, who is to take care of us in our old age, and of our welfare in the realms beyond death? You may as well renounce the world after leading the life of a house-holder for sometime, and, after begetting sons.” Narahari replied, ‘Mother, scriptures ordain that one should renounce the world only after living as house-holder for sometime. But this is imperative only in the case of those who cannot conquer their desires. But owing to my previous state of existence, I am endowed with innate dispassion even at my birth. So, I do not want to enjoy the objects of the senses which can only lead to misery. So, I shall pass on directly from the state of celibacy directly to the life of a sannyasi. Thereby, I shall only confirm my perfection. Indeed, there is no nobler course than this to one who is endowed with discrimination. In this age of Kali, the average span of life granted to a man is a mere hundred years. Half of it is spent in sleep. Part of the rest is spent away in the ignorance of boyhood and the waywardness of youth. Another large chunk of it is frittered away in the service of the family and kinsfolk. The senility of old age gobbles up another portion of what little is left to him. But, after all wealth, family ties and responsibilities are as unreal as a dream. Youth is a transcient as a flower which soon withers. Thus life is very short when viewed in the light of the only purpose of it, i.e., Self Realization. The wheel of time destroys all forms of life, including the gods, relentlessly. To be emotionally attached to anything in this phenomenal world amounts to mere self-betrayal and is self-defeating too. This body, with the skin as its surface layer, flesh, bones and the blood within, is as frail a structure as a water bubble. Excessive fondness for one’s wife and children is the root of all other devil tendencies. In itself, this body of ours is made of inanimate matter and is ever changing and perishable. Only the “SELF” within is eternal and is our only true being. Joys and sorrows of worldly life are merely relative, subjective and are therefore illusory experiences to the realized. Man can break the fetters of this illusion only through the grace of the guru. He who is born as a noble Brahmin and yet does not do anything to secure liberation from this illusion deceives himself. Therefore, oh mother, do not hinder me in my resolve. You shall be blessed with some more children. Go on meditating on me and thereby you shall cross the ocean of misery and ignorance too’. So saying, Narahari again blessed his mother with the vision of his divine form. She perceived it through the eye of wisdom and was at once reminded of her previous birth. So she said to the Lord:
‘Holy one, you are indeed Lord Sreepada, who in my previous life, saved me from my unwise resolve to commit suicide. I bow before you. Your glory cannot be comprehended in its fullness even by the four-faced Brahma. How then can I, a deluded mortal, know it? Even this little wisdom was bestowed on us by your grace and as a result of my good fortune. You are, indeed, the Unbounded One. All the universes have their being in your infinite expanse. To say that you are born to me as my son is but a fallacy; for you are eternal. But the whole of my ancestry and that of my husband are sanctified by your birth in our family. Yours is the omnipresent will. I shall not hinder your resolve to renounce the world for the welfare of all sentient beings. Bless me that this glorious vision of your divine form is forever impressed on my heart. You have assured me that I shall be blessed with a few more children. Pray, stay with us, at least till such time!’ Lord Narahari graciously acceded to her request and stayed away. The blessed couple used to worship the Lord every day with full awareness of his divinity. Many were the learned who flocked to him for the elucidation of intricate questions in scriptural knowledge. Many of them got their doubts clarified and attained Self-realization. This is no task to one who could uplift even the dull witted.
In course of time, Amba was blessed with the birth of twins. When they were three months old, Narahari said to his mother, ‘Mother, you are now blessed with these two children. You shall have two more sons and a daughter. Please permit me to renounce the world now’. She consented. He covered his head with a piece of cloth, put on wooden sandals, covered his body with the ochre robe and wore a codpiece. Taking a staff in his hand, he set out from his home in joy.
On his way to Badrinath, Narahari reached the holy Varanasi (Kasi) in the guise of a seeker after liberation. There, at a secluded spot, he sat in the yogic posture of Vajrasana and restrained his vital breath. He assumed the yogic gesture (mudra) of khecheri and meditated on the subtle internal sound of nada. The sages of that Holy place recognized him to be the Lord himself, prostrated to him and addressed him thus: ‘Holy one, you have assumed a human form in order to re-establish the pristine purity and dignity of the great institution of Sanyasa. It was formally established by Sree Sankaracharya of yore and is now in a fallen state, almost non-existent in its true form. May you propagate it again! The wicked who are deluded by the dark age of Kali, unable to recognize the bliss of Self-realization, have come to shun the blessed Sanyasa. Even though it is terrible to the faint-hearted, this age of Kali is capable of bestowing bliss much more easily than the other ages. Pray, secure for us this supreme path to Bliss!’
Granting their wish, Lord Narahari, in accordance with holy tradition, resorted to his Holiness Swami Krishna Saraswathi as his guru and from him took vow of Sanyasa. Henceforth, he came to be known as Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi. He relinquished the tuft of hair (sikha), the sacred thread and all. He formally took the vow of lifelong celibacy. Thus he became a full fledged sannyasi who was transcended the opposites of joy and sorrow and the limitations of a self centered will. This World teacher has laid down the tradition of Sanyasa for seekers after liberation and expounded the same to his disciples thus:
“Great good accrues through Sanyasa which consists of the following acts:
(1) Praayaschitta or holy rites of atonement for one’s sins of present and previous births, including the witlful acts and also those done unwittingly;
(2) Ashtasraadhas or the eight rites obsequies which are offered to all worldly relations including one’s previous self;
(3) Virajaahoma or the fire-oblation signifying the crossing of the river of death;
(4) Gayatripravesa or entering the spirit of Gayatrimantra;
(5) Yeeshanatraya tyaga or the relinquishment of concern for life, wife, children and wealth;
(6) Bhooradi Sanyasa or renunciation of desire for the joys and possessions in heaven and on earth;
(7) Sikhasuutra Sanyasa or relinquishing the tuft of hair and the sacred thread;
(8) Guruprapatti or resorting to a Guru who expounds to the seeker, meaning of the four cardinal tenets of Vedanta i.e., the Mahavaakyas, viz., ‘Pragnaanam Brahma” (pure awareness of Brahma); Aham Brahmaasmi (My real self is Brahma); Tatvamasi (Thou art indeed That); Ayam atma Brahma (This self is indeed Brahman). He also learns of: Panchiikarana (analysis of the phenomenon of the manifestation of the five basic elements of existence as this creation and the body); Yogapatta (or the title of a Monk); Paryankasowcha (vow of keeping one’s bed pure and giving up the use of any soft ands comfortable beds other than one’s garment); Swadharma Vichaara (or understanding of the spirit of the traditional practices of the life of Sanyasa).
When someone who has renounced the world in the said manner, leaves his body, it has to be preserved in the earth, or left in water, but should not be cremated. One has to understand the implications of Sanyasa and adopt it only if he is competent and qualified to do so.”
Thus Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi expounded the nature of Sanyasa to some and the meaning of the Vedas which can secure the true objects of life (Purusharthas) to others. Then, he proceeded in his wanderings round the country in a clock wise direction, along with his disciples. He took holy dips in all the holy rivers along the way and reached the sacred place where the river Ganga joins the sea. There he pursued the practice of yoga. Later, he again set out on his trek and arrived at holy Prayag, where he expounded the philosophy of Vedanta to a pious Brahmin named Madhava and initiated him into Sanyasa. Then he proceeded homewards to see his mother again.”
Having heard thus far attentively, Namadharaka asked, “Who is that Krishna Saraswathi who had the fortune of being the revered Guru of the Lord himself? Why did the Lord Himself need to be initiated by him into Sanyasa?” Siddha replied:
“Just as Sri Rama became the disciple of sage Vasishta, and Sri Krishna resorted to sage Sandipani, Sree Nrisimha too resorted to Krishna Saraswathi. For, once he assumed the human form, it behoves that he should respect the Holy Law of mortals which alone ensures their lasting good. Else, the Law will fall into a general neglect. Hence, the holy ones never ignore it. Even the Bhagavad-Gita says, ‘Whatever the best of mortals does, the world follows’. Now I shall tell you the spiritual lineage of Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi.
Shiva was the first Guru. Vishnu was first disciple. Brahma was the disciple of Vishnu and henceforth the lineage went on like this: Brahma, Vasishta, Shakthi, Paraasara, Vedavyasa, Shuka, Gaudapada, Govinda, Shankarabhagavatpaada, Viswarupa, Bodhjnaani, Simhagiri, Iswara, Nrisimha, Vidyateertha, Sivateertha, Bhageeradhi Teertha, Vidyaranya, Malayaananda, Devateertha, Yaadavendra Saraswathi, Krishnaananda Saraswathi, who initiated Lord Nrisimha of our story into Sanyasa. This Krishnaananda Saraswathi was ripe in age and wisdom. Hence Nrisimha resorted to him’.