CHAPTER – 9
Namadharaka asked Siddha, “Holy one! Sree Nrisimha, after having renounced all worldly ties, why did he again visit his mother again? Was it not a transgression of the vow of Sanyasa? Also tell me who his disciples were and what he did later”.
Siddha replied, “As per his religious vows, Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi went round our country and then returned home to see his mother. For, the mother is worthy of reverence even to a renunciate. Hence, he decided to pay his respects to her.
Besides, he started on his wanderings from her presence and the ritual rounding of the travels has to end there. One has to return to his Source, after all! He has seven disciples and they were Baala, Krishna, Upendra, Janajyothi, Sadaananda, Madhava and Siddha (i.e., myself). All of us have the title ‘Saraswathi’ suffixed to our names. Besides these, a few other disciples of him accompanied him to his village. There he blessed his brothers, sister and parents and was duly honored by them all. Then his mother Amba, recalling her previous birth said to her husband, “Sir, when I had the good for nothing son and was about to commit suicide, in order to escape the misery, Lord Sreepada protected me and this Nrisimha is the reincarnation of the same Lord. He then assured me that in my next life, I would have a son of his own spiritual stature. As he has no equals, he now took birth as my son, out of compassion for me and his natural truthfulness.’
Then, addressing Sree Nrisimha she said: ‘Now that you are my son, as per the worldly point of view, it behoves you to uplift us from this ocean of misery, dispelling the divine power of illusion which now holds me down.’ Sree Guru replied, ‘That family into which a true sannyasi is born, along with their ancestors of twenty one generations earlier, will be uplifted spiritually and saved from the miserable round of births and deaths. Even those earlier ancestors who sank to worse states of existence in consequence of their sins will be saved. Now, mother, that I am born as your son, you need fear nothing. You shall attain liberation at Varanasi’. Hearing these words, his sister Ratna said, ‘Lord, what shall become of me hereafter? I am afraid of being left behind in this miserable cycle of births. As you are the Sadguru, please save me!’
Sree Nrisimha said, ‘My dear, to a lady, her husband is the sole refuge. You shall cross this ocean of misery through unswerving devotion to your husband. In your previous birth, you caused estrangement between a man and his wife and you even killed a cow. In consequence, your husband will become a sannyasi and you will suffer from leprosy.’ At these words, his sister broke down and wept. The Lord consoled her saying, ‘My dear, you will reap these consequences in your ripe old age. You shall be made pure again by meeting me’. Later, along with his disciples, he went away to the banks of the holy river Godavari. That river was brought from its heavenly abode to this earth by sage Gouthama of old, to atone for his sin of having a killed a cow.
There was, in that village, a man suffering from chronic and excruciating pain in his abdomen. He tried to cure himself of it by several means but in vain. Unable to bear it any longer, one day, he resolved to commit suicide by drowning himself in the holy river. So, he tied a big boulder to his neck and was ready to jump into the river. Sree Guru saw him, called him near and asked him why he sought so desperate an end. The man said, “Lord, I shall die of this abdominal pain any way. This ailment makes it impossible for me to eat my food. Food, indeed, is the origin, sustenance and annihilation, vital energy and the very life of creatures. Is not death better than intolerance of food? Probably, either in this life or in a previous one, I have not offered food in charity to any one; or I might stolen that which rightly belongs to either a Brahmin or a cow; or I might have insulted my parents; or I might I have abstained from the worship of the gods; or I might have driven away guests and Brahmins from my threshold; or perhaps, I had enjoyed the pleasures of life with my wife deserting my parents. I must have committed one of these sins and, perhaps, I have not done any meritorious deed to deserve proper food in this life. I now suffer for it. In consequence, I have not been able to extend a helping hand to anyone in my life. I am a mere burden to this earth.’ So saying, he lamented his fate.
Sree Guru, consoled him saying, ‘Oh Brahmin, do not fear! I shall administer you a medicine which will enable you to eat normally’. Just at that moment, a Brahmin by name Sayamdeva arrived and prostrated to the Guru. He hailed from the holy city of Kanchi in the south and belonged to the Koundinya Gotra. At that time, he was serving in the court of a muslim ruler. Sree Guru addressed him thus, ‘Sayamdeva, this Brahmin, unable to bear his pain, wishes to die. I shall administer a divine remedy to him. At first, feed him scrupulously with a delicious meal’. Sayamdeva submitted, apprehensively, ‘Lord! Even if he takes food once a month or fortnight, he suffers a lot. If I feast such a one, am I not killing him?’ Sree Guru smiled and said, ‘Do not fear, Sayamdeva, no physician is abler than I. Without any hesitation give him a full feast. I shall take care of the rest of the matter’. Sayamdeva agreed: ‘Lord, I shall do as you say. But, pray, may your holiness too come along, with your disciples, and accept my hospitality. I shall offer myself as your disciple. Graciously accept me and save me.’ The Guru agreed and, at the proper hour, went to Sayamdeva’s house along with his disciples. The latter received Sree Guru with due reverence and offered him proper worship, chanting Vedic mantras like Purusha Suktha and Rudra Suktha. He then partook of the holy washings of the guru’s feet (paadateertha) along with the members of his family, worshipped even the disciples of the master and served food to all the guests. The ailing Brahmin guest too ate to his fill in the company of the Lord, who is the guru of those gurus who can grant salvation to their devotees. At once he was free from his trouble! In the holy company of the master, dispassion dawned in his heart and he worshipped the Lord with profound faith.
Sayamdeva, while massaging the Lord’s Feet, submitted: ‘Swami, by serving your feet, all my holy acts and my very life are blessed. And so are my ancestors. I am really fortunate. They say that the Ganga washes off our sins, the moon dispels heat, and that the kalpavriksha ends all misery. But you uplift souls, even as the wind lifts up shreds of cotton. Even though you are originally unborn, in order to protect the righteous, you have taken birth. Bless me that I and the descendants of my family could serve you. Save me from the one thing that is troubling me. The Muslim ruler whom I serve is a destroyer of life. Every year he kills a Brahmin. Now he has sent for me, with the same intent, I fear’. Sree Guru said, ‘Do not fear, Sayamdeva! Go to that wicked ruler. You shall be honored by him and sent safely back. Do not worry.’ Indeed, when Sayamdeva visited the ruler, the latter honored him with gifts of jewels, ornaments and new clothes. The Muslim king was at first enraged at Sayamdeva’s delay in presenting himself at the palace. But he suddenly fell down unconscious and, when he regained senses, his attitude underwent a radical change with regard to that blessed visitor. So the devout Brahmin returned and prostrated to Sree Guru. Who can annoy the true devotee of the guru?
Sree Guru said to him, ‘You have totally surrendered yourself to me, body and soul. All your wishes shall be fulfilled. You will meet me again after sixteen years’. Thus blessing Sayamdeva, Sree Guru went to holy Vaidyanath and later his whereabouts were known. In order to strengthen the faith of the devotees, the Lord performed many such divine acts. For, the Lord wishes that his creatures should attain salvation by serving him with faith. In order to inspire gratitude in their hearts, he blesses them with worldly good. By gratefully serving him thereafter, they learn to aspire for liberation. Then they meditate on him with perfect dispassion to worldly things. Later, by the grace of the Lord, with the help of the four great teachings (Mahavaakyas) they attain union with the Supreme Self. Their ignorance thus destroyed, they attain eternal peace. That peace makes them compassionate, unbound, beyond the pairs of opposites. Enjoying the bliss of their Self thus, they wander about, unaware of a world apart from them, looking like specters. Through the touch, worship and sight of the Sadguru, great spiritual powers are gained quite spontaneously. He who centers his inner life on the Sadguru either through hate, fear or love is indeed blessed. He shall attain to the same state of being as the guru. The means of seeking God are indeed simple. He can only be inferred through the intellect. The Self and god are indeed one with the Self of the guru.”
Hearing the words of Siddha, Namadharaka asked him, “Why did Sree Nrisimha Saraswathi, ever gracious to His devotees, choose to live incognito? What happened to his disciples thereafter?” Siddha replied, “As the number of disciples swelled immensely, the Lord, wishing to live in solitude, said to his disciples: ‘One becomes the twice-born through the sacred thread – ceremony (upanayana). Henceforth, he wears the sacred thread, the loin band (mekhala) and the staff. Observing the vow of celibacy, he performs such rites as tending the sacrificial fire in the morning, noon and sunset. He lives by seeking offerings of food from noble house holders and studying the Vedas. He has to abstain from sleep during the day. Whatever offerings of food he gets, should first be offered to his guru and he should accept what the guru is pleased to give him of it. Thus he studies for twelve years and at the end, makes an offering to the guru and should perform the fire-offering Samaavarthanahoma. Then, in accordance with the direction of his guru, he should marry and henceforth observe the vows and discipline enjoined on the householder by religious law. Well versed in the Vedas, Sastras, and Dharmas, he should perform religious sacrifices and maintain all those who are fit to be fed by him. After sometime, he should give away everything he has to his son and, along with his wife, retire to the forest. Henceforth, he should abstain from all concerns of social life, conquer his senses and live an austere life till he is wholly purified. Then, with the consent of his wife, he should take the vow of Sanyasa.
The vow involves attentive chanting of God’s name (japa), living by alms and continuous meditation. He should then abstain from even hearing stories regarding women. He should not use vehicles for travel, or a cot for sleeping. Such a monk should not sleep during the day, but be aware of the real Self. He should always use vessels made of bamboo, wood, earth or the shell of a gourd. He should ever carry the staff and eat only during the day. He should constantly visit holy places throughout the year, never resting in any place for more than three days. While he is ever on the move physically, his mind should be fixed on his one goal. If the state of his body does not permit him to wander, he should stay in a holy place, always meditating on Lord Vishnu.’
So saying, Sree Guru had sent away his house-hold disciples, and then addressed his renunciate disciples: ‘Varanasi, Prayag, Sreerangam, Purushottamam, Sreesailam, Naimisharanya, Kurukshethra, Badrinath, Gokarna, Kanchi, Ayodhya, Gokula, Mathura, Dwaraka, Maya, Avanti, Karvir, Gangapur, Devakanya, Guhashrama, Sethubandha are the important places of pilgrimage which you shall all visit. These besides such holy rivers as the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi, Vipaat, Marudwitha, Vithastha, Chandrabhaaga, Reva, Godavari, Amaraja, Sarayu, Bhima, Krishna, Kaveri, Tunga, Kshipra, Tapivedika, Charmanvathi, and gandaki are all holy. These were all sanctified by the wanderings of Sree Guru. All these are therefore as holy as Ganga. A monk should visit all these and all sacred tanks in the land and pay them his respect in accordance with the ritual observances proper for them. When new water flows in rivers during rainy season, the rivers are supposed to be in menses. Except those who dwell on their banks, no one should bathe in them till after about ten days. Similarly, for wells and tanks, the prohibited period is one day and for the less important rivers, it is three days. All of you visit the holy places as I have directed you, bathe in the rivers I have mentioned and join me at Sreesailam in the year of the Plentiful Harvest (Bahudhaanya).” Thus he had sent away all his disciples. I alone, among them, wished to stay on his service, ever meditating on his lotus feet. The same Guru, Lord Dattatreya, graciously expounded to me the same path to wisdom as he did to kings Yadu and Karthaveerya of yore. Of Namadharaka, I am pleased at your humility and discipline and so I shall teach you the same. Thereby, the Bliss of Self, the State of Vishnu, shall accrue to you”.