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Chapter 2 - Arrivat At Kolahapur

Whilst Shri Swami Samartha was away, a gloom had descended on his devotees and disciples. Finally after a week, Shri Swami Samartha returned to Akkalkot along with Shrikrishna. People were delighted to see their Guru – their God again and hastened to get food for him. Shri Swami Samartha called out to them, "Shrikrishna is hungry, get laddus (Indian sweetmeat) for him." Shrikrishna stayed on for some time at Akkalkot with the elderly sage.

Shri Swami Samartha renamed Shrikrishna as Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami. As we unfold the life story of Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami, we will henceforth refer to him as Swami, as his devotees popularly addressed him during his lifetime.

The leper Brahmin
One day, a Brahmin suffering from leprosy came to solicit Shri Swami Samartha’s favor to cure his disease. He related that for the past three years he had been worshipping Lord Dattatreya at Ganagapur (place of pilgrimage), desperately begging God to cure him. There one night, he was directed in a dream to proceed to meet Shri Swami Samartha at Akkalkot for his cure. Therefore with great hope in his heart he had arrived at the great sage’s door.

Shri Swami Samartha pointed out to Swami and said, "This is Guru Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami. Go with him to Kolhapur, serve him well and you will be alright." Dejected at not receiving grace from the sage, the desperate Brahmin moaned, "O Lord, I have been sent to you by the Lord of Ganagapur and now you are sending me elsewhere. Cure me, if not kill me, for I am not going any where else." This infuriated Shri Swami Samartha. Notwithstanding the sage’s anger and scared lest he would curse him, the Brahmin started to tremble. He begged for forgiveness for his ignorance and agreed to go with Swami to serve him.

Doubts disappear
The next day, Swami started walking towards Kolhapur with the Brahmin in tow. At dusk, they reached a small village. At the outskirts of this village was a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Swami decided to stay there overnight. The only thought the Brahmin had was doubts of whether he would be cured. Swami decided to put his faith to test and at rest. He said to the Brahmin, "I am very hungry. Go and get some milk from the village." The Brahmin took a pot and went in search for milk. By then, it was pitching dark. The entire village had gone to sleep. Nevertheless, the Brahmin kept on walking through the village, searching lest someone in the village was awake to spare some milk for Swami. He suddenly came upon a place, which was crowded. Wondering why a crowd had collected at such a late hour, he inquired with the people standing around. He was told that the daughter-in-law of the house was having difficulty in delivering her baby. In fact, she was undergoing severe labor pains for the past three days. The Brahmin, as a matter of fact, informed them that "A sanyasi (ascetic) is living at the temple. He needs milk. If you give some, he might confer a favor." The helpless husband of the woman immediately filled milk in the pot and accompanied the Brahmin to the temple. As they reached the temple door, Swami yelled from inside, "Govinda, go home. A son has been born to you." The man was flabbergasted that the ascetic knew his name and his problem. He went inside and reverentially offered the milk to Swami. Filled with gratitude, he humbly requested Swami to visit his house. Swami politely refused saying, "We have work to do." Govinda went home and found his wife had delivered a baby boy. Both were safe and well. Seeing this miracle, the Brahmin had a change of heart. He started doing his work with a renewed sense of devotion and his faith immensely increased. He thought to himself, "Immaterial of whether my disease is cured or not, I am certainly fortunate to serve this holy man." Reading his mind, Swami laughed and said to himself, "At least his doubts have disappeared. Once his past sins are washed away by his dedicated services, I shall cure him."

Goddess Amba’s temple
The next morning, Swami and the Brahmin resumed their walk. By evening, they reached Kolhapur. At Kolhapur, there is a famous temple dedicated to Goddess Amba (another name of Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva). This ancient temple has a beautiful architecture. The main hall and the inner sanctum sanctorum have been carved in stone, in the Hemadpanthi style. There are also other numerous smaller temples in its courtyard dedicated to other deities, namely, Lord Shri Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), Lord Dattatreya, Lord Ganapati (God with elephant-head, son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati), Lord Shani (Ruler of the planet Saturn, son of the Sun God) and many others. Swami and the Brahmin arrived. Swami decided that they would stay in the corner of the hall of the temple dedicated to Lord Shri Ram.

Exorcising the Ghost
One day, a woman accompanied by her friends came to worship at Lord Shri Ram’s temple. As soon as her eyes met Swami’s, she cried out, "O Lord Datta! I beg you to help me. Please be kind enough to bequeath Moksha on me." So saying, she collapsed and fainted. A few of her friends ran to fetch her husband while the others tended to her and sprinkled water on her. After some time, she regained consciousness. In the meantime, her husband arrived and was updated on what had occurred. He at once rushed towards Swami and disclosed, "My wife has been possessed by a ghost these past twelve years. We went to many places and people to seek help, but no one could help her. But today, by exorcising the ghost, you have bestowed a great favor on us, for which we are indebted to you forever." He, then, invited Swami to his home to bless his family and home. Swami did not utter a word. The blessed couple reverentially bowed to Swami and happily went home. The news of this incident spread throughout the city. Scores of people flocked to the temple to seek the holy man’s blessings.

Two of the spectators of the above happening were Phadnis and Krishna Lad who started visiting Swami regularly. Phadnis was a wealthy and pious man. He visited Swami daily and requested him to come and stay with him. Swami would say, "I will come to stay at your home when the time is right".

Cured atlas!
The Brahmin carried on his daily chores diligently. He worked hard for Swami – giving him a bath, washing his clothes, procuring food, running errands and performing any and every work Swami requested him to do.

One day, Swami decided that because of his dedicated services to him, the Brahmin had washed away his past bad karma (actions) and it was time to cure him. He called the Brahmin and said to him, "Go to the river Ganges and bathe in it. Today, you will be completely cured". The Brahmin rushed to the river immediately and plunged into it with glee. This bathing experience must have been his best throughout life. When he came out of the water, his disease had disappeared. His skin gleamed of vitality and good health. Overjoyed and grateful, he ran back to show it to Swami.

While the Brahmin was bathing, Phadnis visited Swami at the temple and again invited him to stay at his house. That very moment, Swami stood up and accompanied Phadnis to his home. So, when the Brahmin returned excitedly to the temple, he was dejected that Swami had disappeared without a trace. He had no clue as to where he would find Swami to show his eternal gratitude and reverence. He sat gloomily, totally in despair. Neither food nor water would go down his throat. By night, he was so distraught that he went to sleep thoroughly exhausted. Swami appeared in his dream and said, "Son, you will not see me ever again. But, you do not have to worry. Now, go back home. Always remember me. I promise you a prosperous and peaceful life".

Swami’s stay at Phadnis’ home

Meanwhile, Swami reached Phadnis’ home. His family comprised of his wife and his child. Phadnis was exceptionally devoted to Swami. His wife did not share his belief and disapproved of Swami living in their house. Swami’s every need was met by Phadnis. Despite this his wife would constantly pick fights with him, nagging, grumbling and picking faults with Swami’s behavior. One day, Swami predicted that "Bad days are here". After a couple of days, Phadnis’ child fell ill and died. Phadnis’ distraught wife accused Swami for their misfortune and created a rumpus. She would tell everyone who came to offer their condolences that "My child has died because of this visitor. He stays with us, eats our food and we look after his every need. In return, we lose our child. If he was a real sage, our child would have been alive today." Thus, she insinuated that Swami was a fake. Phadnis tried to console her, but in vain. To add fuel to fire, Swami affirmed, "You reap what you sow".

Phadnis’ neighbor
One day, Swami took Phadnis to his neighbor’s house. Standing in their doorway, he called out, "I am shivering with cold. Please give me a blanket". The neighbor came out but could not fathom what Swami was hinting. Just then the neighbor’s mother hurriedly came out and said, "Swami, please forgive my lapse. Please wait. I will fetch the shawl at once". She went in and brought back a beautiful shawl and put it around Swami, saying to the amazed onlookers, "A few days ago, my son had extremely high fever. He was shivering with cold. I mentally prayed to Swami to bring down his fever, keep him warm and speed up his recovery. In return, I promised to gift him a shawl. He recovered, but I forgot to keep my promise. Nobody in the house knows about it, as I had not told anyone. Today, Swami in his kindness came to me, to remind me of my promise". Once again she begged for Swami’s forgiveness and expressed her gratitude and reverence. As a token of his blessing and protection to a fervent devotee, Swami gifted the shawl back to her. News of this occurrence soon spread. More and more devotees flocked to Phadnis’ house to seek Swami’s blessings.

Amongst the many who visited Swami was Mahisalkar, a landlord of Mahisal, a neighboring village. He had a spiritual bent of mind. He requested Swami to come and stay with him. One day, Swami agreed. When Phadnis heard this, he was very upset. In his depressed state, he questioned Swami, "What is my fault that you are leaving me? Have I made lapses that I need to rectify? Only if you tell me, I’ll know. Please stay". Swami looked lovingly at his devotee whose faith stood firm like a rock despite tremulous circumstances and said, "Son, do not worry. I am going to stay at Kolhapur. Visit me regularly. You have a prosperous future. In due time, you will be blessed with four children. They will all have long lives".

Before departing for Mahisal, Swami told Mahisalkar that he had an incomplete job to finish. At noon, Swami accompanied by Mahisalkar walked towards a small lane named Kumbhar Galli (Potter’s Lane) in Kolhapur. He stopped at a house and called aloud, "Mother, please give me some food to eat". Hearing this, the woman of the house came out. She looked at Swami and said, "You seem to be a Brahmin, so how can I give you food cooked by me. Instead I shall give you some raw grains. Please wait". She went inside the house to fetch the food articles. Swami walked off grumbling, "The woman still has doubts. She has not yet chased away caste differences from her mind". He returned to Phadnis’ house for his meal before setting out for Mahisal with Mahisalkar.

Have you wondered about the identity of the fortunate woman Swami detoured specially to visit? She was Tarabai, the famous prostitute of Kolhapur. She earned extremely well and had amassed a good fortune. Since many years she suffered from severe stomach pains. The best medicines available could not cure her. Despite her shameful occupation, she was a good human being, a pious soul and a humble devotee of Lord Dattatreya. She visited the Wadi on every full moon day to pray to Lord Narsimha Saraswati. After completing her routine rituals, she would distribute food grains to the priests and feed the poor. This brought about slight relief to her stomachache.

A couple of days after Swami returned without any alms from her house, Tarabai set out for her fortnightly visit to Wadi. She finished her prayers and works, and decided to spend the night there. Lord Narasimha Saraswati appeared in her dream and said, "I came to you begging for food. You sent me back hungry. I have taken birth in the present age and am known now as Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami. At present, I am staying at Mahisal at Mahisalkar's home. Come to fetch me. Take me to your house. Serve me and I promise to cure you of your pains." Tarabai’s happiness was beyond measure. She immediately returned to Kolhapur. From there onwards, she took a horse carriage to Mahisal, to fetch Swami.

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