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.
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".
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
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".
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.