Home | Photo Gallery | Glossary | Links | Contact

Chapter 5 - Kind Hearted Swami

Devagonda Patil
In a small village of Aitawade, there lived a well to do gentleman named Devagonda Patil. He owned a beautiful house and fields for agricultural cultivation. His happy family consisted of his wife, his children, a younger brother and his wife.

However Devagonda got infected with leprosy, a disease which was incurable in those days. When the leprosy started to spread, his wife and brother were petrified that it would spread to other family members. Therefore, they suggested that Devagonda should stay in isolation in a hut they would get built in the fields. This broke Devagonda’s heart. He was devastated that his wife, his life partner, should drive him out of his own house in his difficult times. Disgusted at his family’s attitude, he took some money and left home. He decided that in times of need, surely God would not forsake him and proceeded to Wadi. There he worshipped Lord Narasimha Saraswati for three years. His disease was spreading all over his body. There were inflammations that were causing him excruciating pain and agony.

One day Anna a distant relative of Devagonda came to Wadi to pray. He saw Devagonda and recognized him at once. On inquiring, Devagonda related his plight of how his family had deserted him. This angered Anna. He asked Devagonda to accompany him to Kolhapur. He said, "Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami will definitely cure you".

Thus Devagonda accompanied by Anna arrived at the mathi at Kolhapur. As Devagonda’s body was fully covered with leprosy, the disciples and devotees of Swami’s been naturally repulsed and would not let him enter the mathi. Devagonda felt sad and frustrated. Nevertheless, he resolved that everyday he would come up to the door of the mathi, pray and go away. Resolutely, he stood there and prayed earnestly. His sincere prayer reached Swami who came out immediately. Swami lovingly caressed Devagonda’s back with his hands. Within four days, the inflammations subsided considerably and proportionately the pain reduced. This continued everyday. In four months Devagonda was completely cured. Now he could freely enter the mathi and pray to Swami. Now the whole day he would wholeheartedly chant Swami’s name.

The news of Devagonda’s miraculous recovery reached his family at Aitawade. His wife and brother came to Kolhapur to fetch him. On seeing them Anna naturally exploded, "You deserted Devagonda when he needed you the most. Now why are you here? You have no business to be here". Devagonda, however, was forgiving and consoled Anna by saying, "Anna, calm down! They have done me a great favor. Due to their callousness, I could meet Swami and procure his divine blessings. Just forgive them". Devagonda’s wife and brother felt very ashamed and begged for forgiveness.

Together they proceeded to meet Swami to seek his grace. Devagonda’s brother had no children. On the way he prayed to Swami to give him children. The moment they stepped into the mathi, Swami said to Devagonda’s brother, "You will have many children". Swami then advised Devagonda to return to his home. Very reluctantly Devagonda returned home to his family. However, he paid regular visits to Swami.

Govind Karanjkar
Govind Karanjkar was a resident of Kolhapur. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Narasimha Saraswati and made regular visits to the Wadi. One day a friend brought him to Swami. Without any introductions made, Swami said to him, "When I am here, why should anyone walk all the way to Wadi to meet me there". Govind was left dumbfounded. He understood who Swami was. Thereafter he started visiting Swami daily.

One day Govind went for a swim in the river. While swimming, he saw some women in the water. Something about them frightened him. He immediately swam ashore. The moment he got out of the water, he felt cold and started to shiver. All of a sudden he had high fever. Scared, he ran straight to Swami who consoled him by saying, "I am with you. Do not worry about anything". Govind went home and lay down on his bed. He was very cold and therefore, shivering. Due to high fever, he felt drowsy. The moment he would shut his eyes, he would see those women menacingly advancing towards him. They looked very angry and ready to beat him up. However, Govind would also see Swami standing next to him with a stick, not allowing those women to come anywhere near him. The scene would vanish the moment Govind would open his eyes. However, the scene would reappear the moment he would close his eyes. This continued for seven days and nights. On the eight day, his fever came down. The scene vanished once and for all. A grateful Govind went to Swami and bowed at his feet. Swami said, "Son, these were apsaras (Water Goddesses). Please do not go to the wrong places at the wrong time. Now go to the same spot and offer a coconut".

A few months later, Govind started getting psoriasis all over his body. His skin started to become dry and scaly. When the skin peeled off, it would start to bleed. He was in severe pain. Since the disease had spread all over his body, it was a ghastly sight. Govind therefore felt ashamed to go out. Thus, he stopped visiting Swami. His wife and other relatives started taunting him that this was the punishment meted out by Lord Narasimha Saraswati for discontinuing his visits to Wadi and instead going to the bogus Swami. They urged him to go to Wadi and beg Lord Narasimha Saraswati’s forgiveness. Due to family pressure, half-heartedly Govind went to Wadi. On reaching the holy place, his pain increased and was unbearable. Without informing his family, he returned at once to Kolhapur and went straight to the mathi.

Govind sat in a corner hoping that Swami would call him and inquire about his absence and ill health. However Swami did not even look at him. Govind repented and prayed, "O Swami, I know I have made a blinder. Against your advice I went to Wadi. Please forgive me. You have every right to be angry with me. O Lord! You are my mother. You are kind. A mother can be angry with her child for his faults but she does not throw him away. Please be kind. I cannot bear this pain anymore. If you do not wish to cure me, please give me death at your feet now." Govind kept on crying.

Suddenly Swami got up, came near Govind, caught his hand and said, "Come with me". Swami walked out of the mathi dragging a flabbergasted Govind behind. They kept on walking. Swami took Govind to the outskirts of Kolhapur and entered the forest. Apprehensive that his disease could contaminate Swami, Govind kept on slipping his hand out of Swami’s hold and walking at a distance. But Swami would again hold his hand firmly. They continued walking. By now, Govind was tired, thirsty and very hungry. But Swami continued walking. They walked continuously for fifteen days and nights. Govind’s skin had completely dried up now. They returned to Kolhapur. Swami advised Govind to take a bath in the holy river Panchganga. After his bath there, Govind’s skin returned to normal and regained its healthy texture and color. Such was Swami’s grace.

Gopal Athalye
Gopal Athalye was a well to do man residing in Kolhapur. His wife and he were very pious human beings. The only sadness in their life was that they had no children. They consulted many astrologers for the same. They frequently visited temples and saints in the hope for the required blessing.

A well wisher informed Gopal’s wife about Swami and his miracles. With hopes raised, she informed her husband about Swami. Since Gopal was busy with some important work, he told his wife, "Wait till I finish my work. Then we will go together to pay our respects". Gopal’s wife was impatient to meet Swami, while Gopal could not find time amidst his busy schedule. She started to pray fervently to Swami that since she could not visit him without her husband, to please do her a favor and arrange a meeting. Her heartfelt prayer reached Swami.

One afternoon, Swami accompanied by a few devotees walked into Gopal’s house. It was a great surprise for Gopal’s wife whose prayers had been answered. She was filled with exhilaration and joy. Gopal was not at home. So, she came forward and offered Swami a seat. She reverentially bowed to him. With gratitude she said, "Swami, you are gracious. You answered my prayers. I could not come alone and I was desperate to have your darshan (audience)". She then asked Swami if he would have some snacks and refreshments. Swami replied, "If you will serve all accompanying me then I will also partake some. What’s more, if you give to me, I will give you something in return". She lovingly served snacks to all. After spending some time here, Swami blessed her and returned to the mathi.

In the evening when Gopal returned from work, she told him about Swami’s visit. He said to his wife with admiration, "You are very fortunate. Let us go right now to the mathi". They went to Swami with offerings of a coconut, sweetmeats and a garland of flowers. Their joy knew no bounds when Swami blessed them, "You will have three sons. Your first born will be my ardent devotee."

In due course of time, their first child was born. They named him Kashinath. Twelve days after his birth, they took him to Swami for his blessings. Swami took the baby boy on his lap and whispered something in his ears. The boy of twelve days uttered a sound "Hum" as if he understood what Swami said. Subsequently two more sons were born to the happy couple. Since childhood, Kashinath’s behavior was different to that of children his age. He was a loner. He never asked his parents for anything. He regularly visited Swami. At eight years of age, his upanayana (thread) ceremony was conducted. At fourteen years, with his parent’s permission, he left his house and went to Swami who asked him to go and reside at Ganagapur. In fact he spent his entire life there and became a well-known saint Athalye Baba.

Foresighted Swami’s instant help
One day Swami was taking a walk with his disciples in a public garden called Meera Baug. It was a well-laid out garden with a beautiful pond adding to its beauty. While passing the pond, suddenly Swami started yelling, "Fell down, fell down". And immediately afterwards he said, "Taken out, taken out". Nobody understood Swami’s incoherent utterings.

After a few days, the guards of the garden came to the mathi and excitedly revealed, "Today at noon, a child fell into the pond. People around that area heard its crying and saved her". This indicates that Swami had foreseen this occurrence.

Shri Swami Samartha and Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami are ONE
One morning at the mathi, Swami was walking to and fro restlessly. A devotee mustered some courage to ask Swami the reason for his restlessness. Swami said, "I want to eat pedha (sweetmeat) from Akkalkot". Devotees present offered to fetch him some from Kolhapur itself. But Swami was adamant. He firmly said, "No!" Swami kept on pacing the floor till lunchtime. By now, everyone at the mathi was worried.

At noon, a couple from Akkalkot entered the mathi with their one-year-old son. They reverentially bowed to Swami, placed their child at his lotus feet, offered him a packet of one kilogram of pedhas and said, "Swami, we reside at Akkalkot. We prayed to Shri Swami Samartha to give us a son. In return we took a vow to offer him one kilogram of pedha. Our son was born but we waited sometime to fulfill our promise. In the meantime, Shri Swami Samartha took samadhi. We regret the delay we caused or else we could have fed him with our own hands. Somehow, we felt incorrect to place the offering at his samadhi temple. We earnestly besieged Shri Swami Samartha to forgive our mistake. At last, yesterday he appeared in our dream and instructed us to come here. He said, "If you feed Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami, I shall receive it. For he and I are same". Swami gladly let the couple feed him the pedhas from Akkalkot.

Swami’s nocturnal rendezvous
At the mathi, Swami slept in a small bedroom. Every night the devotees would daily place a clean bed sheet for Swami to sleep. Some of the disciples would sleep in the hall outside and the entrance door would be locked for the night. It would be impossible for anyone to come or go from the mathi without disturbing those sleeping in the hall. Yet, many a mornings, the disciples would find Swami’s feet covered with mud or dust and his bed sheet dirty. They wondered how this happened. Was Swami walking outside at night? Where was he going? Swami was obviously visiting his devotees, answering their prayers and saving those in danger. Narrated below are such occurrences.

Merchant of Rajapur
One cloudy morning, Swami was seated in his chair with Krishna Lad and Vasu Dalvi standing on his two sides. Other devotees were seated around him. Suddenly Swami stopped talking and shut his eyes for more than five minutes. Soon the devotees found water trickling from Swami’s clothes. The devotees at once changed his clothes. Surprisingly the water from the clothes was extremely salty. This was a big mystery!

A month passed. One day a gentleman from Rajapur came loaded with sweetmeats and a garland of flowers. The curious devotees naturally inquired about his whereabouts. He narrated, "I am a merchant. A month ago, I was travelling by ship with lots of goods to sell. A storm broke out accompanied by gusty winds. The ship lost its balance and started to drown. All aboard the ship jumped into the sea. So did me. It was impossible to swim in the sea. I lost all hopes for my life. Desperate, I prayed to Swami for help. Before becoming unconscious, the last thing I remember is that a sanyasi (ascetic) carried me on his back. When I came to my senses, I was lying on the shore. It seems that I was the sole survivor. It took me a full month to recover from the shock. Today, I have come to thank Swami for saving me".

Atlast! The mystery had been solved.

A school boy
A young boy from a nearby village stayed in Kolhapur for education. He regularly visited the mathi. He was one of those ardent devotees who would ask Swami’s permission before doing every work. One day he received a message from his parents asking him to visit them at their village. Naturally, he sought Swami’s permission. Swami flatly said, "No!" The boy was in a dilemma. If he went he would be disobeying Swami, if he did not, his father would scold him. He sat down for some time. After a few moments, he again approached Swami for his permission. Swami repeated a firm, "No!" After a little while, he again sought Swami’s permission. Swami remained silent.

Nevertheless, the young boy started walking to his village. After walking for over an hour, suddenly it started to rain heavily. A flooded stream with no bridge to cross blocked the way to his village. The water was gushing with such force that it was not advisable to cross the steam. Wet, cold and miserable, the young boy had to wait three long hours for the water level to return to normal. Now he realized his foolishness for not listening to Swami who has knowledge of the past, present and future.

One day the same boy had some urgent work at a place near Kolhapur. As usual he went to Swami to seek his permission. Swami adamantly told him not to go. As the work was of immense importance, he once again set out without Swami’s permission. It was late evening by the time the work got over. It was getting dark. The boy hurried towards Kolhapur to meet Swami before he retired for the night. On the way back he used a short cut through the forest. However he lost his way in the darkness. Then he came by a ditch which was deep and wide, and therefore, difficult to cross. Tired and confused, and not knowing what to do, he sat down and started chanting Swami’s name. He prayed to him for forgiveness. All of a sudden he saw a young woman standing on the other side of the ditch. For a moment the sight of her in the darkness frightened him. Then he heard her inquiring, "Who’s there?" Her gentle questioning comforted the frightened boy. He related his plight. He further inquired about her presence in the dark. To which she said, "I am a milkmaid. I had gone to Kolhapur to sell milk with my friends. On the way back, they went ahead and I was left behind. Like you, I too have lost my way. Do not worry. I shall extend my hand and pull you over to this side". The boy was relieved. The milkmaid extended her hand and pulled the boy on the other side of the ditch. The boy waited for a fraction of a second to hold his breath and then turned around to thank her. But alas! She had disappeared. He started to wonder how a mere woman could have pulled him across a trench that was ten feet wide. It dawned on him that it was Swami who had come to help him. He rushed to Kolhapur and went directly to the mathi. As he gratefully bowed to Swami, the latter asked, "So, you could cross the trench safely". Could he say anything more? He drenched Swami’s feet with his grateful tears.

Swami rescues a lady devotee from drowning
A widow residing at Kolhapur was a regular visitor at the mathi, in fact half the time she was staying there. She was quite well off but unfortunately very lonely as she had no children and no relatives to call her own. Being an ardent devotee, she requested Swami to assign her a duty that would be considered as her service to him. Swami assigned her the task to remove the stale flowers and garlands, and submerge them in the river. The woman did her work with full dedication. Besides her assigned work, she would also help in cleaning the mathi every morning. At noon, she would eat her meals that she had helped to cook. At night, she would sleep at the mathi so that in the early hours of dawn, she could consign the stale flowers into the river. Everyday for several months she did her work with utmost dedication.

One day as usual she got up early and made her way to the river with the stale flowers. It was pitching dark. There was not a single person on the road. When she arrived at the riverbank, there was an old lady sitting by herself. The old lady called out to her and said, "Child, it is not even dawn. Why have you come here so early, at such an odd hour"? The devotee revealed to her the purpose of her visit and said, "Perhaps I guessed the time wrong. I came too early by mistake". The old lady ordered her to go back at once and in fact accompanied her back. The two walked some distance together. When the riverbank was far behind them, the old lady said to her, "Now you go ahead. I shall go to my house". The devotee walked a few steps and turned around. She found that the old lady had vanished and the tide had come in and the river had covered the entire riverbank. She ran to the mathi realizing that it was Swami who had come to her rescue from the incoming tide. Or else she could have been pulled away by the waters and drowned without anyone knowing about it. When Swami woke up in the morning, with tears streaming down her face she said, "O Lord! You who can save us from the ocean that is this universe and can grant us Moksha. Why did you go to so much trouble to save an insignificant tiny creature like me? If I die, there is no one in the world to shed tears for me". Swami patted her like a child and consoled her by saying, "It was Goddess Amba who came to rescue you. In Kolhapur, can the river Ganges flow without her permission?"

The two brothers

In the Shukravar Peth area of Kolhapur, there lived two brothers. Their entire family was devoted to Swami. One day Swami accompanied by a few devotees went to their house. While leaving, Swami asked, "One of you has to leave early. Who is ready?" They did not reply, as they could not decipher the meaning of what Swami said. Within a week, the elder brother died due to high fever. After the mourning period got over, the entire family came to see Swami. Swami instructed them to change their present house immediately. They faithfully obeyed Swami and shifted to a rented house. No sooner had they shifted all their belongings from the old house, it collapsed like a house built with a pack of playing cards. Swami had saved them from a great disaster.

Rags to riches
A priest from Wadi was on a pilgrimage, wandering from place to place visiting various holy temples. When he came to the mathi and bowed to Swami, the latter advised him, "Stay here for the chaturmasa (the four months of monsoon, according to Hindu calendar – during the months Ashadh, Shravana, Bhadrapada. Ashwin and beginning of Kartik ] . You will be able to get food". The priest then went to the temple dedicated to Goddess Amba and stayed there. He was worried about his health especially because of the onset of the monsoon. In the night, Goddess Amba appeared in his dream and said, "When Swami is your protector, why should you worry about anything?" In the morning when he once again came to pay his respects to Swami, the latter said, "When Amba has assured you then why are you still worried?"

The priest went back to the temple. He sat there skeptical about his stay at Kolhapur. The thoughts in his mind were that during the chaturmasa, the four months of the Hindu calendar from the month of Ashad to Kartik, i.e. approximately from July to October are auspicious months which have to be spent in fasting, rituals and reading the Shri Guru Charitra. Since he was not carrying this holy book, he wondered how he could follow his yearly practice of reading it. Just then a devotee visiting the temple started talking to him. On knowing the hardship the priest was undergoing, he arranged his stay at the nearby temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya and handed him the required holy book.

Next morning, the priest happily started reading the holy book. At noon, a Brahmin named Mayura approached him and said, "Sir, I am a very poor man. Swami appeared in my dream today and asked me to feed you for four months. Thereafter, my poverty will be removed. Please come to my house for lunch and share the meager meal I can offer". Looking at his miserable condition, the priest declined his invitation. He said, "Thank you very much for your kind invitation but it will be cruel to snatch away the little food available from your hungry family. Please therefore excuse me". Mayura took a stubborn stance. He was adamant that the priest comes to his home for a meal or threatened not to eat a morsel of food nor drink a drop of water. The astonished priest was left with no choice. He accompanied Mayura to his house. He was shocked to see the poverty in which Mayura and his family lived. After the meal when the priest returned to the temple, his only thought was of his poor host and his family. He prayed to Swami to help them.

Next day the priest started to read the Shri Guru Charitra. Few women sat around to listen to the reading of the holy book. At the end, they offered some rice and a few coins. The priest gave it all to Mayura. Everyday after the reading whatever was offered to the priest, he would give it to Mayura. Soon the collection increased. At the end of four months when the reading of the holy book was completed, the priest had earned a handsome sum of rupees one hundred in cash and large amounts of rice, fruits and coconuts. In those days rupees one hundred was a princely sum. Mayura was extremely delighted to have received all the priest’s earnings. The priest then went to meet Swami who blessed him and said, "Now go back home. You will be extremely prosperous. All your wishes will be fulfilled". The exuberant priest returned home happily.

Krishna Swar
Amongst the many devotees of Swami was Krishna Swar. He suffered from epilepsy. One day Swami instructed him to make a pilgrimage to Pandharpur. Swami added, "Your grandfather was a great devotee of Lord Vithoba". Overhearing this conversation, the other devotees were curious to know about Krishna’s grandfather. Krishna related, "My maternal grandfather was an ardent devotee of Lord Vithoba. He would often visit Pandharpur to pay his respects to him. He was in the personal service of the Chhatrapati (King) of Kolhapur State (in the British regime). On one occasion, he returned four days later from Pandharpur than his sanctioned leave. He was petrified that the Chhatrapati would be angry with him because of his prolonged absence from duty. On returning he asked his colleague if the Chhatrapati had voiced his anger at his absence. His colleague showed surprise and said, "Why are you inquiring thus when you have been present all these days". Baffled at his reply, he asked another colleague who was equally puzzled and retorted, "When you have completed your entire allocated task properly, why are you posing such a question". Absolutely perplexed by now, he inquired with many of his other colleagues only to get a similar reply. It is then it occurred to him that Lord Vithoba himself had come to work in his place so that he may not fall into trouble with his employer. He cried with joy when he understood how much Lord Vithoba loved him to do what he did. He at once tendered his resignation. He then proceeded to Pandharpur to offer his services to the King of Pandharpur – Lord Vithoba himself."

Krishna decided to go to Pandharpur as instructed by Swami. He said so to his mother. She said to him, "My sari (Indian garment for women) is worn out. Please buy me a new one. Before leaving, give me some money for my domestic requirements and then proceed further." Krishna had only rupees five with him. He tended to his mother’s needs and thought that he could as well walk to Pandharpur. Before leaving, he came to see Swami and reverentially bowed at his feet. Swami said, "Child, you have done the right thing to fulfill your mother’s wishes. Go on. You will have no epilepsy attacks on your journey. And before leaving, visit the royal stable."

Abiding by Swami’s instruction, Krishna went to the royal stable. He met one of his friends who worked there. His friend was happy to see Krishna. He said, "Krishna, you have come at the right time. I wish to go to Pandharpur with my wife. Hence I’ll have to take a bullock cart. I was therefore worried as to who would look after my horse. If you want, you can accompany us on horseback to Pandharpur and back." Krishna happily agreed to the God-sent proposal. Thus due to Swami’s grace, Krishna had a good trip without spending a penny.

Many devotees have related several anecdotes of how Swami came to their rescue in disguise. Read on...in the next chapter.

  Photo Gallery  |  Glossary  |  Links  |  Contact  |