7- Six Enemies of Man
It is very important to control the six enemies that attack and
overpower every human being at some point of time. They are namely
sexual urge, anger, greed, temptation, ego and jealousy.
They act as an obstacle to our spiritual progress. Man acts like
a wild animal, nay like a demon, if he succumbs to any of these
negative qualities. Like other normal human beings, Swami’s
devotees also underwent such experiences and thanks to Swami, learnt
their lessons. The narration of few of their stories follows...
Krishna Lad’s folly
At a very young age, Krishna Lad had adopted the life of an ascetic.
Once, thoughts of what it would have been to be married started
to bother him again and again. Since he did not know anything about
being married, he kept on wondering about it. These thoughts started
disturbing his mind, distracting him from his duties and penetrating
his meditations. Quite a few days were spent in this futile wondering.
A few days later, before dawn, he had a vivid dream in which Pagy,
the mathi’s puppy told him that Swami has summoned him and
Ramdas Murgudkar immediately. Just then, he woke up. He rushed to
Swami’s bedroom and so did Ramdas. Swami looked at Ramdas
and said, "Ramdas, today onwards, please wash my clothes and
fetch water for me from the river Ganges". Turning to Krishna,
he said in a sweet voice, "Krishna, I hope you will not mind
that I have decided to change your duty". Although he nodded
in agreement, Krishna was stupefied. Inside he felt miserable as
if he had been dealt a blow with his duties assigned to somebody
else. Now, he started to wonder what mistake he had committed to
meet such a fate. All of a sudden, he realized that he had made
the blunder of thinking about marriage considering that he was an
ascetic. His mere thoughts had rebounded on him. Ashamed, he rushed
into the river to wash away the last residues of his dirty thoughts.
In wet clothes, he sat on the riverbank and started chanting Swami’s
sacred name with full devotion and concentration. He prayed feverishly
to Swami and begged for forgiveness. After a couple of days, Swami
sent for him and reassigned him his duties.
The moral of this story is that God can read every thought of all
beings at all time and will run away from you if you let even one
dirty thought overpower you. Kabir, the famous
poet-saint aptly said, "Kaam ho, vaha naam nahi; naam ho, vaha
kaam nahi" (Where there is lust for sex, there will be no chanting
of God’s name; where there is chanting of God’s name,
there will be no lust for sex).
The wrestler’s ego
In those days, Kolhapur was famous for its wrestlers. Wrestlers
from all over India would assemble at Kolhapur to match their strength
by wrestling with local wrestlers. One day, a wrestler came to the
mathi to pay his respects to Swami. At that time, Swami and his
entourage set out to go for a walk. As usual, Krishna Lad carried
Swami on his shoulder. The wrestler offered his services and egoistically
said, "Swami is so short and frail. I could carry him like
a flower and easily run for twenty miles". Swami readily accepted
the wrestler’s services. The wrestler sat down to let Swami
climb onto his shoulder. The wrestler straightened and started walking.
Swami now weighed so heavy that after a few steps, the wrestler
started to perspire. He could not bear to carry Swami any further.
He had to offload Swami. The very next moment, the humble Krishna
Lad carried Swami with great ease. The wrestler realized that Swami
had purposely dented his king size ego. He surrendered to Swami.
Vishnu’s ego gets a bashing
One day Swami and his devotees were strolling along the riverbank.
Since Vishnu, one of the devotees, was an expert swimmer, Swami
requested him to pluck a few flowers that had bloomed on the opposite
bank of the river. Instead of considering Swami’s request
as a blessing, Vishnu’s ego took a high trip. He started to
think, "Swami’s given me an ordinary task. I can cross
the river ten times and come back". He then jumped into the
river and started swimming. He had hardly taken a few strokes when
he started to feel tired. Let alone crossing the river once, he
could not even swim a short distance for he started feeling breathless
and had to return. Vishnu realized that Swami had bashed up his
Do not judge!
Haripant Shidnorlikar did not like the fact that Swami, an ascetic
and a great sage, should be living at the house of a prostitute.
He convinced Venimadhav and Ramdas Farukh about the same. They conspired
to build a beautiful cottage and shift Swami there. The three carried
out certain spiritual rituals to ensure the success of their plan.
A few days later, in Venimadhav’s presence, Swami said to
himself, "Lord Panduranga had taken a loan of one anna. Half
anna still remains to be repaid. It cannot be repaid by such methods".
Venimadhav could not understand Swami’s vague rambling.
That night, Haripant and Ramdas dreamt the same dream. In their
dream, they saw a huge, strong, gigantic monkey tied to a tree with
a strong rope. Tarabai sat near the monkey and said, "In many
of my past lives, I had devotedly offered worship, conducted severe
penance and meditations. Thus I could tie this Hanuman and keep
him with me".
Next morning, Haripant and Ramdas were shocked that both had dreamt
the same dream. When they recounted the same to Venimadhav, he told
them about Swami’s utterance in his presence. They now realized
that it was Tarabai’s devotion in earlier lives, which was
paying dividends in this life. Therefore, Swami was living with
her and they could not do anything about it. Slowly, this story
reached the ears of other devotees and then to Tarabai herself.
Pride precedes fall
Tarabai was overjoyed. She felt proud that it was solely due to
her that other people could get access to Swami. She started to
treat Swami as her whole and sole possession. After all, she bathed
Swami, fed him and he listened to all she said. Slowly she started
demeaning other devotees. She started ridiculing people in small
Swami was observing these transformations in Tarabai’s behavior.
As the month of Magha (January end to February) set in, the climate
was perfect for a picnic. Tarabai planned a picnic without consulting
Swami, let alone asking for his consent. She planned this outing
with a grand lunch at Prayag tirtha (holy place). This place is
considered holy due to the confluence of river Kasari and river
Bhagvati. It is a peaceful haven with green foliage. Since there
are many who visit this spot at this time of the year, hawkers selling
sweets, various snacks, toys and miscellaneous articles set up temporary
stalls. Tarabai sent a few devotees ahead to clean the spot, erect
tents, arrange for water and to carry huge utensils used for cooking.
The day of the picnic dawned. Swami arrived at Prayag tirtha with
other devotees. The devotees went for their ritual bath in the holy
river water. They requested Swami to join them. But Swami stood
firmly on the riverbank. After a while, there were huge waves in
the river and the water literally flew and touched Swami’s
feet. Seeing this, a few devotees started to shout, "See, even
Mother Ganges has come to bow at Swami’s feet".
Swami decides something
Tarabai started cooking with the help of other women. Swami sat
with Krishna and Vasu under a tree nearby. All of a sudden Swami
got up, went to a nearby stall, picked a handful of churmure, rushed
towards Tarabai and gave the churmure to her, came back to the tree
and hurriedly told Krishna and Vasu, "Come fast". Swiftly,
he started walking towards the forest with the two boys in tow.
They walked so fast that before anyone could realize what was happening,
they had disappeared from the scene.
At noon, lunch was ready but Swami had not returned. Devotees got
worried. They rushed in different directions searching for Swami,
Krishna and Vasu. Evening set in without the trace of the threesome.
Terrified that she may have lost Swami forever, Tarabai started
weeping helplessly. Perhaps it would be appropriate to point out
here that in this part of Maharashtra, if one has to watch a situation
helplessly, the term "eat churmure" is used to describe
such a circumstance. Perhaps Swami giving churmure to Tarabai was
symbolical. Tarabai resolved to remain hungry and thirsty till Swami
returned. Devotees consoled her and promised to look for him in
other villages and cities and on finding him, they promised to bring
him back. But Tarabai stayed firm in her resolution. She served
food to other devotees and returned to the mathi late at night.
She sat near Swami’s ‘throne’, repenting for her
mistakes. She wept like a baby who had lost her father. She kept
on repeating, "Shri Guru, Shri Guru".
Devotees searched in vain in other cities and villages. Five days
passed thus. Not a drop of water passed through Tarabai’s
parched throat. She sat besides Swami’s ‘throne’,
continuously chanting his name. She started feeling drowsy and fell
asleep. She dreamt that Swami was sitting on his ‘throne’
with Krishna and Vasu standing besides him. Swami smiled mischievously
and said to her, "Tara, get up and eat. You shall see me on
the twenty-first day of my going away. It was your arrogance that
drove me away. So, do not blame me". Tarabai woke up, but she
Ten days passed thus. Tarabai was still sitting besides Swami’s
‘throne’, chanting his name. Devotees who had gone in
search of Swami reached Rajapur. From there, they sent a post-card
to Tarabai that Swami was in Rajapur. Tarabai hired a horse cart
and rushed to Rajapur.
So, where did Swami go? What happened on the way? Swami along with
Krishna and Vasu walked fast towards the forest and walked in the
northwest direction. They walked and walked, ascending and descending
hills. Soon Krishna and Vasu were very tired, but they had no choice
but to tag along with Swami. They came upon a stream where they
quenched their thirst. Soon, they continued walking at a fast pace.
In the middle of their path, they came across a huge black snake
blocking their way. Swami asked Krishna to throw it away from the
path. Krishna picked it up and released it away from the path. A
frightened Vasu asked him later, "Were you not afraid?"
Krishna retorted, "When Swami is with us, even Yama, the God
of Death, cannot touch us. Then why should we be afraid of a mere
They continued walking. They reached a steep hill. Swami started
climbing up. Krishna and Vasu were horrified to see its steep slope.
Swami turned around and asked, "If you cannot cross this little
hill, how will you cross the difficult valley of death?" It
was the fourth day they had been walking without food and rest.
The boys pensively thought, "It is not an easy task to serve
a Guru and follow his footsteps". They arduously climbed up
and sat down to catch their breath. A deep valley lay below and
they dreaded climbing down. They lost all the courage they had mustered
up before. But suddenly their eyes fell on a small village located
at the foot of the hill. They said to Swami, "Let us go there
and get some food to eat". Swami whispered, "You will
walk into a jail". But Krishna and Vasu were in no mood to
listen to Swami. In fact, Vasu started walking in that direction.
The farmers working in the fields saw Vasu rushing towards their
village. They gathered together and started shouting, "Thief,
thief! Catch the thief". A puzzled and terrified Vasu ran back
Later, Swami along with Krishna and Vasu proceeded to the same village
through another route. It was evening by the time they reached the
village. Farmers were returning home from their fields. As the farmers
sighted the three men, they gathered around them discussing, "These
must be the same thieves who committed theft a couple of days ago.
Let us catch them, lock them up and call the police". The crowd
pushed Swami, Krishna and Vasu into the temple dedicated to Lord
Hanuman and put two strong villagers as sentries to prevent their
escape. The other farmers went home saying, "In the morning,
we shall hand them over to the police. Let them mete out the punishment
as they deem fit".
Swami fetches food
But can any one on earth lock up Swami? Effortlessly, he sneaked
out of the temple despite the sentries standing fully alert. Swami
went directly to the house of the village chief and called out for
food. The chief’s wife came out. Swami said to her, "Mother,
we are three pilgrims staying at the temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
Could you give us something to eat?" The lady went inside the
house and returned with a huge freshly baked hot roti (Indian bread)
with some pickle on it. Swami brought it back to the temple and
re-entered without being sighted by the sentries. Krishna and Vasu
fed the food first to Swami. Swami ate half the roti and gave a
burp of satisfaction to indicate that his stomach was full. Krishna
and Vasu kept on looking at the remaining half, wondering how it
could suffice them - two men hungry since five days. However, within
a minute, the chief’s wife entered with two more rotis and
some vegetables, apologizing profusely, "I realized my mistake
later. You said there were three of you. How could one roti be enough,
so please accept these". After eating heartily Krishna and
Vasu slept like logs, dead to the world. Swami remained awake and
alert. But then God never sleeps. He always remains awake and attentive.
After the hearty dinner and good sleep, Krishna and Vasu woke up
in the morning fully refreshed. Soon the villagers entered the temple
with the policeman. On seeing Swami, the policeman bowed at his
feet to the sheer amazement of the ignorant villagers. The policeman
turned angrily to the villagers and shouted, "Fools! Who have
you locked up here? He is Kumbhar Swami of Kolhapur, Lord Dattatreya
himself. If he gets angry, within a few seconds his wrath will burn
your entire village like dry grass". The villagers started
trembling. The policeman apologized profusely and repeatedly. He
requested Swami to visit his home. Swami gently refused. The threesome
then resumed their walk.
Hospitality awaits them
They must have walked approximately for four hours when Swami sat
down on the roadside under a tree. It was almost noon. Swami said
to Krishna and Vasu, "Sit here. Our food will soon arrive here".
After a few moments, a man passing the same road, sighted Swami,
rushed towards him and reverentially bowed at his feet. He said,
"It is my great fortune to see you here today. My farm house
is very near, please come and grace my home and stay with me for
a few days". The man was Swami’s devotee who frequently
visited him at the mathi. Swami, Krishna and Vasu proceeded with
him to his house. The devotee’s joy knew no bounds at the
arrival of his divine guest and his disciples. He ordered the women
of his household to prepare delicious food. Along with the sumptuous
food, five types of sweetmeats were served to the guests. [In Maharashtra,
on festival days, it is customary to serve five types of sweetmeats
along with the food as offerings to God]. Before the meal, the host
massaged Swami with fragrant jasmine oil, gave him a hot water bath
and gifted him new clothes. Krishna and Vasu were given the same
royal treatment as conferred on Swami. Comfortable sleeping arrangements
were made. On the host’s insistence, Swami enjoyed his hospitality
for four days. Krishna and Vasu rested completely. The host then
made arrangements for a horse cart to take Swami and his disciples
At Rajapur, Swami went to the house of his devotee Rambhau
Vaidya. Rambhau was extremely happy to see Swami. News
of Swami’s arrival spread as fast as the wind. People came
to seek his blessings, bringing with them offerings of coconuts,
dry fruits and sweetmeats. In a single day, a handsome collection
of rupees one hundred was collected as offerings. Next day, Swami
proceeded further in his journey. Rambhau packed all the offerings
and placed them in the cart. However, Krishna and Vasu returned
it to Rambhau.
Swami proceeded to Kagal to the house of Haripant Shidnorlikar.
The threesome stayed there for a day and then proceeded to Wadi.
It was at Rajapur that Swami’s devotee, who had come searching
for him, posted Tarabai his whereabouts. Tarabai arrived at Rajapur
only to find that Swami had already left for Kagal. After a brief
halt at Rajapur, Tarabai left for Kagal. But Swami had already left
for Wadi when Tarabai reached Kagal. Haripant did not know that
Swami had left Kolhapur without informing his disciples and devotees
at the mathi. When Tarabai informed him of the situation, he got
worried. Hiring another cart, he set out with Tarabai to go to Wadi.
Wadi and onto Miraj
Swami stayed at Wadi for a full day. Almost two hundred pilgrims
came to seek his blessings. When Swami proceeded to Miraj,
the pilgrims requested him to stay there longer. Swami, however,
proceeded through the flooded river Krishna. Swami, Krishna and
Vasu waded through the knee-deep water. When others followed suit
the water level rose dangerously to their waist level and they had
no choice but to return. Thus they could not follow Swami.
In the evening, Tarabai and Haripant reached Wadi, only to find
Swami gone. They rested at Wadi overnight and resumed their journey
to Miraj the next morning. By the time they reached Miraj in the
evening, Swami had left for Kolhapur. Remembering this, Tarabai
whispered with tears running down her face, "Swami, you are
true to your words. Today is the twentieth day. It is obvious that
I shall see you tomorrow".
The Master of them all
Swami had played the game of ‘hide and seek’ with Tarabai
and firmly showed her who had the upper hand after all. Tarabai
returned to Kolhapur. When she entered the mathi, she saw Swami
seated on his ‘throne’ with a mischievous smile on his
face. Krishna and Vasu stood on his two sides. This was the exact
scene she had seen in her dream. She could not control herself and
fell at Swami’s feet, crying her heart out, relieved to have
him back with her again. Swami patted her gently. She then went
for a bath. Later she cooked a delicious meal for all those present.
The aarti was an elaborate affair than usual. Tarabai first fed
Swami his meal and then served the rest to others as prasad.
At night, Tarabai questioned Krishna and Vasu about their adventure
of twenty-one days. They narrated with details about their journey
with Swami. When they revealed that at Rajapur, Swami had received
rupees one hundred (equivalent to today’s rupees fifty thousand),
Tarabai’s greed again came to the forefront. She thought to
herself, "We must visit Rajapur again".
Within a week, Tarabai planned a tour to Rajapur. Swami laughed
to himself. Ironically, this time collection was not even a quarter
of a rupee during the entire visit. Tarabai returned disappointed.
Swami said, "Tara, do not run after money". A dejected
Tarabai replied, "Swami, how do I feed the many devotees who
come to seek your blessings". Swami retorted, "Tara, you
do not have to worry on their account. Everybody eats what is written
in their destiny".
Ramabai was a wealthy widow who resided at Kolhapur. She was possessed
by a ghost. She came to the mathi seeking help. Swami told her,
"You should feed here the poor and the needy. Please donate
rupees five hundred for the cause". The stingy Ramabai did
not want to part with such a huge sum despite possessing a great
fortune. She took Tarabai aside and offered her rupees twenty-five
and requested her "to get her work done". Tarabai’s
temptation naturally overtook her common sense. She took Ramabai
to Swami and requested him to help her. Swami asked Tarabai bluntly,
"Do you stand guarantee for this woman?" Tarabai agreed.
Swami exorcised the ghost and cured Ramabai of all her troubles.
Ramabai then stopped visiting the mathi altogether lest Swami asked
her for her contribution. Swami naturally turned to Tarabai, "Now
what about the food for the poor?" Tarabai had to shell out
the money from her own pocket. She arranged for the poor to be fed
at Laksha tirtha. A few weeks later, Ramabai came crying to the
mathi. A thief had stolen and run away with rupees one thousand
from her house.
Once Swami was gifted with a beautifully decorated pagadi (turban)
by a visitor. The other devotees present inquired as to why he had
presented the turban of all the things. He revealed that he had
been suffering from migraine for the past twelve years. He had tried
all medicines without any effect. He then took a vow that if he
was cured he would gift a turban to Swami. Within three days, his
migraine vanished. He had, therefore, come to gift Swami the promised
turban. He placed the turban reverentially on Swami’s head
and went away. Swami looked like a royalty wearing the beautiful
headgear. Tarabai came to where Swami was seated with his devotees
and virtually demanded Swami remove his turban and hand it over
to her, so that she could lock it away in the cupboard for Swami
to wear it on grand occasions and on festival days. Devotees seated
around protested. They requested her to let Swami wear the headgear
a little longer as he looked very handsome with it. Reluctantly,
Tarabai relented. She went to another room.
Just then a farmer entered and bowed to Swami. The farmer had on
his head a very old dirty turban. Swami requested the farmer to
give him his turban. In return, Swami placed his own beautiful turban
on the farmer’s head and requested him to leave at once lest
Tarabai finds out his mischief. The farmer went away. After a while
Tarabai returned to the room and realized what Swami had done. She
was furious. She said, "I knew you would do something like
this!" Swami laughed his guts out. He then gently said, "Tara,
when will you get rid of your greediness for petty things?"
Namdev was a young man of seventeen years of age. He was a Canari
(from Karnataka state) from Belgaum. He had very rich parents, but
in his childhood, he had lost them. His elder sister who resided
in Kolhapur was childless and therefore had adopted him. Besides
his vast fortune, Namdev also inherited his sister’s great
wealth and property. When he came of age, she arranged Namdev’s
marriage to an extremely beautiful girl.
Namdev was an ardent devotee of Lord Dattatreya. Even his marriage
could not lessen his devotion. Since Namdev resided at Kolhapur,
he often visited Swami. In the later chapter, more details of his
life will be mentioned as he reached the realms of high spiritual
standards set out by his Guru – Swami. Since two episodes
of his life are relevant to the topic of this chapter, they are
Namdev and the fake alchemist
Once Namdev and his four friends, all devotees of Swami, came to
know that a man with high mystical powers was visiting Kolhapur.
The man claimed to have the knowledge of alchemy wherein a base
metal could be turned into gold. He would request people in his
audience to give him ordinary metal coins, put them in his cigar
and return coins made of pure gold. Interested in trying their luck,
the five friends decided to see this man. When they inquired about
his whereabouts, they were told that the visitor was holding a meeting
They went to the meeting. The visitor gave a long sermon at the
outset where he boasted of how great he was. Namdev was seated in
a corner where an oil lamp was lit. The oil in the lamp had got
over and the wick was making crackling sounds. The flame was about
to be extinguished. Namdev interrupted and pointed it out to the
visitor. The latter asked him to pour oil from the oilcan placed
besides it. Namdev found it empty and said so. The man handed Namdev
a pitcher of water and requested him to pour it in the oil lamp.
To the astonishment of the audience, the lamp started to burn normally.
Seeing the astounded expression on the faces of the people present,
the man became more and more boastful. Turning to Namdev, he asked
sarcastically, "Does your Guru show such mystical powers?"
All were dumbfounded. The day’s show was over.
Next day when Namdev and his friends went to the mathi, Swami would
not let them enter. He shouted from inside, "Enter only after
bathing in the river and getting yourself purified". Reluctantly,
they went to the river. While bathing, they started wondering aloud
as to why they needed purification. "Has a relative expired
and we do not know about it?" It is a custom amongst Hindus
that if there is a death in the family, there are restrictions the
other family members have to abide for a specific period till ritualistic
purification. The bewildered young men kept on marveling at the
reasons why Swami had stopped them from entering the mathi. They
kept on guessing. After bath, they returned to the mathi but Swami
would not let them enter. He shouted the same instructions once
again. This puzzled the men more. Outside the entrance they kept
on discussing their bewilderment amongst themselves. Suddenly one
of them said, "Yesterday, it was wrong on our path to visit
that man, tempted by gold". Another said, "He ridiculed
Swami in front of so many and we did not even protest". To
this, Namdev said, "We have committed a grave blunder. Let
us confess it to Swami and ask him to forgive us. Let us promise
never to repeat a mistake like this ever again".
No sooner had he finished speaking, they heard Swami yell, "Come
inside! You are purified. Instead of cleaning the body, it is essential
to cleanse your mind. You have done it now". Shame faced they
went in and bowed at Swami’s feet. There was no need to say
a word. Swami stated, "See the fun tomorrow. That man will
be handcuffed and paraded through the streets of Kolhapur".
And then he looked at Namdev and gave him a warning, "Namdev,
no more greediness". Next day Swami’s prediction came
true. Many local people had registered complaints of cheating and
fraud against the visitor. The police arrested him, handcuffed him
and paraded him throughout the city.
Namdev in trouble
Namdev had an excessive sexual appetite and he could not control
it. He felt that this was hindering his spiritual progress, perhaps
it was the reason Swami had never ever given him any spiritual instructions.
He was not bold enough to broach the topic directly with Swami.
Unfortunately, he met a yogi who was adopting austere, in fact cruel
methods to achieve control over the senses. On his advice, Namdev
pierced a metal ring in his penis. Within a few hours he had septic
infection and was running high fever. He was suffering such intensive
pain and agony that he could not move from his bed. He felt so ashamed
that he could not tell his relatives nor call the doctor. Three
days passed thus. On the fourth day, Swami himself came to Namdev’s
house. He detached the metal ring from his body and fired Namdev
severely. Later, Namdev revealed that he had never seen Swami so
furious throughout his life. After Namdev recovered, Swami told
him, "Namdev, these methods are useless. They will only cause
you ill health. How will you stop your desire invading your mind?
Surrender completely to God. Let your urge for him exceed everything
else. Then self-control will come on its own.