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Chapter 8 - Different Facets of Swami

Mahadevbhat was a pious Brahmin who lived at Akkalkot. After Shri Swami Samartha left his physical body, he spent all his time chanting prayers. Every afternoon, he would read the ‘Ramayana’, the story of Lord Shri Ram written by the great Sanskrit (ancient Indian language used by the Aryan race) poet sage Valmiki. Very often memories of Shri Swami Samartha would interrupt his reading making him gloomy, pensive and sad. This was not surprising, as he had served the great sage for fourteen long years. One night Shri Swami Samartha appeared in his dream and said, "Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami of Kolhapur and I are one. Go to Kolhapur and stay with him". Mahadevbhat thus came to Kolhapur and stayed at the mathi. He would only leave the mathi at noon to procure alms for lunch. Otherwise his time was spent in chanting prayers and afternoons were reserved for reading the Ramayana. One afternoon when Mahadevbhat sat reading the Ramayana, suddenly he remembered Shri Swami Samartha and he slipped into gloom. At that very moment, Swami was in his bedroom. He sent for Mahadevbhat. Mahadevbhat went in and bowed reverentially at Swami’s feet. The sight visible to him when he lifted his head sent shivers down his spine. For alas! Swami had disappeared. In his place was Shri Swami Samartha seated with a benevolent smiling face with kind eyes looking at him. This scene must have been similar to Lord Krishna showing his gigantic magnificent virat (full) form to Arjuna that left the latter trembling with fear. The petrified Mahadevbhat silently prayed, "O Lord! Forgive me! Now I have no doubts in my mind that you and Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami are one and the same. Please reappear as Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami as now I like that form only." The next moment Swami reappeared with his affectionate look.

Henceforth Mahadevbhat lived happily at the mathi. After a few days, his loud reading of the Ramayana in the afternoon started to irritate Tarabai’ son who started to grumble. Swami therefore directed him to read it in the temple dedicated to Goddess Amba. Mahadevbhat protested that he wanted to read it in Swami’s presence. Swami assured him that he would be present when he read the holy text.

Mahadevbhat then started reading it in the temple. One day a doubt raised its head in Mahadevbhat’s mind. He wondered if Swami was indeed present while he read the holy text. The next moment he started feeling drowsy. In this trance-like state, he saw Swami seated in front of him. When he regained full consciousness, he saw some turmeric powder and some red kumkum (vermilion symbolizing good luck) sprinkled on the pages of the holy text. These auspicious signs indicated that Swami was indeed present at every reading as promised by him. What more could a devotee expect?

Ganpat was a small boy who lived with his family at Yeolooj, a small village near Kolhapur. During childhood, he lost his mother. His father therefore brought him to Kolhapur for education. Ganpat would often visit Swami.

After completing his studies, Ganpat was married off. After marriage when Ganpat came to seek Swami’s blessings, Swami told him, "Difficult times ahead". Ganpat guessed that some mishap would occur but he placed his full faith in Swami that with his grace, he would be able to overcome any strife. As warned, Ganpat soon lost his father. Now he started visiting Swami regularly. One day Swami said to him, "Happy days are here for a short time". Soon, Ganpat’s wife delivered a baby. Unfortunately, Ganpat’s wife and child died. This plunged Ganpat into deep depression. But after a short period he recovered from his grief. He wondered, "There must be a divine purpose for God to leave me alone in this big world. Perhaps now I can spend all my time at the mathi serving Swami".

One day Swami directed him to return to his village. Ganpat faithfully obeyed and returned to his ancestral house at Yeolooj village. He had a small piece of agricultural land. He started tilling the land. The yield was sufficient to meet his needs. He passed his time chanting Swami’s name and helping others. Since Yeolooj is situated on the way to Pandharpur, many pilgrims pass it. Ganpat was kind and generous, and would provide food and shelter to the pilgrims.

Once a group of two hundred pilgrims on their way to Pandharpur, took a halt at Yeolooj. The pilgrims approached the Patil (Chief) of the village and requested him to arrange for their meals. However the villagers with their limited resources were reluctant. The news reached Ganpat’s ears. He willingly undertook to feed the pilgrims. He approached his friend Tukaram who owned a grocery shop to give him the required food grains and other food products on credit. He also requested his friend to lend him some cash so that he could purchase vegetables, milk and other products. Tukaram being a thorough businessman saw this excellent opportunity to make a handsome profit. He told Ganpat, "Take anything you need but I shall charge fifty percent interest on it". Ganpat had no choice but to agree. He took the necessary food articles and along with other friends in the village started cooking the meal for two hundred people.

The pilgrims had a hearty meal. But plenty of food was still available. Ganpat invited some villagers to partake the remaining food as prasad. The villagers ate heartily and yet there was still ample food available. Now Ganpat invited all the villagers with their families. Even after feeding so many people plenty of food was still left over. Even the stray cats and dogs of the village ate to their heart’s delight. How two thousand people could eat heartily food cooked for two hundred people is the play of the divine. Ganpat knew that it was all Swami’s doing. After all isn’t there a story in Shri Gurucharitra about Shri Narsimha Saraswati feeding four thousand people from offerings provided by a poor devotee, which was barely sufficient for three people.

Now the villagers felt ashamed. They approached Ganpat with their contribution. Ganpat humbly refused. Tukaram, the grocer, also felt ashamed. He said to Ganpat, "Friend, you are great! Just pay me the cost price of the food products, that too, when you have the money in hand".

A devotee of Shri Samartha Ramdas
A resident of Kolhapur was Swami’s devotee. He regularly visited the mathi. One day, he had a guest – a priest who was the devotee of Shri Samartha Ramdas. The priest was also a scholar and gave religious discourses. When the host prepared to set out for his daily visit to the mathi, the guest inquired where he was going. The host told his guest about Swami. The guest immediately said, "There cannot be anybody like Shri Samartha Ramdas, but nevertheless I shall come with you". On the way he purchased a coconut to offer to Swami but mentally he thought, "What a waste!"

They entered the mathi. The priest offered the coconut to Swami who immediately retorted, "Your coconut is wasted. Alas! I am not Shri Samartha Ramdas". The priest was rendered dumbstruck. He apologized profusely to Swami who smiled mischievously and said, "It is true I am not Ramdas. But Ramdas was an incarnation of Lord Hanuman. And I am Hanuman! See my tail". Swami turned around and showed his tail. He turned around again and lo behold! All present at the mathi saw a giant monkey – Lord Hanuman – sitting on the ‘throne’. He exuded an extremely bright divine glow of light. All present were not only stunned but also trembling at this divine sight. Within a moment, the scene resumed normalcy and all present were relieved. The priest was deeply satisfied. He bowed to Swami with a newfound reverence and with full devotion offered him the coconut.

‘Shri Vithal’ chant
One devotee requested Swami to give him a mantra. Swami asked him to chant ‘Shri Vithal’. The devotee was not happy at receiving this chant. He sat thinking, "When Swami is Lord Dattatreya, why has he given me Lord Panduranga’s name to chant?" As he wondered, he started feeling drowsy. Suddenly he saw Lord Vithal with his two hands on his waist seated on Swami’s ‘throne’. A big garland made of tulsi (holy basil) leaves adorned his neck. All those who were seated around had bukka (black powder) applied on their foreheads and all were chanting Lord Panduranga’s name. Next moment, the whole scene resumed normalcy. The devotee now understood that Lord Panduranga, and Lord Dattatreya are not different. Now he happily started to chant ‘Shri Vithal’.

Swami speaks all languages
Swami was out for a walk one day. Some students from a high school were passing by. A mischievous lad decided to have fun at Swami’s expense. He asked Swami a question on mathematics in English. Swami immediately gave him an answer in English. A schoolmate of the lad pulled him up by saying, "You should not harass a saint thus". Soon all the boys started visiting the mathi regularly. They all passed their school grades with flying colors.

On another occassion, as Swami was taking his daily walk, a Tamil Brahmin came from the river after taking his bath. He was chanting a hymn from the Vedas, an ancient holy text in Sanskrit language. When the Brahmin saw Swami and his devotees, he inquired about them through gestures and hand signs as he could not speak the local Marathi language (language spoken in Maharashtra). He could only converse in Tamil - the South Indian language. He presumed Swami was a great sage and felt, "I must touch his feet with reverence, even if it means that I’ll have to take a bath once again to chant the holy Vedic chants". Thus thinking he bowed at Swami’s feet. Swami retorted immediately in fluent Tamil, "Bhatji, You need not bath again. Continue praying ‘Indro bundam...’". The Brahmin was dumbfounded. He kept on staring at Swami in sheer astonishment even as Swami again repeated, "Pray ‘Indro bundam...’". The Brahmin was stunned to know that not only could Swami speak his language but he also knew what he was chanting mentally. He surrendered to Swami and asked for his blessings. He then proceeded with his family to Varanasi on pilgrimage.

Swami’s Rudra Abhisheka
‘Rudra Abhisheka’ is a ritual wherein water, milk or sugarcane juice is poured continuously on the Shiva Linga while the priests chant the Rudra mantra. During this process, the number of priests who chant the sacred mantras is in the multiple of eleven.

One day, a devotee invited eleven learned priests to the mathi to conduct the ritual of ‘rudra abhisheka’ on Swami’s feet. The priests who came started grumbling for various reasons. One priest said it was wrong to conduct such a high ritual at a mere mortal’s feet. Another priest was furious that he had been invited to perform such a high liturgical ritual at a prostitute’s house. Yet another priest remarked that they should ignore such petty matters as long as they were paid their fees.

The priests started the ritual ceremony. Swami, who could not recite the simple ‘Gayatri’ mantra at his thread ceremony, now started chanting the difficult ‘Rudra’ mantra. To the astonishment of the priests, Swami pronounced each word correctly with scientific notations.

At the end of this ceremony, all the priests surrendered to Swami who revealed, "Your abhisheka has reached the feet of Lord Panduranga. Since Lord Shiva lies on his head, it has reached him too". This left the priests amazed as Swami was referring to the crown of Lord Panduranga at Pandharpur that has the shape of a shivalinga.

A sanyasi from North India came to Kolhapur. Here, he lived at the temple dedicated to Goddess Amba. He remained naked. He never asked for alms. He came to be known as Jatarat.

On the request of the local people, Jatarat started to cover his loins with a cloth. When devotees offered him milk, he would drink a drop and distribute the rest to the needy children. He never accepted eatables. Nevertheless, if someone offered eatables, he would immediately give it away to the beggars. If devotees forced him to eat, he would not be able to retain the food in his body. He would immediately vomit it out. He was evolved in many yoga techniques. He could even take his organs such as the liver, intestines and other parts out of his body, wash them and place them again in their place.

People were highly impressed with this young yogi. Soon he had a large following of devotees who would gather around him and listen to his advice. One evening, a very excited Jatarat asked his devotees seated around him, "Do you all want to meet a yogi who is a Paramahansa?" Literally the word ‘paramahansa’ means the supreme swan (a symbol of spiritual discrimination). The title signifies one who manifests the supreme state of unbroken communion with God. Everyone present replied an equally excited "Yes". Jatarat at once got up and started walking. His devotees followed suit. Jatarat must have covered a small distance when he saw Swami with his devotees coming towards him. Jatarat rushed towards Swami and bowed reverentially to him. When he got up, he whispered something to Swami who whispered a reply to him. Jatarat was heard saying to Swami, "Thanks! This was the exact point where I was stuck in my yogic progress". Jatarat was tall and strong, Swami was short and frail. Jatarat and Swami embraced each other. In all the excitement, Jatarat picked up Swami joyously. Then both parted ways.

The moment Swami departed from the scene, chaos and confusion prevailed amongst Jatarat’s devotees. They bombarded him with angry questions, "You are a pious sanyasi, while he is a fool. Why did you bow to him?" "He stays with a prostitute". "Only stupid people visit him". "You promised to show us a paramahansa".

Jatarat placed his hands on his ears and shut them. He could not bear to hear blasphemous statements darted towards Swami. When he could not bear any longer, he yelled, "Shiva! Shiva! You all are criticizing a great man. He is God himself staying in your city in human disguise. And all of you are ignorant of the fact. Fools, you all are so ignorant! Surrender to him! Get your life’s dreams fulfilled by him".

Lord Vithoba visits Swami
A sanyasi, presumably from the Himalayas, visited the mathi in the early morning hours. He was young and handsome. He entered, went straight to where Swami was seated and stood in front of him. He asked Swami a question in Sanskrit. Swami replied back in Sanskrit. He then lay down in front of Swami, turning on the side, facing Swami and then using his hand as a headrest propped himself up. He kept on staring straight at Swami without so much as blinking his eyelids. Evening set in, he did not stir from that place. The other devotees irritated at this behavior asked Swami if they should move him to a corner. Swami would not allow them.

Three days and three nights passed thus. The young sanyasi remained in the same position. Devotees again requested Swami to allow them to move the sanyasi. Swami whispered something to the sanyasi who immediately got up and departed from the room. Swami gave a disgusted look at his devotees and said, "Pandharinath (Head of Pandharpur known by several names - Lord Vithal, Panduranga, Vithoba) was here and you all did not so much as offered him anything to eat or drink as prasad’. Devotees rushed out in different directions but he had disappeared without trace. How could he have disappeared within a couple of seconds? Seeing his devotees’ crestfallen faces, Swami laughed and said, "Okay. We will bring him back". Within a fraction of a second, the young man reappeared and bowed to Swami who gave him prasad. All the devotees bowed to him and then he made his exit.

Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda, the foremost disciple of Ramkrishna Paramahansa visited Swami at the mathi at Kolhapur. Swami blessed him with the boon of vacha siddhi. This boon meant that all he spoke would come true and his speech would be so impressive that the listeners would be convinced of his point of view. After receiving this blessing, Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu monk from India to ever visit the United States of America. He addressed ‘the Parliament of Religions’ at Chicago on September 11, 1893. He addressed a select audience of nearly 7,000 enlightened representatives of different branches of American thought who were thrilled to hear his message and welcomed him with sustained and thunderous applause. He charmed the audiences with his magical oratory, and left an indelible mark on America's spiritual development. History has recorded Swami Vivekananda’s speech for posterity.

Nana Khandoba
A Brahmin named Nana Khandoba served as a priest in the temple of Lord Khanderaya. A devotee endowed the temple with a small farm. The income from the farm supplemented the collections from the temple. This was enough to maintain the temple, conduct regular liturgical services as well as sustaining the priest’s family. As time passed, the income from the farm as well as the collections from the temple reduced drastically. Time came when it became impossible to manage the maintenance of the temple, let alone make ends meet for the sustenance of the priest’s family. In difficult times, man turns to God. This saying is true. Nana started visiting Swami. Regular visits brought about peace and harmony. "After all" he thought, "one does not have to pay for chanting devotional songs".

However, one day, Nana arrived at the mathi depressed and dejected. He bowed to Swami and cried out all his troubles. He revealed, "At noon it is difficult to control the hunger pangs. As it is the burden of poverty is killing us, on top of it my son Balambhat is possessed by a ghost that gives him unbearable pains. He is in no state to come to you. O God! Please be kind to him or else put us both to death". Swami’s kind heart was moved by Nana’s sad plight. He assured Nana, "Do not worry. One day he will come to me on his own".

Next day at Nana’s home, Balambhat started howling as he could not bear the great pain the ghost in his body was subjecting him to. Suddenly the ghost within him started yelling, "Who do you think you are talking to me thus? You may use all the power you have but I will keep troubling this man. Although I was a scavenger and he a Brahmin, still he deceived me and cheated me of my money. I seek revenge! Why are you siding with my enemy? Who do you think you are tempting me with Moksha? I will not move from here." And then suddenly the ghost screamed, "O...Oh! Please forgive me! I will come". Balambhat just dropped to the floor and was rendered unconscious. Then he got up and started walking like a zombie, in a trance-like state and went straight to the mathi. He entered the mathi and collapsed at Swami’s feet. After some time, he resumed consciousness. He felt self-conscious that he was lying down with people staring at him. The ghost had released him. His troubles were over. Nana was joyous and bowed to Swami in gratitude. Nevertheless Swami warned them to behave properly and to regularly conduct the rituals to Lord Khanderaya.

The Telugu Brahmin couple
A Telugu Brahmin and his wife lived in the Andhra state. The wife was possessed by a ghost and suffered immensely. The couple therefore left home to go and stay at Ganagapur for three years. The Brahmin read the Shri Gurucharitra regularly and offered his services to Shri Narasimha Saraswati. One night Shri Narasimha Saraswati appeared in his dream and directed him to go to Kolhapur and serve Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami.

Thus the couple arrived at the mathi. Everyday without fail, they would visit the mathi twice at aarti time, pay their respects to Swami and go away. Four months passed thus. One day, the Brahmin appealed to Swami, "Please help my wife for she is suffering so much". Swami knotted the cloth that was draped carelessly on his shoulder. The lady cried out aloud. Although the lady was not conversant in Marathi, the ghost within her spoke fluent Marathi. She said, "O Lord! In her previous birth, this woman took rupees seven hundred from me and refused to return it. I shall leave her only if she uses that amount to feed the poor in my name". Swami tightened the knot a little more. The ghost cried out, "Please at least let her spend rupees one hundred in my name". Swami tightened the knot further more. The ghost cried out in pain, "I shall leave her right now if you bestow Moksha on me. I have another minor request. I have been craving to eat a mango. Please get me one to eat".

It was the month of Kartika, which comes in November, an extremely cold season, impossible to procure mangoes as they grow only in summer that is from March to June. But Swami can fulfill any and every wish for after all he is the doer and the undoer of everything that occurs in the world. Just then a farmer who was Swami’s devotee entered. In his hand he was carrying a mango. The mango tree on his farm had yielded luscious mangoes unseasonably. Hence he had brought one mango to offer it to Swami. Swami took the offering and gave it to the woman to eat. She ate it with glee. Then she collapsed. When the woman recovered her senses, the ghost had left her and she was absolutely normal. The grateful couple bowed to Swami and requested him to bless them. They arranged for an elaborate aarti in gratitude to Swami and fed him lunch. They arranged for a feast for all the devotees to partake as prasad. After seeking Swami’s permission, they happily returned to their home in the state of Andhra.

Dada Pandit
Dada Pandit was a resident of Kolhapur. He used to visit the mathi occasionally. He had however no faith in Swami and never bowed to him. He just could not fathom why ignorant people bow to a mere mortal being.

Dada Pandit soon lost his wife. He then remarried. A ghost however possessed his new wife. She suffered immensely. She would often cry out and urge her husband, "Take me to Swami at Kumbhar lane". But Dada Pandit would turn a deaf ear to all her pleadings.

Dada however took his wife to Wadi. His wife’s pain increased terribly. The ghost within her body told him, "Take me to the Swami at Kumbhar lane or I’ll trouble her more". Dada was just not convinced. They stayed put at Wadi for three more days. On the third night, Shri Narasimha Saraswati appeared in Dada’s dream and said, "Your problem will not be resolved here. Take your wife back to Kolhapur. I am living there as Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami. I will only help you there".

The next morning when Dada woke up, the ghost who possessed his wife laughed hysterically and said, "Now take me to Swami or I’ll trouble her more". His wife then started crying due to severe pain.

Dada was left with no choice but to return to Kolhapur and take his wife to the mathi. Ashamed of his earlier haughty behavior, he bowed humbly to Swami and said, "O Lord! Please forgive me for not recognizing you. We are ignorant beings. The veil of illusion that you draw over our eyes keeps us away from recognizing the truth for what it is. Sir, you are the ocean of kindness. Please forgive me! Please help and cure my wife. We have come to surrender at your feet. It is well known that those who surrender to you, their wishes are fulfilled". Swami looked at Dada’s wife with kindness. The ghost left her immediately and she recovered fully. The couple then became ardent devotees of Swami.

It may be noted that Dada Pandit was the maternal great-grandfather of Guruvarya Shri Madhav Saraswati

A true devotee
Swami had an ardent devotee who was a farmer who owned a small piece of land. Although his income from the farm produce was limited, he managed his finances very well. He had two daughters who he had married off and were well settled.

Times changed and so did the circumstances. His limited income became meager. It became difficult for him to procure even three square meals a day. One day in a state of deep depression, he wandered to the outskirts of the city. Tired after wandering for long, he sat down under a tree. In his misery, he prayed to Swami, "O Lord! Death is a better option than these hunger pangs at noon. Please God relieve me from this sorry state". He suddenly heard a voice saying, "God creates food first. Then he creates living beings. One who feeds an ant without fail, feeds an elephant too". The devotee looked around wondering who was speaking but found no one present.

The cool breeze brought with it a paper that floated around and dropped at his feet. On picking it up he found that it was a promissory note bearing the royal seal and signature of the King of Kolhapur ordering that the bearer of the note be given rupees ten from the royal treasury. The devotee realized that someone had lost the note. He waited till sundown lest someone comes searching for the note. But no one came. The devotee then considered the note as God-sent and encashed it. In those days, this was a handsome amount of money. He invested it well and his circumstances changed for the better.

Grateful at the good tide of fortune turned his way, he increased the chanting of Swami’s name. What’s more, he resolved to offer all that he ate to Swami before partaking the same. As years rolled by, he aged. Due to old age, he fell ill. He had to swallow several bitter medicines everyday. To the dismay of his wife, he would even offer the medicines to Swami before swallowing them. His wife would berate him, "It is alright if you offer food to your master. But it is incorrect that you should offer him the bitter medicines". The devotee begged to differ.

One day, the devotee fell unconscious and his wife administered him a medicinal dosage in that state. On regaining consciousness, he learnt what had happened. He turned miserable that his resolution had been broken. He simply stopped eating! Three days passed thus. He felt weak and drowsy. He yawned! Lo behold! Swami, the size of his thumb, came out of his mouth and stood in front of him. Swami said gently, "Son, why are you being so foolish? You have certainly not broken your resolution! Are you and I different? Look at yourself". The devotee glanced at himself. He saw Swami lay on his bed. He joined his two hands in gratitude. The thumb-size Swami laughed and vanished. What an incredible experience! He cried with joy!

Kashinath Altekar
Kashinath Altekar was a strong, well-built, young man. He was in the service of the King of Kolhapur. He was in charge of the godown that stored goods and grain to be distributed amongst the poor. Being pious and God-fearing, he showed great generosity while distributing to the poor and the needy. He had a very clear conscience, "The goods belong to the King of Kolhapur. If he wants to give them as charity, why should I be an obstacle in distributing". Although he never siphoned off a single grain, many detractors complained about him. The complainants could not prove any charges they made against him. What’s more, the King trusted him and was very happy with his services.

Kashinath was an ardent devotee of Swami. As soon as he finished his official duty, he would rush to the mathi. He would carry the river water to wash the mathi. He spent his nights chanting Swami’s name.

One evening as usual Kashinath finished his duty and rushed to the mathi. There was no one present except Swami seated on his ‘throne’. The moment Kashinath entered the room, Swami got up and walked towards him. To Kashinath’s great surprise, Swami embraced him. He then lifted Kashinath like a child and seated him on his ‘throne’. A gamut of different emotions ran through the bewildered Kashinath. One moment he was shocked, the next moment he was frightened and at his wits end. Swami stood in front. Soon Kashinath fell into a trance. Now he saw Swami in front of him, Swami behind him and Swami all around him. He looked at himself and to his surprise he saw Swami seated on the ‘throne’. Swami simply pervaded the entire place. Extremely puzzled and amazed, Kashinath even wondered as to who was seeing and experiencing all this. As suddenly as he went into trance, as quickly he came back to his senses. Seeing Swami standing before him, he fell at his feet and cried out, "O Lord! Why did you do this?" Swami patted him gently and answered, "Are we both different? The master and his devotees are one. You deserved to experience the knowledge of Advaita, to know that God is one and He pervades everyone and everything, everywhere, at all times".

The above two stories reveal the firm faith and devotion these devotees had for their master, which was amply reciprocated by their master. But when a devotee’s faith is shaky and he jumps from one master to another, he has to bear the adverse consequences too. Let us reveal another story where the devotee committed such a blunder.

Krishna Lad’s faux-pas
Seeing thousands of devotees showing great devotion and reverence for Lord Vithal, Krishna Lad felt he should also visit Pandharpur to obtain his blessings. He asked Swami’s permission to undertake the said pilgrimage. Surprisingly, Swami flatly refused. He repeatedly asked Swami for permission till one day Swami gave in with reservations. He said, "Go ahead if you want to fall in trouble". Not paying heed to Swami’s words, he set out on foot for Pandharpur.

On the way, Krishna halted at Miraj to pay his respects to Ramdas Gadgil, a blind saint who resided there. When he entered the saint’s abode, he saw the saint seated facing the wall. When he tried to bow at his feet to show his reverence, the saint shooed him away by saying, "Go away! How could you leave the river Ganges, just to come to a stream?" But Krishna could not decipher the meaning or the gravity of the words uttered by the saint.

After his visit here, he walked on to proceed to Alandi. On the way Krishna could not obtain alms or eatables. Weak with hunger, it took him three days to reach Alandi, the sacred shrine of saint Dnyaneshwar. It was night when he reached Alandi. So instead of going to the samadhi temple, he went to a charitable lodge and went to sleep. In his dream he saw a radiant Brahmin youth. Following is the conversation that ensued between them:

Youth: "Why have you come here begging all the way from Kolhapur?"

Krishna: "I have come to pay my respects and get darshan of saint Dnyaneshwar".

Youth: "Then why did you not go straight to the samadhi temple?"

Krishna: "It was late when I arrived. The temple must have been shut for the night".

Youth: "You know very well that nobody would have stopped you from entering".

In the morning, he woke up, took his bath and went to the samadhi temple. There he prayed to saint Dnyaneshwar, "Lord, my Guru and you are one. It is ignorant people like me who make a blunder of thinking that you all are different. Please forgive me! Please give me your blessings". He repented leaving Swami’s services. That day, he received alms.

In his heart Krishna knew he should return directly but since he had come so far, he thought he might as well go to Pandharpur before returning. It took another three days to walk to Pandharpur. He passed many villages but no one gave him alms. He thought, "Nowadays, nobody wants to dole out charity to the needy". He reached Pandharpur. He went to have his bath in the sacred river Chandrabhaga and went to pay his respects to Lord Vithoba. After his visit to the famous temple, he went around seeking alms, as he was hungry since three days. Wherever he begged, people drove him off saying, "Nowadays, people disguise as sanyasi so that it is easy to seek alms". After his futile round of begging, he was left with no option but to return to the lodge. As he slept, he saw two men in his dream. One was extremely dark, the other looked like a young scholar. He saw them having the following conversation:

Dark Man: "Who is this man sleeping here?"

Young Scholar: "He is the disciple of Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami of Kolhapur. He has come here all the way to beg".

The next morning he resolved to return to Kolhapur. He set out immediately. But he had become extremely weak due to hunger. As he reached the outskirts of Pandharpur, he could not take a step further. He was left with no choice but to sit down under a tree on the roadside. He was feeling faint and drowsy. As he sat there, he recollected the sequence of events that took place from the day he had left the mathi. He recalled Ramdas Gadgil’s utterance and the two dreams he had at Alandi and Pandharpur. It became apparent to him that if you leave your Guru, even God deserts you and his Saints want nothing to do with you and only want to drive you out. Repentant, he then prayed to Swami from the bottom of his heart, "O Lord! Forgive me! I realize that I have indeed made a mistake. Give me the last chance to correct myself. If I survive, I shall return and never ever leave your service till I die".

Krishna then collapsed and fainted. But he had already surrendered to his Guru, so everything started to fall in place. After a little while, the landlady of that place was passing by and happened to see that someone had fainted there. She came near and sprinkled water on Krishna’s face. When Krishna regained consciousness, he told her the circumstances in which he had fainted. The lady took pity on him and took him to her farmhouse. Her husband was a generous and hospitable man. He offered Krishna plenty of food to eat.

After a hearty meal, Krishna regained his strength. He thanked his benefactors and started on his return journey to Kolhapur. Throughout the journey, tears flowed continuously and he kept on chanting Swami’s name. On reaching Kolhapur and entering the mathi, he fell headlong at Swami’s feet. He could not control himself and blurted out, "O Lord! You are the source from which the cosmos originates. We ignorant beings do not understand your true form. You are the ocean of kindness. Therefore, you disguise yourself as a mere human being to uplift us. Due to the veil of illusion you draw in front of our eyes and thinking, we do not understand your divine play at work. Please forgive me like a mother". Swami gently said, "Krishna, your wish is fulfilled. Isn’t it? Now go and sit alone". Krishna now understood that Swami wanted him to meditate for long in a lonely place for his spiritual progress depended not in the pilgrim places but within himself. Swami wanted Krishna to find God within himself rather than in the various temples dedicated to God.

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