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A cherished memory of Pujyasri Mahaswamy's stay

Bhimarao Jahagirdar

Sri Kshetra, Gangapur, One of the most famous Dattatreya Peethas, is associated with Sri Narasimha Sarasvati Swami, the third incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. It stands on the bank of the river Bhima in Afzalpur taluka in Gulbarga district of Karnataka. This Nirguna Math is adorned with the Nirguna Padukas. Choudapur is a village about 6 kms from Gangapur.

On 29-3-1982 Sri Govindbhat Pujari and Sri Gurubhat Pujari, priests of Gangapur, informed me in my house at Choudapur about the arrival of the Paramacharya, the Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati of Kamakoti Peetham of Kanchi and that the Swamiji was going to halt at Choudapur on 30-3-1982, on his way to Gangapur. I was also informed that I should receive Swamiji and make arrangements for his halt. But on 31-3-1982 Swamiji came to Badanahalli, a village 3 kms. away from Choudapur. I, a native of Choudapur, fearing that the Swamiji might directly proceed to Gangapur, immediately went to Badanahalli and prostrated before the Paramacharya. The Swamiji called me nearer and asked me in Tamil through an interpreter, whether I was a Brahmin. He also asked about my Gotra etc. When I prayed to him to visit my house at Choudapur and accept my Padapuja, Swamiji asked me how much 'Dakshina' I would pay. I was puzzled at His query. At that time I did not have enough money with me and hence did not reply at once. After a while I told Swamiji that I would pay Rs.125/- towards Padapuja. Then He asked whether I would perform Padapuja at Gangapur also, to which I replied in the affirmative. He further enquired whether Padapuja would be performed by others in Gangapur to which also I replied in the affirmative. Swamiji then said that there was no need to pay Dakshina as the Math at Kanchi was very rich and had ample income. Swamiji enquired whether there was a ghoshala in my house. I told Swamiji that there was no ghoshala exclusively for cows but a common one for bullocks and other cattle. The conversation continued further.

His Holiness : What is the importance of Madhukari or Bhiksha in Gangapur?

I : Devotees offer Bhiksha as they believe that Lord Dattatreya comes in disguises to receive the Madhukari.

His Holiness : Is there any 'Drishtanta' for this?

I : Yes. In our house at Gangapur the offering of 'jawar rava' (in Kannada 'Kuchha', in Marathi 'Kanya') everyday as Madhukari. Once in the time of my grandfather, this rava was prepared late and it was distributed as Bhiksha when it was very hot. The same night my grandfather had a dream where a Sadhu came and his palm had a swelling due to a burn. This swelling was due to Bhiksha of hot rava. It is the Drishtanta by which we know that Datta Guru receives Madhukari.

His Holiness : This is not Drishtanta. If anybody sees God by his own eyes then only it is Drishtanta. Although it is a good sign, let it be. Now I want to be here, will you be able to build a Parnakuti for me?

I : (After some time) I will try my level best.

His Holiness : Are you having any deposits in banks or having loans?

I : I am not having any bank deposit, but I have some loans incurred due to the marriage of my sisters.

His Holiness : Are you having a car or a jeep?

I : No, Swamiji, I don't have even a bicycle.

His Holiness : I will not come for Bhiksha, but make arrangements for meals. Some may come to Choudapur for meals. So take our bicycle and inform your household.

Then I came to Choudapur and made arrangements for the meals for nearly 20-25 persons with the help of neighbors. As informed by Swamiji, some persons came to my residence and took meals and also carried meals for others.

Swamiji started from his camp at 7.30 p.m. and at 8.15 p.m. we reached Choudapur. Swamiji halted that night at Hanuman Mandir and started to Gangapur next day i.e. 1-4-1982 early morning.

On 3-4-1982 I was looking after the agricultural work in the rice fields at 5 a.m. At that time I was informed by a boy about the arrival of Swamiji. I came and saw that Pujya Paramacharya was sitting in Hanuman temple with His four disciples viz., Balan, Ekambar, Kannan and Ramakrishna. I prostrated before Him. Balan told Swamiji about my arrival. Swamiji asked me, "For how many days should I halt here?" I replied "As many days as Swamiji wishes". Then the cattle-shed belonging to my cousin, Sri Vaikunthadas, was cleaned for the stay of Swamiji. Arrangement for tea, coffee, tiffin and meals was done in our house.

4-4-1982 was Ekadashi and Swamiji was to take bath. Pujya Swamiji was not feeling well and so not able to go to Amerja river. So a pit was dug inside our big house near the well and was to be filled up with water. But in the early hours (nearly 4 a.m.), a lorry came from Sholapur Pogul family containing a cement tub in it. Then this tub was fixed in that pit and filled up with water. After bath there, Swamiji came near the door of our house and sat there nearly for one hour. Chanting of Mantras and Vedas was done there. Many Pujaris from Gangapur arrived for darshan.

On 5-4-1982 I went for Darshan of Swamiji. Swamiji called me inside the cattle shed and asked whether I knew Marathi or Kannada. I said I could speak both well. Swamiji spoke with me in pure Kannada and enquired about my ancestors, my earnings, the Pujaris and the boatmen. Then I said, "I require two blessings from you. The daily morning Naivedya offered to the deity at Gangapur should continue forever. Secondly, give me sadbuddhi always." His Holiness (smiling) said, "Go, go".

Meanwhile I was beginning to feel proud of myself and thought that I was a privileged person. A few days later I told my cousin Sri Venkanna that the stock of food grains was getting exhausted. The omniscient Paramacharya instantly noticed this and decided to quit the place. I felt very sorry for thinking the way I did. Any way after much pleading, Swamiji decided to extend the stay by a day. On Purnima day Swamiji presented two pairs of dhoti and sarees to my parents. My cousin sister Sow. Savitri's son Ch. Gururaj aged 1 1/2 years was having some heart trouble. Doctors advised operation. But Swamiji asked us not to operate. Till today his health is alright without operation.

On the 9th April, 1982 Swamiji had high fever. I came to Gulbarga in jeep and got Dr. Sri Muralidhar Rao, M.D. who examined Swamiji and prescribed some medicine. But to our dismay, on Saturday, the 10-4-1982 morning, 5.30 a.m. Pujya Paramacharya started from Choudapur. I rushed and fell at His feet requesting to stay one day more for the sake of His health as doctor had advised so. But He did not heed and went to a nearby Lamani Tanda and halted there for a day.

The same day Sri Bhimsain Joshi, the great musician, met Swamiji. Sri Ramakrishna, the aged disciple of His Holiness, gage me four pairs of wooden Padukas of Swamiji, two dadi umbrellas some coconuts and some rice. I asked whether he would take Padukas back. In reply he said that he could not say. In the evening all of us, i.e., I, my mother, wife and others went to Tanda to see Swamiji. Pujya Paramacharya said that now His health was alright.

On 17*4-1982, I asked Swamiji whether I should worship the Padukas given by him. He replied that I could do so if I wanted. Then I took the Padukas to Gangapur and kept them in our Devapuja after Rudrabhisheka. The other pairs I presented to my kin and friends.

I thank Almighty for giving me such a fortunate chance to serve the walking God on earth.