Monday, December 12, 2011


Dattatreya is an incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The word Datta means "Given", Datta is called so because the divine trinities have "given" themselves in the form of a son to the sage couple Atri and Anasuya. He is the son of Atri, hence the name "Atreya". In the Natha tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Shiva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adi-Nath sampradaya of the Nathas. The creative, the preservative and the disintegrating powers of God are supposed to be manifest in the personality of Lord Dattatreya. The name or word 'Dattatreya' is constituted of two terms, 'Datta' and 'Atreya'. In Sanskrit, 'Datta' means one who is bestowed as a gift, and 'Atreya' is an honorific which is derived from the name of a great sage called Atri. The son of Atri is Atreya. A descendent of Atri also is Atreya. One who is bestowed as a divine child on the great sage Atri, by the Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva themselves, is Dattatreya.

Sage Atri was a self-realized and enlightened soul. ‘Tri’ means “Trigunas” – Rajas, Tamas and Satva. Atri means one who is beyond the trigunas – “a – tri”. His wife was a very pious and pativrata lady by name Anasuya. ‘Asuya’ means jealousy. Anasuya was without jealousy – “an-asuya.” Anasuya was the embodiment of chastity and became very famous for her devotion to her husband. Such was her spiritual powers that she induced jealousy and envy in other women including the goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati. Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, husbands of these goddesses decided to prove Anasuya’s spiritual power to the world.

They transformed themselves into beggars, approached the hermitage of sage Atri and begged for alms. At that time sage Atri was away at the river offering his daily oblations. Anusuya came out and offered food to them. They made a strange request. The food should be prepared and served to them by Anusuya, in the nude. In the Indian tradition any 'athithi' (guest) cannot be turned away. They are considered to be an aspect of God. Hence she was placed in a dilemma. She smiled to herself and thought: ‘I am totally purified by the long association with the holy sage Atri. What harm can the god of lust ever do to me? So I need not fear. As they have sought food from my hands, I look upon them as my own children and not as strangers and grown up men!’ Her thoughts – the thoughts of a pious and chaste person – instantly became reality. The elderly guests became babies!

Sage Atri on his return to the hermitage saw his wife Anusuya fondling three babies. Anusuya said "These children are the gift of God to us. We have been childless so far". Sage Atri was overjoyed and named them Datta, which means 'given'. At this the three Gods reverted to their real forms and disclosed the truth. They extolled the power of chastity and purity of Anusuya which vanquished the combined and colossal powers of all three of them. Sage Atri and Anusuya prayed that they should remain as their sons. With the “amshas” of the three gods, three babies were gifted (traya – three). Vishnu’s “amsha” was Datta, Shiva’s “amsha” was Durvasa and Brahma’s “amsha” was Chandra. Dattatreya was thus the first of the Datta Pantha.

Though He is the Supreme Lord of this universe, yet Sri Dattatreya or Datta Guru is a total and supreme recluse. Though He moves from place to place, His favorite abode is the Holy Audambar tree. He has matted hair on His head. His body is ever smeared with holy ashes and He wears tiger-skin for His garment. A cow and four dogs are always with Him as His constant companions. He is an 'Avadhoot', ever anchored in Spirit, but always overflowing with compassion for all the beings and the entire creation. He is the embodiment of total Godhead. All the aspects of Godhead are fully manifest in Him. His faces and form are ever radiant with peace and divine charm.

• The Cow, which is always with Him, represents the Mother Earth and Dharma. She is the wish fulfilling cow 'Kamadhenu'.
• The four dogs symbolise the four Vedas – the external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom.
• The trident indicates that He has transcended the three gunas, which constitute the illusory world: Sattva-illumination, Rajas-activity and Tamas-inertia.
• The 'Sudharshana chakra' , disc indicates that He is beyond the cycles of time i.e. the past, present and future and His holding of 'chakra' means He is the controller of time.
• The conch represents the eternal sound ‘AUM’ – which is the manifestation of the Spirit. It is also the life principle in us and the cosmos.
• The 'bhasma' ashes indicated His 'Vairaagya' dispassion as well as His purity. Ashes indicate the evanescent nature of all created nature of all created objects and the ultimate state of all matter.
• He always carries a begging bowl so as to teach us the lesson that we will have to share our wealth and food with others.
• The japa-mala, rosary He wears reminds us that our primary duty is chanting the sacred name of the Lord and meditating on the feet of the Lord, and our redemption depends on this discipline alone.

His Teachings:

Guru Dattatreya gave Ashtanga Yoga (eight fold path of Yoga) to the world thousands of years ago. Patanjali codified this knowledge in sootra forms. It comprises:

1. Yama – non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-receiving of any gifts, moral discipline.
2. Niyama – cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study and self-surrender to God. Moral discipline Yama and Niyama are moral training and form the basis of Yoga. As these two become established, the Yogi will begin to realize the fruits of his practice.
3. Asana – posture
4. Pranayama – ‘Prana’ is the life-force, ‘yama’ is control. 'Pranayama' consists of breath control exercises.
5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of senses from sense objects
6. Dharana – concentration.
7. Dhyana – meditation.
8. Samadhi – the transcendental or super conscious state of being one with God:

Principle tenets of the Datta tradition

The principle tenets of the Dattatreya tradition are:

1. Everyone should know oneself first and should know one's own reality, which is but God.
2. One should realize the relationship between God, man and creation – the underlying kinship, unity and oneness of these three entities. Brahman is the immanent and all-pervading reality in all matter – it is the origin, the support and sustenance of all.
3. To obtain this vision and discern this truth, one should conquer one's ego through Yoga and renunciation.
4. Guru's grace is indispensable. One has to surrender oneself totally and unreservedly at the feet of the Guru.
His grace awakens 'Jnana' (illumination) by which we can recognize the Reality of Brahman, which is the real self of all.

Apart from this the disciples should:

• Have purity of thought, word and deed.
• Do 'Nama smaran' – remembrance of the Lord's name and meditation on it.
• Have compassion and love for all beings.
• Render selfless services at the feet of the Guru and surrender completely and unconditionally.

Incarnations of Shri Dattatreya :

While Shri Dattatreya was the primal manifestation in "Datta Sampradaya" and Guru Tradition, His incarnations are:



Sripada Shri Vallabha was born in a Brahmin family in a village named Pithapur (East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh, India). A Brahmin couple Appala Raju Sharma and Sumathi, were devotees of Lord Datta. They had many children of whom only two survived. One was lame and the other was blind. They worshipped Lord Datta and never failed to offer food to mendicants and monks. They looked upon on all such as the very forms of Lord Datta. One day, they were performing the annual ceremony in their house and many Brahmins were invited as guests for the feast. Tradition holds that none should eat on that day before these guests take their food. At that time Lord Datta appeared at their threshold in the form of a sadhu (saint), bearing the staff and the water-vessel (Kamandalu) and asked for food. The housewife, with immense faith that the visitor was none other than the Lord to whom the whole annual ceremony was being offered, gave Him food even before the Brahmin guests were fed! Her faith touched the Lord's heart and He at once granted her a vision of his true form. His glorious form had three heads, clad in a tiger's skin and his body besmeared with sacred ash (vibhuti), he looked like a silver mountain in moonlight.

Not long after, Sumathi conceived and delivered a male child at the proper time. She gave birth to one who is indeed birth-less. There was no birth in the normal sense; the Lord just manifested Himself as a child in this house. As the child has all the Divine features with celestial radiance, he was fittingly named as Sripada. This was the first incarnation of Lord Dattatreya.

As days and months passed, the child Serenade grew ever more glorious, the age of eight. As per the tradition, he was invested with the sacred thread. Normally, after the sacred thread ceremony a boy has to be trained by a Guru for 8 years before he can memorize the Vedas (external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom) completely. But this boy, Sripada, started imparting Vedic knowledge to this pupil right from the moment of his upanyana (sacred thread ceremony). It was all a purely Divine miracle.

When Sripada attained marriageable age, He was asked His opinion, "All women in this world are like my mother. I am married to sanyasa (renunciation). My mission is to give initiation and guidance to sadhus (holy men)". Speaking thus he sought permission from his parents to become a sanyasi and to leave the house. The parents were loath to forego such a son. Apart from this, the other two children were dumb, deaf and blind. If Sripada left his parents, who will look after them in their old age? Sripada understood their anxiety. He called these blind and lame brothers, his heart, melting with compassion at the sight of the tears in his parents, Sripada touched his brothers and made them whole in a moment! What is impossible for the Almighty and the lord of the universe?

The miracle dispelled the veil of delusion that blinded their understanding. Then the Lord granted them the vision of His real Divine form. The handsome, tender lad at once appeared radiant like a million suns and pleasing as myriad moons. His blissful nature seemed to enliven every atom of existence. With their permission, He renounced all worldly ties and trekked to several Holy places like Dwaraka, Brindavan, Mathura, and Badrinath. After wandering there for some time, He marched down to the Holy Gokarna in order to bless the spiritual seekers. Sripada lived for three years in Gokarna. Having uplifted several seekers there spiritually, the Lord went to Kurvapur and settled down there.

One day a widow, Ambika came to the river to end her life due to her unbearable poverty and to run away from the world which made fun of her for having given birth to a dullard and an idiot boy. Miraculously Sripada came there and said 'Oh Brahmin, do not be hasty; otherwise you would incur the sin of committing suicide, as well as the sin of killing a Brahmin. No one can help you out of it. It is better for you to live on, facing any amount of suffering.' The Brahmin lady then said, 'Oh Holy one, people are humiliating me for being cursed with the birth of a stupid son. They consider it a sin even to see my face. What could I gain by continuing to live?' The Lord was moved by compassion at her words and said, 'Mother, by committing suicide, you only add to your former sins and you will have to suffer more in the next life. Therefore, devote your whole life to the worship of Lord Shiva. You shall be blessed with a noble son in your next life'.

The above event was perhaps Shri Guru’s own sankalpa to reincarnate again as Sri Narasimha Saraswati . Therefore He had pre-arranged this leela so as to meet and bless His next incarnation’s mother-to-be.

The blessed housewife drank the divine glory of the Lord's from and felt that the highest object of her birth was fulfilled. The Lord said, "Mother, I am pleased with your devotion. Even before you fed the Brahmin guests, you have given me food with the full faith that this is the Lord in the guise of a holy mendicant. Now, ask me for anything you wish and it shall be granted". The sight blessed her eyes and now her ears were sanctified by His sweet words. "Lord", she said, "Lord! You addressed me as mother, please let your word be turned into reality" Lord replied “Tathastu” (so be it) and disappeared. Then Sumathi told her husband of the Divine vision the Lord had bestowed on her and of his granting her wish for a divine son.

Sripada Vallabha disappeared one day after entering the Ganges River. Though he is physically no more, devotees ever feel His presence and grace. His divine spirit is ever manifesting. The Lord is eternal. As He is the seed of the whole universe, His activities are infinite. So His purposes are infinite. In fact, He is ever in front of His devotees, granting their prayers. Yet he is invisible to all those who are blinded by the spirit of the ‘Kali’ age he has been granting the wishes of his devotees, though he is invisible to them. He can even be seen by those who are pure of heart. That village has become Holy by His eternal presence.


Sripada Swami told a Brahmin lady to devote her life to the worship of Lord Siva. She did accordingly and, as a result of it, she was born in Karanja a town near Akola (Central India) in a pious family and was named Amba. She grew and she was married to a pious man Madhava Sharma. She was devoted, heart and soul, to the service of of her husband. His noble company added to the holy tendencies she developed as a result of her spiritual discipline in her previous life. She now became an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.

In course of time, she gave birth to a son. The child did not cry, as usual, at birth. On the other hand, the only sound he uttered was 'AUM' (the eternal sound - 'AUM' is the manifestation of the spirit) and everyone was amazed at it. Astrologers assured Madhava Sharma that their child was indeed an avatar of the Lord. They also prophesied that he would renounce all worldly ties and that he would uplift the fallen souls. The child was named Narahari. The child Narahari grew up to be a handsome boy of five, but he could not speak and the parents were very much worried about it.

One day, the boy conveyed to them through gestures that he wished to be invested with the sacred thread. Young Narahari learned the 'Gayatri Mantra', adopted the vows of a young celibate (Brahmacharya), accepted the first offering of food from his mother's hands and at once recited the Vedas (external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom) . The parents were overjoyed but their joy did not last. According to tradition after the sacred thread ceremony, the initiate is a sanyasi and has to beg alms from his mother and leave for pilgrimage. Thus, the mother asked him to beg alms and young Narahari, taking it as her adesha (command) sought permission to take sanyasa, renounce worldly life and leave for pilgrimage. The mother bewailed her plight and pleaded with him to give up such an idea. Narahari said "I do not want to enjoy the objects of the senses which can only lead to misery. So, I shall pass on from the state of celibacy directly to the life of a sanyasi. Wealth, family ties and responsibilities are as unreal as a dream. Youth is transient as a flower which soon withers. Thus life is very short when viewed in the light of the only purposed of it, i.e., Self-realization. To be emotionally attached to anything in this phenomenal world amounts to mere self-betrayal and is self-defeating too. This body, with the skin as its surface layer, flesh, bones and the blood within, is as frail a structure as a water bubble. Excessive fondness for one's spouse and children is the root of all other evil tendencies. In itself, this body of ours is made of inanimate matter and is ever changing and perishable. Only the 'Self' within is eternal and is our only true being. Joys and sorrows of worldly life are merely relative, subjective and are therefore illusory experiences to the realized. Man can break the fetters of this illusion only through the grace of the Guru. Therefore, Oh mother, do not hinder me in my resolve. You shall be blessed with some more children. Go on meditating on me and thereby you shall cross the ocean of misery and ignorance too".

So saying, Narahari again blessed His mother with the vision of His Divine form. She perceived it through the eye of wisdom and was at once reminded of her previous birth. So she said to the Lord : 'Holy one, you are indeed Lord Sripada, who, in my previous life, saved me from my unwise resolve to commit suicide. I bow before you. You are, indeed, the Unbounded one. All the universes have their being in your infinite expanse. To say that you are born to me as my son is but a fallacy; for you are eternal. Yours is the omnipotent will. I shall not hinder your resolve to renounce the world for the welfare of all sentient beings. You have assured me that I shall be blessed with a few more children. Pray, stay with us, at least till such time!' Lord Narahari graciously acceded to her request and stayed away. The blessed couple used to worship the Lord every day with full awareness of his divinity. After his mother got more children He covered His head with a piece of cloth, put on wooden sandals, covered His body with the ochre robe and wore a codpiece. Taking a staff in His hand, He set out from His home in joy to fulfill His mission which was to revive faith and uplift the people morally and spiritually.

After his mother got more children He covered His head with a piece of cloth, put on wooden sandals, covered His body with the ochre robe and wore a codpiece. Taking a staff in His hand, He set out from His home in joy to fulfill His mission which was to revive faith and uplift the people morally and spiritually. On his way to Badrinath, Narahari reached the Holy Varanasi (Kashi) in the guise of a seeker after liberation. Lord Narahari, in accordance with Holy tradition, resorted to His Holiness Swami Krishna Saraswati as his Guru and from him took the vow of sanyas. Henceforth, He came to be known as Shri Narasimha Saraswati. He formally took the vow of lifelong celibacy. Thus he became a full-fledged sanyasi who has transcended the opposites of joy and sorrow and the limitations of a self-centered will.

This World Teacher has laid down the tradition of sanyas for seekers after liberation. Shri Nrishimha Saraswati expounded the nature of sanyas to some and the meaning of the Vedas, which can secure the true objects of life (Purusharthas), to others. Then, he proceeded in his wanderings round the country in a clock-wise direction, along with his disciples. He had seven disciples and they were Baala, Krishna, Upendra, Janajyotim Sadaananda, Madhava and Siddha. All have the title 'Saraswati' suffixed to their names.

He took holy dips in all the holy rivers along the way and reached the sacred place where the river Ganga joins the sea. From Benares he went to Badrika Ashram with his disciples. Then moving from place to place for the welfare of common people, he arrived at Ganga sagar, near Calcutta. Some Twenty years passed this way. Shri Narasimha Saraswati reappeared at his home to the wonder and joy of his family and town people, He blessed them all. Shri Narasimha Saraswati then went to Trayambakeshwar, Parli and Parli vaijnath. At Parli Vaijnath he did penance for one year and remained in seclusion. Afterwards he went to Audumbar and Amarapur near the confluence of the rivers Krishna and the Panchaganga. At Amarapur he stayed 12 years. This place was called "Narasimhawadi" and later "Narsob awadi" by his affectionate disciples and devotees. From Amarapur he went to Ganagapur and remained there for 24 years. During his stay there many astonishing incidents and miracles took place. Shri Narasimha Saraswati was now considered as 'Siddha Purusha' (Perfect, almost Godlike being) with Divine powers of healing physical ailments and alleviating worries of his devotees. Hindus and Muslims used to come to him considering him their Sadguru.

One day he bade good-bye to people of Ganagapur and with his 7 select disciples went to the confluence of Bhima and Amraja rivers and stood for a while under the Aswatha tree. He stated "worship this tree and practice penance, your wish will be fulfilled and your life will be blessed". He announced his departure from this world and his disciples were plunged in grief.

A float was prepared on the banana leaves and was adorned with flowers. This float was placed in the river and Shri Narasimha Saraswati sat on it. All the disciples offered worship although their hearts were weighed down by grief. Shri Narasimha Saraswati cheered them up and told them he was going to Kadali-vana (grove of banana trees) near Srisailam (One of the 12 "Jyotir Linga" is located here) and upon reaching there, as a mark of his safe arrival, clusters of flowers would come back floating against current. Soon after, as per the Master's promise, clusters of flowers came to them drifting on the river against the current!

When the Master got ready for departure, the natives of the village rushed to him and begged him not to deprive them of His Divine presence, but to stay on. The Lord said, "Do not feel sad that way. How can I bear to be away from my devotees? I only seem to leave for Srisailam only to the grosser vision of the physical, but I will ever abide at Ganagapur in my real state as the Spirit or the real Self. I will seek my noon alms in this village and accept your loving devotional services. My living presence will be experienced by anyone who bathes in the Sangam (confluence of holy rivers), worships the Holy peepal tree and takes darshan of my 'pudukas' (sacred foot-wear) here.

"The Master can be seen even today by the virtuous and the devout. Only the unrighteous cannot experience his living presence. Taking his daily dip at the holy Sangam, he ever abides there. In fact, he has been blessing devotees with his divine acts (leelas) on countless occasions. The aspirations of those who worship him there with true love will be fulfilled. Indeed, the Lord is ever present with those who incessantly adore him. The miraculous experiences of such will ever remain hidden in their own hearts. He is the granter of prayers!"

When people were in utter despair, Shri Narasimha Saraswati brought about a religious and spiritual renaissance and restored their morale. The places where He stayed have become centres of pilgrimage viz., Narsobawadi, Audumbar and Ganagapur. Ganagapur is believed to be the abode of Lord Dattatreya. There is a holy hillock of Vibhuti (holy ash) from which devotees pick up the sacred ash as Prasad to take home. This hillock has not been depleted, even though devotees have been taking away sacred ash for centuries. The atmosphere in all the three pilgrimage centers is sublime and devotees feel peaceful and spiritually uplifted. Miracles take place at Ganagapur specially, even now.

The message of Shri Narasimha Saraswati is summarized as under:

1. In our short fleeting span of human life, we should attempt to realize God through devotion
2. Use Buddhi (intellect) and Viveka (discrimination) to purify the minds.
3. Never think of hurting others in thought, word or deed.
4. Consider yourself blessed, if you secure the blessings of a Guru.
5. Strive to realize God who is inherent in your own heart.


Believed to be an incarnation of Shri Dattatreya the name of this spiritual master, popularly called Swami Samarth, is a household word in Maharashtra and the region around. As this Perfect Master chose to reside at a place called Akkalkot for 22 years where he took Mahasamadhi in 1878, he is also known as the Maharaj of Akkalkot. Akkalkot is situated in district Sholapur of Maharashtra state of India.

As per the most popular belief, Shri Narasimha Swami, after helping and spiritually uplifting a large number of people over a few decades, went away to the Himalayas for penance and went into Samadhi. In the Samadhi state He remained for about three hundred years. With the passage of time a huge anthill grew over him and he was lost to the outside world. One day accidentally a woodcutter’s axe fell on the bushes grown around the ant hill. He was shocked to find blood stains on the blade of the axe. He cleared the anthill and Lo, he found a Yogi in meditation. The Yogi slowly opened his eyes and consoled the dumbfounded woodcutter saying that it was the Divine Will for Him to re-appear in the world to resume His mission. This Yogi, in his new role came to be known as Swami Samarth.

Prior to his settlement at Akkalkot, Swami Samarth visited far and wide. While moving in the Himalayan region he visited China. Thereafter, he visited places like Puri, Benaras, Hardwar, Girnar, Kathiawad and Rameswaram in the South. He also stayed at Mangalvedha, a town near Pandharpur in Solapur district Maharashtra, which had been inhabited earlier by famous saints like Domojipant and Chokhamela. He came to Akkalkot in 1856 where he continued his physical existence for 22 years. He came to Akkalkot on the invitation of one Chintopant Tol and stayed at a place on the outskirts of the town.

The Risaldar of that area, a Muslim person, wanted to test the Swami by offering him a 'Chilum' (an earthen smoking pipe) without tobacco in it and asked him to smoke. Swami Samarth started smoking the empty Chillum after lighting it as if nothing had happened. Realizing him to be an advanced spiritual person, the Risaldar apologized and made arrangements for his stay in the house of one Cholappa. It is in this small house that Swami Samarth lived up to his last.

Soon, the name of Swami Samarth as a Spiritual Master spread all around and devotees came for taking his blessings. The ordinary people did not understand many of his gestures and mystic statements, which he used to make cryptically, although their meanings became apparent on later dates. He treated Muslims, Christians and Parsees all alike. His Kindness was always bestowed on the poor, needy and the people at the lowest rung of the society. Both Hindus and Muslim festivals like Dusshehra and Moharram etc. used to be celebrated by Him. As in Shirdi, Thursday became a special day of celebration at Akkalkot. Like Shirdi Sai Baba, Swami Samarth of Akkalkot was fond of mass feeding. Once, on his visit to a place called Rampur, a devotee named Rawaji, to celebrate his visit, cooked food for 50 people. However, hearing the news of Swami Samarth's arrival hundreds of people from the neighbouring villages started rushing to the village. Seeing such a large number of people at his doorstep, Rawaji became visibly panicky. Moved by his plight, Swami Samarth asked Rawaji to get some empty baskets. When the baskets were brought from the market, idols of all the deities like Khandoba, Annapurna, etc were put in them and food materials like chapatis (bread) etc. were piled over them. Bawaji and his wife were asked to carry these baskets and take three rounds around the Tulsi plant. After that, they were asked to serve food from these baskets to the guest without looking into them. When food were being served, Rawaji and his wife were amazed to see that the baskets never exhausted even after a few hundred people had been served. After all the people who had come finished their meal, Swami Samarth took his meal. This is known as 'Annapurna Siddhi'.

Once a Jewish doctor, who was working as an eye specialist in the J.J. Hospital, Bombay met Swami Samarth. The doctor was very proud of his professional competence. Seeing him Swami Samarth asked "tell me doctor, how many of the eye patients you have treated have lost their eye sights forever"'. This sentence made a tremendous impact on the doctor. He realised that many people had lost their sights forever even if they had been treated by him. His ego immediately vanished and thereafter he became a devotee of Swami Samarth. After retirement the doctor settled-down at Akkalkot and served the Master till his last.

After serving the poor, curing the sick and helping the spiritual seekers over a few decades, Swami Samarth one day suddenly announced that the time had come for him to go out of his physical existence. By Hindu calendar It was Chaitra Sudha trayodasi, Shaka 1800 i.e. the year 1878 AD Tuesday at 4 PM. At this time he seated himself in Padmasana (Lotus Posture) and uttered his last words - "no one should weep I shall always be present at all places and I shall respond to every call of the devotees"". Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi had also said exactly the same thing before his Mahasamadhi.

Just before he had left his gross body, one devotee named Keshav Nayak who was emotionally charged, asked "Maharaj, since you are going, who will give us protection?” Swami Samarth gave him a pair of his sandals to worship. He told him "in future I will be staying at Shirdi in district Ahmednagar". Another devotee, Krishna Ali Bagkar decided to go to Akkalkot and worship the padukas of Swami Samarth. Thereafter he got a dream appearance of Swami Samarth who told him "now I am staying at Shirdi, go there and worship me". Bagkar went to Shirdi where he stayed for six months. Later, when he wanted to take leave of Shri Sai and go to Akkalkot again Shri Sai told him "what is there in Akkalkot, Maharaj of Akkalkot is staying here". Bagkar realised that there is no difference between Swami Samarth and Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi as he recalled his earlier dream.

The divine game (leela) of Swami Samarth did not end with his Maha Samadhi (shedding his mortal coil). His devotees continue to experience the miracles of his visible and invisible help even till today. It is exactly like the experience received by the devotees of Sai Baba of Shirdi after his Mahasamadhi in 1918. Many people have authenticated his appearance in physical form before them. These people are not the faith-blind rural folk. Many of them are well educated people like doctors, educationists etc. For example, Dr. S.V.Marathe, a private medical practitioner of Pune once underwent treatment in a chest Hospital at a place called Aundh in 1964. Many of his friends were anxious to come and visit him. At this juncture, Swami Samarth appeared before many of his friends in a dream and gave the same message to all of them. He asked them not to worry about Dr.Marathe, as he was under His (Swami Samarth's) protection and also not to come to Aundh. Hundreds of devotees continue to have miraculous experience about the Perfect Master even today.


Sai Baba, a personification of spiritual perfection and an epitome of compassion, lived in the little village of Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra (India) for sixty years. Like most of the perfect saints he left no authentic record of his birth and early life before arriving at Shirdi. In fact, in the face of his spiritual brilliance such queries do not have much relevance.

He reached Shirdi as a nameless entity. One of the persons who first came in contact with him at Shirdi addressed him spontaneously as ‘Sai’ which means Savior, Master or Saint. ‘Baba’ means father as an expression of reverence. In the Divine play it was designed as such, that He subtly inspired this person to call Him by this name, which was most appropriate for His self-allotted mission.

All that we definitely know of Sai Baba is that his arrival at Shirdi was anonymous. He was first noticed in the outskirts of the village Shirdi, seated under a ‘neem’ (margosa) tree, about the year 1854. However, even this date is not definitely noted. Sai Baba of these younger days remained a stranger staying under the neem tree for some time and then suddenly he left Shirdi to come back again sometime in 1858, and stayed there till he left his gross body in the year 1918. The second advent of Baba at Shirdi, around 1858 was interestingly quite different from the first. This time he accompanied a wedding procession as guest of honor. On the arrival at Shirdi, he was immediately recognized by someone as the same anonymous saintly personality who used to be seated under the neem tree a few years earlier and, greeted Him as "YA SAI" Welcome SAI !

In the early days of his stay at Shirdi he spent his time either wandering in the outskirts of village and neighboring thorny jungles or sitting under the neem tree totally self-absorbed. The first set of villagers who regarded this saintly figure was Mhalsapati, Tatya Kote, Bayyaji Bai and few others. Bayyaji Bai felt deeply motivated by this Divine Saint, and with her motherly instinct she used to walk miles on end into the jungles in search of him, carrying food in a basket on her head. Often she found Sai Baba sitting under some tree in deep meditation, calm and motionless. She would boldly approach him, serve the meal and return home. After sometime as though out of compassion for her, Sai Baba ceased wandering and moved into a dilapidated mosque in the outskirts of the village. He referred to this mosque, where He resided till the end, as ‘Dwarkamai’ (Dwarka was the place where Lord Shri Krishna stayed to fulfill His divine Advent). This mosque ‘Dwarkamai’ – abode of Sai Baba became Mother of Mercy for all the time to come.

He had a body of athlete built and in his earlier days he was fond of wrestling. Another aspect of Sai Baba’s personality was his love for song and dance. In those early years of his life he used to go to ‘Takia’, the public night shelter for Muslim visitors to the village. There in the company of sojourning devotees and fakirs, he used to dance and sing in divine bliss, with small tinkles tied around his ankles. The songs he sang were mostly in Persian or Arabic. Sometimes he sang some popular songs of Kabir. He donned a long shirt – ‘Kafni’ and tied a cloth around his head, and twisted it into a flowing plait like manner behind his left ear.He used a piece of sackcloth for his seat and slept on it with a brick as his pillow. He always declared that Fakiri (Holy poverty) was far superior to worldly richness. He was no ordinary fakir but an ‘Avatar ’ (incarnation) of a very high order. But His external appearance was of simple, illiterate, moody, emphatic – at times fiery and abusive and at times full of compassion and love. In the moments of towering rage people with him thought it was ungovernable rage. But his anger never prevented his compassion dealing with the devotees. His anger was evidently directed at unseen forces. He enacted all these simple traits only to hide His real identity as the God incarnate. Under the cover of simplicity He silently worked for the spiritual transformation and liberation of innumerable souls – human beings and animals alike, who were drawn to Him, by unseen forces.

He begged for alms and shared what he got with his devotees and all the creatures around him. He never kept any food in reserve for the next meal. He maintained the ‘Dhuni’ – the perpetual sacred fire and distributed its ash – ‘Udi’ as token of His divine grace to all who came to Him for help.

Baba would ask for ‘Dakshina’ (money offered with reverence to the ‘Guru’ or the master) from some of those who came to see him. This was not because he needed their money but for deeper significance, which the devotees realized at, an appropriate time.

Baba used to freely distribute all the money that was received in the form of Dakshina to the destitute, poor, sick and needy the very same day. This was one of Baba's methods for testing out the devotees attachments to worthy things and willingness to surrender.

He ploughed up the village common land and raised a flower garden there. He watered the plants, carrying pots full of water on his shoulders. In the later years he spent a few hours in this Lendi garden which he himself had laid out in the early days.

He was every moment exercising a double consciousness, one actively utilizing the apparent Ego called 'Sai Baba' dealing with other egos in temporal and spiritual affairs, and the other - entirely superseding all egos as the Universal Ego or Over soul.

He was the common man’s God. He lived with them; he slept and ate with them. Baba had a keen sense of humour. He shared a ‘chillum’ (clay pipe for smoking) indiscriminately with them to write off the cast superiority and orthodoxy in their minds. He had no pretensions of any kind. He was always very playful in the presence of children. Baba used to feed the fakirs and devotees and even cook for them.

Sai Baba’s perfect purity, benevolence, non -attachment, compassion and other virtues evoked deep reverence in the villagers around him. His divinity could not conceal itself for long. Initially when people wanted to worship him formally, Baba protested and dissuaded them. But gradually he allowed it with the prescience that it would become the means for temporal and spiritual benefits to millions of individuals for all time to come.

The Dwarkamai of Sai Baba was open to all, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. As the days passed, devotees from all walks of life started streaming into Shirdi. The village Shirdi was fast assuming prominence. As the gifts and presentations flowed in, the pomp and grandeur of Sai worship also increased. But Baba’s life of a fakir remained calm, undisturbed, unaltered and there is the Saint’s spiritual glory.

He lived His divine mission through His pure self in a human embodiment. The immense energy that was manifest in the body of Sai was moving in a mysterious way, creating and recreating itself everywhere beyond the comprehension of time and space.

This fountainhead of unsurpassed spiritual glory shed His gross body on 15th October 1918. Every limb, every bone and pore of his body was permeated with divine essence. Baba claimed that though one day his physical body will not exist his remains will communicate with all those who seek him with inner yearnings. His self-allotted labour of love in His physical body was perhaps over. Today He continues to work ever vigorously as the ‘Sai Spirit’.