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Offline JR

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« on: February 24, 2007, 12:53:32 AM »
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  • Narasinha Saraswati

    Towards the end of the thirteenth century, in the year 1294 (A.D.) to be very precise,; the Mohammedans defeated the ruler of Devgiri and thereafter for nearly three centuries they went on bringing more and more territory under their rule. Along with the expansion of their kingdoms, the Bahamani kings also tried to spread their religion and as a result of that the Hindus had to face lot of oppression. It became mighty difficult for the Hindus of those days to protect their religion and the places of their religious worship. The saints of Maharashtra took the banner of the religion in their hands and held it high. In the first half of, the seventeenth century, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj challenged the Mohomedan rule and threatened its existence by means of his sword; but prior to that these saints kept up the morale of the people, increased their faith in god and religion and helped them to develop a feeling that their utmost good is in their own religion. If we look at the life of Shree Narasinha Saraswati, we easily come to the conclusion that he spent his whole life in achieving the aforesaid objects for protecting the Hindu religion mainly in the first half of the fifteenth century.

    The life span of Shree Narasinha Saraswati is from Shaka 1300 to 1380 (1378 to 1458 A.D.) and he is considered to be the second "Avatar" of Shree Datta, the first being Shreepad Shreevallabh. Very little is known about this first Avatar. Shreepad Shreevallabh was born at Peethapur in the present Tamil Nadu ( Madras) State; but he spent his life in Maharashtra in preaching the devotion to god Datta. If some more details of the life of this great Dravidian saint will be known, then they will throw some more light on his achievements, which led him to be considered as the first Avatar of god Datta.

    The second Avatar of god Datta viz. Narasinha Saraswati was born at Karanjnagar His father was Shri Madhav, who was a brahmin and a devotee of god Shiva. The name of his mother was Amba Bhavani, who was known as Ambika in her former life and was blessed by Shree Shreepad Shreevallabh. After her marriage she was observing {the vow of "Shani pradosha" and after completion of the vow for sixteen years, she got a son by the grace of god Shiva round about Shaka 1300. This boy was known as Narahari, who later on became famous as Narasinha Saraswati, the great devotee and the preacher of devotion to god Datta.

    Day by day Narahari was growing like the moon which goes on getting bigger and bigger every day in the bright half of the month; but though his development in other respects was normal, he was not talking upto the age of seven! This upset the parents so much that all their joy of having a son had almost melted away; but they thought of trying the remedy of performing the thread ceremony of Narahari and it proved to be successful. Narahari started talking, but he told his mother that he intended to go for observing penance. On hearing this resolve of her son, the mother fainted. When she regained consciousness, she said, "Narahari, I waited for sixteen long years for a child and now after having one, you are talking of leaving me! How can I live alone ? You may finish your studies, get married and take Sanyasa in due course, as scheduled by our religion". Narahari was however firm in his resolve; but he ultimately found a via media. He told his mother that he would stay with them for a year more and leave thereafter. Narahari accordingly stayed for a year in Karanjnagar. Even in this one year he astonished all the people in his village with his intelligence. At the end of this one year his mother had twins and Narahari ultimately got permission to go for penance and learning.

    This eight year old boy thus took leave of his parents and started for Banaras (Kashi). In those days, when the means of communication were almost extinct, the hardships that this young boy must have had to suffer can easily be imagined; but his strong determination made him go through all the ordeals and he reached Banaras safely. After reaching Banaras. Narahari started the usual practices of ascetics of taking bath of the Ganges thrice a day and living strictly the life of celibacy. This bright looking young boy, therefore, attracted the attention of all the persons attending the ghat of the Ganges. One old Sanyasi, Krishnasaraswati by name, who belonged to the— school of Vidyaranyaswami of Shringeri Math, was specially impressed by Narahari and he thought to himself, that if that boy was to join his order then the prestige of his order would certainly go up. He therefore enquired with Narahari whether he would like to become a Sanyasi for the uplift of the common people This idea immediately appealed to Narahari, who was already averse to worldly pleasures. Krishnasaraswati therefore, immediately admitted him to the sanyasa order and named him as "Narasinha Saraswati", by which name he became famous in future. It is quite true that real lustre shines at all times. The age is not a bar for it.

    After becoming a Sanyasi, Narasinha Saraswati did the work of imparting knowledge at Kashi for some time. Similarly he showed the way to heaven and god to the inquisitive people. Next he went to Badrikedar along with other ascetics from Kashi. After taking darshan of Badrikedar he went on visiting the other holy places on the bank of the Ganges and thus came to Prayag. Slowly and slowly Narasinha Saraswati started getting followers and disciples. Ultimately he started for the South along with his seven disciples.
    Visiting all the intervening holy places from Prayag, Nara¬sinha Saraswati came one fine morning to Karanjnager, the place of his birth. He had left this place at the age of eight and he was coming back to his house after a lapse of thirty years. His parents were overjoyed to see that their son had developed into a bright and illustrious person. When Narasinha Saraswati left his village he had only two twin brothers; but after his departure, his mother gave birth to two more sons and a daughter. All these brothers and sister of Narasinha Saraswati were very much pleased to see that their eldest brother was such an enlightened person. After staying with his family members for some time, Shri Narasinha Saraswati left for Trymbakeshwar.

    At Trymbakeshwar he visited the source of the river Goda-wari. Then on his way, he visited Nasik and all the holy places therein and continued his further journey along the bank of river Godawari. At Wasar Brahmeshwar he cured one Brahmin of' his chronic stomach ache and blessed another Brahmin, Sayamdeo by name, who became his disciple. He, thereafter went to Parali Vaijanath; but seeing that he was collecting an army of disciples, who were following him only with the ulterior motive of their personal gain, he advised all of them to go on pilgrimage and himself remained at that place incognito for complete one year.

    By this time Shri Narasinha Saraswati was commonly known as "Shri Guru". From Parali Vaijanath he came to Bhilawadi on the bank of river Krishna in the Maharashtra State. This place is full of Audumbar trees and the whole atmosphere there is very pleasant. Shri Guru spent here the four sacred months during monsoon and hence the importance of Bhilawadi as a holy place increased in the eyes of the devotees of god Datta. After the Chaturmas was over, Shri Guru left Bhilawadi and went to Amarapur at the meeting place of the Krishna and Panchaganga rivers.

    Shri Guru however crossed the river and stayed there for twelve long years practising meditation. He used to beg alms in the village of Amarapur but he never stayed there. To him the pleasant  atmosphere  on   the  river  bank  appealed  most and he, therefore  made it his abode.   Because  of  his stay   at this place for   so   long  a   time,   this  place  is  known  as   Narasoba Wadi (Because  of the  former   name  'Narahari'   of Shri  Guru).   This place  is of great importance  to  all  the  devotees of  god Datta because it has thus been purified by the stay of Shri Guru at this   i place for a very long period. A number of persons, oppressed by various physical  and mental  ailments  came to Shri Guru at this   } place  and they   were all given  relief  by him.    The period when  i Shri Guru stayed at Narasoba Wadi  must be round about Shaka 1344 to Shaka 1356. )

    From Narsoba   Wadi   Shri Guru migrated to Ganagapur, at   i the meeting   place of  the Bhima  and Amarja rivers.   This place also was liked by him very much and he stayed here for  twenty four years.    In the beginning  the Brahmins, who had studied the Vedas, were  puffed up  and they did  not acknowledge the great¬ness  of Shri Guru;   but later on they themselves  approached him and requested him to put up 'Math' in the center of the village. Shri  Guru  acceded to their  request  and  put up his Math there. Shri  Guru daily  used to go for  meditation  and   worship on the   I river bank early morning and used to return at midday.    During   ] this long  stay   at  this place   Shri  Guru had   occasion to bless a number of aggrieved persons both mentally and physically.

    During the life time of Shri Guru six Bahamani Sultans ruled at Bedar. Out of these Allauddin II actually came to Gauagapur and took Shri Guru to his capital and requested him to sit on his throne. He worshipped him much to the annoyance of his mohamedan courtiers and subjects. This Sultan became a disciple of Shri Guru and requested him to stay over there per¬manently, but Shri Guru declined his offer saying that the right place for ascetics like him was the secluded forest.

    Thus taking  leave of the  Sultan,  Shri Guru went to Nasik and Trymbakeshwar a second time in Shaka 1379, because of the Sinhastha. From here he went to Ganagapur and his disciples were much pleased to see him there; but to the dismay of all of them, Shri Guru declared that he would like to proceed to Shree Shailya immediately. All his disciples came to bid him good bye on the bank of river Patalganga and as per his resolve Shri Guru crossed the river and went to Shri Shailya. The disciples of Shri Guru could not console themselves and they returned silently with a heavy heart.

    This is briefly the life sketch of Shri Guru. The life of Shri Guru has been described in detail in the book known as "Shri Guru Charitra" written in Marathi, in verse form, by Shri Saraswati Gangadhar round about Shaka 1480. There is some¬thing curious about this book. Shri Saraswati Gangadhar was a person whose mothertongue was Kanarese; but he has written this book in so fine a style that nobody will even dream that the mother tongue of the author of this book is not Marathi. The language used is simple, forceful and appropriate. In cantoei No. 5 to 10 of this book, the life of the first Awatar of god Datta viz.

    Shreepad Shreevallabha has been described and cantoes Nos. 11 to 51 are dedicated to the life of Shri Narasinha Saras¬wati This book being in Marathi, is not accessible to the per¬sons not knowing that language. It is, therefore, considered worth while to acquaint our readers with this book. We are hence going to give the gist of this book to our readers through the issues of this magazine every month As the life sketch of Yogiraj Vasudevananda Saraswati written by Shri S. N. Huddar has got over in the last month, (March 1975) we are starting this new series of articles, from this month and it is hoped that it will be found interesting by our readers. Shri Sai Baba is believed to be an incarnation of god Datta. Hence our readers will be happy to know the account of the previous avatars of god Datta.
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