Friday, March 30, 2012

Sripada Shri Vallabha

Digambara Digambara Sripada Vallabha Digambara
Oudumbara Oudumbara Narasimha Saraswathi Oudumbara
Sripada Srivallabha

Life Story
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 partake their food.

At that time Lord Dattatreya appeared at their threshold in the  form of a renunciate 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.

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. Lord Dattatreya, in order to bless his devotees and the righteous ones, wanders about in the guise of a random guest at the lunch hour. That's why it is said that a random guest has to be treated as the very embodiment of Lord Dattaterya. Then Sumathi told her husaband of the Divine vision the Lord had bestowed on her and of his granting her wish for a divine son.

Not long after, Sumathi conceived and delivered a male child at the proper time on Bhadrapada suddha Chavithi (Ganesh Chaturthi). 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.

Sripada finished his studies of Vedas, shastras etc. by the age of Seven and after his "Upanayan"  (Thread Ceremony) he started lecturing on these. When he reached age of 16, his parents thought of getting him married. However he said that " I am married to only one woman "Vairagya-stree" (Vairagya means Dispassion, stree means woman) and  "All women in this world are like my mother. My mission is to give initiation and guidance to sadhus (holy men)". and thus he should be called "Shriya-Vallabh". Thus the name "Sripada SriVallabha". Speaking thus he sought permission from his parents to become a sannyasi and to leave the house. The parents were loathe 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 sometime, 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.

Blessings of Ambika
It is this place where the future incarnation (avatar) related stories happened. The first one is of a woman called Ambika, whose children were dying. Only one survived and he turned out to be a moron. Her husband died after trying to teach his son, but to no success. After her husband's death, she tried to teach the boy, but finally gave up. The boy was ridiculed by village people and no one was ready to give him their daughter. Both mother and son decided to end their life in the Krishna River. Here they met Sripada - yati who was taking bath. After hearing her story Sripada felt very sad and asked her to do Shani-pradosh-vrata. She was quite impressed with Swamiji and asked that in the next birth she would have son like him. Sripada agreed and when asked about the son in this birth, he put his hand over the boy's head. The boy became a learned scholar instantly. She followed sripada instructions and life long performed the pradosh puja.The woman Ambika in her next birth became Amba-Bhavani of Lad-Karanja (A place in Maharashtra) and became mother of Sri Narashimha Saraswati (Sri Sripada Sri Vallabh's avatar). 

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.

Blessing of Washerman
The second incident is of a washerman (Rajak) who has become the disciple of Sripada. One day this man saw the king moving in the boats with his army and women and was quite impressed to see it. After Sripada asked him, he said that he wanted to have this kind of royal life. Sripada blessed him to become the king. Sripada told him that he will meet him at Vidura nagari in their next birth. It is believed that the Bedar's sultan Allauddin II (1435-58AD) might have been this king who met with Sri Narasimha Saraswati (Second avatara of Shri Dattatreya or reincarnation of Shri Shripad ShriVallabh). 

Though he is physically no more, devotees ever feel His presence and grace. His divine spirit is ever manifest. 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 a Holy by His eternal presence.

Vallabhesh Brahmin Story
This story happened just after the avatar-samapti (end of avatara) of Sri Sripada. A brahmin named Vallabhesh  was doing business, and once he prayed to Sripada that if he earns more than his usual earnings, he will go to Kuravpur and feed 1000 Brahmins with the additional profit money. Indeed that year he made some huge profit and then decided to complete his vow. While he was approaching Kuravpur, on his way he was met with few dacoits who accompanied him in disguise to loot him. Later while travelling through, they attacked, beheaded and killed him. Sri Sripada suddenly appeared from nowhere and killed all the dacoits. Only one was spared, who begged to Sripada for his own life. Sripada spared him and asked him to stick the head of Vallabhesh on his beheaded body and brought him to life. Vallabhesh Brahmin later completed his vow and became a full disciple of Sri Sripada SriVallabha.

Swami's temple was constructed according to his guidelines as he told in Sripadasrivallabha charitamrutam (life history) in Srikshetra Pithapuram and is being maintained by Sripada Srivallabha Mahasansthanam. Pithapuram is about 20 km from Kakinada Town in Andhra Pradesh.

Shri Shripada Shrivallabha Dhyaana Sthaan is located at Kuravpur. Sripada stayed here most of his life. It appears that this place must have been quite well inhabited. The story of Vallabhesh Brahmin shows that the village must have been quite big enough to at least accommodate about 1000 Brahmins.

Digambara Digambara Sripada Vallabha Digambara
Digambara Digambara Sripada Vallabha Digambara

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