Contd: Chapter 1 – The Encounter between Shankar Bhatt and Vyāghreswara Sarma
That aged sage began his narration, “My son, in the Godavari region of Andhra Pradesh there is an ancient village called Atreyapuram, which was famous as a land where sage Atri conducted austerities. In that village, a Brahmin was born in the gotra of Kāsyapa in an orthodox family. His parents named him Vyāghreswara Sarma. Even though his father was a great scholar, the son became an incorrigible idiot. In spite of educational training for a long time, he could not even perform the Gayatri mantra prayer at the prescribed times of the day. He could only utter the Sanskrit words to the effect that it was Vyāghreswara Sarma who was saluting. He became disturbed by the taunting words of others. The ill-treatment by his parents had also increased. As a Brahmin priest, he was not called to attend any auspicious functions. He was only asked to accept gift of gingelli seeds or attend death anniversary ceremonies in case of extreme emergencies when no one else was available. These acts are considered very mean and are performed only by the lowest among the Brahmins, who have not mastered any education. So, a feeling of inferiority complex developed in him. He heard that great ascetics live in the Himalayas and by their grace one can realize the knowledge of self.
“Once during dawn, he had a dream. In that dream he saw a celestial body radiating with divine effulgence. That body was descending to the earth from the firmament. As soon as His divine feet touched, the earth was filled with heavenly illumination. That divine child approached Vyāghreswara Sarma with slow steps and asserted, ‘Why fear when I am here? There is bondage of debt between Me and this village. Without the bondage of indebtedness even a dog cannot come to us. Go to the Badarikāranya in the Himalayan region and you will be blessed with auspiciousness.’ Saying so, the celestial disappeared.
“Vyāghreswara Sarma reached Badarikāranya. He was getting food on the way without much effort. However, a dog was following him from the beginning of the journey. He was wandering, along with the dog, in the Badarikāranya. In his wanderings he took a holy bath in the Urvasi Kunda. The dog also took a holy bath along with him. At that time, a great sage accompanied by his disciples came to Urvasi Kunda for religious ablutions. Vyāghreswara prostrated at the feet of the great personage and prayed to accept him as a disciple. The great person kindly consented. The dog disappeared immediately when the great one accepted Vyāghreswara as his disciple. That great person averred, ‘Vyāghreswara, that dog which followed you is the personification of the merit earned by you in previous births. Goaded by time, you could come here and you could take bath in Urvasi Kunda. You are attracted towards the land of penance by NavaNarayanas. All this is the grace of Srīpāda Srīvallabha.’
“Vyāghreswara Sarma bowed down and asked, ‘Master, who is Srīpāda Srīvallabha? How did His grace shower on me?’ The siddha replied at length to the questions posed to him. ‘My son, Srīpāda Srīvallabha is Lord Datta Himself. In Tretā Yuga, Bharadwaja Maharshi conducted a huge sacrifice known as Sāvitrakāthaka Chayanamu in Pithapuram. He invited Shiva and Parvati to that function. In Pyamgya Brāhmana text, it was mentioned that many great persons, siddhas and yogis are born in the lineage of Bharadwaja in accordance with the boon granted by Shiva and Parvati to him. Even though they were lost in other parts of the country, Pyamgya Brahmanam and Sāndra Sindhu Veda were carefully preserved in Shamballa village, the land of incarnation of Kalki. At the end of Kali Yuga and the beginning of Satya Yuga, Srīpāda Srīvallabha – an incarnation of Srī Datta –will arrive in Pithapuram in physical form. Only when the sins committed in many births get diminished and when good deeds start giving results, devotion to Datta will develop. When devotion to Datta becomes perfect, Srīpāda Srīvallabha will grant the wealth of sight, touch and speech in any age and at any time. As the meritorious deeds of your past lives are strong, the mercy of Srīpāda Srīvallabha showers on you. I am now leaving for meeting my preceptor Mahāvatār Babaji. I will return after one year. Practice kriya yoga in the caves reserved for you and attempt for the realization of self-knowledge.’ Thus instructing, the sage left for Dronagiri in the region of Sanjīvini Mountain.
“Vyāghreswara Sarma sat in the cave assigned to him. He could not understand the methods of kriya yoga or the preaching on self-knowledge. He was thinking like this: ‘Gurujī used to call me lovingly as vyāghra (tiger). All my co-disciples are sitting on the skin of a tiger and are meditating. When the skin of a tiger is so sacred and benefits the yogi so much, how much greater the tiger should be? Moreover, Gurujī asked me to strive for knowledge of self. Self means myself only. What have I got to do with others? My name is Vyāghreswarudu. Therefore, I should be a tiger only. So, I have to meditate upon the tiger only. That is my ātma. If I could get the form of a tiger, it amounts to my attaining self-knowledge.”
“One year passed easily. The guru visited the place. He went to each cave and observed the progress made by his disciples in their spiritual quest. He could not find Vyāghreswara in his cave; instead, a tiger was resting in the cave. Srī Gurujī analyzed the matter through his yogic insight. He realized that as Vyāghreswarudu meditated intensely upon the form of a vyāghra (tiger), he got transformed into a tiger. Gurujī felt happy at the pure heart and cleanliness of the self of his disciple. He blessed him and taught him to utter Oum. He asked him to constantly repeat the words Srīpāda Rājam Saranam Prapadye as a mantra.
“Vyāghreswara reached near Kuruvapuram in the form of a tiger. To reach Kuruvapuram, one has to cross a river. At that time, Srīpāda Srīvallabha was with the congregation of His devotees. He suddenly announced, ‘A great devotee of Mine is calling Me. I will go and immediately return.’ Saying so, He began walking on the water in His lustrous body. When Srīpāda Srīvallabha was walking on the water in this manner, a lotus flower was emerging from the water at every spot where He was placing His sacred foot. He arrived at the river bank on the other side and saw Vyāghreswara who was incessantly chanting the mantra Srīpāda Rājam Saranam Prapadye! Vyāghreswara paid obeisance to the auspicious divine feet of Srīpāda Srīvallabha. Srīvallabha mounted on the tiger and crossed the river floating on the water on the back of the tiger and reached Kuruvapuram. All the people were witnessing this spectacle in utter astonishment.
 Living in a penance
 Badrinath; a holy place in the state Uttarakhand in India and an important pilgrimage centre
 Island in the Brahmaputra River; place where the celestial nymph Urvasi was created by Vishnu
 Nine Narayanas; Narayana: the highest being
 Silver Age
 A ritual to the Sun
 The primordial, universal father and mother forces
 An ancient text that foretold the future
 Brahmanas: old Indian texts with comments on the Vedas
 A mystical Sanskrit work written on palm leaves dealing with time and the incidents of the future
 The 10th Avatar of Lord Vishnu
 The Golden Age, also called Krita Yuga
 An ancient yoga technique
 The self, the soul
 May Lord Srīpāda protect us!
 The river Krishna
Video of Part 2 of Chapter 1 of The Encounter – Sripada Srivallabha Charitramrutam (English)
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Video of Part 2 of Chapter 1 of The Encounter – Sripada Srivallabha Charitramrutam (Telugu)
Video of Part 2 of Chapter 1 of The Encounter – Sripada Srivallabha Charitramrutam (Tamil)
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Video of Part 2 of Chapter 1 of The Encounter – Sripada Srivallabha Charitramrutam (Hindi)
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