Datta Avataras, Sripada Sri Vallabha and Sri Narasimha Saraswati at Ganagapur
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Shripad Shri Vallabha Maharaj

Shripada Shri Vallabha Swami Maharaj (1320A.D-1350A.D)

Sripada Shri Vallabha Maharaj is the First Avatara (incarnation) of Lord Dattatreya in Kaliyuga. As per some Historians like Prof. R. C. Dhere he must have lived between 1320 AD to 1350 AD. He was born on Bhadrapada Shuddha Chaturthi (Ganesh Chaturthi) as 3rd Son to the Brahmin couple Sri Appalaraja Sharma and Mata Sumati in Pithapuram which is a town located in Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. We find only some information regarding this Avatara in Shri Guru Charitra which was written by Sri Saraswati Gangadhar in 15th Century. Therefore its evident that even in those days there was not much information available about Shripada Sri Vallabha Maharaj to the writer.

Life Story

Once when Sri Appalaraja Sarma’s family was preparing for the Shraddha, Sri Dattatreya appeared there in disguise seeking Bhiksha. Mata Sumati offered him Bhiksha considering him as Datta Swaroopi even before feeding the invited Brahmins. Lord Dattatreya was pleased and offered her a boon. She prayed to Lord Saying "May a Son be born to me as knowledgeable like you" for which Sri Datta Guru said "Tathastu Be it so". Though she had two sons before, one of them was blind and the other lame. Dattatreya blessed her saying that she will have a son who shall become a Jagadguru. Her husband too was very pleased and happy to know what all has Transpired.

As assured to Mata Sumati, Sri Dattatreya incarnated as her son. Shripada finished his study of Vedas, Shastras etc by the age of 7 and once his "Upanayan" was performed he himself started teaching the Pandits of the town. When he reached 16 years of age, his parents thought of getting him married. However, he said that he is married to "Vairagya-stree" only (Vairagya means Dispassion) and thus he came to be known as "Shripad Shri Vallabha". He soon left home for Kashi-Yatra. Before leaving he made his two elders brothers who were blind and lame, as normal humans and instructed them to take proper care of their parents. After the Kashi, Badri pilgrimage he visited Gokarna Mahabaleshwar in South. After spending 3 years in Tapasya at Gokarna he went to Shri Giri (Srisailam Jyotirlingam). After spending 4 months there he proceeded towards Nivrutti Sangama and finally came to Kuravapur and settled there. After staying in Kuruwapur for around 16 years Shripad Sri Vallabha Maharaj concludes his avatar by disappearing in the Krishna River there.
During his stay at Kuruwapur Shripada Shri Vallabha Maharaj performed many miraculous deeds and blessed numerous devotees.

A widow women named Ambika and her dull witted son who were about to end their lives were saved by Shri Guru. He asks her to perform Shani Pradosh Vruta and blesses that he himself shall incarnate again as her son in her next birth. The Boy too becomes a scholar instantly with Shri Guru’s Grace.
A washerman disciple who wishes for Luxurious life is blessed to be born as Muslim King in his next birth. Shri Guru assured him that he will meet him in his next birth as Sri Narasimha Saraswati at Sri Kshetra Ganagapur.
Shripad Swami proves his eternal presence at Kuruapur by reviving Vallabhesh Brahmin to Life who was beheaded by some dacoits while on his way to Kuruwapur.

Sri Narasimha Saraswati Swami Maharaj (1378A.D-1458A.D)

Shri Guru incarnated on Poushya Shuddha Dwitiya as a son to the Brahmin Couple Madhava and Amba Bhavani (Ambika in her Previous Birth) at Lad Karanja now in Washim District of Maharashtra. He was named Narahari. The Child didn’t utter a word except “Om” till his Upanayana was performed at the age of 7yrs, when he suddenly started reciting the Holy Vedas. Immediately after Upanayan the boy asked for their parents permission to take up sannyasa. When his mother pleaded him not to do so as he was their only son, Shri Guru agrees to stay till the birth of two more sons. As assured by Sri Narahari 2 sons were born to his mother within a year and then he started on a Pilgrimage to Kashi. He accepted Sanyasa from Sri Krishna Saraswati at Kashi. He then visited Badri and Prayaga where he stayed for some time and initiated many disciples into Sanyasa out of whom 7 became his chief disciples. After Thirty years of such wanderings Shri Guru returned to Lad Karanja and met his Parents, brothers and sister there. Further he visited Trimbakeshwar and proceeded along the Banks of Godavari till Basara where he met Sri Sayandeo who was to become one of the close disciple to Shri Guru and saved him from being killed at the hands of a muslim ruler. From Trimbakeshwar he came to Parli Vaijnath where he taught Importance of Guru Bhakti to one Sanyasi who rejected his Guru due to his rude behavior.
Shri Guru Narasimha Saraswati
Sanyasi who rejected his Guru due to his rude behavior. He came to Audumbar near Bhillawadi where he blesses a dull boy with Knowledge of Vedas and Shastras. After spending a Chaturmasa there he came to Narsobawadi and stayed there for 12 years. He finally came to Sri Kshetra Ganagapur where he spent rest of his earthly sojourn (around 25 years) after which he concluded his Avatar by proceeding to Kardali Vanam at Srisailam. Accounts of his various miraculous deeds during his stay at Narsobawadi and Ganagapur can be read in Shri Guru Charitra. In the Guru Charitra, we learn about the many miracles of Shri Guru Narasimha Saraswati, which are done by him with great compassion to strengthen the faith of people. He brought dead people back to life, cured leprosy, infertility, and even a barren cow would give milk again after his command. As mentioned earlier the washer man who was now born as muslim king came to meet Shri Guru in a hope to cure his blister. Upon meeting Shri Guru he recollects incidents of previous birth and weeps bitterly. Shri Guru blesses him and asks him to meet again in Srisailam. It is believed that the Bidar's Bahamani Sultan Allauddin Ahmad Shah II (1435-58AD) might have been this king who met with Shri Narasimha Saraswati.

Other Famous Saints of Datta Sampradaya who are revered as Datta Avataras :

Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj of Humnabad (1817A.D-1865A.D)
Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot (1838A.D-1878A.D)
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838A.D-1918A.D)
Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati Tembe Swami Maharaj of Maangaon (1854A.D-1914A.D)
Shri Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon (1878A.D-1910A.D)
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