Maloji Bhonsle was the ruler of the principality (Samsthan) of Akkalkot. He was a great devotee of Swami Samarth. There were occasions when the Swami too walked freely into the royal palace. The Rajah used to visit Cholappa's mutt [temple] every day to pay his respects to the Swami.
Once, on the festive occasion of his birthday, the Rajah came, with all his royal insignia and pageantry to receive the blessings of the Swami. The prince wore his crown and all his ornaments and came riding on his elephant, accompanied by his wives, attendants and his guard.
He walked into the mutt and bowed before the Swami. The latter did not at all like the show of the Rajah. But he kept silent and did not even glance at the royal visitor. After a few moments of embarassment the Rajah tried to gain the attendon of the Swami and so he again bowed to His feet.
The Swami was enraged and at once slapped the Rajah. The crown fell to a distance of twenty feet under the impact of the blow! The stupefied and shocked prince stood dumb, feeling his cheek. Then the Swami said, "Your royal dignity is proper only to your palace and your assembly of ministers. This is not the place for that. We can make any number of toy kings like you."
Ever after, the Rajah used to leave his coach three or
four furlongs away from Cholappa's mutt and walk like any other visitor,
all the way into the august presence of the Swami, and he used to dress
himself plainly, as an expression of humility.
* * *
Once the Swami visited the royal palace and the Rajah received him with due respect and took him to the family shrine. The Rajah and the saint sat on a swing. The priest was grinding a sandalwood into paste.
At that moment a rat came there and tried to eat the ghee in the lamp intended for worship. The priest, enraged at the desecration, threw the heavy sandalwood at the rat forcefully. The poor creature was badly hit and it died on the spot.
The priest was happy and said, "That's it! That's what you deserve!" As he picked up the dead rat and was going out to throw it away, the Swami snatched the dead rat from him and started playing with it, passing it to and fro through a big iron link in the chain that supported the swing.
Then he took it in his palm and said to it lovingly, "Get up dear one, and go your way!" Then the rat came to life and immediately ran away. The Rajah and the priest were astounded by the miracle.
The Swami taught them the law of love that Siddhartha once taught a hunter, that the swan wounded by a hunter's arrow belonged rather to Siddhartha who saved it than to the one who tried to take away its life.
One night even when all his devotees were seated around his couch the Swami fell asleep and started snoring. A devotee [named] Govindarao had a doubt as to how a real yogi could sleep so deeply.
For, in books on yoga he read that a real yogi never sleeps. He wondered whether the Swami was really a yogi at all.
The moment the thought flashed in Govindarao's mind the Swami opened his eyes and said, "Ae Sonar! Your doubts are baseless." The next moment he was again snoring. Evidently, in spite of that the Swami was fully awake, awake even to the unuttered thoughts of those around him!
Once in the sweltering heat of a summer noon Shri Swami Samarth walked into the house of Babaji Bhat and asked for cool drinking water. The lady of the house was very happy to see the Swami grace her with his request.
But unfortunately the well in her backyard was completely dry. The water in the house was not so cool. And she did not want to say "No" to the great saint. So she immediately set out for the neighboring house to fetch water for [the] Swami.
The Swami saw her and laughed loudly, in his characteristic manner, holding his big belly with both of his hands and said, "There is plenty of water in your well. Come with me and I shall show you!"
He then led her to the well and like an innocent child
urinated near the well in her very presence. At once water swelled in the
well almost to the full. Even today many of his devotees take a look at
the celebrated well.
* * *
Once a lady [named] Srimathi Sivabai brought her son to the Swami and said, "My son has lost his sight from the moment he was invested with the sacred thread. Please grant him sight again!"
The Swami replied, "Shortly five devils are arriving here to test me. As soon as they arrive, his sight will be restored."
Just as the Swami said, in a short while, five short and sturdy Brahmins arrived. Their dress and ornaments indicated that they were eminent scholars. They came to test the Swami.
But afer arriving in his presence they started discussing among themselves in Kannada and Sanskrit languages as to how they should proceed to test the Swami's worth. After consultation, they bowed to the Swami with feigned humility.
Then the Swami said to the blind boy, "Ganesh, come here! Speak out what questions these devils have in their minds and answer them!" The boy stood before the Swami and, bowing to him, said in surprise, "How do I know it?"
The Swami smiled and, saying "Is that so?" took the garland from his own neck and placed it around the boy's neck. Then he picked up two flowers and touched his eyes with them. The boy felt a powerful thrill, as though some great energy had passed through his spine.
He at once stood up and promptly spoke out all the questions the visitors had in their minds and answered them all himself, citing authorities from all renowned scriptures. The visitors were dumbfounded.
They quietly bowed to the Swami and stood up to leave. The Swami at once flew into a rage and addressed the chief of the visitors, "You have come to test me only because you heard that I am accepting food from people of all castes indiscriminately. And you have tested me! Now I tell you this. You were born by the illicit contact of your mother with a man named Imambaksh Musalman!"
The Pandit at once realized how perilous it was to test the Swami and begged his pardon. The Swami at once calmed down and told the pandits that hearty repentance, like the holy Ganges, can completely purify a man. He exhorted them to mend their ways in [the] future.
The blind boy regained his sight from that moment. Besides,
he also retained all the scholarship with which the Swami had blessed him!
This incident was personally witnessed and recorded by Vishnubua Brahmachari.
* * *
Vishnubua Brahmachari was a great scholar, vedantin and orator. Charmed by his excellence, the Rajah of Akkalkot once invited him to his court.
Vishnubua came to Akkalkot and one day he put a very recondite question in Vedanta to the Swami, "What is Brahmatadaakaara vritti?
The Swami smiled and kept quiet. The Brahmachari felt that it is not proper to call the old man who could not answer his question "a swami" or "a master."
Besides, he went on proclaiming to his friends outside that the Swami could not answer his questions. But the Swami did not mind it. One day the Brahmachari dreamt that thousands of scorpions were moving towards him and one of them had even stung him.
He screamed so loudly that a Parsi devotee who slept by him woke him up and asked him why he cried. The Brahmachari described his dream.
After a few days, the Brahmachari again visited the Swami and asked him what "Brahmatadaakaara vritti" meant. The Swami smiled and said, "Stupid! You screamed at the very sight of a thousand scorpions in a mere dream. How dare you speak of Vedanta? Do you think that Brahmatadaakaara vritti is such a simple thing? It cannot be attained through eloquent discourses or verbal jugglery. Get out of here!"
When the Brahmachari visited him on a later occasion, not only did he explain the metaphysical concept lucidly but also bestowed on him the actual experience and made him a saint! Only then did the Brahmachari realize that the Swami was an avatar of Lord Dattatreya.
* * *
The British Governor and some other distinguished men happened to read about the fame and greatness of the Swami in the local papers and were attracted to take His darshan. But they felt it below their dignity to go for His darshan and it was equally impossible to summon Him to them.
So they sent an expert photographer to get His pictures. The photographer tried to secure the Swami's permission to take His pictures but the Swami never heeded the recommendations of His devotees.
The photographer at last decided to take the pictures without His consent and, keeping everything ready, he waited for the proper pose; but when he got it, before he could click the camera, the Swami would turn away or move.
This frustrating experience repeated itself ten to twenty times before he could somehow take one picture. He was immensely pleased that he could successfully deceive the Swami. He immediately placed the photo-print in front of the Swami, mockingly saying, "What do you say now for this?"
The Swami pushed the picture towards one of His devotees as indifferently and said, "Tell me what you see there!" The devotee eagerly looked at it and said, "This is the picture of Sri Rama. How beautiful!"
Then the Swami pushed it to another devotee and repeated the same question. The man said, "It is the picture of the Supreme Goddess!" It was passed on to many others and one of them found it to be Lord Sankara in meditation; another saw Lord Vishnu; a fifth saw Vitthal of Pandarpur; [a] sixth saw Khandoba; many more saw their chosen deities in the same picture!
The photographer lost his temper and wondered whether they were all mad; for could they not recognize the Swami's picture? So he said to the Swami, "You see it for yourself and tell me!"
The Swami looked at it with feigned attention and seriousness, then burst into laughter and said, "Oh, do I look like this!" and returned the picture to the photographer.
He was struck dumb with wonder to find in it a picture of a monkey! He at once realized that the Swami performed this miracle to stamp out his ego and pride and sought His pardon.
He once again requested the Swami to permit him to take another picture saying, "Your picture is sacred and is worthy of being kept in everyone's house. Please permit us to serve the people in this and thereby profit ourselves." Then the Swami consented and the picture came off nicely this time!
The Supreme Master Sri Akkalkot Maharaj
Acharya E. Bharadwaja.
2d ed. Vidyanagar, India,
Shirdi Sai Publications, 1979.