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Shri Swami Samartha
Akkalkot Niwasi Shri Swami Samartha (Marathi: अक्लकोट नीवासी श्री स्वामी समर्थ महाराज), also known as Swami Samartha Maharaj, Swami Maharaj is a household word in Maharashtra and the region around.
He is believed to be from the tradition of several sages in the Dattatreya sampradaya.
Shri Swami Smaratha comes from the age-old guru tradition of the Dattatreya sampradaya. Also a different form of famous Nath Sampradaya. The main chanting mantra of this tradition is :
गुरुर्ब्रम्हा गुरुर्विष्णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्वराः | गुरुः साक्षात्परब्रम्ह तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ||
Shri Swami Samartha is believed to be the incarnation of Shri Narasimha Saraswati, who in turn is the believed incarnation of Shri Shripad Shrivallabha. Although not much is known about Shri Shripad Shrivallabha, the life story of Shri Narasimha Saraswati is well documented.
The biography of Shrimad Nrusimha Saraswati in "Shree Gurucharitra", gives us the details of his work in guiding the devotees and the various miracles he performed to help the devotees. He stayed at Ganagapur (Karnataka State, Southern India) for a long time and then gave his "Nirguna Padukas" to his disciples and devotees, before leaving for the Kardali forests to perform Tapas [penance].
Early Life of Swami Maharaj
The early life of Swami Samarth like that of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba is shrouded with mystery. For that matter, even Shri Shirdi Sai Baba's advent and early life has not been established. Yet it does not really matter for those who have faith in Him and continue to experience his benevolence in different ways.
Shri Narasimha Saraswati, about four centuries before the advent of Swami Samarth is believed to be the earlier incarnation of Shri Dattatreya. The 'Guru Charitra' one of the most famous books gives lot of information about Him. As per the most popular belief, Shri Narasimha Swami, after helping and spiritually uplifting a large number of people over a few decades, went away to the Himalayas for penance and went into Samadhi. In the Samadhi state He remained for about three hundred years. With the passage of time a huge anthill grew over him and he was lost to the outside world.
One day accidentally a woodcutter’s axe fell on the bushes grown around the ant hill. He was shocked to find blood stains on the blade of the axe. He cleared the anthill and Lo, he found a Yogi in meditation. The Yogi slowly opened his eyes and consoled the dumbfounded woodcutter saying that it was the Divine Will for Him to re-appear in the world to resume His mission. This Yogi, in his new role came to be known as Swami Samarth.
Prior to his settlement at Akkalkot, Swami Samarth seems to have visited far and wide. While moving in the Himalayan region he visited places like Puri, Benaras, Hardwar, Girnar, Kathiawad and Rameswaram in the South. He also stayed at Mangalvedha, a town near Pandharpur in Solapur district Maharashtra, which had been inhabited earlier by famous saints like Domojipant and Chokhamela. He came to Akkalkot in 1856 where he continued his physical existence for 22 years.
He came to Akkalkot on the invitation of one Chintopant Tol and stayed at a place on the outskirts of the town.
Here he enlightened many disciples, such as Shree Dev Mamledar, Shree Balappa Maharaj, Shree Cholappa Maharaj, Shree Nrusimha Saraswati Maharaj of Alandi, Shree Ramanand Beedkar Maharaj of Pune etc.
Japa and Namasmaran
Following japa / namasmaran (repitition/chanting) is done:
॥अवधूतचिंतन श्री गुरुदेव दत्त॥ (Avadhootachintan Shri Gurudeva Datta)
॥श्री स्वामी समर्थ, जय जय स्वामी समर्थ॥ (Shri Swami Samartha, Jai Jai Swami Samartha)
Shree Swami Samarth one day suddenly announced that the time had come for him to go out of his physical existence. By Hindu calendar it was Chaitra Vadya Trayodashi of Hindu year 1800, i.e. April 30, 1878 AD, Tuesday at 4 PM. At this time he seated himself in Padmasana (Lotus Posture) and uttered his last words - "no one should weep I shall always be present at all places and I shall respond to every call of the devotees." The great sage adopted MahaSamadhi [the last conscious communion with God] under his favorite Banyan tree.
The divine game (leela) of Shree Swami Samarth did not end with his Maha Samadhi (shedding his mortal coil). His devotees continue to experience the miracles of his visible and invisible help even till today.
"Fear not , I am always with you!!" (Marathi: भिऊ नकोस मी तुझ्या पाठीशी आहे ).
He says, "Surrender your ego and offer your unconditional love and I will fill you with immortal bliss"..
It is believed by his devotees that Shri Narasimha Saraswati performed rigorous tapasya [penance] on the Shree Shail mountain in the Kardali forests for nearly 150 years. After this he took an extensive pilgrimage, covering even places, now known as Jawa, Sumatra, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia etc., relieved many people from their miseries, and guided them on the spiritual path. Finally, he came to the ranges of Himalayas where he enlightened many devotees. Later he sat under a Deodar tree for tapasya [penance].
This Tapasya [penance] in the Himalayas lasted for nearly 250 years, but a woodcutter unknowingly axed the anthill enveloping the body of Shrimad Nrusimha Saraswati. This resulted in the break in Tapasya [penance] and Shrimad Nrusimha Saraswati then left for an extensive travel throughout the Indian sub-continent guiding the devotees. During this travel, he became popular by various names at various places. Thus at one place he was known as Chanchal Bharati and at another place he would be called Digambar Swami. As he travelled and stayed at various places, he became the Guru (preceptor) of many great souls like Shree Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Shree Sai Baba of Shirdi, Shree Shankar Maharaj, Shree Gajajan Maharaj of Shegaon etc. Finally he settled down at Akkalkot(Maharashtra State) and stayed there for 24 years from 1854 A.D. to 1878 A.D. and thus came to be known as the Akkalkot Niwasi Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj (the great sage of Akkalkot).
Devotees believe that he is an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya the name of this spiritual master, popularly called Swami Samarth. He is revered as the teacher of all spiritual teachers (gurunam guruh) i.e. guru of gurus. He is a direct incarnation of Supreme Consciousness or Para-brahma. Shri Swami Samarth has adorned a human garment merely to grant benedictions and blessings on all who come in contact with him. He is measureless compassion and limitless ananda (bliss). He radiates unalloyed love and his heart melts at the faintest trace of unconditional devotion for God. Shri Swami Samartha can instantly grant incessant supreme divine joy on whomever he chooses. Devotees still experience his divine presence and feel reassured because of his quote "I have not gone, I am still present" (Hindi: हम गया नही, जींदा है).
Rajak Var-Pradanam (Blessing of Washerman)
One washerman (Rajak) has become the disciple of Shripadji. One day this man saw the king moving in the boats with his army and women and was quite depressed to see it. After Shripadji asked him, he said that he wanted to have this kind of royal life. Shripadji blessed him to become the king. Shripadji 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 Shri Narasimha Saraswati (Second avatara of Shri Dattatreya or reincarnation of Shri Shripad ShriVallabh).
Vallabhesh Brahmin Story
This story happened just after the avatar-samapti (end of avatara) of Shri Shripadji. It seems this Vallabhesh brahmin was doing business, and once he said 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. Shri Shripadji suddenly appeared from nowhere and killed all the dacoits. Only one was spared, who begged to Shripadji for his own life. Shripadji 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 Shri Shripad ShriVallabh.
It is interesting to note that this Vallabhesh brahmin is considered as the mula-purush (family originator) of the Hedgewar family. Dr. K. B. Hedgewar who founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (the RSS) is the 9th generation man from Vallabhesh. 
Swamy temple was constructed according to his guidelines as he told in Sripadasrivallbha charitamrutam(life history) in Srikshetra Pithapuram and is being maintained by Sripada Srivallbha Mahasansthanam. Pithapuram is located on Hyderabad-Vishakhapattanam railway line and is near to (about 10-12 km from) Samalkot junction.
The location may be checked on Wikimapia with search for Shripad Shrivallabh (Sripad SriVallabha) devasthanam.
Shri Shripad Shrivallabha Dhyaana Sthaan at Kuravpur
Shripadji stayed here most of his life. It appears that this place must have been quite well habitated. The story of Vallabhesh Brahmin shows that the village must have been quite big enough to at least accommodate about 1000 Brahmins. Now (as of 2006AD) the population has reduced and there are lot many fields in between the temple and the village. The village is at one end of the island and the temple is at the other end. There are two, frequently used, routes to reach Kuravapur. One is via Raichur in Karnataka state and another one is via Makthal in Andhra Pradesh state. Either way one has to cross the Krishna river in a small elliptical boat (Putti or Theppa) to reach this island.
Via Raichur: Raichur is about 10 or 12 hours journey from Pune by train. At Raichur one can hire a bus/rickshaw towards ATKUR (40 km). At ATKUR one can hire a Putti to cross the Krishna river and reach Kuravpur. There is also a KSRTC bus service from Raichur bus stand to Atkur, which leaves for Atkur at 7:30 am, 10:30am, 1:30 pm, 4:00pm and 7:00pm. The 13:30PM bus ends at Atkur(village), the other buses end at the bank of Krishna.
Via Makthal: Makthal (Mahaboobnagar district, Andhra Pradesh) is 68 KM from Mahaboobnagar bus station and 168 KM from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Some buses from Hydrabad to Raichur, via Mahaboobnagar, stop at Makthal. Mahaboobnagar is connected by rail route also.
One has to hire an auto or taxi (jeep) from Makthal to river bank(ask for Panchdev Pahad or Vithal baba ashram). River bank is 17 KM from Makthal. There are two locations on the river bank where Putti or small boats can be hired. One is Panchdev Pahad and another one is behind Vithal baba ashram (1KM from ashram). Number of boats near Vithal baba ashram are less.
Kuravapur is very quiet. There is a cave where Shri Tembeswami used to meditate.
Sripada Srivallbha Charitamrutam(life history of swamy) has come in to print in Telugu language recently and translation to other languages is under utmost consideration by Mahasansthanam at Pithapuram. One can get his blessings easily by chanting as below: