Shree Swami Samarth of Akkalkot:

 

Believed to be an incarnation of Shri Dattatreya the name of this spiritual master, popularly called Swami Samarth, is a household word in Maharashtra and the region around. As this Perfect Master chose to reside at a place called Akkalkot for 22 years where he took Mahasamadhi (left his mortal body) in 1878, he is also known as the Maharaj of Akkalkot, Akkalkot is situated in district Solapur of Maharashtra state of India.


For the devotees of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, it would be inspiring to learn about the life and deeds of 'Swami Samarth'. A comparative picturisation of the lives of these two great Saints, i.e. Swami Samarth and Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi would establish a surprising amount of commonness in their lives and deeds which includes their methods of teaching, the universality of their approach and the miracles they performed.

 

Even a critical approach by a non-conformist would ultimately lead to the assertion that the over-all role of these two spiritual masters during the second half of the nineteenth century was similar, if not same. One, who is capable of making finer spiritual analysis, would be faced with a bewildering reality. The reality is that Swami Samarth and Shri Shirdi Sai Baba were the manifestations of the same Divine Spirit in two gross bodies.

 

Many published writings on both these Saints by different writers authenticate about the interaction between these two Sadgurus both in the gross, and the subtle planes. Just before Mahasamadhi, Swami Samrath advised one of his disciples to worship Shri Sai at Shirdi saying that he (the Swami Samarth) would stay at Shirdi in future.


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. How does it matter if Christ was born of a virgin mother! He took the pain of the suffering humanity and led them in the path of spirituality. That is what the world needs.


Shri Narasimha Saraswati, about three 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 visited far and wide. While moving in the Himalayan region he visited China. Thereafter, 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.

He treated Muslims, Christians and Parsees all alike. His Kindness was always bestowed on the poor, needy and the people at the lowest rung of the society. Both Hindus and Muslim festivals like Dusshehra and Moharram etc. used to be celebrated by Him. As in Shirdi, Thursday became a special day of celebration at Akkalkot. Like Shirdi Sai Baba, Swami Samarth of Akkalkot was fond of mass feeding.

After serving the poor, curing the sick and helping the spiritual seekers over a few decades, 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 Sudha trayodasi, Shaka 1800 i.e. the year 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"". Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi had also said exactly the same thing before his Mahasamadhi.

 

 

 

Just before he had left his gross body, one devotee named Keshav Nayak who was emotionally charged, asked "Maharaj, since you are going, who will give us protection?". Swami Samarth gave him a pair of his sandals to worship. He told him "in future I will be staying at Shirdi in district Ahmednagar".

 

Another devotee, Krishna Ali Bagkar decided to go to Akkalkot and worship the padukas of Swami Samarth. Thereafter he got a dream appearance of Swami Samarth who told him "now I am staying at Shirdi, go there and worship me". Bagkar went to Shirdi where he stayed for six months. Later, when he wanted to take leave of Shri Sai and go to Akkalkot again Shri Sai told him "what is there in Akkalkot, Maharaj of Akkalkot is staying here". Bagkar realised that there is no difference between Swami Samarth and Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi as he recalled his earlier dream.

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 favourite 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. He says, "Surrender your ego and offer your unconditional love and I will fill you with immortal bliss"..