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A bried biography of Shri Datta Swami


His Holiness Shri Datta Swami is a complete incarnation of the Lord (Pari Purna Avatara). He has come to this world to preach Divine Knowledge to mankind. In the past incarnations of the Lord, this wonderful Divine Knowledge was not revealed to its fullest extent. Today, more than ever, there is a real need for this wonderful Divine Knowledge. The situation is rather peculiar. People are not ignorant about the true knowledge. They are highly intelligent. Their minds have been sharpened by the advancement in science and technology. They know the truth but they do not like it. They want to reach the true goal by the false and convenient path. For this purpose they have twisted the meaning of the scriptures. Humanity stands divided by a number of religions and religious sects. Therefore there is a direct need at present, for Lord Datta Himself to come down and reveal the true knowledge to the wonderful people. He has come in the form of His Holiness Shri Datta Swami to give this Divine and special knowledge to us.
Birth of a Great Soul

Ancient history of Nagulwaram. In the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in Guntur district, Vinukonda taluk, is a small village called Nagulavaram. This place has an ancient history. Thousands of years ago, the illustrious and righteous King Parikshit, of the Pandava dynasty, ruled India. In a moment of weakness, he once insulted a sage called Shamika. The sage's son, Shringi, cursed the king to die within seven days from the bite of a snake. Parikshit realized his mistake, since there was no sin greater than insulting a sage of the stature of Shamika. Faced with his impending death, the king was filled with renunciation. He left his family and kingdom and went to the forest in the refuge of Sage Shuka, who preached the Holy Bhagavatam to him. The news of the imminent death of Parikshit sent tremors among the wise ones. The great sage, Kashyapa, rushed to the rescue of the king. In the meanwhile Takshaka, the serpent king was dispatched by the heavenly executives to deliver the fatal bite to Parikshit and fulfill the curse of Shringi.

Takshaka, knew that he would be unable to kill the king if Sage Kashyapa were protecting him. He made up his mind to seek blessings of success from the sage and dissuade him from protecting the king. He met the sage in what is now the village of Nagulvaram. In the past, this village was the abode of snakes. Takshaka respectfully received Sage Kashyapa and gave a cow in donation to him. He requested the great sage to not protect King Parikshit. The king had committed a sin and Shringi's curse had to be fulfilled otherwise it would be a violation of the Law of Dharma (justice). Sage Kashyapa finally agreed with Takshaka. He blessed Takshaka and went his way.

King Parikshit was immersed in the devotion of the Lord by listening to the Holy Bhagavatam preached by Shuka. He had given up all his worldly attachments. When Takshaka came to deliver the fatal bite, Parikshit was prepared. He attained salvation.

Swami's ancestors. In the same village of Nagulwaram, in recent times, lived a devout Brahmin (priest) called Sri Koteswara Sastry. He belonged to the lineage (gotra) of the same Sage Kashyapa. He spent his entire life repeating the name of the Lord (Rama nama japam). Even when he passed away, the name of the Lord alone was on his lips and his fingers were counting the rosary. His son, Sri Veerabhadra Shastry is a poet in Sanskrit and Telugu and has written more than a hundred books. He is also a great astrologer. His wife is called Hanumayamma.

Two distant cousins of Sri Veerabhadra Shastry, were evil sorcerers. They were skilled in black magic and had terrorized the whole village. They had the power to kill people with a mere look or the utterance of certain words or mantras. They used to worship ghosts, evil forces and demons. Cemeteries and cremation grounds used to be their haunts. According to some people's estimate, they had killed hundreds of people including over three hundred children, using their evil powers. They were sworn enemies of Sri Veerabhadra Shastry and had cast an evil spell on Sri Veerabhadra Shastry's family that his lineage may come to an end. As a result of the spell, seven children in the joint family, which included Sri Veerabhadra Shastry and his two brothers, had died.

The eighth child. When Hanumayamma was pregnant with the eighth child in the extended family of Sri Veerabhadra Shastry, there was a lot of anxiety for the survival of the infant. On Sunday, phalguna shukla vidiya, in the early hours of the 4th part of uttarabhadra, makara lagna, vyaya year, (February 24th 1947) the Child of Veerabhadra Shastry and Hanumayamma was born. The Child was a boy. As soon as He was born, the two evil sorcerers, who had tried to destroy the family of Sri Veerabhadra Shastry, died all of a sudden. The two sorcerers were paternal uncles of the newborn Child. With their death, the evil influence on the family and the entire village ended. The Child was not christened (namakarana) till the age of 7 years because the family was still afraid that the Child may not survive; the earlier seven children had died only after they were christened. Little did the family know that this boy was none other than the Lord Himself and that He would be known as Swami (master, Lord) or Datta Swami in the future. There are several parallels between the life of Lord Krishna and Swami. Lord Krishna was the eighth child of his parents. Swami was the eighth child in His family. Lord Krishna's maternal uncle was a very cruel king and had killed the elder siblings of Lord Krishna along with innumerable innocent people. In Swami's case, it was His two paternal uncles who were cruel and they killed Swami's elder siblings and cousins apart from hundreds of other villagers. Owing to the similarities between Lord Krishna, and Swami, His paternal aunt named him as "Venugopala Krishna Murthy".
Early Life

Swami the prankster. As Swami, grew up to be a young boy, He brought life and enthusiasm in His family and the whole village. His enchanting pranks at once entertained and exasperated His parents. His mischief was very similar to that of Lord Krishna. Like Lord Krishna, Swami too was fond of butter and curd. He too would collect a band of village kids and sneak into neighbor's homes to steal butter and curd. His whole day would be spent in playing with His band of friends, teasing villagers and breaking their earthen pots. His friends adored Him and considered Him as their leader. Inspite of His incessant mischief, He was the heart-throb of the entire village. Occasionally, some villager would complain to Swami's parents about His being a perfect menace. But on the whole they tolerated and even enjoyed His pranks.

Another reason why the villagers tolerated Swami's mischief was that Swami's family was greatly respected in the village. Their ancestors were landlords in the village. The elder brother of Sri Veerabhadra Shastry, (Swami's paternal uncle) was an Ayurvedic doctor and a very generous and compassionate man. He would treat many poor villagers free of charge. He was almost like the village headman to them. Any new person visiting the village was automatically a respected guest of Swami's family. Therefore the villagers did not mind if a little boy from that family did some mischief at their expense.

Swami's upanayanam. When Swami turned seven, just a few days after His christening ceremony (namakarana), His father decided that it was about time that his son got a little serious. With a view to reduce the mischief of Swami and instill some discipline in Him, His father performed the upanayanam ceremony for Swami. The upanayanam is the initiation of a child into the traditional study of the scriptures. A large ceremony was performed and food was distributed to the entire village. After the upanayanam, Swami's father started teaching Sanskrit to Swami. He started by teaching eight verses from the epic, Raghuvamsha of Kalidasa. But from the ninth verse onwards, Swami started revealing the meanings of Sanskrit verses without any further teaching. This happened when Swami was seven years of age. The father was taken aback by the extraordinary talent of his seven-year-old son. However he was worried and thought that Swami was possessed by a 'Brahma Rakshasa', a ghost of a scholarly demon, and that as a result, Swami could suddenly expound the Sanskrit epic without any prior study. His father performed several rituals and the chanting of mantras (sacred hymns) so that Swami may get rid of the 'Brahma Rakshasa'. He had no idea of the divinity of his son. When Swami related this to His devotees, many years later, He jokingly said that His father did not know which ghost had possessed Him. Swami said that He was possessed by Lord Datta, whose original form is described as that of a ghost called 'Avadhuta Datta Digambara Pishacha Rupa'. Lord Datta in this form is Lord Shiva, who is the ruler of all ghosts.

Swami the extraordinary. Thereafter, Swami began composing shlokas (verses) in Sanskrit on His own. The ancient and intricate Sanskrit language gushed forth from Swami's pen. Swami started writing poems, epics, stotrams (paeans) and philosophical books in hundreds. Sanskrit scholars were dumbfounded seeing the compositions of Swami when He was barely eleven years old. Great scholars like Sri M. Satyanarayana Sastry and Sri Tatacharya compared the works of Swami to those of the legendary Kalidasa. Sri Vavilala Venkateswara Sastry, a great philosopher, appreciated Swami extensively. Sri. D. Prabhakara Sastry and Sri. J. Venkateswara Sastry recognized that Swami's genius was out of the ordinary. They realized that it was not genius but it was Divinity.

Swami the astrologer. At the age of ten, Swami used to tell the future. Initially, people thought that He must have inherited some of His father's astrological skills. However two incidents convinced people of Swami's divinity rather than astrological skills. Once when Swami was present by His father's side, a farmer from the neighboring village of Kookatlapally, came to them and invited them to his daughter's wedding. Swami suddenly said that the bride would die immediately after the wedding. Everyone in Swami's family was shocked. They scolded Swami for making such an outrageous statement. The farmer, who had come to invite them, was speechless. Yet he proceeded with the wedding of his daughter. After the wedding was over and when the bride prostrated before her in-laws, to receive their blessings, as per tradition, she immediately fell down dead. This incident became the talk of the town.

Another incident took place when Swami went to visit His uncle in Kundurti. In His uncle's house, Swami took a diary and wrote that His aunt would pass away due to cholera on a particular date. He signed the same with the date of prediction. On the predicted day, Swami's aunt died of cholera. Swami's uncle had not seen the note that Swami had made and signed in the diary and came to know of it only later on.

Swami the student. Swami was exceptionally brilliant in His studies. He completed His bachelor’s degree at the age of fifteen and proceeded to the prestigious Allahabad University for His masters and PhD. During His five-year stay in Allahabad, He would wake up at 3.00 am every morning and walk to the holy river, Ganga (Ganges) to perform severe penance. He would first bathe in the holy waters. Then He would hold a Shiva Lingam, in His left hand and shower it with the holy water of the Ganga with His right hand. This, He would do standing on one leg in the water till 7.00 am. After that, He would proceed to the university to attend classes and do His research. Every full moon day (pournima), Swami would go to the holy city of Varanasi (Banaras) which is just a few hours away from Allahabad. There, He would worship Lord Shiva by performing the Rudrabhishekam.

By the age of seventeen, Swami had completed His Masters degree in chemistry. He continued working towards a PhD. Swami worked in the laboratory for His PhD for only thirty days and completed His thesis in a few months after joining the PhD program. His thesis was titled "A New Supersonic Technique for Metallurgical Testing". It was a very short thesis and contained only thirty pages. Swami was inspired by Newton and Einstein, whose ground breaking theses in their time, were very short. Swami did not want to submit a watered down thesis running into hundreds of pages; He rather wanted a short, power-packed thesis with an original idea. His professors were extremely impressed with Swami's thesis, His original work, and His brilliance as a researcher. However they could not accept His thesis so soon. The university had a rule that the minimum time frame for the completion of a PhD degree should be twenty months. Swami was obliged to wait for that period before He could submit His thesis.

Swami the Vedic scholar. Swami spent this time, enacting another divine drama in this world. It was a particularly important phase of His life from the point of view of His Divine Mission on earth. He would go to the university every morning but not to the chemistry department; He would go to the G. N. Jha Research Institute, which was on campus. In this famous institute there are hundreds of thousands of original palm-leaf manuscripts of ancient philosophical texts including the Vedas, Brahmasutras, Bhagavad Gita and commentaries of great ancient masters on the scriptures. Swami would study them all day. His colleagues in the chemistry department would joke that His admission to the chemistry department was a mere formality; He was always to be found in the G. N. Jha Research Institute. They would add that Swami was not a research scholar in chemistry but a scholar in Sanskrit and philosophy.

The director of the G. N. Jha Research Institute was Dr. Umesh Mishra, a great scholar and a spiritually advanced soul. He was the ex-vice chancellor of the Sanskrit University of Darbhanga. He was a purva mimamsaka (ritualist) by belief. He had once performed the ashwamedha yajna (fire ritual involving a divine horse) in Darbhanga. During the ritual a divine horse had actually appeared in the fire altar. Dr. Mishra was able to take a photograph of the horse. While studying the ancient manuscripts in the G. N. Jha Institute, Swami would get into scholarly spiritual debates with Dr. Mishra. These debates were a recapitulation of the same great debate that had ensued between Lord Adi Shankaracarya and the great ritualistic scholar Mandana Mishra. Lord Shankara's point of view was theistic and consisted in accepting God as the Creator and Controller of creation. Mandana Mishra's point of view was that human effort and actions yield proportional results independently; there was no need to bring God into the picture. The historic debate had lasted twenty one days and finally Mandana Mishra accepted Lord Shankara's point of view. He totally surrendered to Lord Shankara and became His disciple, who later became famous as Sureshwara. Likewise, in the debate between Swami and Dr. Mishra, Dr. Mishra finally accepted Swami's point of view. He even gave a certificate signed by him to Swami, accepting that Swami's point was correct.

During His stay in Allahabad, Swami would also engage in debates and discussions with many other great scholars. There is a reputed Vedantic philosophical magazine published in Varanasi, called Prabha. Swami wrote an article in it on the commentary of a particular Brahmasutra. The Brahmasutras are condensed aphorisms which contain the entire Vedic knowledge in them. However interpreting and understanding the Brahma Sutras is very difficult since it requires a comprehensive and fully assimilated knowledge of the entire Vedas. Only the most advanced students of Vedanta are able to study the Brahmasutras. Swami wrote the article on the Brahmasutra (1.1.4), "tat tu samanvayat". He gave one hundred interpretations of the term 'tu'. His article was so exceptional that it transcended the level of usual scholarly Vedantic writing. Impressed by this article, Sri Karapatra Swami, the head monk-teacher (Pithadhipati) of the sacred seat of learning at Varanasi (Kashi Pitham), invited the young Swami to take up monkhood (samnyasa) and become the next head monk-teacher (Pithadhipati) of the Kashi Pitham. Varanasi is the holiest city of the Hindus. It is where the scriptures have been taught, preserved and propagated from generation to generation for several thousand years. It is the abode of the greatest scholars and saints in India. The opportunity of becoming the head monk of this ancient and sacred seat of learning, is extremely rare and prestigious. Swami was offered this position, when He was not even out of His teens. However, when His father came to know about this, he did not accept the offer. Swami was his eldest son. He was not going to let his eldest son become a monk. He wanted Swami to carry on the name of his family. It is indeed our good fortune that Swami did not take the offer at that time. Otherwise we would not have had the opportunity to know Him so closely and live with Him.

Swami upholds Sanatana Dharma. In India, a sacred event called the Mahakumbha Mela is celebrated at certain holy places. It is an event with astronomical significance and it occurs every 12 years. At this time, over a million people congregate at these holy spots to have a ritual bath in the holy waters. It is also the time when great scholars, sages and holy men come out of seclusion and interact with each other. Rare jewels of Divine Knowledge are exchanged. At the time of the Mahakumbha Mela in Prayag (Allahabad), situated on the confluence of the three holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, a heated argument took place between the followers of Arya Samaj and those of Sanatana Dharma. Both are sects of Hinduism. Arya Samaj believes in Formless God (Nirakara) whereas the Sanatanas believe in God having form (Sakara) and God coming down as a human incarnation (Naravatara). At the age of 16, Swami entered the debate on the side of the Sanatanas. He argued with the great scholars of Arya Samaj in Sanskrit. Following is an excerpt from that argument:

Swami: Do you believe that the Lord is Omnipotent?

Arya Samaj: Yes, all religions accept this.

Swami: Then you would also accept that He has the power or ability to come down as a human incarnation so that the devotees can see, talk and interact with Him. When sincere devotees yearn for serving and interacting with Him, He fulfills their desire and takes a human incarnation.

Arya Samaj: No, interaction such as talking, seeing and living with Him would be possible only if He were to have a form. The Vedas say that He has no form ("nastiya pratima", "arupam"). They also say that He cannot be seen with one's eyes ("nacakshusha") These quotations clearly prove that God formless. Therefore it is not possible to interact with Him.

Swami: However the Vedas also say elsewhere that the Lord is available to direct perception ("yatsakshat aparokshat brahma", "pratyagatmanamaikshat"). The Vedas thus testify that one can see the Lord with one's own eyes. What you call formless is not the Lord but the undefined power of the Lord. It is true that the Lord is beyond any form and beyond the reach of the mind and intellect. Yet the same God created the universe which has form. Every religion agrees to the fact that the Lord is Omniscient (all-knowing) and Omnipotent (all-powerful). If it is true that He is Omnipotent, then He, who is beyond all forms, can take up any form by His Will. If there is even a single form that He cannot take up, then He is not all-powerful. Therefore the Lord can take up even the human form. He can take up a human form and come to eart

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