(Last Updated on : 17/01/2011)
After the Maha-samadhi(death) of his guru Swami Parijnanashram
II, Swami Shankarashram was crowned as the head guru or Mathadhipati, head of the Chitrapur Math
of the Saraswats. Swamiji was suffering from high fever due to Malaria during the 'Anushthan' or the ceremony of crowning. But with his awe-inspiring yogic powers, he transferred his fever onto the danda(Stick) that he carried. He transferred the sickness back after the ceremony onto him being the true Yogi.
When devotees asked him why he would not keep the illness in the danda permanently he replied "Even a Jnani(All-knowing one) has to go through the ups and downs of life. Even the Lord ordains that and this is a fact of life". Swamiji was always engrossed in spiritual pursuits. Endlessly He was seeking more knowledge so that he would ignore his health.
His Holiness Swami Shankarashram II was the fourth Guru or Mathadhipati of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community. From 1770 untill his death He was the seated at the post of Mathdhipati. A great scholar with extraordinary yogic powers was well versed with the Vedas
and the Upanishads. He was also considered and idolized as an avatar(incarnation) of Lord Dattatreya. He has also performed several miracles. His devotees have experienced that in case of difficulty, if they prayed earnestly for his help, his help never fails to come.
A new matha 'Monastery' was established under Swami Shankarashram II, in the village of Kumta near Mallapur. Enriched with lots of greenery, this place is a small valley. It was named as the Shri Gurumath. After the construction was over, Swamiji started residing there. Swamiji everyday in the mornings go for a walk to Hoovinhittal , which is a place near the Chandavar village. For his darshan and blessings, devotees would wait on the road-side. Swamiji would randomly point to a devotee, who would then offer Swamiji bhiksha. Simple porridge and some payasa(sweet rice pudding) Swamiji preferred to have as meal. In the premises of the Guru Matha the samadhi(shrine) of Swami Shankarashram II is located. At the Chitrapur Math, Swamiji would constantly hold satsangs which means "gatherings for discussions of the scriptures. Swamiji would ameliorate all the people about the essence of the Indian scriptures.
As day passes the devotees became anxious with fear because of the frail health of Swamiji. They quested Swamiji to pick out a shishya(disciple) who would continue thereafter the Guru Parampara. The search for a suitable disciple started. A young man from the Kandlur family eventually chosen to be the successor of Swamiji. In 1781, in the month of Maagha, Swamiji ordained the new shishya and administered him as 'Keshavashram
' at the Shri Ganapati Temple at Mallapur.
Like other Gurus Swami Shankarashram has been attributed to many miracles. Two of the most popular ones are:
His shishya(disciple) Keshavashram during the Punyatithi(death anniversary) of his guru, Swami Parijñanashram II, asked the cooks not to prepare porridge. But Swamiji preferred to have only porridge as his meals. The shishya forgot to aware Swamiji about this. The cooks were preparing Vada. But however, the Vadas would stick to the bottom of the frying pan. It just would not get fried. When Swamiji got to know of it, he said "As the fire within is burning intensely, perhaps the Vadas are not getting fried". Keshavashram Swami suddenly understood his foolish behavior, asked the cooks to prepare the porridge immeadiately and serve Swamiji. The Vadas were frying crisp and hot, once Swamiji was served with the porridge. At the Shri Guru Matha at Mallapur, this incident(miracle) has also resulted in the Ksheeranna Seva(A special Seva or service). Ksheeranna means rice gruel(porridge) in Kannada
It is believed that even after his death, the shrine of Swamiji was supposed to be powerful. With deep agony people go to visit the shrine and return with a sense of calmness. A priest lived, in the village of Narsobawadi. The priest along with his son, were grievously affected especially by a strange disease that could not be cured by any medication. One night, the priest dreamt of a holy saint asking him to go to Mallapur with his son and pray with full veneration at the shrine of Swamiji. Both father and son were cured of their illness with the divine grace of the guru.
The shrine or samadhi of the community of Swami Shankarashram II was renovated under Swami Pandurangashram
, the eighth Head of the math. The stone slab covering the samadhi was removed during the renovation work. Everyone was zapped to find the age old leaves of Tulsi and Bael that were still fresh. When it was uncovered, the frangrance of tulsi spread all across the shrine. The leaves had withstood age and were conserved intact.
Swamiji went to Gokarn in 1785, to pray at the shrine of Adi Parijñanashram disrespecting his very poor health. The residents of Mallapur asked Swamiji to stay on the way back to Chitrapur, at the Guru Matha at Mallapur for a few days to bless the people. Swamiji's health took a turn for the worse very rapidly during this stay. On the Shudh Tritiya holy 3rd day of the month of Maagha in 1785, Swami Shankarashram II attained Maha-Samadhi(passed away) with his shishya Keshavashram by his side. His samadhi(Shrine) is located at Mallapur.
There is a notion which supports the believe that Swami Shankarashram was a true avatar of Lord Dattatreya. By the name Swami Samarth Maharaj, there lived a very renowned avatar of Lord Dattatreya in Akkalkot in Maharashtra. In 1878, he had assumed Sahaj Samadhi(passed away). In 1983, a devotee of his by name Sahasrabudhe Maharaj got a vision in Pune that Swami Samarth Maharaj apprized him to visit a sacred samadhi of a Datt avatar in Mallapur.
Swami Samarth Maharaj in the vision, showed him the shrine of the Datt Avatar at Mallapur and told him to urgently repair the shrine. But Sahasrabudhe Maharaj never heard of this place. The vision was so strong and demanding that could not be ignored. So he endlessly stirve to figure out where this place was. After he reached Mallapur, he found the samadhi just as it was shown in his vision. Sahasrabudhe Maharaj became a devotee of Swamiji after offering his services to the shrine. This story however proved that Swami Shankarashram was a true avatar of Lord Dattatreya.