by Shri Krishna Murthyji
Vittal Babaji appeared as a 7 year old boy at Pandharpur in Maharasthra, India. He was found by Sri Sri Kaikadi Maharaj. In his 8th year, one night while asleep, he was taken to Shirdi Sai Baba and blessed by him and remained in Shirdi for a while. After a few days, Sai Baba appeared to Sri Kaikadi Maharaj in a dream and advised him to take his disciple back. Since then, this miracle boy started showing many leelas. Vittal Babaji is from the Sri Sri Sarveswarananda Saraswathi Maharaj, famously known as Mahavatar Babaji, Guru Parampara i.e. (tradition). Sri Sri Mahavatar Babaji’s disciple was Sri Sri Nityananda Saraswathi Maharaj whose disciple was Sri Sri Sri Niranjanada Saraswathi Maharaj who initiated the sanyas deeksha to Vittal Babaji. He was given the deeksha name as “Sri Sri Sri Vittalananada Saraswathi Maharaj”.
Vittal Babaji was a contemporary of Sri Chinmayananda of Chinmaya Mission, while undergoing spiritual learning at Rishikesh. Vittal Babaji journeyed on foot all over India and visited all the holy places, including the Kailas Manasarovar Yatra. He visited Andhra Pradesh several times, spreading the Datta tradition and Shirdi Sai leelas there. He was brought to Andhra Pradesh in 1966 by the Chief Minister of AP, the late Mr.Kasu Brahmananda Reddy and thereafter Vittal Babaji made AP his home state. Many Shirdi Sai / Datta temples were constructed / inaugurated by Vittal Babaji. He conducted Shirdi Sai Sat Charithra / Guru Charitra Parayanas at several places across the state. As advised by the Lord Sripada Srivallabha, he constructed Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Dattatreya Swamy Mahasamsthana Peetham (Sri Datta Peetham), near Kuruvapur viz., Srikshetra Sri Vallabhapuram.
Along with the Dattatreya temple, several other temples were constructed on the banks of river Krishna. The place is blessed with the first Datta incarnation of SriPada Sri Vallabha. Sripada Swamy used to conduct his Darbar, perform Surya namaskarams. As an evidence of these events the Bhaskar banda, Trisulam stone, and Sahaja Ganapathi are now kept in a pious way.
Sri Vittal Babaji wrote the full life history of Sri Swamy Samarth, in Telugu and the book will soon be published in Kannada. With His blessings and under His supervision the life history of Sri Shankar Maharaj, Pune was also published in Telugu.
Vittal Babaji attained Mahasamadhi on 18th July 2014 and the final rites were performed at Srikshetra Sri Vallabhapuram on 19th July 2014, a ceremony which was attended by several spiritual leaders including Raja Yogi Sri Mohanji. While addressing the funeral gathering, the representative from Sri Ganapathi Satchidanandaswamy Ashram of Mysore said that Vittal Babaji had close intimacy with Sri Ganapathi Satchidananda swamy. Vittal Babaji attended the Birthday Celebrations of Sri Ganapathi Satchidananda swamy at Mysore Ashram. Sri Ganapathi Satchidananda swamy lauded Vittal Babaji as the fatherly figure of the Sri Datta Tradition. Another spiritual leader Sri Siva Sai Baba said that Vittal Babaji’s soul had left the body to become another Universal Master and that therefore his age is 2 days as Universal Master and none of the devotees should grieve over Vittal Babaji leaving the body.
After the Mahasamadhi of Vittal Babaji, Sri Ramaprasannanda Saraswathi became the Peethadhipati (Head) of Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Dattatreya Swamy Mahasamsthana Peetham (Sri Datta Peetham).
By Preeti Duggal
I met Vitthal Babaji for the first time at Kurvapur on June 23rd 2014. During our stay at the ashram our lives were filled up with Babaji’s Unconditional love and affection. I never imagined though that my second visit would take place three weeks later, to attend the Mahasamadhi ceremony of Babaji.
On July 18th at 5.00am, Babaji left His physical body and merged with the Supreme. Shri Mohanji, Shri Krishna Murthy garu, Nandita didi and I started our journey together from Hyderabad to Kurvapur. As we approached the Ashram at midnight I experienced a strong feeling, as if a Father was waiting to see His son again and perform His last rites. On entering the Samadhi Mandir premises we saw Babaji’s physical body being kept in an incubator with devotees gathered around. Shri Mohanji was sitting very close to the incubator and one could make out that a conversation was taking place between the Father and the Son, on a different plane.
The Trustees of the Ashram requested that Mohanji perform the Ganesh puja as well as the first dig at the place where the Samadhi was to be built. Mohanji confessed it was a great honour for him. This again proved the relation between Babaji and Mohanji as being that of Father and son. It also proved it was Babaji’s wish as well.
By morning large numbers of devotees started coming to the Ashram to get a glimpse and receive the blessing of their Guru.
Many great Saints including Shri Vedanandaji, Shri Chaitanyanandaji and Shri Shiv SaiBabaji were present and took part in this great and special ceremony. Many Gurus came forward and expressed their pleasure at meeting Mohanji, as Babaji had always spoken to them about His greatness and they had been eagerly waiting to meet him physically one day.
At around 4pm, Babaji’s body was taken around the Ashram and its adjoining area in a procession lead by all of the Gurus. It felt as if the King was being taken around his kingdom for the last time. The procession finally ended at the courtyard of the Samadhi mandir, where amidst the chanting of Vedic Mantras by the Priests, the abhishekam was done by all the saints present as well as the members of the Trust. During the abhishekam, Mohanji touched Babaji’s body and was surprised that even after almost 36 hours after Babaji had left his physical body, it was supple and there was no sign of stiffness.
After the abhishekam, Babaji’s body was placed in a 6’x 4’ pit which was filled with sand from the Krishna river, sea salt, turmeric, ash and camphor. All the devotees were given a chance to bid a final farewell to their very dear Taata (grandfather) and Guru. In the pit, Babaji seemed to be in the Samadhi pose, his face smiling with satisfaction at having completed his task successfully and finally merging with the Supreme.
With the passing away of Sri Sri Sri Vitthalananda Saraswati an era of the Nath Sampradaya has come to an end. Though we can no longer see him physically through our naked eyes, His Blessings and love will always remain in the Hearts and Souls of His Devotees.
JAI GURU DATTA