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  Datta Sampradayam (cult)

While the Almighty has no attributes and in reality formless just for the sake of His devotee-children He takes various forms. As far as devotees are concerned they offer their devotion and worship to those forms and earn His grace. In that angle God is viewed as Mother, Father, Guru, Friend and as God Himself. Lord Dattatreya is treated as the Guru of gurus and worshipping Him as the form of God is called Datta Sampradayam or Guru Sampradayam. So in this cult the very Guru becomes God and single-point devotion is showered on that form and the response from the Almighty is also retaliated through the same channel of Guru. Sri Sadguru Sainath of Shirdi advocated this method of worshipping the Almighty as one's Guru and Baba Himself is treated as the fifth incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. For Dattaguru Bhandara Trust, in reality Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami Maharaj (Second Avatar) and Sri Sadguru Sainath Maharaj of Shirdi are the real performers of its services. Hence a brief information is given about Lord Dattatreya and about His above mentioned two avatars.

(1)   Lord Dattatreya.

(2)   Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami Maharaj.

(3)   Sri Sadguru Sainath of Shirdi.
  Lord Dattatreya- The Benign Form Of Almighty

Almighty, the Cause, the Creator, the Sustainer and also the Destroyer is one, but His forms are infinite. According to the purpose of His leela, the atmosphere in which He has to perform it, to whom the effect of His leela should be applied, He takes various forms with various names attached to them. Lord Dattatreya, the adopted son of the seer Athri and Anasuya his consort, of vedic times is one such form with the perfect qualities of God namely Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence, highlighted in every deed of Him. He is immortal and shows Himself in various forms or incarnations according to the circumstances, time etc of His leelas which are being performed to establish righteousness and in the welfare of His beloved devotee-children. He is the very form of sympathetic grace in and out. This boundless grace has prompted Him to follow the jeevatmas allotted to Him birth after birth till they are enlightened to the core that they themselves are the Great Almighty, following which they are promoted to the highest status of merging with the Almighty once for all, with no more separate identity, immersing themselves in eternal bliss with no other equivalent to that state. This supreme state is described with various names as mukthi, moksha, salvation etc.

Lord Dattatreya with so much glory, just for the welfare of His devotee-children, has taken five well-recognised avatars (incarnations) i.e. human forms namely, Sripada Sri Vallabha, Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami Maharaj, Sri Manik Prabhu, Sri Akkalkot Maharaj and Sri Saibaba of Shirdi. As Dattaguru Bhandara Trust is privileged to concern itself with the second and fifth avatars only, this presentation is also limited to them only. The great fact is that concentrated faith and devotion on any one form of Dattatreya confer equally the grace of each and every other form of divine existence in the total Universe.

   Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami Maharaj

He lived about 600 years ago. The common feature of all the Datta avatars was and is that eventhough a graceful wink of them can convert a pauper into an emperor, all were leading ascetic lives with perfect renunciation. In His first avatar of Sri Pada Sri Vallabha, Datta was given holy bhiksha by a devout couple and in His extreme contentment he gave them the boon to be their son in their next births. Just to keep up the boon given by Him, He was born to them at the place Karanja near Akola of Maharashtra state and was given the name Narahari. At the age of seven He showed His real form to His parents and got their permission to adopt the life of a sanyasi. He left the house and after visiting so many holy places reached Kashi ( Varanasi ). Saints there identified the arrival of Lord Datta in that form. They thought eventhough He was God Himself, just to keep tradition they wished Him to be initiated to sanyas by a suitable Guru. As per their request Sri Krishna Saraswathi, a descendant disciple of Sri Adi Sankaracharya gave Him initiation, the human name Narahari disappeared and the ascetic name Sri Nrisimha Saraswthy Swami Maharaj was attached to Him. Once triggered to total divinity so many disciples were drawn to Him like bees to a sweet lotus. The radiance of divinity from Him was the source of relief, protection and source of worldly and spiritual progress to every one who encountered Him. Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy travelled from Kashi towards south and the holy Gangapur sanctified by the confluence of the rivers Beema and Amaraja became the major place of stay of this divine manifestation.

In His previous avatar of Sri Pada Sri Vallabha, Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami blessed a washerman to become a Muslim king with the additional promise that at an appropriate time He would draw the king towards Himself. To letter everything took place and time came for the washerman in the grab of sultan to be recalled to Datta in the form of Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy. A painful cancerous tumour developed in the thigh of the sultan which could not be cured by any means. Finally to seek divine help the sultan was guided to Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami Maharaj at Gangapur. The all knowing Datta in His form affectionately addressed the sultan as washerman and the entire developments from his position of washerman to the position of sultan flashed in his mind. With his eyes full of tears the sultan caught hold of the feet of Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy and declared that he had enjoyed perfectly what he wanted and had realized that nothing was equivalent to the Holy feet of the Maharaj. He never wanted to move from Maharaj forever. Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami accepted his genuine feelings and consoled Him that after he entrusted his duty of the king to some suitable successor, he could come to Him and become His disciple.

One more universal fact with all the Datta avatars is when the society recognized them and name and fame of them exceeded limits, with their own will they had abandoned their physical frames. In the case of Sri Nrisimha Saraswathi Swami Maharaj it took place like this. Barring four of His disciples, He ordered all the others to visit holy places. He informed His devotees of Gangapur that He was going to Srisailam immediately and would not return. The devotees who had been enjoying protected happy lives under the shade of His grace could not bear this information. As the matter of consolation for them he did two things with His divine powers.

He gifted them His holy padukas and promised them that they were His perfect representatives and contemplated worship of them would confer benefits equal to those with His blessings in person. As the holy padukas given by Him are not in the normal shape they are called Nirguna (formless) padukas.

The second boon for consolation was that without fail every noon the Maharaj would visit Gangapur, for bhiksha, in some form or other, known only to Him. Whatever bhiksha was offered with contemplation on Him, the same would be definitely accepted by Him. Even now this is perfectly true .Devotees with staunch faith have experienced full fledged proof for this assurance of Lord Dattatreya in the form of Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy. After this, the holy Maharaj left for Srisailam with His four disciples. A dense forest like place was there where the Krishna river flowed vigorously. The benign Nrisimha Saraswathy ordained His disciples to make a ferry decorated with flowers, sat in it and declared words of farewell to them, who only by then were shocked to realize that the Maharaj was about to drop His human frame, once for all. Nrisimha Saraswathy Swami consoled them that for everyone devoted to Him He was always with him and it was applicable to them also. As an additional measure of consolation he said that after He reached His intended destination four flowers would reach the above disciples, opposing the water current of the river. Each one of them had to accept one as the veritable representative of the Maharaj. It happened so and nobody knew how the Maharaj disappeared and what happened to His physical frame.

But as promised by Him even today the Nirguna Padukas of Gangapur answer so promptly the devout prayers of devotees who worship them. Moreover for every staunch devotee, living experiences of Sri Nrisimha Saraswathy's active presence at Gangapur is being experienced even now.


The latest and fifth avatar of Lord Dattatreya is Sadguru Saibaba of Shirdi. Shirdi was a remote village in the district of Ahmedanagar of Maharashtra state. It has been estimated that in that place in the year of 1834 A.D Baba advented as a young fakir. Nobody could gauge the particulars of His origin, parentage, till now with authority. After sometime He left the village and after three years of His disappearance, came back to Shirdi with a Muslim marriage party. At the Khandoba temple of the village He was accosted by its temple Pujari Sri Mahalsapathy as "Aao Sai" inadvertently and the word Sai had become His eternal name. At the beginning only a few could feel the perfect divinity inherent with Him. He occupied a dilapidated Masjid and converted that into a veritable heaven on earth. Nobody could understand His real nature, at the same time all aspects of God namely Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence were playing with Him. He was having centers of His leelas everywhere with no perimeters to them. With no label of any religion attached to Him He was preaching with exemplary practice the best course for uplifting oneself spiritually with broader and broader outlooks.

With His Godhood even though many came to Him only for material benefits first by catering to the same He bestowed upon them the most virtuous spiritual progress based on Guru Bhakthi, according to their receiving capacity. His school has been being consisted of myriad of students but He was, is and will be the only Teacher in that.

Sadguru Sainath after staying in Shirdi for an unbroken period of 60 years took Samadhi on 15-10-1918, the holy Vijayadasami day. The Muralidhar mandir where His physical body was interred is now called Samadhi Mandir with a lively marble murthy representing Him with His active performance.

Baba, being the Almighty Himself, was originally formless. Just for the easy recognition of His beloved devotees He assumed a human form. Once He felt the purpose of the assumed form was over He dropped it consciously and assumed His original formless nature. At any cost the level of His divine activities never got diminished but in fact goes on multiplying by manifolds. Any careful observer of Baba's performance can discern that His activities during His lifetime are nothing compared to those after His samadhi. The very word samadhi is specially used for the dropout of physical frames of saints like Baba where only the visible body is dropped without the least loss of activity. Because of this only in the globe almost in every place, so many centers of His worship have come up. Even now according to one's own faith every devotee is having positive response from Him.

As already said Sadguru Sainath of Shirdi is treated as the fifth avatar of Lord Dattatreya.

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