Wednesday 3 August 2011

Sreepada Sreevallabha - The Living Saint at Kurvapur

Kurvapur is  a small,beautiful, island in the middle of the River Krishna located between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which is barely touched by modern civilisation.  There  are no roads in Kurvapur, hence there are no vehicles or pollution.  Except for the chirping of birds, the tiny island is a bliss for those who enjoy solitude and natural beauty. Kurvapur is inhabited by few people, mostly boatmen; it has no shops or entertainment, except for a primary government school.  All materials, excluding water has to be transported by traditional boats that are circular.
For a new comer, getting into the boat itself sounds danger bells.  In this island, there is a famous temple dedicated to Sreepada Sreevallabha considered as the first avatar in Kaliyug of Sree Dattatreya, the deity quite popular in Maharashtra.
Although there are temples dedicated to Dattatreya in many places across India, the Lord is mostly worshipped in Maharashtra as Dutta Guru or Dattatreya – the Lord Trinity – having the combined spiritual manifestation of Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.
To reach Kurvapur, one has to alight at Raichur on the Mumbai-Chennai rail route.  From there to reach the river bank, one has to either engage a taxi,  or depend on the few transport buses that ply from Raichur.  The buses, being few and not dependable, taxi is the obvious choice.  The distance to be covered is about 50 km. and the roads are reasonably good.  One is transported to an entirely different world of culture and society – most of the area is rocky with no cultivation and underdeveloped.
The boat ride across the river Krishna to the island takes about 30 minutes and from there one has to walk the distance – about an hour’s walk.  There are no roadways and the boatmen told us to follow a rugged bullockcart path.  It was a hot day and we were the only people around in the shrubby, near forest area.  The temple view from a distance was quite a pleasure.
The temple sanctorum houses the Saktipeet and the Paduka of Sreepada Sreevallabha.  Regular poojas and  naivedya are offered by the two poojaris who reside in the parikrama area.  Around the temple, which is a simple structure, runs the parikrama and on either side, there are platforms for the devotees to rest or conduct ‘Parayan’.
In front of the temple, the river Krishna runs and there the pilgrims take a bath, which is refreshing after the walk.   As one comes up the sands there is a small temple dedicated to Hanuman.  A little distance off is the entrance to the temple.  The sanctum is usually kept closed and the priest lets you in for a few minutes to worship the Saktisthal.
Behind the temple stands the magnificent Vatvriksha which spreads over quite an area.  Under the tree, Sreepada used to rest.  Further to this tree, is the cave where Sreepada spent time in meditation.  One has to virtually crawl to reach the Peetha where Sreepada used to meditate.  The cave runs down further deep, but is inaccessible.
Above this cave there is a small temple for Lord Shiva and the place is also used by devotees to offer ‘Parayan’; that is, reading of the sacred text, “Sree Pada Sree Vallabha Charitaamurtams.”  The text has to be read completely with devotion and a mind of submission to the Lord in a period of seven days and on the concluding day, 11 people are to be fed (Prasadam).  One can have the ‘Paarayan’ conducted at one’s home and offer the money equivalent to feed 11 people to any temple dedicated to Lord Datta.  It is believed by devotees that such a Paarayan Deeksha benefits the desired.
Across the river on the other side, there is a temple for Vittal; it is said that Sreepada used to walk regularly to the temple over the river. The divine power of saints cannot be explained rationally. After worship, if fortunate, one can get the services of a private bullockcart (arranged through the priest) to the river side.
Kurvapur has facilities for lodging a limited number of devotees, or groups can put up temporary shelters.  The problem is food as one has to rely on the priest’s family which offers lunch to a few, upon prior information.  In spite of the little difficulty, Kurvapur should be in any devotee’s pilgrimage agenda as one can experience divinity in the surroundings.
Very little was known about the life of Sreepada Sreevallabha except on the information given in ‘Sree Dattacharita’, till 2000.  The descendants of Sreepada were able to find an ancient text, that gives a biography of Sreepada written by a devotee who had actually been living with the saint for some years and hence reliable.
Sreepada lived in the 14th century, born in Pitthapuram, East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The first 15 years of his life was spent along with his parents. At the age of 15-16, when his parents proposed a marriage, Sreepada took permission of his parents and left his house, as his life was dedicated to serve people and preach, “The Knowledge Absolute”.
Sreepada first travelled to Kasi and Badrinath and later to Gokarn (Karnataka) and Sreesailam (Andhra).  He spent the remaining part of his life at Kurvapuram, which became a pilgrimage centre for devotees even at his time.  At Kurvapuram, he spent time in meditation and at Sat Sangh.  People flocked to him for relief from the fangs of Samsara and Sreepada was an oasis of mercy.
Several incidents stand testimony for his Divine appearance as an Avatar of Datta.  At the age of 31, he took Jalasamadhi in the river Krishna at Kurvapur – it is said that he walked into the waters and disappeared.  Thus came to an end the first Avatar of Datta in Kalyug – devotees believe that He is still at Kurvapur in Nirgun form and a visit to Kurvapur is actually a Darshan of Sreepada Sreevallabha.  His Paduka is worshipped in the Karmabhoomi (Kurvapur) as His Shakti Peetha.
Article by : S.V.Veeraraghavan
Source: Bhavan's Journal 15 June 2010
To know more about Bhavan's Journal and to subscribe visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment