The morning after arriving in Visakhapatnam I wanted to go to Pithapuram, the birthplace of Sripada Srivallabha. I had planned to go there on the 15th but since a few friends could not join on that day, I decided to do this extra-trip on 31 December. We ended up to be 22 persons in a bus.
Walking through Pithapuram
There was heavy traffic on the roads and the ride took us 3.5 hours. When we finally arrived at the temple compound, the Maha Samsthanam, there was a huge crowd. I came to know only a day later that it was the birthday celebration of Narasimha Saraswati, the second incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, who lived in the 14th and 15th century.
We were guided into the office and later to the area in front of the sanctum sanctorum, where Sri Ramaswami Garu, the spiritual head of the temple was seated. He is now 91 years of age and participated in the celebration in spite of his body marked by disease. His eyes were still shining with a strong spiritual presence. I presented to him the German translation of the Sripada Srivallabha Charitamrutam while the people around were taking photos. Then the book was given to the priest at the sanctum who put it for a moment on the pedestal with the symbols of the “padukas”, the much revered symbols of the sandals of Sripada, and then it was decorated with sandalwood powder. Later I presented it to one of the heads of the Samsthanam.
We sat for a while in the office of the Samsthanam. The whole time I felt besides myself and let the “show go on”. While Sripada’s spiritual presence is strongly penetrating the space, on the surface other priorities seem to be more in the foreground. I don’t want to comment on this but I already noticed on the huge poster at the outskirts of the town: In the upper left corner you could see the picture of the three statues of Dattatreya, Sripada and Narasimha Saraswati from the “sanctum sanctorum”; the major part of the poster, however, was occupied by to big pictures, one of Sri Ramaswami and one of an official, and two lines with quite big pictures of a number of temple officials – the priorities of importance? Later Sri Kumar gave me some profound remarks about the situation there…
I was honoured with a scarf in violet and gold with a picture of Sripada, then we saw again the Swami lying in a bed behind the office rooms. While he gave us again his blessings I had the impression that he had already passed half way over to the other side.
We then were offered lunch and afterwards tried to sit quietly inside the temple which was a bit difficult with the people circumambulating or rolling themselves around the sanctum.
On the way back I told some stories of the incarnations of Dattatreya to the German members. When I later sat alone for a while, I asked myself what all this was about. I strongly felt that a very sublime energy is emanating from this birthplace of Sripada and that this is what all is about – the rest on the surface is just insignificant ripples on the huge ocean.
When two days later I spoke with Master Kumar about the visit at the Mah Samsthanam and the presentation of the book, he told me, “Don’t think that it is of paper, it is pure fire.”
Presenting the book to Sri Ramaswami Garu
The Sanctum Sanctorum