P. P. Shree Shreepad Shreevallabh Swami Maharaj
Shreemat Shreepad Shreevallabh is revered as the first incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, in the history of Shree Datta tradition. There is information about this incarnation in the 5th and 9th chapter of Shree Gurucharitra. The period of this incarnation can be around 1320 to 1350. His birthplace Peethapur (Andhra Pradesh), is now known as “Peethapuram”. Father Apalraj and Mother Sumati, were his parents. Mother was very faithful wife and a sincere host. On the new moon day, while performing the family rituals, just before the meal-time for Brahmins, Sumati offered alms to a visiting ascetic. Pleased by the alms act he asked Sumati, “ Oh Mother, tell me your wish, it will fructify” (The ascetic here was Lord Dattatreya himself as per Gurucharitra). Sumati bowed unto ascetic and offered her prayer sincerely. Ascetic instantly approved the prayer and disappeared. Believing earnestly the blessings in the following period, she got conceived and in a due time proper celebrations for having a son were conducted. According to horoscope, Brahmins predicted, “He will be the great ascetic of the times and will initiate many as a JagadGuru (Supreme Master). The son was named as, “Shreepad”, as His birth was the blessings of Lord Dattatreya. Father arranged a ceremony “Maunjibandhan” – the thread wearing ceremony, when “Shreepad” was seven years of his age. He had accomplished his education of Vedas by the time of Maunjibandhan. Parents started considering wedlock for Shreepad. On this occasion Shreepad Shree Vallabha decided to leave his home and asked the permission of his parents to travel Northward on pilgrimage. With the great compassion on realization that our son will remain detached from worldly life, a dejected mother said to him, “We were depending on you, in this old age, who will look after us? Your both the brothers are handicapped, one blind and the other lame, who will take care of them?”. On listening to Mother, Shreepad glanced at his two brothers with “Amrutdrushti”, (a divine touch of sight), and mysteriously they both revived from their impairment and became “Gnyani” (a person full of knowledge). Thus he relieved the parents of their worries. After this incident, Shreepad bid his farewell with the permission of the parents and started on the pilgrimage towards North.
He travelled visiting Jagannath Puri, Kashi. On accomplishing his pilgrimage in the North, he came to the place in the South called Gokarna Mahabaleshwar and remained there in complete privacy for the period of 3 years. From there, he proceeded to Shri Shailya. After a stay of four months, came to a village Kuravpur, Andhra Pradesh, at Nivruttisangam a place on the banks of river Krishna. Two incidents which took place at Kuravpur must have relation to the post pilgrimation period of Shreepad. The incidents were as follows – First incident : It is about the mentally handicapped son of Ambika, a wife of one of the esteem learned Brahmin. The Brahmin, in his frustration and grief for the handicapped son had already passed away. The condition of Ambika and her son was very pitiful and slanderous in the society. Troubled by all the situation, the mother and son decided to end their life by suicide in river Krishna. They came across Shripad Shrivallabh there, who had come for a dip in the holy waters of river Krishna. When the mother bowed unto Shreepad Shreevallabh, he was overwhelmed by the compassion and by touching over the head of her uncultured son, blessed him with complete knowledge. It is a strong belief of the writer of Guru charitra that the Ambabhavani of Karanja is none else but Ambika and her son Shree Nrusinhsaraswati himself.
Second incident : In his stay at Kuravpur, Shreepad Guru was to visit river Ganga for his daily bath. The laundryman, who was to wash the clothes at the river, used to bow to him with great sincerity. In the following period he became fond of the service to Shri Guru. He used to sweep the premises of monastery of Shree Guru and remain there at the service of Guru. Once, a Muslim King had come at the river with all his family for boating. The laundryman saw the riches of the king and felt pity at his own status. Shree Guru found out his wish and blessed him accordingly. After such miracles, on the day of Ashwin Vadya Dwadashi, Shreepad Guru left this world, when in his stay at Kuravpur. Today, this day is observed as “Gurudwadashi”.