The 7 sapthahas

The first Aradhana Sapthaha (Saptaha is one week of Aradhana or Bhajan) commenced from Margashira Sukla Astami of Yuva naama Samvatsara. A well was dug in the premises of the Ashram. Siddaganga was brought from Ramagiri and installed in the well which supplied copious water. A big pendal was constructed. On the first day, Ganga was worshipped and brought to the pendal and installed there. Rudrabhisheka was performed to Gurupaduka and Dattatreya. Breakfast was served at 9 AM. The puja and parayana (reading according to the tradition) of Sri Gurucharitra commenced in the morning. Lunch was served at 2 P.M. In the evening, nithya Bhajan was sung. Gurupadukas and Chidambareshwar were taken in a procession round the Ashram after Bhajan. Recitation and interpretation of Kumaravyasa Bharaata and Jaimini Bharatha were regular features. Appa neither took food nor slept throughout the saptaha. About twenty to thirty shishyas worked continuously round the clock during all the seven days. On the afternoon of the seventh day, Appa went round the village (Nulenur). The Bhajan party sung and danced during the procession, improvising a traditional song…

Sister, get up. Shiva has come to your threshold. Behold Him, sister and give Bhiksha. None is more handsome than Him. Give Him Bhiksha and be liberated. Your difficulties will vanish, feed Him and satisfy Him by filling the vessel with knowledge. Give it to him and your difficulties vanish and he is satisfied. After the procession Aradhana was performed.

Some people grew jealous and complained to Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Swamiji of Sringeri, to which he retorted "Nulenur Swamiji is the very embodiment of Sanatana dharma. Go to him and tell him what happened here & apologise" The second saptaha also went on in the same fervour. Thousands of people came to Nulenur. One day during the saptaha, Appa came to the middle of the pendal and said loudly "I have no attachment to my body. Those who want to cut it down may come here and do so. But they won’t gain anything." On hearing this, the tantrics who had conspired to do so, disappeared from Nulenur.

During the third Saptaha, Chandi Homa was performed. After this Saptaha Sri Narayan Maharaj of Harihar came and requested to help him to perform a Saptaha. The location was fixed at Lokikere, where a relative of Srinivasa Rao, who took sanyasa, owned a land and reserved it for spiritual purposes. Appa went to Lokikere. On the banks of Haridravathi (locally called Shyagale Halla), a grand pendal was constructed. Two Akhanda Bhajana were arranged
(1) Digambara Guru Digambara Sripadavallabha Digambara (2) Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram Pathitha Pavana Sitaram

More than five thousand people dined daily on the site. Chandi Homa was performed. Many marriages and Upanayana were arranged. On a certain day during Saptaha, Appa simply touched Srinivasa Rao on his head. Srinivasa Rao attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi for many hours. Later, Appa released him from that state. During the Saptaha, lakhs of people came and took the darshan of Appa. After Saptaha Narayan Maharaj said "I have arranged for nearly a hundred saptahas, but none of them was as grand as this and none was as complete as this. The greatness of Guru manifested entirely on this occasion due to Appa.

Prior to first saptaha, Mahakali manifested on Appa and said (1935) "I am hungry. The earth has dried-up. It will be wetted by bloodshed in a world war. He forecast the events of Second World War (which were the same as the events of the World War II).Appa gave bodha, continuously. He used to say "Paramathma manifests himself as Guru in order to satisfy his devotees. Shiva who is Chidambara (clothed in the sky of pure knowledge) was born as Shivachidambara. He again came as Sheshala. His devotee was Shankara Bhagavan who was like a Kalpavriksha (a divine tree which grants any boon one asks for). That Shankara is now ShankaraLinga”.

"Both Guru and shishya are God in two different forms. There is nothing greater than Guru. But if there is no Bhakta what is the use of Guru. Hence Bhaktas are greater than Guru. Let the dust of Bhakta’s feet be on my head. A house holder is always under some duress or other. But he must have faith in Guru. He must serve Guru by body, mind and money”

"Those who cannot serve with money (have not enough money to give) may serve by toiling with their body. If he is not able bodied, let him remember Guru. Guru will accept it as service."
By this time, Rajashekhara Shastry, son of Shankarappa, brother of Appa, Krishnamurthy (Kittanna) of Vittalapur and Naganna, brother of Kittanna, had been serving him in Ashrama and during his tours. Yallappa, son of Kolkunte Ramanna, came to Nulenur to be with Appa. His brother Chandranna was a teacher. But he lost his eyesight completely. By the Grace of Appa, he miraculously got his eye sight back.

Appa used to say: Guru has nothing to gain from shishyas. But in order to castoff his karma, a shishya has to serve his Guru. One way of dhyana is to concentrate on the form of God whose statue one worshipz. This statue may be of stone, wood or metal. But Nirakara (formless) Brahma has come in Chaitanyan rupa of Guru. Hence his form is to be meditated upon. In a letter he wrote "remembering Sri Guru itself is dhyana" If one offers money to Guru, it destroys the sins of shishyas and goes back to him as prasada. On certain occasions he used to say "My shishyas need not indulge themselves in any sadhana. Let them believe in me and follow my words. They will be liberated. When one is in the presence of the Guru there is neither Vidhi nor Nishadha (dos & don'ts). When they come to Guru they should be satisfied with what prasada they get. They must not have any particular expectation. They should need, neither, that they won’t get anything, at all.”

“We have not come here to preach anything new. Nor are we showing any new path, for there is nothing new. There is only one thing that is ageless (sanatana) and that is Brahma.” Once, one Govindappa, the Patel of nearby village, came to Nulenur. He had four of five children, and his wife had been stricken with some unknown disease. He felt that it was the work of some ghost.

Appa said "Govindanna, Sri Gurunatha is all powerful. Your wife will be cured before you go back to your place”. Saying so, He went inside the ashrama, brought something, packed it in a piece of paper and gave it to him and said "Don't turn back while you go out of the premises. Apply the thing in this packet on the forehead of your wife. She will be completely cured." He pronounced "OM" in a loud voice.
Govindappa’s wife had gotten up and was working at home by the time he reached home. He went in and applied the dust-like-thing on her forehead. She was completely cured. A shishya asked Appa "what did you give him?" Appa said "dust of shishyas "feet" (Paada dhooli). In 1939, Sitarama Rao of Lokikere who was at Coimbatore came, to Nulenur. He was accompanied by Smt. Bhagirathamma who became an Antaranga devotee of Appa. Appas teaching are in the letters written to her.
Here are some excerpts from one of his letters:

Dear Guruputri,
..........Mind, which is Hridayakamala, should be fully blown. The "Is ness'(sath) should be installed there. You should cast away your mental imagination (kalpana) and experience Ananda (bliss). Wherever your mind goes, the form of Guru is there, (only you should be able to concentrate upon it). There is no difference between name and form (nama and rupa). Your chitta (a form of mind) should experience Ananda (bliss) wherever it wanders. You are pure awareness, and I bless you to experience it, and it brings you bliss....
Blessings from Rama,
Servant of GuruBhaktas (Bhakta Kinkara)
Shankaralinga Bhagavan

In September 1939, Appa handed over the responsibilities of Dattashrama, Nulenur to Srimurthy, a shishya of Ajja. After the Lokikere Saptaha Appa had told Srinivasa Rao "we are going to Nulenur and Malenahalli. You construct an Ashrama here." He had asked K. N. Narayanamurthy of Miyapur to give a cart, two bullocks and a servant to bring stones for the Ashrama building. The Ashrama was completed on 12-2-40. It was named “Anandashrama”. A well was dug behind the Ashrama, which yielded (and still yields) plenty of water.

In 1940, (Shravana Bahula Dwithiya of Prrmathi samwatsara), the shastyabdi purthi of Appa was celebrated in Anandashrama. Many shishyas attended it. A special feature of the celebration of Appas vardhanti was, an arti song which began by about 9 P. M and was continuously sung upto about 3 A. M. Such was the Ananda experienced, that no one knew how it happened, and everyone was happy throughout next day. On 13-2-41, Appa accompanied by about 25 shishyas started on a pilgrimage to Ganagapur. On their way, they visited Venkatapur, Banashankari, and Sheethamane. They stayed at Ganagapur for five days. They visited Gondavali and Sajjangad. They sang Bhajans in front of the place where Ramadasa lived, and arranged a santarpane (mass feeding). Appa gave a pravachana there in Marathi and Kannada. After the pravachana, a young boy who belonged to Ramadasa lineage came, sat on the lap of Appa and asked for a cup of milk. Appa offered it to that boy.

Starting from there, the party visited Naukara, Karhad, Panchgani, and Bilvadi and reached Audumbara. Continuing the journey, they visited Narasobavadi and Kohlapur. From Kohlapur, they went to Savadatti, took darshan of Renukambaa and went to Murgod. They stayed there for three days. They returned to Nulenur and performed yathra samaradhana. While staying at Anandashrama, Appa visited Thumbigere twice. His shishyas repaired Sri Brahmananda's Samadhi Mandir and the gateway to the Ashrama. We may note here certain aspects of Appa's affection for his shishyas. We have already seen how he considered his Bhaktas greater than him. When ever one of his dear shishyas remembered him and offered him coffee or food from a far-off place, Appa received it and he never even touched coffee or food prepared for him in the Ashrama. Whenever a bhakta was in real distress, he did not even drink a drop of water. There are scores of instances and, here, we briefly narrate one.

When Appa was in Anandashrama, Lokikere, on a certain day, he refused to take anything. He didn't even take bath. He repeatedly said "we are feeling an acute distress in the body”. On the same day, Gundappa of Bharamasagara was facing a dilemma. He was a landlord. But he could not clear his debts. The sales price of the produce he grew in his fields and garden had touched rock bottom. There was only one-way to get out of this, and it was to sell his lands. If he did so, it was as good as being socially dead. His wife had passed away long ago. And, his three sons were young. He prepared food for them, asked them to eat and proceeded to Lokikere. It was a hot summer day and he started from the bus stand to Anandasrama, which is about 2kms away. The heat was unbearable. In the middle of the road, he saw Appa coming towards him. He fell at His feet and cried. Appa took him to Ashrama, gave him phala mantrakshakte and asked him to go back to Bharamasagar immediately. It was strange indeed! Appa never sent anybody from his Ashrama without giving them something to eat. Gundappa returned and could reach Bharamasagara next morning. As he went home, a government official was waiting to grant him enough funds for development. Gundappa heaved a huge sigh of relief!!!

In hardships, whenever His disciples began to feel that their Guru seems to have forgotten them, their troubles vanished. As Appa has written in one of his letters, "As Guru is Pure Awareness, how can He ever forget His disciples? The Great Datta will always ward away the troubles of his shishyas. Gurubhaktas will never suffer, as Guru protects them". The seventh Aradhana Saptaha was nearing. Appa handed over the responsibilities of Anandashrama to Srinivasa rao, and started his journey to Nulenur. On the way he diverted his route went to Hadadi where one of his shishyas was in his deathbed. Appa had promised him that He would give His darshan at his antyakala (just before his death). He gave darshan, continued His journey and reached Nulenur.

As directed by Ajja, Appa took on the mantle of Guru and engaged himself in Loka sangraha (directing his shishyas to mukthi). When his shishyas faced untimely death, Appa the Mrithyunjaya saved them. Although he had no relation with anybody or anything, due to compassion towards Jeevas, he took all shishyas as his family.
If Vedic dictum is not followed one tends to nourish thamasa ahankara and hence sins. So, he advised his followers to follow the path prescribed in the Vedas. He was the Father, and the Mother, of his followers and made them experience his Thuryananda. Although Omnipotent, He did not go against nature which is His shakti. He was a shaantatma. He fed his followers with bounty. He taught them the secrets of Atma Bhoda. He used to say "you are sat-chith-ananda, which is in you. You need not hurry to experience it. Your first bound and duty is to always remember Sri Guru and obey His words. In Ramavathara, one person was redeemed. In Krishnavathara, three were. Now ten followers will be redeemed. I also save those who hate me and just look at me once at random.

With the natural dharma qualities of Ever gushing Bliss, Guru Bhakti (as oneness with Guru), being unswerving in the path of Vedas and compassion towards all living beings, resplendent - The Great Gurusarvabhowma Sri Shankaralinga performed seven saptahas.