Author : Smt Pushpavalli Srinivasan
While Kandiya was doing service like this Ekanath’s father’s Shrardham (annual ceremony) had to be performed. Kandiya had taken all the responsibility from inviting the Brahmins to cook the meal for the ceremony. When he was cooking the aroma of the sweets and vegetables spread out up to the backyard. At the back yard lived a low caste man and his wife who were looking after the garden.
The gardener’s wife said, “Oh! The aroma of the dishes made by Kandiya is so alluring! How I wish I could have a taste of them!”
The gardener got very angry and said, “So many days Kandiya had given us prasadam and we ate it. Today he makes the dishes for shrardham and it would be served for the Brahmins. We are low caste people and it is a sin to wish for tasting the dish!”
Ekanath who happened to pass that way heard the conversation. He thought that these people never had the chance to eat those kind of dishes made especially for shrardham. Immediately he told Kandiya to distribute the food to the gardener and his relatives and they all relished it happily.
Kandiya then cleaned the kitchen and all the vessels and cooked freshly for the Brahmins. But the Brahmins who were already waiting at the front side of the house came to know this. They got wild with anger and said that it was against sasthras to feed the low caste people on the day of shrardham before feeding the Brahmins. They further said that Ekanath had fed the food cooked for the pithru devatha to low caste people and they would not even enter his house.
Ekanath tried to convince them by telling that the food was again freshly cooked for them and it was not at all tasted by any one else. But the Brahmins refused to have food and left the place.
Ekanath was very much worried and he felt sad also.
Kandiya who was witnessing all that had happened came near Ekanath and said, “Gurudev! You do not worry. You know the manthras to conduct the shrardham. You pray to Lord Vishnu and Viswadeva whole heartedly and they will come and Grace the occasion. ”
Ekanath went to the puja room and with closed eyes and great concentration he prayed to the Lord. Will the Lord ever let down His true devotee?
The Brahmins who are invited to eat at the shrardham are really considered as Vishnu and Viswadeva. Other than that another Brahmin represents the ancestor in whose name the shrardham is conducted.
Ekanath’s prayer was answered! Lo and behold! Lord Vishnu and Viswadeva appeared at the courtyard of Ekanath’s house!
Ekanath ran and washed their feet with reverence and took them inside. Kandiya served them and Ekanath’s father also arrived in shadow form. Ekanath chanted the manthras and performed the homam. The shrardham was graced by the Lord Himself!
This news had spread out like wild fire in the whole town. The Brahmins who were holding a meeting to decide whether to expel Ekanath from Brahmin community or to ask him to do prayachitham for his unceremonious behaviour were wonderstruck. Yet they could not approve Ekanath’s act. They told him that he should take bath in the river Ganges and should perform prayachitham for his misdemeanor. Ekanath agreed to this and he went to the river Ganges accompanied by some Brahmins.
When he was performing the prayachitham a Brahmin who was suffering from leprosy came there and he was asking the people where he could find Ekanath. He told that he was a devotee of Lord Panduranga and he was praying to him to cure him from the horrible disease. He was told that he should go and meet Ekanath who fed outcaste people on the day of his father’s ceremony and by that kind deed he had aquired lot of punyam. If the Brahmin could get that annadhana punyam from Ekanath he would be cured.
When Ekanath heard this he called the Brahmin and gladly bequeathed the annadhana punyam to the Brahmin. The Brahmin’s leprosy vanished and he praised Ekanath for his great deed.
Another incident also made Ekanath a great man.
A Brahmin was doing penance to have darshan of Sri Panduranga Vittoba, but even after doing penance the Lord did not give darshan to him. Rukmadevi got pity on him and she appeared in his dream and told that the Lord was at Sant Ekanath’s house doing kaimkaryam to him and if he went there he could catch hold of him.
Hence the Brahmin went to Ekanath’s house and asked for Kandiya. Ekanath was surprised to hear that the Brahmin had come in search of Kandiya for Kandiya had told him that he had no relaives. By this time Kandiya had entered the house carrying a pot of water.
The Brahmin went after him and tried to catch hold of him, but Kandiya had entered the puja room and disappeared. The Brahmin was in a state of trance after he saw this. Ekanath also came inside and he called out, “Kandiya! Kandiya.”
Then the Brahmin who suddenly came out of trance told him that Kandiya was the Lord Panduranga Himself and He was doing service to him all these years and had gone back to His abode.
Ekanath could not believe his ears. He started crying saying, “Oh! What a great sinner I am! Instead of doing service to the Lord, I made the Lord to serve me! How can I do pariharam for this great sin?”
The Brahmin told him that Ekanath was really a blessed person and that was why the Lord had served him so long.
Then Ekanath beseeched the Lord to forgive him for his ignorance. The Lord told Him that He did service to him because Janardhanaswamy felt indebted to him and He fulfilled his wish of doing something in return. He further told that He enjoyed hearing Ramayana Bagavatha pravachanam in his sweet voice filled with emotion. He told him to continue his religious work and then he would attain mukthi in due course.
Ekanath continued his good work and lived for many years. Even today at Pandaripuram his Bagavatham which is known as Haripat is rendered in front of Lord Panduranga.
Jai Sri Panduranga Vittala! Jai Sri Ekanath!