Avatars act towards their predetermined mission on earth. Shri Shirdi Sai descended onto the earth when the communal clashes were at their peak and He came to reestablish harmony between the various religions. During the same period, Sri Shirdi Sai also brought another saint to earth. Sri Yerrithatha of Hagaribommanahalli of Chellagurki (Bellary taluk, Karnataka), was a partial aspect of Lord Shiva.
It is learnt that he came to the place in the year 1897. Not much of his early life is known. Nobody asked the swami about this and to nobody did he reveal anything. To those who asked him for details of his early life, he used to ask for paper and pencil and address a note to the Tahsildar of Hiriyur and then stop writing. So the silence regarding his early life continued.
One report is that Shri Yerrithatha was from Tumkur and that he was Magistrate and that while in service, he used to go into a trance. After a time he left the job. He would climb to the top of a coconut tree and sit there in yogic contemplation. He had understood the tenets of Veerashaivism and the worship of Linga and became a “Siddhapurasha”.
It is also said that Shri Yerrithatha’s original name was Nanjundappa, and that he came from Linganahalli and athat he was given to simple living and that he learnt much from Nagappa, a Lingayat scholor of Linganahalli. When Nagappa realised that Shri Yrrithatha was greater than himself, he told him that there ws nothing to learn from him and that he would do well to approach Ganganarya of Doddaballapur.
Accordingly Shri Thatha proceeded to Doddaballapur to meet Gaganrya and waited for two or three days to seek his “Darshan” and blessings. Gaganrya commanded him to go round the town thrice in a naked state. Shri Thatha obeyed the Guru and received his benediction. Thereafter the Swamiji did‘not go back to Linganahalli but stayed at Doddaballapur in the service of his Guru. Gaganarya named this Nanjundappa as “Niranjana”.
It was in the year 1897 that the news spread at Chellaguriki taht a strange person had come to the place and was staying at Mallapp’s dung-hill. On hearing this, Yalpi Bheemanagouda, Uluru Doddappa, Moke Karibasappa, Jayanoor Hampanna, Kolagallu Basalingappa and several other leading men of the village proceeded to the spot and saw the Swamiji sitting in a serene manner. They asked him his name and where abouts but the Swamiji did not break his silence. They invited him to the village but still there was no reply. It was getting dark. Neither darkness not the people distracted him. The people were getting ready to go back to their village. Sri Thatha murmured something but they dared not go near him. At last, they went back to their village. Sri Thatha murmured something but they dared not go near him. At last, they went back to their village.
When they visited the spot next day, Sri Thatha was seated there and except a small cloth over his body, there was nothing else to cover him. He was sitting quietly in the place unmindful of cold or rain. This phenomenon made the people of Chellaguriki develop fear as well as respect towards the Swamiji. They requested him to go to their village but Sri Thatha would not budge. He said ‘no’ but the people took him by his shoulders and escorted him to the village walking in spite of protest.
It so happened that in the village there was a small hut put up for supplying drinking water to the thirsty people as it was summer. Sri Thatha was made to sit on the veranda but he went inside the hut and sat there, Sri Thatha went to the Iswara temple and stayed there for some time. He spent some days in the houses of Yalpi Bheemanagowda and Megalamane Doddanagowda. In the mean while, Cholera attacked the village and took a toll of 300 lives.
As though it was a premonition of Cholera,Sri Thatha used to visit the burial ground hundreds of times daily which made the people wonder why this mad man was behaving like this. It was only eight or ten days after this, that Cholera broke out in a virulent form.
When Cholera was raging, Sri Thatha threw stones at some houses and at others he attempted to throw but held back his hand.
People were quite tired of his antics, let alone the ravages of Cholera, that they were hard put to stand the nuisance of stone-throwing by the Swamiji.
In the houses at which he had thrown stones one or two persons died and in those houses at which he did not throw stones, there were no deaths, but even though some persons wer attacked, they survived.
One Kolagallu Veeramma in whose house there were two attacks Cholera, approached the Swamiji in prayerful mood and asked for his blessings. He took her by her breasts and pressing her against the ground, told the lady to go back to her house. By the time she returned home the patients were free from the disease. He had forewarned the villagers of the approaching epidemic.
Sri Thatha was the first to be attacked by Cholera. He drank gruel with buttermilk in it and became free from the disease. But the disease attacked the people of the village.
Before he came to Uravakonda, Shri Yerrithatha stayed on a stone pillar at Belaguppa Hill, lived for some time at Yenue-hole and thereafter went to Mustruru. On seeing the stone image of Basavanna, he said “Move on, Basavanna”. This stone image actually walked. He also told the Patel of the place that the latter’s end was nearing.
When he came to musturu, he was staying at Ramalamma’s temple and would not talk if anybody talked to him and if only anybody brought something to eat like ‘Puri’ and gram he would eat. Thereafter he left the place for Uravakonda. For some time, he stayed on the banks of stream between Budhagavi and Cheekalagurki. Dasarayya, the owner of the land, attempted to communicate with the Swami but there was no response. A big storm arose and the sky was heavily overcast. Dasarayya said to Shri Yerrithatha “There is likely to be heavy rain; let us go”. But the Swami would not speak, nor did he show any inclination to move out. In the meanwhile, there was a heavy downpour. Dasarayya ran from the place and took shelter. The stream overflowed the banks and completely had been swept away. When the stream subsided. Dasarayya could not believe his eyes when he saw the Swami sitting on the bank unperturbed. Then he realised that the Swami was not a mad man but a great soul. On hearing this, Gururaappa of Chekalagurki went to see the Swami with “bondas” freshly prepared. He offered the “bondas” to the Sawami but the Swami only sniffed at them and refused to eat. Gururayappa asked the swami what would happen to him if he did not eat. Quick came the reply ‘Hell’. Gururayappa was enraged and exclaimed “What about your fate?”. The Swamiji said “Heaven”. Gururayappa realised the situation and implored the Swami for mercy. Sri Yerrithatha took pity and said to him “Workship Iswara. What is mine is mine and yours is yours”. The significance is that if one wanted to attain salvation, it was only through worship of Shiva and that he had nothing to offer. His sniffing at ‘bondas’ indicated his disdain for earthly desires.
When he was staying near Kuruvanahalla Mallappa’s Hill one Lakshmamma and Yelagonde Basappa used to take food to him. A big wooden plank had been given to the Swamiji by a devotee. He offered is as a blessing to Basappa. His position improved. This is what Basappa himself has said. Great men are like that and we need not go to the whys and wherefores of this.
It was the monsoon season. Shri Yerrithatha was moving about in that area. Even when his body was covered with straws and other rubbish after a big storm, the Swamiji used to be unmindful. On one occasion, it so happened that a cobra coiled ifself round his body, raised its hood and appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary – just as the Swami was.
Not being aware of anything in particular, the Swamiji used to feed on anything and everything. The street-dogs and crows used to swarm around and join him. He share his food with them and felt supremely happy in their company. There is nothing intrinsically mean or small when the whole world is enveloped with the effulgence of Shiva. When one himself is an incarnation n of Shiva, there are no obstacles.
It was been said earlier that the Swami was out of ordinary. He did not care for his outward appearance or was he mindful of the cloth he was wearing, though he radiated light on all that came near him.
His face, which was of unusual beauty, only reflected the inner charm which came to him as a result of deep meditation. Here was a perfected soul with excellences abounding. Of his physical features, to use the picturesque phraseology of Sri Joladarasi Doddanagowda himself reputed Kannada poet and writer,
“The Swami had a tall stature, a body of golden colour shining with a rare brightness, long locks of hair, a pointed beard, a large forehead, thick eyebrows, a penetrating sight which could captivate the hearts of the onlookers, a well shaped nose, lips of deep red, faintly visible from out of his moustache and beard, an unblemished neck, a broad chest, long arms, coiled nails and in short, was a person of ineffable splendour in whichever posture he was seen, whether standing or walking or leaning or sleeping”.
The Swami left his moral coil at 10 O’clock in the morning on the fourth day of the month of Jyesta suddha in the year of Dundhubhi corresponding to 1922 AD. Thus ended the earthly life of the Swami, but he remains immortal in the hearts of his innumerable devotees. His spirit knows no death.
At the time of his passing away, he asked the people near him to call the Daffedar to bring water. Here “Daffedar” means Chakubande Karibasiah which was the name given to him by the Swami. When the Daffedar brought water, Sri Yerrithatha drank it uttering the words “SHIVA SHIVA” and became one with Shiva. He died suffering no pain or fatigue. His body lay in state for three days covered with robes, sacred beads, rosaries, flowers and incense.
People from all parts came to pay their last respects to him. Bhajans went on and the walls of the Mutt resounded with the holy words of “Jaya Namaha Parvatipathi Hara Hara Majadev” and “Nama Shivaya OM Nama Shivaya”.
People in their thousands came, broke coconuts, burnt camphor, amidst the flourishing of trumpets, the beating of drums and the music of pipes.
Though the Swamiji lived for 100 years, there was not a wrinkle on his face. His appearance remained as radiant as when he was alive. His ‘darshan’ inspired the devotees to everlasting devotion. He was the very embodiment of Lord Shiva.
Shri Thikkayya with uncanny foresight had constructed a beautiful “Samadhi” for the Swamiji during his life-time. Amidst the chanting of hymns and music, the Swamiji’s body was taken to his final resting place which was filled with rosaries and sanctified ash tablets.
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