Appa at Malenahalli

Maalapurastham Tripurarimitram, Kaumodakee Nandaka Chakrapanim
Bhaktha priyam Shankaralingrupam, Sri Ranganatham Sharanam prapadye
"Sri Ranganatha, Dweller of Malapura, Friend of Shiva, Weilder of Kaumodaki, Nandaka, Sharnga, Sudarshana, Lover of your devotees, Verily my Guru Shankaralinga, I bow to thee."
So runs a prayer to Lord Ranganatha of Malenahalli.
The Ranganatha temple at Malenahalli is a thousand years old. The sixth Chalukya Vikramaditya's subordinate ruler had donated a field to the deity. Lord Ranganatha was the Ishta & Kuladevata of Shankaralinga. After the seventh Aradhana Saptaha at Nulenur, Appa came to Malenahalli Lakshmi Temple. When people from far off places came to invite him, he said. "Chidambara is not moving out of the premises"

The Temple complex was in shambles. Ashwatha tree had arisen on the tower of the Ranganatha temple. Thick vegetation had grown up all around. Outside the premises a thick thorny forest had sprung up. Wild beasts like leopards were reported to have been seen in the temple premises. Nobody dared to go there after 3 PM. Gopalappa a cousin of Appa had told him "Ranganna you are a Godly person. You have to renovate the temple. Otherwise it will fall down and the blemish will come upon our family" The villagers of Malenahalli had also requested him to renovate the temple. So, Appa said "we will reside here until the renovation is over. We have no money and we are not asking anyone to contribute.

The villagers said "How can the work be completed" Appa "We are requesting Lakshmidevi regarding this. As this is the service of her husband, she has to find a way." And so did it happen. A woman by name Lakshmamma came and told Appa "Yesterday Halli Ranga (affectionate name for Lord Ranganatha of Malenahalli) had come in my dream along with you. He said that He had come as You. My husband had reserved some money for constructing a small dam. Ranganatha asked me to give it all to you." So saying, she gave all the money for the renovaton of the temple. The villagers of Malenahalli volunteered to work in shifts, without remuneration. Mallappa of Rangapur donated a pulley. Four workers from Tamilnadu, adept in building temples, came on their own accord and agreed to work.

Materials were supplied voluntarily. Being Chidambara's own place, food was prepared aplenty and supplied to all. The dilapidated temple was dismantled within twelve days. The workers went to Tamilnadu for a few days and returned. The rebuilding took only thirteen days. Two instances are worth recording here: While the rebuilding was taking place, a big stone slab was falling down. It could have caused the death of many men. But Appa asked them not to panic and the slab stayed up in the air, until all were out of danger!!! Once the workers asked for weekly wages and Appa said "we are Sadhus without any money." The workers were perplexed. It was late in the day and they had to go to Santey (weekly Bazaar). At that time two strangers came running, gave exactly the amount required and ran away.

It was the time of World War II. Rationing of food grains was in effect. Appa strictly enforced the use of Ragi in His Ashrama. He arranged for two looms to attain self sufficiency in clothing. Once, the Deputy Commissioner of Chitradurga district visited Malenahalli and saw the renovation work.. He was profoundly influenced by Appa. He said "I will give all help that you can get from the Government." Appa replied "Ours is Rama's government, which needs no help from anywhere. It is self sufficient”. Appa was least interested in the news of this world (Lokavarta). He had a great freedom fighter of India as his disciple. Once, the government ordered his arrest. The Circle Inspector and Head Constable of Holalkere came to Nulenur to arrest him. He was sitting in front of Appa, listening to his words. The policemen could not spot him. They searched the Ashram and the nearby fields and went empty handed.

In 1945, the Lakshmi Temple was built and a new Varalakshmi statue installed. Appa prayed to Lakshmi "Amba (Mother) protect our Shishyas.” Another small temple was built for Maruthi and Ganapathi. A Chidambareshwar temple was constructed opposite this temple. A yogamandira was built to the right side of the main gate. Another house was built behind the main temple for residence. A small chariot was built for Rathotsava (Car festival). The Rathotsava was arranged on Ratha Sapthami. Rajanna had learnt Vedic hymns for that purpose. But when the chariot was to start, Bhutanatha obstructed. He told Appa "you have to sit in the Ratha along with the utsavamurthy of Ranganatha." Appa said "He is the Lord of 14 worlds and I am his humble servant. How can I sit along with Him?" He convinced Bhutanatha, to allow the Rathotsava, by installing the Padukas of Sri Shankara Bhagavan.

Appa went to Hampi in 1944. On the way he visited the Samadhi of his Parama Guru Sri Sahajananda at Koragal. (Now the Samadhi is submerged in the waters of Tungabhadra dam) Appa went to Hampi in 1944. On the way, he visited the Samadhi of his Parama Guru Sri Sahajananda at Koragal. (Now the Samadhi is submerged in the waters of Tungabhadra dam). At Hampi, Appa celebrated Aradhana Sapthaha of Ajja. He arranged for a special puja of Sri Virupaksha Swamy, Pampambika and Bhuvaneshwari. One day, while he was returning from Tungabhadra River after bath, his body was attacked by malaria. The party stayed at Hampi for a fortnight, went to Tippapura, worshiped the Samadhi of Sri Shankara Bhagavan and returned to Malenahalli. The malaria attack became severe and one night, he asked his three disciples to stand at the door of his room singing Bhajan and not to enter the room unless expressly asked by him.

In the middle of the night the three disciples heard a conversation between Appa and Lord Yama. After that Appa asked the shishyas to bring a big utensil. He spat the phlegm and asked one of them to bury it in the earth. He asked them to shift him to Yoga Mandira before Sunrise. Once during a Rathotsava Bhimanna, Son of Gundappa passed away. Appa asked Gundappa to participate to Rathotsava, went to Bhimanna applied some Bhasma to his body, covered it with a cloth and said "Bhima, you have slept for long. Enough of it, you wake up". Bheemanna sat up as if waking up from a deep sleep. There in is a message to all his shisyas. We have been sleeping in jeevabhava and it is high time for us to wake up.

Many are the miracles which happened during his stay at Malenahalli. One of his Shisyas was accused by the Bhadravathi municipality of misappropriating funds. Everyone who came to the court said "we have not given any money to him.” He was absolved of the charges. One Mrs. Lakshmidevamma, alias Papakka, followed Appas instructions, performed Seva to Audumbara and got a child after 25yrs of married life. Appa once told Ramaswamy, his son "we got Ashtasiddhis while very young, and then these siddhis began troubling us. They said "use us". But soon we joined Guru Sampradaya. Those who exhibit siddhis cannot attain Brahmajnana. The people are not satisfied with any amount of miracles, for, greed has no end. In Guru Sampradaya these Siddhis are utilized to help shishyas. At Malenahalli, Rajanna, Kittanna and Satyamma Shetty were serving Appa. Venkanna, of Hadadi, gave up his business and came to Appa who gave him protection.

Bapu Dixit of Gurlahosur came to Malenahalli and resided for some time. Govindappa a Patel from Hanumali (about whom we have spoken earlier) came to Appa and cried "my son is in his twenties, but has lost both his legs". Appa specified him to leave his son Eshwarappa at Malenahalli for twenty one days. Even on the twenty first day, the patient couldn't stand up. In the evening Appa came to him and said "Eshwara, getup and go round the temple thrice" hearing this he recovered his legs.

Excerpts from Appa’s letters to His Shishyas:

(1) We are very happy to notice your happiness which you experience when you remember Us. We hope that this develops into a state of Ananda.
(2) Guru has no other work. He resides in your heart in Awoken, Dream and Deep sleep states and gives bliss.
(3) To those Bhaktas who believe (and act accordingly) that Guru is Parabrahma and there is nothing greater than him, Datta the great Guru, sanctions greater achievement in Sadhana. We pray to Him accordingly. As steadfast bhakti and Universal love increases the end product is Brahmananda.

Certain people requested Appa to assume Sanyasa. Appa replied "there is no necessisity of Sanyasa to us. Also, where can we find saints like my Gurus ShankaraBhagavan and Dattarajayogendra? Therefore, if Jagadguru Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamy sends his sanction and blessings, Danda, Kamandalu and Sheshavastra, We will assume sanyasa." Within a week, Sringeri Mahasannidhana sent the letter of assent, Danda, Kamandalu and sheshvastra to Malenahalli through Sri Sri Krishnananda Saraswati.

Letters, informing of Appa assuming sanyasa, were dispatched to all devotees and they gathered at Malenahalli in large numbers. Kushmanda Homa and Atma Shraddha were performed by Appa. Viraja homa was performed on 5-5-46, and He assumed Sanyasa Ashrama on vaishaka suddha panchami (6-5-46) i.e. on Shankarajayanti. He assumed the name of Sri Shankaralinga Bhagavan Saraswathi Paramahamsa. He addressed his followers in the Mukha Mantapa of Ranganatha temple. He followed Sanyasa vidhi for a year and performed danda tyaga at Harihar.

He visited Bangalore in 1947. He had a visitor who asked for his guidance. He was a follower of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He said that Paramahamsa had appeared in his dreams and said that He was in the form of Appa. He had asked him to take guidance from Appa. Appa visited R. Krishnaswamy Iyer on his request and stayed there for a night. (R.Krishnaswami Iyer was a follower and biographer of Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasannidhanam, Jagadguru of Sringeri) He visited Mysore and Bowringpet where Sri Puttaswamaiah, His bhakta, resided. He gave the statues of Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sitadevi to Appa. They were brought to Malenahalli. Appa got a befitting statue of Sri Anjaneya made. In May 1949, Appa handed over the responsibility of Sri Lakshmi Ranganatha Ashrama to Rajanna, and left on a small bullock cart. He stayed at Chitradurga, Sirigere and Heggere near Bharamasagara. He asked Chayanna to plant a sapling of Audumbara at Heggere, and said that if it grew into a big tree, he would build an Ashrama there. (But the sapling withered). The journey continued. He visited Nirthadi, Davangere, Tumbigere, Hadadi, Miyapur, and Kaadaranahalli on his way to Kandagal where Lakshmana Rao (Achanna) was working.

He reached Komaranahalli on 27-8-1950, and stayed at the Dharmashala behind the temple. He gave an application to the Tahasildhar of Harihar for sanction of a place to build an Ashrama and continued his journey. He visited Kukkavada and gave Subbanna, his disciple, the antima darshana. He visited Bommenahalli and stayed in the Anjaneya temple for three days. He asked Shanubhog Shankarappa to renovate the temple. He visited Mallapur and performed Gurupaduka Pratishta there. He also visited Mustur where he bestowed Anugraha on Musturappa, a yogi. He took Appa to Konachagal a place associated with the name of Mahalingaranga, author of the famous Anubhavaamritha. He stayed at Bommagatte where there is a famous temple of Anjaneya.
Appa visited Lakkavalli, Sampura, Bagur and Ajjampur. At Ajjampur Mahalingappa, a Shisya of Ajja, was overjoyed to see Appa and conversed with him about Ajja and Vedantha. Appa came to Bhadravati and resided at Puttanna's house. Hundreds of people came to meet him on the day before He started his journey from Puttanna’s house. 10 seru (seru is a measure for volume. Approx 1 seru = 1.5 Kgs of rice) rice fed approximately 1000 men!!! From Bhadravati he went to Kudali. There Sri Ramanarayana Avadhani performed paadapuja at his house. Jagannatha Sastry and Ananthaiah of Kudali visited him at Chintamani Narasimha Devalaya. Appa blessed them. Shastry became a noted author and Anantaiah (Anand) a famous painter. From there he went to Komaranahalli and Harihara.

Sri Venkatachalaiah, known as Avadhutha of Sakharayapatna, came to Komaranahalli to meet Appa. As he was not there he went to Harihara and took darshan. Appa told him "you have to bear a heavy burden in future". That has come true as he is taking care of numerous shishyas.
Just prior to Navaratri (1951), he went to Pandarahalli to look after the Astabandha Mahotsava of Sri Ranganatha. There he blessed Chayanna and Subbanna of Bharamasagara.
When Appa came to Malenahalli, Appa had transcended thuryavastha. Akhanda bodha (Non-stop discourse on Brahma) which lasted for seven to eight years, Saptaha seva and Bhajana Bhiksha stopped. He said "hereafter I will teach only those who ask me". Anandini is a state where Atmananda gushes up like boiled milk. Thurya is compared to spilling of the milk. Appa was in thuryateetha avastha when he came to Malenahalli. When one attains trupti (fulfillment) with thuryananda, He becomes Thuryatheetha. It is the natural state of Atmajnani. A thuryateetha is Jeevanmuktha. This state is exceedingly sacred (paramapaavana) and one is Atmarama in this state (He resides in Atma). Even Hiranyagrabha Brahma has not attained this state. A Thuryateetha is also called a Shaanthatma (experiences profound Ananda of Brahma). A thuryateetha seems to possess a body, but he is really akhanda Parabrahma, above the three gunas. When compared to this Ananda all the glories, riches, powers of this world are as insipid as a finger dipped in water.

The health of his body was deteriorated and all his followers were much concerned about it. But Appa said to them the disease is for the body only and Sri Guru, Satchidananda is untouched by it. Guru cannot be annihilated. He is pure love. He has no ailments'.
He told his followers "Indulge in Namajapa always. Gurubhakti should be perennial. You offer all your happiness and Sorrows to Athmarama”.
Appa who was a Shanthama like yagnavalkya and Narada said. "Guru is like your mother. He never leaves you. Having total belief in Guru is enough. Your belief and Bhakti will protect you. We served our Guru. He benevolently showered kripa on us. You partook in our Thuryananda. Ajjas blessings are always with you".