A guru is one who can sharpen the intellect of man and guide him in the right path. Acquisition of mere bookish knowledge is no good. It has to be channellized properly. This is proved true in the case of Bhakta Changadev.
Changadev was born to a Brahmin couple Vithobha and Rukmini at Bhima river bed. He lived for more than thousand years. He established a mutt at Tapindi river. He was adept in astanga yogas, animadi siddis and various fields. His knowledge and siddis procured him more than thousand sishyas. His siddi enabled him and his sishyas to move about in air, like birds. He may be a learned man and he may be imparting all his knowledge to his sishyas with all the keenness, but can he justify himself as a guru? How can he acquire the position of a guru without he himself being a sishya to a proper guru? . How can he proclaim to be a knowledgeable person unless he is stamped so by some greater person than him ? Name any scripture - Maha Bharatha, Upanishads or Geetha - it proclaims the need for a proper guru. For that matter God Himself humbled Himself before a guru when He donned the dress of a human being. Rama and Krishna were enlightened by Vasista and Sandeepa! When compared to them where does he stand with his knowledge?
As he probed into the matter thus, he could think of Jnanadev at once who was proclaimed as reincarnation of Lord Pandarinadh. He heard that Santh Jnanadev, with the permission of Pandarinadh was presently residing at Alakapuri.
He decided to send him a message at once on palm leaf, but he was stuck at the very first word ! He was very young compared to him, but was a saint! So should he address him as 'Chiranjeevi' or as sant maharaj? If he addressed him chiranjeevi how could he accept him as his guru? If he addressed him as sant maharaj was not wrong on his part to address a young man thus? Unable to make up his mind, he handed over the blank paper (leaf) to his sishya and asked him to reach it to Jnanadev.
Jnanadev, true to his name could read through the blank paper, the
blankness of the mind of Changadev. His first reactions were of pity!
Is his life not a waste when he has not digested what is in the scriptures
properly? Has he not learnt about the all pervading atma through the
Jagat guru Krishna? Atma is described as an all pervading Chaitanya
without a human form. It is neither big nor small; it is neither a male
nor a female. It doesn't have a form, name or matter. One can see it,
feel it or understand it only through yoga siddi but unfortunately nobody
is able to perceive it proclaimed Krishna himself. If his bookish knowledge
cannot be put into practical co-relation of things, his thousand years
of life, his vast knowledge, his long chain of devotees - all are a
sheer waste like the make up of a widow or the words of wisdom from
a foolish man. Jnanadev could guess he did not have the proper guidance
from a guru. So he sent back a message asking him to seek the all pervading
After imbibing knowledge, Jnanadev led Changadev to his ashram. At the very entrance he came across Muktabai with no clothes on. Changadev felt embarrassed and was about get out of her presence when she accosted him thus 'Oh ignorant man? Why do you avoid me? If you have a proper knowledge of atma, you will see Brahman in everything. Devakanyas were moving around nudely before the nude Suka maharshi, but when they saw Vedavyas, his father, they donned a dress immediately. This surprised Vedavyas !' You did not hesitate to move naked before a young man, why then do you fear an old man like me?' The Devakanyas replied, your son doesn't differentiate between man and woman. He sees atma in everyone. While you don’t!' Can't you see atma thus like Sukha maharshi? You have lived long enough to have acquired sensible knowledge, you are well versed in scriptures and above all you had the teachings of Jnanadev ! Where had all these gone! It is a sheer waste! It's like scent thrown into ashes. The knowledge of Vedas you have learnt will work on your mind only when you give up the impurity of your mind caused due to your desires. Lord Krishna proclaimed in Bhagavad Geetha, 'The first step to acquire knowledge is to stabilize the unstable mind and to have a control over it.' I appeared to be naked before you only to test you, to see the impact of the knowledge imparted by Jnanadev on you. I pray to God for your equanimity of mind.'
Changadev became a transformed man totally. He bowed before Muktabai and said, 'Oh mother! You are really an incarnation of God. Jnanadev has enkindled the fire of knowledge in me and you have made the fire glow with your winds of wisdom. The forest of my Ajnana is destroyed by it. My life purpose is fulfilled. I am very grateful to you!
Jnanadev blessed him on his head with his hand. Changadev acquired the Brahmajnana required and was enlightened. People felt that the very presence of Jnanadev in Alakapuri turned it into Vaikunta or Pandurangapuram. Changadev blessed by Indra sang in praise of Jnanadev as a reincarnation of Pandarinath. Thus Changadev was blessed by Jnanadev and he in turn spread far and wide the greatness of his guru.
There are many instances which speek volumes about his intimacy with Lord Krishna. Once he told a young lady who came to him that she would be blessed with a boy. Ironically she lost her husband and she was on her way to Kasi with her mother-in-law to immerse his ashes into Ganges. But Changadev said that his blessings wouldn't go waste. Accordingly the woman delivered a boy. Changadev named him Vittal. His Upanayanam had to be performed in Pandurangapuram. The Brahmins who were skeptical about his birth refused to perform it. Changadev said he was the blessing of Lord Krishna, but still they were adamant. They argued 'If so, will Lord Krishna attend it?' Changadev answered positively. But they had their own doubts. Just before the rituals they again questioned Changadev. He said 'Yes he had come!' They couldn't believe his statement. They went to the temple to verify. And Lo! God was not there! They ran back to the Chandrabhaganadi and what did they see? God Himself! They carried on their rituals without a second question!
The woman went back home with her son and mother-in-law. The villagers being surprised at the details looked upon them with respect.
On another occasion a yadav pandit of Taruru accompanied Changadev
on his pilgrimage to Pandaripur and Dwarakapur. His wife was pregnant
and was about to deliver. So her husband and her relatives advised against
her trip but she followed her husband secretly, as she reached the forest
near Chandrabhaga river she couldn't move one step ahead. She collapsed
there. 'Oh God! I am about to deliver here all alone with not a single
soul to help me! My husband has gone with Changadev. Only Changadev
can help me'. Her faith in Changadev was not unanswered. Lord Krishna
from Dwarakapur appeared before her as a middle aged woman. She introduced
herself as Krishnabai, She added 'Changadev sent me to help you out
in your critical situation.' When God himself comes down, what is there
to worry about? He created a village and a house in it, took the lady
there. The lady delivered a boy badly and Krishna as Lakshmi bai was
taking Good care of both son and mother.
On another occasion Changadev was consigned by the Lord Vittal to teach a lesson to an untouchable, who was insulting everyone. His name was Mallikarjun. He had a special seat which remained stable when he sat on it, but toppled down if others sat on it. So he asked Changadev to sit on only to laugh at him. But the 'asan' was burnt to ashes by the severe looks of Changadev. This episode frightened Mallikarjun's disciples more than the Guru himself. Mallikarjun was so mean that he named his dog 'Changadev' to give vent to his feelings of jealousy. The disciples were worried at the fate of the dog and so imprisoned him. As they were about to have their food, they wanted to offer food to the sivalingas tied to their necks, but soon! There were no Siva lingas. Changadev laughed and said,' How can you afford to have food when you starve your dog? Unable to bear its hunger it gulped your Sivalingas. They challenged Changadev 'If that is true, make our dog vomit our Sivalingas.' The dog did give forth the Siva lingas to the bewildered disciples. Needless to say, these two incidents brought about a sea change in the Guru and Sishyas.
Once Changadev was meditating in a solitary place in Bidar. One Brahmin approached him and advised him to flee for his life. Bidar was ruled then by a Muslim king who was cruel to sadhus. He would have harmed Changadev by now, but at that time he was brooding over his wife's death. Any moment he might get over that feeling and come out only to be Hitler.
Changadev was nonplussed. He said, 'Don't you worry? I will bring back your king's wife to life. Please convey this message to your king.' The king couldn't believe it, but still did not mind trying it. Changadev made the king put a Tulasi leaf over the dead body of his wife. It worked. The wife came back to life, but she behaved strangely. She was creating a big scene as a devil. The king was frightened, but Changadev made the king ask her 'What do you want?' She answered, 'My dear! You and I should become the disciples of my life saver. If you don't agree, I will not live. That brought a transformation in the king and Changadev advised him to lead a truthful and philanthropic life.
Finally the time was ripe for Changadev to give up his physical body. He pleaded to Vittala in Pandaripur to bless him with an appropriate place for his samadhi. Vittal offered the place beside the pullar where he was standing and promised to visit him on ekadasi day of 'Ashada' masam.
Changadev prayed to God and sat in silence at the place allocated to him. His two sons hastened to see their father. Changadev imparted Shadakshari mantra only to his eldest son and advised him to pray to him regularly and to visit Pandarinath in every Karthik mas. He promised to teach to his younger son at a later date. He then sat silently there praying to God. God came down personally as he was breathing his last. Everybody present there could visualize Changadev's jeevatma joining paramathma. Then devotees present there fulfilled the last rites to Changadev. After 12 years, Changadev rose from his samadhi to do jnanopadesa to his younger son and again merged himself with the Lord. Some of the devotees must have done some good deeds in their lives to be eye witness to such a miracle.
We know that God speaks to us in many ways but the stories of such
saints show us that God speaks to us directly!