Despite learning all the Shastras, Eknath could not experience inner peace. He wondered, “What’s the use of knowing so much of Vedanta, when it cannot lend me peace of mind?” He contemplated over the moot question as to what do the scriptures proclaim in regard to enjoying inner peace and bliss. A sincere analysis could make him catch hold of the essence of the scriptures. It was to take the shelter of a Guru and serve him one-pointedly.
Eknath’s deep and sincere desire to have a perfect Guru, as proclaimed by the scriptures, brought him a divine inspiration. Lord Panduranga directed him in his dream to Saint Janardhanaswami who was the Perfect Master of the time.
Following the Lord’s direction, Ekanath went to Janardhanaswami Ji. His motive was only one… to serve his Guru with single-pointed devotion! These words, which he had grasped as an essential message of the holy texts, no longer remained mere words for him; they, rather, became his life. Day and night, he remembered only one thing… Serving the beloved Master! He washed the clothes of the Guru, cleaned the ashram, looked after the accounts/expenses of the Ashram, made sure that whatever Guru needed was ready beforehand, etc. All this continued for twelve long years!
During these twelve years, many people visited the Ashram. The Guru blessed all of them with something or the other. Some got their materialistic desires fulfilled, while others became experts in Vedanta. Many were handed over the charge of the essential activities of the Ashram. But, nothing could distract Eknath from his one-pointed focus of serving his Guru. He continued to do his work devotedly, without any expectation in return! He did not even desire his Guru to take notice of his services. He aspired for only one thing– his Guru’s happiness. All through this duration, Janardhanaswami Ji also did not express His care and concern from outside for Eknath. He remained indifferent to him. While the other disciples got His love in abundance, got the chance of sitting near Him, talked to Him for hours together, were trained to handle different portfolios, but not Eknath.
Perhaps, the Guru was tired of testing the determination and surrender of His devotee. Twelve years were long enough to test Eknath. But, Eknath never failed! Neither in his actions nor at the thought level!
But, was Eknath not desirous of salvation also? Did he not wish to attain liberation? After all, that’s what everyone aspires for in return of his worship, isn’t it?
One morning, when Eknath was returning after taking bath in the river, Lord Dattatreya manifested in His full radiance to give darshan to Eknath. Eknath prostrated before the Lord and then returned to the Ashram. The next day also, the Lord stood under the shade of a tree. When Eknath bowed in His feet, the Lord smiled and blessed him by placing His feet on Eknath’s head. But, no exchange of words took place. Eknath simply took his way back to the Ashram. There was no excitement in his heart. On the other hand, in the Ashram, Gurudev was restless and kept moving here and there in his room till Eknath returned. He waited for Eknath, thinking that he would come and narrate his meeting with the Lord. After all, the one who is blessed with the Lord’s darshan, can he control his joy and happiness?
But, it did not happen so. Eknath returned back and resumed his services with utmost dedication and devotion as usual. No excitement reflected from his face and his thoughts either.
The divine play of the Master continued. He asked Eknath, “Did you not receive Lord’s darshan?” Eknath replied with utmost humility, “Yes Gurudev, I did.” Gurudev said, “How can you remain so calm and composed, Eknath? Were you not overwhelmed on seeing the Lord?” Eknath could no longer control his tears. He lay in his Guru’s feet and cried, “O Gurudev! I never desired that! You are my God, my Lord. Then why should someone else overwhelm me? Your happiness means everything to me. Your holy company keeps me alive. I desire only You, Gurudev! Only You!” Saying thus, Eknath wept profusely.
Janardhanaswami embraced His beloved disciple with immense love and affection. He was overjoyed and felt proud for Eknath. Seeing the disciple’s surrender and devotion, even His eyes welled up. He blessed him several times and declared that Eknath’s Guru bhakti would be remembered in all times to come.