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Tembe Swami – Short Biography

Tembe Swami was a saint belonging to Datta Sampradaya. The Datta Sampradaya developed in Maharashtra, Telangana and in Andhra Pradesh, particularly along the Krishna River Valley. All the holy places of the Datta Sampradaya are found in that area. Vasudevanand Saraswati (or Tembe Swami) popularized this philosophy.

The famous saints of this sampradaya, according to the order given in Sri Dattatreya Dhyankosha are Sri Gorakhnath, Sripad Vallabh, Sri Narasimha Saraswati, Sri Tembe Swami or Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati, Sri Manik Prabhu, Sri Swami Smarth of Akkalkot, Sri Narayana Maharaj Kedgaonkar, Sri Pant Balekundrikar, and Sri Sainath Maharaj of Shirdi.

Tembe Swami was born in the Tembe family Mangaon, in a small village of Konkan area of Maharashtra. From this childhood, he was devoted to Datta Bhakti. He stayed at Narsobawadi for years, where he performed sadhana and Datta upasana. At Narsobawadi, he actually saw Sri Datta Prabhu.

Sri Tembe Swami was popularly known for his typical way of living. He converted Datta upasana into a scientific form and designed the practices as follows – holy saint-like behavior, strict brahmacharya, traditional upasana, sannyasa, japa and tapa.

Tembe Swami took sannyasa deeksha from Narayana Saraswati of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Tembe Swami wrote Datta Mahatmya in 1823 CE, which was later recognized as an important text in the Datta Sampradaya. It contained the biography and holy work of Sri Datta Prabhu and the philosophy of the Datta Sampradaya. The book is written in 5513 ovi lines and gives details regarding the twenty-four gurus. In Datta Sampradaya, the guru has a paramount importance, and all the popular saints of this sampradaya are popularly known as Guru. The Gurus are prithvi (earth), moon, some major animals, and plants. Tempe Swami performed painstaking sadhana by which he got many divine powers, known as siddhis.

A prescribed form of sadhana in Datta Sampradaya is the constant repetition of asvadhut digambar shri gurudeva datta, where it is said that each letter of this recitation has a separate connotation.

Tembe Swami spend his last days in Gujarat and attained Samadhi in Garudeshwar, a holy place on the bank of the Narmada.

The four principles he insisted for his followers are vairagya (complete detachment from maya), digambara avasta (nudity), sannyasa and sadhana.

Though there are three faces of Sri Datta Prabhu, said to represent Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, Tembe Swami performed upasana for only one face, stating that there was no difference between the trinity.