Eknath was the grandson of Sant Bhanudas. Vitthal was their family deity and Eknath also worshiped Vitthal from childhood. As Eknath was born in a family of saints he inherited bhakthi towards Vitthal from his family members. He learnt the sastras from his father till he was about 12. He then wanted to go to a Sadguru and learn sastras under him. Eknath wanted to get a good guru and prayed Vitthal to guide him to one. Vitthobha then came in his dream and asked him to request Janardhana Swami to be his guru. Janadhana Swami was a great yogi; he had his ashram in a forest. Eknath felt that if he informs his parents they will not let him go and so one day went to Janardhana Swami’s ashram with out informing them. He joined the ashram and started serving his guru. He served his Sadguru for 12 years. There were several kids like him who had joined the ashram. Some came to study the sastras and were studying them, some came to study Yogabyasam like Yamam, Niyamam, Aasanam, Pranayamam and they studied that. Some were given manthropadesams and they chanted the mantras. Students who learnt the sastras took permission from the guru and left him once they learnt it well enough so that they could go to the outside world and do discourses. Students who learnt Yogabyasam took leave of their guru once they realised that they had now got the siddhi. Those who took manthropadesam from him also took leave of him after realization of those gods. While so many students joined the ashram, learnt what they wanted and left, Eknath was just serving his Guru. Janardhana Swami also dint teach him anything and just asked him to take care of the ashram. Eknath’s daily work was that he would get up early in the morning clean the ashram, milk the cows, take care of the visitors, make food for the sadhus, buy provisions from the village, take care of his gurus requirements and then check the accounts before going to sleep in the night. He has only been doing this for the last 12 years in this ashram.
One night, Eknath was checking the accounts as usual. He found that there was 1 paisa missing in the account and he had excess in hand. He was breaking his head to find out what happened. This was because he felt all the work he was doing in the ashram was Guru seva and that he should be correct in that. As he was awake till late in the night, his guru came to see what he was doing. Eknath dint even realize that his guru was standing behind as he was thinking deeply about reconciling the accounts. Janardhana swami understood that he is checking accounts and went back to his place. He again came at mid night to see if he was done with it, but saw that he was still working on it and went back. Around 2am Eknath emotionally shouted “Gurunatha, I found it” as he had reconciled the accounts. Janardhana Swami immediately got up and went to him and asked him what he had seen. Eknath immediately apologized for waking him up and said that an entry for 1 paisa was missing and that he had found it. As soon as the Guru heard this, his eyes were filled with tears and told him that there were so many sishyas who had come here and found so many great things and after serving me for 12 years you are happy that you have found 1 paisa. Janardhana Swami then said that he is now indebted to him for having taken care of him and the ashram for all these years. He then went back to sleep. Janradhana Swami’s deity was Dattatreya and he requested him to give darshan to Eknath and Dattatreya agreed to his request. The next day Eknath went to Godhavari River to have his bath as usual. After completing his bath he would bring water from the river to the ashram. On his way back Dattatreya gave him his darshan in godly form. The four Vedas stood next to him as 4 dogs. Dharma devata stood behind him as a bull. Eknath on seeing him prostrated to him. Dattatreya then blessed him and Eknath came back to the ashram and started doing his work as usual. Janardhana Swami came and saw what Eknath was doing and he found him boiling the milk. He then thought that he doesn’t look like someone who has had the darshan of god. The state of a person who has realised and seen god would be different and they would be in deep meditation, sometimes crying or smiling and would not look like normal persons to the outside world. Janardhana Swami was now wondering if god had given him darshan or not. Janardhana Swami was now really confused and asked Eknath if had seen anything this morning. Eknath then told him that when he was returning from the river he saw his guru’s deity standing under the tree and that he had worshiped him. Janardhana Swami was further perplexed and told him that there are so many rishis trying to realize god for so many janmas and after having realized god how he could continue with his regular work. Eknath then replied to him that his Guru was everything to him and that he was happy to see this form of god rather than the form he saw in the morning. Hearing this Janardhana Swami was moved. Janardhana swami then asked him to go back to his parents, get married and lead a family life. Eknath hesitated as he dint want to leave his guru but Janardhana Swami told him that he would realize his presence wherever he was. This consoled Eknath and he returned home.
Eknath reached home and his parents were very happy to see him again. He then told them that he went to be a student of Janardhana Swami and that he has now asked him to get married and serve his parents. Eknath then got married and lived with his family. He would spend his day in the service of god. He translated a lot of Sanskrit books in Marathi for the common man to read. Eknath Bagavatham and Eknath Ramayan are even today available and are being widely read in Maharashtra. He conducted discourses every day about god. In the evening he would perform bhajans and kirtans. He has also composed several abhangs. He also sang about saints like Namdev, Gyaneshwar and Janabai. He would invite sadhus to his house for food every day, give them food and only then have his food. As his family was rich he dint have to go for any work and would devote all his time to the service of Vitthal. Eknath’s neighbour was envious with him and was saying everyone that he dint know Sanskrit and was scribbling something in Marathi with out knowing about the grandhas that he is writing about. Eknath never bothered about what others said and would continue to do his work thinking it was Vitthal’s leela. Once while writing about Uddhava in Bagavatha he got in to a transcendental state and fell down. His neighbour saw him in an unconscious state with a note about Uddhava in his hand. He immediately understood that he had underestimated Eknath and waited for him to come back to consciousness and apologised to him and asked him to make him his sishya.
One day when he was reading Bagavatha a 12 year old boy came to him, prostrated to him and asked him to make him his sishya as he wanted to learn the Vedas from him. Eknath asked him who he was and where does he come from. He replied to him that his parents were no more and that he considered Eknath as his mother, father, Guru and God. He said that he was from Dwaraka and his name was Kandiya Krishnan. Eknath accepted him as his sishya and looked after him as his own son. Krishnan was very smart and a learnt everything easily. He took care of all the needs of his guru and served him well. He did all service to his guru right from washing his clothes, cleaning his pooja vessels, cleaning his pooja room, preparing garlands for his god etc. He would also serve his Guru matha by getting vegetable from the market, bringing water from Godhavari etc.
One day Eknath was performing his ancestral rituals. Two outcastes happened to pass by his house and understood that a feast was being prepared. They were discussing that it would be good if they could get this food. Eknath on listening to these discussions called them and gave them the food that was being prepared. They were happy with him, thanked him and then left. The other Brahmans who had come for the ceremony left the place on seeing this. All Brahmans in the village on seeing this started speaking ill about him for giving the food that was prepared for ancestral ceremony to some outcastes before completing the ceremony. They all spoke to each other and decided that Eknath should be punished for this deed of his. All the Brahmans in the village then came to Eknath and asked him how he could do this in spite of learning sastras. Eknath then said that, he gave them food as they were hungry and that hunger doesn’t have any caste difference and hence decided to feed them. He also said that the sastras say that annadhanam can be given to anyone and that there was no caste discretion on that. They then said that none of the Brahmans in the village would mingle with him and not have any contact with him and his family from now on. Eknath now had to prepare food again for the ceremony and perform the ceremony. Eknath was now worried that he would not be able to feed the Brahmans after the ritual is over as no one would come to his house now. Kandiya Krishnan then told Eknath that if Brahmans were not available the sastras say that they could give it to kurcham (a type of holy dried grass used in religious ceremonies) Eknath then started performing the rituals and when he kept the 1st kurcham, Vitthal came and sat down to have the food. As soon as he came other gods and his forefathers who were called during the ceremony came down and took the food directly. Kandiya Krishnan was watching all these happening and smiling at Eknath. Once it got over, they blessed Eknath by reciting holy mantras and disappeared. His neighbours heard the chanting of holy mantras and thought that some Brahmans from neighbouring villages would have come without knowing what had happened with Eknath and were waiting for them to come out of the house so that they could warn them and advice them not to go to his house. After some time Eknath came out of the house. The Brahmans asked him who had come for the lunch and he was quiet. They then said that they heard some people reciting some mantras. Kandiya Krishnan then asked them what their problem was and said that no one had come. The Brahmans then left and thought that Eknath and Krishnan would have chanted the mantras in some different voices to fool them. It was almost one year since they had given this punishment to Eknath. He then went to the Bhraman Samaj and said that he was ready to do whatever pariharam (doing penance) to clear the mistake he had done by feeding the outcastes. The Brahmans then told him that they would discuss among themselves and come back to him on the same. They got together and started preparing a list of things to be done as per their wish. One said that he has to make a gold cow and gift it to some one. Another one said he has to gift land and another said he has to gift a house. Like this each one came up with whatever they wished and this list was given to Eknath. Eknath then felt that he would use all his wealth and perform the list of pariharams given by the Brahmans. The Brahmans were now happy that Eknath will now gift all his wealth to them and Kandiya Krishnan was thinking how teach them a lesson. Krishnan tried to tell his Guru that they were cheating him and planning to acquire all his wealth in the name of pariharam, but did not agree. The Brahmans were performing the rituals and Eknath was doing the sankalpam. It was noon and a leper came enquiring about Eknath. The Brahmans stopped him and asked him who he was. He said that he came from Triambakeshwar and wanted to see him. They then asked him why he wanted to see him. The leper said that he had come to do some praiharam from him. The Brahmans then told him that they were doing pariharam even for Eknath and asked the leper to do it from them. The leper then said that they would not be able to do it for him and only Eknath could perform prayachittam for him. The leper said that he has done several pariharams from many people and had taken holy dips in many holy rivers but nothing had cured his leprosy. Just then Krishnan came and asked him what happened. The leper said that he went to Triambakeshwar and prayed to Lord Shiva. He said that he then asked him to cure his leprosy failing which he will commit suicide by jumping in the Godhavari River. He then said that Lord Shiva came in his dream and asked him to take the paada theertham (water taken by cleaning the feet of saints) of Eknath and that it was the only cure for him. As soon as he said this, Krishnan told him that it was his Guru whom he was mentioning and took him to Eknath. The ceremonies were still going on and the leper asked Eknath for his paada theertham. Eknath then told him that he was not such a great person and refused his request. The leper then told him that it was Lord Triambakeshwarar who had asked him to do this and that he should not refuse. When Eknath heard that it was the wish of Lord Shiva he agreed to it. The leper then performed paadha pooja for Eknath and consumed the water. As soon as he drank this water his body became normal and leprosy had vanished. The Brahmans there astonished to see this. Krishnan then looked at the Brahmans and asked if they at least now understood the greatness of Eknath. The Brahmans now dint have the guts to continue with these pariharams they were doing and Krishnan was happy that Eknath’s wealth was saved.
There was a Brahman who was very pious. He set out on a yatra to visit all the holy places and wherever he went the deity in that temple would speak to him because of his bhakthi. One day he went to Dwaraka, the deity here (Kalyanarayar) did not give him darshan or speak to him. He felt that Kalyanarayar was not there and it was only the statue that was there. After sometime he thought that he dint have enough bhakthi and that is why god did not speak to him. He decided to be on fast till he gets a reply form him. After fasting for 12 days, Lord Krishna came on his dream and said that he was in Prathistanapuram (now Paithan) doing service to Eknath as his sishya for the past 12 years. He then told him that he can have his darshan if he comes there. He also asked him to do service to Eknath instead of wandering all over India. The next morning the Brahman got up and started going to Prathistanapuram. He reached Paithan and enquired where Eknath’s house was and came to meet him. Eknath was reading Srimad Bhagavadam, the Brahman prostrated to him and asked him where Krishna was. Eknath thought that he was asking about Kandiya Krishnan and told him that he has gone to Godhavari and would be back soon. Eknath thought that the Brahman was related to Krishnan and had come to see him. He also asked him to be seated till he comes back. Krishnan then returned from Godhavari with some water but did not say anything to the Brahaman. Eknath was surprised why both of them dint recognize each other. He then asked the Brahman if he saw Krishnan going inside the house. The Brahman then told him that he was looking for Lord Krishna and not this Krishnan and also explained to him what had happened to him in Dwaraka. Eknath on hearing this ran in to the house searching for Kandiya Krishnan but only the vessels in which he fetched water were there but Krishnan had disappeared. He searched for him all over the house and started crying. He cursed himself for not being able to recognize god when he was there with him. He could not perform any work as everything reminded him of Krishnan only. He went to a Samadhi state and was thinking only about god. The Brahman who came now started serving Eknath.
One day Eknath decided to go on a yatra and he set out on a yatra with few others who joined him. They went to places like Kasi, Prayagai, Vrindavan, Ayodha, Mathura etc. Eknath performed Bhajans and pravachans wherever he went. When the finished the yatra and returning to Paithan with Ganga theertham, they got stuck in a place where there was no water and all of them were thirsty. Even though they had water in hand they did not use that as it was Ganga theertham and that it was supposed to be used only for religious purpose and not for quenching thirst. They then found a donkey lying down in an unconscious state due to thirst and heat. Seeing the donkey dying Eknath felt bad and moved forward to give his Ganga theertham to it so as to prevent it from dying. The others who were with him said that he should not do that as this water was supposed to be used only for religious purpose. Eknath then said that there was no better deed that saving the life of someone and that he would give it to the donkey and save it from death. Hearing this, the others left him behind and started moving forward as they dint approve of his action. Eknath then gave the water to the donkey. As Eknath was feeding the donkey it turned out to be Vitthal. He then prostrated to Vitthal and asked him why he did this leela. Vitthal then told him that he wanted to show the world that Eknath sees every living being in this world as Vitthal and hence did this leela. Eknath then returned back home.
One day a group of people were gambling. A small fight began within them and they started fighting within themselves. One of them tried to stop the fight and asked them not to get angry and fight among themselves. One of them immediately replied that he was not Eknath to be calm and collected and never to get angry for anything. One of them listening to this asked if Eknath really will not get angry for anything. All others said that even the sun may rise in the west but Eknath will never get angry. He then said that if someone doesn’t get angry then he is not human. The others then said that he was not human and that he was god. The guy then betted the whole money they were gambling and said that he would make him angry. The gambler who had betted, had a house near the banks of Godhavari. He went home and the next morning he was waiting for Eknath to come to Godhavari to have his bath. Eknath had his bath and was returning back. The gambler was chewing pan and spited on his head from the terrace of his house on Eknath. Eknath dint even bother to look up to see him, nor did he shout at him and he went back to Godhavari to bath again. When he came back the gambler again spit the pawn on him. Eknath still dint say anything and went back to bath again. Eknath would clean himself and come and the gambler would spit on him, this happened several times and by noon the gambler had finished his entire pan and was also tired standing in the terrace and spiting. Now the gambler came down and was waiting for Eknath to come. This time when Eknath was going back from the river the gambler blocked him and asked him how he had so much of patience and that why he did not get angry with him when he has been spiting on him since morning. Eknath then replied to him that he came to Godhavari to clean his body before performing pooja to god. He also said that one should perform pooja with clean body and mind. When he spited on him, he only dirtied his body and went back to clean it. He then said that if he had got angry and shouted at him, his mind would have become dirty and that it would be even more difficult to clean his mind than cleaning his body. The gambler was moved hearing this and said that he had read about this but never seen this in practice.