This event took place when Sripada was only of 6 years old.
Dattananda was a stammerer from his childhood. Every one used to mimic and make fun of him. Added to this, he had developed a strange disease, ( it is now known as Progeria, accelerated aging disease) which became chronic when he was five years old. At the age of 5 he appeared as an old man of 50 years with grey hair, wrinkles, suffered fatigue and quick exhaustion. His parents were informed about the divine play of Sripada and that a great yagna would be performed in Pithikapuram under the supervision of Sri Bapanaryulu.
So they went to Pithikapuram. Each Brahmin family there had been allocated with a particular task of Yagna. Accordingly Ghee was collected for Yagna by some and was kept under the safe custody of an old Brahmin who was a greedy-miser like your Uncle Scrooge. He stealthily took one fourth of ghee for himself and sent the remaining portion to Yagnashala. Yagna was started. While offering the ghee to the deities, Brahmins felt that the quantity of ghee would not be sufficient to complete the yagna. To collect the ghee on the very spot was an impossible task. Such an obstacle in the performance of yagna was considered as an ill-omen by one and all. Sripada called the old Brahmin and asked him to scribe on aPalmyraleaf, “Mother Ganges! Provide us with Ghee required to complete the yagna. My grandfather Sri Venkatappayya Sreshthi will clear your debt. This is an order of Sripada”. Four Brahmins accompanied the old Brahmin, taking the written message of Sripada to ‘Padagaya Tirth’. They dropped the letter into theGangesand filled the pots with water. Lo! Behold! The water turned into ghee as soon as it was brought to Yagnashala. Yagna was completed peacefully without any obstacles. As decided earlier, Sreshthi filled those pots with ghee and the ghee turned into water while pouring into the Tirtha.
Dattananda’s father opened his heart to Sripada and requested Him to cure his son. Sripada consoled and gave assurance that he would make his son hail and healthy. Then He called the old Brahmin who was apprehensive and in a dilemma whether to confesses his guilt to Sripada or not.
Sripada asked him to determine an auspicious time to set a house on fire. The Brahmin was scared to death, his wits failed, he murmured in a feeble tone that he never knew such a thing; generally auspicious time is determined for constructing a house but not for burning it. He was wondered whether such an evil task like burning a house might be carried out at an inauspicious time in a day. And he confirmed that inauspicious time was running then.
Sripada exclaimed happily, “Grandpa! What a good news!” and continued, “a deceitful person has stolen a portion of the ghee kept for sacred Yagna. As hunger of fire god is not satiated he will consume the house together with his share of ghee. Lo! Fire god is consuming it and dancing out of joy.” The Brahmin turned as pale as a ghost. He received news that suddenly his house had caught on fire and turned into a heap of ashes.
Sripada ordered him to bring some ash of his burnt house. The old Brahmin realised that appeased Sripada grants boons, while in rage causes destruction. So he quietly brought the ash. Sripada mixed the ash in water and asked Dattananda to drink it continuously for three days. To every one’s awe he became quite normal on the fourth day without the slightest trace of ailment.
Sripada narrated the events of their previous birth: Both Dattananda and the old Brahmin were business partners. Gradually they bred jealousy, disloyalty and plotted to kill each other. Dattananda administered poison to his friend mixing it in Kheer, and exactly at the same time some of the labourers hired by the partner set Dattananda’s house on fire. As a result of their evil deeds Dattananda suffered with the strange disease while the partner’s house was burnt down to ashes in this birth
Sripada with his immense grace liberated both of them off their bad karma. The old man had turned over a new leaf becoming honest, loyal and a great devotee of Sriapada. Sri Narasimha Varma built a new house for the old Brahmin. Dattananda became a great scholar.
The author says that the very presence of the Almighty does make a lot of difference in any work and he substantiates it saying that due to the presence of Lord Krishna the Kurukshetra War transformed into a sacred Yagna. On the contrary, Yagna performed by the King Daksha turned into a battle field as Lord Shiva was not invited. The intricacies of Dharma should be understood in both these events.
Have you realized that the Almighty can do and undo anything and can cure any disease provided you surrender unto Him in full faith.