Akkalkot Maharaj, recognized by many as an incarnation of Dattatreya, first appeared in Akkalkot in 1856. There he stayed for nearly twenty-two years. When asked about his parentage and childhood, he gave various, sometimes contradictory, answers to inquirers.
One account put forth by deotees asserts that after traveling in the Himalayas, the Swami sat in samadhi for three hundred years in a dense forest. He became completely covered by anthills, and a large tree grew beside him. Once a woodcutter came to the forest and chose that particular tree for cutting. Laying his axe first to the anthill, he was surprised to see blood oozing from it. Pulling down the anthill, he discovered the Swami beneath it.
Roused from samadhi, the Swami declared the incident to be Divinely ordained as it was time for him to go into the world and continue his mission. The Swami is said to have then wandered for a hundred years, performing many miracles, before appearing in Akkalkot.
The Swami was unpredictable, appearing mad to many, and full of miracles. He loved his devotees with a great passion, and like other Adepts of the Crazy Wise style, he was paradoxically full of both human and Divine qualities. Once, when asked who he was, he replied, "I am this infinite universe; I am everywhere. Yet my favorite resorts are Sakyodri, Girnar, Kasi, Mathapur, Karveer, Panchaleswar, Audumbar, Karanjnagar, Narasimhvadi, and Gangapur."