(I worship as the Kalpa-vrksha, and salute as the kAmadhenu the esteemed RaghavEndra who is always engrossed in the true dharma;. He is a brilliant sun who destroys the false arguer, and a moon that casts a mellow light upon the ViShNu bhaktas; salutations to that Guru ShrI RAghavEndra; salutations to the one of extremely kind disposition.)
It is popular belief, based on testimonials from aparOxa gyAnis, that the incarnations of rAyaru are as follows - Sankukarna – PrahlAda – bAhlIka – vyAsa tIrtha –Guru rAyaru (Guru Raghavendra). Let us take a closer look at each person in the lineage.
Sankukarna was a karmaja dEvata assisting chaturmukha brahma in the pUja of the Lord. One day, he was a little late in bringing flowers for the pooja and brahma cursed him to be born on the earth. Obviously this was a pretense since brahma is beyond flaws like anger, greed etc. The real intention of brahma was to pave the way for the incarnation of narasimha and also to show the world the greatness of sankukarna.
The story of prahlAda is very well known and needs no further elaboration. BAhlIka was a very pious king in dvApara yuga. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, but due to circumstances beyond his control he ended up fighting against the pAnDavas. He wanted to die at the hands of bhIma and so challanged him to a fight, but bhIma was reluctant to hurt a devotee of the Lord. BAhLika begged him to kill him so that he could take future births and serve him (bhIma or madhvAchArya) with devotion. BhIma agreed to do that provided bAhlika hit the first blow. When bAhlika did as directed, bhIma hit him gently with his formidable mace. Thus bAhlIka got the death he wanted, a heart full of devotion towards Krishna, and the divine sight of Krishna and bhIma at the time of his death.
BAhlIka was reborn as vyAsa tIrtha, one of the most revered mAdhva saints. He was an excellent writer with several great works to his credit, the chief ones being tAtparya chandrika, tarka tAnDava and nyAyamruta. He was the revered rAjaguru who helped king krishnadEvarAya through several major crisis in his life. He was the jeweler who gave us precious gems like purandara dAsaru and kanakadAsaru, and did invaluable service to the cause of haridAsa sAhitya. Above all, he was a very great devotee of hari and vAyu, who established over 732 hanumanta icons including the famous yantrodhdhAraka temple in hampi, personally worshipped Lord Venkateshwara in tirupati for over 12 years and composed hundreds of devotional songs.
vyAsa tIrtha was reborn as venkaTanAtha (who later became rAyaru), with the special grace of hari and vAyu dEvaru. This belief is based on the testimonial of aparOxa gyAnis and has never been questioned.
ShrI vijaEndra tIrtha and sudhIndra tIrtha:
shrI vyAsa tIrtha had many illustrious disciples, but shri vijayIndra tIrtha was his favorite. VyAsarAyaru was grooming him to be his successor, but destiny willed otherwise. vijayIndraru was handed over to shrI surEndra tIrtharu of vibhudEndra maTha (as it was known then).
Birth and childhood
The fall of the vijayanagar kingdom had an adverse effect on many scholars who depended on royal patronage. Most of them moved south with their families, finding refuge with southern kings and chieftains. One such scholar was Thimmanna Bhatta, grandson of Krishnabhatta, who had tutored King Krishnadevaraya in the veena. Thimmanna belonged to the gautama gOtra and was married to GopikAmba. Initially, this couple had 2 children – GururAja and VenkATamba. Later in 1595, by the grace of Lord Venkateshwara, a third son was born to this couple. They named him VenkaTanAtha (some books refer to him as Venkanna bhatta).
VenkaTanAtha proved to be a very brilliant scholar. This greatness was visible even he was a child. For example, he is supposed to have questioned his father as to how a small object like ‘Om’ could capture the infinite greatness of god. However, his father did not live long enough to see the greatness of his son, he passed away when VenkaTanAtha was still at a very young age.
VenkaTanAtha’s brother took care of his upbringing. The initial portion of his education was under his brother-in-law LakshmInarasimhAchArya of Madurai.
Married life along with continued education
Upon returning from Madurai, VenkaTanAtha was married to Saraswati, who was from a noble family. The Shastras say that for one who has control of his senses, wedded life does not hamper learning. For VenkaTanAtha, most of his learning occurred after marrying Saraswati, through the blessings of Goddess Saraswati. So VenkaTanAtha went to Kumbhakonam, the seat of learning at the time. There he studied dvaita vEdanta, advanced works on grammer and other sastras under sudhIndra tIrtha. He used to stay awake past midnight to write his own comments and notes on the lessons that had been done. He engaged in debate and defeated several scholars of opposing doctrines; one of them was Venkatesvara dIkshita, a famous scholar of the Tanjore court in 1620. Though his victory was not unexpected sudhIndra tIrtha was surprised at his scholarship in grammar, profound knowledge and rare debating skill, and called him "MahAbhAshya VenkaTanAthAchArya". Similarly he explained the significance of taptamudra dhAraNa quoting several smR^iti-s that the opponents had to accept his arguments were irrefutable.
Married Life - utter, dire poverty haunts venkaTanAtha
VenkaTanAtha’s brother arranged for his marriage with saraswathi, a lady from a good family. Saraswathi proved to be an ideal wife to VenkaTanAtha, and the couple had a son whom they named lakshmInArAyaNa.
VenkaTanAtha was a skilled musician and a great scholar, but he never demanded any money for his services and accepted whatever was offered to him. Since this happened very rarely, he had little or no means to support his family and had to endure a life of utter, dire poverty. A description of the hardhips faced by him will melt anybody’s heart. If other families observed EkAdashi twice a month, VenkaTanAtha’s family did that several times in a week. His poverty was so stark that he could not afford a drop of oil to take an oil-bath on a festival day like dIpAvali. His family did not see new clothes for years. Inspite of all this, he never lost his equanimity or wavered in his faith towards the Lord. He continued his self-study, and free teachings, determined to live by whatever came to him unsought and unasked.
Playing with fire - disrespecting a true hari bhakta
VenkaTanAtha once attended a wedding. Since he was poor and not well dressed, the hosts did not treat him well. They thought that he had come for the free food and wanted him to earn his meal. To this end, they asked him to grind sandalwood and generate the paste, to which he readily agreed. Out of habit, he started reciting vedic sUktas while grinding. Soon, the task was done and the paste was handed over to the Brahmins attending the function. When they applied the paste to their bodies, they experienced a strong burning sensation. On further enquiry it was found that unknowingly VenkaTanAtha had recited agni sUkta while grinding the paste. The Brahmins immediately understood that the VenkaTanAtha was a divine personality and his recitation of agni sUkta had invoked the presence of agni in the paste. The host begged VenkaTanAtha for forgiveness and asked him to generate some paste while reciting varuna sUkta. When this paste was applied, the burning subsided. Such was the potency of mantras recited by VenkaTanAtha.
The point to note is that he did not deliberately do this out of anger or sorrow at the host’s disgusting behavior. He took everything with equanimity and did what came naturally to him – pray to the Lord through vedic hymns. It was Divine will that the world at large should learn about the greatness of VenkaTanAtha, and that’s why he ended up reciting agni sUkta.
Return to sudhIndra tIrtha’s care
To add insult to injury, thieves raided VenkaTanAtha’s house one day and looted whatever little he had in terms of vessels, clothes. After this, he decided to seek refuge in shrI sudhIndra tIrtha as there was absolutely no way of maintaining his family.
Entry into asceticism
shrI sudhIndra tIrtha was on the lookout for a suitable successor to carry on the glorious tradition of his maTha. The more he saw of VenkaTanAtha, the greater was his conviction that he was the right successor. One day, he received an indication in his dream that VenkaTanAtha would be the most ideal successor he could get. He was overjoyed and immediately acted upon this suggestion. He communicated his desire to VenkaTanAtha. VenkaTanAtha was on the horns of a dilemma since he was torn between 2 powerful forces – his respect for sudhIndra tIrtha’s words and his responsibilities as a householder. Finally, after great deliberation, he told sudhIndra tIrtha that he could not take up this responsibility as he had a young wife and a son who was yet to undergo upanayanam. sudhIndra tIrtha was disappointed but not disheartened as he knew ultimately Divine will would prevail and VenkaTanAtha would accede to his request.
Becomes sanyAsi after vidyA lakshmi requests him
That night VenkaTanAtha had a very strange dream. Vidya Lakshmi Herself appeared before him and told him, “After feasting on the intellectual treats provided by ShrI MadhvAchArya, jaya tIrtha, vyAsa tIrtha, vAdirAja and others, I am once again starving. The light of tattvavAda created by your beloved shrImadAchArya will be extinguished by the darkness of other philosophies. To prevent this from happening, noble souls like you should shed their material bondage and dedicate themselves to the cause of hari and vAyu. This is both your duty and your destiny. You are a great soul, destined to provide solace and succor to millions of needy people. Accept sudhIndra tIrtha’s request and take up sanyAsa. You are shrI hari’s beloved devotee and this is what He expects from you”. VenkaTanAtha woke up with a start. His dilemmas were resolved and he was sure where his responsibilities lay.
He convinced his wife and communicated his assent to sudhIndra tIrtha. Within a short time, his son LakshmInArAyaNa’s upanayana was performed and everything was set for his entry into asceticism.
Wife becomes ghost, obtains liberation:
The Sanyasa ordination was arranged to take place on the second day of the bright half of PAlguNa mAsa in the year durmati corresponding to the year 1621. The spot chosen was Tanjore, in order to avoid hurting the feelings of VenkaTanAtha’s young wife Saraswati. Finally, the grand day when VenkaTanAtha would relinquish his life as a householder and become a sanyAsi arrived. Saraswathi was required to stay home. However, at the last minute she was seized by a desire to see her husband’s face for the last time before he became totally inaccessible to her. With this feeling, she ran towards the maTha throwing caution to the winds. Unfortunately, she did not see an old and unused well on the way, and fell into it. She died instantly, but because her death was an untimely one, she became a ghost. Even as a ghost, her only desire was to see her husband and so she went to the maTha. By the time she arrived, the function was over and venkaTanAtha had become a sanyAsi with the AshramanAma of rAghavEndra tIrtha, the only solace for the downtrodden, the last resort for those without hope, the only court where every petitioner is guaranteed to get a patient and understanding hearing, the ocean of mercy that will never deny a deserving plea for help.
With his divine perception, rAyaru sensed saraswati’s presence, even though she was a ghost not visible to human eyes. His heart full of mercy, he sprinkled water from his kamanDala on her. The power of his penance was such that she was immediately granted moksha or liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. This was her reward for a lifetime of dedicated and selfless service to a noble soul.
Ascension as pIThAdhipati (throne of Asecitic)
Around 1623 sudhIndra tIrtha shed his mortal coils at AnEgondi. His brindavan was consecrated there and rAyaru became the Head of the maTha. Yadavendra, a senior disciple of sudhIndra tIrtha disputed this, but his claims were set aside by the Ruler of Tanjore, in favor of rAyaru.
RAyaru started his services by teaching all the works of shrImadAchArya to his disciples. He propagated right knowledge and vanquished several opponents. Apart from imparting knowledge and guiding his disciples,he composed works for the benefit of future generations
Soon after becoming the pIThAdipati, he began a series of piligrimages that took him to several places. Throughout his life, he kept visiting different centers of learning and religion inspite of the difficulties involved. Consider some of the odds he faced – lack of roads, lack of transportation means (other than palanquins), political problems (since there were so many different kings, some of the muslims, inimical to hinduism), hot weather, lack of maps etc. Inspite of all these difficulties, he covered a vast area geographically. Some of the places he visited are Rameshvaram, Madurai, Srirangam, Vishnumangala (where Trivikrama PanditAchArya had debated MadhvAchArya for fifteen days), Subramanya, Udupi, Bidarahalli, Pandarapur, Kohlapur, Bijapur, Malkhed, Tirupati, Srisailam, Kumbakonam, and Kanchi.
Wherever he went, his agenda was simple – spreading the message of shrImadAchArya, defeating scholars of opposing doctrines, converting deserving people to dvaita, continuing to write commentaries and notes, teaching shAstras to enthusiastic students, and encouraging local scholars. Examples of such events are provided.
He visited Rameshvaram and Madurai. Madurai was the seat of learning in those days, and one of the experts there was Neelakanta Dikshit. After seeing the lucid yet powerful style with which rAyaru debated, he was convinced that rAyaru’s master was really pUrNaprajna. When Neelakanta tried testing him on various sutras, rAyaru showed him the work he had just finished-Bhatta Sangraha. Neelakanta was so thrilled by the depth of this work and how well it propounded shrImadAchArya's philosophy, that he had it placed on an elephant and taken on a ceremonial procession.
At Bidarahalli he met ShrInivasAchArya who was a unique householder. The glosses that he had written were already well known. RAyaru examined his works and was filled with admiration for ShrInivasAchArya, who, though being a householder, dedicated himself completely to the spreading of knowledge and learning. RAyaru bestowed upon him the name shrInivAsa tIrtha, as a mark of his high learning.
He took a vow to write Tippanis for all the Tikas of shrI jayatIrtha. When he had completed tippanis for 17 of the 18 Tikas of ShrI JayatIrtha, his disciple LakshmInArAyaNAchArya showed him his work on Rig Bhashya. The great saint felt that his disciple's teaching should be shown to the rest of the world, so instead of writing a Tippani, he wrote a Rigartha Manjari, a vivritti, which gives the meaning of the first 40 suktas Even though he undertook extensive tours, he did not stop teaching his devotees or stop writing books.
Power to revive the dead
On a hot summer day, rAyaru was on his way home from a pilgrimage. He decided to rest in the shade of a tree at Krishnapuram (near Hubli). While there, he saw the Nawab (Muslim king) of the are walking towards him, with a sad demeanor. The Nawab had heard of his miracles and had come to him as a last resort. He stated that his young son had died from a poisonous snakebite and been buried in a tomb close by. After hearing this, rAyaru contemplated silently for a few moments and then asked the king to take the body out of the tomb. When the puzzled Nawab did as he was asked, rAyaru sprinkled holy water from his kamanDala and prayed to his ArAdhya mUrthy (favorite form of the Lord). Lo behold, the young boy woke up as though he was getting up from sleep. The Nawab was beside himself with joy.
(Editor’s note: There are some very important points to note in this episode. Our shAstras talk about the concept of "Ayushya", defined as the total amount of time that a being is allowed to live on earth, in a particular body. Any death that happens before this time is untimely and is called "apamRutyu". Our shAstras say that once "Ayushya" is over death cannot be prevented, since that is Divine Will. However, "apamRutyu" is a different aspect altogether. Life-histories of oursaints and other great souls are replete with instances where they warded off untimely death in deserving cases. In this case, since the child had suffered apamRutyu, rAyaru used his divine powers to revive it.)
He did a similar thing in another instance. He was visiting the house of a village chieftain (called Desai). Hundreds of people had assembled for the occasion. As part of the food served to the guests, seekaraNe (a thick form of mango juice) was being prepared in a huge vessel. Unfortunately, when nobody was watching him, the Desai’s son fell into this vessel and drowned. When the Desai and his wife came to know about it, they were totally devastated. However, they wanted to hide the news because they did not want to inconvenience everybody who had assembled there. Being an aparOxa gyani, RAyaru sensed the tragedy and asked the grief stricken couple to bring the dead boy before him. When this was done, he sprinkled water from his kamanDala and revived the boy. The joy of the ecstatic parents knew no bounds.
Those who came to humiliate end up being humiliated
There were some evil people who were jealous of the greatness of rAyaru and were always looking for opportunities to humiliate him. When some of them heard of the above incidents, they conspired to come up with a plan to humble rAyaru. They chose a location that was very close to rAyaru’s location that day and asked a person to pretend to be dead. They covered his face and sat by his side wailing as if he was really dead. When rAyaru passed by, some of them approached him and entreated him to revive this “dead” man. RAyaru looked at the body and said “I cannot revive him since his Ayushya is over”. This was what the evil persons wanted to hear. They immediately started condemning him and trumpeted to the world at large “Look at this charltan. He does not know the difference between a living and a dead person. Our friend is pretending to be dead. He is now going to get up and denounce this fraud”. Nothing happened. Then they tried to wake him up, thinking that he was asleep. None of their efforts were successful as the person was truly dead! They realized their mistake and begged rAyaru to revive the person, but he pleaded his helplessness since the person’s Ayushya was really over. The men who came to humble rAyaru were themselves humbled and his greatness became even more enhanced.
A point to note is that rAyaru did not curse the man to die or punish the evildoers. It was again Divine will that the conspirators chose a person whose Ayushya was really over and the timing was perfect to humiliate them. The Lord well and truly protects His beloved devotees.
Three forecasts for the one who took three avatAras
Three famous astrologers, known for their ability to predict the future with unerring accuracy, once came to cast the horoscope of rAyaru. They did it separately and came with 3 totally startingly different numbers – 100, 300 and 700! Each was positive about his calculation, but could not explain the difference. When rAyaru heard about this, he laughed and said “They are predicting 3 different entities. One is predicting the lifespan of my body, another my tenure in the brindAvana and the third the influence of my granthAs (literary works).
Personality that influences even inanimate objects
Once some famous scholars came to meet with rAyaru. One the way they got lost and wanted to ask for directions. They noticed a washerman walking with his load on his head, but before asking him a question, they debated amongst themselves in Sanskrit if it was worthwhile asking somebody who looked like an ignoramus. Imagine their surprise, when the washerman interrupted their discussion by saying in chaste sanskrit “If all that you want to know is directions to meet rAyaru then I should be able to help you”. He then gave directions in chaste sanskrit to the embrassed scholars, and proceeded on his way. The scholars rested for a while and then proceeded to the river for their afternoon sandhya. They saw the washerman sitting on the bank. They politely asked him in sanskrit if it was okay to perform sandhyAvandana there. He gave them a blank look and told them rather crudely in the local language “Look, if you want to speak with me, then use a language I can understand”. Even from his tone and grammar it was obvious that he was an illiterate with little or no command over any language. The scholars were surprised since he had spoken to them in Sanskrit a few moments ago! They dismissed him as a madman and proceeded with their task. The washerman left with his load and started walking back slowly. After a while, the scholars passed him again on the road. This time, he politely asked them in chaste sanskrit if they had had any difficulty in locating the road and if they needed any help. The scholars were totally baffled and practically ran away from there.
When they reached the maTha, they spoke to a knowledgeable person and explained the curious phenomenon they had observed. The person laughed and said “Did the washerman have his load on his head when he spoke to you?” When the scholars nodded in reply, he continued “It was not the washerman talking to you. It was the clothes. He was carrying the clothes that our rAyaru had discarded. As long as he had the load on his head, he was a totally different person. Once the load was discarded he became his normal self”. Such was the power of rAyaru’s personality that even the clothes that he had discarded carried mystical powers.
Village bumpkin becomes prime minister!
Venkanna was a brahmin boy in a small village under the sovereignty of the Nawab of Adoni. Due to family problems, he was not tutored or taught any useful skills. He was assigned to the task of tending the family’s herd of cows, and thus used to spend his entire days in the countryside watching over the cows. He had heard of the greatness of rAyaru and was eager to meet him and seek his blessings. His prayers were heard because one day the retinue of rAyaru passed close by. He immediately ran to the palanquin that rAyaru was travelling in and prostrated before it. RAyaru looked at him and inquired about his antecedents. Venkanna explained his plight and stood with outstretched palms. RAyaru took pity on the boy and gave him some (mantrAkshate) consecrated rice and told him “When you are in real distress and need my help, put this on your head and think of me”. The palanquin moved on. Venkanna tied the precious rice into a bundle and always carried it with him.
One day, Venkanna was relaxing under the shade of a tree when he saw a noble man get down from a horse and rest under the shade of another tree close by. Curious, he watched him closely and immediately realized that the noble man was none other than the Nawab himself! Even as this realization dawned on him, he saw another man on horseback approaching the Nawab. The new person got down from the horse, prostrated in front of the Nawab and handed him a written scroll. Now, both the Nawab and the rider were illiterate and needed somebody to help them. When the Nawab looked around, he saw Venkanna. He also saw Venkanna’s tuft and his sacred thread and concluded that this was a brahmin. Since brahmins are usually literate, he felt that his problem was solved. He beckoned Venkanna and handing him the scroll, commanded him to read. Poor Venkanna was in a dilemma since he was also illiterate. He could not refuse a direct order of the Nawab since that would mean immediate death, nor could he tell the truth that he was illiterate because the Nawab would not believe him and would think that Venkanna was trying fool him. Caught in this deadly trap, he suddenly remembered the kind guru who had promised to help him in his hour of need. He took the consecrated rice and put it on his head. With this mind full of devotion towards rAyaru and his lips secretly muttering “rAghavEndra, rAghavEndra”, he boldly opened the scroll. Lo behold, the characters on the scroll began to make sense and he could read! It was actually a piece of good news, informing the Nawab that his wife had delivered a baby boy, thus making him a father, something that he was passionately yearning for. When he heard the news, he was overjoyed and immediately took out a pearl necklace from his neck and gave it to Venkanna. However, rAyaru sitting in Venkanna’s mind did not allow him to be satisfied with this. He boldly prostrated before the Nawab and told him “If your Highness is really happy with me, then please give me a good job in your administration. I will serve you faithfully and honestly to the best of my ability”. The Nawab was pleased with this answer and accordingly gave him a good job. Through hard work and diligence, Venkanna worked his way up the ranks and in a short time became the Nawab’s trusted divan. Thus a chance encounter with rAyaru transformed Venkanna’s entire life into a bed of roses!
Nawab tests rAyaru and loses
Once rAyaru visited Adoni and accepted Venkanna’s invitation to stay with him. Venkanna waxed eloquent about rAyaru’s prowess to his Nawab and forced him to visit rAyaru to pay his respects. Now the Nawab was skeptical about rAyaru and did not accept any authority other than Allah and his devotees. He wanted to expose rAyaru and score a point on Venkanna. He secretly ordered for three silver plates, full of meat, but totally covered with silken cloth to be prepared. He took this with him and accompanied Venkanna to the pUja. Along with the offering brought by Venkanna, he also offered his covered plates as naivedya for mUla rAma. RAyaru saw through his guile and sprinkled water from his kamanDala on the plates. Later, he ordered the clothes to be removed. The Nawab was waiting for this moment with bated breath. He was licking his lips in anticipation of unmasking this brahmin swAmiji. When the clothes were removed, they revealed 3 plates full of fresh fruits and flowers! The Nawab was astounded and instantly realized the greatness of rAyaru, and the great sin he had committed by testing this man of god. He immediately prostrated before rAyaru and with tears in his eyes begged his forgiveness. The kind and ever merciful rAyaru forgave him gladly. However, the Nawab was not satisfied, he begged rAyaru to accept some offering from him. rAyaru initially refused saying that he was a sanyAsi who had no desire for worldly things, but the Nawab kept on begging him, so finally he had to agree. He asked for the Nawab to give him the village of manchAle on the banks of the tungabhadra. The Nawab was surprised since that was barren land, yielding no crops or revenue. He tried to talk rAyaru into accepting more fertile land, but rAyaru would not accept anything other than manchAle. The Nawab immediately gifted that village to rAyaru.
Two – two – two to enter brindAvana
RAyaru summoned his closest disciples and divan Venkanna and told them of his intention to enter a brindAvana live. The devotees were devastated but they could not change his decision since it was Divine will. They wanted to know when he would do so, but he told them that they would find out at the appropriate time.
One day, rAyaru was sitting outside under a tree, conducting a shAstra pATha for this disciples. He suddenly stood up, looked up at the sky and folded his hands in reverence. His disciples were surprised by this, but they also stood up and did exactly as he was doing. Within a moment, a fragrant tulsi garland fell around rAyaru’s neck. When they pressed him for an explanation, he told them “I just saw Krishna Dvaipayana going in a heavenly chariot to vaikunTha. I asked him when my turn would come and he held up his Index and middle finger three times. He finally blessed me by throwing this mAla on me”. The disciples were greatly intrigued by this and wanted to know the significance of this two-two-two. Rayaru smiled and told them “It means that I have 2 years, 2 months and 2 days left before entering the brindAvana!” The disciples calculated the date and concluded that it would be Virodhikruth Samvatsara, Shravana krishna paksha dwitiya (second day in the dark half of the moon, in the Hindu year Virodhikruth).
RAyaru select manchAle for his brindAvana
RAyaru summoned his closest disciples and announced his choice of manchAle as the spot for his brindAvana live in mantrAlaya. They wanted to know what was special about that spot. RAyaru explained the spiritual significance of manchAle as follows:
In one of his earlier incarnation, rAyaru as prahlAda had performed a large yagna in that spot, sanctifying it forever. When arjuna was on his victorious journey in connection with the rAjasUya yAga being conducted by dharmarAja he fought with a local king at this spot. Since the king’s chariot was positioned over that spot, he was invincible. In panic, Arjuna prayed to Krishna for guidance. Krishna appeared before him and told him to move his chariot a little backwards. The local king also foolishly moved his chariot forward and lost the battle immediately. Such was the power of the spot on which prahlAda had performed his yAga.
Venkanna had a beautiful brindAvana be built for rAyaru. But rAyaru did not want to use that and asked him to reserve it for a future personality. He then took Venkanna to a remote spot and showed a black rock. He wanted his brindAvana to be built using the rock. When venkanna wanted to know what was special about that rock, rAyaru explained “While searching for sIta, Lord rama came here. He rested on this rock for a while. Since it has been sanctified by His touch, this rock is the one I want”. The brindAvana built under Venkanna’s guidance was used for shrI vAdIndara tIrtha at a later date.
Visits manchAlAmma and obtains permission
Before entering the brindAvana in manchAle, RAyaru decided to seek the persmission of manchAlamma, the presiding deity of manchAle. Accordingly, he went to her temple and prayed to her. She immediately appeared before him in person and encouraged him to ask her for a boon. RAyaru stated his desire. The dEvi replied “Once your brindAvana is established here, millions will visit manchAle to seek your blessings. I will be totally forgotten and nobody will associate this place with me! My temple will fall destitute without anybody to care for it”. Rayaru replied “I will not let this happen. Here is my promise. If my devotees visit my brindAvana directly, without going to your temple first, then I will not help them. So, if they need my grace, they have to visit your temple first”. When manchAlamma heard this, she was pleased and immediately granted him permission to enter the brindAvAna in manchAle.
ShrAvana bahula bidige
On the day chosen (Virodhikruth Samvatsara Shravana krishna paksha dwitiya - 1671 A.D.), thousands of people had congregated in manchAle to see this rare event of a person entering a brindAvana alive. It had been done before only once – by vAdirAja tIrtha.
As usual, rAyaru got up before dawn, meditating on ShrI Hari and finished his bath during the early hours itself. After his japa and dhyana he gave a discourse on ShrIimadAchArya’s works to his fortunate disciples for the last time. His disciples were grief stricken at the thought that this was going to be their master's last discourse. The master was filled with an overwhelming desire to teach as much as possible and the disciples were anxious and eager to absorb everything. The subject matter was as usual ShrImadAchArya's Bhashya and ShrI JayatIrtha's commentary for it. That day's discourse was the culmination of his life's mission. For the thousands that had gathered there the realisation that they would not see such a treasure house of knowledge hereafter filled them with pain and agony. The discourse came to an end.
After bathing once again he started the puja of ShrI Rama and other icons of the samsthan. After going through all the details of the puja he blessed the entire gathering with tIrtha, prasad and phalamantrakshata. As the appointed time was nearing he went to the spot that was already chosen and sat in padmAsana. He had his japa mala in his right hand and in front of him were all the moola granthas, sarva moola, tikas and tippanis on the vyasa peetha. For a while he was lost in contemplation; then he started his soul-stirring speech.
The last speech of rAyaru
Please check the following Link <http://www.gururaghavendra.org/lastspeech.htm>
RAyaru enters brindAvana
RAyaru then took up his veena and started to sing in Bhairavi raaga the famous song,"Indu Enege Govinda" where he extols the Lord as His only Saviour and that he should be pardoned for having led an irreligious life without singing his glories. He ends the song with His mudrika "Dheera Venugopaala Bhaara Kaaniso Hariye". Just as in His previous avatAra as VyAsaraja in this avatara also the blue darling of brindAvan in the form of an icon danced to the melodious of his darling who was going to enter the brindAvan.
After this rAyaru began reciting the pranava mantra. In a very short time he was lost in meditation. He reached the highest point in mediation. His face was serene. He was shining with a rare brilliance.
At one stage the japamala in the master's hand became still. Venkanna and other disciples who understood this sign started arranging the slabs around him. They arranged the slabs upto his head and then as per his earlier instructions they placed a copper box containing one thousand two hundred LakshmInArAyaNa shaligramas that had been specially brought from Gandaki river. Then they placed the covering slab over it and filled it with earth. They poured twelve thousand varahas (abhisheka) over the brindavan that they had built. A grand feast was hosted to commemorate this glorious event.
SAkshI haya syOtra hi
AppanAchArya was rAyaru’s beloved disciple. Most of the sanskrit hymns that we chant today in honor of rAyaru – rAghavEndra stOtra, mangaLAshTaka, danDaka etc – are his compositions. On the day rAyaru was entering the brindAvana, he was on the other side of the tungabhadra river since he had forgotten about the event. When he was reminded of it, he was aghast at his mistake and ran towards manchAle. As he was running, he was composing the famous rAghavEndra stotra (“shrI pUrNabOdha guru tIrtha payobdhi pAra …”). When he reached the river it was in full spate but he did not care and rushed headlong. The power of his devotion was so great that the river parted for him and he reached manchAle quickly. But even this was too late. Just as he came in front of the brindAvana, the last slab had been laid and his beloved guru had vanished from his sight forever. Tears started to gush from his eyes and his voice choked. The stotra had reached its final stanza “ kirtir divijita vibhutiratula ..” but he could not continue further. Suddenly, a voice rang out from the brindAvana "sAkshi haya syOtra hI" (meaning that Lord hayagrIva is the witness to the statements made by appanAchArya in his stOtra, and that He would make them all come true). Even today, anybody reciting this stotra with full faith and devotion gets all the grace of rAyaru.
Last shloka of RaghavendraVijayam.
Santam shrIramaNa priyam yativaram vyAsasya bhAvebrishan
DurvArAmitamAyi bhikshutimire paryasya chandram bhuvi/
Satsandasthutamishta dakshitiruham vandAruvi prAshrayam
Tam NatvA sakalo durUhasudrasham samyAti vidyAdikam//
Those people who bow to Shri Raghavendra, the beloved of the Lord of Lakshmi,
who is a venerable yati (saint), who meticulously follows the words of VEda VyAsa,
who dispels the unbearable, boundless darkness of ignorance caused by illusionist sanyasis just as the moon dispels the darkness,
who is always praised by the noble people, who is verily the wishing tree which satiates all our wishes and
who is always with devout brahmins will their material wants satisfied be endowed with spiritual wisdom, and ultimately get aparoksha JnAna. (Supreme Knowledge)
RAyaru’s literary works
There is a hidden side to the moon that most humans never see or know about. We have a similar side to rAyaru. Most of us know him only as the kind, merciful guru who is always forthcoming in our times of need. There are very, very few people who have not benefitted from his benevolence. One haridAsa says “dhareyoLu gurugaLa more iDalAgada narEre pApigaLella! (those who cannot or do not seek refuge in guru are truly sinners)”. This is the side that is well known. However, there is another side known only to scholars – the writer par excellence who gave us literary gems that would dazzle with their scholastic brilliance. Like the legendary bhagIrtatha maharAja who brought the holy ganga down to earth, rAyaru has made it possible, with his commentaries and notes, for ordinary people to partake of the ambrosia called madhva shAstra. That is why knowledgeable people call him as the “madhva matAmbOdhi chandra” (Moon of the ocean called madhva shAstra).
Over 40 works have been attributed to rAyaru. Most of these are commentaries on the works of shrI MadhvAchArya, jayatIrtha and vyAsatIrtha. The rest include a couple of original works and direct commentaries on the Upanisads and other works. Most of the works are available today, but some are not, and we know of them only through oral tradition i.e., some work or some stOtra mentions a work by rAyaru that is otherwise unknown.
ShrI Rayaru s works are characterized by remarkable clarity of thought, simplicity of expression and compactness. He has brought even very abstruse works of dvaita within the understanding of an average student of the shAstras. This is where the greatness of his success and fame and the universal popularity of his works lies.
The volume of his output is greater. And he brings to bear on the exposition of these texts a profound learning in different shAstras, a clear and simple style and a very lucid way of presenting even the most technical points. It may be no exaggeration to consider him as the foremost among the major nonpolemical writers of the Post vyAsa tIrtha period.
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