Archive | August 2013

Ganapathy and Rayaru: Who is higher in the Kakshaya

This was an interesting question or rather topic that was posted for discussion at Sumadhwaseva sometime ago. It relates to the position of Raghavendra Swamy and Lord Ganapathy or Vigneshwara in the Taratamya of Gods or celestials and their position in the Kakshya.
The question was in the hierarchy of Gods and celestial beings or Taratamya, and who among Ganapathy and Raghavendra Swamy holds a higher position. So here goes the query posted there.
The topic was so interesting I thought that I would post it in the blog. I spoke to Sri Narahari at his bank in Hosur, Tamil Nadu and obtained his oral permission to post this topic. So here goes the topic.
Position of Raghavendra Swamy and Ganapathy in Taratamya- Who is higher?
This is an intriguing question as it raises several religious issues. The question arises as Raghavendra Swamy will be in the fifteenth kakshya (In Indian astrology, Kakshaya means the eightfold division of a Zodiacal Sign- 3 degrees and 45 minutes, and the eight Kakshyas are Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon the Ascendant). Here, it means classification.
The question is where will we put Raghavendra Swamy when he has Vayu Avesha. In other cases or in his other avatars, he will be placed in the 19th kakshya.
What will be his Kakshya or position when he is invested with the Vayu Avesha (Avesha means existence in the other soul. Sri Narahari Sumadhwa describes it as existence of some god’s shakthi in other soul for execution of a task).
Sumadhwaseva says, “ We cannot determine when Rayaru will have Vayu Avesha. As such let us treat him as in the 19th kakshya. Further, we will be worshipping Vishwambara Roopi
paramathma in Ganesha. As such, whether he is in the 15th or 19th kakshya all are inferior to Srihari or the supreme one in Taratamya”.
Ganapathy is Akashadhipati, Abhimani for Akasha. He is the son of Rudra Devaru and Parvathi and also a great grandson of Lord Hari. A Bala Brahmachari, he occupies the 18th position as per Taratamya, along with Vishwaksena, Ashwini devatas, Kubera and Shsashatasthas.
As such, you are right in worshipping as “Raghavendra Swamy Anthargatha Ganapathy Anthargatha Bharathiramana
Mukhyapranaanthargata Sri Vishwambhara Roopi Paramathma”.
This then poses the interesting question of who among Ganapathy and Raghavendra is in a higher Kakshya?
The Sumadhwaseva website says Shankukarna (after him comes Balmiki, Vyasa Raja and then Raghavendra Swamy) is a Karmaja Devathe or a devoted servant of Sri Hari who appointed him to serve Lord Brahma.
He is in the 19th Kakshya, but when Vayu Avesha is there, the kakshya will change to 15.
Ganapathy is classified as belonging to the 18th Kakshya. As it has been said Vayu Devaru will enter whoever studies his granthas, and as Raghavendra Swamy has done more than that,
can it be concluded that Raghavendra Swamy is higher than Ganapathy?
Then is the statement “Raghavendra Swamy Anthargatha Ganapathy Anthargatha Bharathiramana
Mukhyapranaanthargata Sri Vishwambhara Roopi Paramathma”, as given in the Ganapathy Pooja Padhati correct?
The Sumadhwaseva says Rayaru’s kakshya is 19 – Karmaja devategalu. But sometimes, he will be having the Avesha of Vayudevaru and only then his kakshya will be 15th and this is as per the clarification by Jagannatha Dasa.
In the Dwaitha philosophy, the individual souls are involved in a gradual gradation according to their nature and capacity and this is what Madhwa called Taratamya.
For Madhwa and all Dwaithis, the Supreme God is Hari or Vishnu. What this means is that the top most post in the Taratamya is given to Vishnu. This is the reason he is also called as Sarvottama.
Next to him is Goddess Lakshmi. Then comes Brahma and Vayu and as they are subject to bondage, they are classified as called Jivottamas.
Manushyas are at the bottom of this list.
The list is as follows:
1. Vishnu
2. Lakshmi (Nitya Mukta)
3. Brahma and Vayu and all Rijus (There are one hundred Rijus)
4. Saraswati and Bharati and the wives of all Rijus
5. Garuda, Sesha and Rudra
6. Shanmahishis – The Six Wives of Krishna – Jambavati, Bhadra, Nila or Neela, Kalindi. Mitravinda, Laxana
7. Suparni, Varuni, Parvati (Wives of Garuda, Sesha, Rudra respectively)
8. Indra, Kama
9. Ahankarika Prana
10. Svayambhuvamanu, Daksha Prajapati, Brihaspati, Sachi, Rati, Aniruddha
11. Pravaha Vayu
12. Vivasvan, Chandra, Yama, Shatarupa Devi (wife of Syambhu Manu)
13. Varuna
14. Narada
15. Brigu, Agni, Prasuti (wife of Daksha Prajapati)
16. Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Lratu, Vashishta – The sons of Brahma and Vishwamitra, Vaivasvata Manu.
17. Mitra, Niruti, Pravahi, Tara (wife of Brihaspati)
18. Vishwaksena, Ganapathi, Ashwini devatas, Kubera, Seshsa Shatasthas
19. Karmaja devatas
20. Parjanya, Ganga (wife of Varuna), Sangnya (wife of Vivasvan), Rohini (wife of chandra), viradusha (wife of Aniruddha), Shyamala (wife of Yama)
21. Svaha
22. Kuumadi Anakhyata devatas
23. Budha
24. Devaki, Yashoda, Usha
25. Shani, Dhara Devi
26. Pushkara
27 Ajanaja devata
28. Pitris
29 Deva gandharva
30. Manushya Gandharva
31. Chakravarti
32. Manushyottama
As we see, the list places Ganapathy higher than Rayaru. Even as per our scriptures, Ganapathy is God, while Rayaru is a God like person, an enlightened soul and a peerless sage. He is an ardent servant of God and it is through him that we can see, approach and take the blessings of God.
So God takes precedence over Rijus and others. So can we conclude that Ganapathy is on a higher plane that Rayaru?.

How Bichale became Bikshalaya

One of  Raghavendra Swamy’s most famous disciples was Appannacharya of Bichale or Bhikshalaya.

Raghavendra Swamy had come to Bichale from Adoni where he met Apppanacharya who was renowned in the area for taking classes on granthas, shastras and Vedas. Appannacharya had set up a Gurukula where several hundred students studied.

The Gurukula was at the spot where the Japada Katte is located today at Bhikshalaya. Students of the Gurukula went around the town and nearby villages seeking alms. Though Appannacharya was a rich Zamindar and he had plenty of lands, he wanted to imbibe Vedic qualities in his students and he taught them the Hindu or rather Vedic/Puranic way of life.

Students also practiced Bhiksha, which they brought back to Appanacharya.

Appanacharya collected all the rice his students had got as Bhiksha and tied them up in a clothe. He hung it up the Ashwath Vruksha  tree and then started teaching his students. By the time he finished his lecture and this would just after noon, the rice would be cooked and Appannacharya would ask one of the students to clamber the tree and bring down the rice.

Appanancharya and his students would then eat the food. This was the daily routine of Appannacharya and his patashala. This is how  Bichale also came to be known as Bikshalaya.

By the way, Appanacharya was born in Bichchali itself and his father Ramasubbanacharya was a scholar if repute apart from being a Jagirdar of twenty eight villages surrounding Bichale. He owned more than 300 acres of fertile land near the Tungabhadra. After the fall of the Vijayanagar dynasty, the Nizam of Hyderabad first and subsequently the British continued the Zamandari of Appanacharya family in the area.

Appanacharya was also a scholar and he had imbibed the Dwaitha principles of Madhwacharya. He decided to impart his knowledge to students and thus he came to set up the patashala.

When Raghavendra Swamy came to Bichale sometime in 1656, he came into contact with Appanacharya. He also saw the Japada Katte where Sripadaraja, Jitamitra Theertha, Vyasa Raja and other Madhwa saints has left their imprint. Soon, Raghavendra Swamy and Appanacharya became good friends and Appannacharya began cooking food for our beloved Rayaru.

Appanacharya himself ground Dal Chatni for Rayaru and even today the Varalu and Rubbu gundu (grinding stone and pestle) can still be seen at the Japada Katte. Appanacharya also prepared Appi Paayasa which Rayaru relished.

Rayaru stayed on at Bichale for several years in the house of Appanacharya which at that time was 60 years old. The house existed till the floods of 2009 washed it away. Today, it is rebuilt on the same lines.

This is the story of Bichale and how it also got the name of  Bikshalaya. Today, Bikshakaya is gone and the village is better known as Bichale. Ironically, there is no Gurukula and even the small village school was washed away in the floods. The new Bikshalaya is now on an elevated ground but sadly, problems of connectivity from Mantralaya and Raichur to Bichale remains.

The roads to Bichale are bad and there are no proper sign boards. There are no accommodation and other facilities for visitors and pilgrims coming to Bichale.

Bichale can easily be developed into a pilgrim and tourist spot. The view of the Tungabhadra and the Sannidhana of the Japada Katte and the house where Rayaru lived can be major attractions. Unfortunately, there is no development worth the name in Bichale.     

Autos and other modes of transport are available from Mantralaya and Raichur to Bichale, which is in Karnataka. 

An outpouring of faith and devotion

Raghavendra Swamy, as we all know is called Kaliyugada Kamadhenu. His humaneness, kindness, his deep affection to mankind and his limitless knowledge, sparked off the second coming of the Haridasa movement.

If Hampi was the scene of the first Haridasa outpouring, Mantralaya became the second. Soon after Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana in Mantralaya in 1671, Haridasas, singers and composers made a beeline to the Jeeva Samadhi and sang praises of the Mantralaya seer.

Perhaps the first ever song on the Mantralaya Seer was by Apannacharya of Bichale. It came to be composed in 1671, just minutes after Raghavendra entered Brindavana. A disconsolate Appanacharya began singing the Poornabhooda even as he jumped into the raging Tungabhadra at Bichale and swam towards Mantralaya to see his beloved Rayaru before he entombed himself in the Brindavana.

Appanacharya composed several hymns and compositions on Raghavendra and he is supposed to have passed away sometime in 1674. Then came a long line of Haridasas who took inspiration from Rayaru and composed several songs in various genres.

The first among the Haridasas to take inspiration from Rayaru and sing in his praise was Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755). He was a  contemporary of Vadeendra Teertha, the great grandson of Raghavendra Swamy and the then pontiff of Raghavendra Swamy Matha, and he visited Mantralaya several times.

Vijaya Dsas saw and conversed with Rayaru several times. In the song “Nodide gurugala nodide ..”, he talks of seeing Lord Narasimha, Lord Rama, Lord Vedavyasa and Lord Krishna on the four sides of the Brindavana  and also all the Madhwa Gurus from Madhwacharya down to his own guru present within the Brindavana. He also sees Lord Lakshminarayana in the form of a discus granting boon to devotees who pray before the Brindavana.

His disciples, Mohana Dasa (1730-1815) and Gopala Dasa (1721 – 1762) were also renowned composers. Gopala Dasa has also composed several songs in Rayaru’s honor and he has also revealed interesting aspects in them about Rayaru’s previous incarnations as Shankukarna, Prahala, Balmiki and Vyasa Raja

Jagannatha Dasa (1728 – 1809) visited Mantralaya often and even conversed with Raghavendra Swamy. Jagannatha Dasa has heaped praises on Rayaru in “Raghavendra Gunasandra…”.When Raghavendra got up from the Brindavana and came out to converse with him, he sang, “yeddu baruthare node”.

When Rayaru stopped coming out of the Brindavana and conversing with him, he sang,” yakke mukaanadeyo guruve.” Soon after this composition, Raghavendra immediately began coming in Jagannatha Dasa’s dreams and started conversing with him again.

Another Haridasa, Prasanna Venkata Dasa (1680-1752) was sent to Tirupathi to get the anugraha of Srinivasa by none other than Raghavendra Swamy.

Vadeendra Theertha, who also was pontiff of Mantralaya Matha, wrote Guru Guna Sthavana, a work of 36 verses in honor of Rayaru. It gives us the dates chronologically of the compositions of Rayaru and also the circumstances under which these works came to be written.

There are more than a thousand composers, including Haridasas, who have written about Raghavendra. This list does not include those who have composed on the spur of the moment or those who have composed intermittently.   

Some of the compositions on Raghavendra Swamy are as follows.

Toogire Rayaraa by Guru Jagannatha Vitthala Daasaru.  Pranesha Dasa (1736-1822) sings “Raghavendra ninna pada sarasijake  baguve manmanadarike puraiso”. Other popular songs of his include Jaya mangala nitya shubha mangala, Suvvi Suvvale.  Indiresha Dasa composed “Raghavendra guna sagara nodenna,” while Guru Shamasundara Dasa wrote “Rayara Paadu yale manav”.

Manohar Vitthala of Buddinni in Manvi taluk, who was earlier known as Buddinni Desai Narayanappa, was a disciple of  Gopala Dasa. He lived about 175 years back. He wrote Raghavendraguru Stotra.

Vasudeva Vitthala (1705-1801), whose earlier name was Venkataramacharya and later came to be known as Paramahamsa Vyasattvagna, was a great devotee of Raghavendra Swamy.

He performed many miracles. He was proficient both in Sanskrit and Kannada. He wrote thirteen works in Sanskrit, of which his treatises on Manasasmriti and Upasanabhaga and his comments on the seventh canto of Bhagavata are well known. In Kannada, he wrote ten ugabhogas, sixteen suladis and hundreds of padas.

Prasanna Venkata Dasa composed Yelu Sri Gururaya Bellagaitindu:  Dhooli Darshan Kodiri Yi Velle Shishyarige: Yellu Guru Raghavendra Yellu Daya Guna Saandra: Yellu Kumuduke Chandra Sri Raghavendra.

The other famous Dasas who wrote on Raghavndra were  Panganama Thimmanna Dasa, Kallur Subbannacharya, Guru Pranesha, Sreesha Pranesha Vitthala, Guru Sreesha Vitthala, Ananda Dasa, ModalakalSeshadasa, Sri Varadesha Vitthala, Srinivasa Vitthala, Asigyala Govinda Dasa, Manvi Gundacharya, Lingsugur Padmanabha Dasa, Panduranga Rao Kasbe and a host of mystics, seers and composers from north Karnataka. They continued the Haridasa tradition.

The lyrical Krishna of Karnataka

Today is Krishnastami, Janmastami, Krishna Janmastami or Gokulastami and all households in India celebrate the unique festival. This is one of the most important festivals of Hindus and it is the occasion when Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, was born at midnight in Mathura.

The festival is celebrated with fervour in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, where there are performances of Krishna Lila, the folk dramas depicting scenes from Krishna’s life.

In Tamil Nadu, wooden poles are smeared with oil and they are called as Urayadi. A pot of money is tied at the top of the pole  and boys dressed as Krishna try to climb the pole and win the prize even as spectators squirt water at them and try to block their path to the top of the pole.
In Maharashtra, the festival is known as Govinda and we have seen hundreds of films where pots containing money, curds and butter are suspended high over streets. Boys form human pyramids climbing on each others’ shoulders and to try to break the pot even as the people throw water. This act takes us back to the childhood days of Krishna who loved milk and butter.

In Karnataka, the day or rather night is celebrated with preparation of dishes which were dear to Krishna such as dry Avalakki (which Sudhama gave to Krishna) and a variety of sweets. Udupi, which houses the Krishna Matha, sees lakhs of devotees thronging to the temple.

However, what is unique about Karnataka and Krishna is that we have two of  our front-ranking Madhwa seers-Vyasa Raja and Raghavendra Swamy writing about Krishna.

What makes these compositions all the more rare is that they are by the avatars of Vyasa Raja and Raghavendra Swamy and both the compositions have attained extremely high levels of popularity.

Of course, as Vyasa Raja avatar came first, his composition, Krishna Nee Begana Baro, was written first. This song is a vital part of all dances in India and Sripadaraja, the Guru of  Vyasa Raja, witnessed Krishna dancing to the songs of Vyasa Raja, when he was worshipping idols of Mulabagal matha in Mulabagal.

An overwhelmed Sripadaraja handed over the Gopalakrishna idol permanently to Vyasaraja, saying that the idol is his as he had made it to dance. Even to this day, the Gopalakrishna idol, in an dancing pose, is with the Sosale Vyasaraja Matha.

Vyasa Raja composed all  his songs under the Ankita Krishna but he had to change it to Sri Krishna when Krishna came in his dreams and said he (Krishna) deserved respect as he was a married man and therefore, he should be addressed as Sri and not by his name. A humbled Vyasa Raja concurred and from then, he addressed Krishna as Sri Krishna.          
In his next avatar as Raghavendra Swamy came the seminal song Indu Enage Govinda which was composed extempore when Rayaru visited Udupi.

This song too has attained great heights of popularity.

Thus both the songs-Krishna Nee Begane Baro and Indu Yenage- have formed part of our daily repertoire and Karnataka should consider itself fortunate in possessing these treasures.

krishna nee begane baro by Vyasa Raja

krishna nee begane baro

begane baaro mukhavannu toro 
krishna nee begane baaro

kaalaalandhuge gejje nilada baavuli 
nelavarnane naatya vaaduta baro
krishna nee begane baro

Udiyalli udigejje beralalli ungura
koralalli hakida vaijayantiya maale
krishna nee begane baro

kaashi peethambara kaiyalli kolalu
pusida shreegandha mayyolagamma
krishna nee begane baro

taayige baayalli jagavannu torida
jagadhoddhaaraka namma udupi sri krishna 
krishna nee begane baro

Indu Enage Govinda by Raghavendra Swamy


Indu Enage Govinda ninna padaara
Vindava toro mukundane

Sundara vadanane nandagopana Kanda
mandarodhara aananda indiara ramana

nondenayya naa bhavabandhanadolu saluki
munde daari kaaNade kundide jagadolu
kandanamtendenna kundugalenisade
tande kayo Krishna kandarpa janakane

mudhatanadi balu hedijivananaagi
drudhabhakutiyanu maadalillavo hariye
nodalillavo ninna paadalillavo mahime
gaadikaara Krishba bedikombeno ninna

dhaarunilolu bhubhaara jivananaagi
daari tappi nadede seride kujanara
aaru kaayuvavarilla seride ninagayya
dhira venugopala paarugaaniso hariye.


This is not to ignore other Haridasas and Madhwa seers who have composed a variety of songs on Krishna. Purandara has innumerable keertanas on Krishna as does Kanaka and others. This post is only to highlight the songs of the avatars of Vyasa Raja and Raghavendra Swamy and both are in Kannada.   


A man of the masses

Vyasaraja and Raghavendra Swamy, the two avatars after Shankukarna, Prahalada and Balmiki lived and preached just a few decades apart. If Vyasaraja attained Samadhi in 1539, Rayaru or Raghavendra Swamy was born less than 50 years after this event.

If Vyasaraja strode like a colossus in the 16th Century, Raghavendra did so in  his next avatar and this was in the 17th century. Though only a few decades of difference existed between them, the political, economic and social conditions in the periods in which they lived was as varied as they could be.

Vyasaraja lived in the period when Vijayanagar Empire was at the height of its glory. He was the Vidya Guru of no less than six Vijayanagar Emperors and perhaps the most illustrious among them was Krishna Deva Raya.

While Krishna Deva Raya died in 1529, Vyasaraja entered Brindavana in Nava Brindavana in 1539 during the reign of Achuta Deva Raya.

Though the Vijayanagar Kings were constantly at war against the Deccan Muslim states of Bijapur (Adil Shahis), Golconda (Nizam Shahs), Bidar (Barid Shahs), Ahmednagar and Berar, people were by and large prosperous. The empire included parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Pondicherry.

The economy was booming: art and literature flourished: religious activities abounded and people were fairly well to do.

Vyasaraja exerted immense influence on the Vijayanagar Emperors. Yet, he did not misuse it and he gave equal importance to all religions and taught tolerance. A rare Madhwa, he never denigrated other religions or condemned other faiths. No wonder, he was honored by a white umbrella by the Adil Shah Sultan of Bijapur, the Nizam Shah of Golkonda and even by Babur, the Mughal Emperor.

By the time Vyasaraja entered Brindavana in Nava Brindavana near Hampi, practically the whole of  south India was under Vijayanagar rule and there was political stability booming economy and a vibrant religious life. Vyasa Raja had given life to Vyasa Koota-a philosophical school of thought that propagated Madhwa Siddantha and Dasa Koota-Haridasas or singer composers who sang the glory of Hari.

Vyasa Raja has sparked off a new thread of  Madhwa siddantha revival and it was being carried forward by the Vyasa Koota luminaries such as Vadiraja of Sonde (1480-1600), Srinivasa Theertha (1564), his immediate disciple and Peetadhipathi of the Vyasaraja Matha and his successor Rama Theertha (1584), Vijayendra Theertha (1571-1614) and Sudheendra Theertha (1623) of Kumbakonam Sri Matha which later transformed into Raghavendra Swamy Matha and the Haridasa lineage which was represented by Purandara (1480-1564),  Kanaka (1509-1609)  and Vaikunta Dasas (1480-1550).

However, by the time Raghavendra Swamy was born, the Vijayanagar Empire had met its waterloo. It was defeated by the combined Muslim armies of Golconda and Bijapur in the Battle of Rakasa Tangadi or Talikota in 1565. Rakasa and Tangadi are two small villages in Talikota taluk of Bjapur district and the Mulsim armies had routed the Vijayanagar Army under Aliya Rama Raya there.

The rout of the Vijayanagar Army not only signaled the destruction of Vijayanagar or Hampi but it also led to the mass destruction of Hindu temples and desecration of Hindu way of life. The Haridasas of Vijayanagar fled when the Muslim armies reached the gates of Hampi.

The Haridasa movement was impacted greatly by the defeat and the Dasa tradition almost disappeared. Purandara Dasa’s son, Madhwapati Dasa, who was living in Hampi moved to Pune and took with him some of the lyrics and compositions of his father. Kanaka Left Hampi and the Dasa movement almost sputtered to a halt.

The whole of south India became a free for all after the Vijayanagar Empire fell. Small principalities ruled by Palegars and Nayaks came into being but they were no match against the might of the Bijapur Adil Shahis.

From 1565 till it was conquered by Aurangzeb in 1686, Bijapur became the centre of art and architecture in south India and it was also the biggest city in the peninsula. The Adil Shahis overran all Hindu Kingdoms and even conquered Mysore. The Hindus suffered at the hands of the Mughals and other religiously inclined Muslim states.

It was during this dark period that Raghavendra Swamy was born. He quickly assumed the mantle of the Sri Matha from Sudheendra Theertha and went about reviving the Madhwa way of life. Kings and Emperors, Muslims and Hindus, and people of all castes and communities discovered the greatness of Raghavendra and sought his blessings.

Raghavendra feared none and he spread his message of love and affection even in the predominantly Muslim Kingdom of Bijapur and Golconda.

Raghavendra Swamy did visit Hampi and Anegundi. He also spent time at Nava Brindavana but he did not speak about his previous avatar as Vyasaraja. He went about his work, singing the praise of Hari and giving discourses and performing miracles. People were attracted to him like iron to a magnet.

Raghavendra set about reviving the fallings spirits of Hindu religion. When he entered Brindavana at Mantralaya in 1671, the temple town quickly became the centre of Haridasa renaissance. Scores of dasas sought refuse in Mantralaya and poured out hundreds of composition and lyrics.

Thus Raghavendra sparked the second revival of the Hari Dasa movement. If Vyasa Raja led the outpouring of Haridasa movement in Hampi, Raghavendra oversaw a similar revival from Mantralaya.

If Kings and Emperors sought out Vyasaraja at Hampi, Raghavendra too was similarly sought out and this even after he entered Brindavana. However, there is only one dissimilarity between the tow avatars: Vyasaraja wrote several compositions and songs under the pen name of Srikrishna. Raghavendra wrote less but preached more. Soon, Raghavendra became a man of the masses, while Vyasaraja remained a man of scholars and a man of  mighty scholastic abilities and the founder of the Dasa and Vyasa Koota.

Vyasa Raja installed 732 idols of Hanuman, while Raghavendra consecrated just three idols of Hanuman.  

To this day, the differences in the two avatars persist. Lakhs of people flock to Raghavendra Swamy and consider him to the Kaliyuga Kamadhenu. Only a handful among them visit Anegundi and pray to Vyasa Raja. Moreover, there are only a handful of instances of Vyasa Raja coming in the dreams of people or performing miracles, while this is all the more associated with Raghavendra Swamy.