Raghavendra is one of the most common names in India and even abroad. The word, Raghavendra, gained currency and wide acceptance after the Madhwa saint, Raghavendra Swamy, strode India like a colossus.
The most famous bearer of the name, Raghavendra, is undoubtedly Raghavendra Swamy (1591-1671), who is often described as a shining star who revolutionised the way in which we looked at God and sparked the revival of the Haridasa movement which had gone into a decline.
Raghavendra gave a new meaning and direction to Haridasa Sahitya. He completed, what in his previous avatar as Vyasa Raja, he had set out to do. As Vyasa Raja, he had started the Vyasa Koota, or philosophical line that mainly propagated Madha Siddhanta and it had among its stars the likes of Vadiraja Theertha of Sode, Vijendra Theertha and Sudheendra Theerta of Kumbakonam, Srinivasa Theertha who was his immediate disciple on the Vyasa Peeta.
Vyasa also started the Dasa Koota with such luminaries such as Purandara, Kanaka, Vaikunta Dasa and others. If Vyasa Raja gave an impetus to the Dasa Sangeetha and Sahitya. Raghavendra revived it and infused it with a new and rare energy that once again saw the Haridasas taking Madhaw Siddhantha to the layman.
If Hampi or Vijayanagar was the pivot of the first outpouring of Dasa Sahitya, Mantralaya became the second spring that led nearly a hundred Dasas to come to Rayaru and sing the glories of Hari before him.
Coming back to the meaning of Raghavendra, it is of Sanskrit origin and I would like to take this opportunity of posting what the Senor seer of Bhandarkere Matha said in his discourse on Saturday evening (August 23) at the NR Colony Raghavendra Swamy Matha.
The Seer, Vidyesha Theerta, said Raghavendra is mainly made up of two Sanskrit words: Raghu who is also Raghava which is another name of Rama and Vendra or Indra. The name Raghavendra had been aptly conferred by his guru, Sudheendra Theertha.
Just as Rama is revered by people belonging to all nations and of all people, community, class and creed, so also Raghavendra is revered and respected by peoples of all countries and religions. Just as Rama is universally recognised as a model Emperor, so also Raghavendra is recognized as a model saint.
Rama had several exceptional qualities. He was a model king and he anted his Kingdom to be a model state and hence, it was called Rama Rajya. Rama was devoted to a cause, dutiful, diligent, extremely intelligent, hard working, scholastic, virtuous and one who inspired the masses. Raghavendra too imbibed all these qualities and came across as an individual totally devoted to the uplift of society.
Similarly, the second part of the name Vendra also means Indra or one who has conquered everything. Indra is also known to have moved mountains and Raghavendra moved the mountains of ignorance and darkness.
The seer, who had come to the NR Colony temple to distribute prizes to children who had won in the Devar Nama and Raghavendra Sloka contest, in his usual robust and scholastic manner, thrilled the audience with the meaning of the word Raghavendra.
The Seer said the very chanting of Om Sri Raghavendraiah Namaha is nothing but a mantra and it can act as a succor to our ills. The very mention of Raghavendra is enough to help one get over ones’ ills. He says Raghavendra was an apt name given to Venkatanatha by Sudheendta Theertha.
Other meanings of Raghava is in Sanskrit and one of the best meanings of the word have been given by Gopala Dasa in his composition. Gopala Dasa gives the meaning of Raghavendra syllable by syllable He starts of by saying that Ra means one who destroys mountains of sin.
The Guru Charitre also gives us a beautiful summary of the name ands says Sudheendra Theertha gave the name after Rama himself came in his dream and ordered him to name Venkatanatha as Raghavendra.
By the way, the name Raghavendra is one of the most ancient names in India and it traces its origin to Sanskrit. The name also indicates Hanumantha, the dhoota or obedient servant of Rama.
One of the most famous devotees of Raghavendra Swamy is Appanacharya. He too has given us an excellent composition whereby he touches on the meaning of the word Raghavendra in his Raghavendra Stotra.
The Seer ended his electrifying discourse by saying that if the mere name Raghavendra had such a comprehensive meaning, what meaning would the popular shloka “Poojyaya Raghavendraiah Satya Dharma Ratayacha, Bhajatam Kalpavrukshaya Namatham Kamadhenuve”, have. Well, that is another post.