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.

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