We have all heard of the tale of everlasting friendship between Raghavendra Swamy and Appanacharya. Earlier posts have dwelt at length the manner in which Appanacharya swam across the swirling waters of the Tungabhadra to Mantralaya when Rayaru entered Brindavana in 1671.
What very few people know is that Appanacharya was so near and so dear to Raghavendra Swamy that it is believed that he took rebirth several times and in all these incarnations, he bonded with Rayaru, extolled the bard of Mantralaya and worshipped him.
It is commonly believed that Appanacharya, who passed way in Bichale in 1674, was once reborn as Desphande of Karajagi.
The Desai was a completely worldly man and he spent years in the pursuit of the pleasures of life. All in all, he was having what we call a wonderful time. A rich man, he had innumerable servants and he could afford to lead an indolent life.
Even as the Desai was living his life, things appeared set for a change. Two of the foremost Haridasas, Gopala Dasa (1722-1762) and Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755) had come to Mantralaya. This was one of their many visits to Mantralaya and they always sought guidance from Rayaru.
The Dasas stayed the night at Mantralaya after they had darshan of Rayaru. The same night Rayaru came in their dreams. Rayaru told the Dasas that one of their friends, the Karajagi Desai, was totally immersed in the worldly things in life and that he had completely forgotten God and Hari. “Wake him up”, said Rayaru and disappeared from the dreams of both Vijaya Dasa and Gopala Dasa.
Both the Dasas simultaneously left Mantralaya for Karajagi. When they came to the village and searched out the house of Desai, his wife came out and welcomed them.
A pious woman, she requested the Dasas to stay back in her house and perform Pooja. The Dasas graciously accepted and performed pooje. A little later, Desai came back home riding on a horse.
He too welcomed the Dasas and requested them to stay back home for lunch. He then bathed and sat with the Dasas and ate. During the course of the meal, the Desai’s wife mentioned that the Dasas had agreed to arrange for bhajans in praise of Hari the same evening.
She said almost the entire village would be participating and she requested Desai to participate in the bhajan session. The Desai, till then, was never known to be religiously inclined, however surprised his wife when he accepted her invitation to attend the Bhajan.
The food over, the Desai took rest. While the Dasas began preparing for the Bhajan session. The Desai walked to the place of the Bhajan long after others had assembled in the village square. He sat on an elevated seat as befitting his position.
Both Vijaya Dasa and Gopala Dasa commenced singing the bhajans. They started with Hari and then came to the Taratamya paddathi. Very soon, they lost themselves in their songs and the entire village was speelbound listening to the songs.
Initially, the Desai appeared disinterested in the proceedings but slowly and surely all that changed. He became more and more interest in the compositions and even he began to realize the gravity of the sins he had so far committed and the need for him to change.
When the Dasas began singing abpout Raghavendra Swamy, his mahime, Appanacharya and the tale of friendship between Rayaru and Appanacharya, the Desai was suddenly transformed.
He realised that in his previous birth, he was Appanacharya and that he had wasted a long time in this life in indulging in worldly pleasures.
Suddenly, Desai had the entire life of his previous birth flash before him. He realised how he and Rayaru has spent thirteen years together at Bichale and how the Japada Katte in Bichale was the place where he and Rayaru had long and fruitful discussions on philosophy.
He also recalled that he had started composing the Poornabodha when he jumped from the Japadakatte into the Tungabhadra in August 1761. The many compositions that Rayaru had written in Bichale, the nomenclature Parimalacharya that Rayaru had been given at Bichale all flashed in the memory of the Desai.
The Desai also was startled to realise that after Appanacharya, he was reborn as Sir Thomas Munroe and that he had spoken to Raghavendra Swamy in English then and seen him seated in the Brindavana. As Munroe, he had also eaten the prasada of Srinivasa in Tirumala.
He also recalled his life as Lechappacharya, another devotee of Raghavendra Swamy and the next Janma of Appanacharya. He too saw Raghavendra Swamy in the Brindavana.
He decided to give up the worldly life and from then on he became a staunch devotee of Raghavendra Swamy. He was then given the name Karajagi Dasa.
Throughout the rest of his life, he remained totally committed to Rayaru and ceaselessly sang his praises. He composed some of the most evocative compositions on Raghavendra Swamy and they are full of devotion.
Incidentally, Karajagi Dasa to belongs to the Gautama gotra, the same gotra as Raghavendra Swamy. He again took birth as Supragnendracharya of Mysore who later became the pontiff of Sri Mantralaya Matha. He was then called Sushameendra Theertha.
Incidentally, Sushameendra Theertha was given the pontificate of the Mantralaya Matha at Bichale by Sujatyeendra Theertha.
As Karajagi Desai, he completed the final canto of Sri Harikathamrutasara, the magnum opus of Jagannatha Dasa (1728-1809). But, this is another post tomorrow.