Archive | September 22, 2013

The Brindavana at Shenbakkam


One of India’s greatest philosophers and thinkers, Madhwacharya,  visited this place and he also wrote a Grantha on Vishnu Sahasaranama.

He is supposed to have visited this place when he toured many pilgrim places in South India between 1256 and 1259. A renowned philosopher, he was the first to treat all Hindu scriptures equally and give all of them equal importance.

While philosophers before him distinguished between Vedas and Upanishads, he treated them as one. He was the first philosopher to formulate a philosophical interpretation of the Rig Veda.

He is none other than Madhwacharya (1199-1278), the pioneer of the Dwaitha Siddantha.

Madhwachayra went on a pilgrimage to various places in south India, covering Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Srirangam before coming to Rayavellore. It is at Rayavellore he stayed on for a few days and wrote a work on Vishnu Sahasaranama.

Today, Rayavellore is better known as Vellore and the place where Madhwacharya stayed is Shenbakkam.

Centuries after he visited the place, Vyasaraja or Vyasa Theertha (1460-1539), the preceptor of six Vijayanagar Emperors, including Krishna Deva Raya, and the pioneer of the Dasa Koota and Vyasa Koota visited Shenbakkam.

Vyasaraja consecrated an idol of Hanuman and this is one of his 732 Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman. He too stayed on here and made arrangements for the pooje of  the Hanuman idol.

In his next avatar as Raghavendra Swamy, he once visited this place and stayed at Shenbakkam for two weeks. He gave discourses and conducted pooje every day.

Raghavendra Swamy (1591-1671) is believed to have acquired a high level of scholarship on reading Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha’s  Granthas. Interestingly, Kambalur was a disciple of Vijendra Theertha of Kumbakonam who in turn was a disciple of Vyasa Raja.

Sripathi Theertha of the Vyasaraja Matha had chosen Shenbakkam to enter Brindavana in 1612. His disciple Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha (1575-1635) too entered Brindavana here. Apart from them, several other Madhwa saints choose to enter Brindavana. Today, the Brindavana of these Madhwa saints form an integral part of the Brindavana complex where there is a Mrithika Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy.      

The Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy was installed in June 1991. Thus, the Raghavendra Swamy Brindavana here in the Nava Brindavan complex and the Raghavendra Swamy temple is unique as it has been sanctified by the presence of several Madhwa seers.

Shenbakkam is near Vellore and it is located on Palar river. It is 139 kilometres from Chennai and 200 kms from Bangalore. 

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Rayaru and Gange


Raghavendra Swamy is one of the most well-known and popular saints of India. His fame has spread all over the world and there are millions of people across the globe who worship him.

Talks and discussions on Raghavendra Swamy, his works, miracles and his life and times always draws a full house and pravachanas on Rayaru, as Raghavendra Swamy is more popularly known, draw huge crowds.

The Raghavendra Swamy Matha at N.R. Colony in Bangalore had organised a function to give prizes to children who had competed and won in Devaranama competition.

The senior pontiff of the Bhandarkeri Matha, Vidyesha Theertha, was invited to give away the prizes to children.

The Seer, as is known, spoke in a robust and sincere manner about Raghavendra Swamy and his Mahime. Though the discourse was for just a few minutes, it was enough to satiate the mental “hunger”  of the fairly large crowd that had assembled in the pandal built in front of the Matha.

The seer compared Raghavendra Swamy with the free flowing Ganga river. He said both share a lot of similarities. If a bathe in the Ganga is said to purify a person of all his sins, so also the chanting of the name Raghavendra with true devotion and sincerity. The manta “Om Sri Raghavendra Namaha” itself  will absolve people of the sins if they utter it with devotion and sincerity.

The seer said there are many dams across the Ganga which now impede her free flow. But nobody or no organisation can put a stop to  Raghavendra Swamy. His discourses could never be stopped as they were full of life, truth and showed the path of righteousness. The discourse of Raghavendra Swamy were like pearls and each word was a pearl in itself. The entire discourse was like a string of invaluable pearls.

The Bhandarkeri seer waxed eloquent on the scholastic ability of Rayaru, who he said had the unique ability to transform lives of people by his mere use of words. There were hundreds and thousands of people whose lives Rayaru changed for the better by merely talking to them or giving discourse. So, it would not be inappropriate if we say that the words of Rayaru could never be stopped, while the flow of  Ganga could be restricted or lessened by constructing dams.

He said Ganga has three levels. It initially took birth in heaven. It then came into the matted hair of Shiva (This is the reason that Shiva is also called Gangadhara) and from there flowed into India or Bharat.

Similarly, Rayaru too had lived his life at three levels. He was born at Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu: He commenced his sanchara after his sanyasa in Karnataka and spent several years in the State: He then finally settled down at Mantralaya in Andhra Pradesh. Thus, Rayaru too had three tiers-Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. However, just as Ganga is known all over the world and not merely in the states that she flows, Rayaru too is known the world over.

Today, people from all communities bathe in the Ganga and lakhs of Hindus make a trip to Varanasi, Allahabad and other places only to take a holy dip in the Ganga so that their sins get washed away. This Hindu belief has rubbed off on people in the West and today one can find foreigners and even non-Hindus taking a dip in the Ganga.

The Ganga makes no distinction and it allows everyone to take bathe in her river. Though she washes away the sins of all people, she remains free of all sins. She continues to attar people to take bathe. Rayaru, the Bhandarkeri seer, said is similar in nature He attracts people from all communities and people from all over the world.

Rayaru makes no distinction between man and woman, Hindu and non-Hindu and young or old. Rayaru blesses those who come to hi with devotion and faith.    

Citing examples, the Bhandarkeri seer said Sir Thomas Munroe was a Britisher. When he came to see Mantralaya, he was dressed in Western clothes. Yet, Rayaru spoke to him and gave him darshana. Similarly, he gave darshana to Appanacharya when he swam across the Tungabhadra and fell weeping before the Brindavana.

Rayaru has come in the dreams of scores of people. He has made no distinction and he has rewarded devotion, faith, goodness and righteousness.

This is the Mahime of Raghavendra Swamy. He continues to guide people onto the path of  righteousness even centuries after he entered Brindavana.

Incidentally, in his Nadee Taratamya stotra, Raghavendra Swamy assigns the highest place to Ganga whom he calls Madhawa Roopa. This work is in Sanskrit.