The story of how Venkanna, a shepherd, who became a Dewan is too well known to be documented or repeated here.
The mere ashirwada of Rayaru on Venkanna and the chanting of his name ensured Venkanna became a lettered person. Venkanna soon won the confidence of Siddi Masud Khan of Adoni and became his Prime Minister.
Siddi Masud was the son-in-law of Siddi Jauhar, an Abyssinian nobleman and a General in the court of the Adil Shah. Siddi Jauhar was a renowned warrior of his age and he had taken on Shivaji and the Mughals and kept them at bay from the Adil Shah capital of Bijapur.
Siddi Jahaur and Siddi Masud participated in the Battle of Pavankhind, which was the last major battle between the Adil Shahs and Shivaji on July 13, 1660. The Adil Shahs suffered heavy losses and were defeated.
Siddi Jahaur died and left the Adoni province in the hands of Siddi Masud who bravely held out against Diler Khan, the Mughal Genera; and defended Bijapur. On November 23, 1683, Siddi Masud returned back to Adoni from Bijapur and never went back. He sent his resignation as Prime Minister and Sikander Adil Shah appointed Agha Khusrao as Prime Minister.
Siddi Masud tested Rayaru when he visited Adoni in 1658-59 and lost. He then accepted Rayaru’s demand for grant of Manchale. However, Siddi Masud wanted Rayaru to choose better land and he asked Dewan Venkanna to prevail Rayaru to accept more fertile land.
Dewan Venkanna too tried his best to dissuade Rayaru from accepting Manchale. He came to Rayaru repeatedly and requested hi to change his mind. Rayaru then took Venkanna to Manchale and explained its importance.
He then asked Venkanna to dig at a particular place. When the place was dug, Venkanna found ash. When he looked at Rayaru, the seer reminded him that this was the place where Prahalada had done Yagna and that he was Prahalada in his previous avatar.
Venkanna also found an idol of Rudra Devaru at the spot. Rayaru told him that this idol was worshipped during the Yagna.
It is this Rudra Devaru Rayaru’s successor, Yogendra Theertha consecrated in front of Rayara Brindavana in Manchale.
Even today, we can see the Rudra Devaru at the right side of the Prana Devaru in front of the Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy in Mantralaya.
Interestingly, the Prana Devaru is also made of the same stone from Madhawaram that the Brindavana of Rayaru is made of.
Rayaru then took Venkanna to Madhwaram and pointed to a particular stone and said he wanted his Brindavana to be constructed from it. When Venkanna sought to know the reason, Rayaru told him that it was on this stone that Rama and Lakshmana had sat for some time during their Vanavasa from Ayodhya.
Dewan Venkanna then went back to Adoni and explained all these facts to Siddi Masud who became the Governor in 1662.
Siddi Masud and Venkanna then came to Manchale and fell at the feet of Rayaru. Both promised to fulfill Rayaru’s wishes. Thus began the construction of the Brindavana.
Apart from the Brindavana, Venkanna also constructed a well for the people of Adoni. He wanted people to get drinking water even during peak summer. The well today is known as Venkanna Bhavi.
Venkanna also renovated and repaired several temples in and around Adoni.
He also constructed 60 houses for Brahmins in Manchale village. Both Venkanna and Siddi Masud were present when Rayaru entered Brindavana on August 8, 1671.
Masud became Prime Minister of Adil Shah Empire in 1678. He also managed to enter into an alliance with Shivaji to save Bijapur from the Mughals. When he went to Bijapur, Venkanna continued to serve him faithfully.
Siddi Masud lost Adoni when the Mughal General, Firuz Jang, on January 28, 1688 marched towards Kurnool. On August 6, 1688, Adoni fell and Siddi Masud, his sons and relatives were offered high positions in the Mughal Army. Adoni was named as Imitaz Garh.