The Brindavana of Rayaru

Rayaru2013 This is teh Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru in Mantralaya, Andhra Pradesh.
Rayaru was born at Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu to Thimanna Bhatta and Gopikamba. He was among the three children of the pious couple. His father died when Raghavendra, then known as Venkatanatha, was young. Venkatanatha then came under the care of his brother-in-law at Madurai. He later married Saraswathi and had a son called Lakshminarayana. When all the three came to Kumbakonam to meet Vijendra Theertha, the seer immediately recognised Venkatanatha as his Guru, Vyasa Theertha.
Vijendra Theertha then asked his disciple, Sudhindra Theertha, to ensure that after him (Sudhindra Theertha), Venkatanatha took up the responsibility of heading the Sri Matha at Kumbakonam. Vijendra Theertha entered Brindavana at Kumbakonam after appointing Sudhindra Theertha as his successor. Sudhindra Theertha then gave Deekshe to Venkatanatha at Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu and called him Raghavendra Swamy Sudhindra Theerthe then entered Brindavana at Nava Brindavana in Hampi, Karnataka.
Raghavendra Swamy then headed the Sri Matha for several years. He then left Kumbakonam in 1658 and headed to Manchale or Mantralaya. He stayed in the house of Appanacharya for 13 years at Bichale near Mantralaya. It was during this time that Siddi Masud Khan, the Governor of Adoni, and his Dewan, Venkanna, an ardent disciple of Raghavendra Swamy, oversaw the construction of the Brindavana (this is the one in the photograph) at Manchale village. Rayaru also came to the spot from time to time. During one of his visits, he found that Dewan Venkanna and Siddi Masud had ensured that a beautiful Brindavana was constructed.Rayaru ordered that the Brindavana be lept aside for his successor, who he said, would have the majesty and worthiness to occupy such a beautiful Brindavana. This Brindavana is also present near the Brindavana of Rayaru in Mantralaya and it is that of Vadeendra Theertha (1728-1750), a descendent of Raghavendra Swamy and the author of Gurgavanasthavana.
As far as Rayaru is concerned, he showed a particular spot in Madhavaram village near Mantralaya and pointed to a particular stone. “Build a Brindavana from this stone”, he told Siddi Masud and Dewan Venkanna. When they sought to know the reason why Rayaru had chosen this stone, he said Rama and Lakshmana had rested on this particular stone during their Vanavasa. Moreover, the spot he had chosen for entering Brindavana was the place where he as Prahalada had performed yagna. He showed ashes at the spot and said that it why he wanted the Brindavana at the place.
This is the Brindavana that Rayaru entered into in August 1671. Rayaru was the second after Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600) to enter Brindavan alive. The distinction of leading Rayaru to the Brindavana by holding his hand and personally escorting him to the place goes to Yogendra Theertha (1671-1688), the immediate successor of Rayaru to the Sri Matha. The Brindavana Pravesha of Rayaru was witnessed among others by his son, Lakshminarayana, Dewan Venkanna, Siddi Masud Khan and others. Neither Appanacharya, the close disciple of Rayaru nor his sister were present on the occasion.
It was at this Brindavana that a weeping Appanacharya came and Rayaru completed the Poornabodha Stotra by uttering the last three words “sakshee hyastotra hee”.
It is from this Brindavana that Rayaru has given darshana and spoken to Thomas Munroe, the Collector of Bellary in 1800. He also spoke to Jagannatha Dasa, the composer of Sri Harikathamrutsara, from the Brindavana. He also gave his darshana to a number of Haridasas, including Vijayan Dasa, Ibharampur Appa, Krishna Avadoota and thousands of people.
The Brindavana of Rayaru is slightly tilted to one side. This is because when Vadeendra Theertha read out Gurugavanasthavana before the Brindavana, the whole Brindavana shook as if in appreciation and flowers were strewn over all the devotees who were present.To this day, the Brindavana is slightly tilted.
There is a small crack on the front portion of the Brindavana. The crack formed when a woman, whose wishes were not fulfilled by Rayaru, hurled a pebble. She repented for act later and the same night Rayaru appeared in her dream and said he would have come to her in her dreams that night but alas she had negated all her good conduct in a moment of anger.
The Brindavana is perhaps among the most well-known in India and abroad. Lakhs of devotees flock to Mantralaya and see the Brindavana. The Brindavana is called the Moola or original Brindavana and all other brindavan of Rayaru in different places are called Mruthike Brindavana or merely Brindavana.
(The photo is taken from the website of the Sri Mantralaya Matha of Raghavendra Swamy. The sole credit for the photo goes to the matha.The photo is used only to highlight the post on the Brindavana and for no other reason. The copyright of the photo rests entirely with the matha.)

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