Talk of Raghavendra Vijaya and the name that immediately comes to our mind is that of Narayanacharya, a relative of Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru (1595-1671).
Narayanacahrya was a scholar and poet. He was the son of the sister of Raghavendra Swamy. His Vijaya is a long narrative encapsulating the life and times of the saint of Mantralaya.
However, there is another work by the same name and this one is written centuries after the composition of Narayanacharya. This work too is called the Raghavendra Vijaya and it is composed by Guru Jagannatha Dasa (1837-1918), a leading Haridasa.
Guru Jagannatha Dasa, who is credited with the maximum number of songs on Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru, was an ardent devotee of Rayaru.
Guru Jagannatha Dasa is different from Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi. If Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi wrote the Sriharikathamrutasara, Guru Jagannatha Dasa wrote commentaries on it.
The Raghavendra Vijaya of Guru Jagannatha Dasa is a very beautiful work which encompasses all the avatars of Rayaru and it also describes him physically. It is rather similar to the Raghavendra Tantra of Krishna Avadootaru in the sense that this work tells us how to get the blessings of Rayaru.
The work tells us that the best and easiest manner in which to ensure that the blessings of Rayaru will be on us is to perform Pradakshina and seve with pure heart and pure mind. “Be sincere and devoted and Rayaru will reward you”, says Guru Jagannatha Dasa.
The Raghavendra Vijaya is in nine chapters or sandhi and each is devoted to a different aspect or avatar of Rayaru and his mahime.
The first chapter is general in nature and it tells us about the holiness and sanctity associated with Rayaru and how he has cured many diseases.
The second chapter is on Prahalada, the first avatar of Rayaru. There is the story of the demon, Hiranyakashipu, and how Bhoodevi or the Goddess of Earth, prays to God to lessen the burden of evil represented by the demon.
The entire story of Hiranyakashipu, the birth of his son, Prahalada, the education of Prahalada and the death of the demon is vividly described.
The third sandhi is on Vyasaraja or Vyasa Theertha, the second avatar of Rayaru. The chapter starts with the village of Bannur near Mysore where Vyasa Raja is born as Yathiraja. Here, Dasaru says that Bramanye Theertha blessed a couple to have pious children and thus was born the future Vyasa Raja.
It says Vyasa Raja was taken away on a golden plate by Bramanye Theertha from Bannur and that the child started studying from the age of five years.
The fourth chapter too deals with Vyasa Raja. Here, we get the information that the thread ceremony or Upanayana of Vyasa Raja was performed when he was eight years old. Bramanye Theertha also names Yathiraja as Vyasa Raja.
The fifth sandhi continues with the life and times of Vyasa Raja and his works. The chapter contains the mahime of Vyasa Raja and the many miracles that he had performed. There is also a beautiful description of the lake built by Vyasa Raja which exists even today. It is called Vyasa Samudra.
The chapter tells us the 12 years that Vyasa Raja spent in Tirumala praying to Lord Srinivasa and after which he proceeded to Hampi or Vijayanagar and consecrated the Yantrodahraka Hanuman at Chakratheertha.
The sixth sandhi also deals with Vyasa Raja and his life in the Vijayanagar period. We get glimpses of the Dasa Koota and Vyasa koota established by Vyasa Raja and his interaction with Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa.
Dasaru also tells us how Kanaka Dasa showed Hari in the form of a dog in Hampi. He also relates the story of a beggar who asks for divine intervention and Vyasa Raja blesses him to write Sriharikathamrutasara.
The seventh chapter is on Rayaru. Dasaru relates the tale of Rayaru and Manchale village which is now known as Mantralaya.
The eighth chapter is also on Raghavendra Swamy and how devotees can benefit from his grace and mercy.
The ninth and final chapter too is on Raghavendra Swamy and Dasaru has described the physical attributes of Rayaru and the magnetic personality that he had.