Hastodaka to Rayaru

One of the most important Haridasas is Vijaya dasa (1682-1755), who was an amsha of Brighu Rishi and in his earlier avatar was the son of Purandara Dasa called Madhwapathi Dasa.

Vijaya Dasa was a devotee of Raghavendra Swamy. Since Vijaya Dasa stayed at Adoni first and at Chikalparvi next, he could visit Mantralaya frequently.

He is among the first Haridasas to describe Raghavendra Swamy comprehensively and also tell us about several hidden facts of the seer of Mantralaya.

Vijaya Dasa not only saw Raghavendra Swamy sitting in the Brindavana in Padmasana, but he also described the seer in the company of several Gods.

Whenever Vijaya Dasa visited Mantralaya, the priests there who were aware of the devotion of the Dasa to Rayaru, allowed him to offer Naivedya to the Brindavana. 

On one of his visits to Mantralaya, Vijaya Dasa came to the Brindavana along with a few disciples. One of them was reverentially holding the plate containing the Hastodaka. The plate was covered with a plantain leaf. The time then was sometime around 12 noon, and Vijaya Dasa was praying to Raghavendra Swamy.

Vijaya Dasa was reciting slokas in praise of Rayaru and almost 45 minutes elapsed before he offered Hastodaka to Rayaru. The disciple holding the plate then asked Vijaya Dasa why he taken so long on this occasion to offer Hastodaka.

Vijaya Dasa said when he entered the place where the Brindavana was located, he saw Rayaru getting up and go out of the Brindavana. He said he saw Rayaru taking bath in the Tungabhadra and then go to Bichale where he visited the Japada Katte.

Rayaru then came to Gandhal where he had meditated and got the darshana of Pancha Mukhi Anjaneya. Rayaru mediated for a long time today in Gandhal at the PanchamukhiAnjaneyaTemple and, therefore, he took some time coming back to the Brindavana in Mantralaya.

Vijaya Dasa then told the disciple that he had waited in front of the Brindavana to offer Hastodaka only after Rayaru returned from his daily routine. The disciple appeared shocked and overwhelmed at how Vijaya Dasa had managed to see Rayaru in the Brindavana and how he had come to know of the routine.

What this means is the importance that Hastodaka hold for us. If and when we visit Mantralaya and other holy places, partake the food there as it is sanctified by the gods themselves. Never refuse to have food at the holy places.

Even at home, offering Naidevya and/or Hastodaka to God would be a good practice. There are several slokas and mantras that tell us about the importance of  first offering to God and then taking it as prasada.

Another great sage, who regularly followed this practice was Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600) of Sode. This seer used to keep a bowl of Hayagreeva on his shoulders and the Lord would come in the guise of a horse and partake it.

Raghuttama Theertha of  Uttaradi Matha, whose Brindavana is near Tirukoilur in Tamil Nadu, offered Naivedya to the Gods and they came every day in person to partake it.

Purandara Dasa’s son, Madhwapathi Dasa, regularly fed Yantrodharaka Hanuman at Chakratheerta in Hampi and this was witnessed by none other than Purandara Dasa himself. Similarly, Jitamitra Theertha of  Raghavendra Swamy Matha and the successor of Vibhudendre Theertha regularly offered Naivedya to the Narasimha Saligrama which opened its mouth wide to eat it. 

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