A few days ago, I visited one of the prominent Raghavendra Swamy mathas in Bangalore. The matha had geared itself up to celebrate the aradhane of one of its pontiffs, Vadeendra Theertha.
I found several youngsters trying in vain to obtain more information about Vadeendra Theertha. Many were not even aware of who this great saint was an what was his contribution. All that they were aware of was that he was one of the successors of Raghavendra Swamy to occupy the post of the pontiff. This article is, therefore, only an small attempt to detail the contribution of this saint. So here it is….
He is the only seer of the holy Mantralaya Raghavendra Swamy Matha and perhaps the only one whose Brindavana or the final resting place was constructed several decades even before he was born.
He is also the only saint whose Brindavana was foretold by Raghavernda Swamy himself (1595-1671). Infact, Raghavendra Swamy himself declined to enter Brindavana on the structure already constructed and ordered a fresh one to be built. He prophesied that a worthy successor would have the right to enter the Brindavana first constructed by his ardent disciple Venkanna, the Dewan of Adoni.
Venkanna along with his master, Siddi Masud Khan, had built a beautiful Brindavana in Mantralaya as per the wishes of Raghavendra Swamy. However, when the seer saw the Brindavana, he wanted a simpler one and declared that the Brindavana would be occupied by a person who would in due course of time occupy the pontifical seat of the matha.
Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana in Mantralaya, which was then known as Manchale in August 1671 and it took 79 years for his successor to enter the Brindavana originally planned to be the resting place of Raghavendra Swamy. It was in June 1750 that Vadeendra Theertha, the then reigning pontiff of the Mantralaya Matha, entered the Brindavana.
It was Upendra Theertha (his brindavana is in Srirangam) who gave sanyasa to Vadeendra Theertha. He was the great grandson of Raghavendra Swamy himself. His father, Purushottamacharya, was the son of Laksminarayanacharya, the poorvashrama son of Rayaru or Raghavendra Swamy..
Vadeendra Theertha was earlier known as Srinivasacharya. It was Upendra Theertha who gave him the name Vadeendra Theertha. A great scholar, he was also an able hand at administering the matha. He guided the matha during the turbulent times of the 18th century when south India was seeing political upheavels.
Vadeendra Theertha managed to not only safeguard the lands and property of the matha but he was gifted lands and property in north Karnataka, particularly Hubli. Ranebennur, Savanur and Rattehalli in 1734-1735.
More importantly, Vadeendra Theertha got the lands at Mantralaya reconveyed to the Matha after he met the Mughal administrator of Adoni province, Muzaffarjung Bahadur. The Mughals had wrested control of Adoni after defeating Siddi Masud Khan and this was after the fall of the Adil Shahi kingdom in 1686. Siddi Masud Khan reigned independently for a few years before he was forced to surrender Adoni to the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. He was later shifted to Delhi as one of the officers of the Mughal court. Since then, Adoni had been under the control of the Mughals. Mantralaya was part of the Adoni province.
When Vadeendra Theertha came to Mantralaya after his tour of north Karnataka in 1734, he found that the matha was on the verge of losing its lands in the holy town. He met the Mughal representative and got the documents of Manchale village reconveyed in favour of the Matha.
Perhaps the most notworthy contribution of Vadeendra Theerta is his work, Gurugunastavana. Today, this work is hailed as one of the two most authentic works on Raghavendra Swamy. What is more Raghavendra Swamy himself stamped the seal of approval on this book when his Brindavana shook from side to side while Vadeendra Theertha was reading out the work.
Gurugunastavana mainly deals with the circumstances under which Rayaru wrote his works. It is a work of 36 slokas.
The other works by this great saint include Tattvodyota Tippani, Raghavendramathagatharchagathikrama, Bhoogola Khagola Vichara and Tattvaprakashika Tippani (Meemamsa Nayadarpana). These works were written when he was the pontiff of the matha. Another work, Navyadurakthishiksha, was written before he took sanyasa.
Two other works include Madhwarya and Vishnu Soubhagya Shikharini
Vadeendra Theertha is important for another reason. He was instrumental in energising the Haridasa movement. He himself wrote several poems of which only a few survive.
He is believed to be an avatara of Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas during the Mahabharata.
Vadeendra Theertha entered Brindavana in 1750 in Mantralaya after handing over the reigns of the ashrama to Vasudendra Theertha. Even today, Vadeendra Theerta appears in the dreams of devotees along with the venerable Raghavendra Swamy. On several occasions, Raghavendra Swamy himself has appeared in person as Raghappa and Vadeendra Theertha as Varadappa.
The aradhane of this saint is celebrated every year in June-July (Jyesta Shukla Navami). This time around the current Mantralaya seer himself led the aradhane celebrations of Vadeendra Theertha at Mantralaya on June 7. Vadeendra Theertha’s son, Dheenendra Theertha, earlier known as Jayaramacharya, too was an eminent pontiff of the Mantralaya matha.