Archive | August 12, 2014


Tuesday is the second of the three-day aradhana mahotsava of Raghavendra Swamy. The Madhyaradhana, as this day is known, holds a special place as it was on this day 343 years ago that Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana in Mantralaya.
The year was 1671 and Rayaru had served as the pontiff of Sri Matha for fifty years. He had come to Mantralaya sometime in 1659 from Kumbakonam where the Sri Matha had been headquartered. He had succeeded Sudhindra Theertha to the peetha and after taking charge, he had gone on a pilgrimage, visiting several holy places.
Though his paramaguru, Vijendra Theertha, had entered Brindavcana in Kumbakonam itself and Rayaru had personally overseen the Brindavana Pravesha of his guru, Sudhindra Theertha at Nava Brindavana near Anugundi. The holy place of Nava Brindavana always held a special place for Rayaru as it was at this spot he had been plucking flowers for Brahma when he was Shankukarna.
Shankukarna plucked the flowers for Brahma’s daily worship of Narayana. One day, Shankurna, delayed bringing the flowers to Brahma. He had been so enraptured by the music from a veena that he forgot he had to pluck the flowers. It was goddess Saraswathi who had been playing the veene and Shankukarna had been mesmerised by the soft and beautiful stains of the Veene.
Angered by the delay, Brahma cursed Shankukarna to be born as a human being. Since this incident occurred on the island of Nava Brindavana., Rayaru had a special attachment to the place. In his previous avatar as Vyasa Raja, he had chosen to rest here and the then Vijayanagar emperor, Achuta Deva Raya had overseen the construction of the Brindavana for Vyasa Raja.
However, Rayaru neither chose Kumbakonam nor Nava Brindavana for entering Brindavana. He had made up his mind to settle down at Mantralaya, then called Manchale. It was at this place he had performed yagna as Prahalada. Rayaru pointed to the very spot where he had performed yagna and directed the then Nawab of Adoni, Siddi Masud Khan, and his minister, Venkanna Panth-also known as Dewan Venkanna, to construct the Brindavana at that spot. He then took them to the nearby village of Madhawaram where he pointed to a small piece of rock. He wanted the Brindavan to be sculpted from that rock.
When asked why he specifically wanted that rock, Rayaru said it was on that boulder Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana had sat while they were on Vanavasa.
Thus after selecting Mantralaya as his final resting place Rayaru left Kumbakonam. This day, 343 years ago, on a bright afternoon, Rayaru entered Brindavana at the spot he had chosen. The spot was a little away from Manchale village and almost half a kilometre from the Venugopalaswamy deity he had sculpted at his home. Today, the home he stayed is the Venugopalaswamy Temple. The temple still exists.
Rayaru was taken in a procession to the place where he wanted to enter Brindavana. He was accompanied by his immediate successor, Yogendra Theertha (1671-1688). Rayaru’s last paata or lesson on the Vedas was to Yogendra Theertha and a few other disciples. When he entered Brindavana, Siddi Masud Khan, Dewan Venkanna, Lakshminarayana, the son of Rayaru were present. But unfortunately, none of them have written about this incident. Even if they have, they do not now exist. So, there is no eyewitness account of Rayaru entering Brindavana. All we know is the day and date.
Perhaps the most authentic account of the life and times of Rayaru is by Narayanacharya, the son of Rayaru’s poorvashrama sister. Another authentic account is by Vadeendra Theertha (1728-1750), the great grandson of Rayaru, who wrote Gurugunavasthavana.
Thus, we see that though there is no eyewitness accounts of the events preceding the Brindavana, there are two reliable sources. Even today, much of the life and times of Rayaru can be gleaned when one goes through these two books. Both are available and both are scholarly works of art.
It was also on this day that Appanacharya composed the Poornabodha. When Appanacharya head that Rayaru was entering Brindavana, he plunged into the Tungabhadra from Bichale and began swimming towards the other bans, where Mantralaya was located. As he swam, he began composing the Poornabodha and when he came to the Brindavana, he was so overcome with grief that he could not complete the composition. Appanacharya was weeping that Rayaru had entered Brindavana and he felt orphaned. Even as he stood in front of the Brindavana with folded hands, Rayaru composed the last lines of the Poornabodha when he chanted, “SAAKSHIHAYASTOTRAHI”.