Rayaru after he entered Brindavana

Wednesday (today) is the third and final day of the aradhana of Raghavendra Swamy. This was the first day in Mantralaya 343 years ago after Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana.
It was August 1671 and Raghavendra Swamy had been heading the Sri Matha (subsequently it came to be known as Raghavendra Swamy Matha or Mantralaya Matha) for 50 years. He had ascended the Sri Peeta in 1621 after Sudhindra Theertha.
Raghavendra Swamy had chosen Manchale, now called Mantralaya, as his final abode. He had left Kumbakonam for good in 1659 and settled down in Manchale. During his twelve year long stay, he found in Appanacharya of Bichale a true friend and close companion. Raghavendra Swamy stayed in the house of Appanacharya for several years. This house was destroyed by the flash floods of Tungabhadra in 2009. It is being rebuilt.
While in Manchale, Raghavendra Swamy meditated at a cave in the Panchamukhi temple in Gandhal. Raghavendra Swamy chose this spot for meditation as it was at this very place that Hanuman had entered the netherworld or patala during the war with Ravana to rescue Rama and Lakshmana where they were being held captive by Ahiravana, the brother of Ravana. Hanuman overcame his son , Makaradwaja, who was guarding the entrance of the netherworld. Hanuman then assumes a five-headed form (panchamukhi) and defeats Ahiravana and rescues Rama and Lakshmana.
Even today, the cave where Raghavendra Swamy sat in meditation cab be seen at Gandhal.
Coming back to the day after Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana, Yogendra Theertha his successor took on the role of guiding the matha. He was present when Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana and the venerable seer had entrusted him with the job of guiding the Sri matha. Yogendra Theertha was an apt disciple to Raghavendra Swamy who had tutored him in several subjects. He made all arrangements necessary for the daily and regular worship of Raghavendra Swamy and then after some time left for Kumbakonam and from there to Srirangam where he entered Brindavana.
This day also saw a large number of devotees, disciples, friends and relatives of Raghavendra Swamy gather around his Brindavana and pray. There is a story that the poorvashrama sister of Raghavendra Swamy too came to the Brindavana and urged him to come out.
Appanacharya, who appeared inconsolable at the thought of not physically seeing and talking to Raghavendra Swamy, began coming every day to the Brindavana where he wept. Rayaru then came in his dream and asked him to build a Brindavana in Bichale itself at the Japada Katte where he and Appanacharya used to sit and talk.
The place where Raghavendra Sway entered Brindavana slowly began emerging as a place of pilgrimage. Nawab Siddi Masud Khan, who ruled over Adoni (of which Mantralaya was a part) till 1686, and Dewan Venkanna frequently visited the Brindavana and paid their respects. The residents of Manchale village could not get over their anguish and pain at having to part physically with Raghavendra Swamy. However, they soon realised that Rayaru was ever present when they faced any distress.
Soon, the fame of Rayaru began spreading far and wide and people began flocking to Mantralaya. The holy place became a household name and Vijaya Dasa in his compositions revealed the Gods who present in the Brindavana alongside Rayaru. Vijaya Dasa was followed by other dasas such as Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi, Gopala Dasa, Prasanna Venkata Dasa, Pranesha Dasa, Venugopala Dasa, Mohana Dasa, Helavanakatte Giriyamma, Narasimha Vittala Dasa, Vyasa Vittala Dasa (Kallur Subbanna), Abhinava Janardhana Vittala Dasa (Prema Dasa), Guru Pranesha Vittala Dasa, Ibharampura Appa, Modakallu Sesha Dasa, Guru Jagannatha Dasa and hundreds of others.
All these Dasas and others have eulogised Raghavendra Swamy and written realms on him, detailing his holy presence, immeasurable compassion, boundless piety and love.
Today, Mantralaya is one of the foremost pilgrim places. Raghavendra Swamy continues to inspire millions of people around the world and guide them. The three-day aradhana draws lakhs of pilgrims in Mantralaya apart from thousands in almost every Raghavendra Swamy Matha.

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