The mantra of the Tunga

The Tungabhadra river today is synonymous with Mantralaya, the holy abode of Raghavendra Swamy.
The town of Mantralaya is on the banks of the Tungabhadra and on the other side of the river is Bichale, which is in Karnataka.
Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru chose the banks in Manchale village of this river to enter Brindavana in August 1671. The place where he entered Brindavana was just a few hundred metres away from Manchale village, which then came under the Adoni province ruled by Nawab Siddi Masud Khan, an Abyssinian national in the service of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur.
Even a few decades ago, the Tungabhadra was one of the cleanest rivers of India. Since the river was on the banks of many holy places, it earned a name for itself as the river which could get people rid of their sins. The fact that Rayaru had his final resting place on its banks and that he had mentioned it in his Nadi Taratamya Stotra only went on to enhance the devotion of the people and their belief in taking a dip in it.
Incidentally, the Tungabhadra has its origin in Karnataka and it flows through several holy places in the State before entering Andhra Pradesh. It ultimately joins the Krishna along the border of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The Tungabhadra has its connections with almost all the previous avatars of Rayaru. When he was Shankukarna, it was at Nava Brindavana on the banks of Tungabhadra that he was plucking flowers for Brahma. It was at this very spot-Nava Brindavana-that Shankukarna heard the melodious Veena of Goddess Saraswathi, the wife of Brahma. Enraptured by the sound of the Veena, Shankukarna forgot that it was his daily duty to provide Brahma with flowers.
When Shankukarna delayed bringing the flowers, Brahma cursed him to be born as a human being. Born as Prahalada, he conducted an yagna at Manchale village. It was Raghavendra Swamy himself, who revealed to Dewan Venkanna, that there was a homa kunda on the spot. When the area was dug up, Dewan Venkanna and others were amazed to see the ancient homa kunda.
Rayaru then told Dewan Venkanna that he had performed the homa in Treta Yuga as Prahalada here as Manchalamma, the presiding deity of Manchale village, was his family deity.
Rayaru also revealed that this was the place in Dwapara Yuga (Mahabharata period) that saw a mighty battle between Arjuna, one of the five Pandavas and King Anusalva. The Pandavas had decided to conduct Ashwamedha sacrifice. However, King Anusalva of Manchale had tied up the horse and refused to accept the supremacy of the Panamas. Both went to war but Aruba could not defeat Enslave as Anusalva’s chariot was stationed on the Humankind. On Krishna’s advice, Aruba took back his chariot and Anusalva’s chariot too moved ahead to engage the Pandava. Thus, Anusalya’s chariot moved away from the holy spot, leaving him vulnerable. Arjuna then defeated him. This was why Rayaru selected this spot to enter Brindavana.
As his previous avatar of Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Theertha (1460-1539), he decided to enter Brindavana at Nava Brindavana where several Madhwa saints had already entered Samadhi.
It was in 1539, ten years after the death of Emperor Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar that Vyasa Theertha decided to leave the mortal world. The then Vijayanagar Emperor, Achuta Deva Raya (1529-1542) personally oversaw the construction of the Brindavana of Rayaru.
The Nava Brindavana is just a few miles away from the Vijaya Vittala temple in Hampi. The Tungabhadra cuts across Navabrindavana and Hampi which are on opposite banks. It is this temple that Vyasa Raja worshipped regularly along with Purandara Dasa. This temple also became the place where the Dasa Sahitya originated. A little away from this temple and on the banks of the Tungabhadra was the Hampi University of which Vyasa Raja was the Vice-Chancellor.
It was at the Hampi University that students were imparted knowledge in both Dasa Sahitya and Vyasa Sahitya. Purandara Dasa also taught here as did Vadiraja Theertha and the two successors of Vyasa Theertha-Rama Theertha and Srinivasa Theertha. The venerable Vyasa Raja, who was the Raj Guru of six Vijayanagar Emperors, transformed Hampi, again on the banks of the Tungabhadra, into a centre of learning and philosophy.
Several decades later and this was in 1621, Raghavendra Swamy himself supervised the construction of a Brindavana for his Ashrama Guru, Sudhindra Theertha, at Nava Brindavana. This was the last Brindavana to come up at Nava Brindavana. A miles away, Rayaru gave moksha to Kanaka Dasa, who was reborn in his next birth as a commoner.
Rayaru settled down on the banks of the Tungabhadra sometime in 1659 and this was twelve years before he entered Brindavana at Mantralaya. Rayaru stayed in the house of Appanacharya at Bichale, which again is on the banks of the Tungabhadra.
During the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods, Tungabhadra river was known as Pampa. It is formed by the confluence of the Tunga and the Bhadra rivers which flow down the eastern slope of the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Both the rivers have their origin in Chikmagalur district. They take birth at Gangamoola, in Varaha Parvatha which once formed a part of the Kuduremukh iron ore project.
More than 100 tributaries, streams, creeks and rivulets join the two rivers. The journey of the Tunga and the Bhadra is 147 km (91 miles) and 171 km (106 miles) respectively, till they join at Koodli, at an elevation of about 610 metres near Holehonnur, about 15 km from Shimoga.
The Tungabhadra then becomes a confluence of both the Dwaitha and the Adwaitha systems. It flows by Srinegri, the seat of Shankara who propounded the Adwaitha system before reachingManchale or Mantralaya and Bichale, the place where the Dwaitha system flourished.
The Tungabhadra traverses a distance of 531 km (330 miles) and joins Krishna at Gondimalla, near Alampur in Mahaboobnagar district of Telangana. Today, the Tungabhadra is celebrated as the place where Rayaru entered Brindavana. Several Haridasas have written about the Tungabhadra and Mantralaya. One such outstanding composition is Tunga Teradhi and listen to this song by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s