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The day Rayaru entered Brindavana


Raghavendra Swamy was teaching his disciples when he suddenly looked up and made a sign with his fingers. His disciples could not make anything of the gesture and they asked Rayaru the reason.
Rayaru smiled and told them that he had seen his friend Krishna Dwaipayana, a Madhwa saint, go to heaven. Rayaru said the departed soul asked him how long he (Raghavendra) would stay on as a mortal.
He said he had shown two fingers thrice, indicating that he would live on the earth physically for two years, two months and two days. The disciples were taken aback and looked dismayed.
Rayaru consoled them and he decided to prepare for his Brindavana Pravesha. He chose Manchale now in Andhra Pradesh as his final resting place.
Manchale then came under the jagir of Nawab Siddi Masoud, a Governor of the Bijapur Kingdom. Siddi Masood was headquartered at Adoni or Advani.
Raghavendra Swamy sent word to Diwan Venkanna (He was the same person who suddenly started reading due to the grace of Rayaru. Pleased by this, Masood had made Venkanna his Diwan) that he would becoming to his province along with all paraphernalia of the Sri Matha from Kumbokanam.
Though Venkanna wanted the Nawab to meet Raghavendra, the latter did not have any high opinion of  the seer. He decided to test the seer and sent mutton in a plate to Raghavendra Swamy. The Nawab sent word that the plate contained fruits and he wanted them to be offered to God
Raghavendra Swamy knew too well about the mischief of the Nawab. He meditated for a moment and took the holy Theertha from his Kamandala and sprinkled them on the plate which was covered with a clothe.
When the plate was uncovered, the Nawab was shocked to see that the mutton pieces had transformed into flowers. He immediately fell at the feet of Raghavendra and sought his forgiveness.
“Please let me know what I can do to atone for my sin”, he begged Raghavendra. The Guru only smiled. When Masood insisted, Raghavendra sought for land at Manchale, a small village across the Tungabhadra.
Masood was surprised and wanted to know why Raghavendra was insisting on a barren place of land. Moreover, he had already gifted the land to a fakir. When Venkanna said Rayaru would not accept anything but Manchale
Masood reluctantly agreed.
He gave the fakir another piece of land and gifted Manchale to Raghavendra Swamy.
Raghavendra Swamy then stayed at the house of  Appanacharya, a rich Zamindar, at Bichale near Raichur. Both Rayaru and Appanacharya became close friends and spent hours discussing Vedanta and other related subjects. Appanacharya lovingly cooked food for Rayaru and also for Naivaidya of Moola Rama and other deities of the Sri Matha which had been bought in the Devara Pettige (box which held the Samsthana idols of the Matha) from Kumbakonam.
 Rayaru knew that Appanacharya would not let him enter Brindavana. He, therefore, entrusted the task to Diwan Venkanna. Rayaru also pointed to a stone slab near Madavara village and said he wanted the Brindavana to be constructed from it.
Rayaru said Rama during his wanderings, had sat on this stone and that he wanted the Brindavana to be covered with it. Venkanna immediately set about preparing the Brindavana. Meanwhile, Rayaru also showed Venkanna and Masood the spot where he wanted the Brindavana to be built. He also specified the size of the Brindavana and how the pit should be dug.
Some time later, Venkanna showed the Brindavana to Rayaru. Looking at the exquisite Brindavana, Rayaru said this would be occupied decades later by one of his successors. “He is more suited than me to occupy this place,” Rayaru said and asked Venkanna to construct a much simpler Brindavan. This suitable man was none other than Vadeendra Theertha, the great grandson of Rayaru.
All this while Rayaru was still staying at the house of  Appanacharya. He decided to dismantle the ant hill in the house of Appanacharya where a cobra (sarpa) had made its home. Rayaru would give it milk every day and the cobra would come and drink it.
Rayaru ensured that the cobra moved away from the ant hill. This was because he realised that people would be scared of the snake after he entered Brindavana. He also wanted to protect the Sarpa from harm.   
The Brindavana was constructed and the date that Rayaru had mentioned to Krishna Dwaipayana was drawing near. Rayaru realised that he would not be able to entre Brindavana as long as Appancharya was near. He then sent out
Appanacharya on Sanchara and decided to enter Brindavana.
Rayaru decided to enter Brindavana on August 11, 1671. This day was Friday. He made all the arrangements himself. By then the Brindavana was ready.
His friends and relatives, devotes and other people began pouring into Manchale. By this time, Rayaru had already made Yogendra Theertha, his successor. Yogendra Theertha was the grandson of  his brother Gururaja.
Both Raghavendra Swamy and Yogendra Theertha stayed for some time and prayed at the Venkatarama Temple in Manchale to observe Chaturmasa. Rayaru then prayed to Manchalamma and told her of his plan to enter Brindavana. 
Rayaru sang “ Namosthu Varade Krishne Kumari Bramacharini Baalrka Sadrushaakaaye Purnachandra Nibhaanane Yam Kaamaye Tam Tamugram Krunomi Tam Bramanaama Tamrushini Tam Sumedhaam” and Manchalamma was pleased. 
A day before Rayaru entered Brindavana, that is on Thursday, (Shraavana Bahula Pratipada) Rayaru performed the Pooja of  Sri Moola Ramadevarau and other deities. It was a normal day for him, while all others had a heavy heart. Raghavendra Swamy held discussions on Acharya Tatva.
After having his daily frugal meal, Rayaru gave a  thought to the next day’s programme. He called the Matha officials and also his successor and gave them instructions.
The next day dawned and Rayaru spent his time in ritualistic bathing in the Tungabhadra as was his normal routine.  He then prayed to his beloved Moola Rama one last time and performed other pooje.
Then began his final discourse on the Brahma Sutra of Madwacharya and its interpretation by Jayatheertha. However, none of the devotees and disciples had the heart to understand the lecture. They were heartbroken as it was the last lecture of Raghavendra.
Soon after his Patha, Raghavendra then took the hand of  Yogendra Theertha and walked towards the Brindavana. The Brindavana was constructed on a platform with steps. Rayaru was taken in a proceesion on the temple elephant Mahendra.
Rayaru had his Danda and Kamandala with him.
He appeared calm and blessed the devotees along the way.
When the procession came near Garbalaya where the Brindavana was constructed,  Rayaru alighted from the elephant and took out his Paduke and handed them over to Yogendra Theertha. Meanwhile, Yogendra Theertha had constructed a Pranadevaru temple opposite the Brindavana as per Rayaru’s wishes.
Even on the last day, Rayaru performed three miracles. A dumb youth got back his power of speech and a lame person got back his limbs. His last miracle was to cure a youth of leprosy.
Rayaru’s son, Lakshnimarayana, Rayaru’s nephew Narayanachar, Diwan Venkanna and others watched with a heavy heart as Rayaru was moments away from entering the Brindavana. Vadeendra Theertha then was just two years old when Rayaru entered the Brindavana. (He became the head of the Mantralaya matha five swamijis after Raghavendra. He wrote Gurugunasthavana, a composition of  of 36 verses).
Rayaru then raised his hands in blessing to the assembled crowd and made his last speech. He asked people to be righteous and follow the path of Dharma. He entered the Brindavana with his Kamandala and Japa mala. He held the hand of Yogendra Theertha and walked into the Brindavan enclosure. He entrusted the Matha to Yogendra Theertha and once again commended the people to follow the path of  righteousness.
Rayaru then began meditating and he had asked Venkanna and others to close the Brindavana once the Japa Mala fell from his hand. The moment came and the Brindavana was closed forever.
An interesting fact is that Raghavendra Vijaya does not contain any details of  the Brindavana Pravesha. Much of the details can be culled from other books, articles and the matha. Another fact is that Appanacharya was not there when Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana
When Appancharya swam across the swirling waters of the Tungabhadra when he heard the news of Rayaru entering Brindavana,  it was too late. Rayaru had already entered the Brindavana and Appanacharya sorrowfully sang Purnaboda.
A sobbing Appanacharya could not finish the song and Raghavendra Swamy completed the Shloka from within the Brindavana by singing“sakshi haya stotra hi.”
                  Credit-Blog Samyuktha Harshitha

The seer who rests next to Rayaru


There is a beautiful Brindavana next to that of Raghavendra Swamy in Mantralaya. This is the final resting place of the great grandson of Rayaru himself. Known as Vadeendra Theertha, he was one of the pontiffs of the Sri Raghavendra Matha.
Vadeendra was just two years when Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana in Mantralaya in 1671. Vadeendra was the son of Purushottamacharya, who in turn was the son of Lakshminarayana, the son of Raghavendra Swamy.
Vadeendra Theertha’s poorvashrama name was Srinivasacharya. He was a disciple of Upendra Theertha and later in 1728 became the Peetadhipathi of the Raghavendra Swamy Matha. He was the head of the matha till 1750.
Vadeendra Theertha was a noted scholar of his times and he had a large number of disciples. His most outstanding work is Gurugavanastavana, a work on Raghavendra Swamy and his works.
As Srinivasacharya, he wrote Navyadurakthishiksha” He has penned commentaries or tippanis on Tattvaprakashika and Tattvodyota. Two other works are Bhoogola Khagola Vichara
and Raghavendramathagatharchagathikrama.
When Vadeendra Theertha completed Gurugavanastavana, he thougt it fit to read it before the Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy. When he completed it, the Brindavana shook as if in appreciation. Even today, we can see the Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy tilted to one side.
In this work, Vadeendra has interspread metres and alankaras with the sragdha metre that he has used throughout. The work deals with the greatness of Hari Vayu and talks about Vyasaraja, Vijendra Theertha, Sudeendra Theertha and Raghavendra Theertha.  
This comprises 36 verses and details the circumstances under which Raghavendra Swamy wrote his works.
During this period, South India was in turmoil. The Vijayanagars had already bowed out and the Adil Shahs of Bijapur had ceased to exist. The Mughals had lost control over south India and many palegars were trying to asset their independence.
The religious institutions, including the Raghavendra Swamy Matha, were finding it difficult to survive. Many of the properties of the Raghavendra Swamy Matha were under threat.
It was during this time that Vadeendra Theertha showed his meetle as an administrator. He first came to Ranebennur where lands of the matha were on the verge of being taken away. He got the lands restored to the matha.
The Nawab of Savanur gifted to the Mutt lands at Rettehalli. The Desai of Havanur, Nadagouda, gifted estates in Moraba village. The seer accepted these gifts and came to Hubli. He visited the village of  Kiritagiri which had been gifted to Raghavendra Swamy. However, the village had later gone out of the hands of the matha. Jayavantabhai Venkatappayya Bahadur Desai Paragane, the Desai, once again gifted the village to Mantralaya Matha in 1734.
When the seer reached Mantralaya, he saw that the matha was about to lose control of the place that had been gifted by Sidhi Masud Khan. The seer then discussed the issue with Muzaffarjung Bahadur, the administrator of Adoni. The administrator handed over the documents reconveying Mantralaya to the matha.
Vadeendra Theertha wanted to go to Tamil Nadu but by now he realized that his end was near and he stayed back at Mantralaya.
He ordained Vasudendra Theertha as his successor and entered Brindavana. This was the Brindavana that Dewan Venkanna had initially built for Rayaru sometime in 1670. Rayaru then told Venkanna that he did not want such a beautiful Brindavana but a much simpler one.
Rayaru himself predicted that an erudite scholar and equally holy person would be the deserving person to occupy the Brindavana and this man was Vadeendra Theertha.  This Brindavana is to the left of Rayaru. By the way, Vadeendra Theertha has written some Devaranamas in Kannada of which some still exist.

Rayara Brindavana at Bichale


There are hundreds of Mrithike Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy but there is only one Eka Shika Brindavana and that is in Bichale or Bhikshalaya, which is a small hamlet in Raichur district in Karnataka.
Bichale is just 14 kms from Mantralaya and lies on the other banks of the Tungabhadra. It is best approached by road and if you happened to visit Mantralaya, take a trip to Bichale and Gandhal where the temple of Panchamukhi Hanuman is situated.
Both Bichale and Gandhal are close to Raghavendra Swamy and he spent years here.
The Brindavana in Bichale is the first such structure to come up after Mantralaya.
If Dewan Venkanna and the Nawab of Adoni, Siddi Masud Khan, built the Brindavana in Mantralaya, it was Rayaru’s favourite Sishya, Appanacharya, who personally built this Brindavana.
Unlike other Brindavanas, Rayaru himself came in a dream to Appanacharya and asked him to build the Brindavana.
The Ekashika Brindavana
The story of the Brindavana is as follows.
Rayaru entered Brindavana in Mantralaya in 1671. Appanacharya was not there and when he managed to rush back, he found that his beloved Guru had already entered Brindavana.
From the day Raghavendra Swamy entered Brindavana, Appanacharaya used to visit Mantralaya regularly. Not a day went without Appanacharya either swimming across the Tungabhadra or walking to Mantralaya from Bichale where he lived.
Every day that Appanacharya lived was reminder to him about the tome he spent with Rayaru. He was just as faithful and devoted to Rayaru after he entered Brindavana as he was when they both lived in Bichale.
Appanacharya was ageing but the years did not dim his devotion and respect to Rayaru. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and there was no sign of Appanacharya giving up his daily ritual-going to mantralaya and seeing the Brindavana and reliving the times he and Rayaru spent.
Rayaru then decided to intervene. One day he came to Appanacharya in a dream and asked him to construct a Brindavana at the Japada Katte. “Build it at the place where we both sat and I will come there. You can see me there itself. You do not need to come to Mantralaya.”
Appanacharya then personally monitored the construction of the Brindavana. Today, it is the only Ekashika Brindavana of  Raghavendra Swamy.
The Brindavana earlier was open to the skies. There was no roof over it. However, recently a small canopy has been installed.
Regular poojas and seves are conducted here. The Brindavana is also the first to be built outside Mantralaya.
This could also perhaps be the only Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy without a matha surrounding it. 
The Brindavana is on the banks of the Tungabhadra. But beware, The river here is free flowing and is deep in many places. It is better not to go swimming. Keep children away from the river front.
By the way, take care not to go near the many monkeys that have been wrecking havoc in the area. These monkeys attack people and they desecrate the place.     
You can contact the descendents of Appanacharya for any further information. They make arrangements for Theertha Prasad if you give them prior information.