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Bichale then and now


Bichale or Bhikshalaya is one of the most holiest places associated with Raghavendra Swamy. This can be called the third Mantralaya. The credit for being called the second Mantralaya goes to Honalli.
Coming back to Bhikshalaya, this is very the place where our beloved Rayaru spent 12 years of his life, staying in the house of Appanacharya, an educationist and religious teacher of the 17th  century.
Raghavendra Swamy had heard about Bichale and Appanacharya and so he came down here from Adoni. He was given a warm and affectionate welcome by Appancaharya. The bond between the two men was so great that Rayaru consented to stay on here.
Appancharya, though two years elder to Rayaru, spent the next 12 years in service of Rayaru. He lovingly fed Rayaru and ground the Kadale Kale on the grinding stone himself.
He sat with Rayaru on the Japada Katte here and both of them spent hours, days and months discussing a variety of issues related to the Shastras, Puranas, Upanishats.
Till 2009, one could see the old house where Rayaru spent his days. The place where he slept, the place where he did Moola Rama pooje were all marked. The Hutta or anthill where the snake resided was also marked.
However, the devastating floods of 2009 wiped away many of these places. Indeed, it completely brought down the house.
Today, the outer walls of the house have been rebuilt. The inner portion is expected to be completed shortly, says the sixth generation descendent of Appancahcrya.
The two-room house is now in shambles and a row of aarti cups demote the place where Rayaru used to sleep.
The house is significant for several reasons.

The first is or rather was because of its heritage value. The structure belonged to the 17th century and it had not undergone many alterations or changes. This would give us an insight on how people lived in those days.

Secondly, Rayaru, came to Bichale, sometime in 1658-59 and stayed on here till 1671. This is a simple two-room house, typical of structures in north Karnataka. 

The house was near the Tungabhadra and Rayaru and Appanacharya walked from there to the Japada Katte where they spent hours discussing religion, theology and philosophy. It is in this house that Rayaru formulated his ideas about Chandrika and wrote them on the Japada Katte. This work called Tatparya Chandrika was the last work of Raghavendr Swamy. Incidnetally, the original work of Chandrika was by Vyasa Raja, the previous avatar of Raghavendra Swamy.

Thus Bichale is holy in many ways. It is from here that Rayaru decided to enter Brindavana. His last work came to be written here. More than anything else, many of the hymns to Raghavendra including “Poojyaya Raghavendraiah …..””came to be formulate here by Appanacharya.    

The rice that was cooked on a tree


There is a tree in Bichale which is unique in the sense that it cooked rice for Appanacharya when he sat below it to teach is students.
Appancharya belonged to a rich family of Bichale that had lands. He had started a Veda Patshala for the benefit of people of the area.
The tree that cooked rice 
Over time, the Patshala became popular and hundreds of students flocked to it. Appancharya became so busy that he did not have time to cook food. So he collected the rice in a towel and hung it up the tree.
He then sat on a small raised platform near the idol of Ugra Narasimha. The students listened to the teachings of Appancharya with ratp attention.
By the time the classes were over, the rice cooked. Appanacharya first offered the rice as Prasada to the various deities in the Japada Katte and then ate it himself.
That the rice cooked itself without a fire is a testimony to the holiness of Appancharya and the spot.
Madhwacharya is believed to have visited Bichale. Sripadaraja Theertha installed the deity of Narasimha and his favourite disciple Vyasa Raja installed the Hanuman idol.
Narasimha was the favourite deity of Sripadaraja Theertha and the image can still be seen.
Vyasa Raja drew the picture of Hanuman with the Homa Raksha. He had performed several yagnas here and he used the ashes to draw the figure. The Hanuman carved itself  on the ashes.
Appancharya had realised the importance of these events and he conducted classes here.  
No wonder, Raghavendra Swamy came to the spot and stayed here for 12 years. All the seers of  Mantralaya Matha and other religious heads have visited Bichale and prayed at this spot.
The Japada katte is a serene spot on the banks of the Tungabhadra. However, there are many monkeys and they can attack people. So be careful of them.