Monday, 10 December 2012

The victorious Raghavendra

Well, we all know about the miracles of Raghavendra Swamy. But not many know that Rayaru was also an excellent debater and he won debates wherever he went.
A renown scholar, he put to shame many scholars with his depth of the Shastras and erudition. Even as a boy, he had shown an inclination towards learning and as he grew up, his knowledge was like the Kalpavruksha.    
Sudhindra Theertha had entered Brindavana at Nava Brindavana in Hampi and Raghavendra Swamy had personally overseen the arrangements.
Soon afterwards, Raghavendra Swamy decided to go on Sanchara. He first visited Thanjavur. The land of the erstwhile Cholas was experiencing unrest and the kingdom was passing through a severe famine.
The Nayaka of Thanjavur, Vijaya Raghava Raya, urged Raghavendra Swamy to help the people. Raghavendra Swamy stayed on in Thanjavur for several years and helped the King overcome the famine.
The grateful King offered a necklace to Raghavendra Swamy who promptly offered it to Agni. This offended the King and Raghavendra Swamy put his hand into the fire and gave hi back the necklace.
Rayaru then came to Kumbakonam. He stayed there for some time before deciding to move on and spread the gospel of Madhwa philosophy.
He visited Paripurna Nagara, Kamalalaya and Ardha Nareeshwara and finally reached Poompuhar where Cauvery joins the sea. He then travelled to Rameshwaram where he gave discourses. He came to Tamrapani where he helped a Brahmin who had been excommunicated by members of his community.
Raghavendra Swamy purified the Brahmin by sprinkling holy water from his Kamandala. He visited Madurai where he was accorded a welcome by its ruler Tirumala Nayaka.
Here, Raghavendra Swamy took on Nilakanta Dixit, grandson of Appaiah Dixit, a contemporary of Vijayendra Teertha (His Paramaguru), in a debate on Mimamsa.
Nilakanta Dixit accepted defeat and honored Raghavendra Swamy by seating him on an elephant. Rayaru left Madurai after visiting the Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi deities.
Rayaru then travelled to Namakkal where he prayed at the temple of Narasimha. He then continued towards Vellore, which was then in the hands of the Vijayanagar Kings. However, Hampi had lost its glory and the Vijayanagar Kings after Ramaraya had shifted base first to Penukonda-Chandragiri and then to Vellore.
The Vijayanagar Emperor, Venkatapathi Raju, honored Raghavendra swamy. The court of Vellore saw a fascinating debate between Raghavendra Swamy on one hand and two Adwaitha brothers, Veerabadra and Bairava Bhatta, on the other hand.
As can be expected, Raghavendra Swamy won the debate and the Adwaitha brothers conceded defeat. The Vijayanagar Emperor appreciated Raghavendra Swamiji and gifted several villages near Vellore.
Rayaru spent time at the Hanuman Temple at Vellore. It was at this place near Shanbakkam where Madhwacharya had a written a commentary on Vishnu Sahasaranama and Vyasa Theertha had stayed here. He met several Madhwa seers here and also read texts by Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha of  Vyasaraja Matha. One of Kambalur’s texts is believed to have influenced Rayaru deeply and moulded his thinking.
Kambalur was one of the Shishyas of Vijendra Theertha of Sri Matha, Kumbakonam. Vijendra Theertha was the paramaguru of Raghavendra Swamy. Coincidentally, Vijendra Theertha was one of the disciples of Vyasa Theertha.  
He then came to Vishnumangala where the Brindavana of Trivikrama Panditacharya is situated. Rayaru then travelled to Subramanya and from there to Udupi.
While in Udupi, Raghavendra Swamy stayed at a small Matha in front of the Sri Krishna Temple. This matha had been acquired by the Sri Matha of Kumbokanam when Vijendra Theertha was heading it.
Raghavendra Swamy looked as if he had gone into a trance when he saw Lord Krishna. He sang and danced in ecstasy. He composed several songs on Krishna under the pen name Venugopala.
He also stayed back in Udupi for the Chaturmasa and wrote some of his works, including Nyaya Mukthavali, a treatise on theology. He also wrote  Tantra Deepika and Parimala.
When the time for leaving Udupi came, Raghavendra Swamy gifted the Krishna Temple with a golden idol of  Krishna holding a Kadagol (stick to churn butter) in his hand.
During his subsequent tours, Raghavendra Swamy visited Srirangapatna, which was the capital of the Wodeyars. Dodde Deveraja Wodeyar honored the seer and gifted the villages of Nallur and Devarajapur.
Raghavendra Swamy stayed back at Srirangapatna for the Chaturmasa. After the Chaturmasa, he came to Chitradurga where he stayed at the Rama Temple.
It is here that Raghavendra Swamy exhibited one of his finest miracles. This miracle showed that Rayaru had the extraordinary power of helping a person get Moksha.
The devotees and followers of Raghavendra Swamy saw a person come to the seer regularly and almost every day pleading for complete “Mukti” .  One day, Raghavendra Swamy asked the person whether he was serious about attaining mukti. When the person answered in the affirmative, Rayaru said he would grant him the wish.
The overjoyed devotee fell at the feet of Raghavendra Swamy who asked him to bathe, perform Sandhyavandhana and then come to him.
Rayari then gave the person Pancha Gavya. He asked for a fire to be lit and instructed the devotee to jump into it. The devotee jumped into the fire and his mortal figure was engulfed in flames.
Many devotees of Rayaru started criticising him for making an innocent man jump into fire.
Even as the shocked gathering began talking ill about Rayaru, they heard the sound of ringing bells. When they looked up towards the sky, they saw the devotee seated in a Vimana which was moving towards heaven.
It suddenly struck the gathering that Rayaru was capable of sending people directly to Hari for Moksha. All the devotees fell at the feet of Rayaru, seeking forgiveness.
Rayaru then came to Nava Brindavana where he once again worshipped the Brindavana of Sudhindra Theertha, his guru. He also paid his respects to other brindavans, including the brindavana of his previous incarnation, Vyasa Theertha.
He then came to Chakra Theertha and worshipped Vyasa Pratistha Hanuman and the Brindavana of Narahari Theertha. He then commenced his tour of north Karnataka.
He stopped at Gadag where he visited the Veera Narayana Temple. As Vyasa Theertham he had given the ankita Nama Kumara Vyasa to Narayana who had composed Kumara Bharata in the temple.
He then proceeded to Kiritagiri where people got to see a miracle of Raghavendra Swamy.
A rich landlord, Gurunatha Rao Desai and his wife Indiramma had invited Raghavendra Swamy, for Bhiksha. When the pooje was in progress at their house, the young son of Desai slipped into a vessel containing mango juice (Rasaina) and died.
Raghavendra Swamy revived the boy  and the grateful Desai handed over the village of Kiritgiri to the Sri Matha. At Hubbali, another miracle followed. Rayaru revived Shezada, the dead son of the reigning Nawab of Dharwad under whom the Hubbali province came.
Shazada had already been placed in a tomb when the grief struck Nawab came to Rayaru. The seer asked for the boy to be taken out of the tomb and he sprinkled holy water on the boy’s face. The boy revived.
At Sirsangi, he revived a dry twig which suddenly turned green. The Desai, a Veerashaiva, began respecting Brahmins and stopped harassing them.
In Pandrapur, he once again performed  a miracle by providing water and shelter to o a pregnant woman (She was the wife of one of Rayaru’s devotee called Dasappa )who was to deliver a baby.Dasappa became the father of a son and he was named Ramappa.
In Pandrapur, Raghavendra Swamy overcame  Shesha, a scholar, in a debate. He worshipped Panduranga Vittala. Incidentally, Panduranga Vittala was the favourite deity of Purandara Dasa who was the star disciple of Vyasa Theertha.
Raghavendra Swamy  also visited Kolhapur and Nashik where he saved a Brahmin from drowning in he Godavari river.
He then came to Bijapur where the reigning Adilshai monarch, Ibrahim Adil Shah, welcomed him.
The Adil Shah  honored Rayaru with the white umbrella. Coincidentally, an earlier Adil Shah had honored Vyasa Theertha with the White Umbrella.
Ibrahim Adil Shah conferred the title Jagadguru on Raghavendra Swamy. Strangely, Ibrahim himself was called Jagatguru by his subjects for his religious tolerance and love for poetry and music.
At Bijapur, Raghavendra Swamy performed a homa. Ibrahim Adil Shah came to the place where the homa was being performed and gifted a gen studded necklace.
Raghavendra Swamy offered the necklace to Agni and put it into the fire. This upset the Adil Shah and Raghavendra showed his miraculous powers by pulling the necklace out of the fire.
He then came to Alur where he wrote a commentary on Tatwa Prakashika and Tatwa Manjari, a gloss on Sutra Anu Bhashya.
He then proceeded to Manvi in Raichur districtwhere he spent his . Chaturmasya.
Here too, Raghavendra Swmay was absorbed in writing a book. One day, he saw a person from a lower caste standing near and beckoned to him. To the astonishment of all others, Rayaru began talking to the person.
Rayaru asked him to do some seve to God. The next day, the person brought some mustard seeds and handed them over to Rayaru. Mustard was not used during Chaturmasa but Rayaru asked the cooks to use it in the preparation of food.
The person ate the food and died. Rayaru later told his devotes that the person was none other than Kanaka dasa. He said during his previous incarnation, Kanaka Dasa was his disciple.
Kanaka Dasa had to complete his Prarabda and, hence, he incarnated again. He got moksha in his next life-as a low caste person.
Now came the episode of Bidarahalli Srinivasacharya and the mustard seeds. After this, Raghavendra Swamy visited Adoni where he was accorded a warm welcome by Venkanna. The Adoni Nawab, Siddi Masud Khan, tested the holiness of Raghavendra Swmay by offering a plateful of meat. The meat turned into fruits and flowers, leaving Masud Khan dumbstruck.     
Raghavemdra Swamy visited Tirupathi and then Srimushna, He then went to Kumbakonam where he was given a warm welcome by the people.
Rayaru then handed over the administration of the Chakrapani and Sarangapani temples to Ahobala Matha and came back to Bichale and then entered Brindavana at Mantralaya.
This is the route that is generally put out as the Sanchara Yatre of Rayaru. There may be some minor omissions but this is taken as the most authentic route map.
Kumbhakonam-where he took Sanyas
Tanjore –where he was honored
Poompuhar –where the Cauvery meets the ocean


  1. When they looked up towards the sky, they saw the devotee seated in a Vimana which was moving towards heaven.
    It suddenly struck the gathering that Rayaru was capable of sending people directly to Hari for Moksha.


    The people noticed no earthly reminders left behind in the fire (such as bones and ashes) and thus were further confirmed in their belief that this was a true miracle of Shri Hari by his beloved devotee.

    1. Yes, Mr. Anon. You are right. Rayaru had the rare privilege of seding people to ther Moksha