Wednesday 24 October 2012

Chaturmasa Vrata of Raghavendra Swamy

The Chaturmasa season has just come to an end and this masa was worth remembering in Bangalore as the pontiff of the Uttaradi Matha, Satyatma Theertha performed the Chaturmasa Vrata in Bangalore.  The seer of the Pevajar Matha, Visvesha Theertha was in Chennai for Chaturmasa. Devotees in both cities benefitted a lot, thanks to these seers as there were discourses, seminars and functions.
As the Chaturmasa celebrations at the National College Grounds in Basavanagdui came to an end a few weeks ago, I was just wondering about Chaturmasa performed centuries ago. Where and how did the seers such as Madhwacharya, Vadiraja, Sripada Raja, Vyasa Theertha, Raghavendra Swamy perform them and what are the places they visited, I asked myself.
I then realized that it would be a herculean task to enumerate all the Chaturmasa Vacate of swamijis of  more than two dozen Madhwa Mathas in the country. Remember there are hundreds of saints belonging to these mathas and all of them had unfailingly performed Chaturmasa every year.
 I, therefore, decided to narrow down my vision on a few great seers, starting with our Acharya-Madhwacharya. All the Madhwa saints, irrespective of  the mathas they belong to, owe their primary allegiance to Madhwacharya, who is considered to be an incarnation of Hanuman and Bheema. He is also the fountain head of Dwaitha or Madhwa philosophy.
Many of our religious customs and traditions can be traced to Madhwacharya and his four main disciples-Padmanabha Theertha, Narahari Theertha, Madhava Theertha and Akshoba Theertha. Therefore, I decided to start with him.
When I delved into the life and times of Madhwacharya, I found that during one of the Chaturmasa, the Acharya had taken on an entire team of Adwaitha scholars and defeated them in debate at Rameshwaram. It was here that he sat for Chaturmasa for some time.
Madhwacharya is believed to have not only meditated but stayed in Rameshwararam for some time. He was Hanuman in his earlier avatar and he did point out a few interesting facts relating to them to his disciples and scholars who thronged his meetings.
Another place where the  Acharya performed Chaturmasa Vrata was at Ananda Theertha Agrahara in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh.  The Agrahara, now renamed as Theertham, is located near Kolar district of Karnataka and is about 15 kms from  Mulabagal. (It was at Bheemanakatte across Tunga river in Shimoga district, that Achuta Preksha Theertha gave Sanyasa Deekshe to Vasudeva and named him Ananda Theertha who subsequently came to be known as Madhwacharya.)
During his last years, the Acharya spent time at Kanva Kshetra and Udupi and performed Chaturmasa Vrata.
I next come to Vyasa Theertha and I found that he had performed Chaturmasa Vrata at Tirupathi  for several years. (He had worshipped Srinivasa in Tirupathi from 1486 to 1498), Hampi (Vijayanagar) where he was the Raja Guru for six Emperors, including Krishna Deve Raya and his successor Achuta Deve Raya, and at Chennapatna.
Vyasa Theertha did Chaturmasa Vrata at Penukonda and before that at Hampi.
 In his next avatar as Raghavendra Swamy, he performed Chaturmasa Vrata at Udupi where he wrote some of his works and propounded Dwaita philosophy. It is generally believed that Raghavendra Swamy  performed the second Chaturmasa at the  Sanjeevaraya Temple (Anjaneya) at Manvi in Raichur district. He also performed Chaturmasa Vrata at Srirangapatna.
Raghavendra Swamy performed the Chaturmasa Vrata at Bichale which is near Mantralaya for several years. Sripadaraja performed several Chaturmasa Vratas in Mulabagal in Kolar district and his cousin brother Bramanye Theertha did the same at Abbur, Chennapatna and Bramanyepura. Another saint, Sudhindra Theertha, the guru of Raghavendra Swamy,  did Chaturmasa Vrata at Kumbakonam, Tanjore (Thanjavur) and surrounding places.    
Chaturmasa if for four months and commences from  Deva Sayana Ekadasi in Ashada month and ends on Utthana Ekadasi in Kartika. Our scriptures say that the four months of Shravan, Bhadrapad, Ashwina and Kartika are the holiest days the Hindu calendar as Lord Vishnu is believed to be in Yoga Nidre (sleep). 
The Bhagavat Purana has an interesting story of the four months of Chatura Masa. When Vishnu goes to bed on Shukla Ekadasi of Ashadha, it is called Sayana Ekadasi, when he turns on his side during Bhadrapada, it is called Parivartana Ekadashi and when he wakes up during Kartika, it is called Uttana Ekadasi.

I am trying to get the dates and exact places or temples where some of these Gurus performed Chaturmasa Vrata. I will post them as soon as I have the information.

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