Monday 5 November 2012

The day Raghavendra Swamy 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.
He then took the hand of  Yogendra Theertha and walked to 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 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 ti the assembled crowd and made his last speech. 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 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.
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."

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