Thursday 29 November 2012

The saint around whom a town grew

He is a Madhwa saint around whom a town grew up. Today, that small town has grown up into a thriving industrial area, bordering the coastal city of Mangalore. The seer liked ekantha and was called Ekangi Swamy but wherever he went, crowds of devotes followed him and sought his blessings.
He had come to Karnataka nearly three centuries ago from Kashi in search of peace and calm. When he came to an area near present day Mangalore, the seer choose a spot  and sat in meditation.
His fame as a scholar and devout Madhwa had spread so far and wide that the place where he sat in meditation across a river soon turned into a prosperous trading centre. People began flocking to the place and it soon came to be known as Gurupura.
Even after he left, the people stayed back and today Gurupura is a busy industrial area.
Ironically for a saint who liked calm and quiet, his brindavana in one of the most populated cities of the world- Mumbai- in a place called Walkeshwar which he  had purchased. The Brindavana is in a locality that is described as one of the most expensive land  in the world.
This saint is none other than Madhavendra Theertha, the seventh pontiff if the Kashi Matha, who was one of the most influential seers of his times.
The seer entered Samadhi sajeeva (live) at Walkeshwara in Mumbai on August 1, 1775. The Samadhi is located between the Arabian Sea and a small lake where he used to bathe regularly before doing pooje.   
Even today, it is believed that this seer goes to bathe early in the morning to  the lake wearing his wooden padukas. The sound made by the padukas on the road has been heard by many people, including Sukreetindra Theertha, the Kashi Matha seer, who entered brindavana in 1949.
Another person, a devotee from North Kanara, too has heard the noise that the Padukas make. He was sleeping near the place where Madhavendra Theertha was supposed to take bathe. When he woke up the next morning, he found that he had been physically shifted to another place away from the lake.
Madhavendra Theertha had powers to know what the future held. He could foresee the day and date when his guru, Devandra Theertha, would enter Brindavana and he made all preparations for the event.
When the day approached, Devendra Theertha was in Bantwal and all the disciples began chanting Bhagavath Geeta and singing bhajans. The seer left his mortal body amidst the holy chanting in 1740. His  Brindavana of Devandra Theertha is situated on the banks of the Netravathi river. 
He installed the deity of Lord Venkatesha along with Varadaraja at Gurupura in 1742. He also consecrated the idol of  Bindu Madhava in Mulki (along with Lord Narasimha installed by Sri Vijayindra Theertha). He had himself bought the idol of Bindu Madhava from Kashi.
The seer was also instrumental in setting up the Kashi Math in Walkeshwar where his Brindavana is situated. There is a story told here about how much the seer liked this place. He decided to buy the land here and construct a small matha. He also decided to enter Brindavana at this place.
Madhavendra Theertha gave Deekshe to two disciples as his successors-Jnanindra Theertha, who entered brindavana in Nashik in 1760 and Yadavendra Theertha who entered brindavana at Honnavar in 1773. He later appointed Upendra Theertha as his successor. Upendra Theertha was the Peetadhipathi of Kashi Matha till 1791 and he entered Brindavana at Benaras.
It is believed that Madhavendra Theertha  performs miracles even today from the brindavana. By the way, the famous Hertitage Walk of Mumbai starts from this Matha.
Walkeshwar is in South Mumbai and it is at the north-west end of Marine Drive. Walkeshwar is another name of Lord Shiva and in Sanskrit it means an idol made from sand. The Malabar Hill and Hanging Gardens are part of Walkeshwar and the Raj Bhavan is just a stone’s throw away.
The real estate prices of Walkeshwar can be described as among the most expensive in the world. 

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