Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Nava Brindavana in Vellore

The fountainhead of Madhwa philosophy, Madhwacharya, visited this place in the 13th century and stayed awhile. He also wrote a grantha on on Vishnu Sahasranama here.
The next prominent saint to visit this place was Vyasa Raja. He was then the preceptor of the Vijayanagar Emperor and he installed a diety of  Hanuman at this place in the 16th century.
In his next avatar as Raghavendra Swamy a few decades later, Vyasa Raja stayed here for two weeks and meditated all the while on Hari.
This is Rayavellore or Vellore which has a Nava Brindavana to its credit.
In my earlier articles, I have written about the Nava Brindavana at Hampi (Nava Brindavana) Erode and the latest Nava Brindavana at Chennai.
Tamil Nadu has thus the distinction of having three Nava Brindavanas while Karnataka has two-the one at Nava Brindavana in Hampi and another at Sosale near Mysore.
The Nava Brindavana in Vellore is located across Palar river at Shanbakkam. The brindavana here belong to two different Madhwa Mathas and they are located at different levels.
The Nava Brindavana complex actually has only eight Brindavanas. The ninth is the brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy.
The story of Vellore’s tryst with Madhwa siddantha begins with the arrival of Madhwacharya from Rameshwaram.
Madhwacharya had defeated several Adwaitha scholars in Ramaeswaram and he had come to Vellore after completing Chaturmasa in Rameshwaram.
He stayed here for some time and wrote a commentary on Vishnu Sahasaranama.
The seers whose Brindavana are located here are: Sripathi Theertha and Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha, both of Vyasa Raja Matha, Satyadhiraja Theertha and Vidyapathi Theetha of Uttaradhi Matha. The other Brindavanas belongs to  Kesava Udaya, a Shishya  of Satyadiraja Theertha and three other Bidi sanyasis-Govinda Madhava, Bhoovaraha and  Raghunatha. The ninth Brindavana is of Raghavendra Swamy.
The first to enter Brindavana here is Sripathi Theertha in 1612. He was the fifth pontiff of the Vyasa Raja Matha. His brindavana and that of his disciple, Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha is opposite to each other.   
There is an interesting story about Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha (There is another saint by the same name and he belongs to the Sripadaraja Matha. He is Uddanda Ramachandra Theertha and his Brindavana is at Penukonda).  
Kambalur Ramachandra Theertha was a well-known saint of his age. He was once sitting beneath a tree and expousing the Shastras when a person called Nanjundappa tried to throw a boulder on the seer’s head from the tree top.
The stone came tumbling down but it halted in midair. Only when Kambalur got up and went away, did the stone land on the place where he was sitting. Kambalur forgave Narayanappa and asked him and other disciples to place the boulder on his  Brindavana.
To this day, this boulder can be seen atop the Brindavana here.
Raghavendra Swamy read some of his works and was deeply impressed by them.
Kambalur was the contemporary of  Vedavyasa Theertha (till 1619 AD) and Vidyadhisha Theertha  (till 1631 AD) of  Uttaradhi Matha and Sudhindra Theertha  (1596-1623 AD) and  Raghavendra Swamy (1623- 1671 AD) of Kumbokanam Matha.
The Uttaradhi Matha seer, Satyadhiraja Theertha, cured the son of  Namab of Arcot of an illness. A grateful Nawab decided to bear the expense of a day’s pooje. To this day, the grant of Rs. 1 per day continues. Arcot today is a locality in Vellore.
Satyadhiraja Theertha also helped the Nayaka of Vellore, Thimappa and his son Chinnabommi, to build the fort at Vellore. Though they built the fort, it came tumbling down often. Perplexed they sought divine help from Satyadhiraja Theertha.
The seer asked the Nayaka to construct four Brindavanas on the walls of the fort. He also threw a big stone in the moat surrounding the fort. The fort held up and today it is acknowledged as a master of military engineering. Satyadhiraja Theertha was given Deekshe by Satyabhinava Theertha who ruled the Uttaradhi Matha pontificate from 1673 to 1706. Satyabhinava Theertha had two disciples,  Satyadeesha Theertha, and Sathyadhiraja Theertha. They both predeceased him.
Satyadhiraja Theertha’s poorvashrama name was Vidyamani Vidyadheeshacharya.   
The name of Vidyapathi Theertha is not included in the Swamijis who occupied the Uttaradhi Parampare as he did not complete the Chaturmasa Vrata after taking Sanyas. This is the reason why his Charamasloka is not available. 
He entered Brindavana in Vellore on Jestha Bahula Ekadashi. There is another saint by the same name belonging to the Vyasa Raja Matha. He too was known as Vidyapathi Theertha and he entered Brindavana in Kumbakonam in 1798.    
The Mrithika Brindavana of Rayaru was consecrated in 1991.

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