Guru Raghavendra, the saint who had followed the philosophy of ‘dwaitha’ –originally enunciated Sri Madvacharya - decided to enter jeeva samadhi at a place called Manchale on the banks of Tungabadra. He was preparing the site of his Brindavan at that place. Today the place is known as Mantralaya.
During his stay at the village Manchale, Rayaru – as Guru Raghavendra is known- used to visit the holy places around Manchale. There are two villages which are known to have been frequented by Rayaru. The first being Bikshalaya (Bichale village on the banks of river Thungabadra) to meet Sri Appanacharya - a well known philosopher – a follower of Rayaru. Secondly he used to visit a cave in the nearby village called Ganathalam (Gandhal village in Raichur District-also known as Galandala) and sit on meditation for days together. Both these villages are on the other side of the river bank, where as the Brindavan site was on the side of the river which had Manchale village, on its bamks.
A short biography of the Saint Raghavendra is given in our site under ‘Hanumath Devotees’. To know more about Mantralaya Rayaru viewers are requested to read the biography of Guru Raghavendra on our site.
A short biography of the Dwaitha scholar Sri Appanacharya is also given on our site. Viewers may also read the biography of Sri Appanacharya.
While the village Manchale, known as Mantralaya now is presently in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, the village Gandhal is in Raichur District of Karnataka. The distance between these two places is hardly thirty minutes travel by local share auto. As you travel from Mantralaya on the Raichur road, after entering the Karnataka you will come across a busy intersection. If you turn to the right it will lead you the Gandhal village, and if you turn to the left it can lead you to Bikshalaya (also known as Bichali).
On turning to the right you will have to travel a pretty bad patch of a road to reach the village Gandhal. The village is very small and the place is sans any convenience. Except for the people who are running shops near the temple there is not much of an activity in the village.
The cave in which Sri Rayaru – as Guru Raghavendra - performed tapas for twelve years is on the top of a hillock. Around the hillock there are rock formations which are wonderful to see. Even now the cave has been maintained as it was then and rock-steps of say about fifty or so will lead one to the cave temple. Once you are on the top of the hillock, a narrow passage leads you to the sanctum of the cave temple. Inside the cave one can feel that the place is holy . There is no wonder that Guru Raghavendra had chosen the cave for penance, as the place is serene and looks sanctified even now.
After finishing his pooja of Rama at the cave temple, Guru Raghavendra used to sit for medidation. While on meditation at this cave he had carved the figures of Lord Venkateswara and Sri Lakshmi on the rock. The tapas continued for twelve years.
On a fine day Guru Raghavendra was blessed by Sri Anjaneya by appearing before him in a unique form. Sri Anjaneya revealed himself with five faces ‘pancha-mukha’. The five faces of the Lord were those of Hanuman, Hayagriva, Narasimha, Garuda and Varaha. The form in which Lord appeared before him had been carved in the cave and even today the poojas are conducted to this murti.
In the war fought between Sri Rama and Ravana, Ravana had used all foul methods to conquer Sri Rama. He requested his step brother Mahiravana, the king of Pathala Loka, to help him in the war. Mahiravana came in the disguise of Vibishana to Sri Anjaneya who was guarding Sri Rama and Lakshmana. He made Hanuman believe that he is Vibishana and took charge of protecting Sri Rama and Lakshmana from Ravana the mayavi.
Mahiravana in the form of Vibeeshana took Lord Ram and Lakshman to his kingdom, pathala. When the real Vibishana came, every one understood that it was the handiwork of Mahiravana. The task of bringing back Sri Rama and Lakshmana was entrusted to Sri Hanuman and enough hints were given by Vibishana as to how to kill Mahiravana.
Sri Hanuman entered pathala in search of Rama and Lakshmana. As per the advice of Sri Vibishana, Mahiravana could be killed only by blowing off the five lamps that are lit at his place of worship. All the lamps were to be blown off simultaneously. Sri Hanuman prayed to Sri Rama and then on reckoning that if he had to blow all the five lamps at the same time he needs to have five mouths to blow from. He then assumed a form with five faces – pancha mukhi - and blew all the lamps simultaneously, and then killed Mahiravana.
The darshan that Guru Raghavendra had of Sri Hanuman was when Sri Hanuman was a pancha mukhi. This place has now been named Panchamukhi Kshetra and is place of worship. The prayers and poojas are conducted regularly in this place to the Sri Panchamukhi Hanuman. One of the priests of the earlier years by name Sri Anantacharya had installed idols of Rudradevuru, Ganapati and Naga. Ash – from the various homams that are performed in the temple – is the only Prasad offered .
The cave temple is surrounded by unique rock formations. There is a “bed and pillow” formation besides a “vimanam” [plane like] formed naturally by rocks. Near the ‘dwaja stambam’ there is a stone mace which it is said belonging to Sri Hanuman. Beside the mace is a small shrine for ‘paduka’ of Sri Anjaneya [Hanuman] where a pair of footwear is kept. About five hundred metres away from the main cave temple on the northern side is the shrine for the grama devatha, Yarakalamma. It is customary to visit this temple also while visiting the panchamukhi temple - it is believed that the pilgrimage is not complete without visiting Yarakalamma.
Guru Raghavendra had medidated for twelve years at this khetra and was blessed by Sri Anjaneya and Sri Venkateswara and Sri Lakshmi and installed pancha-mukha Anjaneya. Such is the santity of this khetra, prayer of the devotee is sure to be fruitful.
[Ed Jan 2011 Hanumath Jayanti
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SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.
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