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SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.
Our salutations to this Hanuman who always brings subham - everything that is good - for His devotees and eliminates the bad and the evil. He removes even the traces of bad thoughts and deeds from His devotees. i.e He makes them pure in words, thought and deed.
It is popular belief; Pujya Sri Raghavendra is the reincarnations of Sankukarna, Prahlada, Bahlika, Vyasaraja tirtha in order. In his previous incarnation Pujya Sri Raghavendra was Sri Vyasaraja who had established 732 shrines for Lord Anjaneya and had personally worshiped Lord Venkateswara. It is no wonder that Pujya Sri Raghavendra was named Venkatanatha in this incarnation and a devotee of Lord Venkateswara. It is belived that Pujya Sri Raghavendra is a living saint and answers the devotees immediately. Today Mantralaya is a place where people go seeking Pujya Sri Raghavendra's blessings. They come back with smile and lot of confidence of winning the situation. Pujya Raghavendra is the one who had first worshiped Lord Anjaneya with five faces known as 'pancha muki Anjaneya'.
Sri Thimmanna Bhat and his wife Gopikambal were living in Hampi near Haspet of Bellary district of present Karnataka. Thimmanna Bhat is an exponent in playing Veena, like his ancestors. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Venkatachalapathy of Tirumala. This couple was not having any children; hence they went to Tirumala and prayed to the Lord. There after they were blessed with a girl child and two boys. The elder son was named Gururaja and the younger was named as Venkatanatha after the Lord of Tirumala. The younger one was born in the year 1595 while his parents were living in Bhuvanagiri. Sri Venkatanatha was performed the uppanayanam (the sacred thread ceremony) and was taught Vedas. He was sent to study under Sri Lakshmi Narasimhachar, who was married to his elder sister. He had proved to be an excellent student and was very sharp in understanding even the intrinsic meanings. After the parents have passed away, Gururajan took charge of the family as he was elder. The family moved to the nearby place- Kumbakonam which is very much known as the seat for learning Veda. While Gururaja was proud of his brother's knowledge and keenness he was showing in learning, he was equally worried in seeing his brother's inclination towards philosophy. So he got his brother Sri Venkatanatha married to a pious lady Saraswati who hailed from Bhuvanagiri. Sri Venkatanatha had not shown any interest in materialistic world and was more philanthropical.
Therefore due to necessity, the family moved to the Vidya mutt where Sri.Sri. Sudhindra Tirtha was the head. The Guru was so pleased to have Sri Venkatanatha as one of his student. He had no hesitation in his thought that this young bright brilliant student will be best suitable successor to his mutt after his time. Sri Venkatanatha learned Vyakarna and Sashtras alike and was very quick in grasping things. He used to sit on the banks of the river Cauvery and teach students who use to come there to get clarification as the lessons taught. His prowess to learn more and quickness to grasp made him the best among the disciples of their Guru.
Envying at this development, the some fellow students went and complained about Sri Venkatanatha to their Guru. On the night Guru went on rounds to the hostel and found all the students' deep asleep but could not find Sri Venkatanatha. He found him sleeping under the purana (old) mandapam and there were some palm leaves by his side. Guruji had taken his upper cloth and draped it on Sri Venkatanatha and took away the palm leaves written by him. To the surprise of Guru Sri Sudhindra Tirtha, this student of his has written the Vyakarna for lesson taught during the day. Next day Sri Sudhindra Tirtha in the assemblage of students explained about the incident the previous night and read out the Vyakarna written by Sri Venkatanatha, putting to shame the act of others who were complaining.
Sri Sudhindra Tirtha would take Sri Venkatanatha along with him when he went for pilgrimage. Sri Venkatanatha had extraordinary skill in Tharka (countering) and had won many accolades from learned scholars.
After completing his Gurukula at Kumbakonam, he returned to Bhuvanagiri and engaged in teaching. He was then blessed with a child and they had named him as Lakshmi Narasimha. On an occasion when he went to attend a yagya, other pundits around him thought of him as an ordinary purohit and asked him to prepare the sandal paste. Sri Venkatanatha prepared the paste chanting "AgniSukta". When the sandal paste was applied by the pundits, their body had a burning sensation. Then Sri Venkatanatha gave them the sandal paste made by chanting "VarunaSukta". On applying this paste their burning sensation receded and started cooling. They realised that he is no ordinary purohit and was given the honorable seat of performing the yagya.
In the meantime Sri.Sudhindra Tirtha who was becoming sick physically called Sri Venkatanatha and asked him to take up the charge of his mutt after him. Sri Venkatanatha replied that he is still not mature enough to take up such responsibility. Therefore Sri Sudhindra Tirtha made up his mind to hand over the responsibilities to another disciple by name Sri Yadavendra. While this arrangement continued Sri.Yadavendra went on a camp and Sri Sudhindra Tirtha fell gravely sick. On that night Sri MoolaRama whom the Guru worships, appeared in his dreams and told him that Sri Venkatanatha is born to worship Him and hence he should again appeal to Sri Venkatanatha. Guruji called Sri Venkatanatha and gave the Sri MoolaRama's message. Even now Venkatanatha was hesitant to accept the responsibility of mutt citing his duties as husband and father. On return to his home on the night God Vidya Lakshmi appeared in his dream and ordered Sri Venkatanatha to take the responsibility of worshiping Sri MoolaRama. After this divine direction Sri Venkatanatha performed his duties as father by celebrating the upanayanam of his son. His wife Saraswati inferred from his actions that he is taken a decision to become Sanyasi. This accumulated in her mind as an agony preparing herself to give up her life if required.
A day was selected for Sri Venkatanatha to embrace saintly hood. He was accorded a royal welcome in Thanjavur on the banks of Vadavaru and the ceremony of accepting Sanyasa has been made a memorable one by the then kingdom of Thanjavur. Sri Raghunatha Nayaka then king of Thanjavur had supervised the arrangements. After the ceremonies at Vadavaru banks where Sri Venkatanatha had become "Sri Raghavendra Tirtha" on embracing of sanyasa, he was given royal reception at the Thanjavur Palace by the King. Sri.Sudhindra Tirtha then handed over the responsibilities of the Sri Vidya mutt to Sri Raghavendra Tirtha.
On hearing the news of her husband becoming a Sanyasi, Smt Saraswati, handed over her son to her relatives and decided to give off her life. Accordingly she jumped into a well killing her self. Sri Raghavendra Tirtha relieved her from the cycle of birth and rebirth and accorded her a status of 'nitya sumangali'. Guru Raghavendra started discharging his duty as head of Sri Vidya mutt by attending to the pooja of Sri MoolaRama. He had started writing commentaries for many ancient works, he explained the interstices meaning of Vedas and Puranas. He use to interact with the students of the Gurukula and Scholars who meet him and discuss with them the various aspects of the Vedas. He started moving through out the Bharath to spread the Dwaida philosophy advocated by Sri Madhvacharya. While he was at Udupi he rejoiced singing in praise of Lord Krishna of Udipi. He had composed many songs in praise of Him under the nickname Venugopalan.
He had performed many miracles during his journey. Once while traveling across a deserted area during hot summer along with his devotees, one of the devotees wife was writhering in pain to deliver a child. In order to help the women deliver the child safely, Guru Raghavendra performed the miracle of producing water from the ground by making a hole with the help of his Dhanda. He also produced shade by simply keeping his upper cloth floating in the space.
While camping at a village Kridagiri, he was performing Sri MoolaRama pooja at village chieftain's house. At that time the chieftain's son accidentally fell into the food prepared and kept for serving and died. The Chieftain and his wife not willing to disrupt the pooja locked the kid's body in a room and continued with the pooja. Guru Raghavendra came to know of this and went into the room. He chanted some manthras and gave life to the kid. The chieftain then gave the entire village as Guru Dhakshina to Guru Raghavendra.
In a place called Adoni (a place near Humpi), a young Shepard boy who was gracing cattle, saw Guru Raghavendra and grieved that since the family was poor he could not go to school and educate himself. And he wished he is a literate. Guru Raghavendra blessed the boy and gave him mantrakshate (Sacred rice grains) and told him to remember him in times of need. As the years passed the boy Venkanna grew up, and chanced to meet Azadulla Khan, the representative of Sultan who had come to Adoni for recruiting people for army. While at camp, a messenger had delivered a written document from Sultan addressed to his lieutenant Azadulla Khan. Azadulla Khan who was illiterate was looking around to see for somebody to read the message for him. He saw Venkanna with tuft and thought that this young man with tuft would be a wise man. Therefore Venkanna who was standing nearby was asked to read the message from Sultan. When told that he is illiterate, Khan ordered that if the message is not read by him, his head will be cut off. Sri Venkanna on hearing this prayed Guru Raghavendra for help, and to the astonishment of all around he read the letter. It was news from the Sultan to his lieutenant Azadulla Khan in praise of his service to the Sultanate. On hearing the good news Azadulla Khan made Venkanna Diwan of Adoni.
In a place called Malawi, Guru Raghavendra was performing pooja of Sri MoolaRama staying at a temple. A young man was witnessing the pooja from outside the temple. When he was asked to come near, he told that he is from a different class and he is not permitted to enter the temple. Hearing this Guru Raghavendra said that there is no differentiation in the creation of God. Hence invited him inside the temple and embraced him in presence of all. Guru Raghavendra also said that he could give anything for performing the pooja of MoolaRama. The young man gave mustard seeds for the pooja, as he had only these. This happened during the month of Asada of lunar calendar, during which period traditionally the mustard seeds are not taken in the food. But since this has been given with lot of love for the pooja of Sri MoolaRama, on that day these mustard seeds were cooked and served as offering. A pundit by name Nasmachar was reluctant to take the food offered by the mutt. Guru Raghavendra had ordered that a food without mustard seeds be prepared and served to the pundit. Accordingly Narasimhachar was offered a special food while Guru Raghavendra had taken the prasadam made of mustard seeds. Narasimhachar took the mantrakshate offered by Guru Raghavendra and left for home. To the astonishment of the pundit, the mantrakshate had turned black when he opened at his house. Fearing he has committed an error, he rushed back to Guru Raghavendra. A food that has been offered to God with love is Prasad, if taken with half heart is a food. Therefore any offering to the God should be with love and dedication, and any food taken should be accepted as the grace of God. This message was conveyed to pundit with a simple smile from Guru Raghavendra. For having repented for his err, the mantrakshate brought by Narasimachar was blessed by Guru Raghavendra and it turned into golden yellow.
The place where he took sanyasa Thanjavur was reeling under drought. The then king Vijaya Raghava Naickar had requested Guru Raghavendra to grace his kingdom so as to invoke the blessings of rain gods and relieve the kingdom of drought. Guru Raghavendra stayed at Thanjavur and performed yagnas invoking Varuna. Slowly there was rain in kingdom, relieving it of drought and prosperity returned. As a gift of gratitude the king presented Guru Raghavendra a navaratna mala. Guru Raghavendra who was performing yagya at that time offered the mala in the sacred fire as an offering to the god. Witnessing this, the king was anguished and told guruji that the mala is highly valuable. Hearing this Guru Raghavendra smiled and brought back the mala from the sacred fire and gave to the king. The mala now was more sparkling than before. Guru Raghavendra then explained to the king that he had offered the mala to the fire God (Agni). The king then realised his foolishness and fell on Guru Raghavendra's feet and begged for his blessings.
Guru Raghavendra on one fine day returned to Kumbakonam from where his spiritual life started. He slowly started doing things that were putting the people around him to wonder. He appointed a priest for performing of pooja in the Brindavan of his Guru Sri Vijaendrar. The charge of Sri Kumbeswarar temple was handed over to Kanchi Kamakoti mutt. The charge of Sri Sakrapani and Sri Sarangapani temples were handed over to Sri Ahobili Mutt. He had also handed over charge of various activities of the mutt to many of his disciples. He performed poojas to Sri Suchidra Thirtha and Sri Padmanabha Thirtha and started towards Adoni.
Sri Venkkanna who was Diwan of Adoni welcomed the Guru, and requested him to stay in his palace. Guru Raghavendra stayed at the palace and performed pooja of Sri Moola Rama. Sri Venkkanna had invited his Nawab to visit the palace for dharshan of Guru Raghavendra. But Nawab had something else in his mind. Since he had wondered about the miracles performed by Guru Raghavendra, and wanted to test the claim. He placed pieces of meat in a silver plate and covered it with a silk cloth and presented the same to Guru Raghavendra. Guru smiled at the Nawab and sprinkled holy water on it. When the cloth was removed, to the astonishment of Nawab the meat he had brought was not there and instead the silver plate was covered with flowers and fruits. Nawab then realised his mistake and surrendered himself at Guru Raghavendra's feet. Nawab then ordered his Diwan to gift a village to Guru Raghavendra of Guru's choice. Guru Raghavendra asked for a village by name Manchale near the banks of river Thungabadra. The Nawab told Guru Raghavendra that it was a barren land and instead offered to give some better land. But Guru Raghavendra insisted that he wanted only that village and nothing else.
After settling down in the village Manchale, Guru Raghavendra built a temple for the village deity Manchalamma. He also desired that he wanted to build a temple for Lord Venkatesa Perumal of Tirupathi in the village of Manchale. With the help of Dewan Venkanna the work progressed very fast in the village of Manchale and Guru Raghavendra performed various yagyas and placed (pradistha) Lord Venkatesa idol in the temple. When Diwan Venkanna repeatedly asked Guru Raghavendra as to why he chose this particular village, he asked Diwan to excavate a particular place. There Diwan found a homa kundam (a scared place square in shape where ritual fire is ignited and scarifies are offered to God). He then explained to the Diwan the reason for choosing this particular village as follows
Guru Raghavendra was born as Bhaktha Prahaladha during Krida Yuga (period). And had performed various yagyas in this particular place and got full blessings of Lord Narayana. During Dwavabhara Yuga, Arjuna who was on victory journey in connection with rajasuya yagya, could not win over the local cheifton Anusalva. It is because of the reason that Anusalva was standing in this scared place and waging the war against Arjuna. Only after Anusalva was moved out of this scared spot he could be conquered by Arjuna. Such is the mahima of this place hence Guru Raghavendra had chosen this place for his Brindavan.
While staying at Manchale, Guru Raghavendra use to visit a nearby place called Ganathalam (Gandhal village in Raichur District) and stay put a particular cave for meditation. On one fine day while on meditation, Guru Raghavendra had dharshan of Lord Sri Anjaneya with five faces at this cave. Even today devotees make it point to visit this place where Guru Raghavendra had dharshan of Lord Sri Anjaneya. Today the place is called Panchamuki.
Saints who practice dwaitha philosophy chose a scared place of their choice to relieve themselves from this mortal coil and obtain jeevamukti. In the scared place a Brinda plant (Tulasi) is planted and the place is worshiped for invoking the blessings of the Saint. Guru Raghavendra chose a big black rock that was on the bank of river Thungabadra to be brought to Manthralaya. He had the vision through MoolaRama whom he worshiped everyday, that rock had been sanctified by Sri Rama during his search of Sri Sita. The scared rock had been used for making the Brindavan and a portion of the rock had been used for sculpturing a vigraha for Lord Anjaneya. The Vigraha is now consecrated opposite to the moola Brindavan.
ABefore entering the Brindavan in Manchale, Guru Raghavendra decided to seek the permission of Manchalamma, the presiding deity of Manchale. Accordingly, he went to her temple and prayed to her. As wished by Her, he promised to bestow his blessings to the devotees only after they had first visited Her temple.
On the day chosen (Virodhikruth Samvatsara Shravana krishna paksha dwitiya - 1671 A.D.), thousands of people had congregated in Manchale to see this rare event of a person entering a Brindavan alive. Guru first performed his daily pooja to the Moola Rama and then addressed his disciples.
Guru then took his veena and started to sing the famous song,"Indu Enege Govinda" set in Bhairavi raga. Just as in His previous avatAra as VyAsaraja in this avatara also the blue darling of Brindavan in the form of an icon danced to the melodious of his darling who was going to enter the Brindavan. For some time he was in meditation, shining with a rare brilliance. His hands stopped moving the japamala. That was the sign and his disciples started arranging slabs upto his head. As per Guru's earlier instructions they placed a copper box containing one thousand two hundred saligramas. Then they placed the covering slab over it and filled it with earth. Thus Guru left his mortal coil to enter the eternal bless.
An incident that has happened just after Guru entered the Brindavan is proof of his presence. Sri Appanacharya a beloved disciple who composed many poems was struck on the other bank of the Thugabhadra River and could not attend the ceremony. He came running singing in praise of his Guru only to see that the last covering slab in place. The poem he was reciting could not be completed by him on seeing that. But a golden voice from inside the Brindavan said that "sakshi haya syotra hi" (meaning that Lord Hayagriva is the witness to the statements made by appanacharya in his stostra, and that He would make them all come true). Even today, anybody reciting this stostra with full faith and devotion gets all the grace of Guru Rahavendra.
Santam shrIramaNa priyam yativaram vyAsasya bhAvebrishan
DurvArAmitamAyi bhikshutimire paryasya chandram bhuvi |
Satsandasthutamishta dakshitiruham vandAruvi prAshrayam
Tam NatvA sakalo durUhasudrasham samyAti vidyAdikam ||
|| Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram ||
|| Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram ||
Ed [September 2008]