- Raghavendra Swami
Sri Guru Raghavendra Swamy(Kannada:ಶ್ರೀ ಗುರು ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ ) (1595-1671), one of the influential
saints in Hinduism, lived in the 16th century. He advocated Vaishnavism( worshipof Vishnuas the supreme God) and the Dvaitaphilosophy advocated by Madhvacharya. He is considered by his devotees to be a reincarnationof Prahlada, the devotee who was saved by Vishnuin his avataras Narasimha(see Vaishnava Theology). ShriRaghavendra Swamivaru has performed many miracles during his lifetime and is believed to continue to bless his devotees to this day.Fact|date=June 2008
He was an ardent devotee of Sri Moola
Ramaand Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPranaDevaru (the five-faced form of Hanuman- "Pancha" meaning five, "mukha" meaning faces). He performed penance at a place called Panchamukhi, where He received darshanof Hanuman in the form of Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPrana. There is also a huge statue of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman at tiruvallur, near Chennai.Fact|date=June 2008 Mantralayamin present day Andhra Pradesh, close to the Karnatakaborder, is the abode of Raghavendra Swami. The Raghavendra Muttin Mantralaya(previously known as Manchale) is visited by thousands of devotees every year. Raghavendra Swami attained samadhiat Brindavan (sacred tomb) which is located at Mantralaya. Sri Raghavendra Theertha is also known as Guru Rajaru and Rayaru lovingly by his devotees.Fact|date=June 2008
Early life as VenkatanathaACharyaru
Sri Thimmanna Bhatta was the grandson of
Krishnabhatta, a Veenascholar, who had taught the Veena to King Krishnadevaraya. Initially, this couple had two children named Gururajaand Venkatamba. By the grace of Lord Venkateswara, a third child was born in 1595 A.D. at Bhuvanagiriin Tamil Naduto Sri Thimanna Bhatta and Smt. Gopikamba. They named him Venkatanatha (some also say that he was called either Venkanna Bhatta or Venkatacharya).
Venkatanatha proved to be a very brilliant scholar at a very young age. Venkatanatha's brother Sri Gururaja Bhatta took care of his upbringing after their father's demise. The initial portion of his education was completed under his brother-in-law Lakshminarasimhacharya's guidance in
Madurai. After his return from Madurai, Venkatanatha married Smt.Saraswathi. After his marriage, Venkatanatha went to Kumbakonam. There he studied the Dwaita vedantha, grammar and literary works under his guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha. He was very well versed in bhashyas and debated with various scholars and prevailed over them. He was also a skilled musician and played the veena, which he had learned in his childhood from his father, very well. He used to teach children Sanskrit and the ancient Vedic texts. He never demanded any money for his services and he had to endure a life of poverty. Many a times, he, his wife and child had to go without food several times a week. But this never deterred the faithhe had in the Lord.
Venkatanatha was in the habit of chanting
stotrasand mantras always in his mind. Once while he was touring Kumbakonam, Venkatanatha was invited to attend a function, with his wife and son. The hosts did not treat him well and wanted him to earn his food by running a chore. So they asked him to make some sandalwoodpaste, using a grinding slab. The paste was given to all the guests, who smeared it on their bodies. Immediately, the guests complained of a burning sensation all over their bodies on which they had rubbed the paste. Surprised by this, the hosts questioned Venkatanatha, who replied saying that he was chanting the Agni Suktam while grinding the sandalwood, which had resulted in the cool sandalwood create a burning sensation. Such, it is said, was the power of the mantra when chanted by Venkatanatha! Venkatanatha then recited the Varuna Mantra and succeeded in relieving the guests of their agony.Fact|date=June 2008
Ordination into Sanyasa as Guru Raghavendra
His gurugalu, Sri Sudheendra Theertharu, was looking for a successor to his math. Sri Sudheendra Theertha had a dream where he saw the Lord indicate that Venkatanatha was the right person to succeed him as the pontiff of the math. So Sri Sudheendra Theertha communicated his desire to Venkatanatha. Venkatanatha was devastated by the request of the guru as he could not take up this responsibility for he had a young wife and a son to care for.
But by divine intervention and after being blessed by the Goddess of Learning herself, Venkatanatha changed his mind. The sanyasa ordination was to take place on the second day of the bright half of Phalguna Masa in 1621 at
Tanjore. On the day Venkatanatha was to ascend the peetha, Saraswathi was required to stay at home. However, at the last minute she was seized by a desire to see her husband's face for the last time. She ran towards the matha throwing caution to the winds. Unfortunately, deeply engrossed in the desire to see her husband, she did not see an old and unused well on the way, and fell into it. She drowned and died. Since her death was an untimely one, she became a ghost. Even as a ghost, her only desire was to see her husband and so she went to the matha. By the time she arrived, the function was over Venkatanatha had become a Sannyasiunder the name of Sri Raghavendra Theertha. Sri Raghavendra sensed his wife's presence immediately and sprinkled some holy water from His Kamandalu on her, granting her moksha or liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. This was her reward for a lifetime of dedicated and selfless service to Sri Raghavendra.Fact|date=June 2008
Last speech and Brindavana
Before entering Brindavana in 1671, Raghavendra Swami gave a soul-stirring speech [ [http://www.dvaita.org/scholars/raghavendra/raghav4.htm Sri Raghavendra Swami's final speech] ] to hundreds of devotees who had gathered to watch the event. Some quotes from that speech are as follows -
* "Without right living, right thinking will never come. Right living is performing one's ordained duties according to one's station in life without hankering after the fruits of the actions and on the other hand offering all one's activities to the Lord. This is real sadachara (right living). This is real karma yoga."
* "Social work done for the good of worthy people should also be considered as the Lord's worship. In short, our life itself is a worship. Every action is a puja. This life is precious. Every second of our life is precious. Not even a second that has gone will come back. Listening to the right shastras and always remembering Him is the highest duty."
* "Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Srimadacharya. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only sorcery. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them."
* "Have devotion to the Lord. This devotion should never be blind faith. Accepting the Lord's supremacy wholeheartedly is true devotion. Blind faith is not devotion. It is only stupidity. We should have devotion, not only for the Lord, but also for all other deities and preceptors in keeping with their status."
After this Sri Raghavendra began reciting the pranava mantra and slipped into deep samadhi. At one stage the japamala in his hand became still. His disciples who understood this sign started arranging the slabs around him. They arranged the slabs up to his head and then, as per his earlier instructions, they placed a copper box containing 1200 Lakshminarayana
saligramasthat had been specially brought from Gandaki river. Then they placed the covering slab over it and filled it with earth. They poured twelve thousand varahas (abhisheka) over the brindavan that they had built.Fact|date=June 2008
Devotees of Shri Raghavendra Swamiji have built his "Mathas" all over world. In these Mathas, religious rituals and ceremonies are carried out as per the tradition and customs followed at Mantralaya. These branches of the Matha is very useful, especially for those offering SRADDHAKARMA, according to the Vaidhika Dharma of the Hindu religion.Fact|date=June 2008
Kollywoodmovie " Sri Raghavendra" directed by S.P. Muthuramanwas released in 1985. It starred reigning Kollywood superstar Rajinikanthas Sri Raghavendra, which was incidentally his 100th film. The film was a massive hit.A Kannadamovie " Mantralaya Mahathme" starring Dr. Rajkumarin which Dr. Raj performed the role of Guru Raayaru and was highly successful in portraying rayaru.
* [http://www.gururaghavendra.org/ Premier Portal on Guru Raghavendra (Everything about Guru Raghavendra)]
* [http://www.gururaghavendra1.org/ For more details of Rayaru and his literary works]
* [http://www.appanacharya.org/ For details on Appanacharya]
* [http://miracles.gururaghavendra.org/ Miracles of Gururaghavendra]
* [http://articles.gururaghavendra.org/ Articles of interest]
* [http://www.srsmutt.org/ Official site of Mantralaya]
* [http://www.patwari.org/ Website dedicated to GuruRaya]
* [http://mantralaya.patwari.org/ Mantralaya Series]
* [http://purushasookta.patwari.org/ PURUSHASOOKTA explanatory definition written by Sri Raghavendrateertharu]
* [http://raghvendravijaya.patwari.org/ Raghvendra Vijaya composed by Sri GuruJagannath Dasaru]
* [http://jayatheerthvijay.patwari.org/ life story about Jaiteertharu ,sixth pontiff of Sri Madacharya Peetha]
* [http://www.dvaita.org/scholars/raghavendra/index.shtml A page on Sri Raghavendra at Dvaita.org]
* [http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/fr/2002/10/18/stories/2002101801350500.htm Article about Mantralaya]
* [http://www.bichali.org/ Bichali's official website]
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