Mantralayam –  Shri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt

Name of the Temple

Shri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt

Period of origin

16 th century

Name of deity

Moolavar: Guru Raghavendra Swamy

Sthala Theertham: Thungabhadra

Sthalapuranam:

Mantralayam is associated with the famous saint Sri Guru Raghavendra Swamy. Located at a distance of 80 km from Kurnool and 253 Km from Hyderabad, Mantralayam is the place where the saint took Jeeva Samadhi (tomb). Situated in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, this place is also known as Manchale. Sri Guru Raghavendra Swamy lived between 1601 and 1671 was an influential saint in Hinduism. Followers of the saint consider him to be an incarnation of Bhakta Prahallada, who was saved by Vishnu in the avatar of Narasimha. Shri Raghavendra Swamy is said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime and has a large following even today. Mantralayam is a small and peaceful town situated on the banks of the River Tungabhadra, and gets thousands of devotees from all over the country.

History of Raghavendra (1595–1671)

Sri Venkatanatha proved to be a very brilliant scholar from a very young age who learnt to play the Veena very proficiently thanks to his father and grandfather. After his father’s demise, Venkatanatha was brought up by his brother Sri Gururaja Bhatta and completed the initial portion of his education under his brother-in-law Lakshminarasimhacharya’s guidance in Madurai.

After his return from Madurai in 1614, Sri Venkatanatha married Smt. Saraswathi Bai in the same year and had a son Sri Lakshminarayanacharya. After his marriage, Sri Venkatanatha and his family went to Kumbakonam where he studied the Dwaita vedantha, grammar and literary works under his guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha.

Sri Venkatanatha was already very well versed in bhashyas and consistently prevailed over renowned and reputed scholars, irrespective of the complexity of the debates. He was an ardent devotee of Sri  Rama and Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPrana Devaru (the five-faced form of Hanuman – Pancha meaning five, mukha meaning faces). He spent a large part of his Poorvashrama life teaching Sanskrit and the ancient Vedic texts to children.

Once while he was touring Kumbakonam along with his wife, Sri Venkatanatha and his family were invited to attend a function. Unfortunately, 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 sandalwood paste for all the invitees. Sri Venkatanatha per his habit was chanting stotras and mantras while preparing sandalwood for Tilaka. When the guests applied this paste, it induced a burning sensation all over their bodies. Surprised by this, the hosts sought a clarification from Venkatanatha. He replied that the burning sensation was due to the Agni Suktam (hymn for the worship as defined in the Esoteric Vedas) that he was chanting while preparing sandalwood and thus eternal power of Vedic Mantras revealed it. This happens only when chanted with absolute dedication and devotion. The power is enhanced since it was chanted by someone as virtuous and devoted to Bhagwaan Hari as himself. Upon realizing his devotion and power, the host apologized profusely to Sri Venkatanatha and sought his forgiveness.

Sri Venkatanatha then prepared the paste again but chanted the Vedic Mantra to Varuna (Vedic rain gods) this time. It has been recorded that when the guests applied this paste, they were awash with a sense of being drenched in rainwater, reaffirming Sri Venkatanatha’s power of devotion.

He never demanded any money for his services and endured a life of poverty along with his wife and son. They went without food several times a week. On occasion, his wife did not have change of clothes. This forced her daily change of wear to be dependent on when the clothes dried. She would wear 1/2 the saree, wait for the other 1/2 to dry and wrap it around her. But he was so devoted in his quest for a higher spiritual plane that these obstacles never deterred his faith in the Lord. Poverty life continued and baby boy starved too.

Saraswathi got an idea, she told him to meet his Guru and take his refuge. They went to Kumbakonam. Venkathanatha and his family were welcomed in the mutt at Kumbakonam. Venkathanatha mastered all lessons at the Mutt. Swamiji took him to the debates against Adwaita school of philosophy at various King’s courts (Chola, Pandian etc.). Venkathanatha began to write commentary in all three Vedas following Acharya’s Rig Bhasaya, which was his ambition. But the circumstances did not favor his fulfillment. Venkathanatha was the apple of Shri Sudheendra Swami’s eye. He was thought quite well worthy to succeed the Swamiji, who was waiting for an opportunity to tell his disciple of his intentions. Just by the time a disciple named Yadavendra sought the blessings of Swamiji, as he was disgusted in worldly life. Swamiji named him “Yadavendra Theerta ” and he started on the religious tour.

Shri Sudheendra Swami was a genius of extraordinary and a soul of high spiritual efficacy. One day, he dreamt that Shri Mula Rama ordered that Venkathanatha alone could fit to rule the Mutt. One day he called Venkathanatha and after preliminary discussion of worldly interest, Swamiji began to reveal his intentions. Swamiji started with telling Venkathanatha that god was pleased with him and he deserves a post as the head of the Mutt. Venkathanatha could not understand the intentions of Swamiji and requested Swamiji to be clear of his intentions. Swamiji began to explain that there are many boats to ferry us across the ocean. But to all these our blessings are the sails which move the boats with great force and speed. Now why tarry on the shore? What fear is there to cross the Ocean? Venkathanatha could not understand. Shree Sudheendra Theertha knew that Venkathanatha loved his wife. When he explained clearly of his intentions, Venkathanatha expressed his inability and for renunciation, detachment was essential. So Venkathanatha explained about his wife, son and his shoulders were still young to take up the administration and responsibility of the mutt. So he was not inclined to take holy orders and take up Sanyasa. But was ready to submit himself to the mutt and Swamiji.

Time came now for Venkathanatha to succeed his Guru as the next Swamiji of the Mutt. Venkathanatha had a blessing of Sharada Devi, the goddess of Learning and that led him to realization of self and he narrated his experience of Sharada Devi to Swamiji and decided to do Upanayana to his son and accept sanyasa. He took sanyasa and Guru named him Raghavendra theertha. Saraswathi was shocked to
hear the news and she fell into the well. She came as a ghost in front of Guru Raghavendra. He sprinkled holy water on the ghost and it attained Moksha by purification.  Guru Raghavendra was great in every respect. He was siddha Purusha (God realized person). He started performing miracles, Blind got their eyesight, Deaf could hear. As the time approached for Swamij and he was 78 years old. It was Thursday, the full moon, He announced to all his disciples that he went by the orders of Shri Hari and he decided to leave this world.

Devotees from all over the world came to see him as the news spread. On the second morning of Shravana, finished his morning religious rites and called all his devotees and said. This is our last day. Don’t’ be grieved. It is the order of Shri Hari that we should stay in this world to safeguard the interests of our faith. But we cannot stay bodily outside beyond a limit a certain limit as that would be against the rules of the present age. Therefore we are going to enter Brindavana bodily. To the last be faithful and be loyal to your God and religion. May God Bless you with all the things good. Thus he advised them.It was now mid-day. He distributed the theerta and blessed everyone. He called Venkanna Diwan and a prime devotee and gave him a parting message.”Venkanna-I am going to enter the Brindavana in an ogicposture and continue to do Japa (prayer) with a Tulasi Mala (Japa Mala/Chain of Holy beads) in the hand. When I stop the prayer place the 1200 Lakshminarayana Saligramas (Holy Stones) in a bronze container and Mrutike (Holy Sand) on my head and close it with a lid and then place some sand/mud. Venkanna was also entrusted by the Guru to build his Brindavan at Manchala (now Mantralaya). Swamiji asked enkanna to put a stone on which Lord Rama had sat during thretha yuga as the base. Nawab Sidhi Masudh Khan of Adoni granted Manchala village to Swamiji. In the afternoon, when the time was auspicious, Swamiji sat in a Yogic posture and started prayers.

The Brahmins were reciting Vedas and Shastras. Venkanna and others were supervising the activities. All eyes shed tears of joy and griefsimultaneously. As per the Swamiji instructions the stones were placed above his head as he sat in yogic posture. Thus Swamiji entered the Brindhavan bodily. As per Swamiji’s advice that very day was observed as Maha Samardhana Day. He was to live in atma form in the  Brindavan for next 700 years to come. In the Year 1671 AD, Guru Raghavendra named Yogeendra as his successor and entered the Brindavan. After Swamiji entered, his disciple Appanacharya sang the praise of his Guru and seeing the Guru’s Brindavan, He could not speak, the last verse of the song was completed by Guru in the Brindavan. Still Guru Raghavendra continues to bless people who think of him in their troubles and happiness.

Route:

Mantralayam is on the banks of Tungabhadra River, a major artery of the Krishna river that functions as a border between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, in this region. Many South Indian cities are connected to Mantralaya by bus–Bangalore, Tirupati, Mangalore, Madras, Hyderabad, Bellary and Mysore. The most convenient bus from Bangalore leaves at 9:15 pm & reaches Mantralaya at 6 am, the next day. The conducted tours from Hyderabad are typically 7 hours long (one way), leaving every Saturday at 9.30 am and returning on Sunday at 9.00pm. They usually cover the Brindavan as well as the Raghavendra Swamy Temple.

Temple Timings:

06:00 am and 02:00pm and 04:00 pm to 08:00 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

8512 –  59429, 59459, 279429, 279459

Temple Address:

Shri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt,
Mantralayam, Kurnool District,
Andhra Pradesh

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Nava Brindhavan

Name of the Temple

Nava Brindhavan

Sthalapuranam:

Navabrindavanam has the Samadhis  of nine saints, followers of Madhvacharya, and predecessors of Sri Raghavendra. Madhvacharya himself merged with the divine at Badrinath, and thus does not have a tomb, while Sri Raghavendra’s Samadhi at Mantralyam is a famous pilgrim place in Andhra Pradesh. This is among the few places where nine saints have their tombs, and its importance lie in the fact that these saints are believed to have attained ‘Jeeva Samadhi’, that is, they are believed to be alive even today under their tombs!

The oldest tomb is that of Padmanabha Tirtha, the prime disciple of Madhvacharya, who attained Samadhi in the year 1324AD, while the near by new Samadhi  of Sri Suseendhra Tirtha, the guru of Sri Raghavendra, who attained Samadhi in 1623. The most famous saint entombed here is Sri Vyasaraja (1539) – the Raja Guru (literally, the king’s preceptor) of Krishnadevaraya. It is interesting to see that for over 300 years, this was the site chosen by nine saints to attain Samadhi, which seems to hint at some attraction other than simply the calm and peace which is evident even today. Legend tells us that the place is sacred by association with Prahalada, who was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu. This is believed to be the site where Prahalada performed penance to atone for the sins he had incurred by bringing about the death of his father, the demon Hiranyakashipu. Incidentally, both, Sri Vyasaraja and Sri Raghavendra are considered incarnations of Prahalada.

The nine tombs are sort of clustered around, in a circle, and a yellow line is drawn around them. There are boards warning us to keep outside the painted line, since we are not allowed to get too close and disturb the saints at peace in their Samadhi. There is a small shrine with an idol of Hanuman inside, called the Avatharatraya Hanuman. This idol is believed to have been installed by Sri Vyasaraja, and depicts Hanuman, Bheema and Madhvacharya in one form – the face and figure is that of Hanuman, the shoulders and build resemble that of Bheema, and the manuscript in the hand symbolizes Madhvacharya. (For those who need an explanation for this interesting depiction, it is believed that all three were incarnations of Vayu, the God of Wind).

There are two other shrines here – one of Lord Ranganatha, and another Hanuman temple, as well as a cave where Prahalada is believed to have worshipped. It is customary to light ghee lamps at these shrines before going on to circumambulate and pray at the Navabrindavanam. Since no puja materials are available here, it is advisable to carry whatever one needs.

Since it is located on an island, the only approach to Navabrindavanam is by boat – a coracle from the outskirts of Hampi, or a motor boat from the town of Anegundi. The river is exceptionally clean and the water invites us to have a dip, which speaks volumes about the place! (Of course, that might have been due to the fact that we visited just after the rains and the river was in full flow… I don’t know what the situation will be in peak summer!) During monsoons, the island is practically inaccessible, since the river is usually full and rages on, not allowing boats or any other means of access

1 Sri Padmanabha Theerthar – the first and a direct disciple of Sri Madhvacharya.

2 Sri Jayatheerthar/Sri Raghuvaryar – There is a lot of debate whether the second brindavana in Navabrindavan belongs to Sri Jayatheerthar also known as Teekachariar or Sri Raghuvaryar.

3. Sri Kaveendra Theerthar- Moolaguru to two important Madhva Maths.

4. Sri Vaageesa Theerthar.

5. Sri Vyasarajar- Sri Vyasaraja as we saw earlier was the previous incarnation of Sri Raghavendra. He was the Raja Guru of the Vijayanagar Empire and has installed over 700 Hanuman idols all over the country.

6.Sri Srinivasa Theerthar – Next in lineage to Sri Vyasarajar.

7. Sri Ramatheerthar – Sri Rama Theerthar succeeded Sri Srinivasa Theerthar.

8. Sri Sudheendra Theerthar – Sri Sudeendrar succeeded Sri Rama Theerthar. He was Sri Raghavendra’s guru and the noble saint who initiated him into sanyas.

9. Sri Govinda Odayaru

Sacredness of Nava Brindhavan:

Each and every Brindhavan, by itself is very sacred and had they been located in different places also, every place would have become very sacred and popular on its own. Now, if all of them are concentrated in one single place, a place chosen by nine great saints in a period of about 300 years, you can understand the sacredness of the place.

Anegundhi is the birth place of Sri Hauman, the avatar of Sri Madhwar in the previous yugas and so there is no surprise that Sri Padmanabha Theerthar, the 1st student of Sri Madhwar and other Madhwa saints chose this place.

The brindhavan of Sri Vyasaraja Theerthar is found at the center of the place. Though he comes in the middle in the order, the others who brindhavanised before him left the central place for him for some reasons. Sri Vyasarajar, the Rajaguru of Krishna deva raya is considered the next avatar of Brahalatha and the previous avatar of Sri Raghavendhra Swamy. The place where Sri Vysarajar is brindhavanised is considered the place where Brahalathar had penanced in the Grutha yuga to cleanse the sins for being instrumental in killing his father Hiranya kasibu. Vyasaraja stayed at Hampi-Anegundhi for nearly 40 years before, during and after the Krishnadevaraya period. This is the place between Tara parvatham and the Chakra theertham of Kishkintha

Route:

This is about 60 kms through Hospet-Hampi-Kamalapur-Kambli-Gangavathi-Anegundhi.

Temple Telephone Number:

08533-267733.

Temple Address:

Navabrindavanam,

Sri Raghavendra swamy mutt

Anegundi,

Gangavathi taluk,

Koppal District

Hotel

Mayura Bhuvaneshwari,
(Govt of Karnataka undertaking),
Kamalapur (near Hampi) – PIN: 583 221
Tel: 08394 – 241474/ 241574 golden goose scontate