LIFE HISTORY OF GURU RAGHAVENDRA
Guru Raghavendra is a great saint of Mantralayam, and though he had entered into the Divine Brindavana, before 350 years, but still he is showering his grace on his devotees, and relieves their sufferings and problems. The day which he attained Samadhi is celebrated as “ARADHANA FESTIVAL” grandly in Mantralayam, and also in various other Raghavendra Mutts.
During his life time and still now, he is performing many miracles in the lives of his devotees, he heals their diseases, and also shows them a proper path to peacefully travel in their life.
Our human life contains full of problems. Some may suffer from big, while some may suffer from small problems. Even if some people don’t have any problems in their life, then that itself would become a big problem for them. For living our life, peace of mind is very much necessary. Without a proper stability in our mind, we could not perform our day to day tasks in a proper manner, and finally our life would become a failure. Hence nowadays, worshipping the deities and the holy saints are very necessary. Hence by sincerely worshipping Guru Raghavendra, he would satisfy our reasonable needs, fulfils our wishes, and he would make us to prosper in our lives.
Though already his life history was wonderfully published by several publishing companies, and also it is available in the devotional websites, yet, being a devotee of Guru Raghavendra, I want to tell about his life history and the miracles performed by him in a simplified and in an easily understandable manner to the readers.
GURU RAGHAVENDRA STOTRA
Poojyaaya raghavendraya satya dharma rathayacha
Bhajatam kalpavrukshaya namatham kaamadenave
Meaning for the above Stotra
I worship the holy saint Guru Raghavendra who is the original protector of Satya and Dharma. I salute the great Guru Raghavendra who is like the divine tree kalpavriksha. I bow to Sree Raghavendra who is like the Kamadhenu, the holy divine cow.
Kalpavriksha is a divine wish fulfilling tree, and Kamadhenu, is a wish fulfilling cow, which resides in the Swarka Loka.
Sree Raghavendra fulfils the desires of all the devotees who sincerely pray to him, irrespective of their caste, creed, community and religion. Those who recite the Sloka for several times a day would get good health, wealth, peace and prosperity in their life.
BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD
Guru Raghavendra was born in Bhuvanagiri due to the blessings of Lord Venkateswara of Thirumala. His parents were Thimmanna Bhatta and Gopikamba were very pious couple, and in course of time, they left Bhuvanagiri, and stayed in a separate home provided by Sri Surendra Teertha, of Kumbakonam Mutt, and both of them were given good respect by the Mutt authorities. After praying to Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala, by the pious couple, they were blessed with a boy and a girl, and their names are Gururaja and Venkamma. After the birth of their children, Thimmanna and Gopikamba were settled down in Kaveripatnam, which was ruled by a Tanjavur King.
After some years, they went to Tirupati and offered their whole heartedly prayers to Lord Venkateswara. As per the blessings of the Lord, during the year 1595, a son was born to the noble couple, and they named him as Venkatanatha.
Thimmana Bhatta performed Upanayana to the young Venkatanatha, and taught basic education to him, and also patiently answered to the questions raised by the divine child. Thimmanna bhatta was very much satisfied with the intelligence of his son Venkatanatha, and treated him very kindly.
Thimmanna Bhatta performed the wedding to his daughter to a good scholar, who hails from Madurai, and his name was LakshmInarasimhacharya. Soon Thimmana Bhatta was passed away when Venkatanatha was very young at that time. Due to that, Venkatanatha was taken care of by his elder brother Gururaja. After getting the basic education from his brother, Venkatanatha went to Madurai, stayed at his sister’s home, and learnt all the Vedic subjects from his brother-in-law, Sri LakshmInarasimhacharya, and he was able to grasp even the toughest subject very easily.
After getting the best education, Venkatanatha left Madurai, and he was married to one pious, chaste and a noble lady, Saraswathi, who hails from a good family. His consort Saraswathi, was a dutiful wife, and she had humbly served Venkatanatha, and they had a son whose name was Lakshminarayana.
Venkatanatha though he had brightly shined as a best scholar, but he didn’t demanded any money from his students, since he considered that getting money for education is a sinful activity. Due to that, his family began to suffer from severe poverty, and most of the days they have observed fasting. But even then, he continued his free teaching, without any hesitation. And his chaste and pious wife, Ma Saraswati didn’t show any anger with her husband Venkatanatha.
Due to the dire poverty, Venkatanatha had decided to take shelter under Sri Sudhindra tirtha, and hence he and his family went to the Kumbakonam Mutt.
Venkatanatha went to Kumbhakonam, continued his further studies in Vedas and shastras under the guidance of his guru Sri Sudheendra Teertha.
Due to his expertise in Vedas and other divine subjects, his guru Sri Sudhindra Teertha had given him the wonderful title of “Mahabhashyacharya”, which means a “TALENTED POET”.
Venkatanatha also wrote commentaries on Madhwa’s Granthas in a simple and in an easily understandable manner, and his holy texts were highly appreciated by his Guru and by the learned scholars.
Sri Sudhindra Teertha was very much impressed with the appearance and the knowledge of Venkatanatha, and hence he wanted to make him as his successor. One day, Lord Rama appeared in his dream and asked him to appoint Venkatanatha as his successor by making him to be the next pontiff and also he asked him to make Venkatanatha as a Madhwa saint. Sri Sudheendra Teertha was very happy, and he decided to talk about this matter to his disciple Venkatanatha.
Venkatanatha after hearing the words of his Guru Sudheendra, was very much upset, since he didn’t want to throw away his responsibilities as a householder.
That night Ma Saraswathi appeared in front of Venkatanatha and asked him to become a saint, for the sake of universal goodness, and after she vanishes from that place, all other deities like Rama, Narasimha and Veda Vyasa had appeared before him and blessed him.
The next day morning, Venkatanatha felt that becoming a saint is the foremost duty for him, and hence he met Sudheendra Teertha and narrated the previous night incidents to him. Sudheendra Teertha was delighted with the decision of Venkatanatha, and asked him to perform Upanayana to his son quickly. After the completion of Upanayana ceremony of his son, Sudheendra decided to perform the sainthood ceremony at Tanjore, in the court of King Raghunatha.
Raghunatha warmly welcomed Sudheendra Teertha and Venkatanatha in his court and gave proper respect to both of them. The Pattabishekham(Coronation ceremony) was performed during the year 1621 AD, and Sri Sudheendra Teertha had initiated Venkatanatha into sainthood and gave him the new honourable title of “SRI RAGHAVENDRA TEERTHA”. Everyone assembled in the palace had witnessed the wonderful coronation ceremony and blessed the new pontiff, Guru Raghavendra.
WIFE ATTAINS SALVATION
After hearing the news, that her Poorvashrama husband, Venkatanatha had become a saint, Saraswathi could not bear the pain of getting separated herself from her husband. And unable to bear the great grief, she jumped into a well and committed suicide. Due to that, she had become a ghost, and since she loved her husband so much, she went in front of Guru Raghavendra and began to lamenting.
Guru Raghavendra felt pity on her, and by considering her difficult position, he chanted some divine mantras, and sprinkled the holy water from his kamandala on her. Due to that, the pious lady who was in the form of ghost had attained salvation.
DAILY ACTIVITIES OF GURU RAGHAVENDRA
After obtaining the Pontiff position, Guru Raghavendra stayed in Kumbhakonam Mutt, and began to discharge his daily routine duties in a remarkable manner. He used to perform Moola Rama puja wonderfully by chanting the divine mantras, and also lived as per the norms of a saint. He also wrote lot of divine texts in praise of the deities, and those texts are still considered as the best treasures of our Hindu Scriptures.
FAMINE AT TANJORE
During the year 1642, King Vijayaraghava Nayaka who was the ruler of Thanjavur faced severe famine at his region. Though he had given most of the wealth from his treasury for the sake of reducing the sufferings of his people, but, yet, his problem didn’t come to an end. Finally, the king visited Kumbhakonam and fell down at the feet of Guru Raghavendra. He obliged Guru Raya to visit Thanjavur and to stay there. As per the wishes of the king, Guru Raghavendra had happily agreed and stayed in Tanjavur for a period of 12 years.
He performed lot of Yagyas in order to reduce the severity of the famine, and while performing the Yagnas, he has granted the oblation from the fire sacrifices, to the respective deities, and also received blessings from them. Within a short period of time, miraculously the king’s treasury were filled with full of wealth. Since Lord Indra and Varuna were much satisfied with the oblation granted by the great Guru, they began to release the Rains from the cloud to the earth, and due to that, crops were grown properly, and the entire Tanjavur kingdom was prospered, due to the grace of Guru Raghavendra. The king and the people thanked him a lot, they were very happy, and received the blessings of the divine guru.
There are innumerable miracles performed by Guru Raghavendra. He has restored the life of a Muslim king’s son, promoted the bhakti spirit in the minds of the rich landlords and kings, removed the poison of his disciple, by chanting the Garuda Mantra, with his divine powers, he made the rain to shower even in the desert regions, restored the life of his devotee’s son who was accidently fell down in the cooking vessel, granted salvation to his disciple, removed the diseases of his devotees, proved the divine powers of his Mritika, sacred sand, removed the evil spirits from the body of his devotees, and likewise he has done lot of miracles in the lives of his devotees, and still he is doing. He is carefully watching the condition of his devotees, and based on their past birth karmas, he is helping them to a maximum extent by removing their sins and also makes them to do lot of sacred deeds in their lives, in order to increase their good karmas.
Soon after becoming a pontiff, as per the tradition, Guru Raghavendra began to travel to various holy places, visited lot of temples and worshipped the deities. During his travels, he performed many miracles and removed the troubles and turmoil of the people. He also won in the debates held with the learned scholars, and proved that the teachings and the philosophy of Madhwacharya is true. Rayaru also went to Udupi and Pandharpur, and had the divine vision of Lord Krishna. He also preached about the importance of worshipping the deities amongst the public, and made them to attain enlightenment in their lives.
ILLITERATE VILLAGE PERSON BECOMES A DIWAN
Venkanna was an orphan boy, and he was taken care of by his wicked uncle. He didn’t allow Venkanna to study, but he made him to graze the cows. Once, from the words of someone, Venkanna had heard about the significance of Guru Raghavendra and he eagerly waited for him to receive the divine blessings from him.
Once as usual while he was grazing the cows, he saw Rayaru, who was travelling by that side. Venkanna immediately ran and stood before him with uneasiness for some time. Later he had narrated his entire life history to him. Rayaru took pity on him and gave him some mantrakshate (consecrated rice) and asked him to recite his name whenever he is need of his help.
One day, Nawab of Adoni, Siddi masood Khan gave him a paper and asked him to read it. Since he was an illiterate, he was unable to read the contents present in the paper. Due to fear, he began to pray sincerely to Guru Raghavendra, and at once, he was able to read the contents present in the paper. In that paper, it was mentioned that the Nawab had fetched victory in a battle. On hearing the good news from the mouth of Venkanna, Nawab had appointed him as a Diwan for Adoni.
STAY AT KUMBAKONAM
After travelling to several holy places, finally Guru Raghavendra reached Kumbakonam, and stayed there for a few years. People felt his presence as very divine, and all of the people in Kumbakonam had honoured him very well.
After staying a few years in Kumbakonam, Rayaru went to Adoni. Venkanna felt very happy on his Guru’s visit and treated him with much devotion.
The Nawab after hearing about the visit of Guru Raghavendra to Adoni, wanted to test the powers of Guru Raghavendra. Hence with the help of his attendants, he kept some meat on silver plates, covered with silk clothes, and made them to place it near to our Holy Guru Raghavendra. Rayaru with a divine smile, accepted the Prasad given by the Nawab, and sprinkled some water from his kamandala on the plates. Later, he ordered the clothes to be removed. When the clothes were removed, the nawab could only see full of flowers and fruits in the plates! The Nawab then realised his mistake, and known about the greatness of Rayaru, and asked him to apologise him, and he was willing to donate the entire Adoni to the great guru.
Guru Rayaru rejected his proposal, but asked him to grant an infertile village Manchale, which is situated on the banks of the holy Tungabhadra River. As per the wish of the divine guru, the king happily agreed to give him the holy village Manchale to him.
On one fine day, Rayaru went to the village of Manchale, offered his sincere prayers to Ma Manchalamma and got her blessings.
SIGNIFICANCE OF MANTRALAYAM
In the sacred place of Mantralayam, Bhakta Prahlada had once performed a large yagna in favour of Lord Vishnu, and Manchalamma was believed to be the kula devi of Prahalada. Even in some of our holy texts, the significance of the place Mantralayam is mentioned.
As per the instructions of our Divine Guru, Venkanna had arranged to construct a nice Brindavana for Rayaru, nearby the temple of Ma Manchalamma. Soon Guru Raghavendra has given sainthood to one of his disciples and named him as Yogeendra Teertha. He also instructed Venkanna, and his disciples to provide necessary facilities and to support his successor Sri Yogeendra Teertha.
ENTERING IN BRINDAVAN
On the chosen auspicious day during the year 1671 A.D, Rayaru after the completion of his routine activities, turned up to his disciples and the general public, gave spiritual discourses, and also gave his valuable teachings to them.
After the completion of his rituals, he went to his sacred shrine at Mantralayam and started doing meditation. After some time, Venkanna and others covered the Samadhi with sacred bricks.
At the time of attaining of Samadhi by Guru Raghavendra, his close disciple Sri Appanacharya, was unable to attend his Samadhi state, since he was in the other side of the Tungabhadra river. With the entire thoughts on his holy Guru, he began to recite a wonderful stotra, and by chanting it, he quickly reached the Machala Village.
But by the time he reached the Brindavana, his beloved Guru’s shrine was already covered with slabs. Tears began to flow down from his eyes and he stood before the Brindavan in a grief stricken manner. At that time, he heard the voice of his Guru, and he blessed his beloved disciple Appanacharya.
Even after he enters into the Brindavana, still he is actively discharging his duties, and it is believed that he even performs the Moola Rama Puja at Mantralayam, during the early morning hours regularly, after taking bath in the holy Tungabadra River.
Wherever we may reside, if we sincerely utter his name, and seek for his help, he would immediately lend his helping hand, and would instantly remove our sufferings. He has been specially created by Lord Brahma for doing goodness to the entire universe.
Let us worship the great Divine Guru and be blessed.
“OM SRI GURU RAGHAVENDRAYA NAMAHA”