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Friday, June 20, 2008


पूज्याय राघवेंद्राया सत्याधार्मारातायाचा !
भजतां कल्पवृक्षाय नमताम कामधेनवे !!
Introduction Antecedents:

It is popular belief, based on testimonials from aparOxa gyAnis, that the incarnations of rAyaru are as follows –

Sankukarna PrahlAdabAhlIka vyAsa tIrthaGuru rAyaru (Guru Raghavendra).

Let us take a closer look at each person in the lineage.

Sankukarna was a karmaja dEvata assisting chaturmukha brahma in the pUja of the Lord. One day, he was a little late in bringing flowers for the pooja and brahma cursed him to be born on the earth. Obviously this was a pretense since brahma is beyond flaws like anger, greed etc. The real intention of brahma was to pave the way for the incarnation of narasimha and also to show the world the greatness of sankukarna.

The story of prahlAda is very well known and needs no further elaboration. BAhlIka was a very pious king in dvApara yuga. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, but due to circumstances beyond his control he ended up fighting against the pAnDavas. He wanted to die at the hands of bhIma and so challanged him to a fight, but bhIma was reluctant to hurt a devotee of the Lord. BAhLika begged him to kill him so that he could take future births and serve him (bhIma or madhvAchArya) with devotion. BhIma agreed to do that provided bAhlika hit the first blow. When bAhlika did as directed, bhIma hit him gently with his formidable mace. Thus bAhlIka got the death he wanted, a heart full of devotion towards Krishna, and the divine sight of Krishna and bhIma at the time of his death.

BAhlIka was reborn as vyAsa tIrtha, one of the most revered mAdhva saints. He was an excellent writer with several great works to his credit, the chief ones being tAtparya chandrika, tarka tAnDava and nyAyamruta. He was the revered rAjaguru who helped king krishnadEvarAya through several major crisis in his life. He was the jeweler who gave us precious gems like purandara dAsaru and kanakadAsaru, and did invaluable service to the cause of haridAsa sAhitya. Above all, he was a very great devotee of hari and vAyu, who established over 732 hanumanta icons including the famous yantrodhdhAraka temple in hampi, personally worshipped Lord Venkateshwara in tirupati for over 12 years and composed hundreds of devotional songs.

vyAsa tIrtha was reborn as venkaTanAtha (who later became rAyaru), with the special grace of hari and vAyu dEvaru. This belief is based on the testimonial of aparOxa gyAnis and has never been questioned.

collected by: u.d.nagaraja

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Sri Raghavendra was the greatest author and preacher in the line of Madhva in the last 500 years. He wrote countless books establishing Krishna as the Absolute Truth. He gave special stress to the chanting of the names of Krishna, and in particular he recommended the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. While he was present in the world, he performed many miracles, including bringing the dead back to life. After completing his preaching work, he chose to enter "jiva-samadhi", where a saint is buried in his samadhi while still living. Before entering the samadhi he told his disciples he would live physically for 100 years, in his books for 300 years, and in his samadhi for 700 years. He ordered his disciples to place 1,008 shalagrama shilas on top of his head, and then cover him with dirt. Till this day Sri Raghavendra is still living within the samadhi in mantralaya. He has manifested himself to many people, including a British government officer who came to confiscate the ashram's lands. This instance was recorded by the British officer in the government gazette at the time. The scriptures establish Sri Raghavendra as a partial incarnation of Bhakta Prahlada, the great devotee of Sri Narasimha Avatara. You will find in Raghavendra temples, the utsava murti (festival deity) is not of Raghavendra, but of Bhakta Prahlada. The main "deity" will be a replica of his samadhi (called a Brindavana) with dirt taken from the original samadhi in Mantralaya. In front of this will be a deity of Bhakta Prahlada. They treat the samadhi as the body of Sri Raghavendra and bathe, dress, and apply twelve tilaks to it just as we do to our body. Devotees of Sri Raghavendra pray to him with the following mantra: pujyaya raghavendraya satyadharmarataya ca bhajatam kalpavrikshaya namatam kamadhenave Sri Raghavendra is like a kalpa-vriksha (a desire fulfilling tree) for he always takes care of his devotees' spiritual needs.