पूज्याय राघवेंद्राया सत्याधार्मारातायाचा !
भजतां कल्पवृक्षाय नमताम कामधेनवे !!
It is popular belief, based on testimonials from aparOxa gyAnis, that the incarnations of rAyaru are as follows –
Sankukarna � PrahlAda � bAhlIka � vyAsa tIrtha �Guru 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
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.