These photographs are from our recent visit to Brindavanam at Mantralayam, on 9th and 10th of September 2015. This article as usual is for friends and family to read, and more importantly for those who have not heard of this popular place of pilgrimage in South India, located at Mantralayam of Kurnool District in Andhra Pradesh. Brindavanam is the place where Sri Raghavendra Swamy (1595-1671) attained Jeeva Samadhi. Sri Raghavendra Swamy was a renowned Hindu saint, philosopher, Guru, musician, Veena player and a proponent of Dvaita philosophy established by Sri Madhavacharya. We were there to seek his blessings at his Brindavanam. Every day pilgrims visit this place in very large numbers from all over, especially South India, offer prayers and are blessed with his miraculous benevolence.
Sri Raghavendra Swamy was born as Venkatanatha to Kannada Brahmin parents, Sri Thimmanna Bhattu and Gopikamba in 1595, in the town of Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu. He was named after Lord Venkateshwara Swamy of Tirumala and was fondly called as Venkatanatha and Venkanna Bhattu in his childhood and also as Venkatacharya. He was the third and youngest child of his parents, after a brother and sister named Gururajacharya and Venkatamba. Thimmanna Bhattu was a famous scholar proficient in the Vedas and Sastras and an accomplished player of the Veena. When Venkatanatha was five years old and began going to school, his father Thimmanna Bhattu took ill and expired. Then the responsibility of educating Venkatanatha fell on his elder brother Gururaja who found it very difficult to maintain his family. When Venkatanatha was eight years old Gururaja performed his Upanayanam with the help of donations from his community and sent him to Madurai to his brother-in-law, Lakshminarasimhacharya for imparting further education. Lakshminarasimhacharya felt it not only easy but a pleasure to teach his new ward as the latter was quick to learn. In a short time, Venkatanatha acquired mastery over the Vedas, the six Sastras and the eighteen Puranas and became unrivalled in scholarship.
After Sri Venkatanatha returned from Madurai in 1614, he was married to Saraswathi Bai and they were blessed with a son Lakshminarayanacharya in the same year. And then Venkatanatha and his family shifted to Kumbakonam, where he studied Dwaitha Vedanta, grammar and literary works under his Guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha. Venkatanatha was already 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 Hanuman. He spent a large part of his time in prayers and teaching Sanskrit and the ancient Vedic texts to children. He never demanded any money for his services.
While Venkatanatha’s life was spent in the worship of God and service to humanity, his spiritual Guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertharu was looking for a successor to his Mutt. Sri Sudheendra Theertharu had a dream where the Lord indicated that Venkatanatha would be the right person to succeed him as the pontiff. Sri Venkatanatha had to become a Sanyasi for this. He initially refused; due to his responsibility towards his young wife and son but was soon blessed by the Goddess of Learning, where she in a dream indicated that he was to seek salvation as a Sanyasi. Sri Venkatanatha treated this as an omen and changed his mind. The Sanyasa ordination took place in 1621 at Tanjore and he adopted the name of Raghavendra Theertha. His wife Smt. Saraswathi died soon afterwards and his son became his disciple.
Sri Raghavendra Theertha succeeded his Guru Sri Sudheendra Theertha as the head of Sri Mutt and served from 1621 to 1671. He traveled extensively all over South India expounding Madhavacharya’s Dvaita philosophy. He became a very popular Guru and there are a number of miracles and tales of his benevolence and his blessings from that period.
One such tale of miracle is of an illiterate sheep rancher, a devotee of Sri Raghavendra Swamy coming across the Nawab (King) of Adoni, Nawab Siddi Masud Khan and then miraculously becoming Diwaan of Adoni. Long after this incident Sri Raghavendra Swamy happened to meet the Nawab of Adoni and as a result of their interactions the king was impressed and became an ardent devotee of Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Out of respect and admiration the Nawab offered to give Swamiji any amount of land and wealth. Swamiji refused any such gifts for his personal gains; he asked for some land in Manchale – present day Mantralayam, on the banks of River Tungabhadra, to be handed over to his Mutt. Thus the Mutt moved to Mantralayam, from where Sri Raghavendra Swamy continued his spiritual journey. He performed penance at a place called Panchamukhi, near Mantralayam where he had darshan of Lord Hanuman in the form of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman – five headed Hanuman. At Mantralayam Sri Raghavendra Swamy encouraged Annadhanam (serving of food for free) to all devotees, which is followed to this day, since centuries!
In 1671 at the age of 76 years he decided to go into Jeeva Samadhi at Mantralayam. He had given an indication of this intention to his devotees much earlier. He waited to choose the exact time, which happened to be seconed day (Dwadashi) of Sravana Masam, Krishna Paksham in 1671. He offered prayers to Manchalamma, the presiding deity of Manchale – Mantralayam and sought her permission for his Jeeva Samadhi – Brindavana, and then at the Mutt he gave a soul-stirring speech to hundreds of devotees who had gathered to witness the event and he went into Samadhi.
For more Life details of Sri Raghavendra Swamy, his innumerable miracles in brief, during his lifetime and there afterwards, Brindavanam rituals and timings and of how to reach Mantralayam you may click on the following link: