History of Shri Raghavendra Theertharu

Om Sri Guru Raghavendraya Namah||
(Sri Raghavendra theertharu is mentioned as Sri Rayaru)

It is said that Sri Rayaru has incarnated previously as  Shankukarna, who was serving Brahma Deva, was ordained to manifest in this world, through all the four yugas, as a staunch devotee of Sriman Narayana. In Kritha yuga he was born as Bhakta Prahalada, in Kali yuga he is said to have reincarnated as Vyasaraja of Vijayanagar and there after, Sri Rayaru.

Sri Rayaru was born in 1601 A.D. at Bhuvanagiri (Tamil Nadu), by the benign Grace of Lord Venkateswara, when all the planets were in exalted and auspicious houses, bestowing a long divine life, (700 years) full of miracles and healing powers for the welfare of humanity. He ruled the Vedic Samrajya from 1624 to 1671. His 331st Aradhana was celebrated on August 24, when lakhs of devotees thronged Manthralayam and the hundreds of Brindavans in India and abroad.

Venkatanatha, as the saint was known, got married to Saraswathy and the two were leading a happy life, even though they were extremely poor. Also they had implicit faith in God. When Venkatanatha was crowned as Saint Raghavendra Theertharu, Saraswathy, unable to withstand the pangs of separation committed suicide. By His divine powers, Swami sent her to heaven.

While touring Kumbakonam, Sri Rayaru was invited to attend a function, with his wife and son. The head of the family requested him to make sandalwood paste, using a grinding slab. It was Swami's practice toa recite Vedic Mantras, mentally. The paste was given to all the guests, who smeared it on their bodies. And they complained of a burning sensation all over. The Swami, tendering his sincere apology, explained that he was inadvertently reciting Agni Stothram, while grinding. He again invoked Lord Varuna and made a paste, which had a cooling effect on every one.

A royal Prince was bitten by a cobra and died immediately. When Swami was told about this, he had the venom extracted by the same snake and the Prince recovered. A devotee, who met with an accident, also got another lease of life.

Raghunatha Rao arranged a special puja for Sri Rayaru in his house. Mango juice was prepared in a large vessel and kept in the kitchen. His only child fell into the vessel and drowned. Invoking Sri Moola Rama, the Swami sprinkled holy padhodhaka water on the child, bringing it back to life.

The miraculous healing powers of Sri Rayaru spread far and wide. Some unscrupulous and mischievous boys wanted to test the Swami. On his route, one of them lay down pretending to be dead fully covered by a white cloth. The understanding was that he should not get up when Swami sprinkled water and asked him to rise. He should get up when the command was given by them. The drama was enacted and wailing friends asked Swami to revive the boy. Swami simply said that his life span was over and hence nothing could be done. He was indeed dead and did not awaken when the mocking gang asked him to.

In Sirasangi, a gentle man with an intention to test his powers, gave him a wooden rod covered with steel caps at both ends, and asked him to make it grow into a plant. After meditation, Swami planted it in the soil and sprinkled holy water on it. The dead wood started sprouting. This miracle is incorporated in the Suprabhatam of Sri Rayaru, in Sanskrit.

Out of profound regard for Sri Rayaru, the Badshah of Bijapur, presented a rare gem-studded golden necklace. The Swami offered it to God and placed it in the Yaga Kundam. The Badshah was much annoyed and expressed his feeling. The Swami put his hand in the fire, retrieved the chain in the same condition and gave it back.

When Sri Guru Rayar was proceeding to Adoni, Venkanna, a cow-herd boy prostrated before him. The Swami blessed him and advised him to pray at the time of adversities. After a few days, the Nawab of Adoni, who was passing by, stopped and asked Venkanna to read a message from the neighbouring King. The illiterate boy expressed his inability to read. A furious Nawab threatened to kill him if he did not read. Venkanna earnestly prayed to Sri Rayaru to save him. Most surprisingly, he read the entire text. As there was very good news in the message, the king made him the Dewan of Adoni.

After learning about the miraculous powers of Swami, the Nawab decided to test him. He told his Dewan to take him to Guruji. He took meat on a silver plate covered with a silk cloth and offered it. After sprinkling water, Swami asked his disciples to remove the silk cloth revealing fruits. The Nawab fell at Swami's feet soliciting his person. Also he requested the Swami to ask for any favour or gift. Guruji asked him to hand over Manchala village, which has come to be known as Manthralayam. It is at this holy place that Bhakta Prahlada performed a great yaga.

In 1671, Sri Raghavendra-swamy asked his followers to construct a Brindavana around him, at Manthralayam. He sat there playing on the veena and sang "Indhu Enege Sri Govindha'' in Bhairavi invoking Lord Krishna to dance before him. He then controlled his breath and a Brindavan was constructed around him, placing 300 Vishnu Saligramas over his head. It is believed that he is alive inside the Brindavan, another 600 years, performing miracles. His very affectionate devotee, Appannacharya, was late in reaching Manthralaya, by which time the construction of the Brindavan was completed. A sorrow-stricken Appannacharya could not complete an important sloka. From inside, the Swami prompted him with the words, "Sakshi Hayatsothruhi".