Sri Raghavendra Theerthara Mahimas/Miracles
Sri Rayara Mahime & Miracles during his presence
Power to revive the dead
On a hot summer day, Sri rAyaru was on his way home from a pilgrimage. He decided to rest in the shade of a tree at Krishnapuram (near Hubli). While there, he saw the Nawab (Muslim king) of the area walking towards him, with a sad demeanor. The Nawab had heard of his miracles and had come to him as a last resort. He stated that his young son had died from a poisonous snakebite and been buried in a tomb close by. After hearing this, Sri rAyaru contemplated silently for a few moments and then asked the king to take the body out of the tomb. When the puzzled Nawab did as he was asked, Sri rAyaru sprinkled holy water from his kamanDala and prayed to his ArAdhya mUrthy Lord Sri Moola Rama). Lo behold, the young boy woke up as though he was getting up from sleep. The Nawab was beside himself with joy.
He did a similar thing in another instance. He was visiting the house of a village chieftain (called Desai). Hundreds of people had assembled for the occasion. As part of the food served to the guests, seekaraNe (a thick form of mango juice) was being prepared in a huge vessel. Unfortunately, when nobody was watching him, the Desai’s son fell into this vessel and drowned. When the Desai and his wife came to know about it, they were totally devastated. However, they wanted to hide the news because they did not want to inconvenience everybody who had assembled there. Being an aparOxa gyani, Sri RAyaru sensed the tragedy and asked the grief stricken couple to bring the dead boy before him. When this was done, he sprinkled water from his kamanDala and revived the boy. The joy of the ecstatic parents knew no bounds.
Those who came to humiliate end up being humiliated
There were some evil people who were jealous of the greatness of Sri rAyaru and were always looking for opportunities to humiliate him. When some of them heard of the above incidents, they conspired to come up with a plan to humble Sri rAyaru. They chose a location that was very close to Sri rAyaru’s location that day and asked a person to pretend to be dead. They covered his face and sat by his side wailing as if he was really dead. When Sri rAyaru passed by, some of them approached him and entreated him to revive this “dead” man. Sri RAyaru looked at the body and said “I cannot revive him since his Ayushya is over”. This was what the evil persons wanted to hear. They immediately started condemning him and trumpeted to the world at large “Look at this charltan. He does not know the difference between a living and a dead person. Our friend is pretending to be dead. He is now going to get up and denounce this fraud”. Nothing happened. Then they tried to wake him up, thinking that he was asleep. None of their efforts were successful as the person was truly dead! They realized their mistake and begged rAyaru to revive the person, but he pleaded his helplessness since the person’s Ayushya was really over. The men who came to humble Sri rAyaru were themselves humbled and his greatness became even more enhanced.
A point to note is that Sri rAyaru did not curse the man to die or punish the evildoers. It was again Divine will that the conspirators chose a person whose Ayushya was really over and the timing was perfect to humiliate them. The Lord well and truly protects His beloved devotees.
Personality that influences even inanimate objects
Once some famous scholars came to meet with Sri rAyaru. One the way they got lost and wanted to ask for directions. They noticed a washerman walking with his load on his head, but before asking him a question, they debated amongst themselves in Sanskrit if it was worthwhile asking somebody who looked like an ignoramus. Imagine their surprise, when the washerman interrupted their discussion by saying in chaste sanskrit “If all that you want to know is directions to meet Sri rAyaru then I should be able to help you”. He then gave directions in chaste sanskrit to the embrassed scholars, and proceeded on his way. The scholars rested for a while and then proceeded to the river for their afternoon sandhya. They saw the washerman sitting on the bank. They politely asked him in sanskrit if it was okay to perform sandhyAvandana there. He gave them a blank look and told them rather crudely in the local language “Look, if you want to speak with me, then use a language I can understand”. Even from his tone and grammar it was obvious that he was an illiterate with little or no command over any language. The scholars were surprised since he had spoken to them in Sanskrit a few moments ago! They dismissed him as a madman and proceeded with their task. The washerman left with his load and started walking back slowly. After a while, the scholars passed him again on the road. This time, he politely asked them in chaste sanskrit if they had had any difficulty in locating the road and if they needed any help. The scholars were totally baffled and practically ran away from there.
When they reached the maTha, they spoke to a knowledgeable person and explained the curious phenomenon they had observed. The person laughed and said “Did the washerman have his load on his head when he spoke to you?” When the scholars nodded in reply, he continued “It was not the washerman talking to you. It was the clothes. He was carrying the clothes that our Sri rAyaru had discarded. As long as he had the load on his head, he was a totally different person. Once the load was discarded he became his normal self”. Such was the power of Sri rAyaru’s personality that even the clothes that he had discarded carried mystical powers.
Village bumpkin becomes prime minister!
Venkanna was a brahmin boy in a small village under the sovereignty of the Nawab of Adoni. Due to family problems, he was not tutored or taught any useful skills. He was assigned to the task of tending the family’s herd of cows, and thus used to spend his entire days in the countryside watching over the cows. He had heard of the greatness of Sri rAyaru and was eager to meet him and seek his blessings. His prayers were heard because one day the retinue of Sri rAyaru passed close by. He immediately ran to the palanquin that Sri rAyaru was travelling in and prostrated before it. Sri RAyaru looked at him and inquired about his antecedents. Venkanna explained his plight and stood with outstretched palms. Sri RAyaru took pity on the boy and gave him some (mantrAkshate) consecrated rice and told him “When you are in real distress and need my help, put this on your head and think of me”. The palanquin moved on. Venkanna tied the precious rice into a bundle and always carried it with him.
One day, Venkanna was relaxing under the shade of a tree when he saw a noble man get down from a horse and rest under the shade of another tree close by. Curious, he watched him closely and immediately realized that the noble man was none other than the Nawab himself! Even as this realization dawned on him, he saw another man on horseback approaching the Nawab. The new person got down from the horse, prostrated in front of the Nawab and handed him a written scroll. Now, both the Nawab and the rider were illiterate and needed somebody to help them. When the Nawab looked around, he saw Venkanna. He also saw Venkanna’s tuft and his sacred thread and concluded that this was a brahmin. Since brahmins are usually literate, he felt that his problem was solved. He beckoned Venkanna and handing him the scroll, commanded him to read. Poor Venkanna was in a dilemma since he was also illiterate. He could not refuse a direct order of the Nawab since that would mean immediate death, nor could he tell the truth that he was illiterate because the Nawab would not believe him and would think that Venkanna was trying fool him. Caught in this deadly trap, he suddenly remembered the kind guru who had promised to help him in his hour of need. He took the consecrated rice and put it on his head. With this mind full of devotion towards Sri rAyaru and his lips secretly muttering “rAghavEndra, rAghavEndra”, he boldly opened the scroll. Lo behold, the characters on the scroll began to make sense and he could read! It was actually a piece of good news, informing the Nawab that his wife had delivered a baby boy, thus making him a father, something that he was passionately yearning for. When he heard the news, he was overjoyed and immediately took out a pearl necklace from his neck and gave it to Venkanna. However, Sri rAyaru sitting in Venkanna’s mind did not allow him to be satisfied with this. He boldly prostrated before the Nawab and told him “If your Highness is really happy with me, then please give me a good job in your administration. I will serve you faithfully and honestly to the best of my ability”. The Nawab was pleased with this answer and accordingly gave him a good job. Through hard work and diligence, Venkanna worked his way up the ranks and in a short time became the Nawab’s trusted divan. Thus a chance encounter with Sri rAyaru transformed Venkanna’s entire life into a bed of roses!
Nawab tests Sri rAyaru and loses
Once Sri rAyaru visited Adoni and accepted Venkanna’s invitation to stay with him. Venkanna waxed eloquent about rAyaru’s prowess to his Nawab and forced him to visit Sri rAyaru to pay his respects. Now the Nawab was skeptical about Sri rAyaru and did not accept any authority other than Allah and his devotees. He wanted to expose Sri rAyaru and score a point on Venkanna. He secretly ordered for three silver plates, full of meat, but totally covered with silken cloth to be prepared. He took this with him and accompanied Venkanna to the pUja. Along with the offering brought by Venkanna, he also offered his covered plates as naivedya for Sri mUla rAma. Sri RAyaru saw through his guile and sprinkled water from his kamanDala on the plates. Later, he ordered the clothes to be removed. The Nawab was waiting for this moment with bated breath. He was licking his lips in anticipation of unmasking this brahmin swAmiji. When the clothes were removed, they revealed 3 plates full of fresh fruits and flowers! The Nawab was astounded and instantly realized the greatness of Sri rAyaru, and the great sin he had committed by testing this man of god. He immediately prostrated before Sri rAyaru and with tears in his eyes begged his forgiveness. The kind and ever merciful Sri rAyaru forgave him gladly. However, the Nawab was not satisfied, he begged Sri rAyaru to accept some offering from him. Sri rAyaru initially refused saying that he was a sanyAsi who had no desire for worldly things, but the Nawab kept on begging him, so finally he had to agree. He asked for the Nawab to give him the village of manchAle on the banks of the tungabhadra. The Nawab was surprised since that was barren land, yielding no crops or revenue. He tried to talk Sri rAyaru into accepting more fertile land, but Sri rAyaru would not accept anything other than manchAle. The Nawab immediately gifted that village to Sri rAyaru.
Sri Rayara Mahime & Miracles post Vrundavana pravesha
AppanAchArya was Sri rAyaru’s beloved disciple. Most of the sanskrit shloka that we chant today in honor of Sri rAyaru – Sri rAghavEndra stOtra, mangaLAshTaka, danDaka etc – are his compositions. On the day Sri rAyaru was entering the brindAvana, he was on the other side of the tungabhadra. When he was reminded of it, he was aghast at his mistake and ran towards manchAle. As he was running, he was composing the famous Sri rAghavEndra stotra (“shrI pUrNabOdha guru tIrtha payobdhi pAra …”). When he reached the river it was in full spate but he did not care and rushed headlong. The power of his devotion was so great that the river parted for him and he reached manchAle quickly. But even this was too late. Just as he came in front of the brindAvana, the last slab had been laid and his beloved guru had vanished from his sight forever. Tears started to gush from his eyes and his voice choked. The stotra had reached its final stanza “ kirtir divijita vibhutiratula ..” but he could not continue further. Suddenly, a voice rang out from the brindAvana “sAkshi haya syOtra hI” (meaning that Lord hayagrIva is the witness to the statements made by appanAchArya in his stOtra, and that He would make them all come true). Even today, anybody reciting this stotra with full faith and devotion gets all the grace of Sri rAyaru.