Thursday, February 3, 2011

Navabrindavan, Shenbakkam

Approach to the Shenbakkam Dhakshina Navabrindavanam

Shri. Rajendra Rao, whom we affectionately call "Raghavendra Mama" is a selfless person who goes around collecting donations towards annadhanam and Raghavendra aradhana absolutely unmindful of his age and frail health. He used to coordinate with the Brindavana at Satyavijaya Nagaram near Arani and conduct the Aradhana there earlier. Over the last couple of years, he has been performing the same at the Shenbakkam Navabrindavanam collaborating with Sri Guru Raghavendra Brindavana Sema Samithi Shenbakkam. It was my first visit to the Navabrindava two years ago on the occasion of Sri Raghavendra Aradhana.
The beautiful Golden Gopuram that welcomes you!
I was pleasantly surprised to find the Navabrindava here quite different from the one at Anegundi. The similarity of course is that while the Anegundi Navabrindavanas are on a small island on the banks of River Tungabadra, the Shenbakkam Navabrindavanas are found on the banks of Paalaru. But the structure inside is entirely different. While the Anegundi brindavanas are arranged almost in a circle and are found in the open air, here the brindavanas are at different levels. The other striking feature is that there are saints from two different Madhwa mata branches who have become Brindaavanastha here.
A huge painting of Hanuma, Bheema, Madhva on the wall
The importance of this Navabrindavana lies in the fact that

  •  Sri Madhvacharya has visited here and written a grantha on Vishnu Sahasranamam.
  • Sri Vyasaraja, the previous incarnation of Sri Raghavendra has installed a Sanjeeviraya Hanuman Idol here.
  • Sri Raghavendra, has stayed here and meditated for fourteen days

Anjaneya installed by Sri Vyasaraja
Thus this holy place has been witness to these three holy saints who have visited it to enhance its divinity.
 As we enter, we find the brindavanas of Sri Sripathi Theertha and Sri Kambaal Ramachandra Theertha of the Vyasaraja Matha.
Sri Sripathi Theertha:
He was the fifth guru of the Vyasaraja Matam after Sri Vyasaraja and attained Brindavana in 1612.
Brindavana of Sri Sripathi Theertar
Sri Kambalu Ramachandra Theertha:
He was a direct disciple of Sri Sripathi Theertha. He was well known for his knowledge and spiritual powers. Jealous with his popularity, a man called Nanjundappa tried to kill him by pushing a huge stone from the top of the tree under which he was meditating. The stone came down and stopped in mid-air. The disciples were shocked to see this and gathered around him to find out what would happen when he opened his eyes. The saint finished his prayers and meditation, opened his eyes and got down from the platform under the tree. The moment he did so, the huge stone fell down. Quickly the saint assimilated what had happened. He called a visibly frightened Nanjundappa down and forgave him and made him one of his disciples. Not only that he asked his disciples to place the stone on his brindavana after his time. The stone still stands on top of his brindavana bearing testimony to this incident.
The stone that was dropped on Kambalu Ramachandra Theertha
 placed on top of  his brindavana
On the first floor, the brindavanas of Sri Vidyapathi Theertha and Sri Sathyathiraja Theertha of Uththaradhi Matt are found side by side.
Sri Vidyapathi Theertha:
He was second in line to Sri Raghotama Theertha whose Jeevabrindavana is found in Tirukoilur.
The first floor brindavanas in this complex
Sri Satyadhiraja Theerthar:
Sri Satyadhiraja Theertha was deeply inspired by Sri Vidyapathi Theertha was wanted to become brindavanastha near him. He was probably the most eminent saint in the history of this Navabrindavana. Once the son of the Nawab of Arcot was terminally ill and any amount of medication was not curing him. The Nawab hearing about Sri Satyadhiraja's spiritual powers, brought his son to him. The Saint gave him theertha prasada and the boy was cured. To express his gratitude, the Nawab agreed to pay for the matt's daily pooja expenses. At that time, it was one rupee a day. Till date, a grant of Rs.365 a year is being paid to the matt for its pooja expenses.
Sri Satyadhiraja Theertha Brindavana (Photo courtesy:DMag Video)
The Nayak kings of Arcot, Timmappa Nayak and his son Chinnabommi Nayak, also called Sevappa Nayak, started building a mighty fort at Vellore. But every time, a portion of the wall was constructed it would collapse. Also the water in the moat would drain away. Not knowing what to do, they approached Sri Satyadhiraja Theertha. He prayed to Lord Varuna and Samudraraja and gave them a stone and asked them to drop it in the moat. He also asked them to build brindavanas on the walls of the fort. Till date, the fort and the moat around it bear testimony to this incident. Since Sri Satyadhiraja Theertha gave a stone to hold the fort up, Vellore is also called Rayavelur - Rayi means stone in Telugu.

Sri Vidyapathi Theertha Brindavana (Photo Courtesy Dmag Video)
Below their brindavanas, in a somewhat underground chamber we find the smaller brindavanas of Sri Kesava Udayaru, Sri Govinda Madhava Udayaru, Sri Bhoovaraaga Udayaru, and Sri Raghunatha Udayaru, about whom not much is known.


Entering the underground chamber below the brindavana 

The brindavanas of the four disciples of
Sri Satyadhiraja Theertha in the underground chamber
Other than these eight brindavanas, there is a mrithika brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy which is of recent times ( early 90's ) making it a Dhakshina Navabrindavana.
Glorious Alankara for Sri Raghavendra Swamy on Aradhana Day
While I visited the shrine, I could not gather much information as it was extremely crowded and everyone's focus was on the aradhana, but a DVD that was distributed there on the brindavana and its history and heritage brought out by the Sri Guru Raghavendra Brindavana Seva Samithi was an extremely valuable guide to appreciate the greatness of the saints who were part of the shrine.
Beautiful Vigraha of Sri Raghavendra at the Navabrindavana

After watching the video, I was extremely eager to go back and visit the shrine in leisure when I can relive all the exciting happenings that were associated with the great mahaniyaas there. Unfortunately, I could not go last year due to professional commitments and I look forward to do so this year in August.

The third Navabrindavan as I had mentioned in an earlier post is in Vasanta Nagar,Pallipalayam, Erode. I was blessed to be there as well and hope to share information on that too soon.

How to reach there:
While going from Chennai to Vellore, you will come across a huge bridge at the entrance of the city. Go down the bridge and take a right turn at the third intersection. The road will automatically lead to the Navabrindavan. There are also signboards to guide visitors.
Contact Info: Mr. Venkatramanan - 9994582779 - Secretary.
Mr. Krishnan who performs the pooja there is also very helpful in giving information.

16 comments:

  1. interesting place unknown to many..Thanks for sharing some wonderful information.

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  2. Nice Site and pictures, I'm visiting a lot of your fellow countrymen's blog these days, and i think my next trip will be there!
    Ciao! marco.

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  3. Nice and unknown details. Thanks.

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  4. thank you very much this is new information for me

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  5. The details " How to reach" is very precise in the above. This is what wanted by many of us. Please include "How to reach" in all your blogs.

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  6. i am very much excited to see that there is another navabrindavan similar to the one at anegundi. we, as a family, have decided to visit this place and receive the blessings of the mahaneeyars as early as possible. let us pray that they always bless this world for it be peaceful an the people to be happy.i am proud that this other navabrindavan is located in tamilnadu.thank you for this wonderful blog.

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  7. Thank you so much for your feedback Purni. In fact Tamilnadu has not one but two navabrindavans, the other being near Erode. I have had the grace to visit that navabrindavan too and hope to write about it soon.

    Regards, Priya

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  8. Really this is very nice collection.It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.Thanks for sharing. Sports Good

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  9. thank you for the useful info about navabrindhavans at shembakkam

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  10. Priya madam, thanks a lot for a wonderful blog. I feel as if I have been to the place after reading your blog !!

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  11. Thank you so much Mr. Ram. Do visit Shenbakkam if possible. Regards,Priya

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  12. Excellent Post Mam ! Keep it up. Let God bless you all with happiness & prosperity..

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  13. Hi priya,

    Thanks for your article on our mutt at vellore. I am proud to say that my late father along with a handful of elders played a tiny part in the mutt being situated where it is. We will endeavour to continue his legacy and try to make it a vibrant hub of learning and worship in the madhwa tradition.

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  14. Hi Priya,

    Thank you much for your article with excellent information. New secretary is Mr.Suresh and his mobile number will be 9443104959. So people can go ahead and contact him to know more on travel and other information.

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