Monday, August 31, 2015

Where Sri Raghavendra chose to reside!

Vadavaru, Thanjavur
The Prince of Thanjavur was in a pensive mood as he walked along the banks of the Vadavaru. His thoughts, as always, were with Guru Raghavendra Swamy, who had entered Brindavana a couple of years ago. He thought of the grace his grandfather Sri Raghunatha Boopal (Raghunatha Nayak 1600-1634) had enjoyed in organising the Pattabhishekam of Sri Raghavendra Swamy in his palace in the year 1621. He had also had the opportunity to serve the Guru during his stay at Thanjavur for 12 years on the banks of the Vadavaru river where he had entered Sanyasa.

That was not all. His father Sri Vijayaraghava Nayak (1634-1673) had also had the grace to invite Guru Raghavendra Swamy to Thanjavur to help him during the great famine of 1642 when the Swamy through his prayers and Yagna brought heavy rains which filled up the tanks and rivers and ended the famine that threatened to kill thousands of people.
The Pattabhishekam of Guru Raghavendra Swamy in the Thanjavur Palace
But all that had changed. Today, he was all alone. The power and the glory of the Nayakas was on the wane and he desperately needed to do something. He missed the presence of the great saint who had helped his father and grandfather. Deep in thought, he had reached the spot where Guru Rayaru had obtained Sanyasa. As usual, his eyes closed and he sat down there in meditation. Somehow, he felt comforted. "All I want, is for you to be with me for ever,"he prayed to the invisible presence of Sri Raghavendra Swamy.

His guards watched him quietly, and in pain. That night, when the prince was asleep, Guru Raghavendra Swamy appeared in his dream. "Do not worry. I will stay with you in Thanjavur. Build a Brindavana for me" he said. The prince was overwhelmed with joy.  Next morning, he gathered his officials together for a meeting, and said that they must build a Brindavana for Guru Raghavendra Swamy in Thanjavur.

The courtiers were happy. "Where is the chosen location, Your majesty?" asked one of them. The Prince just then realised that the location had not been revealed to him in his dream, nor had he asked for it. So that night, before going to sleep, he spent a long time in prayer and meditation, beseeching the Guru to reveal the place where the Brindavana needed to be built.
The pillars are a reminder of the old structure that has been modernised over time

The Guru did not test his devotee's patience much. He appeared in his dream again, asking him to go back to the banks of the Vadavaru river and wait for the location to be revealed. The prince was overjoyed. Next morning, he gathered his courtiers and ladies of the palace and went to the Vadavaru river. They started walking along its banks chanting "Om Sri Raghavendraya Namaha".

As they neared the spot where Guru Raghavendra Swamy attained Sanyasa, a five headed serpent appeared out of nowhere. On seeing it, the prince fell on the ground, calling out to his Guru Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Tears of joy ran down his face. The crowd went up in shouts of awe, and happiness.
The serpent moved slowly and gracefully down the river bank, to a spot under a tree. It raised up its hood, hit the ground with it thrice and disappeared.

It was not long before the Brindavana was built in this location. Usually a Koorma Peeta (Tortoise base) is placed below the Brindavana, but here, since Guru Raghavendra Swamy had himself appeared in the form of a five headed serpent, a Naga Peeta is found at the bottom of the Brindavana.  Moreover, there is no ceiling over it, as instructed by Guru Raghavendra Swamy. "Let it be open to the elements of nature, as I was, when I spent 12 years there" was the instruction received by the prince. Till date, the Brindavana has no roof.
The Brindavana with the Sarpa Peeta (Photo Courtesy: Sri Raghavendra Mutt)
This Brindavana has yet another unique feature. Usually all Brindavanas outside of Mantralayam, with the exception of Bhikshalaya, have Mritika (sand) brought from the Brindavana at Mantralayam placed inside them. Whereas here the Brindavana, has been built without Mritika as the Guru himself decided to reside there. However, the sand from the location where he meditated for twelve years, is sieved and placed on top of the Brindavana and given to the devotees as prasadam.

This Brindavana opens around 7 am in the morning and and closes by 12.30 pm on all week days except Thursdays. The priests do not worship Rayaru after they have had food. The Nayak kings had handed over the Brindavana for maintenance to the forefathers of of Sri Vijendran, the current trustee of the temple, and his family has been maintaining the Brindavana over several generations.

The Naaga Pedastal at the Vadavaru Brindavana
Whatever rituals had been observed while Guru Raghavendra was in meditation here, continue to be observed even now as he is believed to be in meditation in the Brindavana. Wet flowers or flowers tied together with thread are not accepted here. Similarly flowers that do not have any natural fragrance are also not accepted. There are a number of boards explaining the strict rules that have to be adhered to here so that the devotees are able to understand and follow the same.

A very very quiet and serene Brindavana where one can spend hours basking in the grace of Guru Raghavendra Swamy! A must visit if you are in Thanjavur next.

The Brindavana at Vadavaru, Thanjavur

How to get here: 

The Brindavana is about 2 kms from the Thanjavur Old Bus Stand.
Google Coordinates: 10.805000, 79.125278

Temple Timings: 7 am to 12.30 pm on all days except Thursdays when it is open also in the evenings.

Contact Details: D Vijendran 9245111085
                         R Kabijan    9994488297


  1. Reading this on the Madhya Aradhana Day of Sri Raghavendrar has given added significance to your post. Thans a lot.

  2. Reading this on the Madhya Aradhana Day of Sri Raghavendrar has given added significance to your post. Thanks a lot.

  3. Wow.Wonderful post.Reading this on the auspicious day of Aradhana makes us to feel the bliss.Thank you so much for sharing this post.

    Sriram & Krithiga

  4. Very well written thanks for sharing

  5. I was so moved to read your account on Brindavana near Tanjavur. Sincerely hoping to visit this. thank you very much.
    with kind regards

  6. Thanks, very serene place, the article motivated me to visit, thanks

  7. reading this on his pattabhisheka Vardhanti mahothsava days made me feel so greatfull. Dhanyosmi. Thank you so much for the writings.

  8. From tanjore bus stand can we come by auto or car

  9. Very beautiful narration ! We came to know about this place 10 yrs back and were completely out of words on seeing Rayaru Brindavana and hearing the history. Thank you for bringing it out to everyone !