Shankukarna



In the divine portals of Satyaloka, Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswati were preparing for the daily pooja of Lord Vishnu. The job of organising flowers, fruits and other ritualistic materials belongs to an ardent devotee of Lord Mahavishnu — Shankukarna. After arranging for the materials, he too loves to participate in the Pooja.

Immersed in the thoughts of Lord Vishnu that morning, Shankukarna forgets to get the holy tulasi leaves delaying Lord Brahma’s timely rituals. Looking at Lord Brahma’s reaction to Shankukarna’s unusual absent mindedness, Lord Vishnu smiles at Lord Brahma, who calls upon Shankukarna.

Pretending to be angry, Lord Brahma commands Shankukarna to be born in the clan of demons. On hearing this, Shankukarna is shattered but, Lord Brahma calms him down saying, “Though you’ll be born among demons in your first birth, you will be an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. And you will achieve salvation (Moksha) after serving Lord Mahavishnu for three more lifetimes as a human. This is the command from the Almighty himself…”

Shankuarna bows down and leaves to Bhooloka, the world of humans.

The four births
Before Shankukarna was born as Guru Sri Raghavendra



Prahalada

As per the commands of Lord Brahma, Shankukarna descends to Bhooloka and chooses to be born as the son of a royal demon king Hiranyakashyapa and his consort Kayadu. Born as Prahalaada, he draws immense hate from his demonic father for chanting the name of Lord Vishnu. Moved by the devotion of Prahalada, Lord Vishnu himself descends to Bhooloka and eliminates Hiranyakashyapa to restore peace and tranquility as Bhooloka gets engulfed in awe and devotion.

Bahleekaraaja

Continuing Lord Brahma’s command in Dwaparayuga, Shankukarna takes birth as Bahleekaraaja, the royal son of Chandravamsha’s celebrated king Prateeparaja. Bahleeka is more a devotee of Lord Vishnu than a ruler.
In the Rajasuya Yaga ritual helmed by Lord Sri Krishna himself, Bahleekaraja offers a golden chariot to Bheema, Yudishtira and Lord Sri Krishna. Pleased with Bahleekaraja,Bheema and Lord Sri Krishna bless the future generations of Bahleekaraja. In the great Mahabarata war, Bheema blesses Bahleekaraja with Salvation.

Yathiraaja

In his third birth, Shankukarna is born as Yathiraaja, he chooses the path of asceticism (sanyaasa) and becomes one of the guiding gurus for the kings of Vijayanagara empire in the divine name of Vyasarajatheeratha paving a new pathway for the devotion of Lord Vishnu.

The forefathers



Kanakachalacharya

In the kingdom of Vijayanagara, there lived a Karnatak music exponent named Krishnabhatta (Krishnacharya) , he had a son named Kanakachalacharya. Rajaguru Vyasarajateertha invites him to the royal court to teach Veena to Sri Krishnadevaraya,likewise, Kanakalaachaarya also learns music from his father.

Thimmannabhatta

As Kanakachalacharya grew older, he begets a son named Thimmannabhatta. Father Kanakachalacharya teaches Timmanna the divine Veena, vedas and shastras to make him an erudite scholar. Thimmanna later wedded a righteous, honourable woman called Gopikaamba.

The Grace of Govinda

On the advice of Kumbukonam Gurumatha’s Sri Vijayeendra Theertha, Thimmanna returned to Anegundi to establish a Vidyapeetha (Vedic School). As time passed, Thimmanna and Gopikambe had a son and a daughter.

They desire to have another child and seek the blessings of Lord Srinivasa in the holy land of Tirupati.
Pleased by their prayers, Lord Srinivasa blesses them saying, "My glorious devotee who once was called Prahalada will now be born to you."



The childhood of the Guru



As a divine boon from the Lord, On the seventh day of the Shukla Paksha of Shalivahana Shaka 1518 (C.E. 1565) in the Manmatha naama samvatsara, Gopikamba gives birth to a baby boy in the Mrigashira nakshatra on a holy Thursday. The Gods, Goddesses and Demigods bless shower flowers from heavens. People flock the house to have a glimpse of the baby's radiance and charm.
The child was named Venkatanatha. Venkata had immense affection towards Lord Krishna. Mother Gopikamba had to sing Krishna's lullaby to put the child to sleep. Else, the child would not fall asleep. Such was his love towards the supreme force even as an infant.

The meaning of "Om"

On the day of Venkatanatha's Chaula (Tonsuring) ceremony, elders ask him to write the universal letter 'Om' on sand.
"Appa, what is the meaning of Om?" asked Venkatanatha to father Thimmannabhatta,
"Well, I would love to hear from you..." says the father to which the little Venkata replies,
"Om is the eternal sound of the cosmos. Recitation of this mantra makes us reach Srihari and be one with nature." The child’s wisdom fascinates all the gurus and other elders present at the event.

Upanayana

Under the tutelage of his father Thimmannabhatta. Venkataacharya too masters the divine instrument, Veena. He also becomes a scholar in Kannada and Sanskrit. As years roll by,Father Thimmannabhatta departs to the heavenly abode and Venkata’s elder brother Gururajachaarya initiates Venkata into formal Vedic education through Upanayana, the grandest ceremony for any Vedic boy. Little boy Venkata’s radiance after his Upanayana was matchless. Soon after, Venkata left to Madurai to start his education.