List of Prahlada (Raghavendra Swamy) different avatars | Who is Shankukarna? | Who is Prahlada? | Who is Vyasaraja Guru? | Who is Raghavendra Swamy?

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Just before going to “List of Prahlada (Raghavendra Swamy) different avatars | Who is Shankukarna? | Who is Prahlada? | Who is Vyasaraja Guru? | Who is Raghavendra Swamy?“, let us know a brief, basic and very important information.

Not only Lord Vishnu takes avatars on this earth and especially in Bharat (India), but Lord Vishnu also instructs other Devatas (Demigods) to take avatar(s) to teach Dharma on earth. Teaching of Dharma on regular basis is highly important, as we humans always forget what we have learnt earlier.

Especially the people of Kali Yuga are the most ignorant and least knowledgeable people. Thus Lord Vishnu apart from his unlimited avatars, instructs his devotees to take avatar on earth to teach Dharma to the Dharmic people.

One of the good examples for this is King Prahlada (Prahlad). He takes different avatars on earth in different Yugas to spread the Dharma in different ways.

Different Avatars – Prahlada (In namaste position), Bhalika Maharaja (Centre below), Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji (Right side) and Sri Raghavendra Swamy (Top centre)

List of avatars of Prahlada (Raghavendra Swamy) are as given below:

Shankukarna – In Satya Yuga | Prahlada Maharaja – In Satya Yuga | Bahlika Raja – In Dwapara Yuga | Sri Vyasa Teertha Ji – In Kali Yuga | Sri Raghavendra Swamy – In Kali Yuga |

Now, let us know more information about the different avatars of Prahlada (Raghavendra Swamy). There is a very interesting story about the first avatar of Prahlada Maharaja.

Let us all know that very interesting and divine story:

1. Shankukarna (First avatar) : It may look little strange for few people about this story, but it’s a true story about the Prahlada Maharaja’s first avatar.

In his first avatar Prahlada Maharaja was called as ‘Shankukarna’. In this avatar Shankukarna was worshipping directly Bhagavan Vishnu (Sri Hari) in Satya Loka (Sri Brahma Loka).

Once, in the divine loka of Satyaloka (Lord Brahma Deva’s loka / planet), Lord Brahma and Goddess Sri Saraswati Devi were preparing for the daily pooja of Bhagavan Vishnu.

The divine work of managing the divine flowers, fruits and other related divine materials belongs to an ardent devotee of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu. His name was Shankukarna.

After arranging the divine related materials, Shankukarna was also participating in the daily pooja / divine rituals of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu. (Please see the above image for this. Here Shankukarna is giving flowers to Lord Brahma, so that Lord Brahma can do pooja of Lord Vishnu.)

Shankukarna was a real devotee of Bhagavan Vishnu and thus he was always giving his 100% every time, when the pooja / divine rituals pertaining to Bhagavan Sri Vishnu was taking place. Thus one morning, Shankukarna was as usually immersed in the thoughts of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu.

But this day, Shankukarna completely forgets to arrange the divine and holy Tulasi leaves. This delayed Lord Sri Brahma Deva daily and timely divine rituals (pooja) of Lord Vishnu. 

Looking at Lord Sri Brahma’s reaction towards Shankukarna’s unusual absent mindedness, Bhagavan Sri Vishnu smiles at Lord Sri Brahma Deva. Thus Lord Sri Brahma Deva calls upon Shankukarna near him.

Here Lord Sri  Brahma Deva pretends to be angry and thus Lord Sri Brahma Deva orders Shankukarna to be born in the lineage of daityas / demons. (This should not be considered as a curse, however, this should be regarded as Bhagavan Sri Vishnu and Sri Brahma Deva’s drama).

On hearing this, the divine Shankukarna was completely down and shattered. While, Lord Sri Brahma Deva calms him down saying,

“Though you’ll be born among daityas / demons, in your next avatar, you will be an ardent and a great devotee of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu. You will achieve the real Moksha after serving Bhagavan Sri Vishnu for three more lifetimes as a human in different yugas (divine eras). This is in interest of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu himself”.

Upon orders from Lord Sri Brahma Deva, the real and ardent devotee of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu, that is, Shankukarna bows down and leaves to Bhuloka (Mother Earth).

Shankukarna act of ordering was done in the form of curse by Lord Sri Brahma Deva. But we should note that this was not a curse, but it was indeed a divine orders given by Lord Sri Brahma Deva.

This happens in the Satya Yuga (Kruta Yuga). Shankukarna was cursed (ordered) to be born as a human being and he was born as Prahlada on earth.

Bhagavan Vishnu (Rama – Left side), Moola Rama idol (Left below), Brahma Deva (Centre), Saraswati Devi (Left of Brahma Deva), Shankukarna (Below Right side). Sri Rama image (Right top)

2. Prahlada Maharaja (Second avatar) : Thus Prahlada was born as the son of daitya / demon Hiranyakashipu and Kayadu (also known as Leelavati). Many of us know how was the devotion of Bhakta Prahlada towards Bhagavan Sri Vishnu.

Prahlada was an ardent and great devotee of Bhagavan Sri Lakshmi Narasimha (Narasimha – One of the avatars of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu). Bhagavan Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy gave Prahlada his darshana (divine view) and also killed the daitya / demon Hiranyakashipu.

(We should note that, there is a cave beneath the ‘Sri Yoga Narasimha Temple’ in Melkote near Mysuru, in Karnataka where Prahlada sat in dhyana / meditation and prayed to Bhagavan Sri Narasimha. This place is present even today.)

This divine cave is directly beneath the Bhagavan Sri Lakshmi Narasimha shrine of ‘Sri Yoga Narasimha Temple’ which can be approached by a steep flight of stairs. There is a sign marked that tells devotees and pilgrims about the way to the divine cave.

Though the story of Prahlada is very well known, not many people know that he had an amsha / part (Avesha) of Sri Vayu Deva in him. The great Sri Madhwacharya Ji himself instructs this in the ‘Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya’, where he says:

“हिरण्यकशिपोः पुत्रः प्रह्लादो भगवत्प्रियः, वायुण च समविश्यतो महाबल समन्वितः” | “ಹಿರಣ್ಯಕಶಿಪೋಃ ಪುತ್ರಃ ಪ್ರಹ್ಲಾದೋ ಭಗವತ್‌ಪ್ರಿಯಃ, ವಾಯುಣ ಚ ಸಮವಿಶ್‌‌ಯತೋ ಮಹಾಬಲ ಸಮಂವಿತಃ” | “hiranyakashipoh putrah prahlado bhagavatpriyah, vayuna cha samavishyto mahabala samanvitah.”

Prahlada Praying Bhagavan Sri Narasimha Swamy. Behind – All Devatas including Brahma Deva, Rudra Deva etc also praying Bhagavan Sri Narasimha Swamy.

3. Bahlika Raja (Third avatar) : The third avatar is of Bahlika Maharaja. Bahlika Raja who was born during the Dwarapa Yuga (during the Mahabharata time), meets his end at the hands of Great and Mighty Bhima (he is an avatar of Vayu Deva, that is, Hanuman, Bhima and Madhwacharya Ji are the avatars of Vayu Deva) in the Kurukshetra war.

Bahlika Maharaja sees Bhima and Bhagavan Sri Krishna when his end is nearing and he prays to Bhima that he be allowed to atone for his sins.

4. Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji (Guru) (Fourth avatar) : In the Kali Yuga, he was born as Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji. Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji was born as ‘Yatiraja’ in Bannur near Mysuru around in 1480 A.D.

Again in this avatar, Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji was a great and an ardent devotee of Bhagavan Sri Krishna and he composed several compositions under the ‘ankitanaama’ (‘divine nickname’) ‘Sri Krishna’.

The matha (मठ) Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji occupied came to be called ‘Sosale Vyasaraja Matha’ and the main deity which was worshipped by Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji is called as ‘Natya Gopalakrishna’ (that is, Lord Krishna is in the dancing position).

Note : Here a very important point to be noted is, Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji consecrated 732 idols of Hanuman and today they are known as ‘Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman‘. Of the 732 idols, 365 were consecrated in Penukonda, now in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh state.

Today, less than a dozen can be seen here as the rest have fallen prey to the ravages of time. Even today, his divine composition called, “Krishna Nee Begane Baro” is highly popular worldwide. Bhagavan Sri Krishna frequently appeared in the dreams of Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji.

On one occasion, Bhagavan Sri Krishna appeared in his dream and gently chided him. Bhagavan Sri Krishna said, “I have a house, wives and children. Therefore, you have to accord respect to me. How can you just call me Krishna in your compositions”, he asked.

Thus from that time, Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji wrote under the ‘ankitanama’ (divine nickname) ‘Sri Krishna’.

Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji (centre), Krishnadevaraya (King of Vijayanagara) (Left)

5. Sri Raghavendra Swamy (Fifth avatar) : In the fifth avatar he was born as Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Sri Raghavendra Swamy worshipped ‘Bhagavan Sri Rama’ (Moola Rama – Original Rama). 

As Sri Raghavendra Swamy, we find that he consecrated two idols of Hanuman as against 732 in his previous avatar (as Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji). 

While, ‘Krishna Nee Begana Baro’ was popular as Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji’s composition, “Indu enage Govinda” is highly popular even today as Sri Raghavendra Swamy. In every matha (मठ) idol of Bhagavan Sri Narasimha atop the Sri Raghavendra Swamy Brindavana can be found.

There are also images of Bhagavan Sri Narayana, Bhagavan Sri Rama, Bhagavan Sri Krishna and Bhagavan Sri Vedavyasa Ji. The image of Prahlada is also near the Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy.

Hanuman’s idol of course is always near the Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Both the avatars, that is, Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji and Sri Raghavendra Swamy took place in Kaliyuga itself.

Sri Raghavendra Swamy as popularly known as ‘Rayaru’, himself has instructed that the place where he wanted his Brindavana to be built was the place where he performed Yagna as Prahlada.

The divine matha (मठ) of Sri Raghavendra Swamy is found in today’s Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh state, near a place called ‘Mantralaya‘.

Different Avatars – Prahlada (In namaste position), Bahlika Maharaja (Centre below), Sri Vyasaraja Teertha Ji (Right side) and Sri Raghavendra Swamy (Top centre)

More information will be added to this on regular basis, please visit after some time to know more information.

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Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

Sri Shankukarna, Sri Prahlada Maharaja, Sri Bahlika Maharaja, Sri Vyasa Teertha Ji, Sri Raghavendra Swamy Gurubhyo Namaha

Sri Krishnaarpanamastu

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