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Early life and education of Raghavendra Swamy

Venkatanatha akaVenkanna (later Raghavendra Swami) was born to Thimmanna Bhatta and Gopikamba around 1595 at Bhuvanagiri Bhuvangiri is a small town near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. He was the third child of his parents. His birth was not any ordinary event. Thimmanna Bhatta his father and Gopikamba his mother pleased the lord of Tirupati with their sincere devotion. The lord pleased with their sincere devotion appeared in their dreams. He promised an extraordinary child would be born as their son who would spread the Vaishnava dhrama( Vishnu bhakti). 

Venkatanatanatha’s childhood was like any other boy. His father performed the usual rituals for his son. There was Namamakarana (naming), Chudakarma (first tonsure for the baby) and Aksharabhyasa (teaching alphabets) at the right times.

There is a great story about Venkanna which shows his divine qualities. As Thimmana Bhatta wrote the sacred Omkara and explained that it was the representation of God. Not satisfied Venkatanatha asked his father as to how “Om’ can encapsulate in it the vast and infinite greatness of God. Thimmanna Bhatta was amazed by the little boy’s brilliance. With tears in his eyes he thanked the lord repeatedly and hugged the little boy. 

Venkatanatha’s father passed away when he was at a tender age. He came underthe care of his brother Gururaja. VenkaTanatha completed his initial education under the tutelage of Sri LakshmInarasimhacharya at Madurai. He too was astounded by the boy’s outstanding intelligence and grasping ability.

Within a short span of time he had mastered Amarakosha. This greatly sharpened his lexical knowledge. He mastered a huge treasure of Active and Passive vocabulary in Sanskrit Grammar. Rayaru was also an excellent player of Veena a musical instrument.