Manthralaya, The abode of Shri Raghavendra Swami, is located at West Andhra Pradesh, in the district of Karnool. The colloquial name for the place, Maanchale, has been sanskritized into Mantralaya. Mantralaya has become a pilgrimage center, where thousands of devotees flock for the dharsan of Shri Raghavendra and also to view the Brindavan of this great saint.
Shri Raghavendra Swami advocated Vaishnavism (worship of Vishnu as the supreme God) and the Dvaita philosophy, advocated by Madhvacharya. He is considered by his devotees to be a reincarnation of Prahlada, the devotee who was saved by Vishnu, in his avatar as Narasimha. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Moola Rama and Sri Panchamukha Anjaneya. He performed penance at a place called Panchamukhi, where He received darshan of Hanuman in the form of Sri Panchamukha Anjaneya. Shri Raghavandra Swami is also known as Shri Guru Rayaru.
Shri Raghavendra was born on 1565 A.D at Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu to Sri Thimanna Bhatta and Smt. Gopikamba. They named him as Venkatanatha. Venkatanatha proved to be a very brilliant scholar. Venkatanatha initially completed his studies in Madurai. After His return from Madurai,Venkatanatha married Smt.Saraswathi. After marriage, Venkatanatha went to Kumbakonam, where he studied the Dwaita vedantha and other grammar and literary works under His guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha. He was very well versed in bhashyas and debated with various scholars and defeated them.
His guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha was looking for a successor to his math. Sri Sudheendra Theertha had a dream where he saw the Lord indicate that Venkatanatha was the right person to succeed him as the pontiff of the math. The sanyasa ordination took place in 1621 at Tanjore and Venkatanatha became a Sanyasi under the Name of Shri Raghavendra Theertha.
Once, Shri Guru Rayaru was proceeding to Adoni. Venkanna, a cow-herd boy prostrated before Him and sought his blessings, upon which Rayaru blessed and advised him to pray to Him at the time of any difficulties. After a few days, the Nawab of Adoni, who was passing by, stopped and asked Venkanna to read a message as he was not educated himself. The illiterate boy feigned ignorance, which infuriated the Nawab. Venkanna earnestly prayed to Rayaru to save him. Surprisingly, the illiterate boy could read the entire text, which contained very good news, due to which the Nawab made him the Diwan of Adoni. Then the Nawab decided to test the Guru's powers and brought a plate of meat covered with a cloth and offered it to Rayaru. Rayaru sprinkled some water on the plate and when the cloth was removed, the meat had turned into fresh fruit! The Nawab fell at the Guru's feet begging for pardon, and he requested to ask for any favour or gift. Guru Rayaru asked for the Manchala village, which has come to be known as Manthralayam. It is at this holy place that Bhakta Prahlada performed a great yaga.
Rayaru has performed many miracles, and continues to bless His devotees even to this day. His sincere devotees can always feel his presence irrespective of where they are in the globe.
Shri Raghavendra attained the Samathi at Brindavan in 1671.