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Tirumala Raya – The Last Of The Vijayanagara Kings

Tirumala Raya is the last of the Vijayanagara kings. In the battle of Talikota of 1565 AD the Vijayanagara army was defeated by the allied Deccan Sultans, but all was not lost of the Vijayanagara empire. Tirumala, the brother of Rama Raya, rebuilt an army and restored the prestige of the kingdom to a considerable extent. Sadashiva Raya was then the nominal ruler, but in 1570 Tirumala Raya captured the throne for himself. With his accession, the Aravidu dynasty started in Vijayanagara.

Tirumala Raya abdicated the throne in favor of his son Sri Ranga I, who had been the victor of Penukonda. The book Sriranjani, a commentary on Gita Govinda by Tirumala Raya himself, mentions this. With this coming of an Aravidu line of kings to the throne, Srivaishnavism received royal patronage.

Tirumala Raya is mentioned as a devotee of Vishnu in a epigraph and described as “a repository of the nectar-like devotion to Hari (Vishnu). Epigraphs record that he gave gifts to temples at places like Kanchi, Srirangam, Sheshachal (Tirupati), Kanaka Sabha (Chidambaram) and Ahobaladri (Ahobilam).

He was especially devoted to Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala, whose name he bore. In the Tirumala there are statues of Tirumala Raya and his wife, Vengalamba.

Although Tirumala Raya was a great devotee of Vishnu, the invocatory verses in his inscription were addressed to Ganapati and Shiva and the colophon Sri Virupaksha in Kannada language was also engraved.

The later rulers of Aravidu line were also staunch Vaishnavas. Thus the spread of Sri Vaishnavism in Vijayanagara kingdom was due to a very great extend to Tirumala Raya and his successors.

Apart from having composed a work himself, Tirumala Raya also patronized scholars and poets.

  • Administration and Social Life Under Vijayanagara (1940) T V Mahalingam – University of Madras
  • A History Of South India(1988) - K A Nilakantha Shastri – Oxford University Press
  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume X page 506 IHRF