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Jagadguru Śrī Madhvācārya
Tenure : 1199 – 1278
Ārādhana : Māgha śukla navamī
Location : Badarikāśrama praveśa
Charama Shloka :
ಅಭ್ರಮಂ ಭಂಗರಹಿತಂ ಅಜಡಂ ವಿಮಲಂ ಸದಾ | ಆನಂದತೀರ್ಥಮತುಲಂ ಭಜೇ ತಾಪತ್ರಯಾಪಹಂ ||
अभ्रमं भंगरहितं अजडं विमलं सदा | आनंदतीर्थमतुलं भजे तापत्रयापहम् ||
abhramaṃ bhaṅgarahitaṃ ajaḍaṃ vimalaṃ sadā | ānandatīrthamatulaṃ bhaje tāpatrayāpaham ||
About Jagadguru Śrī Madhvācārya
Ācārya Madhva was born as Vāsudeva to Madhyageha Bhaṭṭa and Vedavati at Pājaka Kṣetra near Uḍupi. His ancestors were Tul̤u Brāhmins belonging to the Bhagavada Sampradāya of Advaita Vedānta. The life of Ācārya Madhva has been documented in the form of a fairly contemporaneous biography by Nārāyaṇa Paṇḍitācārya that goes by the name Śrī Madhva Vijaya and its contents whetted in another work Aṇu Madhva Vijaya. We understand from these works that Vāsudeva had his upanayana early – by seven years of age – and had his early education at home from his father. He chose to adopt the fourth order – Sanyāsāśrama – in his teens – around sixteen years – from Śrī Ācyuta Prekṣa and was given the appellation Pūrṇaprajñya.
Pūrṇaprajñya undertook and completed a pilgrimage to important centers in south India along with his Guru and came back to Uḍupi and submitted it at the feet of Lord Anantheśvara. He then embarked on a pilgrimage to Badarikāśrama after obtaining permission from his guru and got a call to visit Lord Vedavyāsa and Badari Nārāyaṇa. He submitted his Bhāśya on Śrī Bhagavad Gīta as an offering that was accepted and approved. Then Lord commanded Ācārya Madhva to go back and compose a Bhāśya on the Brahma Sūtra for the benefit of sajjanas that need the right knowledge of Brahman as envisaged on scriptures so that they could do their Sādhana, obtain His blessings and get salvation
He then went back to Uḍupi and established the Kṛṣṇa temple and composed the Sūtra Bhāṣya. He toured around the country engaging in polemical debates to establish his new faith, and got converts from various parts of the country. He also composed additional work to put in place the fundamentals of his system as well as expositions to existing texts to firmly establish its concepts. He then undertook one more pilgrimage to Badarikāśrama and obtained the Vyāsa Muṣṭis from Lord Vedavyasa and was commanded to write a Nirṇaya on Mahābhārata which he did with elan.
He was endowed with many disciples and ordained his own Pūrvāśrama brother and few others to fourth order, each special in their own way, who took different responsibilities in furthering the path shown by the Ācārya to the common people. Eight of them then took the responsibility of worshipping Kṛṣṇa in Uḍupi by turns – including his own brother – while converts from other parts of the country started on a propagation mission. Having achieved the purpose of his birth, the Ācārya disappears from human sight while giving a discourse at the Ananteśvara temple.
Philosophy tries to answer the fundamental question on the purpose of human existence, what we see, reason for each and everything that happens around us, and the relationship that we have with all those entities. Indian philosophy is perhaps the oldest existing living example in the whole world. At a very high level, Indian philosophy admits a wide variety of thought processes, the general theme being some or all the following: presence of souls that undergoes transmigration – births and deaths – and posits the existence of a liberated state of permanent bliss. The goal of human life is to work one’s way through transmigration to attain this state and philosophy provides ways and means to be followed in life to reach this state.
Existing philosophical literature is vast, having accumulated over centuries but is classified under two heads: the Śruti – revealed – and Smṛti – composed. Vedās fall under the category of Śruti while Itihāsas and Purāṇas are classified as Smṛti. Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata are the Ithihāsas while there are eighteen Purāṇas starting from Śrimad Bhagavada. All the scriptural literature that evolved in the sub-continent is in Saṁskṛt – one of the few surviving classical languages in the world – that is complete with its own grammar, etymology etc. and other related rules.
The thought processes – Darśanas – that developed in the sub-continent can be classified as Āstika – or – Nāstika based on their belief and acceptance of Śruti as the authority to provide answers. Systems that don’t accept the Vedas are called as Nastikya Darśana – Buddhism, Jainism etc. – while those that accept the Vedas as authority as Āstikya. There are six schools – Śad-darśanas – listed under the latter: Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Sānkhya, Yoga, Pūrva Mīmāṁsa and Vedānta or Uttara Mīmāṁsa.
The other prominent aspect in the Indian thought is the existence of six religions – Samaya or Mata – Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava, Śakta, Gaṇapadya, Skanda and Saura from the yore. Each of these have their own Āgamas – or religious code of conduct for ritual worship – and are detailed in their exposition. Some of these concepts can be contradictory to those expressed in the Vedas. The questions that would arise then is about the relationship between the two and the relative position and their accommodation within the philosophical framework then.
Purpose of Advent
Ācārya Madhva is one of the three prominent Vedanta Ācāryas – Śaṅkara and Rāmanuja being the other two. For establishing one’s school of Vedāntic thought, the Ācārya had to compose commentaries on Prasthāna Traya (principal triad) – that comprise Upaniśad, Bhagavad Gīta and Brahma Sūtra. Ācārya’s Vedānta is referred to as Tattvavāda or more commonly as Dvaita and is the last of the three.
Knowledge on Brahman lies scattered in scriptural literature and can be bewildering even to the traditionally schooled – Asta Vyastam Samasta Śrutigatam Adhamai Ratna Pūgam Yatāndai. Brahma Sūtra composed by Lord Vedavyāsa provides guidelines to interpret the sacred literature, obtain right knowledge about Brahman, perform Sādhana and outlines the fruit of this Sādhana. Before the advent of Ācārya Madhva, there existed 21 incorrect understandings of Sūtrākāra’s opinion. Hence, Ācārya was commanded by the Lord to descend to earth and provide the right understanding so that good people can be redeemed.
The most important contribution of Ācārya Madhva to Vedānta is the harmonization or synchronization of thought process on Brahman existing in sacred literature. ‘Ṭat Tu Samanvayāt’ is indicated by the Sūtrakāra in his fourth sutra. Ācārya demonstrated how this can be achieved by composing thirty-seven works that are collectively referred to as ‘Sarvamūla Granthās.’ Some of these were commentaries – Bhāṣya – on the Prasthāna Traya, some were his own compositions that serve as the foundation texts to define fundamental concepts of his school – Daśaprakaraṇa, some were Ślokas for worship and rituals, some were compilations of important quotes from different sacred literature and the like.
Ācārya Madhva has identified himself to be Mukhyaprāṇa or Vāyu Devaru – presiding deity of primordial breath of the Upaniśads. He has openly declared in a couple of his compositions that he came as Hanumān to serve Lord Rāma and Bhīma to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa. He was commanded by the Lord to descend to earth and provide the right knowledge to the deserving souls so that they worship Him, earn His grace, get liberated from transmigration and enjoy their innate bliss that is permanent. Hence, he descended as Madhva to execute Lord Vedavyāsa’s command. Balitta Sūkta of the Ṛg Veda describes his three forms.
There are many unique contributions that Ācāry Madhva has given to the field of philosophy. The most elementary and important ones are summarized below:
- Puruśa, Brahman of Upanishads is none other than Nārāyaṇa (or) Viṣṇu
- He is complete and perfect in all respects and is devoid of any flaws
- He is the only independent entity, and all others are completely dependent on Him
- There is absolutely no difference between forms of Lord
- Mūla Prakṛti of Upanishads is presided over by the Lakṣmi or Śrī Tattva and is of three-fold nature – Satva, Rajo, and Tamo)
- Puruśa and Prakṛti exist always – Anādi – and serve as the intelligent – Nimitta – and material – Upādāna – cause -Kāraṇa – for the objective world
- Though existing from eternity and coeval, Prakṛti is ever dependent on Puruśa
- Caturmukha Brahma is the first of the created Jīvas and is the presiding deity for the first evolute of creation – Mahat Tattva
- Further evolutes – Ahaṅkāra etc can similarly be associated with their own presiding deities. For example, Rudra is the presiding deity for Ahaṅkāra Tattva.
- This order of evolution sets up the fundamental framework of what is referred to as Tāratamya in Tattvavāda
- Each Jīva is unique, distinct and different from the other
- There is a tripartite classification of the Jīva’s nature: Sattva, Rajo and Tamo Jīvas. This sets-up the basis for the observed difference in behaviours
- Inanimate objects are also unique and different from each other. This sets-up the five primordial differences – Pañca Bheda.
Process of Sādhana: The first step in the mind of an earnest seeker – Sādhaka – is clarification of his doubts. He approaches a guru and seeks counsel. The guru, judging the disciple, puts him through a process of discipline involving listening -Śravaṇa, Nitya Karmānuśṭhāna – performance of ordained duties and Manana – contemplation. As this starts to happen, the process of knowledge acquisition starts. He then knows his responsibilities and acts as advised in Śāstra. The triad of knowledge, action, and contemplation becomes a chain reaction and starts elevating the soul towards higher purpose in life. As this prolongs, the seeker starts looking more and more inwards in every action. This finally takes him to a very elevated state where he starts gradually perceiving every action as Lord’s worship; this happens over many births, cleanses him, improves his contemplation and paves the way for Lord’s grace.
Sarvamula Granthas composed by Acharya MAdhva
Ācārya composed thirty-seven works outlining his philosophy. These are collectively known as Sarvamūla Granthās and can be sub-divided based on their function.
From a vedantic perspective, commentaries to the triad go by the name: Upanishad Prasthāna, Gīta Prasthāna and Sūtra Prāsthāna. He has composed commentaries – Bhāṣyās – to the ten principal Upanishad – Daśopaniśad Bhāsya, two works elucidating Lord’s message in the Bhagavad Gītā – Gitā Bhāṣya and Gīta Tātparya – and four works on the Brahma Sūtras that vividly elucidate the Sūtrākara’s message – Sūtra Bhāṣya, Ānuvyākhyāna, Nyāya Vivaraṇa, and Āṇu Bhāṣya. These together constitute sixteen of his thirty-seven works.
He has ten compositions that outline the fundamentals of His philosophical outlook. These are referred to as Daśaprakaraṇas. They are Pramāṇa Lakṣaṇa, Kathā Lakṣaṇa, Upādhi Khaṇḍana, Māyāvāda Khaṇḍana, Prapañca Mithyātvanumāna Khaṇḍana – Kaṇḍana Traya, Tattva Saṅkhyāna, Tattva Viveka, Tattvodyota, Karma Nirṇaya, Viṣṇu Tattva Nirṇaya
He has composed two works that serve as verdicts – Tātparya Nirṇaya – to the events recounted in Itihāsa Purāṇas – Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, and Bhagavata – and one more poetic marvel – Yamaka Bhārata – that summarizes Kṛṣṇa’s story employing interesting construction and a famous Ekākṣara shloka, only one of its kind in Sanskrit literature.
There is a unique work on the first forty suktas of the Ṛg Veda – Ṛg Bhāśya – to demonstrate how the meaning of the Veda can be understood at three different levels.
One composition that is a short summary – of the procedure of Vaiṣṇava worship taught by Lord Viṣṇu to Caturmuka Brahma not available now – involving many important invocation Ślokas for different forms of the Lord, conducting consecration rituals, homa, sculpting idols to be used for worship etc. – Tantrasāra Saṅgraha.
Two compositions that serve as guidelines to determine dina traya – Ekādaśi Nirṇaya and the birth of Lord Kṛṣṇa -Jayanti Nirṇaya.
One composition that is a compilation of the glories of Kṛṣṇa, importance of Ekādaśi, being a Vaiṣṇava etc. – Kṛṣṇāmṛta Mahārṇava – from various Purāṇic sources.
One composition outlining the daily duties of a householder – Sadācāra Smṛti – compiled from existing sources toward a pious and ethical way of life.
One composition outlining the procedures involved in the initiation of a person to the fourth order viz., Sanyāsāśrama – Yati Praṇava Kalpa – and the discipline to be followed by the initiated.
Three unique stotras:
(i) Dvādaśa Stotra that is both poetic and highly philosophical. Typically rendered during the time of naivedya but can be set to music and sung melodiously as well.
(ii) Nṛsiṁha Nakhastuti composed to be recited both as a preface and after completion of the Vāyu Stuti composed by Trivikrama Paṇḍitācārya
(iii)Kanduka Stuti supposed to have been composed when Ācārya was a child and playing with a ball.
Śrī Vyāsa Tīrtha has composed a shloka called Granthamālika Stotra outlining Ācārya’s thirty-seven compositions. The last two are additional to the thirty-seven works typically assigned by tradition.
Though Saint Acyuta Prekśa ordained Vāsudeva with the Āśrama Nāma Pūrṇaprajñya, he is referred to by many other names: Daśapramati, Madhva, Anumāna Tīrtha, Sukhatīrtha, Ānandatīrtha. The first two names appear in the Balitta Sūkta while the other three have been used by Ācārya Madhva in his different compositions.