Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Today is Śrīpāda Madhvācārya's disappearance day

Śrīpāda Madhvācārya took his birth at Uḍupī, which is situated in the South Kanaraḍā district of South India, just west of Sahyādri. This is the chief city of the South Kanaraḍā province and is near the city of Mangalore, which is situated to the south of Uḍupī. In the city of Uḍupī is a place called Pājakā-kṣetra, where Madhvācārya took his birth in a Śivāllī-brāhmaṇa dynasty as the son of Madhyageha Bhaṭṭa, in the year 1040 Śakābda (A.D. 1119). According to some, he was born in the year 1160 Śakābda (A.D. 1239).

In his childhood Madhvācārya was known as Vāsudeva, and there are some wonderful stories surrounding him. It is said that once when his father had piled up many debts, Madhvācārya converted tamarind seeds into actual coins to pay them off. When he was five years old, he was offered the sacred thread. A demon named Maṇimān lived near his abode in the form of a snake, and at the age of five Madhvācārya killed that snake with the toe of his left foot. When his mother was very much disturbed, he would appear before her in one jump. He was a great scholar even in childhood, and although his father did not agree, he accepted sannyāsa at the age of twelve. Upon receiving sannyāsa from Acyuta Prekṣa, he received the name Pūrṇaprajña Tīrtha. After traveling all over India, he finally discussed scriptures with Vidyāśaṅkara, the exalted leader of Sṛṅgeri-maṭha. Vidyāśaṅkara was actually diminished in the presence of Madhvācārya. Accompanied by Satya Tīrtha, Madhvācārya went to Badarikāśrama. It was there that he met Vyāsadeva and explained his commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā before him. Thus he became a great scholar by studying before Vyāsadeva.

By the time he came to the Ānanda-maṭha from Badarikāśrama, Madhvācārya had finished his commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā. His companion Satya Tīrtha wrote down the entire commentary. When Madhvācārya returned from Badarikāśrama, he went to Gañjāma, which is on the bank of the river Godāvarī. There he met with two learned scholars named Śobhana Bhaṭṭa and Svāmī Śāstrī. Later these scholars became known in the disciplic succession of Madhvācārya as Padmanābha Tīrtha and Narahari Tīrtha. When he returned to Uḍupī, he would sometimes bathe in the ocean. On such an occasion he composed a prayer in five chapters. Once, while sitting beside the sea engrossed in meditation upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he saw that a large boat containing goods for Dvārakā was in danger. He gave some signs by which the boat could approach the shore, and it was saved. The owners of the boat wanted to give him a present, and at the time Madhvācārya agreed to take some gopī-candana. He received a big lump of gopī-candana, and as it was being brought to him, it broke apart and revealed a large Deity of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The Deity had a stick in one hand and a lump of food in the other. As soon as Madhvācārya received the Deity of Kṛṣṇa in this way, he composed a prayer. The Deity was so heavy that not even thirty people could lift it. Madhvācārya personally brought this Deity to Uḍupī. Madhvācārya had eight disciples, all of whom took sannyāsa from him and became directors of his eight monasteries. Worship of the Lord Kṛṣṇa Deity is still going on at Uḍupī according to the plans Madhvācārya established.

Madhvācārya then for the second time visited Badarikāśrama. While he was passing through Maharashtra, the local king was digging a big lake for the public benefit. As Madhvācārya passed through that area with his disciples, he was also obliged to help in the excavation. After some time, when Madhvācārya visited the king, he engaged the king in that work and departed with his disciples.

Often in the province of Gāṅga-pradeśa there were fights between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus were on one bank of the river, and the Muslims on the other. Due to the community tension, no boat was available for crossing the river. The Muslim soldiers were always stopping passengers on the other side, but Madhvācārya did not care for these soldiers. He crossed the river anyway, and when he met the soldiers on the other side, he was brought before the king. The Muslim king was so pleased with him that he wanted to give him a kingdom and some money, but Madhvācārya refused. While walking on the road, he was attacked by some dacoits, but by his bodily strength he killed them all. When his companion Satya Tīrtha was attacked by a tiger, Madhvācārya separated them by virtue of his great strength. When he met Vyāsadeva, he received from him the śālagrāma-śilā known as Aṣṭamūrti. After this, he summarized the Mahābhārata.

Madhvācārya's devotion to the Lord and his erudite scholarship became known throughout India. Consequently the owners of the Śṛṅgeri-maṭha, established by Śaṅkarācārya, became a little perturbed. At that time the followers of Śaṅkarācārya were afraid of Madhvācārya's rising power, and they began to tease Madhvācārya's disciples in many ways. There was even an attempt to prove that the disciplic succession of Madhvācārya was not in line with Vedic principles. A person named Puṇḍarīka Purī, a follower of the Māyāvāda philosophy of Śaṅkarācārya, came before Madhvācārya to discuss the śāstras. It is said that all of Madhvācārya's books were taken away, but later they were found with the help of King Jayasiṁha, ruler of Kumla. In discussion, Puṇḍarīka Purī was defeated by Madhvācārya. A great personality named Trivikramācārya, who was a resident of Viṣṇumaṅgala, became Madhvācārya's disciple, and his son later became Nārāyaṇācārya, the composer of Śrī Madhva-vijaya. After the death of Trivikramācārya, the younger brother of Nārāyaṇācārya took sannyāsa and later became known as Viṣṇu Tīrtha.

It was reputed that there was no limit to the bodily strength of Pūrṇaprajña, Madhvācārya. There was a person named Kaḍañjari who was famed for possessing the strength of thirty men. Madhvācārya placed the big toe of his foot upon the ground and asked the man to separate it from the ground, but the great strong man could not do so even after great effort. Śrīla Madhvācārya passed from this material world at the age of eighty while writing a commentary on the Aitareya Upaniṣad. For further information about Madhvācārya, one should read Madhva-vijaya, by Nārāyaṇācārya.

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-lila 9.245

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