SRI BRAHMANYA TIRTHA
Born : 1460
Passed away : 1467 at Abburu
In these days where one sees the effects of Kali age predominant even in sacred precincts and selfishness and smallness of mind seem to rule the times, it may be difficult to think of a time when giants like Sri Brahmanya Tirtha ruled the kingdom of God. This great personality believed to be an incarnation of Surya shone with brilliance in the fifteenth century and left posterity with the invaluable gift of Sri Vyasaraja - philosopher, administrator, sage and scholar - who has been unequaled in the Vedanta realms. Sri Brahmanya Tirtha's Punyadina falls on Vaishakha Bahula Yekadashi. He entered his final abode Vrindavana in 1461 AD in Abbur, near Channapattana on the Bangalore - Mysore highway.
Not much has bee recorded of his life history. Some facts are available from his "Vijaya" composed by Sri Srinivasa Tirtha , who is a descendant of the order. His father was Ramacharya with the nickname of Poogavana (areca farm). Possibly he owned one. Sri Brahmanya was born in Nrihari kshethra on the banks of the Cauvery and was named Narasimha. The boy was sent to Sri Purushotthama Tirtha at the young age of 7 after his Upanayana samskara. Sri Purushotthama was next in line to Sri Jayadhwaja whose name is preserved for posterity for his founding of the Dvaita school in the north, specially in Navadvipa (modern Bengal). ISKON followers call his name as Jayadharma.
Narasimha was a precocious pupil with great intelligence, devotion to God and disinterest in the affairs of the world. Sri Purushotthama had already received some indications in dreams about his pupil. The education of Narasimha was completed in a short while and he was also given the oaths of Asceticism and called Brahmanya Tirtha by his Guru. Very soon the latter entered a cave near Abbur and disappeared from human view. A miracle attributed to Sri Brahmanya tirtha was that when he sprinkled some consecrated water on cold cooked food after Puja, it became fresh and hot.
There was a rich and pious Brahmin who had started on a pilgrimage to Banaras. His location is not clearly specified, but it is said that he also lived on the shore of Cauvery river (Called Marudvrudha in the Rgveda). Unfortunately, he died suddenly after getting fever. His wife who wanted to commit Sathi along with her husband (they were childless at the time) came to beg permission of Sri Brahmanya Tirtha, the worshipper of Nrusimha deity given to him by his Guru. Sri Brahmanya blessed the widow - "Dheergha sumangalee bhava" - Be happy as a wife in wedded bliss for a long time. When she told him that she was no longer having a husband, Sri Brahmanya Tirtha told her - do not worry. Your husband is not dead, but is still alive. He gave her holy water with incantations, which when applied to the dead body of the husband brought him back to life, as if nothing had happened. As per the Swamiji's desire, the first born of this couple was given even as a young baby, to him. This baby was received on a golden plate and fed with the milk used for Abhisheka of the Lord. The baby who grew up into the great Vyasaraja, was given his Upanayana Samskara at the age of 5 and took the oath of asceticism at the age of 7. Though Sri Brahmanya himself was greatly learned as described by his own disciple and successor Sri Vyasaraja, he was sent for his studies to Sri Sripadaraja at Mulbagal. He became famous for his erudition, scholarship, great qualities of complete disinterest in personal factors and became the fountain head of learning for Tatvavada in his time.
In the mean while Sri Brahmanya Tirtha received the idol of Vittala as a result of a dream indication, from where it was buried in the ground. He went to Karnataka capital (possibly Srirangapattana) and on being requested by the king and people of the state, which was suffering from drought, brought back copious rains. The grateful kingdom gave the ascetic a village called Brahmanyapuri. After handing over his reign to the worthy successor, he entered in to Samadhi in Abbur.
When the Abbur Matha was being renovated and improved for the facility of devotees in the last few years, it appears that there was an idea to cover his Vrindavana also along with the rest of the area. However, Sri Brahmanya Tirtha directed the reigning pontiff to leave it uncovered as at present - possibly because he is believed to be the incarnation of the Sun. Even in the prayer shloka given below seems to hint at this fact. Even today, a large number of devotees visit his Vrindavana and attain their desires by prayers and Seva at his feet.
His great disciple Sri Vyasaraja has composed the following slokas about his Guru.
"Kamsadhvamsipadaambhoja samsaktho hamsapungavah Brahmnyagururajaakhyo varthathaam mama maanase"
"Samuthsaarya thamasthomam sanmargam samprakashya cha sadaa vishnupadaasaktham seve Brahmanya Bhaaskaram"
The simple meanings of these two shlokas are as follows :
May Sri Brahmanya tirtha the great ascetic who is always immersed in the lotus feet of the destroyer of the evil Kamsa (Krishna) always remain in my mind.
Worship and serve the great Brahmanya tirtha who is like the Sun which destroys darkness (of the mind) and shows the way (to Moksha) and who is always interested in the Lotus feet of Vishnu. (in the case of the Sun analogy, Vishnu pada means the sky.).