Sunday, June 16, 2013


                 SRI VYASARAJA THIRTHA
Born : 1460
Passed away : 1539, Saturday, 8 March 1539. 

Arthikalpita kalpoyam prathyarthi gajakesari/

Vyasathirtha Gurubhoryarth asmad Ishtartha siddhaye//

This is an attempt to transcript the greatness and awesomeness and history of the sterling history of the great Madhva muni , Sri Sri Sri Vyasaraja !

Sri Vyasaraja has a very high position in the Madhva lineage. He is considered among the Muni trayaru. Sri Madhvacharya, Sri Jayatirtharu and Sri Vyasaraja . Sri Madhvacharya gave us the Sarva Mula, Sri Jayatirtharu gave us the teeka for the Sarv Mula, Sri Vyasarajaru gaves us tippani for Sri Jayatirtha's teeka's.

Sri Jayatirtharu himself blessed Sri Vyasarja on two seperate occasions as we shall see ahead.


Of all the documents available, the one chosen for this transcription is "Vyasa Yogi Charitre" by Somanatha Kavi. It's style is called "champu kavya" viz a mixture of gadya ( prose ) and pada ( poetry ). More about the author and the composition later on.


Sri Vyasaraja's parents were a little old and were on their way to a Badri piligramage. One the way the husband suffered an incurable disease and was lying on his death bed. The wife sought out the blessings of Sri Sri Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu who was on his way back south from Badari to end her life. When she prostrated before Sri Brahmanya Tirthu he blessed her "Sumangali bhava" without even looking up and then blessed her "Putravati bhava", thus the couples life was saved and they also begot a son. Such was the siddhi of Shri Brahmaya Tirthu ! Just before the birth of the boy, Sri Brahmanaya Tirtharu sent a chinnada harvana ( golden plate) and had the baby delivered directly onto the golden plate. After being born without bhoo sparsha ( touching the ground ), Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu himself bathed the newborn. As per Srimadacharya's Tantra Sara, when a Swamy bathes the child, the sannidhi of Sri Hari increases in the child.


When the child was just five years old, Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu had the thread ceremony done for the child. At the age of eight, Sri Brahmanya Tirtha placed the proposal of Sanyasa, Sri Vyasaraju declined and went away from the mutta. This is parallel to Sri Raghavendra Swamy refusing Sanyasa at first. The reason is that being a Sanyasi/ Peetadapati is a very responsible job, it is the head of the society. The boy was resting under a tree. A huge snake wrapped itself around the boy and spoke to him face to face. It was Sri Jayatitharu in snake form, he advised him to take Sanyasa and infused him with confidence. The boy returned to Sri Bhramanya Tirtha's mutta and accepted sanyasa. Thus, Sri Vyasaraja came into being.


Sri Vyasatirtha studied under Sri Brahmanya Tirtha for twelve years. Before presenting the peethadapati to Sri Vyasaraju, he undertook a digvijaya yatra. Sri Vyasaraja reached, Kanchi a renowned learning centre at that time. Sri Vyasaraja defeated all the scholars there at that time. The opponents decided to take revenge and poisoned Sri Vyasaraja's food. Sri Vyasarajaru invoked Sri Dhanvantri namaka Sri Hari. Sri Danvantri provided Sri Vyasaraju with some herbs to nullify the effect of poison. Thus Sri Vyasaraju came out victorous every way. Sri Vyasaraju then returned to Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu. Sri Brahmanya Tirtha had entered Brindavana by that time, Sri Vyasaraja ascended the peethadapati. Sri Vyasaraja went to Sri Padraja in mulbagalu for higher studies. It is important to note two points
a) Mulbaglu was the most renowned learning centre in Karnataka until the turn of the ninteenth century.
b) Sri Vyasaraju was already a great scholar, defeated many scholars in Kanchi, but still he spent twelve years studying under Sri Padarajaru. This shows the depth of knowledge of Sri Padrajau and the passion for knowledge of Sri Vysarajaru.

There is a special cave in mulbagalu even today called Vyasa guhe(cave), where Sri Vyasarajaru used to sit and meditate. Once there was a serpent coiled around Sri Vyasarajaru in the guhe, Sri Padaraju entered the cave and talked to the Serpent in it's own language.It was Sri Jayatirtharu again in serpent form to provide his blessings to Sri Vyasarajaru.

Stay at Tirupati

"Venkatadri samam stanam brahmanda nasti kincahana, Venkatesha samo devo na bhuto na bhavishyati."

At this time, the administratation in Tirumala was corrupt. It was so corrupt that the preists used to place their own kids on the vahanas during brahmotsava. The local kin got wind of this and executed all the preists. The king approached Sri Padajararu to clear him of Brahma hatya and to make arrangements for the nitya puja at Tirumala.

* Purification of Raja - Sri Padarajaru sprinkled some shankodaka ( water from conch ) and declared that the king was absolved of brahmahatya. This incident became a joke among the students. To prove his point Sri Padarajaru sprinkled some shankodaka on a cloth blackened by oil. The portion of the cloth that was sprinklled upon became clear and clean. The disciples had no choice but to accept Sri Padarajaru's words.

Sri Padarajau send Sri Vyasarajaru as the chief preist for Tirumala. This shows greatness of both Sri Padarajaru, for not taking the oppurtunity himself and Sri Vyasarajaru for accepting the position of a priest. It also shows that the position of a priest was/is a very honoured one.

Once Sri Vyasarajaru arrived in Tirumala, he started taking care of nitya pooja and also administration of the temple activities. Sri Vyasarajaru made a lot of improvements in the processes there. Sri Vyasarajaru worshipped Sri Venkatesha as per the TantraSaraSangraha paddati of SriMadAcharya. Sri Vyasarayaru installed the Ugra Srinivasa utsava moorthy (a very special utsav moorthy that is brought out only once a year before sunrise and taken back into the temple before the sun rises) and the "Vimana Venkatesha"(For people in KaliYuga, when there is not enough time for darshana, the silver frame accentuated Venkatesha on the golden dome, assures that if you see that, it is equivalent to having darshana of Sri Venkatesha). There is a special spot where in the garbha guddi where Sri Vyasarajaru used to sit and meditate. There used to be a board indicating the spot until a few years ago. There is also a Vyasa mantapa on the Swamy Pushkarni near the Varaha Swamy temple which can be seen even today.

Sri Vyasaraja, wrote Nyayaamruta and various other works during his stay here. After twelve years of dedicated service, Sri Vyasarajaru re-instated the preists in the temple. The sons of the priests were too young to worship earlier, were now ready to take charge. Once Sri Vyasarajaru, finished the dwadashi puja and prostrated before Venkatesha, Sri Venkatesa threw his upper cloth and covered Sri Vyasarajaru with his own cloth. Thus Sri Vyasarajaru got approval from Sarvothamma for his service for twelve years at Tirumala. This is similar to the alingana of Sri Rama and Sri Hanuman at the end of Sundar Kanda in Ramayana.


At this time, Krishnadevaraya invited Sri Vyasarajaru to be his raja guru. Sri Vyasarajaru accepted his invitation and arrived there. There was a great procession and ceremony. When Krishnadevaraya lifted the cloth of the palanquin carrying Sri Vyasarajaru, he found Sri Vyasarajaru reading the scriptures in the dim light. Krishanadevaraya was shocked and pleasantly surprised, he was so impressed with this that he declared Sri Vyasarajaru as his household guru as well.

* This incident shows the passion of knowledge for Sri Vyasarajaru. It also shows that there is no end to learning for knowledge. Finally it shows that we should not stop learning for authoity , inspite of being a chakravarthi Krishnadevaraya was gratified by this incident.

There was a lot of opposition for this in the court of Krishnadevaraya, Basavabhatta was the leader for the opposition. Basavabhatta was defeated in the ensuing debate and he had to hand over his emerald shivalinga to Sri Vyasaraja,

* This shivlainga is till present in the Sri Vyasaraja mutta and is displayed during Shivratri.

During the stay of Sri Vyasarajaru, Vijayanagara kingdom prospered tremendously. It never faced defeat during war and jewels and precious stones were sold on the streets. Sri Vyasaraja headed an educational institute of ten thousand students during this time. Once Sri Vyasarajaru composed a work extempore in response to the Kalinga king's challenge. This challenge was prepared a committee of pandits in Kalinga, Sri Vyasaraju composed this response as an extempore and sent the response immideately. To express his gratitude Krishnadevaraya offered everything he had at the lotus feet of Sri Vyasarajaru. He arranged for a ratna abhisheka for Sri Vyasaraja. It seemed like Varuna devata himself was pouring jewels on Sri Vyasaraja . On another occassion there was a kuhu yoga for the throne, whoever ascended the throne for that amount of time would be attacked by the kuhu yoga. Sri Vyasaraja himself sat on the throne and swatted away the kuku yoga with his upper garment. Sri Vyasarajaru gifted everything he had received from Krinshandevaraya back to him and to the people.

Scholarly Status

Sri Vyasarajaru was exteremly respected far and wide for his knowledge. It was so wide spread that people would come from far and wide to present their works in front of him. If they received a nod or a simple yes from Sri Vyasarajaru, then that means he had arrived. All the scholars irrespective of tradition were always vying for Sri Vyasarajaru's approval. Such was the scholarly status that scholars would shy away and try influence to get an audience with Sri Vyasarajaru. Basava bhatta was also one such scholar, he got audience through another Madhva muni.


While returning from north India tour, there was a dispute about land division between Vaishnavites and Shaivaites.Sri Vyasarajaru presented the solution and himself ran seven kilometers holding his breath.

On another occasion, he revives a dead boy by sprinkling teertha during his tour.


It was under the blessings of Sri Vyasarajaru that Pitamaha of Carnatic Sangeet Sri Purundara Dasaru started his journey. He also had Kanaka dasaru as his disciple. Sri Vyasarajaru himself is a brilliant composer with many compositions to his credit. His song "Krishna Nee Begane Baro" is an evergreen carnatic song and is sung in a lot of Carntic concerts.
* This is the original, of the remixed version from the Colonial Cousins

Installations Of Hanuman

In his previous birth, he was King Bahlika and fought on behalf of the Kaurava's. He was killed by Bheemasenadevaru during the war. During that time,he struck 732 times with his club. To make amends for that, Sri Vyasarajaru installed 732 Hanuman vigrahas all around south.


A person will be treated great even he does just one of the deeds of Sri Vyasarajaru, the fact that Sri Vyasarajaru accomplished all these deeds simultaneously just goes to show that he worked tirelessly, effortlessly and with utmost dedication and bhakti. Among his works Tarka Tandava deserves a special mention. It is a compact work that destorys all the citadels of Advaita word by word. Each and every aspect of it is challenged and torn to bits; hence the suffix "Tandava"

Any mistakes are solely mine.

BharatiRamanaMukyaPranantargata Shri Krisharpanamastu,

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Vyasatirtha was extremely influential in the Vijayanagar Empire. He initially came to limelight in the court of Saluva Narasimha in Chandragiri where he defeated many scholars with his masterly debates. He headed the Tirupati Temple during the time 1486-1498. At the pressing and repeated invitations of ministers of Saluva Narasimha, he moved to Vijayanagara and spent the rest of his life there. The accession of Shri Krishnadevaraya in 1509 opened up a new chapter of the glory in the life of Vyasatirtha. It was during the time of Krishnadevaraya that Vyasatirtha saw the peak of his influence over the empire. The king had the greatest regard and respect for Vyasatirtha and regarded him as nothing less than his kuladevata. This is very beautifully narrated by Somanatha in his biography on Vyasatirtha. The evidence of a clear statement to the effect that King regarded Vyasatirtha as his Guru is still saved as a palm leaf fragment (preserved in G.O. Mss. Library), Madras. The two foreign travellers Paes and Nuniz who travelled along the Vijayanagara empire give accounts of how the King Krishnadevaraya regarded his Guru. Nuniz in his catalog says that King of Bisnaga (vijayanagar) listened everyday to the preachings of "a learned Brahmin who never married nor touched a woman". The description points unmistakably to Vyasatirtha. Nuniz's remarks are fully corroborated by Somanatha's biography. Somanatha writes that, before starting on his Raichur expedition, Krishnadevaraya performed a ritual ceremony "ratnabhisheka" to his Guru Vyasatirtha in year 1520 and gifted him with many villages. Somanatha goes on to say that after the death of Krishnadevaraya in year 1530, Achutaraya continued to honor Vyasatirtha for some years. It was in Achutaraya's reign that the image of Yogavarada Narasimha was set up by Vyasatirtha in the courtyard of the Vittalaswami temple at Hampi (Vijayanagara) in 1532. Seven years later, Vyasatirtha died at Vijayanagara on the fourth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna, in Vilambi, corresponding to Saturday, 8 March 1539. The data is given by Shri Puranadadasa in one of his songs. His mortal remains are entombed at Nava Brundavana, an island on Tungabhadra river, about half a mile east of Anegondi. Vyasatirtha was almost the second Founder of the system of Madhva. The learned Appayya Diksita is reported to have observed that the great Vyasatirtha "saved the melon of Madhvaism from bursting, by securing it with three bands" in the form of his three great works - the Nyayamrutha, Chandrika and Tarka-Tandava. There is a tradition that when the North Indian Logician Pakshadhara Mishra visited Mulbhagal, he had spoken most appreciatively of Vyasatirtha. Shri Vyasatirtha was a thinker of high order. He was essentially warm-hearted and felt himself as at home on the naked peaks of intellect and in the unfathomed depths of mystic consciousness and devotion to God. The biography of Vyasatirtha gives several accounts of his kind-heartedness. He was also honoured by Delhi Sultan Bahlul Khan Lodi and Adil Shah of Bijapur with green umbrellas and other symbols of their respective kingdom.He treated Basavabhatta whom he vanquished in debate with exemplary kindness and regards. He allowed his preachings to take their gentle course of persuasion and disliked proselytization for the sake of numbers. He did not misuse his influence with Kings to make his faith the state religion. This attitude deserves to be contrasted with that of the Shrivaishnava's, reported in the prappannamruta. Vyasathirta installed 732 Hanuman(Anjaneya or Mukhya Prana Devaru) idols all over India. Few of them to be named are:

Yantrodharaka Hanuman of Hampi
Kasapur Nettikal Hanuman,
Sri Gali Anjaneya Temple, Bengaluru


Vyasatirtha was a Psalmist in Kannada and had composed many beautiful songs in his mother tongue Kannada. More than even for his own compositions, his name will have to be invested with special significance as that of a person who gave to India, both Purandaradasa, the father of Carnatic music, and Kanakadasa, disciples of Vyasaraya. Those who know anything about the history of great haridasa's and their literature will have no difficulty in realizing service rendered by Vyasatirtha to the cause of popular religion and cultural revival. The influence of Vyasatirtha was felt far beyond the limits of Karnataka, in the heart of distant Bengal. It is now fairly well known that the Bhakti movement of Chaitanya who flourished wholly within the lifetime of Vyasatirtha, owed a great deal of its inspiration to philosophy of Madhva and its exposition by Vyasatirtha. If properly viewed, the influence of Vyasatirtha would be seen to have brought about a glorious religious renaissance in the 16th century, simultaneously in the north and in the south India.

There was a huge family of students to Vyasa Tirtha.To name a few are Purandaradasa,Kanakadasa, Vadiraja Tirtha,Sreenivasa Thirtha, Vijayendra Thirtha,Somanatha Kavi (author of Sri Vyasa Yogi Charitam), Govinda Wodeyar.

The Contemporaries of Vyasatirtha were:

Surendra Tirtha and Vijayendra Tirtha of Rayara Mutt.
Raghunatha Tirtha,Raghuvarya Tirtha and Raghotthama Tirtha of Uttaradhi Mutt.
Sripadarajaru (Vidya guru of Vyasathirtha and nephew of Bhramanya Tirtharu) .
Bhramanya Tirtha(Guru who ordained Vyasa Tirtha to sanyasa ashrama).
Salva Narasimha Bhupala.
Chamaraja Wodeyar III.
Pakshadhara Mishra(who got defeated by Vyasatirtha in Philosophical debate).


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