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Sri Madhvacharya - A Brief Sketch of His Life and Teachings

Sri Madhvacharya was born near Udipi, Belle a small village in 1238 A.D. to Nadillaya Bhatta and Vedavati, a poor and pious couple. There were three Brahmin families in that small village called Odippe, those who had migrate from Udipi, Parpadane, Preistly Brahmins who lived by being Archaks and Kabekode, lived by agriculture. Sri Madhva was born in Odippe family, his father was a scholar and a Public speaker of repute on Puranas particularly Srimadbhagavatam. 

Madhva was named Vasudeva by his parents and was a child prodigy. He never learnt from his first teacher as he knew better than him. The father himself taught to some extent and performed Upanayanam. Vasudeva was not convinced with Monism of Shankara prevalent then and wanted to clear doubts which no one did. As believed he is an Avatar of Hanuman, he was dipped in the milky ocean of Bhakti yoga. He started to Udupi to seek blessings of Achyutaprjna a swamiji there and prostrated before him seeking Deeksha. The Guru was reluctant and at last has to oblige. When Madhva’s Father came to know about this he begged him touching his feet. Poornaprajna as he was called now said a father salutes a son only when he becomes a Yati. Hence permission was predestined by Sri Hari and promised he will be blessed with another son soon. Only later he would take up Sanyaasa. The father has to agree and return home. After an year a son was born and Vasudeva was anointed as Poornabodha. 

At the age of 16 he decided to propagate his thoughts as he was not convinced with Advaita, which his Guru half mindedly followed. He sought his permission to go on tour and presented to him his commentary on Geeta. The Guru has to oblige. Poornaprajna toured till Himalayas, met Vedavyasa, showed his commentary on Geeta, and was asked to write on Mahabharata Srrimad Bhagavatam also. The task was completed successfully. Madhva, a man of sweet talk, now returned to Udipi with blessings of Vyasdeva. His Guru was proud to have such a Shishya. 

One day, as tradition has, Madhva, when meditating near the sea shore, found a lump of Soil which was used to balance a small ship. To his yogic eyes he could see two idols of Krishna and Balarama. He installed Balarama, there called odabhandeshvara and brought Krishna idol singing Dwadasha 12 Stotras on Krishna. The idol was installed in a small temple with all rituals under the leadership of his brother. Now Udupi became a temple town, though earlier there were Ananteshvara and Chandramouleesvara temples which were very old. 

Soon Madhva was called Ananda Teertha since anyone who came to his fold was happy. His Teachings were practical way of Karmayoga. Kuru bhumkshva svakrama nijam niyatam, Haripada vinamradhiyaa satatam…. Do your ordained duty and leave the result to God you will enjoy Life here and after this Life. Soon many scholars who came to refute him became his disciples. He organized Pooja at the Temple regularly and gave Deeksha to 8 boys as Sanyasins. They were supposed to worship Krishna 5 times a day from 3.30 am to 8.30 pm. 

Works of Madhvacharya 

Sri Madhva composed 37 or 39 Books on Tattvavaada, his explanation of vedic thoughts applicable even today. He appointed 8 yatis to worship Krishna and ordained 4 disciples to propagate his Tattvavaada.

1. Sri Padmanabha Tirtha who hailed from Punatamba ( Shobhana Bhatta a great scholar)

2. Narahari Tirtha, a minister to king of Orissa.

3 Akshobhya teertha from Gulbarga (Govinda Bhatta)

4. Madhava Teeertha from Andhra Pradesh (Krishna shastri) 

Each one of them was sent to different directions to preach Bhakti Vedanta. After assigning responsibilities to his scholarly disciples, he left to Badari in Himalayas to be with Sri veda vyasa muni in 1317 AD, The Day is celebrated as Madhva Navami all over the World with Devotion. ISKCON also respects Sri Madhva as their Adi Guru. The life sketch of Madhva can be read in “Sumadhva Vijaya” authored by his junior contemporary, Sri Narayana Panditachaya son of Trivikrama Panditacharya whom Madhva had defeated in debate and subsequently accepted them as his disciples. This is the most authentic work on Madhvacharya available. 

Compiled by: PROF. PADMANABHA RAO