It was Madhwa who first took on the Adwaitha concept and challenged its concept. He faced both physical and intellectual challenges when he began preaching his Tatwavada or Dwaitha school of thought.
He began demolishing the concept of Adwaitha and went on a pilgrimage all over
to propagate his philosophy. He won over scores of scholars to his side and his first two disciples-Padmanabha Theertha and Narahari Theertha were earlier Adwaitha scholars. India
They lost in debate to Madhwa and became his followers as did Pandit Trivikramacharya. The Madhwa school of thought received a further boost when apart from Padmanabha Theertha and Naharahi Theertha, two other able disciples of Madhwa- Madhava Theertha and Akshobya Theertha- took on the mantle of the
Akshobya Theertha defeated Vidyaranya, the guru of Hakka and Bukka-the founders of Vijayanagar dynasty, in a debate in Mulabagal. After him, Jayatheertha or Teekacharya gave a new meaning to Madhwa philosophy.
Sripadaraja of Mulabagal began propagating Madhwa philosophy in Karnakata. He sang, composed, wrote and even preached in Kannada and brought Madhwa philosophy closer to the masses.
One of the foremost disciples of Sripadaraja was Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Raya, who later became the royal preceptor of six Vijayanagar Emperors, including Krishna Deva Raya.
While Vadiraja of Sode Matha, who was a disciple of Vyasa Raja, began popularising Madhwa philosophy in coastal Karnataka, Vyasa Raja himself took up this responsibility in the
. Vijayanagar Kingdom
He traveled all over
, making the masses aware of Madhwa Sampradaya. He also set up the Dasa Koota and Vyasa Koota to propagate Madhwa philosophy through music. India
He once went to Kanchi or Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu to not only study further but also take on the Adwaitha pandits.
Kanchipuram in the 15ht century was the stronghold of Adwaitha scholars. Vyasa Raja defeated several Adwaitha pandits in debates.
To long and elaborate arguments on the oneness of God and Man and of no difference between Man and God, Vyasa Raja silenced them with one sloka that contained in a nutshell all the tenets of Madhwa philosophy.
The single stanza goes thus:
“Sri Manmadwanate Harihi Paratara Satyam Jagattatwako
Bhinnajeevagana Hareranucharaah Nichochhabhavam Gata Muktirnyja Sukhanubhhootiratula Bhaktischa Tatsadhanam
Hyakshdritayam Pramanamakilaamnaykavedyo Hari.”
Vyasa Raja recited the sloka when a Adwaitha pandit challenged him to explain the concept of Madhwa philosophy in a single stanza.
What it means is that Hari is real and the world too is real and not an illusion. It says there are differences between God and man and that they are real. It also says that all Jeevas or living beings are servants of Hari and gradation (of Gods) is real.
Today, there is a debate on whether or not this stanza was composed by Vyasa Raja himself. Several eminent Dwaitha scholars have concluded that this cannot be Vyasa Raja’s contribution as the text does not suggest his signature.
Whatever it may be, contemporary accounts suggest that Vyasa Raja did recite this shloka to drive home his point and he did it successfully.
Vyasa Raja along with Madhwacharya and Jayatheertha are considered to be the three main original thinkers of the Dwaitha doctrine. To Vyasa Raja goes the credit of further elucidating the doctrines of Madhwacharya which had already been commented upon by Jayatheertha or Teekacharya.
He has interpreted Madhwa and his teachings in Vyasatraya. This comprises his three great philosophical works-Nyayavali, Tatparya Chandrika, and Tarka Tandava.
Well, whether Vyasa Raja composed the Shloka or not is not important here. What stands out is that the Sholka has within it the entire philosophy of Madhwa.