Sunday 28 October 2012

The Madhwa mathas

The Madhwa or Dwaitha tradition traces their lineage to one of the most renowned and influential philosophers of all times-Madhwacharya. It was this great philosopher who gave an added impetus to the Dwaitha school of thought and brought it to the forefront.
Though Madhwacharya did not start any Matha on his own, he was instrumental in anointing eight disciples to look after the Krishna Temple in Udupi.  The eight disciples came from different villages around Udupi and today these mathas are better known as the Asta Mathas or eight mathas of Udupi.
Apart from these eight disciples, the Acharya had four disciples all of  whom he initiated into the Dwaitha pontificate. The four in order are: Padmanabha Theertha, Narahari Theertha, Madhava Theertha and Akshoba Theertha.  
There have been divisions and sub-divisions of  the mathas right from the time of Padmanabha Theertha. Today, we have nearly 30 main mathas and a host of smaller ones.
I do not wish to go into the reasons for the division of the mathas as they can lead to unnecessary controversy which is always best avoided, I will endeavour to place the facts as it is. I have depended on the History of Dwaitha literature by Mr B,N, K Sharma, the writings of  many Dwaitha scholars and several other credible sources.
The first Peethadhipathi of the Dwaitha kingdom, accepted by all the mathas, is Narayana. He is followed by Chaturmukha Brahma, Sanakaadi, Durvasa, Jnananidhi, Garudavana, Kaivalya, Jnanaesha, Parathirtha, Satyaprajna, Prajuna Theertha, several others and then comes Achuta Preksha Theertha.
Achuta Preksha Theertha gives Deekshe to Madhwacharya. The Acharya in turn passes on the baton to Padmanabha Theertha (His brindavana is at Nava Brindana). In 1324, Padanabha Theertha gives Deekshe to Lakshmidhara Theertha who starts the Sripadaraja Matha. Padmanabha Theertha  was followed by Narahari Theerta (brindavana at Chakretheertha, Hampi), Madhava Theertha (brindavana at Mannur ) and Akshoba Theertha (brindavana at Malkhed). Madhava Theertha appoints Madurai Theertha to head the Thambihalli Matha.
Madhava Theertha selects Akshoba Theertha to succeed him. Akshoba Theertha helps set up two mathas. He is succeeded by Jaya Theertha or Teekachar. Jayatheertha is followed by Vidyadhiraja Theertha.
It was during the time of Vidyadhiraja that the first division of Madhaw matha took place. He had nominated Rajendra Theertha as his successor. Rajendra Theertha had gone on sanchara (travel) and did not come when Vidyaraja was ill. Therefore, Rajendra Theertha’s brother Kavindra Theertha was named as the head of the Dwaitha matha. When Rajendra returned, he found Kavindra had already occupied the post. Rajendra Theertha then came to south Karnataka and founded the Vyasaraja Matha. (The pontiffs after Rajendra Theertha in the Vyasaraja matha were Jayadwaja Theertha, Purushottama Theertha, Bramanye Theertha and Vyasa Theertha).
Kavindra Theertha was followed by Vagisha Theertha (He gave Deekshe to Vadiraja). The brindavanas of both Kavindra Theertha and Vageesha Theertha are at Nava Brindavana.
Vageesha  Theertha was succeeded by Ramachandra Theertha (Brindavana at Yeregol in Gulbarga) when the second division of the Matha took place. Ramachandra Theertha had nominated Vibhdendra Theertha as his successor. When Ramachandra Theertha fell ill, he could not hand over the reigns of the matha to Vibhdendra as he was on tour. He then handed over the peeta to Vidyanidhi Theertha.
Vibhdendra Theertha goes to Kumbakonam and founds the Kumbokanam Matha. This later transforms into the Raghavendra Swamy Matha. Vidyanidhi Theertha is followed by Raghunatha Theertha. This unbroken line of  peetadhipathis is called Uttaradhi Matha.
Decades after Vyasa Theertha, the Vyasa Raya matha splits into Abbur (Kundapur) and Sosale Vyasa Raya Matha.  In the context of all these happenings, the asta mathas continue the tradition of looking after the Krishna Temple in Udupi. There is no break in their matha history.
Madhava Theertha is the founder of Kanva matha or Veda Matha. His brindavana is at Buddhini. Lakshmi Manohara theertha of Shirur matha gave deekshe to Madhava Theerthe to set up the Kanva Madhwa Matha.
The first patron of the Madava matha of Tambihalli or Majjage halli Matha of Kolar is Madurai Theertha. Sagarkatte is the youngst of the Madhwa mathas. It was set up in 1920 by Pradyumna Theertha.

Some of the main mathas are as follows:                     
1.        Palimar Matha
2.        Adamar Matha
3.        Krishnapura Matha
4.        Puttige Matha
5.        Shirur Matha
6.        Sode Matha or Vadiraja Matha
7.        Kanioor Matha
8.        Pejavara Matha. (These eight are the Asta Mathas)
9.        Uttaradhi Matha
10.   Sripadaraja Matha
11.   Bhandarakeri Matha
12.   Subramanya Matha
13.   Chitrapura Matha
14.   Bhimanakatte Matha
15.    Kanva Matha
16.   Sagarakatte (Vyasaraja) Matha
17.   Kashi Matha
18.   Partagali Jeevottama Matha
19.   Raghavendra Matha
20.   Sosale Vyasaraja Matha, T Narsipura
21.   Kundapura Vyasaraja Matha, Abbur
22.   Baligaru Arya Akshobhya Tirtha Matha
23.   Kudli Arya Akshobhya Tirtha Matha
24.   Tambihalli or Majjagehalli Matha
I have relied on the parampare of the maths and several Madhwa texts to source material for this article. Readers can write if there is any discrepancy in the article. They can also send in their suggestions.   

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