Wednesday 31 October 2012

The other Vyasa Theertha

In several of my earlier articles, I have written about Vyasa Theertha or Vyasa Raja, the Raj Guru of six Vikayanagar Emperors and the earlier avatar of Raghavendra Swamy.
This saint was born sometime in 1460 in Bannur near Mysore and entered Brindavana in Nava Brindavana in Hampi in 1539. But did you know that almost 100 years before this saint was born, there was another Madhwa saint by the same name.
Yes, there was another Vyasa Theertha and he was among the most illustrious disciples of Jaya Theertha or Teeka Charya of Malkhed. He is believed to have lived around 1400.
Though the exact date of birth of this saint is not known, Dwaitha scholars say the first Vyasa Theertha was a disciple of Jaya Theertha along with Vidhyadhiraja Theertha and others. While Vidhadhiraja Theertha took the Dwaitha Samrajya as its pontiff, Vyasa Theertha continued as a Bidi Sanyasi.
Both Vidyadhiraja and Vyasa were excellent disciples of  Jaya Theertha and  both have written some of the best texts on Dwaitha literature.      
Vidhyadhiraja Theertha is among the first Dwaitha scholars to write vyakyana for Vishnu Sahasra Nama. Similarly, Vyasa Theertha was among the first to write a Tippani for Upanishad Bhashya.
The style and text of his Tippani or commentary is very simple.
His other works include Teeka for Dashopanishat Bhashya for the Vyaakyaana of Teeka Charya (except Shatprashnopanishat Bhashya), Bharata Bhavapanchika (vyaakyana for Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya), vyakyana for Acharya Madhwa’s Tantrasara sangraha and “pramana maalika.
He is also credited with  “Jayatirtha Vijaya”(with 5 sargaas) Jayatirtha Vijaya, however, is not complete as it  contains details about the life and times of  Teeka Charya only upto the blessings of Saraswathi to Jayatirtharu.
Vyasa begins the work with a narration of  Madhwacharya  and his four direct shishyas-Padmanabha Theertha, Narahari Theertha, Madhava Theertha and Akshoba Theertha  and their works.
The book also refers to the scholastic duel between Akshoba Theertha and Vidyaranya at Mulabagal and the arbitrator of the debate, Vedantha Deshika.
The book gives us valuable information on how Deshika declared Akshoba the winner of the debate.
Other chapters or sarga details the early life of Jaya Theertha, his childhood, marriage. Another chapter deals with the meeting on Bheema river between Akshoba and Jaya Theertha. The book ends with the Deekshe of Jaya Theertha at the hands of Akshoba Theertha.
Some of the other works of  Vyasa are Anu Jayatirtha Vijaya, another biography of Jaya Theertha  in 34 slokhas. This perhaps is the first work where it is mentioned that Jaya Theertha is the amsha of Indra and that he got the blessings of Goddess Durga.
This book is invaluable to Madhwas as it given details about the victory of Jaya Theertha over some Adwaitha scholars and also Vidhyadhiraja becoming the Peethadhipathi of the Dwaitha Matha.
Vyasa here is so humble that he talks about the greatness of  Jaya Theertha and says that his history cannot be easily explained, “I have only written what Jaya Theertha has told me, “he says.
His Taittiriya Bhashya Vyakhya contains 400 poems. The manuscript of Chandogya Bhashya Vyakhya can be found in Mysore and Tanjavur.      
Vedesa Theertham, Visveshvara Theertha, Raghottama Theertha, Raghavendra Swamy and  Jagannatha Theertha (a seer of the Vyasa Raja Matha whose Brindavana is at Kumbakonam. This saint is believed to be an avatar of Galava Rishi.) have mentioned this saint as Vyasa Theertha and quoted some of his works.
The Dwaitha scholar, BNK Sharma, in his book “History of the Dwaitha School of Vedantha and Literature”,  also agrees that his Vyasa was one of the earliest and direct disciples of Jaya Theertha.
He says this saint is important as he has written glosses for 8 of the 10 Upanishads commented upon by Madhwacharya.
Interestingly, Vyasa Theertha makes a mention of the Madhwa saint Madhava Theertha who is the third pontiff of the Dwaitha Peetha after Padmanabha Theerytha and Naraharo Theertha. However, Vyasa's guru, Jaya Theertha makes no mention of Madhava Theertha though he mentions almost all other disciples of Madhwacharya.  
This saint is believed to have passed away in the earlier years of the 15th Century. His brindavana is at Malkhed in Gulbarga district. This Brindavana is near the final resting place of Jaya Theertha.
Malkhed has several other brindavanas including that of Akshoba Theertha. There is also a Veda Patashala there. Malkhed was once called Manyakheta and it was the capital of the Rashtrakutas.
It is easily accessible from Gulbarga and other near-by places.

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