Saturday 10 November 2012

The first Madhwa saint to enter Brindavana

There are hundreds of Madhwa Brindavanas all over India. These Brindavanas are generally found in or around holy places. There are more than two dozen Madhwa mathas and some of the institutions such as the Asta Mathas of Udupi date back to the time of Madhwacharya, the great Dwaitha philosopher and fountainhead of Madhwa philosophy.
The saints who have ascended the Madhwa mathas as their head and also Bidi Sanyasis (saints who were not affiliated to a matha and preached independently of the matha) were entomed in a Brindavana.
There are a number of Brindavanas in places such as Nanjungud (in the Raghavendra Swamy Matha which has an idol of Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru), Nava Brindavanas at Hampi (Nava Brindavana-Anegundi), Shenbakkam in Vellore, Sripadaraja Matha in Erode and Vyasaraja Matha in Sosale, Mantrayala (Raghavendra Swamy), Sode or Sonda (Vadiraja), Tirukoilur (Raghottama Theertha), Mulabagal (Sripadaraja) and other cities and towns.
The first ever saint from the Madhwa Parampare to enter Brindavana was Padmanabha Theertha.
Padmanabha Theertha was the first disciple of Madhwacharya. He was one of the four direct disciples of Madhwacharya-the other three being Narahari Thertha, Madhava Theertha and Akshoba Theertha.
Padmanabha Theertha was known as Shobana Bhatta. He was an advaitha scholar and he lost to Madhwacharya in a debate. He became an ardent follower of Madhwacharya and began propogating Madhwa Siddhantha.
Though his mother tongue was Telugu, he popularised Dwaitha Siddhantha in Karnataka.
Padmanabha Theertha and others got their initiation into the Matha parampare by Madhwacharya at Kanva Theertha, a small town near the seashore, a little away from Udupi. When Madhwacharya left for Badari, he anointed Padmanabha Theertha as his successor.
To him goes the credit of writing the first ever commentary or Teeke on Bhashya of Madhwacharya. Even the redoubtable Jayatheertha, the disciple of Akshiba Theertha and one of the greatest Madhwa scholars, refers to the scholarship of Padmanabha Theertha.
He has written three works on the Bhagavath Geetha- Gitabhaashya-Bhaavadiipikaa: Gitataatparya-Nirnaya-Prakaashikaa and commentaries on the ten Prakaranas. He is also the author of Sattarkadiipaavali, which is a commentary on the  Brahma Sutra Bhashya of Madhwacharya. Another work is  Sannyaayaratnaavali which is a commentary on Anuvyakhana of  Madhwacharya.
He is believed to have entered Brindavana at Nava Brindavana, Hampi, in 1324 or 1325.
He is the first Madhwa saint to enter Brindavana. The other three direct disciples of Madhwacharya who entered Brindavana after him are Narahari Theertha at Chakra Theertha in Hampi, Madhava Theertha also at Hampi before it was shifted to Mannur and Akshoba Theertha in Malkhed.
The location of brindavanas of other great Madhwa saints are Sripadaraja at Narasimha Theertha in Mulabagal in Kolar district, Bramanya Theertha in Abbur near Chennapatna in Ramanagar district, Vyasa Theertha in Nava Brindavana (Hampi in Bellary district), Jaya Theerha or Teekachar and  Raghunatha Theertha in Malkhed of Gulbarga district, Vadiraja Theerttha in Sode which is Sirsi taluk, Kavindra Theertha, Vageesha Theertha and Raghuvarya Theertha (Uttaradi Matha), Rama Theertha, Srinivasa Theertha (Vyasaraja Matha), Sudhindra Theertha (Raghavendra Matha) and Govinda Odeyar all at Nava Brindavana.
The Brindavana of Vedavyasa Theertha of Uttaradhi Matha, Uddanda Ramachandra Theertha of Sripadaraja Matha and Lakshmikantha Theertha are in Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh. You come across this city when you travel from Bangalore to Mantralaya via Anantapur.
The Brindavana of Satyabodha Theertha is at Savanur in Karnataka. He belongs to the Uttaradhi Matha.
Of course the most famous Brindavana is of Raghavendra Swamy in Mantralaya. There is another Brindavana besides the Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy and that belongs to his great grandson, Vadeendra Theertha.
There are several brindavanas of pontiffs who headed the Raghavendra Matha in an area behind the Matha building. There are also similar brindavanas in the Raghavendra Swamy matha in Nanjungud.
However, what distinguishes the Brindavana of Padmanabha Theertha is that he is the first to enter Brindavana. However, there are only four saints who entered Brindavana when they were alive. They are Vadiraja Thertha in Sode, Raghavendra Swamy in Mantrayala, Raghuttoma Theertha of Uttaradhi Matha at Titukoilur in Tamil Nadu and Satyavrata Theerta of Uttaradi Matha at Sangli in Maharashtra.
The brindavanas of Sripadaraja, Raghuttoma Theertha and Bramanye Theertha are not covered as they belong to the Surya Vamsha. The brindavans are open to the sky though they are surrounded by mathas. There is no building or roof over the Nava Brindavana in Hampi too.
The pioneer of Dwaitha Siddhantha, Madhwacharya, disappeared from sight after giving a discourse on Upanishads from a temple in Udupi. His younger brother, Vishnu Theertha, who was the first pontiff of the Sode Matha and Subramanya Matha also disappeared into a cave near Kukke Subramanya. Purushottama Theertha of Vyasaraja Matha and the teacher of  Bramanye Theertha also disappeared into a cave near Abbur. The cave is there even today and you have top trek a short distance from the Abbur matha to the cave.
Jitamitra Theertha of Raghavendra Matha also disappeared from under a tree in Gulbarga district. The tree exists even today and it is known as Jitamitra Gadde.             


  1. I think that you made stunning the moment when you came up with this topic of the article over here. Do you as a rule make your entries alone or maybe you have a partner or even a helper?

    1. well, we have a team of people who are experts in their field and they contribute to the blog. We get the facts verified and then post it. As this article is about Madhwas, it has been double checked ande verified. Any way, thnaks for reading.