Saturday 22 December 2012

Jayatheertha-the bard of Malkhed

It is a remote village in Gulbarga district but it is a shining star in the Madhwa galaxy where no less than sixteen saints of the Dwaitha order are entombed.
Once the capital of the Rashtrakutas from 818 AD to 982 AD, the village is now more known for its Madhwa Brindavanas than for its history. The memories of the once powerful Rashtrakuta is seen in the ruins of the place.
The once powerful city of the Rashtrakutas has lost its glory but what still remains and continues to shine as bright as the Sun is the is one of the most prominent Brindavanas of the Madhwa order.
The Brindavana belongs to one of the most revered and scholarly Dwaitha saint-the one who dared for the first time ever to interpret the works of Madhwacharya also called as Madhwa or the Acharya.
This saint is nine other than Jayatheertha or Teeka Char and his Brindavana is located in the small town of Malkhed, which was in ancient times known as Manyakheta. It is one the banks of the serene Kagina.
Manyakheta has a hallowed history. It was the capital of the Rashkrakutas but by the time of Jayatheertha, it had lost its standing in history and was already in ruins. One of Karnataka;s greatest ruler, Amoghavarsha, the first, had shifted the Rashkrakuta capital from Mayurkhandi in Bidar district to Mānyakhea.
This was also the city which the Kalyani Chalukyas, after the fall of the Rashtrakutas, made their capital till 1050 AD. Malkhed is also the place where Sri Vijaya, the eminent poet and Aasthana  Vidwan of  one of the greatest Rashtrakuta Emperor Nrupatunga, resided.
The famous Mahapurana (Adipurana and Uttarapurana) was composed here by Acharya Jinasena and his favourite pupil Gunabhadra in 9th century AD . Somadeva Suri’s Yasastilaka Champu was written in Malkhed as was the brilliant mathematics treatise Ganita Saara Sangrahae by Mahaviracharya.
Another obscure fact is that the well-known Apabramsha poet Pushpadante lived here. Yet, almost all these figures are almost forgotten but not Jayatheertha. With each passing day, his stature and fame seems to increase.   
Jayatheertha was the direct disciple of Akshobya Theertha, his uncle. Akshobya Theertha was the fourth disciple of Madhwacharya and he had left his home in Jamkhandi in erstwhile Bijapur district to join the Dwaitha bandwagon of Madhwa.
One day when Akshobya Theertha was sitting in meditation on the banks of the Bheema, he saw a horseman called Dondupant gallop into the river , bend down and drink water from the river.
Struck by this event, Akshobya Theertha asked the horseman whether he was an ox in his previous birth. The remark triggered past memories of the horseman who recollected that he was an ox which had carried the works of Madhwa on its back.
He also recollected that the Acharya, in the course of his discourse, had remarked that the ox would write commentaries on his works. This had enraged some of the disciples who had poisoned the ox.
The ox was reborn as Jayatheertha.  The horsemen immediately jumped down from the animal and urged Akshobya Theertha to give him Sanyasa.
When Dondopant’s father heard of what had happened, he came to Akshobya Theertha and berated him for giving sanyas to a man in the prime of his youth. He forcibly took Dondopant home and got him married.
When the bride entered the bridal chamber in the night, she was shocked to see a huge serpent sleeping on the bridal bed. She immediately called for help. Jayatheertha’s father came running and was astonished at what he saw. He immediately sensed that his son was no ordinary mortal and he came back to Akshobya Theertha and handed over Donupant to him as his Shishya.
It is now that the real training of Jayatheertha began. Akshobya Theertha spent all his life teaching his favourite disciple about Shastras, Vedas, Upanishats and other texts.
Akshobya Theertha was particular in teaching to Jayatheertha about all the works of  Madhwa. To his great astonishment, Jayatheertha was a hard working pupil, brilliant in several topics, including Teeke.
Days passed into months and months into years and Alshobya Theertha spared no effort to make Jayatheertha the most well-known and knowledgble scholar of his time.
Akshobya Theertha entered Brindavana in Malkhed and Jayatheerta personally oversaw the construction of the Brindavana. He then sat down to write his commentaries, which are relevant even today and are taken as the first and foremost guide to interpret the works of Madhwa.
He headed the Madhwa Matha for 22 years and seven months. During his period, there was none to challenge him and even Vidyaranya, the Raja Guru of  Vijayanagar, acknowledged the ability and scholarship of Jayatheertha.
Vidyaranya had been defeated several years ago in a debate by Akshobya Theertha in Mulabagal in Kolar district. Soon after the debate, the adversaries had gone their ways-Vidyaranya to Sringeri and Vijayanagar and Akshobya to Malkhed.
After several years, Vidyaranya desired to meet Akshobya and he came down to Malkhed where he was told that Akshobya had entered Brindavana and that Jayatheertah was his disciple.
Vidyaranya wanted to test how much Akshobya had taught Jayatheertha and he came to a cave at Yeragol where Jayatheertha was residing. As can be expected, Jayatheertha proved his mettle and Vidyaranya was gracious in his compliments.
He is said to have remarked that Akshobya taught his disciple well. He then placed the works that Jayatheertha had written on an elephant and took it out in a procession.           
Jayatheertha composed almost all his works and, of course, commentaries in this cave in Yeragol which is near Malkhed.
By all accounts, it was in this cave that the Nyaya Sudha, one of the seminal works in Dwaitha literature came to be composed. The author-who else but Jayatheertha. This one works alone is enough to place Jayatheertha on a pedestal next to the venerable Madhwa. It is this work that earned him the nomenclature Teekachar.
Jayateertha is believed to be an avatara of Indra with aavesha of Shesha and personally blessed by Goddess Durga with a writing instrument and a piece of areca nut.
Another legend has it that he was Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. Soon after the Mahabharata war, Arjuna thought to himself that it was because of him that the war was won. He thus for a moment forget Vasudeva or Krishna. For this sin, he was cursed to be reborn as a mortal. His mortal birth was as Jayatheertha.
Whatever his previous antecedents, one thing is for sure. No mere mortal could have so beautifully interpreted Madhwa and in such a manner that all Madhwa saints following him, be it Vyasa Raja or Raghavendra Swamy, Sripadaraja or Raghuttama, have referred to Jayatheertha and his Nyaya Sudha.
Today, if one has to understand Madhwa and his teachings, the first thing one has to do is to get the commentaries of  Jayatheertha.    
Jayatheertha entered Brindavanan near his Guru at Malkhed itself after handing over the reigns to yet another illustrious scholar-Vidyadhiraja Theertha.
However, one puzzling fact is why Jayatheertha and others chose a territory in north Karnataka under the Muslim Bahamani kings to enter Brindavana, while the Hindu Vijayanagar Kingdom was so prominent in south Karnataka. 
One reason is that Jayatheertha acknowledged Malkhed as the place where the saint Brigu     
Malked is just 40 kms from Gulbarga. There are frequent bus service from Gulbarga, Sedam and nearby places to Malkhed. The Uttaradhi Matha and other mathas in Malkhed offer Theerthaprasada and accommodation.
Malkhed is also famous for the Uttaradhi Matha and the Jain Bhattaraka Matha.  The Jain temple of Neminathm built in the 9th century AD  is a remarkable structure with iodls of all the 24 Jain Theerthankaras. The temple is home to the Panchdhatu shrine with 96 images.

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