Sunday 6 January 2013

The perceptor who lost to the Acharya

He was the preceptor of a King. He was also known as among the foremost Adwaitha scholars of the time. His two brothers too were unmatched scholars of the day.
The King relied on Trivikrama not only on religious matters but also in statecraft. Whenever, any scholar came to the kingdom, he was sure to be treated to a battle of “wits” and “treatises” by the preceptor who invariably won them hands down.
Over time, the King’s teacher came to be  known as the foremost Adwaitha scholar of his day.
The king ruled over the small but rich province of  Kumbla near Kasargod and his preceptor was Trivikrama Panditacharya. Kudlu was the capital of the province and today it a small village, four kms from Kasargod in Kerala.
Kudlu was also the home town of  Trivikrama and his brothers. Their ancestral  home still exists. One of Trivikrama’s brothers-Shankara Pandiracharya - was in the service of Madhwacharya who generally stayed in Udupi and its surroundings.
Shankara was a librarian with Madhwacharya and it was his job to maintain the Acharya’s library. During one of his visits home, Shankara gave the Brahmasutra Bhashya by Madhwacharya to his brother-Trivikrama.
Tivirkarama read the book and he was astonished at the scholarship of Madhwa and his interpretation of  Dwaitha. Being an Adwaitha, Shankara did not principally agree with the Bhasya but he could not help marvel at the elucidation and terse language of  the writer.
When Madhwa began defeating all Adwaitha scholars, including Pundalika Puri, many of them got together and persuaded a reluctant Trivikrama to challenge the Acharya for a debate. The anger of the Adwaitha scholars had reached a peak as the Acharya had converted Shobana Bhatta from being an Adwaitha into his first disciple- Padmanabha Theertha and Narahari Theertha as his second disciple. Narahari Theertha too was an Adwaitha pandit and as Shyama Shastri he was renown as a scholar par excellence.  Madhvacharya has travelled to Kasargod and comprehensively defeated Padma Theertha in a philosophical debate. The essence of this debate has been published as the Vada or Tattvoddyota.
Trivikrama first familiarised himself with all the teachings of Madhwa and read many of his books. He then went to a temple in Vishnu Mangala where the Acharya had camped with his disciples. He listed on awe to the effortless ease with which the Acharya demolished the arguments and tenets of Shankaracharya.
Unable to stomach further condemnation of the Adwaitha way of life, he sent out a challenge to Madhwa for a debate. Madhwa instantly accepted it and the venue was agreed among them to be   Kudlu.
The debate took place before King Jayasimha at the Kudlu Matha, which exists even today. The debate lasted a full fortnight at the end of which Trivikrama conceded defeat and asked to be admitted as a disciple. Madhwacharya was gracious in defeat and admitted Trivikrama into the Dwaitha order. He then commissioned the pandit to write a commentary on the Brahma Sutra Bhashya This work by Trivikrama Panditacharya is called Tatwapradipa.
Trivkirama had three sons, the youngest of whom was Narayana Panditacharya, the author of the Madhwa Vijaya.

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