Tuesday 8 January 2013

The Seer who saw Sripadaraja

It was in the early years of the twentieth century and Medhanidhi Theertha (1908-1926) was heading the Sripadaraja Matha.
The seer had come to Mulabagal where he was performing daily pooje to the Moola Brindavana of  Sripadaraja Theertha (1412-1504) at Narasimha Theerha near Mulabagal in Kolar district.
One day, the seer was slightly discomforted when he was performing the pooje of  Sripadaraja Brindavana. He thought that the steps should be evened out and placed properly so that it would not inconvenience anyone,
Medhanidhi Theertha completed his pooje and before retiring to his quarters, he asked some of his disciples to remove the steps leading to the Brindavana and lay them again properly. He asked them to exercise care and ensure that the Brindavan remained untouched.
The disciples did as they were told. They had already removed some of the stone slabs on the steps when they found a gaping hole. They thought that the hole had resulted in the steps sinking down and making them uneven. They removed more stones when suddenly they saw a binding flash of light.
The disciples ran back to Medhanidhi Theertha scared and anxious about what had happened. The seer rushed back to the Brindavana and peered into the dark hole.
What he saw in the hole astonished him. He saw Sripadaraja  sitting in Padmasana with a lamp burning near him. The Nandadeepa was burning bright and he could clearly make out the luminous feature of Sripadaraja.
The Seer could make out that Sripadaraja was sitting in deep meditation and that the Mudra was clearly visible on the upper part, hands and head of  Sripadaraja. Quickly prostating before the Dhriva avatar, Medhanidhi Theertha decided against going any further with the repairs to the steps.  
He then called his disciples and asked them not to go ahead with any repair of the steps. He direcetd them to carefully close the steps  as they were. Even today, the steps remain as they were during his time.
Several centuries earlier Sripadaraja was teaching Vyasa Theertha at Narasimha Theertha in the Vyasa cave. (The cave exists even today). Sripadaraja went out for same time and when he was about to return, several disciples came running to him. They were out of breath and there was fear on their face. They told Sripadaraja  that a huge snake had coiled itself around Vyasa Theertha who was meditating. They feared the worst, saying that Vyasa Theertha was not moving.
Sripadaraja came back to the spot and found the serpent coiled around Vyasa Theertha. Instead of chasing away the serpent, he began speaking to it.
The disciples and even Vyasa Theertha were later astounded to know that the snake was none other but Padmanabha Theertha, the first disciple of Madhwacharya.
Sripadaraja had immediately recognised Padmanabha Theertha and he had conversed with him. The serpent vanished after talking to Sripadaraja All the while, Vyasa Theertha was so engrossed in meditation, that he had not seen the serpent.
When Sripadaraja was in Srirangam, he had worshipped Ranganatha. He saw that all songs praising Rannganatha were in Tamil and that devotees from Karnataka could not enjoy the songs as they did not understand the language. He then decided to translate “Harisarvothamatatwa”  into Kannada and also write in Kannada so that common people could understand the work. Thus, Sripadaraja became the first Madhwa saint to wrote in Kannada. He then composed several Devara Namas in Kannada.
His inspiring works in Kannada led to the birth and even growth of the Haridasa movement. He is, therefore, called teh Nheeshma Pitama of Haridasa Sahitya. 
Some of his famous Devara Namas are Bushanake Bushana, Baro Manege Govinda, Nee Ittahange iruveno hariye, Kangalidyathako Cauvery rangana nodada, Daya madi salahayya and many others. His ankita nama was Ranga Vittala.
Some of his important compositions are Bhramaragita, Venugita
Gopigita and Madhvanama.
His only work in Sanskrit is Vagvraja. However, he contoiuned writing and even preaching in Kannada but asked his favourite disciple, Vyasa Theertha, to write in Sanskrit.
Vyasa Raja spent years at Mulabagal imbibing everything from Sripadaraja. It was due to his efforts that Vyasa Theertha could become the foremost scholar of the day. No wonder Vyasa Theertha honors his Guru, saying  “Vedashastrapuranadali Adisheshana polva Muni” in one composition and also as “Vadigaja masthakankusha” in another.
Born in Abbur in Channapatna taluk of Ramanagar district, Sripadaraja’s poorvashrama name was Lakshminarayana Muni. His parents were Seshagiri and Giriamma. He was a cousin brother of  Bramanye Theertha of Abbur Kundapur Vyasaraja Matha.
Sripadaraja headed the Mulabagal Matha for several decades before handing over the reigns in 1504 to Hayagreeva Theertha. He entered the Brindavan on Jeshta shudha chaturdashi at  Narasimha Theertha near Mulbagal.

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