Monday, 16 September 2013

A seer who always stood his ground

He is regarded as one of the outstanding Madhwa seers of the twentieth century. A renowned scholar, he has to his credit more than a hundred Shishyas or disciples, each of whom made a name for themselves as writers, scholars, philosophers, religious heads and men of eminence.
Many of his disciples also ended up heading different Madhwa mathas. After taking Sanyasa, the seer donated his entire property to the Matha that he was chosen to head.
He was termed as “Rakshasha Dwaitha Pandita” or a man who put forth Dwaitha philosophy vociferously. His opponents feared to take him on and saw in him a lion hungry for a meal. Here, the meal was an argument and many who tried to take him on never could sustain the arguments, tenor and wit of the seer. They saw in him a demon with a voracious appetite for devouring all those who took up the cause of  Adwaitha and other shastras.
He is also perhaps the only Madhwa saint of the twentieth century with the maximum number of books written on him and his achievements.
He is also the sole saint, Madhwa or otherwise, to have taken on one of India’s finest Freedom fighters and the architect of the Swaraj movement, Balagangadhar Tilak, and made him accept Madhwacharya’s interpretation in a debate on the Bhagavatha Geeta.
What is more Tilak called the Madhwa seer to his home where he welcomed him with all religious rituals. Tilak also wore a tilaka on his forehead as a mark of  respect to the seer and a Marathi newspaper carried the news item along with a photograph saying. ““Tilakani Kalirekha Angara Akshata Odhali, ”  meaning Tilak has applied Angara and Akshata.
Even today, newspaper reports of the debate that the seer had with Tilak and Tilak gracefully accepting the seer’s interpretation of the Geeta, can be seen in the archives.
This seer is none other than Satyanadhyana Theertha, the pontiff of the Uttaradi Matha  from 1911 to 1942.     
Born in 1872 in Chikodi in Belgaum district, the seer in his poorvashrama days was known as Sethuramacharya Korlahalli. His father was Jayaramacharya, who later became Satyadheera Theerta who headed the Uttradi Matha. His mother was Krishna Bai and his wife Savitri Bai.
His ashrama gurugalu was Satyajnaana Theertha and the Ashrama Shishya was Satyaprajna Theertha. He was the Vidyagurugalu for his ashrama guru-Satyajnaana Theertha.
Even in his young age, he demonstrated a remarkable talent for leaning and debating. He learnt from several gurus and this stood him in good steed. He learnt Nyayashastra from Sri Ramacharya Rangampet of Surpur or Shorapur, Nyayasudha from Satyadheera Theertha and from Sridharacharya Talwalkar he learnt  Nyayamruta, Tarangini, Chandrika.
He served as Diwan of Uttaradi Matha and also began preaching and giving discouses. Some of his notable disciples who went on to head Madhwa mathas are: Vidyamanya Tirtharu of Bandarakeri Matha, Lakshmeendra Theertha of Shiroor Matha, Raghukantha Theertha of Akshobhya Teertha Matha, Lakshmeesha Theertha of Kundapura Vyasaraja Matha, Raghudaanta Theertha of Tankaswali Matha, Vidyasindhu Theertha of Subramanya Matha, Satyaprajna Theertha and Satyabhijna Theertha of Uttaradi Matha and Pradyumna Theertha of Sagarakatte Matha.
Others include Goswami Gokulnathaji Maharajaru of Jagadguru Vallabhacharya Peeta and Raghuveera Theertha of Akshobya Teertha Matha. Some eminent scholars like BNK Sharma, Pandurangi Jayacharya, Jalihal Srinivasachar, Chaturvedi Ramachandracharya, Mahuli Gopalacharya, Varkhedi Narasimhacharya, Adya Tatacharya, Doddaballapura Vasudevacharya and Yelemeli Vasudevacharya among others learnt from him.
One of his shishyas, Kinhal Gangur Jayacharya, became the Uttaradi Matha head and it is he who gave him Deekshe and nominated him to the Uttaradhi Matha pontificate. Another Shishya of his, Pandurangi Jayacharya, later took over from his as  Satyapragnya Theertha.
Among the scholars who he prepared were: Malagi Vedavyasachar, Yagna Vitthalachar, Chincholi Krishnachar, Varkhedi Pradumnacharya, Varkhedi Narasimhacharya
Subbannacharya Galgali, Kurmacharya Galagali, Ramacharya Galagali, Muddacharya Galagali, Venkannacharya Galagali
Hulagi Hucchacharya, Mahuli Gopalacharya, Valkonda Narasimhacharya, Kolhapur Rangacharya, Rangacharya Korlahalli
Munji Lakshmanacharya, Katte Srinivasacharya, Udupi
Inna Krishnacharya, Seetharamacharya Udupi, Kashi Krishnacharya, Guntur Markapuram Padmanabhacharya.
Markapuram Srinivasacharya, Malagi Venkannacharya,
Malagi Krishnacharya, Bojji Srinivasacharya, Galagali Madhavacharya, Agnihotri Srinivasacharya, Agnihotri Hanumanthacharya, Praktooru Bhimacharya, Katti Gururajacharya Koppal, Doddaballapur Vasudevacharya, Hosahalli Narayanacharya, Pandurangi Gururajacharya, Gangur Gopalacharya, Gangur Jalihal Ramacharya, Alampalli Narayanacharya, Gangur Seetharamacharya, Veeracholapuram Krishnacharya, Vattangadu Ramacharya, Vattangadu Ranganathacharya, Kumpanipuram Ramacharya, N.Desikacharya,
H.Subba Rao,  Dr.R.Nagaraja Sarma, Raghavacharya Javali
Yalameli Vitthalacharya, Karpur Srinivasacharya, Galagali Annayyacharya, Jalihal Srinivasacharya, Galagali Narayanacharya
Galagali Shukacharya, Kolli Ramacharya, Bhimsenacharya Korlahalli, Dambal Anantashayanacharya, Umapuram Venjatagiri Acharya, Chaturvedi Ramachandracharya, Dadacharya Kale,
Venjannacharya Chincholi, Yelmeli Vasudevacharya, Dharapuram Krishnamurthyacharya, Korlahalli Krishnacharya, Gangur Hanumanthacharya, Raddi Rangacharya, Belubbi Annayyacharya
Shivanagi Vittalacharya, Belagundi Padmanabhacharya, Sriranga Madhavacharya, P.P Lakshmi Narayana Upadhyaya, Bojji Krishnacharya, Harti Venkobacharya, Kapusubbaraya Puranik
Adya Tatacharya, Panghri Tatacharya, Toravi Krishnamurthyacharya, Sheeranahalli Bhodharajacharya
Kashi Sripadacharya, Hunasigi Ramacharya, Umarji Narasimhacharya, Galgali Krishnacharya, Sonni Krishnacharya
Guttal Rangacharya, Dwaipayana Srinivasacharya, Katti Keshavacharya and many others.
Satyadhyana Theertha converted many scholars and respectable persons from other mathas to Dwaitha. Some of them include M. R. Sharma, Sowkar Ramanna, H. Subbarao and  V N Deshikacharya.
A staunch defender of Dwaitha Siddantha, he once took on Ramasubba Sastry of Kumbakonam for writing a book in which he had condemned Chandrika of Vyasaraja Theertha. Ramasubba Sastry had named the book Chandrika Khandanam. He had sent a copy of the book to Satyadhyana Theertha, who went through the book, and almost immediately started writing a Khandana.
The seer than called his book Chandrika Mandanam and sent a copy to Ramasubba Sastry who, however, did not reply. The seer then invited Sastry for a debate but when he refused, the seer called for a sabha at Tiruchanoor where he released the Chandrika Mandanam.  
He then went to Mysore and openly said “Adwaita matha is avaidhika.” He further said that the Adwaitha Matha is not supported by any Vedas. The Adwaitees called a sabha and condemned this statement but none of them dared to take on the seer in a debate.
 Meanwhile, Satyadhyana Theertha had defeated Chandrashekara Bhatta, an Adwait scholar on his journey to Kashi. In Madras, he overcame Mahamahopadyaya Harishastri and in Kumbakonam, he defeated Sheshacharya, an Vishishastadwaita scholar on the topic “Whether there is taratamya in Mukthi also.”  
However, the seer’s most famous debate was with Balagangadhar Tilak over Geetha Bhashya.  When Tilak was in jail, he happened to read the Geetha. He expressed displeasure over the Geetha Bhashya of Madhwacharya and this was contained in his book, “Geetha Rahasyam.
When this was brought to the notice of Satyadhya Theertha, he called Tilak for a debate. Tilak, on his part, agreed to meet the seer at Chickodi.  The debate went on for three days and the seer not only managed to convince Tilak about Madhwacharya’s stand but also about the Dwaitha interpretation.
Tilak gracefully accepted the greatness of  Madhwacharya and the truth of Madhwa Siddanta. is great.  The April 17, 1917 issue of Kesari, the newspaper, published by Tilak, carried a detailed report of this meeting.
When Tilak arranged a bhiksha for the seer at Tulasi Bagh in Pune, he had applied Angara Akshata on his forehead. This was reported in Bhopatkar’s Bhala newspaper.
He has written several books, most of which are available. He entered Brindavana in 1942 in Pandrapur

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