Saturday, 15 February 2014

Avatars of the Acharya

Who has not heard of the sloka “Pratamo Hanuman Namo, Dwithiyo Bheema yevacha SaYeva Poorna Pragnya Bagavat Karya Sadhaka”.
This sloka tells us of the three avatars of Vayu-Hanuma, Bheem and Madhwacharya.
Madhwacharya, otherwise also known as Poornaprajnya or Ananda Theertha (1199-1278), was a saint-philosopher and social reformer  of his times.
It was he who propagated the Dwaitha concept in which the Pancha Beda plays an important role. It was for the first time ever in Indian philosophy that Madhwacharya distinguished the souls into three categories. It was also he who upheld the Taratamya or gradation of gods in which he placed Vishnu or Hari as supreme.
Madhwacharya has in several works of his indicated that he was the third avatar of Hanuma-Bheema-Madhwa trinity.
Also known as Sukha Theertha and Purnabodha,  he showed all the three avatars to Trivikrama Panditacharya (1258-1320), his disciple and author of the Sri Vayu Stuti.
It was after Trivikrama Panditacharya saw all the three avatars in a temple in Udupi that he composed the Sri Hari Vayu Stuti. His son, Narayana Panditacharya wrote the Madhwa Vijaya wherein he gives us a complete picture of the life and times of Madhwacharya. Of course, he too believes in the Hanuma-Bheem and Madhwa avatar.
However, the very first mention of such a avatar is in the Rig Veda. Ananda Theertha is commonly identified with Madhwa in the third Balittha or Balitha Sukta of the Rig Veda.
The Rig or Rg Veda says

“yasya trinyuditani veda vachane rupani divyanyalam.
bat.htad.hdarshatamitthamevanihitam devasya bhargo mahat.h
vAyo ramavachonayam prathamakam pr^iksho dvitiiyam vapuh
madhvo yattu tr^itiiyametadamuna granthah kr^itah keshave”

It is in this sukta that we see Vayu Devaru being mentioned as taking three avatars -Hanuman during Ramayana,  Bheema  during Mahabharata and finally as Madhwa during Kali Yuga.
The Vayu Purana too makes a mention of the three avatars.
It says,

“Vayurdivyani rupaani padmatrayayutaani ch | trikotimurthy sanyuktastretaayaam raakshasaantakah || hanumaniti vikhyaato Ramakaarya dhurandharah | sa vaamurBheemsenoabhuuddwaparaante kurudvah || Krishnamsampoojayamaas hatva duryodhanaadikaan | Dvaipayanasya sevaartham badaryaam tu kalao yuge || vayushch yatirupeNa krutva dushashtra Khandanam|
tatah kaliyugeh praapte tritiyo Madhwanamakah | bhurekha dakshiNeh bhagehmsnimadgarvashaantaye | dhikkurvanstprabhaam sadyoavateernoatra dvijaanvaye ||

Madhwacharya himself in Vishnu Tatwa Nirnaya says he came down during Kali Yuga and that he was earlier Hanuman and Bheema.
Madhwacharya had all the physical features, attributes or 32 shubha lakshanas that characterise a person, including the prescribed height, (shannavati angulo apetam) quoted in the Mahabharata-Tatparya Nirnaya.
By the way, only Hanuman is supposed to have all these 32 attributes. Even Gods like Shiva had only 28 attributes. The Balittha sukta speaks of the trinity of Hanuma, Bheema and Madhwa and here is part of a text from the Balittha SuktaBalittha tad.hvapushhedhayi darshatam devasya bhargah sahaso yato.ajani |
yadImupahvarate sadhate matirr^itasya dhena anayanta sasrutah || 1 ||
pR^ixo vapuh pitumannitya ashaye dvitiyamasaptashivasu matR^ishhu  |
tr^itiyamasya vr^ishhabhasya dohase dashapramatim janayantayoshhaNaH || 2 ||
niryadIm budhnanmahishhasya varpasa ishanasah shavasa krantasurayah  |
yadimanupradivo madhwa adhave guhasantam matarishva mathayati || 3 ||
prayatpituh paramanniyateparyapr^ixudho virudho dansu rohati  |
ubhayasya janushham yadinvata adidyabishhtho abhavad.hdhr^ina shuchih || 4 ||
adinmatr^iravishadyasva shuchirahimsyamana urviya vivavr^idhe  |
anuyatpurva aruhastanajuvoni navyasishhva varasu dhavate  || 5 ||
The suktas are very similar to stutis and stotras and they form a vital part of hymns and prayers. Some of the suktas include Devi sukta, Narayana sukta, Purusha sukta, Vishwakarma sukta, Devi sukta, Sri sukta, Medha sukta, Ratri sukta, Agni sukta, Ayushya sukta, Balitha sukta, Neela sukta, Bhagya sukta, Vishnu sukta, Bhu sukta, Durga sukta, Shanna sukta, Parjanya sukta and
Saraswati sukta.

Incidentally, Raghavendra Swamy (1595-1671) has written a short gloss on the Balitha sukta. 

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