उद्वेलोग्रतुरुष्कसैन्यजलधिं संस्तभ्य दूराच्चिरम् ।
वेदं शास्त्रमथोद्दधार सकला यो भारतीयाः कलाः
विद्यारण्ययतीश्वरं नमत भॊस्तं नूतनं शङ्करम् ॥
udvelogra-turuShka-sainya-jaladhiM saMstabhya dUrAcchiram
vedaM shAstrama-thoddadhAra sakalA yo bhAratIyAH kalAH
vidyAraNya-yatIshvaraM namata bhostaM nUtanaM shaMkaram
(Composed by mahAmahopAdhyAya Vidvan shrI Ranganatha Sharma in his book PanchadashI pravachana)
Gist: Having stopped the ocean of excessively fierce turuShka forces at a distance for a long time, solely by the radiance emanating from the combined prowess in Brahma and kShatra, he indeed resurrected vedic learning and by that, all the Indian arts. All ye! Bow down to such a personality, shrI vidyAraNya, the foremost among yatis (sages), who is indeed a new Shankara.
The early fourteenth century CE was a tumultuous period for Hindus all over India. Islam had traveled to India and had established strong roots. Several Muslim dynasties had ruled large tracts of India by then. In particular, Malik Kafur, the general of Ala-ud-din Khilji created havoc far into southern India destroying and looting several temples (notably Halebid, Madurai, Srirangam). That was the first time an Islamic ruler had gone so far. The threat of Islamic invasion had become a reality to several people in that region. The Yadavas of Devagiri, the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, the Kakatiyas of Warangal and the Pandyas of Madurai were roundly routed. These rulers also fought amongst themselves, just making it easy for a foreign invader to defeat them. The absence of a unified power that could stand up to this onslaught was glaring. The necessity of such a power could not be understated.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहं ॥
“Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness increases, then I manifest Myself”. So guarantees Lord Krishna in the gItA. Almost as if to prove this statement was the advent of Sri vidyAraNya.
In 1296 CE (April 11th, according to a few researchers), to the blessed couple mAyaNa and shrImatI was born mAdhava. This is durmukha saMvatsara, vaishAkha shuddha saptamI, Wednesday, according to the lunar calendar. Madhava or mAdhavAchArya (not to be confused with madhvAchArya) was destined to grow to become shrI vidyAraNya. Based on existing research and information, he was born in Karnataka in the bharadvAja gotra. His school was krishNayajurveda and his sUtra was bodhAyana.
Wealth and learning, it is said, do not go together. It was the case at least with Madhava and his family. sAyaNa and bhoganAtha were his younger brothers and these brothers had Singale as their sister.
Taught initially by his father mAyaNa, mAdhava and sAyaNa, became disciples of shrI shrIkaNThanAtha, a renowned teacher around the area of Sringeri. Later they learnt under the famous pontiffs of Sringeri – shrI bhAratI tIrtha and the great shrI vidyAtIrtha. shrI shankarAnanda (author of gItAtAtparyabodhinI and other advaitic works) was another teacher.
shrI vidyAtIrtha was known to have traveled as far as the Himalayas in those days. It would not be too much to surmise that mAdhava might have accompanied him in a few of his travels. This would have given mAdhava an idea of the country’s state at that time and would have even probably sown in his mind the seeds of the Great Reconstruction that he was to undertake later.
The learning of both sAyaNa and mAdhava was encyclopedic, covering the veda, vyAkaraNa(grammar), alaMkAra (poetics), vedAnta, shilpa (architecture), kalA (art), orthodox and heterodox darshanas, Agamas, purANas, music, Ayurveda, mathematics and so many other fields. The fact that this pair of brothers has accomplished so much is ample testimony to their education. It can be vouched for by any traditional paNDit that mastery in even one of these fields is difficult. What then of this bewildering variety of subjects!
After completing brahmacharya or the Ashrama of studenthood, Madhava very likely entered gArhasthya or the life of a householder. For a person who had titles like “prativasantasomayAji” (one who performed the soma sacrifice every spring), it seems quite unlikely that he would be unmarried. (Unmarried people cannot perform such sacrifices). sAyaNa must have followed his brother into householdership as well. It is surmised that Madhava spent almost sixty years of his life (age 20 to age 80) as a householder.
It was during these momentous sixty years that mAdhava undertook several onerous tasks. He was instrumental in founding a kingdom that would become the bulwark against future Islamic invasions. He was the Prime Minister of the region he lived in. He was Royal Preceptor. He guided several efforts to codify dharma, culture and art. He was also the kulapati in his gurukula.
As was done in those days, shrI mAdhavAchArya formally renounced the world and became a sannyAsin – shrI vidyAraNya - around 1376 CE. He became the pontiff of Sringeri, that great seat of learning. Even then, shrI vidyAraNya could not spend a lot of time in Sringeri itself, but in the capital, Hampi, to guide the rulers in administration.
As shrI vidyAraNya himself says in his panchadashI
ज्ञानिना चरितुं शक्यं सम्यग्राज्यादिलौकिकम् ।
An illumined person can indeed address worldly acts such as ruling a kingdom.
Swami VidyAraNya himself was an apt example for that statement. He attained videha-mukti (bodiless salvation) in 1386 CE.
This particular post focused on the details of the life of shrI vidyAraNya. The next part will focus on the political aspect of shrI mAdhava-vidyAraNya’s contributions.
1. shrI vidyAraNya vijaya - by shrI DVG (Collected works of DVG, Vol 3, Directorate of Kannada and Culture, Nrupatunga Road, Bangalore - 560 001 )
2. vibhUtipuruSha vidyAraNya - by shatAvadhAni Dr. R Ganesh (Published by shrI bhagavatpAdaprakAshana, Swarnavalli, Sonda - 581 336, Karnataka)
3. panchadashI pravachana - by MM vidvAn shrI ranganAtha sharmA (Published by vedanta bharati, Krishnarajanagara, Mysore Dt - 571 602, Karnataka)