The moment you hear about Vyasarajaru, you would remember the song of Sri Purandaradasaru, “Eesu munigaliddenu maadidaru, (relative comparison, rather than a negative opinion) Vyasamuni Madhvamathavannuddharisida”.
Vyasaraja is one of the main pillars for the Madhva Siddhanta. The learned Appayya Diksita is reported to have observed that the great Vyasaraja “saved the melon of Madhvaism from bursting, by securing it with three bands” in the form of his three great works – the Nyayamrutha, Chandrika and Tarka-Tandava. There is a tradition that when the North Indian Logician Pakshadhara Mishra visited Mulbagilu, he had spoken most appreciatively of Vyasaraja. As “Shri Vyasaraja was a thinker of high order”
Birth & Sanyasashrama
Sri Ramacharya and Sri Lakshmi Devi (parents of Sri Vyasarajaru) had started on a pilgrimage to Banaras from their native Bannur(near to Mysore). Unfortunately, Ramacharya died suddenly after getting fever. His wife who wanted to commit Sathi along with her husband (they were childless at the time) came to beg permission of Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu, the worshipper of Nrusimha deity given to him by his Guru. Sri Brahmanya blessed the widow – “Dheergha sumangalee bhava” – Be happy as a wife in wedded bliss for a long time. When she told him that she was no longer having a husband, Sri Brahmanya Tirtharu told her – do not worry. Your husband is not dead, but is still alive. He gave her holy water with incantations, which when applied to the dead body of the husband brought him back to life, as if nothing had happened and later the same couple were blessed with a baby boy as per the blessings of Sri Brahmanya Thirtharu.
As per the Swamiji’s desire, the first born child of this couple was given even as a young baby, to him. This baby was received on a golden plate and fed with the milk used for Abhisheka of the Lord. The Baby was named Yatiraja and was brought up by Sri Bhramanya Thirtharu. There are some discrepancies in the names of the parents and accounts of the early childhood in the Life histories – which are not very important to the assessment of the great contribution of Sri Vyasaraja to Tatvavada. Yatiraja was given his Upanayana Samskara at the age of 5.
Very much impressed with the superior attainment of his ward, Brahmanya Tirtha ordained his ward Yatiraja a monk and gave him the name Vyasaraja. Vyasaraja did not have any time studying much under his Guru Brahmanya Thirtharu. He was obliged, soon after his succession to the head of the matha (or Pitha) and to go to Kanchi, the center of the vedic studies in South India, in those days, where he is said to have stayed for many years studying six systems of philosophy, under the most eminent pandits there. It was here that Vyasaraja acquired his deep erudition in the systems of Sankara, Ramanuja, Bhatta and others. After the completion of his studies at Kanchi, he went over to the seat of Shripadaraja at Mulbagilu for higher studies and spent many years in study and meditation. Vyasarajru has studied for several years under Shripadarajaru.
Sri Vyasarajaru & Vijaynagar Kingdom
Vyasaraja was extremely influential in the Vijayanagar Empire and he enjoyed the closest affection, and commanded the highest esteem of the great Hindu emperor of Vijaynagar, Krishnadevaraya.
He initially came to limelight in the court of Saluva Narasimha in Chandragiri where he defeated many scholars with his masterly debates. At the repeated invitations of ministers of Saluva Narasimha, he moved to Vijayanagara and spent the rest of his life there. The accession of Shri Krishnadevaraya in 1509 opened up a new chapter of the glory in the life of Vyasaraja. It was during the time of Krishnadevaraya that Vyasaraja saw the peak of his influence over the empire. The king had the greatest regard and respect for Vyasaraja and regarded him as nothing less than his kuladevata. This is very beautifully narrated by Somanatha in his biography on Vyasaraja. The evidence of a clear statement to the effect that King regarded Vyasaraja as his Guru is still saved as a palm leaf fragment (preserved in G.O. Mss. Library), Madras. The two foreign travellers Paes and Nuniz who travelled along the Vijayanagara empire give accounts of how the King Krishnadevaraya regarded his Guru. Nuniz in his catalog says that King of Bisnaga (vijayanagar) listened every day to the preachings of “a learned Brahmin who never married nor touched a woman”. The description points unmistakably to Vyasaraja
There are two authentic sources of his life history – Vyasayogicharitha of Somanatha Kavi and the biography by Srinivasa Tirtha, his disciple, both of whom were his younger contemporaries. Somanatha saw Sri Vyasaraja, when he was already old (perhaps past 70-75 years), while the latter would be a generational age less – say 25 years. There are also corroborating statements made by Purandaradasa, his famous beloved contemporary disciple, Vijayindra, the renowned ascetic, who has composed a Stotra which contains many hints about Sri Vyasaraja’s achievements, and specific entries in the diaries of foreign visitors like Nuniz and Paes, who have commented on the state of the Vijayanagara Empire in its Heyday under Krishnadevaraya.
Somanatha writes that, before starting on his Raichur expedition, Krishnadevaraya performed a ritual ceremony “ratnabhisheka” to his Guru Vyasaraja in year 1520 and gave him many villages. Somanatha goes on to say that after the death of Krishnadevaraya in year 1530. It was in Achutaraya’s reign that the image of Yogavarada Narasimha was set up by Vyasaraja in the courtyard of the Vittalaswami temple at Hampi (Vijayanagara) in 1532.
The biography of Vyasaraja gives several accounts of his kind-heartedness. He was also honoured by Delhi Sultan Bahlul Khan Lodi and Adil Shah of Bijapur with green umbrellas and other symbols of their respective kingdom.He treated Basavabhatta whom he vanquished in debate with exemplary kindness and regards. He allowed his preachings to take their gentle course of persuasion and disliked proselytization for the sake of numbers. He did not misuse his influence with Kings to make his faith the state religion.
Vyasaraja and Dvaita Philosophy:
As Shri BNK Sharma says, Vyasaraja is the prince of the Dialecticians of the Dvaita systems. He carried forward the work of his distinguished predecessors, Sri Madhwacharyaru and Sri JayaTirtharu Dr Dasagupta pays him the highest tribute the modern historian of Indian philosophy could pay when he says that “the logical skill and depth of acute dialectical thinking shown by Vyasaraja, stands almost unrivaled in the whole of Indian thought” He also follows the example of great dialecticians like Udayana, Shriharhsa and Chitsuka in summing up the discussion of the topic at the end of the sections in pithy sangrahashloka’s. Vyasaraja has thus enlarged the scope and vision of Madhwa shastra and its commentaries (tIkA’s) with the exegetical apparatus of nyAya, vyAkaraNa and mImAMsa shAstrAs and expanded the significance of the original texts of his school in light of their methodology. His Tatparya-Chandrika is a commentary, only in name; in effect, it is a scintillating critical and comparative study of the interpretation of the Brahmasutras according to the Bhashyas of the three main schools of Vedanta (together with their important commentaries). Its powerful flow of arguments and breathtaking points of criticism are such as to leave the modern scholar and critic, grappling with the Sutras and their commentaries, dumb with astonishment at the masterly way in which Vyasaraja has successfully probed the problem of the interpretation of Sutras. The tradition rightly regards him, with Sri Madhwacharyaru and Sri Jayatirtharu as constituting the ‘trinity of authorities on Madhwa siddhanta’. He showed to the philosophical world that the system of Madhwa was not just an effervescence of Puranic Hinduism or merely revival of Bhakti cult but a mighty philosophical movement of thought and a well laid metaphysical structure that could hold its own against other speculative systems in the field, for richness and depth of thought and fineness of the speculative content. The age of Vyasaraja was, thus, the most glorious epoch in the history if Dvaita school and its literature and philosophy and has not been rivaled, either before or after him for so much all-round distinction, progress and development. The political influence of the Madhva school also rose to its highest level under Vyasaraja
Worship of Lord Venkatesha at Tirumala :
Vyasarajaru headed the Tirupati Temple during the time 1486-1498.The Srivaishnava priests of Tirupati temple were all powerful in consequence. Narasimha, the King of Chandragiri, which was earlier a vassal state of Vijayanagara empire proclaimed his independence and eventually took over the empire itself, ruling it from his own capital at Chandragiri. As Narasimha was an ardent devotee of Lord Venkatesha, he did not tolerate the misdeeds of the priests who were using the Lord’s jewels, ornaments and possessions for their personal ends and in a fit of anger got all of them put to death. He requested Sripadaraja of Mulabagilu to come to his aid and arrange for the proper worship at the Temple. Sripadaraja, who was of advanced years at the time, sent Sri Vyasatirtha to Chandragiri instead. Not only did Sri Vyasatirtha adorn the position of Rajaguru of Chandragiri, but accepted the responsibility of regular worship of Lord Venkatesha in Tirupathi personally amongst his other arduous duties. It is believed that at this time that he used to climb the Tirupathi hills on his knees to avoid touching the sacred hills with his feet – leaving every Thursday from Chandragiri and returning on Sunday. The Puja system was changed from Vaikhanasa to the Pancharathra system and completely systematized in such a manner, as endures today. The place which he used to sit for Ahnika on the north of Swami Pushkarini is still known as Vyasaraja Mantapa, while his own Matha was housed adjacent. He also got installed an Idol of Srinivasa, called Vimana Srinivasa on the Gopuram, which is gilt and is to be seen in lieu of the main Idol – due to rush of people. Eventually, after 12 years, he convinced the king that the duties should be handed over to a scion of the original priest’s family, who was still a boy at that time, whose Upanayana had been performed, thus demonstrating not only his own broad vision and tolerance to rival schools, but also his own personal renunciation from a position of wealth and influence.. Later when the empire was again administered by Narasa Nayaka from Vijayanagara, he shifted his residence to Hampi at the latter’s request.
Below are few of the many incidents which have occurred in His eventful life
- He settled the dispute between the Vaishnavas and Shaivas of Srirangam about the land to be owned by each around their temples of Sri Ranganatha and Jambukeswara, by defining the boundaries of the former, by the distance he could cover with his breath held from the premises of the Vaishnava temple. He covered 6 kms in this manner.
- He established the famous Yanthroddharaka Icon at Chakratirtha in Hampi. He is also reported to have established 732 temples where a typical hanuman Idol carved in stone were consecrated by him
- He was the famous Ascetic adviser to Krishnadevaraya, the most famous emperor of Vijayanagara Empire, who finds mention in diaries of Nuniz and others. He is also reported to have received offerings of honour by foreign kings of Bijapur & Delhi
- Vallabhacharya from Gujarath also visited him in Vijayanagara and was honoured by him
- He destroyed by the brilliance of his intellect and unsurpassed knowledge learned scholars like Basavabhatta, Vidyadhara etc. in debates. But none of these scholars were dishonored or physically harmed in any way. Instead, he encouraged learned men from rival schools with total impartiality with gifts and annuities
- He adorned the throne of Vijayanagara for a few minutes to take upon himself an adverse combination of planets, called Kuhuyoga and gave back the empire to Krishnadevaraya
- He encouraged and provided institutional support to the famous Dasakoota headed by Purandaradasa, whose contribution to Karnataka Music is acknowledged even today. He himself composed delightful poetry and music in Kannada
- There are other stories of his bringing back to life of a young child at the request of his parents, his giving as a gift, his favourite disciple Vishnu Tirtha to another Matha at the request of Sri Surendra Tirtha – who became the famous Sri Vijayeendra Thirtharu, his destroying evil spirits etc
Works of Sri Vyasarajaru
Sri Vyasatirtha composed nine works in all, one of them Sattharkavilasa is known only by its name. The most important are the three dialectical works Nyayamrutha, ThathparyaChandrika and Tharkathandava. An appreciation of his literary personality of total objectivity and fairness to rivals in debate, avoidance of personalities, enormous scope of his scholarship, clear and incisive thinking , logic and expression, total command on all facts being presented in a systematic and orderly manner, original explanations and accurate and insightful analysis of both the source texts and commentaries there on, and full discussion on all aspects of the issues, leaving no escape to the opponent shows that it has no parallel in contemporary literature. His language is extremely terse, though appropriate and exact, needing considerable thought to appreciate the thoughts contained there in. Ably supported by subcommentaries of Sri Raghavendra Tirtha and others, they have not only answered all possible doubts and questions on Tatvavada itself, but made a formidable attack on rival schools, chiefly Advaita.
His famous works include –
- Nyayamritam(The nectar of Logic)
In his magnum opus, Vyasaraja has undertaken a complete vindication of the philosophical power and prestige of the realistic metaphysics of Madhva, together with a discussion of its concomitant problems. He goes through a long and arduous process of thought-dissection, to show that the thesis of Monism cannot be proved and that there is no philosophical justification for rejecting the reality of the world and its experiences established by all known means of proof and knowledge.
- Tarkatandava(The Dance of Logic)
In his own inimitable way, Vyasaraja has undertaken thorough and up to date examination of his school and Nyaya-Vaishesika.
- TatparyaChandrika (The Moonbeams of commentary)
This is more familiar by name Chandrika, is a discursive commentary on Jayatirtha’s Tatva-prkakAshika and pertains to the Sutra Prasthana of the Dvaita Vedanta. Vyasaraja also became famous as Chandrikacharya as he authored the famous work Tatparya Chandrika.
- Mayavada Khandana Mandaramanjari
- Upadhi Khandana Mandaramanjari
- Prapancha Mithyatvanumana Khandana Mandaramanjari
- Tattvaviveka Mandaramanjari
- Bhedojjivana – This is a short work in 275 grantha’s and as the name itself suggests, is intended to resuscitate Bheda or difference that has been sought to be stifled by monists.
- Sattarkavilasa – Sattarkavilasais a book known to many only through cross reference
Universities set up Sri Vyasarajaru
The University that Vyasaraja founded had its flag of fame fly at dizzy heights. The poet Somanatha has mentioned that scholars from all regions of India used to come here for learning. It is no overemphasis to say that this university which had eminent scholars like Vijayeendra, Vadiraja, Narayanayathi, Govindatheertha, Ramacharya, Vanamala Mishra in its fold was a unique treasure of knowledge. Poet Somanatha like Bana, the inimitably competent and ideal of pre-eminence capable of supplying literary stuff to sixty four different pens simultaneously, gained proximity to Saint Vyasaraja through Saint Narayana. Getting permission from Vyasaraja, Somanatha had his wish fulfilled by writing Vyasaraja’s biography and getting it sung by gamakis before the swamiji. What such a paragon of poets, Somanatha desired was neither money nor fame. He yearned for a nod from Saint Vyasaraja in Appreciation Mountains. In this biography, Somanatha has so fascinatingly portrayed how the scholars of all Shastras were shining in the company of Vyasaraja as witnessed by him. This detailed account elucidates the transcendence of Vyasaraja’s scholarship and the uniqueness of that university. Establishing universities in across India, on the lines of the one at Vijayanagar. Vyasaraja appointed great scholars as their heads.
Chakratheertha had a special place in the heart of Vyasarajaru. One day, a monkey came and sat on a rock where he had drawn it with angara or charcoal. It disappeared into a rock soon after Vyasa Raja completed his pooje. This happened twelve times over a period of twelve days. One day, VyasaRajaru prayed to Prana Devaru and requested him to stay back on the rock and bless people.
Vyasa Raja then composed the Yantrodharaka Hanuman stotra. He then encircled the image with yantra. Thereafter, the image of the monkey then remained on the rock.
This place is holy as it is here that Hanuman met Rama when he came with Lakshmana to Kishkinda searching for Sita. Today, this area is better known as Yantrodharaka Hanuman. This is the place where Vyasa Raja meditated. It was the Vijayanagar Emperor, Tammaraya, who constructed the Yantrodharaka temple on the rock. He also built the steps leading to the temple.
The temple has attracted many seers and Haridasas right from the time of Vyasarajaru. One of the three sons of Purandara Dasa called Madhwapathi Dasa, worshipped it daily. In fact there is story that Madhwapathi Dasa as a child used to return home in Hampi only after the Yantrodharaka Hanuman took the Hastodaka prepared by his father.
Vyasa Raja has composed a song on Yantrodharaka Hanuman and it is called by the same name. This is one of the few temples of Hanuman in a sitting position. Sri Raghavendra Thirtharu, the next avatar of Vyasa Raja, came to Chakratheertha and worshipped the Hanuman temple before proceeding to Nava Brindavana.
Vijaya Dasaru, has composed a song on the Yantrodharaka Hanuman. Surendra Theertha and Vijayendra Theertha of the Rayara Matha, Vadiraja Theertha of Sode, Srinivasa Theertha and Rama Theertha of Sosale Vyasaraja Matha, Kanaka Dasa, Jagannatha Dasaru , Gopala Dasaru, Guru Jagannatha Dasa, Mohana Dasa have worshipped the idol at different points of time.
The composition by Vijaya Dasaru on the Yantrodharaka Hanuman is a suladi and it goes like this:
Yantrodharaka Hanuma Surasarvabhouma
Yantradharaka Yenage Manasinolage
Tantravanu Nadesuva Mantri
Eetanu Kano Swatantrapurusha
Vijayavithalana Nijaa Bhakta
Antravilladae Thana Stutiparana Poreva.
One of the most famous disciples of Vijaya Dasa was Gopala Dasa. He too has written a beautiful song on the Yantrodharaka Hanuman.
Idu yeno Charita Yantrodhara
Idu Yeno Charita
Sri Padumanabhana Dhoota
Sada Kala Sarvara Hrudayantargatanagi
Varidhi Gospada Nerante
Dhira Yogasana Dhariyagipudu
Durula Kouravaranu Vara Gadeyali
Konda Karadali Japamale Dharisi Yenisuvudu
Hena Matagalanu Vanili Taridantha
Jnanavantane Hege Mounavagipudu
Sarvavyapaka Neenu Poorvika Devane
Sarvana Pitha Bandu Parvata Sereadu
Gopalavitalage Nee Pretiya Mantriyu
Vyapara Madade Ee Pari Kul
Apart from this he has installed a total of 732 Hanuman statues all over south India and many are located near to Penakonda in Anantapur dist. Of Andhra Pradesh.
- Sripadarajaru (Vidya guru of Vyasathirtha and nephew of Brahmanya Tirtharu) .
- Brahmanya Tirthru(Guru who ordained Vyasa Tirtha to sanyasa ashrama).
- Surendra Tirtharu
- Vijayendra Tirtharu
- Vadiraja Thirthru
- Purandara Dasa
- Kanaka Dasaru
- Salva Narasimha Bhupala
- Chamaraja Wodeyar III
- Pakshadhara Mishra(who got defeated by Vyasaraja in Philosophical debate).
- Somanatha Kavi(Author of Vyasayogicharitam)
Sri Vyasarajaru, has also left footprints on the Dasa Sahitya, he has composed many songs with the ankita “Siri Krishna”. Few of his famous songs are mentioned below ,
- Krishna Ne Begane Baro
- Dasarendare Purandara Dasaraya
Sri Vyasarajaru was a complex personality who was a scholar par excellance, a Statesman, under whose able guidance Vijayanagara empire achieved unprecedented prosperity and glory, a social reformer who encouraged the Dasakoota and the Bhakthi movement in Karnataka to reach the mass of the people of all subcastes and sects, a benefactor to the poor and needy and a great devotee of the Lord. His qualities are described very well in the Shloka:
“Arthikalpitha kalpoyam Prathyarthigajakesari
Vyasatritha gururbhuyath asmadishtarthasiddaye”
For those who come to him as supplicants, he is the Desire-tree granting all desires, he is like the lion who destroys elephants for his dialectical opponents.
Thus Vyasaraja spending his life in all glory, dedicating everything to Lord Hari, holding aloft the flag of excellence of Madhwa philosophy to fly eternally, lighting the eternal flame of Hinduism, immersed in the meditation of Lord Krishna reached his eternal abode on the island of the river Tungabhadra.
The divine influence of Vyasaraja stood eternally in political as well as religious world. Hinduism which successfully withstood the onslaught of Muslims spread far and wide under the patronage of Sri Vyasaraja and in spite of the end of Vijayanagar empire, Shivaji successfully strove for its rejuvenation in Maharastra. Again it was nurtured by the rulers of Mysore. Vijayeendra, Vadiraja inter alias brought about a revolution in the history of Madhwa philosophy treading the path shown by Vyasaraja in the religious world. The Haridasa literature nurtured by the great Purandaradasa reached its pinnacle through the rich contributions of Vijayadasa, Gopaladasa and Jagannathadasa. It was Vyasaraja who added new vigour to all these. In the multifaceted history of India, Vyasaraja has occupied a pre-eminent position.
Vyasaraja attained HariPada at Vijayanagara on the fourth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna, in Vilambi, corresponding to Saturday, 8 March 1539. This Info is given by Shri Puranadara dasa in one of his songs. His mortal remains are entombed at Nava Brundavana, an island on Tungabhadra river, about half a mile east of Anegondi in Gangavati Tq, of Koppal district.
Source : Sri Vyasarajara Seva Samithi, Wikipedia, Kaliyuga Kalpataru, Guru Charite and other Blogs