Sri Brahmanya Theertharu
The credit of giving Sri Vyasaraja Gurusarvabhouma to this world who is responsible for spreading of dwaitha philosophy to all the four corners of India goes to Sri Brahmanya Theertha. He comes in the direct lineage of Sri Madhwacharya and is Eleventh saint from Madhwacharya. Below is his brief introduction.
Poorvashrama Name – Narasimha
Peroid – 1460-1467
Ashrama guru – Sri Purushottama Theertha
Ashrama Shishya – Sri Vyasa Theertha (also called as Sri Vyasaraja)
Aradhana – Vaishakha Bahula Ekadashi
Vrundavana Place – Abbur beside Kanva River.
In these days where one sees the effects of Kali age predominant even in sacred precincts and selfishness and smallness of mind seem to rule the times, it may be difficult to think of a time when giants like Sri Brahmanya Theertha ruled the kingdom of God. This great personality believed to be an incarnation of Surya shone with brilliance in the fifteenth century and left posterity with the invaluable gift of Sri Vyasaraja – philosopher, administrator, sage and scholar – who has been unequalled in the Vedanta realms. Sri Brahmanya Theertha’s Punyadina falls on Vaishakha Bahula Ekadashi. He entered his final abode Vrundavana in 1467 AD in Abbur, near Channapattana on the Bangalore – Mysore highway.
Not much has been recorded of his life history. Some facts are available from his “Vijaya” composed by Sri Srinivasa Theertha, who is a descendant of the order. His father was Ramacharya with the nickname of Poogavana (areca farm). Possibly he owned one. Sri Brahmanya was born in Narahari kshethra on the banks of the Cauvery and was named Narasimha. The boy was sent to Sri Purushottama Theertha at the young age of 7 after his Upanayana samskara. Sri Purushottama was next in line to Sri Jayadhwaja whose name is preserved for posterity for his founding of the Dwaitha School in the north, especially in Navadvipa (modern Bengal). ISKON followers call his name as Jayadharma.
Narasimha was a precocious pupil with great intelligence, devotion to God and disinterest in the affairs of the world. Sri Purushottama theertha had already received some indications in dreams about his pupil. The education of Narasimha was completed in a short while and he was also given the oaths of Asceticism and called Brahmanya Theertha by his Guru. Very soon the latter entered a cave near Abbur and disappeared from human view. A miracle attributed to Sri Brahmanya Theertha was that when he sprinkled some consecrated water on cold cooked food after Puja, it became fresh and hot.
There was a rich and pious Brahmin who had started on a pilgrimage to Banaras. His location is not clearly specified, but it is said that he also lived on the shore of Cauvery river (Called Marudvrudha in the Rgveda). Unfortunately, he died suddenly after getting fever. His wife who wanted to commit Sati along with her husband (they were childless at the time) came to beg permission of Sri Brahmanya Theertha, the worshipper of Narasimha deity given to him by his Guru. Sri Brahmanya Theertha 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 Theertha 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. As per the Swamiji’s desire, the first born 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, who grew up into the great Vyasaraja, was given his Upanayana Samskara at the age of 5 and took the oath of asceticism at the age of 7. Though Sri Brahmanya Theertha himself was greatly learned as described by his own disciple and successor Sri Vyasaraja, he was sent for his studies to Sri Sripadaraja at Mulbagal. He became famous for his erudition, scholarship, great qualities of complete disinterest in personal factors and became the fountain head of learning for Tatvavada in his time.
In the mean while Sri Brahmanya Theertha received the idol of Vittala as a result of a dream indication, from where it was buried in the ground. He went to Karnataka capital (possibly Srirangapattana) and on being requested by the king and people of the state, which was suffering from drought, brought back copious rains. The grateful kingdom gave the ascetic a village called Brahmanyapuri. After handing over his reign to the worthy successor, he entered in to Samadhi in Abbur.
When the Abbur Matha was being renovated and improved for the facility of devotees in the last few years, it appears that there was an idea to cover his Vrundavana also along with the rest of the area. However, Sri Brahmanya Theertha directed the reigning pontiff to leave it uncovered as at present – possibly because he is believed to be the incarnation of the Sun. Even in the prayer sloka given below seems to hint at this fact. Even today, a large number of devotees visit his Vrundavana and attain their desires by prayers and Seva at his feet.
His great disciple Sri Vyasaraja has composed the following slokas about his Guru.
brahmaNyagururAjAkhyO vartatAM mama mAnasE
samutsAryatama:stOmam sanmArga saMprakAshyacha
sadAviShNupadaasaktam sEvE brahmaNya bhaaskaram
The simple meanings of these two slokas are as follows:
May Sri Brahmanya Theertha the great ascetic who is always immersed in the lotus feet of the destroyer of the evil Kamsa (Krishna) always remain in my mind.
Worship and serve the great Brahmanya Theertha who is like the Sun which destroys darkness (of the mind) and shows the way (to Moksha) and who is always interested in the Lotus feet of Vishnu. (In the case of the Sun analogy, Vishnu pada means the sky).
After handing over mahasamsthana to Sri Vyasa Theertha (famous Sri Vyasaraja Theertha), he entered Vrundavana at Abbur.
బ్రహ్మణ్యగురురాజాఖ్యో వర్తతాం మమ మానసే
ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಣ್ಯಗುರುರಾಜಾಖ್ಯೋ ವರ್ತತಾಂ ಮಮ ಮಾನಸೇ
brahmaNyagururAjAkhyO vartatAM mama mAnasE
Source: Article from www.srivyasaraja.org and other sources.