FROM THE LIFE OF SRILA MADHVACHARYA
Sri Madhvacharya was born in the small village called Pajaka kshetra, near Udupi inthe Karnataka state of India. This holy place is intimately connected with the pastimes of Lord Parshuram. The surrounding area on the west coast of India is called Parshuram-srishti, “the creation of Lord Parshuram”. Madhva’s father was a saintly Śivalli brahmin, who named his son “Vāsudev”.
Even as a child, Madhva was extraordinary in every respect. He repeatedly astounded his teachers by exhibiting superhuman intelligence. He performed several miracles in his youth, the most notable of which was freeing his father from a debt to a local landlord. The small boy gave a handful of tamarind seeds as payment, and those seeds miraculously turned into gold coins and satisfied the landlord completely. Other persons say thatthe landlord was satisfied by the simple and sweet behavior of the wonderful boy and there was no miracle. Vāsudev also killed a demon that by mystic power had taken the form of a snake and had tried to attack him. He crushed the snake’s head under his toe and finished the demon.
Per custom, his parents advised Vāsudev to get married, to become a sansārī, a family man. However, Vāsudev replied that he would like to become a jagat-sansārī, a family member of the whole world. Thus, at the tender age of about eight years, Vāsudev announced to his parents his intention to take sannyāsa in order to preach pure spiri-tual knowledge and devotion of Lord Hari to all good people. After seeing the distress of his parents at this pronouncement, he promised to wait until another son was born to them. Finally, at the age of eleven, upon the birth of a younger brother (who many years later joined his sannyāsa order asVishnu Tirtha), he took sanyāsa. His initiating guru, Achyut aprajna Tirtha, gave himthe name Ananda Tirtha. Shortly after, Achyut aprajna attempted to educate the young sannyāsi, but was astonished to see his inborn knowledge. For example, Ananda Tirtha pointed out that there were thirty errors in the very first line of the philosophical text named I_ a-siddhi. Madhva thus began to fulfill his mission of refuting the false māyāvada philosophy,which propounds wrong theories such as that God is impersonal Brahman, that there is no difference between the soul and the Supersoul, and that the mortal worldis unreal phantasmagoria. Madhva presented his conclusive vaisnava philosophyin a seed form in his Dvādaśa Stotras, which totally defeat the illusory māyāvāda concept. Initially, his guru Achyutapreksha, being a follower of traditional monism, was disappointed with what he saw as the unusual philosophical interpretations of his disciple. Gradually, however, by hearing the infallible argumentation and super-human perception of Ananda Tirtha, healso became convinced, converted to the Dvaita Vaishnava faith and took the Vaishnava name “Purusottama Tirtha”.
Soon thereafter, Ananda Tirtha was hon-ored by his guru with the title “pūr_a-prajṣa”,which means, “the possessor of complete wisdom”, “all knowing saint and pure devotee”, and “one who has full realization of the Supreme Lord Krishna”.
Madhva toured extensively all over India several times to propagate his teaching of krisna-bhakti. He defeated rivals belonging to various schools of thought, and by his con-vincing arguments converted earnest truth-seekers to his Vaishnava faith.
Sri Madhva was famous for his skill in de-bate, which were amply evident when he trounced all opponents who dared to oppose him. One early convert to his school was Sobhana Bhatta. After losing to Madhva in debate, he accepted Madhva as guru and was given sannyāsa under the name PadmanabhaTirtha. Two other notable opponents whom Purna Prajna defeated in debate and converted to ardent devotees were Trivikram Pandit, and Syama Sastri. The latter accepted sanyāsa as Narahari Tirtha.
By his own example, Sri Madhva trained many disciples to preach Vaishnava philosophy. He installed the deity of Lord Sri Krishna in Udupi and instituted eight ma has for the worship of Krishna. To this day, the sema has serve the purpose of propagating Madhva’s teachings.
Sri Madhva performed many miracles, thus proving his spiritual status, by directly exhibiting his personal potency. Per people’s request, with one hand, Madhva once lift eda boulder weighing many tons that one hundred people assembled together could not lift up. On the top of that boulder, there has been placed an inscription in Sanskrit, ānanda-tīrthena eka-hastena sthāpitā śilā —“Ananda Tirtha lifted this stone with one hand”. On another occasion, Madhva led some of his disciples to a secret spot in Kurukshetra where he showed them the long-buried weapons of the Pandavas. One of those was a large club, which he had used in battle in his past incarnation as the mighty Bhimasen. _
— Adapted from a biographical sketch of Srila Madhvacharyawritten by Gadadhar Pandit Das, included in his translation of Dvādaśa Stotra of Śrīman Madhvācārya. Published by VidhwanVittalacharya Trust. Udupi, India. 2006
– An expert from Sri Krishna-kathamrta Bindu, a free bi-monthly magazine service provided by Gopal Jiu Publications.