Madhvacharya, Madhvacharya lived about 700 years ago. He came after Ramanujacharya. Madhvacharya was born in a village near Udipi in Karnataka.

MadhvacharyaMadhvacharya lived about 700 years ago. He came after Ramanujacharya. Madhvacharya was born in a village near Udipi in Karnataka. His father was Madhya Geha Bhatta and his mother, Vedavati. They were a devout couple. They named the child Vasudeva. He came to be known as Madhvacharya because his teachings were food for the spirit and were as sweet and nourishing as madhu.

Madhu in Sanskrit means honey. As a child, Vasudeva was indifferent to his studies. After giving him the sacred thread, his parents sent him to learn the Vedas and Sastras under a Vedic teacher. Vasudeva learnt the Vedas with ease.

At the same time he excelled in games and physical exercises also. For that reason people called him Bhima. As he grew to be a youth, Vasudeva became greatly attracted to God. He wanted to become a sanyasi. So he went to a Guru. The Guru’s name was Achyutapreksha.

Of course, the Guru was also a sanyasi. He was attached to the shrine of Ananteshwar at Udipi. Satisfied with Vasudeva, he gave him sanyasa and the name Puma Pragna. The parents of Puma Pragna, now became upset because he was their only son. When a man became a sanyasi, he had to leave his home and cut off his worldly relations.

Puma Pragna consoled his parents and told them: “Please do not grieve over me. God will give you another son soon. He will look after you!” His parents had another son, as was prophesied. After becoming a sanyasi Puma Pragna went on a pilgrimage. First he attended the Maha-makham festival at Kumbha Konam. This is a festival held once in 12 years at the place.

Achyutapreksha found his pupil very intelligent, his learning and his power of argument astonished him. So he made Puma Pragna the head of the Mutt over which he presided. At the same time, he gave him the new name Ananda Tirtha. This is the name under which the great Acharya wrote all his books which number over thirty.

Ananda Tirtha’s name became famous. Many pupils came to study under him. He taught them the new meaning he found in the sastras.

Tarka or logic was his strong point. It requires great power of thinking and of debate or argument. Ananda Thirtha visited many places in the South. At Trivandrum he met Vidya Sankara, who was the head of Sringeri Mutt at that time. They held a grand debate on the meaning of sastras before the king of that place. Although their approach was different, they both spoke about God. God can be spoken of in many ways.

The Acharya then visited Srirangam and later came back to Udipi.

On his tour of North India, the Acharya visited Varanasi, to hold discussions with the Pundits there. To spread his system of thought, he wrote the ‘Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya’. The other important books he wrote are the commentary on the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and the volume on ‘Vedanta Sutras’.

Shri Madhva installed the idol of Sri Krishna at Udipi. This is an important shrine.

Shri Ananda Tirtha or Madhvacharya as he came to be called later, spent his last days writing a book in which he gave his own ‘Brahma Sutras’ of Vyasa.

The life of Ananda Tirtha is described in a book called ‘Madhva Vijaya’. One day, according to this book, he disappeared from the world while teaching and joined Rishi Vyasa on the Himalayas.

Before he went, the Acharya appointed Padmanabha Tirtha to carry on his work. He also set up eight other disciples to look after the Krishna temple at Udipi. You must go and see this temple at Udipi one day. It is a great centre of pilgrimage.

Those who follow the teachings of this Acharya are called Madhvas. They worship Maha Vishnu. They are Vaishnavas, just as those who worship God Shiva are called Smartas or Shaivas. The system of thought expounded by him is known as Dvaita philosophy.

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