Great Madhva Acarya
In the last 700 years there have
been many great scholars and saints in the tradition of
Madhvacarya. Here is a short biography of
just a few of the earliest:
After Madhva himself, Jayatirtha is the most
important theologian in the dvaita tradition.
During his time he wrote 22 works including many commentaries
on Madhva. He is to Madhva what Vacaspati Misra
was to Sankara. His depth of scholarship
can be credited with raising the fledgling Dvaita School
to a position of scholastic equality with advaita and visistadvaita.
Jayatirthas most important work is his Nyaya-sudha,
which is an exposition of Madhva's Brahma-Sutra commentary, Anu-vyakhyana.
Svami) (1460 1539) Together with
Madhva and Jayatirtha, Vyasatirtha
is considered the third of the three founders (muni-trayam)
of dvaita-vedanta. His writings include
commentaries on the works of Jayatirtha and
Madhva. He was the guru and spiritual advisor to the
famous Krishnadevaraya and played an important role
in the Vijaya Nagar Empire. He is credited in writing
nine works, the most important of which is his Nyayamrta.
Not only did his writing include polemics on Sankaras
advaita, but also an exhaustive refutation of the Nyaya-vaisesika school
of logic in his Tarka-tandava. Vyasatirtha
is also known for his involvement in the Hari-dasa
order of itinerant singers.
Vadiraja Tirtha (1480 1600)
Along with Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha,
Vadiraja Tirtha is considered
the senior-most scholar of the Dvaita School.
He was a prolific writer with more than a 100 works
to his name. Using a less demanding writing style,
it was Vadiraja who brought the beliefs
of dvaita to the general reader. His writings
include a number of commentaries and well-known stotras.
His most important work was the Yukti-mallika,
which is a defense of the dvaita system. He
also translated Madhvas Mahabharata commentary
into Kannada, and has composed numerous devotional
songs in that same language.
Dasa (1494 1564) This
saint among the Madhvas is widely renowned as the father
of Karnataka music. He was also one of the founders
of the Hari-dasa tradition that sought to spread
the doctrine of dvaita through music and in
the language of the ordinary people. He was a disciple
of Vyasatirtha and a contemporary of
Vadiraja Tirtha. He is regarded
by Madhvas as an outstanding scholar and devotee. Purandara
Dasa and his followers, the Hari-dasas,
did in Karnataka what the Alvar movement
did in Tamil Nadu. Purandara Dasa was a great
musician and composer of popular songs that embody
the devotional flame lit by Madhva.
Raghavendra Tirtha (c
. 1671) Over forty works have been attributed to Raghavendra
Tirtha. Most are commentaries on the works of
Madhva, Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha.
Chronologically he is the last of the major commentators
of the early school of dvaita. His writings
cover the widest range and the most variety of topics.
Although he ranks as one of the greatest scholars of dvaita,
he is most known and worshipped by the masses as a
source of solace in times of crisis.
Dasgupta, Surendranath. A History of Indian Philosophy. 4 Vols.
Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
Tapasyananda, Svami. Sri Madhvacarya, His Life, Religion and Philosophy.
Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1981.
Sharma, B. N. K. History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and its
Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981.
The late Vidyamanya
Tirtha performing arati.