[The following lecture was given by Srila Gurudeva in Mathura, on Sri Madhvacarya’s appearance day, October 13, 2005]
Today is the appearance day of Sri Madhvacarya, who is the sampradaya-acarya of our Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya.*[See Endnote 1] He appeared in a place called Pajaka-ksetra. His father’s name was Madhvagaya, his mother’s name was Vedavidya, and his childhood name was Vasudeva. He took sannyasa at a very young age, and his sannyasa-name was Purna-prajna. His sannyasa-guru, who followed the mayavada philosophy of impersonalism, was named Sri Acyuta-preksa.
Madhavacarya took birth in Udupi, and his life was quite astonishing. He was an incarnation of Hanuman, Bhima, and Vayu – so he was very strong.
There was once a businessman who was trading in gopi-candana (tilaka). His boat became stuck in the mud and could not go forward. At that time Srila Madhvacarya had been bathing in the ocean, and he saw the big ship full of large pieces of gopi-candana there. He was approached by that businessman, and in order to assist him, he pushed the boat – by himself. He was so strong that the boat started moving, and he was offered a very big piece of candana as a gift, in appreciation.
In the meantime, while the boatmen were unloading the candana, that piece was broken, and a very beautiful deity of Krsna manifested from inside. That Deity’s name was of Bala-gopala – Dadhi-manthana Gopala. This Gopala Deity carries Mother Yasoda’s stick for churning yogurt.
He became very happy. Although the Deity was very heavy, he took the Deity on his shoulder, and, carrying Him to Udupi, he sang a song to Him that came spontaneously from his heart. In other words, as he walked the seven miles to Udupi, he composed the song called Dvadasa-stotra (Twelve Prayers). He carried the Deity there himself, composing many stavas and stutis (hymns and prayers) to Gopala, and after reaching Udupi, he established Gopal there.
Srila Madhvacarya wrote many books, and especially important are his three commentaries on Brahma-sutra – Brhad-bhasya and two Anubhasyas. In the Brhad-bhasya, he gave evidences for the presentation of his suddha-dvaita-vada philosophy. This philosophy states: Lord Sri Krsna, God, is the supreme eternal, the supreme living entity, the Supreme Self. The purpose of the entire yoga system is to concentrate the mind on this Supreme Self. We are not the Supreme Self. That should be understood. The Supreme Self is God. This is suddha-dvaita-vada – pure dualism. God is different from me. He is supreme and I am subordinate. He is great, and I am small. He is infinite and I am infinitesimal.
In his commentary, Srila Madhvacarya wrote his own composition in the form of Sanskrit verses, defeating the impersonal conception of Sri Sankaracarya.
All the Vaisnava sampradaya-acaryas, like Sri Ramanujacarya, Visnusvami and Nimbaditya, have contributed to defeating the theories of Sri Sankaracarya, and Srila Madhvacarya did this especially with his philosophy of suddha-dvaita-vada or bheda-vada (pure dualism).
The Srutis (Vedic scriptures) have described both principles: that the individual soul is the same as God and also that the soul is different from Him. In most cases, however, prominence has been given to the aspect of difference. In his writings, Srila Madhvacarya has described five differences: There is an eternal difference between God and the jiva (the infinitesimal living entity), God and maya (the Lords deluding, material potency), maya and the jiva, one jiva and another jiva, and one feature of maya and another feature of maya.
All the four bona fide sampradayas are Vaisnava-sampradayas. This means there is similarity in their goal and object of worship. They all worship Visnu-tattva (The Supreme Lord in His plenary manifestation). The followers of Sri Ramanujacarya-sampradaya worship Sri Laksmi-Narayana, and in the sampradaya of Srila Madhvacarya there is worship of Bala-gopala Krsna.
Srila Madhvacarya established four main Mathas (temples). In each of these Mathas there were two sannyasis, so in total there were eight sannyasis. These eight sannyasi acaryas practiced worshiping Lord Krsna in the mood of the gopis, but this worship was not given to the general population.
Sriman Mahaprabhu saw some lacking in the conception of Srila Madhvacarya, and He adjusted that. Sri Kavi Karnapura and Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana have both declared that our Sampradaya-acarya is Srila Madhvacarya. In our disciplic succession we see that Srila Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Srila Laksmipati Tirtha in the Madhva-sampradaya. Therefore we have a connection with Sri Madhvacarya, although we are especially related with Srila Madhavendra Puri. Sri Advaita Acarya and Sri Nityananda Prabhu are related with Srila Madhavendra Puri, and Madhavendra Puri is related with Sri Madhvacarya.
Some people do not accept the position of Sri Madhvacarya – that he is our Sampradaya-acarya.*[See Endnote 2] Some sahajiyas and caste gosvamis cannot reconcile this. They say that Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana was not in our sampradaya, because he was in the Madhva-sampradaya.*[See Endnote 3] But actually, our sampradaya is related to Srila Madhvacarya. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has therefore said very strongly that those who do not accept Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana or Srila Madhvacarya have no relation to pure bhakti. They are kali-chela, disciples of the personality of Kali-yuga .
We must understand all these established philosophical truths. Then we can understand who Srila Madhvacarya is, and what our relation with him is.
We are Vaisnava sannyasis. We have the sannyasa name “Bhaktivedanta”. I want that especially those who are in the renounced order, sannyasis, should learn and remember at least some of the sutras (aphorisms) of Vedanta. They should remember at least twenty-five sutras, together with their meaning and explanation. If you remember at least ten sutras of the Brahma-sutra, from the first one up to the tenth, you will find all philosophy there. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam’s four original verses, the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam is present, and this is also the case with Brahma-sutra; all the sutras are included in the first ten. You should surely remember them, otherwise you will be defeated by mayavada philosophers.
Gaura-premanande hari hari bol!
“Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Udupi, the place of Madhvacarya, where the philosophers known as Tattvavadis resided. There He saw the Deity of Lord Krsna and became mad with ecstasy” (Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya, 9.245)
Purport given by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Sripada Madhvacarya took his birth at Udupi, which is situated in the South Kanarada district of South India, just west of Sahyadri. This is the chief city of the South Kanarada province and is near the city of Mangalore, which is situated to the south of Udupi. In the city of Udupi is a place called Pajaka-ksetra, where Madhvacarya took his birth in a Sivalli-brahmana dynasty as the son of Madhyageha Bhatta, in the year 1040 Sakabda (A.D. 1119). According to some, he was born in the year 1160 Sakabda (A.D. 1239).
In his childhood Madhvacarya was known as Vasudeva, and there are some wonderful stories surrounding him. It is said that once when his father had piled up many debts, Madhvacarya converted tamarind seeds into actual coins to pay them off. When he was five years old, he was offered the sacred thread. A demon named Maniman lived near his abode in the form of a snake, and at the age of five Madhvacarya killed that snake with the toe of his left foot. When his mother was very much disturbed, he would appear before her in one jump. He was a great scholar even in childhood, and although his father did not agree, he accepted sannyasa at the age of twelve. Upon receiving sannyasa from Acyuta Preksa, he received the name Purnaprajna Tirtha. After traveling all over India, he finally discussed scriptures with Vidyasankara, the exalted leader of Srngeri-matha. Vidyasankara was actually diminished in the presence of Madhvacarya. Accompanied by Satya Tirtha, Madhvacarya went to Badarikasrama. It was there that he met Vyasadeva and explained his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita before him. Thus he became a great scholar by studying before Vyasadeva.
By the time he came to the Ananda-matha from Badarikasrama, Madhvacarya had finished his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. His companion Satya Tirtha wrote down the entire commentary. When Madhvacarya returned from Badarikasrama, he went to Ganjama, which is on the bank of the river Godavari. There he met with two learned scholars named Sobhana Bhatta and Svami Sastri. Later these scholars became known in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya as Padmanabha Tirtha and Narahari Tirtha. When he returned to Udupi, he would sometimes bathe in the ocean. On such an occasion he composed a prayer in five chapters. Once, while sitting beside the sea engrossed in meditation upon Lord Sri Krsna, he saw that a large boat containing goods for Dvaraka was in danger. He gave some signs by which the boat could approach the shore, and it was saved. The owners of the boat wanted to give him a present, and at the time Madhvacarya agreed to take some gopi-candana. He received a big lump of gopi-candana, and as it was being brought to him, it broke apart and revealed a large Deity of Lord Krsna. The Deity had a stick in one hand and a lump of food in the other. As soon as Madhvacarya received the Deity of Krsna in this way, he composed a prayer. The Deity was so heavy that not even thirty people could lift it. Madhvacarya personally brought this Deity to Udupi. Madhvacarya had eight disciples, all of whom took sannyasa from him and became directors of his eight monasteries. Worship of the Lord Krsna Deity is still going on at Udupi according to the plans Madhvacarya established.
Madhvacarya then for the second time visited Badarikasrama. While he was passing through Maharashtra, the local king was digging a big lake for the public benefit. As Madhvacarya passed through that area with his disciples, he was also obliged to help in the excavation. After some time, when Madhvacarya visited the king, he engaged the king in that work and departed with his disciples.
Often in the province of Ganga-pradesa there were fights between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus were on one bank of the river, and the Muslims on the other. Due to the community tension, no boat was available for crossing the river. The Muslim soldiers were always stopping passengers on the other side, but Madhvacarya did not care for these soldiers. He crossed the river anyway, and when he met the soldiers on the other side, he was brought before the king. The Muslim king was so pleased with him that he wanted to give him a kingdom and some money, but Madhvacarya refused. While walking on the road, he was attacked by some dacoits, but by his bodily strength he killed them all. When his companion Satya Tirtha was attacked by a tiger, Madhvacarya separated them by virtue of his great strength. When he met Vyasadeva, he received from him the salagrama-sila known as Astamurti. After this, he summarized the Mahabharata.
Madhvacarya’s devotion to the Lord and his erudite scholarship became known throughout India. Consequently the owners of the Srngeri-matha, established by Sankaracarya, became a little perturbed. At that time the followers of Sankaracarya were afraid of Madhvacarya’s rising power, and they began to tease Madhvacarya’s disciples in many ways. There was even an attempt to prove that the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya was not in line with Vedic principles. A person named Pundarika Puri, a follower of the Mayavada philosophy of Sankaracarya, came before Madhvacarya to discuss the sastras. It is said that all of Madhvacarya’s books were taken away, but later they were found with the help of King Jayasimha, ruler of Kumla. In discussion, Pundarika Puri was defeated by Madhvacarya. A great personality named Trivikramacarya, who was a resident of Visnumangala, became Madhvacarya’s disciple, and his son later became Narayanacarya, the composer of Sri Madhva-vijaya. After the death of Trivikramacarya, the younger brother of Narayanacarya took sannyasa and later became known as Visnu Tirtha.
It was reputed that there was no limit to the bodily strength of Purnaprajna, Madhvacarya. There was a person named Kadanjari who was famed for possessing the strength of thirty men. Madhvacarya placed the big toe of his foot upon the ground and asked the man to separate it from the ground, but the great strong man could not do so even after great effort. Srila Madhvacarya passed from this material world at the age of eighty while writing a commentary on the Aitareya Upanisad. For further information about Madhvacarya, one should read Madhva-vijaya, by Narayanacarya.
The acaryas of the Madhva-sampradaya established Udupi as the chief center, and the monastery there was known as Uttararadhi-matha. A list of the different centers of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya can be found at Udupi, and their matha commanders are (1) Visnu Tirtha (Soda-matha), (2) Janardana Tirtha (Krsnapura-matha), (3) Vamana Tirtha (Kanura-matha), (4) Narasimha Tirtha (Adamara-matha), (5) Upendra Tirtha (Puttugi-matha), (6) Rama Tirtha (Sirura-matha), (7) Hrsikesa Tirtha (Palimara-matha), and (8) Aksobhya Tirtha (Pejavara-matha). (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 9.246 purport by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)]
Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings, pages 423-424:
Objection 4: While touring in South India, Sriman Mahaprabhu went to Udupi. There he had a discussion with a tattva-vadi acarya, who was in Sri Madhva Acarya’s sampradaya. Mahaprabhu refuted the views of the tattva-vadis, so He can never be included in that sampradaya.
Refutation: Sriman Mahaprabhuji did not directly refute Madhva Acarya’s ideas about suddha-bhakti. Rather, He refuted the distorted opinions of the tattva-vadis which had entered into the Madhva Sampradaya in the course of time. Readers can understand this simply by looking in this section of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 9. 276-277)
prabhu kahe,–karmi, jnani,–dui bhakti-hina
tomara sampradaye dekhi sei dui cihna
sabe, eka guna dekhi tomara sampradaya
satya-vigraha kari’ isvare karaha niscaye
“Karmis and jnanis are devoid of devotion, and it is seen that both of these are respected in your sampradaya. Still, in your sampradaya there is one very great quality – the form of Bhagavan or sri vigraha has been accepted. Not only this, but sri vigraha has also been accepted as Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna Himself. He is worshipped in your sampradaya in the form of Nrtya-Gopala.”
This proves that Sriman Mahaprabhu refuted distortions which later entered the Madhva Sampradaya in the course of time. He did not refute Madhva Acarya’s opinions on suddha-bhakti or the fundamental conclusions that he expressed in his commentaries. On the contrary, we have already shown that literatures such as Tattva-sandarbha and Sarva-samvadini have been based on the conclusions of Sri Madhva and his disciples and grand-disciples. In this connection we should point out that a difference of sampradaya does not generally arise from some minor difference of opinion. Rather, the difference between sampradaya comes from the differences of theory about the principal object of worship.
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 1.19, purport by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Acarya, but the Vaisnavas in His line do not accept the tattva-vadis, who also claim to belong to the Madhva-sampradaya. To distinguish themselves clearly from the tattva-vadi branch of Madhva’s descendants, the Vaisnavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Sri Madhva Acarya is also known as Sri Gauda-purnananda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Our spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya.
Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings, pages 416-419:
Of the four Vaisnava sampradaya-acaryas, only Madhva Acarya is celebrated by the name of tattva-vadi. Since Sri Jiva Gosvami has personally established tattva-vada, the Vaisnavas of the Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya are therefore tattva-vadis. In the third sloka of the mangalacarana (auspicious invocation) of Tattva-sandarbha, Sri Jiva Gosvami glorifies his guru Sri Rupa Gosvami and his paramguru Sri Sanatana Gosvami as ‘tattvajnapakau’ (the acaryas who proclaim tattva). Similarly, the crown of the dynasty of vaisnava acaryas, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, has also designated Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana as ‘tattvavid-uttamau’ (the highest of all knowers of tattva) in his commentary on this same sloka.
It is clear from this that Sri Jiva Gosvami has offered respect to Sri Madhva Acarya, and that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana has followed Jiva Gosvami in honoring Madhva Acarya. Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu has not shown any prejudice towards Madhva Acarya. On the contrary, if we compare Jiva Gosvami with Baladeva Vidyabhusana, we find that Baladeva Vidyabhusana has glorified the two Gosvamis Sri Rupa and Sanatana more than Jiva Gosvami has. There is no doubt whatsoever that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is situated in the amnaya-dhara (the transcendental current of conclusive evidence) or the parampara of Sri Gaura-Nityananda Prabhus and of Srila Jiva Gosvamipada who immediately follows them. Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is in the ninth generation from Sri Nityananda Prabhu according to bhagavat-parampara, and in the eighth generation according to pancaratrika-parampara. Historians have accepted his pancaratrika-parampara as follows; Sri Nityananda, Sri Gauridasa Pandita, Hrdaya Caitanya, Syamananda Prabhu, Rasikananda Prabhu, Nayanananda Prabhu and Sri Radha-Damodara. Sri Baladeva Prabhu is the initiated disciples of this Sri Radha-Damodara and is also the most prominent siksa disciple of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti.
Historians have declared that in no branch of the Madhva guru-parampara were there any brilliant scholars of such widespread fame as Baladeva. In fact, at that time no one in any sampradaya anywhere in India could equal Sri Baladeva’s knowledge in logic, in Vedanta and in sastra such as the Puranas and itihasas. It is true that he stayed for some days in the most prominent matha established by Sri Madhva Acarya in Udupi, and that he studied the Sri Madhva commentary on Vedanta; however, the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya was more of an influence upon him than was the Sri Madhva Sampradaya.
It is natural for scholarly personalities, who are worshipable throughout the worlds and who are the preceptors of great precepts, to follow in the lotus footsteps of the Vaisnava acaryas of the very influential Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. Sri Baladeva thoroughly studied the commentary of Madhva, and also made a meticulous study of the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja, Bhaskara Acarya, Nimbarka, Vallabha and others. It is illogical to say that he is included in each one of those sampradayas because he had studied those groups of philosophers.
Sri Baladeva Prabhu has described historical events and quoted the conclusions of the previous Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas in many literatures, such as his Govinda-bhasya, Siddhanta-ratnam, Prameya-ratnavali and his commentary on Tattva-sandharba. He has enabled all the philosophers of the world to understand that the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is included within the Madhva Sampradaya. In this regard all the scholars of the world, eastern and western, ancient and modern, have bowed their heads in reverence, and have unanimously accepted the siddhanta and opinions of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu.
Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was sent by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti to protect the honor of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya in the Galata Gaddi in Jaipura. There he defeated the objecting panditas of the Sri sampradaya in scriptural debate. There are no second opinions about this. Does this not show that Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura personally inspired his siksa disciple Baladeva Vidyabhusana to prove that the Gaudiya Vaisnavas are in the line of Madhva Acarya? Srila Cakravarti Thakura sent his diksa disciple Sri Krsnadeva Sarvabhauma with Sri Baladeva to help him. If Sri Cakravarti Thakura had not been so aged and weak at that time, he certainly would have gone to Jaipur in person to take part in this debate about the sampradaya. He would also have established the very same conclusion as Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. There is no sound evidence to prove that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was first an acarya or disciple in the Madhva Sampradaya. There may be hearsay and imaginative rumors, but no one has given any substantial proof.