यश्चकारोपवासेन त्रिवारं भूप्रदक्षिणम् ।
तस्मै नमो यतीन्द्राय श्रीसुरेन्द्रतपस्विने ॥
ಯಶ್ಚಕಾರೋಪವಾಸೇನ ತ್ರಿವಾರಂ ಭೂಪ್ರದಕ್ಷಿಣಮ್ |
ತಸ್ಮೈ ನಮೂ ಯತೀಂದ್ರಾಯ ಶ್ರೀಸುರೇಂದ್ರ ತಪಸ್ವಿನ್ ||
యశ్చకారోపవాసేన త్రివారం భూప్రదక్షిణమ్ |
తస్మై నమో యతీంద్రాయ శ్రీ సురేంద్ర తపస్విన్ ||
Venkatakrishnacharya after taking sanyasa from Raghunandana theertha took charge of Mahasamsthana along with the idol of Sri Moolarama. Thus he well deserved his name Surendratheertha. A great scholar so absolutely renounced as he was, Surendratheertha held the reins of administration of the Mutt for nearly seventy years. In the course of his vow of fast, he went round the country thrice.1
Once when he was on his tour round the country he had blessed Badada (Devaganagi:बाडद Kannada:ಬಾಡದ) Chandra Bhatta who restored to the Mutt the idol of Moolarama during his guru Raghunandanatheertha’s period at sunrise on no moon light day of Magha Bahula at Prayaga with administration and other honorary awards and had the copper inscriptions so written. Proceeding from there, and after completing several pilgrimage tours, the swamiji came to Vijayanagar in A.D.1513 and set his camp on the southern side of Vijayavitthala temple. Then Ramaraya, the grandfather of Aliya Ramaraya was enjoying preponderance in the state. He extended his hearty welcome and hospitality to swamiji. The delighted swamiji blessed him. Sri Ramanavami was then just a few days away. Mahabhisheka was to take place at the Mutt.
Ramaraya who learnt about this approached swamiji and requested with due reverence “I understand that Mahabhisheka is to happen in the Mutt. This is my great fortune. Your Holiness should grace an ordinary mortal like me with the great opportunity of doing such rare service. Your Holiness must celebrate SriRamanavami here only. Let the prosperity and wealth swell in this empire of Karnataka through Mahabhisheka of Moolarama. This is all I beseech swamiji to bless”. Pausing for a moment, the swamiji consented. The swamiji thought that it is appropriate to perform Mahabhisheka of Moolarama in the precincts of Vijayavitthala at Pampakshetra the sacred land of Hanumantha on the banks of Tungabhadra popular as Kishkindhapattana for three yugas. The preparations for Ramanavami went on hurriedly and in all pageantry. A beautiful green pandal was soon in place in front of the Mutt near the southern entrance of Vijayavitthala temple. Invitations were sent to scholars, intellectuals and officials.
On the day of Ramanavami, Mahabhishekotsava went on in pomp and gaiety. Beholding this, Ramaraya was immersed in divine bliss. He was vibrant with boundless joy. He became speechless with his voice choked. Something struck him. Immediately he sent for holy water and gifted the following villages to the swamiji in adherence to rituals in the name of Lord Krishna.
*1. A village by name Anehosur in Modagallu region along with the Mutt situated in Mayura region (he once again gifted this which was already gifted to Vibudhendratheertha).
*2. Lepagiri in Koppala region.
*3. Shirugapura in Gangavathi region.
*4. Mallapura in Kushthagi region.
*5. Honnamatti in Kushthagi region.
*6. Herakallu in Tekkalakote region (banks of Tungabhadra).
*7. Tholali in Lakshmeeshwara region (banks of Tungabhadra).
*8. Kammarakatte of Mallur in Basavapatna region.
*9. Chikkamorate of Rettehalli region on the banks of Kumudvathi.
The whole gathering wonderstruck at the wisdom of the king in offering the gift so magnanimously to the right person greatly admired him. — “Why such great gifts for me?” asked swamiji. “Your Holiness, it is not for you but for my good.” “It is alright. Whatever given to coffer of Raghupathi will not be without fruit. The benefit to you will be many fold”. So saying, swamiji blessed him. After a brief stay there, the swamiji continued his tour. The swamiji was a great ascetic, an ocean of knowledge, a worshipper through his inner soul. His routine circumscribed the philosophy that “conduct itself is the divine pilgrimage, expression – the chant of Lord Hari’s name, waters drunk – ablution, the daily feeding of the stomach – oblation”. Wherever he saw groves verdant with fruits and flowers, he just used to dedicate them to the Almighty. So, in all moments he was in Divine rapture.
A paragon of Madhwa philosophy Vyasaraja, one among the triumvirate of Munis who knew the ascetic powers of swamiji was hearty and highly hospitable towards him. Once a very astounding incident occurred. The disciples of Vyasaraja brought Tulsi as usual. When Vyasayogi was about to begin his pooja, he sent for those who had brought the Tulsi. “Why have you brought the Tulsi once used?” he asked. “No your Holiness, we had gone to the outskirts to pluck them”, the reply came.
Vyasaraja insisted that it was a used one. “Oh! Surendra who accomplishes the rarest divine feat of worshipping through his inner soul is very much here. He has already dedicated the entire garden of Tulsi to Lord Hari! Ah! Meeting such a divine soul itself is a great fortune!” so feeling, he hastened to finish his pooja. He set off with all regalia accompanied by a band of musicians2 to the outskirts to meet Surendratheertha camping in the Tulsi garden and entreated him to visit his city. The noblest among the emperors of Karnataka Krishnadevaraya who was the main disciple of Vyasayogi awestruck by the way his esteem guru entreating, was filled with divine enthusiasm. Prostrating before Surendratheertha, he stood with his hands clasped and prayed – “It is the greatest fortune of my life to have had a darshan of your Holiness being revered by my guru. Please bless this mortal being with your visit. I am not that competent to persist”.
Surendratheertha also had the wish to seek the blessings of Virupaksha, Vijayavittala and meet Vyasaraja at Vijayanagar where he had earlier celebrated the festivities of Ramanavami. Therefore, he readily and happily accepted the invitation and heartily embraced Vyasaraja. It was a grand spectacle. The gathering which considered it the grand union of Lord Varaha and Lord Srinivasa was delighted. The swamiji entered the city in all processional gaiety. The city of bounty that bewildered the foreigners! The emperor so unrivalled, who conquered the kings of Bahamani and Kalinga! The jagadguru Chandrikacharya, a treasure of knowledge infinitely
vast and profound who had established learning centres throughout India and had become at Vijanagar university a nucleus of all these, the chief mentor of ten thousand students, and a team of twenty four Madhwa saints beginning from Keshava, Narayana and others!! Sri Surendratheertha visiting to be honoured by the nobility of such a kind!! It is exciting to imagine such glory.
Sri Vyasaraja had the swamiji stay in his Mutt. Then the king meeting Vyasaraja in solitude prayed “Your Holiness, who this yogivarenya is? Please tell me about him. I look upon you as an ascetic extraordinaire. To have been treated so venerably by you yourself, I wonder who this great soul should be!!”.
Vyasayogi of charismatic personality smiled his reply. “King Krishnadeva, it is natural for you to be so curious. This sacred soul is the pontiff of the main Mutt of Sri Madhwacharya; one who worships the lotus feet of Moolarama; greatly learned; erudite scholar; ascetic of great attainment; one who worships through his inner soul, a manner so unique and sterling. One who has circumambulated the country thrice on a fasting vow. Through the fruits of your noble deeds you have had him come here. This brings about the well being of your state and its subjects. You are very fortunate”.
The king had boundless joy. “Isn’t this a rare opportunity of mine, the result of my surrendering at the feet of uniquely illumining Vyasayogi! Whenever one aspires to have a company, it should be of nobles. I am greatly ennobled as Lord Venkatesha has placed me in the midst of such very sacred souls” was how he exhilarated.3 Rajaguru Vyasaraja Jagadguru had the swamiji stay there for a long time as his honoured guest. The coming together of this duo of immense learning was a magnificent event. Vyasaraja, after finishing morning Ahneeka would go to vidyapeetha to teach lessons from Sudha and other great books to Vadiraja, Vishnutheertha, Narayanatheertha and other yathis. Surendratheertha sitting in their company would enjoy listening to the discourse. The profound scholarship and the radiating countenance of Vishnutheertha from among the disciples aroused a kind of affinity for him in Surendratheertha. Further in the afternoon the pooja by the duo used to go on with pomp and devotion. The sea of devotees witnessing the rituals would remain immersed in bliss that is simply inexplicable. In the evening both the swamijis accompanied by the king would visit the temples of Virupaksha and Vijayavittala and return after performing Mangalarathi. Thus those days so fleeted there as the days would in heaven.
One day Vyasaraja pleaded with Surendratheertha, “Today you should accept my offering”.
The swamiji replied with a smile –
“I have had your offer daily.What else! You are a king, king’s mentor! , would a day pass without your patronage for me?”
“Not that, today my plea should be honoured”.
“Alright, to see Gopalakrishna honouring Moolarama is my great fortune”.
The preparations on the day went on under the stewardship of Vyasaraja. The King Krishnadevaraya stood with his hands folded. Nobody knew the secret of this special occasion. Vyasaraja had special affection for Vishnutheertha amongst his disciples. He treated him as his son. Little did Vishnutheertha know about the purpose of the occasion. He had the orders of his guru to stay prepared there and that his studies could be pursued the day after. Abiding by the instructions, Vishnutheertha remained with his guru.
Both the swamijis finished their pooja. As Surendratheertha was the guest on the occasion, Vyasaraja before Hastodaka beckoned Vishnutheertha and placing his hands on those of Surendratheertha said ‘Krishnarpana’ pouring the holy water symbolically. It all happened dramatically. Nobody could understand what it actually connoted. It was bewildering for all to see Vyasayogi thus gifting Vishnutheertha who was like his very soul to Surendratheertha. Though Vishnutheertha felt that the whole sky came crashing on his head when his guru estranged him in such a way, he was very much surprised unable to understand the secret behind it. Surendratheertha felt that as though he was in an incognitible world undergoing spiritual experience. It sent ripples of whispers in surprise amongst the gathering. As calm setting, Vyasaraja smilingly said in his majestic voice – “Learned Surendratheertha, this may appear strange to you. But this is not that surprising. This belongs to you. He is fortunate to have been born to hold the reins of Mahasamsthana. So far I have carefully fostered him. Among my disciples, nobody is so illumining, competent in debating, intelligent, scholarly and talented. He is my most favourite disciple. Such noble qualities conspicuous in him are not the mere results of his deeds in this birth. He is shining like this today as a result of being illustrious and the main force behind Mahasamsthana in his earlier birth also. It may not be exaggeration to say that he had to take birth now mainly for performing pooja of Moolarama. His disciple too was so learned. I too have great longing to worship Moolarama. Let me wait, if He so wills I may find myself in your tradition in my next birth. Please accept him”.4
The Swamji was immensely delighted. He had always great affection for Vishnutheertha. Particularly now he felt that he had had the best that he could ever.5 Considering that it was the blessings of Lord Hari, he accepted Vishnutheertha. Seeing this strange gift, those who had gathered on the occasion were astounded. “The prophesiers have come together now. Who knows its secret! Today we are rid of the heap of our sins. To have had the darshan of such super human form is our fortune” was how they felt amidst shouts of joy.
On the one hand Vishnutheertha was sad that he had to part with the company of his guru. On the other he was happy that his guru had blessed him with the opportunity of ascending the throne of Mahasamsthana which paved way for his daily worship of Moolarama, a great fortune indeed! Yet on the other side great veneration for an ascetic soul like Surendratheertha for having him as his spiritual guide which all together choked his voice to dumbness. Shrugging that all had happened as ordained by Lord Hari, he silently obeyed the orders of Vyasaraja.
Thereafter, the swamiji got his disciple Vishnutheertha change the holy sceptre in adherence to rituals, administered the Mantras and initiated him into his tradition. It was there where the swamiji coronated Vishnutheertha in his Samsthana and gave him the idol of Moolarama on the same day for his worship and renamed him ‘Vijayeendra’.6
It was a rare benefit for Surendra to have had Vijayeendra. It was like coming to possess the very Kamadhenu. He thought that it was the benign effects of the noble deeds of his guru, the fruits of his own good acts. Surendra felt that he had unburdened himself from an onerous responsibility. After placing Vijayeendra in charge of the affairs of the Mutt, he spent his time performing poojas, Ahneeka, Japa, teaching and holding discourses. Administration of the Mutt, successful debates with the rivals became the main tasks of Vijayeendra. The swamiji with his disciples went on a southern tour. Cholamandala and Tundeeramandala abounded in
agraharas full of scholars engaged in imparting Vedas, students and in particular thickly inhabited by scholars in the four shastras. Debates were taking place wherever they went. Surendra was marvelled at Vijayeendra’s debating style well in congruity with Vyasathraya. Nobody dared face the spate of words like that of the Ganges flooding from Vjayeendra. He was crowned with victory everywhere.
Surendratheertha got aged. He realised that his last days were nearing. In order to have his tradition continue unhindered after Vijayeendratheertha who was into his tradition from the other Mutt, he got sanyasa bestowed on one Narayanacharya, a very young bachelor in Shalivahana Samvatsara 1497 (A.D.1575), renamed him as Sudheendratheertha and entrusted him to Vijayeendra.7
Afterwards he reached a village Perukonda on his tour. Jeevappanayaka of Tanjavoor, a ruler under the Vijayanagar empire in whom the series of successful southern missions of Surendratheertha had aroused reverence for him implored Srirangaraya, the Vijayanagar king to give estates as gift to Surendratheertha. Acceding to the request of his Mandalika, Srirangaraya came to Perukonda where Surendratheertha had set
his camp and gifted two villages – Navalur (Ramachandrapura) and Pudukudi comprising fifty vrithis - in Tanjavoor region of Cholamandala on the twelfth day (Prathama Dwadashi) of Ashada Shuddha of Yuva Samvatsara in 14978. Accepting the gift, the swamiji retained only seven vrithis for his Mutt and distributed9 the rest among his followers who were scholars of Vedantha.10
From there he went to Cholamandala and attained the heavenly abode on the twelfth day of Pushya Shuddha of the same year at Madurai on the banks of the Vaigha/Vaighai.
यश्चकारोपवासेन त्रिवारं भूप्रदक्षिणम् ।
तस्मै नमो यतीन्द्राय श्रीसुरेन्द्रतपस्विने ॥
yashchakaropavasena trivaram bhoopradakshinam |
tasmai namo yateendraya shreesurEndra tapasvinE ||
Surendratheertha’s ceaseless reign in the spiritual and traditional empire that spanned a long epoch making period of seventy years is most memorable in the annals of the history of the Mutt. Not only was he a great scholar himself, mystic but also had earned honour from the king of Vijayanagar and from Vyasaraja, a paragon of knowledge. It was during his time that the Mutt had many villages and estates as gifts and its reputation enhanced. Topping all, he got Vijayeendra, a priceless gem as his disciple. There can be no better contribution to the Mutt than this. Surendratheertha an aficionado of tradition with the resolve to facilitate the great tradition
of the Mutt to go on incessantly picked up Sudheendra of a rare class selectively and entrusted him to Vijayeendra. One can speak aloud in unequivocal terms that the Mutt has been able to hoist its flag of fame aloft only because of this divine soul.
* Mysore Arc.Report 144.p.92 - 103 [Top]
2 तुंगभद्रानदीतीरे दृष्य्वोद्यानमनुत्तमम्।
स्नात्वा नद्याम् वनेरामम् पूजयद्भक्तिपूर्वकम् ॥ - Vijayeendra Vijayam [Top]
3 Vijayeendra Vijaya [Top]
4 विष्णुतीथकरम् गृह्यसुरेन्द्रस्य करे ददौ ।
ददामि मत्सुतम् तुभ्यम् स्वीकुरुष्व यतिव्रत ।
परिपालयत्वम् हंस त्वदर्थम् स्थापितोमया ।
शिश्येत्वेतेषु सर्वेषु नानेन सदृषोमम ।
इत्युक्त्वा प्रददौव्यासः सुरेन्द्राय सन्तुमुदा ॥ - श्रीवादिराजयतिवरशिष्य श्रीमध्वकवि विरचितः विजयीन्द्र विजयः
ವಿಜಯೀಂದ್ರನ ಕರುಣಿಸಿ ಮಠವನುದ್ಧರಿಸಿದ ಕಾರಣಾ | ಗುರುವ್ಯಾಸರಾಯರೇ ಪರಮಗುರುಗಳು ಪುರಂದರವಿಠಲನೇ ಪರದೈವ ಕಾಣಿರೋ || [Top]
5 विजयीन्द्रसुतीर्थेन्द्रे शिष्ये स्निग्धकराय च । - Mysore Archaelogical Report 1944.P.79 [Top]
6 गृहीत्वा तं मुनिम् हंसो विष्णुतीर्थम् सुरेन्द्रकः ।
सुरेन्द्रस्तस्य प्रददौ भिक्षोद्रण्डकमण्डलम् ।
दत्व श्रीमूलरामार्चं विद्याराज्येsभिषिच्यतम् ।
मन्त्रम् दत्वा स्ववंशस्य कर्तारम् कृतवान्मुनिः ।
अथासौ विष्णुतीर्थश्च विजयीन्द्रेति विश्रुतः ॥ - विजयीन्द्र विजयः
व्यासदेशिकसंप्राप्त परिव्राज्य सदागमम् ।
स्वीचकार सुरेन्द्रार्यो विजयीन्द्रं ततः स्तुतम् ॥ - श्रीवादीन्द्रतीर्थकृत अर्चागतिक्रमः [Top]
8 Mysore Archaeogical Report 1944.P.78 [Top]
9 Copper plate inscription [Top]10 Mysore Archaeogical Report 1944.P.80
Source : Gurucharite