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Shrila Madhvacharya

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MadhvacharyaShri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
12 October 2005

[This year, 2019 February 14, (in India) is the disappearance day of Shri Madhvacharya, our sampradaya-acharya. Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja gave this slecture on his appearance day  October 13, 2005 in Mathura. To hear this lecture, please click on this link.]

Today is the appearance day of Shri Madhvacharya, who is the sampradaya-acharya of our Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava 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 Shri Acyuta-preksa.

Madhavacharya 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 Shrila Madhvacharya 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 Krishna 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.

Shrila Madhvacharya 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 Shri Krishna, 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, Shrila Madhvacharya wrote his own composition in the form of Sanskrit verses, defeating the impersonal conception of Shri Sankaracharya.

All the Vaishnava sampradaya-acharyas, like Shri Ramanujacharya, Vishnusvami and Nimbaditya, have contributed to defeating the theories of Shri Sankaracharya, and Shrila Madhvacharya 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, Shrila Madhvacharya 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 Vaishnava-sampradayas. This means there is similarity in their goal and object of worship. They all worship Vishnu-tattva (The Supreme Lord in His plenary manifestation). The followers of Shri Ramanujacharya-sampradaya worship Shri Laksmi-Narayana, and in the sampradaya of Shrila Madhvacharya there is worship of Bala-gopala Krishna.

Shrila Madhvacharya established four main Mathas (temples). In each of these Mathas there were two sannyasis, so in total there were eight sannyasis. These eight sannyasi acharyas practiced worshiping Lord Krishna in the mood of the gopis, but this worship was not given to the general population.

Shriman Mahaprabhu saw some lacking in the conception of Shrila Madhvacharya, and He adjusted that. Shri Kavi Karnapura and Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana have both declared that our Sampradaya-acharya is Shrila Madhvacharya. In our disciplic succession we see that Shrila Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Shrila Laksmipati Tirtha in the Madhva-sampradaya. Therefore we have a connection with Shri Madhvacharya, although we are especially related with Shrila Madhavendra Puri. Shri Advaita Acarya and Shri Nityananda Prabhu are related with Shrila Madhavendra Puri, and Madhavendra Puri is related with Shri Madhvacharya.

Some people do not accept the position of Shri Madhvacharya – that he is our Sampradaya-acharya.*[See Endnote 2] Some sahajiyas and caste gosvamis cannot reconcile this. They say that Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhusana was not in our sampradaya, because he was in the Madhva-sampradaya.*[See Endnote 3] But actually, our sampradaya is related to Shrila Madhvacharya. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has therefore said very strongly that those who do not accept Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhusana or Shrila Madhvacharya 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 Shrila Madhvacharya is, and what our relation with him is.

We are Vaishnava 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 Shrimad-Bhagavatam's four original verses, the entire Shrimad-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!

*Endnote 1:

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Udupi, the place of Madhvacharya, where the philosophers known as Tattvavadis resided. There He saw the Deity of Lord Krishna and became mad with ecstasy.

PURPORT

Shripada Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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, Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya. Accompanied by Satya Tirtha, Madhvacharya 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, Madhvacharya had finished his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. His companion Satya Tirtha wrote down the entire commentary. When Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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 Shri Krishna, 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 Madhvacharya 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 Krishna. The Deity had a stick in one hand and a lump of food in the other. As soon as Madhvacharya received the Deity of Krishna in this way, he composed a prayer. The Deity was so heavy that not even thirty people could lift it. Madhvacharya personally brought this Deity to Udupi. Madhvacharya had eight disciples, all of whom took sannyasa from him and became directors of his eight monasteries. Worship of the Lord Krishna Deity is still going on at Udupi according to the plans Madhvacharya established.

Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya passed through that area with his disciples, he was also obliged to help in the excavation. After some time, when Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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 Madhvacharya 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, Madhvacharya 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.

Madhvacharya's devotion to the Lord and his erudite scholarship became known throughout India. Consequently the owners of the Srngeri-matha, established by Sankaracharya, became a little perturbed. At that time the followers of Sankaracharya were afraid of Madhvacharya's rising power, and they began to tease Madhvacharya's disciples in many ways. There was even an attempt to prove that the disciplic succession of Madhvacharya was not in line with Vedic principles. A person named Pundarika Puri, a follower of the Mayavada philosophy of Sankaracharya, came before Madhvacharya to discuss the sastras. It is said that all of Madhvacharya'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 Madhvacharya. A great personality named Trivikramacharya, who was a resident of Vishnumangala, became Madhvacharya's disciple, and his son later became Narayanacharya, the composer of Shri Madhva-vijaya. After the death of Trivikramacharya, the younger brother of Narayanacharya took sannyasa and later became known as Vishnu Tirtha.

It was reputed that there was no limit to the bodily strength of Purnaprajna, Madhvacharya. There was a person named Kadanjari who was famed for possessing the strength of thirty men. Madhvacharya 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. Shrila Madhvacharya passed from this material world at the age of eighty while writing a commentary on the Aitareya Upanisad. For further information about Madhvacharya, one should read Madhva-vijaya, by Narayanacharya.

The acharyas 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 Madhvacharya-sampradaya can be found at Udupi, and their matha commanders are (1) Vishnu Tirtha (Soda-matha), (2) Janardana Tirtha (Krishnapura-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). (Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 9.246 purport by Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)]

[Endnote 2:

"Objection 4: While touring in South India, Shriman Mahaprabhu went to Udupi. There he had a discussion with a tattva-vadi acharya, who was in Shri Madhva Acarya's sampradaya. Mahaprabhu refuted the views of the tattva-vadis, so He can never be included in that sampradaya.

"Refutation: Shriman 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 Shri Chaitanya-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 Shri vigraha has been accepted. Not only this, but Shri vigraha has also been accepted as Vrajendra-nandana Shri Krishna Himself. He is worshipped in your sampradaya in the form of Nrtya-Gopala."

"This proves that Shriman 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 Shri 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." ((Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings, pages 423-424)

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Acarya, but the Vaishnavas 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 Vaishnavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Shri Madhva Acarya is also known as Shri Gauda-purnananda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Our spiritual master, Om Vishnupada Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya. (Chaitanya-caritamrta – Adi-lila 1.19, purport by Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)]

[*Endnote 3:

"Of the four Vaishnava sampradaya-acharyas, only Madhva Acarya is celebrated by the name of tattva-vadi. Since Shri Jiva Gosvami has personally established tattva-vada, the Vaishnavas of the Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya are therefore tattva-vadis. In the third sloka of the mangalacarana (auspicious invocation) of Tattva-sandarbha, Shri Jiva Gosvami glorifies his guru Shri Rupa Gosvami and his paramguru Shri Sanatana Gosvami as 'tattvajnapakau' (the acharyas who proclaim tattva). Similarly, the crown of the dynasty of vaisnava acharyas, Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, has also designated Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana as 'tattvavid-uttamau' (the highest of all knowers of tattva) in his commentary on this same sloka.|

"It is clear from this that Shri Jiva Gosvami has offered respect to Shri Madhva Acarya, and that Shri 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 Shri Rupa and Sanatana more than Jiva Gosvami has. There is no doubt whatsoever that Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is situated in the amnaya-dhara (the transcendental current of conclusive evidence) or the parampara of Shri Gaura-Nityananda Prabhus and of Shrila Jiva Gosvamipada who immediately follows them. Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is in the ninth generation from Shri Nityananda Prabhu according to bhagavat-parampara, and in the eighth generation according to pancaratrika-parampara. Historians have accepted his pancaratrika-parampara as follows; Shri Nityananda, Shri Gauridasa Pandita, Hridaya Chaitanya, Shyamananda Prabhu, Rasikananda Prabhu, Nayanananda Prabhu and Shri Radha-Damodara. Shri Baladeva Prabhu is the initiated disciples of this Shri Radha-Damodara and is also the most prominent siksa disciple of Shri Vishvanatha Chakravarti.

"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 Shri 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 Shri Madhva Acarya in Udupi, and that he studied the Shri Madhva commentary on Vedanta; however, the Shri Gaudiya Sampradaya was more of an influence upon him than was the Shri 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 Vaishnava acharyas of the very influential Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. Shri 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.

"Shri Baladeva Prabhu has described historical events and quoted the conclusions of the previous Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas 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 Shri Gaudiya Vaishnava 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 Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu.

"Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was sent by Shri Vishvanatha Chakravarti to protect the honor of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya in the Galata Gaddi in Jaipura. There he defeated the objecting panditas of the Shri sampradaya in scriptural debate. There are no second opinions about this. Does this not show that Shri Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura personally inspired his siksa disciple Baladeva Vidyabhusana to prove that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas are in the line of Madhva Acarya? Shrila Cakravarti Thakura sent his diksa disciple Shri Krishnadeva Sarvabhauma with Shri Baladeva to help him. If Shri 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 Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. There is no sound evidence to prove that Shri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was first an acharya or disciple in the Madhva Sampradaya. There may be hearsay and imaginative rumors, but no one has given any substantial proof." (Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings, pages 416-419)]

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