Looking at the many and wonderful ways the devotees have struggled, sacrificing their own reputations, even well being, to somehow or other ensure that these priceless gems of pure personalism could find their way down through the ages into our unworthy laps and beyond, is nothing less than amazing. Truly we should be grateful to all of these great and devoted personalities.
Sripad Vijayadwaja Tirtha and some details concerning the controversy
regarding his complete and devotional commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Practically speaking, there are not very many details that we could dig up from authentic sources. However the following is probably the only details of Srila Vijayadvaja's early days, it has a similar mood to the previous incident, but unlike the other it is an interesting description that brings out his conviction as a pure surrendered, unmotivated 'Vaisnava sannyasi'.
As with many 'sannyasis' of the line, particularly on this west coast
of Karnataka, Sripad Vijayadwaja Tirtha took 'sannyasa' as a very small
boy. Constantly travelling, and preaching, he would have to maintain by
collecting alms ('bhiksa'), but alas, sometimes he would have to go without
food for three or five days. Out of dire need and hunger, the young 'sannyasin',
skinny and weak due to hunger, on one occasion, began to make some arrangements
to cook very simply, using some simple wild forest spinach (like dandelion,
sheeps sorrel, puha etc.), a few rocks and dry twigs that he had found,
and gathered from by the side of the road. One much older and senior 'sannyasi'
who some say was Raghunatha Tirtha of Uttaradhi mutt, came by and was horrified
seeing the young 'yati' - 'mendicant' Vijayadwaja Tirtha, a 'sannyasi',
cooking, ".....showing signs of independance, by making foodstuffs to offer
and then in the name of God enjoy them, and in public, by the side of the
road too!" He severely chastised the boy saying that this kind of action
was against 'sannyasa dharma' (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Caitanya
Caritamrta Madhya-lila 15:193. Purport.) and character. A 'sannyasi' should
only rely on the Lord and if nothing comes his way then that is the Lords'
arrangement also. He then informed the boy that the only way to counter
this kind of 'adharmic' activity was to give up such a sinful body by suicide,
then and only then would he be free from any reaction. So the humble and
pure hearted young Vijayadwaja Tirtha Swami prepared to give up the world.
At this time another 'sannyasi' happened to come by, and upon seeing what
he recognise to be the preparations for death, could understand what was
on Vijayadwaja's mind. This second 'sannyasi' then enquired from the boy
why he had taken to this decision. Hearing the story, the second 'sannyasi',
who some say was the great Sripad Rajendra Tirtha, told him that as a 'sannyasi'
who has dedicated his mind, body, intelligence and very self, to the service
of the Lord, that from this time on that has been give to us to use, these
bodies are not our property, and so, to do this deed of suicide, misusing
anothers property, the Lord's property, was actually more sinful. This
might be alright for some ordinary 'sannyasi' not engaged in the Lord's
service, but for you, a Vaisnava devotee it is not proper. Actually this
body is the property, and temple of God and not your's or mine to terminate
at will. If you feel you have done some wrong better to purify it by performance
of loving devotional service. He then instructed the boy to compile the
afore said commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam and asured him that by this
everything would be resolved. So doing, this highly devotional piece of
literature was entitled "Pada-Ratnavali".
Disclosing his nature as an offenseless, and surrendered pure devotee of the he revealed his intent in his writings. To this day followers of Madhwa hold this devotional work as a standard text for reference.
At the end of his wonderful commentary, Vijayadwaja Tirtha prayed earnestly to Lord Sri Krsna;
vyakhya bhagavtasya krsna racita
twat preeti kamatmana
pretaschet pradadasi tat pratinidhim
tat treen varisye varan
prang niskincanatam tava pratibhavam padaravindatmana
samsaktim sukhatirtha sastra vijarajarasya param taya
"Dear Lord Sri Krsna, I have written this commentary of Srimad Bhagavatam
out of love just to please You. If You are pleased, as an acknowledgement
of the same, please grant me three boons - that I should always remain
a poor man in this and any future lives, that I may always have the opportunity
to study Bhagavatpadacarya Madhwa's (Sukatirtha's) devotional works on
Krsna consciousness, and lastly by doing so, I may always rest in You and
that I may attain You and always remain with You as Your foot servant."
It is humbly suggested that the 'Sukatirtha' reffered to in this verse is not an actual separate devotee, but rather the reference is to Madhwa, whose imence library, was the catylist for many sweet commentaries, in the same way as a suka (parot) by touch of its beak it makes fruit taste sweeter. Other than this there is no reference to a Suka Tirtha in any Mutt records or related books in either the Madhwa line(B.N.K. Sharma. History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta. page 458-460) or Gaudiya line.
For many "Vijayadhvaja Tirtha of the Madhva school the great commentator
on the Bhagavatam", assisted in many ways to build the infrastructure of
the devotional as well as literary side of our 'sampradaya', with many
insights being given to that end; i.e., in regard to the Gayatri phrases
'tatsavitur...devasya' ('of the divine Savitr') and 'dhiyo yo nah pracodayate'
('may He inspire our purified intellects').
The great Gaudiyacarya Srila Jiva Goswami proffesses great respect for Vijayadhwaja Tirtha in his Satsandarbhas.
Sripad Vijayadhvaja Tirtha was the sixth in the lineage of the Pejwara Mutt, and he passed away on the Aksaya Tritya day, which falls on the third day of the light fortnight in the month of Madhusudana (Vaisakha - April/May). His 'samadhi' (Vrndavana) is at Kanya Tirtha.
As we will read a little later, the influence of this edition of the
Bhagavatam, carrying the 'hidden uncoded' words of Sridhar Swami and the
subsequent commentary by Visnu Puri, the celebrated compiler of Bhakti
Ratnavali and a disciple of Sripad Vijayadwaja Tirtha, assisted a great
change to take place - not so much a change, but enhanced a natural loving
progressive development toward the Lord.
This will be dealt with in connection with the next few 'acaryas' who came. Everything was going on still, but as previously there had been some dissatisfaction with the struggle against the 'mayavadis', now there had become struggles of another nature, that of position. Some were neglecting the pure teachings of Vaisnavism, and were starting to get a little caught up in other circles, that 'I am a brahmana so I can know God. You are a shudra, therefore you cannot.' Certain sways started to take place, and angles that had not been propounded externally were now to be taught. There were some very wonderful and radical devotees around who were out to make a wonderful thrust to ensue.
This devotee who we have just mentioned, Visnu Puri, is believed to have influenced many prominent personalities, amongst whom are Laxmipati Tirtha and Madhavendra Puri Goswami. This will be brought up again where the reasons for Madhavendra Puri Goswami accepting the title "Puri" instead of the traditional "Tirtha" are discussed in a short while.
Dr. B.N.K Sharma also mentions (History of Dvaita School of Vedanta, page 540.), that there is a tradition which supports all these stories, and gives some detail to that point, saying that in the 15th century Rajendra Tirtha carried the message of Madhwa to the far north and also into Bihar and Bengal where many of these great devotees were waiting to take up their particular missions. At this time amazing things were going on, much of which was unseen to the general populous. Various intimate associates of the Lord were taking their births in the families of the Vaisnavas for the purpose of setting back the flow of the 'Kali yuga', and smashing the illusory philosophies of the impersonalists.
Sriman Sambidananda dasa brahmacari, the disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Thakura, has written in his book relating to medieval Vaisnava
schools, that even the meeting of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Tattvavadi
head of the time, Raghuvarya Tirtha, which came a little later, was not
an ordinary thing. There he makes a statement very boldly saying that the
reason for the difference of opinion over 'sadhya', spontaneous service
- the 'raga marg' performed on the liberated devotional platform, and 'vaidhi
bhakti', devotional service in practice where full love of Godhead is not
fully manifest, was due to the fact that at that time those particular
Tattvavadis had deviated somewhat from the pure teachings presented by
However, we see that after the visit of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Krsna Mutt, the purity was again sought out. Primarily this was done by Vadiraja Tirtha who again re-established many of Madhwa's principals. It was Vadiraja who re-established 'kirtana', the chanting of the Holy Names, "the great yajna", 'Hara Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare', back into the Mutt. His 'guru, Sripad Vyasa Tirtha, who was practically a contemporary, did many great works also to re-establish the proper standards that were free from 'karma', 'jnan' or any material bodily conceptions of life also. There are some interesting incidents recorded which we will mention in conection with Sripad Vyasa Tirtha in his section and also at the back of this book in conection with later day followers of Sripad Madhwacarya.
In "History of the Mutts" booklet it is mentioned that due to some problems
around the time of Vagisa Tirtha the pure line was nearly lost, but due
to the preaching and management of Sripad Vyasa Tirtha and especially Sripad
Vadiraja Tirtha the desire of Sripad Madhwacarya was again instilled.