Sri 1008 Rajendra Tirtha

  The Pole star of Sri Vyasaraja matha

Sri Rajendra Theertharu

Brief Sketch:

One extraordinary and epochal personality was born and initiated in the great Matha-family of scholars and Savants which later on took the famous name of Sri Vyasaraja. He was Sri Rajendra tirtha, whose Aradhana is not even celebrated properly by the ungrateful misfits who claim to have inherited his great seat of Vedanta samrajya. Perhaps for the first time, it was celebrated by SVSS a couple of years back as a seperate function, when a booklet describing his achievements was also printed and distributed. The Aradhana of this great saint is falling on Vaishakha Shuddha Purnima ( Monday 17 th May) - most appropriately on a Full Moon day, as he was the source of the light of knowledge - from which many Chandrikas came later by his lineage.

Not much is known about his personal details of Poorvashrama. He is believed to be related to Sri Jayatirtha and he as well as his brother succeeded the pontifical seat of Sri Teekacharya (Demise 1388 AD), one after the other in 24 years after his demise - when Sri Vidyadhiraja, his successor entered his Vrindavana in 1402 AD).

After Acharya Madhva's tours all over India, it was Sri Narahari tirtha who was responsible to take Tatvavada in East coast of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Though it is believed that Sri Teekacharya had been to North India (Kashi etc), the next notable personality who has left his indelible imprint on North India and Bengal is Sri Rajendra Tirtha and his successor Sri Jayadhwaja Tirtha. Evidence of their obvious success is available even today, in the form of a great commentary written by an ascetic who seems to have lived in Bengal for long called Sri Vishnudasacharya - who wrote Vadarathnavali (printed long back in Udupi critically edited by Bannaje Govindacharya and NOT available today). Rajendra/Jayadhwaja's visits to Bengal/Orissa founded a lineage of ascetics, who claim to have descent from Acharya Madhva through him, presently claimed by ISKON (called Bengal Vaishnavism).

Nothing is known of Sri Vishnudasacharya, though there is a mention in the available composition itself that he had written two more works called Vivarana Vidambana and Khandana Khandana which as the Titles themselves indicate were powerful controverting answers to Prakashatman's Panchpadika-Vivarana and Sriharsha's Khandana Khandakhadya. There are a number of quotations from Khandana-Khandana in the available work itself. Let me quote B N K Sharma on the importance of this work.

"The description of Vishnudasacharya as Shad-darshana-vallabha (Master of the six systems of Philosophy) in the Collophon is fully substantiated by the internal evidence of this work which bears eloquent testimony of his mastery over intricacies of Nyaya, Vyakarana, Purvamimamsa, Sankara and Ramanuja schols of Vedanta, not to speak of his erudition in Madhva-Shastra itself. He was the first exponent and the defender of Madhva Siddhanta to harness on a large scale the rules and principles of interpretation accepted by the Vyakarana Shastra of Panini and his commentators and the Adhikaranas of the Purva Mimamsa system, to the defence and exposition of the Srutis as formulated by Madhva and his early commentators and in criticising and showing the weaknesses of the interpretation of the Srutis and their harmonisation as pronounced by the Sankara school". 

This great author describes himself as :
Srimadakhandavedamargapravarthakacharya nikhilatharkikachoodamani sarvathanthrasvathanthra Srimadrajendra Tirtha Shreecharanakamala chanachareeka sri Vishnudasacharya.

Note the titles of Sri Rajendra Tirtha - Akhandavedamarga pravarthaka , Nikhilatharkikachoodamani and and Sarvathanthra svathanthra. B N K Sharma also opines that judging from the quality of Vadarathnavali, the other two would be of the same order of excellence and their discovery and publication would be a great asset to Madhva philosophy. Based on the origins of the scribe of the copy of the work secured by him, he feels that his works might have been well known and preserved on the banks of Godavari river in the Northern most district of Maharashtra which Sri Padmanabha Tirtha came from and was also the home of the great families of Ananda Bhattaraka and Tharangini Ramacharya. He has also allotted a separate section in HDSV for the work and its importance, which may be studied by those interested.

The great Vibhudendra was the other important disciple of Sri Rajendra Tirtha. His role and achievements will be covered separately. He was the first exclusive ascetic of the SRS Matha. Sri Rajendra's charama shloka says :
Vibudendramukhan shishyan navakruthvah sudham sudheeh
Yo apathayath sa rajendra Tirtho bhuyadasmadabheeshtadah"

Thus Sri Rajendra has covered Sri Sudha to a scholar like Sri Vibhudendra 9 times. It is easy to imagine the scholarship of Sri Rajendra Tirtha, by this. 
Even the Sathkathas descrbe Sri Rajendra thus" - "Pandithyabaladinda Rajendraru yelledeyalliyu gudugadahatthidaru" - "Out of his great scholarship he became famous and established himself every where".

There are two unfair references to Sri Rajendra tirtha, which SVM strongly resent and wish that they are amended.

1. The charama shloka of Kavindra, as it prevails today says:
"Veendrarudhapadasaktham rajendramunisevitham
srikavindragurum vande bhajatham chandrasannibham".

This is used both by UM and SRS Mathas.

The use of the word Sevitham to show that Sri Kavindra was served by Sri Rajendra who was his senior in Ashrama as well one who had established a separate branch, though he was the first choice of the Guru Sri Vidyadhiraja and would have normally ascended the Peetha with no questions asked, if he had been present at the time of the Guru's demise, even going to the sacrifice of accepting a partition of the Matha Idols which was some what unequal was totally unjust and may have been included at that time by his Parampare to show that Rajendra had no claim on that Matha. As a matter of fact, no one from the Poorvadi Matha has ever gone back to the other branch at any time and asked for any doles or favours and perhaps the reverse may have been done in the time of Sri Vyasaraja. B N K Sharma has also commented on this unfair reference to Sri Rajendra Tirtha who deserves much better, considering the service he has rendered to Tatvavada. In his "Sathyameva Jayathe" he suggests that the original reading might have been Sevakam rather than Sevitham. 

2.Though the first division of the Matha involving Sri Vidyadhiraja, which took place after the Guru's demise was accepted without any "miracles" reported as in the second case or any unpleasantness reported about quarrels, harsh words etc, where the credit should mainly go to Sri Rajendra who accepted the loss of all favours of an established Matha and built up his own from scratch, based on his great scholarship and other qualities, some records seem to have been created subsequently to "justify" the deprivation of the Peetha for Sri Rajendra - perhaps the actions of some belated  consciense pricking. Thus, every one - Sri Vidyadhiraja, Sri Rajendra and Sri Kavindra are reduced in stature to a standard appropriate to persons capable of imagining such behaviours! Luckily this record being a part of UM submission to a Court is not public knowledge. We sincerely hope that such stories are never accepted or publicised by UM administration - just on the basis of association of the name of the previous Pontiff associated with its record.I must note with approval that the story included in the website against Sri Vidyadhiraja ascribes the division only to non-availability of Sri Rajendra at the crucial time. I will post this material along with other details as a permanent record in my second instalment.

SVM is also deeply disappointed at the apparent destruction of the Vrindavana of Sri Rajendra Tirtha traditionally believed by our records to be at Yeragola, where only 2 Vrindavanas exist today - ascribed to Sri Ramachandra and Sri Vidyanidhi. This subject need more investigation to check up what has really happened to the reported 3 Vrindavanas which some reports suggest existed there earlier, but have been Lost. it is note worthy that even the Vrindavana of Sri Vidyadhiraja, the common Guru of all mathas being traditionally reported to be at Yeragola is not there - but UM ascribes its place as at Puri. How this new location fits into the stories of Matha division etc needs to be studied.