SRI  VIDYANIDHI TIRTHA
( 1430- ? AD)

Sri Vidyanidhi Tirtha is the first exclusive ascetic of the Sriman Uttharadi Matha. As his period was one of some confusion about the succession from Sri Ramachandra Tirtha, His Guru due to the same taking place more than 6 months after his end, consequently the Matha became divided into two - the present Uttharadi matha and SRS matha, there have been considerable controversy as to what actually happened at that time. NAPS Rao summarises available facts for information

This ascetic is the first one unique to the Guru Parampare of Sri Uttaradi Matha, (others earlier to him also being claimed by other Mathas such as SRS and SVM, SPRM, etc.). He ascended the Peetha in the year 1430AD after the Vrindavana pravesha of Sri Ramachandra tirtha (1402-1430AD) as indicated by B N K Sharma and as 1435 AD as in Matha records and ruled for periods stated to be 68 years according to his prevalent Charama shloka. There are very few facts available about his life history and some of the prevalent stories including the period of his pontifical rule are have serious questions raised about their accuracy. I am trying to summarise the data as known about the events which happened 5 centuries back. The efforts made to determine the true picture would perhaps be not very relevant today. There is very little hard evidence and it is highly improbable that new evidence will turn up in future. Thus, the best course of action may be to accept a version of events which would not denigrate either him or the other ascetics whose names appear in the scenario like Sri Vibhudendra, Sripadaraja, Jithamithra etc who are revered by all for their scholarship, piety and contribution to our philosophy.  Attempts made to emphatically assert as absolutely true, any one sided version of events with no proof, just to achieve some minor points of imagined glory of any Mutt, but which tend to denigrate another ascetic of the time should be discounted and discouraged by all thinking Madhvas. In order to avoid unnecessary controversy, I will also quote the sources of my statements and the logic for any conclusions arrived at, to allow the readers to judge for themselves and also to permit modification of the picture, if any new acceptable evidence turns up in future.

The Charama shloka reads as follows:

“Yadbhakthyaa moolaramarchapetikaa thyakthabhoomikaa

 vidyanidhirdhiyam dadyath ashtashashtyabdhapoojakah”. 

Sri Vidyanidhi Tirtha was a Tulu Brahmin as recognized by Satkatha (1896 and 1935 edns) and Gurucarya. His poorvashrama name is mentioned as Krishnacharya ‘SATKATHA’(Ed-2)- As per this, Sri Ramachadra thirtha gave Sanyasa to a Tulu (Udupi) Brahmin called Krishnacharya. Sri Ramachandra Tirtha was the disciple of Sri Vagisha, the direct disciple of Sri Kavindra.Tirtha. Dr. B N K Sharma dates his Vrindavana pravesha in 1430 AD. This appears to be acceptable with minorm differences. After Sri Ramachandra Tirtha, his successor Sri Vidyanidhi, if he ruled for 68 years as per his Charama shloka, his end will have to be assumed as 1498 AD. The further successors in his lineage must follow there after –It is known that both Sri Raghuvaraya and Sri Raghunatha ruled for long periods of 58 and 55 years, and their famous successor Sri Raghutthama yathi’s inauguration date will get pushed to 1611 AD, which will make him junior even to Sri Vadiraja (Vrindavana in1600 AD), a contemporary of Sri Sudhindra of SRS Matha (1595-1625AD) and even Sri Raghavendra Swami. Therefore, the Charama shloka of Sri Vidyanidhi claiming his rule for 68 years is clearly untrue, and if at all it had been composed by his successor Sri Raghunatha, it has clearly been altered by some one later. The incongruity if this claim has been already pointed out by Dr. B N K Sharma, who has quoted some other earlier historians of Sri Uttharadi Matha, who have accepted this error and reduced his period to just 8 years ( D V Subbachar of Coimbatore.) etc. Thus, the second line in this shloka could never have been composed by his immediate successor Sri Raghunatha Tirtha, knowing the correct position. There is how ever a chance that this figure refers to his Total Sannyasa period from the date of the first ordaining as an ascetic. This is discussed separately later. But this again rules out its authenticity, as it is improper to mention such a figure in the shloka composed by a successor.

There are many stories of Sri Raghunatha Tirtha himself also in circulation, which claim the following:

  1. He gave the name Sripadaraja to the famous ascetic known by that name of SPR matha – as he recognized the great learning and talent of the ascetic named earlier as Laskhminarayana Muni, by his Guru, Sri Svarnavarna Tirtha (descended from the Matha established by Sri Padmanabha Tirtha). Sripadaraja ascended his Peetha in 1420 AD as per Dr. B N K Sharma and died in 1487 AD. His period is well established with corroboration of Sri Vyasaraja’s life as well as historic incidents such as the relations with the kings of Chandragiri etc. It is also mentioned in Sripadarajashtakam that He and Sri Raghunatha took a joint piligrimage to Benaras and he was honoured by Saluva Narasimha of Chandragiri after the latter’s return from Kalinga campaign. The story of the naming of Sripadaraja by Raghunatha appears to be doubtful as the former was senior by 24 years in taking Ashrama, if we accept the dates of their assuming Peetha as 1420 and 1444 AD respectively (as per Dr. B N K Sharma). The story of their joint pilgrimage to Kashi is likely to be genuine as it appears from the eulogy of Sripadaraja (unconnected with the Uattharadi and SRS matha succession issues). Raghunatha outlived Sripadaraja by 15 years and may well have joined him for a Tirtha kshethra visit, as the latter was a beneficiary of royal patronage.
  2. He was a senior contemporary of Sri Vyasaraja and examined him for his great compositions – the famous Vyasa Thraya – duly acknowledging his merit. We note that Sripadaraja was the vidyaguru of Sri Vyasaraja and Vyasaraja’s period in the peetha is (1478 – 1539 AD). (Though it is also claimed that Raghunatha received royal patronage of Krishnadevaraya, Raghunatha (1444-1502) was not a contemporary of the famous emperor Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529) and could not have received his patronage). As Sripadaraja and Raghunatha appear to have had cordial relations, it is likely that Sri Vyasaraja who came to the position 58 years later than the former and 34 years later than the latter also had good relations with Sri Raghunatha. If we note the pontifical career of Sri Vyasaraja, soon after his ascending the peetha (in 1478 AD), he spent a few years in Kanchi, for his studies after which he came to Sripadaraja in Mulbagal, where he stayed for 12 years, as per traditional accounts. According to B N K Sharma, he was sent to the court of Chandragiri by Sripadaraja around 1485/86, where he started his debates with other schools and emerged victorious. As per tradition, he continued his worship of Srinivasa at the Tirupathi temple from 1485-1498, though he seems to have left for Vijayanagar, now under the control of Saluvas of Chandragiri in 1493 AD as per B N K Sharma. When the last Saluva king Narasa was succeeded by Veeranarasimha of the Thuluva dynasty, in 1505 AD, Vyasaraja started composing his great Vyasa thraya compositions, according to Somanatha Kavi..Raghunatha would have already entered his Vrindavana three years earlier. Eveb discounting Somanatha’s statement, and assuming that he had started composing at least one of the three compositions before 1502 AD, when Raghunatha would still be alive, it is very unlikely that Vyasaraja who was already a Rajaguru, busy in the affairs of the state in Vijayanagar kingdom, and with numerous disputations to vanquish his opponents, large numbers of students, and who was embarking on writing the monumental works which are admired as at the pinnacles of scholarship, erudition, and all round knowledge in several shasthras, and would have taken a long time to compose – (note that Tatparya Chandrika completed for two chapters, with the other two left for a successor of Sri Vyasaraja – Sheshachandrikacharya). would have been able to take a completed work of even one of the Vyasathrayas to place for his judgement before Raghunatha who would have been very old (entering Vrindavana in 1502 AD). As Sripadaraja had already passed away, Raghunatha  would have been be a very senior peethadhipati, who was on good terms with Vyasaraja, then a rising star and at the peak of his powers. How ever we may not totally discount the possibility of one of the Vyasathrayas just begun or being composed being sent to him as courtesy by Vyasaraja, who was known for his extreme consideration towards even his opponents. The very existence of this story is an indication of cordial relations between Mathas and recognition of scholarship and spiritual attainments as the criteria of merit rather than mundane considerations as on today. There is another very important testimony to this extremely healthy and satisfying relationship, the most able, vigorous and brilliant defenders of Nyayamrutha were the great Uttharadi Matha scholars – Tharangini Ramacharya and Ananda Bhattaraka. How one wishes that we could get back those glorious days!
  3. The incongruity of attempts to show Sri Raghunatha Tirtha as superior to other contemporary scholars is also illustrated by the so called Devaranama attributed to Sripadaraja praising him (which has also been printed by Kannada Sahithya Parishat volume in 1973, where the actual saint referred to was Sri Jithamithra Tirtha, (successor to Vibudhendra) by clear indications in the krithi itself. Sripadaraja who was indebted to his great scholar-vidyaguru Vibudhendra would have also maintained excellent relationships with his fellow shishya and the direct successor of his Guru – Jithamithra. Similarly, one more Devaranama attributed to Sripadaraja referring to worship of Moola Rama Idol by Raghunatha has also surfaced recently, which does not appear to be genuine. Such misguided efforts which have the effect of belittling another shining star of the Madhva firmament like Sripadaraja should be discouraged..
  4. In the eulogistic references to Sri Raghutthama Tirtha, of Uttharadi Matha, the  great scholar-Bhavabodhakara of Madhva lineage, called “Gurukatha-kalpatharu” some indirect references have been made about his predecessors –Vidyanidhi, Raghunatha and Raghuvarya Tirtha. It is stated that they were moving around on foot, with the boxes containing their worship Idols on their shoulder (possibly those of their disciples also) and begging for Bhiksha. This did not produce the necessary respect from the people. Thus, Sri Raghutthama decided to acquire Attendants, transport (perhaps carts and palanquin etc) and property etc and the development of the Matha in the worldly sense took place in a large way in his time. This position is not derogatory to those ascetics who really followed the tenets of Paramahamsa Ashrama, but the changes introduced during Raghutthama’s time may have been necessary to organize the increasing numbers of followers and to support a body of scholars who would perform an important task of the Matha – Vidya samrakshana. This would however show that both Sripadaraja and Vyasaraja who were Rajagurus were well established with their own Mathas, but Sri Raghunatha Tirtha might have been not so well endowed in a worldly sense at that time.
  5. Another important undisputed fact was that Sripadaraja was the direct Vidya shishya of Sri Vibudendra Tirtha. Naturally he would be aware of the dispute about the Moola Rama idols between the Vibhudendra and Vidyanidhi branches of the old Matha presided over by Sri Ramachandra Tirtha earlier. It is known that the Moola Rama idols were with the Vidyanidhi branch only till Raghuvarya’s time. Vibudendra himself was reputed to be Vidya Shishya of Rajendra tirtha of Poorvadi matha (presently known as Sosale Vyasaraja matha). Thus, the differences between the mathas which were known to exist did not come in the way of ascetics seeking Gurus from another Parampare. Even in this VidyaGuru relationship, some distortion of truth has been introduced by claiming that Sripadaraja who was senior by 24 years in his Ashrama studied all the Shasthras with younger and junior Raghunatha according to Guru-mahathmya-rathnavali of Uttharadi matha. Another source (Poornabodha-guruvamsa-kathakalpatharu – PGVKK) on the other hand, claims that Vibudhendra (1430-1490 AD), himself a great scholar personally took his Vidya-shishya, Sripadaraja to Raghunatha (who was himself a successor of Vidyanidhi, who was junior to Sripadaraja in Ashrama) for examination by the latter and was mightily pleased when the student passed with good standard resulting in the title Sripadaraja being awarded to him by Raghunatha. B N K Sharma also quotes a fantastic claim in Gurucharya and PGVKK that when the disputed assumption of the position of pontiff by Vidyanidhi happened, the aggrieved senior scholar-ascetic Vibudhendra himself narrates the story of bifurcation to Raghunatha in the village Kopre when the two met and the latter had it recorded. “As the portrayal of the part played by Vibudhendra, in contesting the choice of Vidyanidhi overriding his rights and his own offensive behaviour in taking the quarrel to the streets actually at Bidarikote (PGVKK VII 5-7) and comparing the role of Vidyanidhi with that of Ravana as recorded in Gurucharya (II-99-100) and the PGVKK (VIII.21) and the objectionable manner in which he started acquiring disciples is most derogatory and reprehensible and amounts to a deplorable character-assassination of Vibudhendra. It is an insult to common sense to be asked to believe in the preamble that Vibhudhendra himself would have purveyed such an account to his rival’s successor in factual history, which places him in a most reprehensible light. The preamble seems therefore to be a very subtle attempt to put an ex-parte confession into the mouth of Vibudhendra of the untenability of his own claims and contentions and his alleged bellicose attitude to sustain them. We can see the historical events of the bifurcation in its proper perspective, as indicated above, if we tear off the mask and the camouflage put up by the accounts given about the genesis of the bifurcation  under Vidyadhiraja and Ramachandra Tirtha.” – quoted from “Sathyameva jayathe”.

All these claims clearly ignore the calendar and dates and are fabricated bristling with their own internal contradictions with no consideration towards either historical accuracy or even due respect to the great saints of the day. They deserve to be summararily rejected as they insult the great scholars Vibudhendra, Sripadaraja and even Raghunatha himself, who appears to have been on good terms with the latter. 

Thus the pontifical period of Sri Vidyanidhi should be fixed disregarding the wrong claim of 68 years in the so called Charama Shloka,.noting the clear bench marks where Sri Raghunatha features, and the periods of Sri Vyasaraja and Sri Sripadaraja, well defined by many grants received by them and the important parts played by them in the kingdom of Chandragiri and the Vijayanagara empire – specially the rule of the famous Emperor Krishnadevaraya. Sripadaraja himself is accepted without any doubt as being the Vidyashishya of Sri Vibudendra Tirtha, who was the first ascetic ordained by Sri Ramachandra Tirtha, as accepted by all. 

There are two possibilities of reviewing the pontifical rule period of Sri Vidyanidhi as recorded in his Charama shloka, which is usually considered as the most important record of the ascetic’s reign and is composed by his successor, as a rule.

I.                    Correct the figure based on available records and attribute the incorrect figure to scribe errors or manipulation. The following different figures appear in different sources about his rule:

The period mentioned in the Charama shloka being an incorrect figure with a very wide margin from reality has to be given up as erroneous. The corrupted words used – Ashtashastyabdha poojakah can not be interpreted in some other way. The actual words would appear to be entirely different and can not be just guessed at. It would be in the interest of the concerned Matha itself to resolve the problem and even amend the charama shloka as far as this part is concerned as it is bound to create confusion and is not Yathartha Jnana - :Yathkinchith anyatha samstham anyatha dhyathamanjasaa, dhyathurmahadoshakaram kimu sarveshwaro harih”. The various matha records would also need authenticated revision which states accepted truths and avoids controversial or unsupported statements.

II.                 Another intriguing possibility is to consider whether the figure 68 in the shloka is true in another sense and refers to his total period of Sannyasa, if he was an ascetic already when he came to Ramachandra.. If he was ordained by one of the Udupi Matha pontiffs, he is likely to be a bala Sannyasi (ordained at an early age). Thus, if he was ordained at 8/10 years of age, as usual there, he would be around 76/78 years of age when he passed away.  He would have come to Ramachandra Tirtha rather late in his life for studies, in his fifties, as his stay with Ramachandra Tirtha was not long – not more than 12 years before his Guru attained the feet of the Lord and his subsequent period in UM peetha is estimated as around 8 – 14 years. The total period outside Udupi is not likely to be more than 20-24 years. He is also unlikely to have been one of the Swamijis entitled to Krishna Puja, as before Sri Vadiraja Tirtha, the turn used to come every 16 months and his senior should have been performing his Paryaya puja many times over during this long period.  If he were a Bala Sannyasi, he could not have been much beyond his teens when he came to Ramachandra Tirtha, if we consider that he was deputed by his senior for complete Shasthra education under him and should have passed away at an early age before he was 40. Only, if he were a Bidi Sannyasi ordained by one of the Udupi Mathas, and would be relatively free to go else where, the scenario corresponding to a more senior person would become more likely. In such an event, the figure of 68 years may well refer to his total Sannyasa period. This possibility has some circumstantial support by the curious story given in Madhvamunivrinda-charithe. According to this version when Vibudendhra did not come back even after 6 months, Dharmanna and Basappa etc requested Vidyanidhi to take over the Samsthana, when the latter replied that he would lose the Paryaya Krishna Puja and he can not take over without the permission of his own Guru from Udupi matha. But, by good fortune, the senior Guru also came there on his way to Kashi and permitted him rather conveniently to join the new Ascetic order. This story attempts to answer a possible criticism that Vidyanidhi could not have undergone Dandapallata on his own as stated in Gurucharya without being permitted by his original Guru who ordained him. The later stories tried to avoid the problem not originally foreseen, by claiming that he was not an ascetic when he came there, but was ordained by Ramachandra Tirtha himself. Thus, in any case, the chances of his Charama shloka being composed by the learned scholarly Raghunatha would be nil.

There are again different versions of the ordaining of Sri Vidyanidhi Tirtha in the Uttharadi matha documents. These are briefly mentioned below:

  1. Gurucharya – This is the earliest document of Uttharadi Matha completed in the time of Sri Sathyanidhi Tirtha (1648 AD). It is by no means contemporary to the events discussed being two centuries later but can be considered as a record of events from their points of view. Subsequent documents like Satkatha(several editions) and Poornabodha-guruvamsa-katha-kalpatharu (PGVKK), Madhvamunivrinda-charithe etc are based on this document according to B N K Sharma.  In this document Sri Vidyanidhi is referred to as a Thaulava ascetic who was a Vidya-shishya of Ramachandra Tirtha. His being so was also confirmed by Satkatha edition 1 and 2 and removed from edition 3, apparently with an intention to deny his Thaulava origin. He was already ordained as an ascetic when he came before his Guru. “According to Gurcharya, Ramachandra Tirtha leaves a message that in the event of Vibudhendra not returning within a period of six months after his demise, this Vidyanidhi deserves the samsthana”. Vidyanidhi is referred to as a Thaulava, student studying Shasthra compositions, following Sadachara, intelligent and loyal. 
  2. Sathkatha – As Vibudhendra was far away and Sri Ramachandra realized that he will not come back in time before his own demise and take over the Puja and the Matha responsibility, he ordained a Thaulava by name Krishnacharya. But he also caused the burial of boxes containing his Devara Puja Idols in the ground.
  3. Anandatirtha-kathakalpatharu/ Madhvamunivrinda-charithe – According to these, during his last days, Sri Ramachandra called local leaders called Dharmanna, Basappa etc and told them that the Ashrama should go to Vibudhendra who is an accomplished scholar, senior ascetic ordained by him and is suitable of the position in all respects.  But he has not come back. Therefore, the boxes containing his Idols and Ikons will be buried in their house. Wait for 6 months and give it to Vibudhendra, when he comes back. In case he fails to return, give it to Vidyanidhi, who is my Vidyashishya.
  4. The earlier Gurucharya version stated that he told Krishnacharya before his demise that if Vibudhendra does not come back, you can take Sannyasa and take over the Idols. The latter waited for six months and when Vibudhendra did not come back, he took Sannyasa before the Vrindavana of Ramachandra Tirtha by doing his own Abhisheka with his own hands with the Vyasa samputa and took over the Matha.

 Some facts stand out in all these stories:

  1. Sri Ramachandra had ordained Sri Vibudhendra as his first shishya with an intention that he should take over the Matha after him.  Vibudhendra was exceptionally qualified by virtue of his sadachara, learning and qualities like devotion etc. There was no blemish attached to him.
  2. Sri Vibudhendra was sent out for Tatvavaprachara by his own Guru at a time when there was no apprehension of the latter’s demise. It is reported that he went with a large group of disciples, many idols and other symbols of the Matha. At this stage, there was never any doubt that he was  the nominated successor of Ramachandra tirtha, nor did Ramachandra ever change his mind or keep his decision secret.
  3. When Sri Ramachandra understood that he may not live long enough till his dear shishya’s return, he took some unprecedented steps, (perhaps keeping in mind, the need to avoid a repetition of the earlier division of the Matha between Rajendra and Kavindra, in 1402 AD, just 28 years earlier under similar circumstances). Burying in the ground the Idols and Ikons worshipped by himself and his Guru parampare till Vibudhendra’s return, involving local leaders (not belonging to Madhva sampradaya)  to ensure that they would not be disturbed till Vibudhendra’s return etc which meant discontinuance of Samsthana Puja except to the extent of Idols already given to Vibudhendra are conclusive indications of his mindset. It is does not seem likely that in such circumstances, he would have fixed any deadline of six months. What is far more likely, is that if for any reason  Vibudhendra failed to return in a reasonable period, his second stated choice could be Vidyanidhi. If for arguments sake, we assume the existence of such a dead line, the recital of the following events as given in some sources seems to be composed as an after thought to justify a fait-accompli. As Gurucharya itself was written in 1648 AD, 218 years after Ramachandra’s demise, and others came later, it is clear that these documents can not taken at face value unless corroborated by other records. At best, they can be considered as the stories in circulation in the Matha amongst its followers tending to cover up doubtful issues and put up a glorious picture. This is obvious as every time a new composition came to be written, further embellishments contradicting some previous duscrepancies followed. 
    1. According to Gurucharya - When Vibudhendra came back after six months and claimed the Puja boxes, the persons in charge did not want to offend either of the ascetics. They appealed to both of them to go and after bath, pray to God to give a sign of His preference. (One should note that the contradiction starts here – As Ramachandra had already made his intentions clear and given specific instructions during his life time itself – 6 months earlier, this exercise was uncalled for. There was no reason for Vidyanidhi to feel offended, when his Guru’s express wish was to be fulfilled, as he had no valid claim merely on the strength of the six months time limit when Vibudhendra did return, unless he had already put forward his wish to gain the Puja boxes, against the Guru’s expressed desire. In fact it was his duty to ensure that his senior and well respected Vibudhendra was handed over the boxes.) When Vibudhendra prayed to God, nothing happened, but when Vidyanidhi prayed, there was a miracle. The earth heaved and opened up and the box jumped up and fell into the hands of Vidyanidhi. The disappointed Vibudhendra went away in a rage and formed his own matha. Gurucharya also states that Vidyanidhi went to the location of Ramachandra’s Vrindavana and after doing Dandapallata (ceremony to change one’s allegiance to the Guru Parampare to a new one), kept the samputa containing Vyasa Mushtis on his head with his left hand and with his right hand performed Abhisheka with a Conch to become a part of the new matha (and assume the position of Pontiff).  (Thereference to Dandapallata also indicates that till then he was still a Sannyasi of another order and had not been ordained by Ramachandra as has been claimed by later records).
    2. The story which was recorded in the Vibudhendra matha is different for obvious reasons. This has been precisely recorded by Sri Vadindra Tirtha in his “Sri Raghavendramathagatha-archaagathikramah”. According to this Ramachandra gave strict instructions to hand over the buried Puja boxes to Vibudhendhra on his return. But, one Vidyanidhi came there and took away all the items by his clever planning. Not only the picturisation of the events leading to the miraculous acquisition by Vidyanidhi is denied but even the claim that he was a Vidyshishya of Ramachandra is not accepted. After coming to know the demise of his Guru, Vibudhendra came back and on coming to know the loss of the boxes, he went to Vidyanidhi and asked him to return them. The “powerful” Vidyanidhi declined. Vibudhendra who was always immersed in establishment of Madhva Shasthra did not wish to get back the boxes. Afterwards, the Guru of Sri Surendra Tirtha (Raghunandana Tirtha) got back the Idol of Moola Rama taken away by others, with the help of a disciple. (Presumably other items in Sri Ramachandra’s Puja boxes continued with the followers of Vidyanidhi).
    3. The miracle story accepted only by Vidyanidhi branch (and not by Vibudhendra branch) which tries to cancel out the clearly recorded directions of the Matha Guru – Sri Ramachandra Tirtha, indicating his choice of Vibudhendra as his successor, could also be a cover up for the actual events. The actions of Sri Vidyanidhi violated the express desire of the Guru and another great senior ascetic Vibudhendra, what ever may have been his justification for it. The very act of trying to find out the divine will by prayers of the two contestants was uncalled for in the normal course. The variations in the story put forward from time to time tell their own story. If it did really happen, a person of the caliber of Vibudhendra is likely to have accepted the whole event as God’s wish and there would not have been any attempt to get back the prized Idols of Moola Rama and Seetha, by the other Matha. The story of Vibudhendra taking the quarrel to the streets etc quoted from B N K Sharma’s book “Sathyameva jayathe” earlier, which is so uncharacteristic of this great scholar, who was the Vidya Guru of Sripadaraja and was the vital link in the Parampara of scholars from Jayatirtha to those like Vyasaraja and Vadiraja also supports the statement of Vadindra that he accepted the event as God’s wish. On the other hand, it is clear that this branch had felt severely aggrieved and some sort of pacification came only when the symbolic return of Moola Rama Idol took place in Raghunandana Tirtha’s time. Perhaps because of this animosity, the composition Sri Vidyadhisha Vijaya says that he defeated a person called Vadindra belonging to Sudhindra Matha! The important point of their being not contemporary is overlooked as usual – Vadindra -1728-1750 AD, while Vidyadhisha – 1619-1631). Thus many of the authors of the so called Vijaya texts have scarce regard for facts. The story of the miracle clearly lacks independent testimony and can not stand the test of internal consistency or coherence.  There is also the indirect circumstantial evidence that the Uttharadi matha became a virtual prisoner at the hands of the Shanubhoga’s of the matha, who ensured that the powers that they secured from Vidyanidhi continued for almost 5 centuries – from 1430 AD to the early 20 th Century, with repeated attempts being made by Peethadhipatis to discontinue the system,  disputed even being referred to the courts which upheld their legal rights. This very heavy price paid by the illustrious Gurus of the matha such as Raghutthama, Sathyanatha etc known for their learning and commitment to Madhva Shasthra is no where else in any other Matha and entirely against the practice and principles of Matha management in all other mathas.
In any case, as the events can not be decisively proven one way or the other as to what happened, it may never be possible to decide this issue as to whether Sri Vidyanidhi took away the Puja boxes by cleverness with the negotiated support of the local Matha staff or in any other manner. As a fait-accompli, which has happened, the division of a great Matha into two has taken place. In today’s world, after more than 500 years, when as Vijayaraya has said – “Vasumathiya melinnu asurajanare bahala, vashavalla kaliya badhe” and true Vaishnavas are a small minority, this should not be used as a cause of Inter-matha disputes. But, our Matha leaders would need to clarify the atmosphere by not unnecessarily stressing their own versions due to an attitude of “My matha, right or wrong” thus causing friction. Our philosophy already provides for the formation of an attitude of faith in Harichittha for all events – which should be accepted with grace and humility. There should be a widely accepted understanding that such events will not be discussed and where possible, suitable steps need to be taken to amend the statements that tend to offend. History can never be perfectly known, by its very nature unless there are incontrovertible records. The two divisions of the main stream of Madhva pontiffs as well as the lineages of Sri Padmanabha Tirtha etc have given astounding intellectuals, philosophers and devotees of the Supreme Being. Showing equal regard for all such jewels of our faith (accepting Tharathamya and having one’s own mental picture should not inhibit this) and avoiding the irritating practice of trying to show the greatness of one of the Mathas by downgrading another, which is at the root cause should be given up for ever.