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Saints & Life History Accounts

 

In the previous article, I have tried to bring forth an important aspect of “reading between the lines” of Krishnadevaraya’s inscription issued to Sri Vyasaraja Tirtha on 12/01/1524 AD (Inscription No. 157 – contents as published in Inscriptions of Krishnaraya 1509-1529 AD by TTD).

As part of the study, I have stated that the confiscation of lands from a Tirumala temple priest by Saluva Narasimharaya should not be treated as a minor incident because such extreme action of land confiscation is totally against the policy held by all the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire.

By continuing the trail of ‘reading-between-the-lines’ of Krishnadevaraya’s inscription, I wish to present the additional inputs on the same.

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The peculiar instance of Nambi Sirrappayan’s crime must be investigated thoroughly as it can lead us to draw several useful inferences such as

  1. the influence of Shrivaishnavites in those days
  2. the status of Tirumala temple priests in the society
  3. their proximity to the powerful kings and nobles and
  4. the then material distractions to which the priests could succumb.

In order to study the case of Nambi Sirrappayan, the foremost step that I have taken is to check back the history of Tirumala temple and find the instances of any thefts or misdeeds occurred in the temple.

As part of this exploration, I have come across with a curious illustration of misuse of donor’s funds as early as 13th century. Hereunder are the details:

 

History, without the shadows of skepticism, looks dull !

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Img: http://templesinindiainfo.com/Recently I have read a book written by Sri Sadhu Subrahmanya Sastri (SSS), one the pioneers of TTD Epigraphy. Sri Sastri worked as Peishkar of Tirumala temple and during his tenure he focused his attention on recording the inscriptions of Tirumala temple.

Though not a trained epigraphist, he undertook the task of reading, editing & recording of Tirumala inscriptions. As part of this, he underwent training in Madras as well.

 

[Image courtesy: http://templesinindiainfo.com/]

All history lovers and epigraphic enthusiasts must remember Sri Sastri's contribution in preserving the crucial information related to medieval South India. His relentless efforts in publishing the Tirumala inscriptions shall show the path to the would-be epigraphists.

Sri Sastri is one of the many inspirations that made me to take up studying the history on epigrahic evidences. I have picked up some confidence by reading about him that a layman such as me too can venture in to epigraphic studies.

As studying the history is a litmus test to what we believe versus what we must understand, at times, we may have to differ from what our elders taught or wrote. With this background I am writing this mini series of articles by bringing up the doubts expressed by Sri Sastri on certain life accounts of Sri Sripadaraja and Sri Vyasaraya.

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Nearly two months ago, I have written two articles about the polemical argument purportedly held between Sri Akshobhya and Sri Vidyaranya in Mulabagal town. These two articles have attempted to fact-check the said event and have tried to analyse whether such event ever took place?

After reading considerable amount of literature with for and against arguments and by undertaking an independent study of the inscriptions and scriptures, I have understood that there is no room for such event to happen and the said Vidyaranya is not the Madhava Vidyaranya of Shringeri Peetha. Interested readers may please read the articles by clicking the following links:

  1. Akshobhya - Vidyaranya Debate - Myths & Facts (As understood by me)
  2. Akshobhya Vidyaranya Debate - Further Inputs

The present one is the 3rd in the series and probably the last one as well. Should I get some clues and evidences, I may add couple of more articles to this series but as of now this would be the final one.

New Evidence:

In order to come to a logical conclusion about the truth in Akshobhya-Vidyaranya debate, I have extensively used various Archeological and Epigraphic records and the books written for and against the purported debate.

Later, I have tried to look for some clues from Dasa Sahitya as it has been the most widely used tool by the Dvaita School to spread its message in the masses. In this connection, I have referred to the kritis on Sri Jayatirtha written by the following:

  1. Sri Vadiraja Tirtha
  2. Sri Purandara Dasa
  3. Sri Kanada Dasa

 

Introduction:

Generations of Madhvas have always sincerely believed that in the early days of Vijayanagara Kingdom there was a famous disputation between the two stalwarts of Advaita and Dvaita, Sri Vidyaranya and Sri Akshobhya Tirtha, where the famous Vishishtadvaita scholar Sri Vedanta Desikar was the neutral umpire and victory was wonby Dvaita. Apparently there was no rejection of the very existence of the event in earlier days, even by such great Advaita stalwarts like Sri Ananthakrishna Shastri or any other pontiffs. In recent days, however Advaita has predictably reacted adversely and has offered many arguments to support their own position that such a disputation never took place.

The confusion has been actually compounded by many fancy stories written much later about the so called disputation/victory where extreme positions have been offered by both sides – including a victory for Advaita. Therewere also a very few Madhva scholars who supported the view that the account was fictitious. The issue is considered as a question of prestige of the two schools and it is difficult to sift out the truths and realities from the fanciful accounts and blind loyalties towards one’s own system inherited from birth.