Dharmik Continuum of Vijayanagar Dynasties - Belur Inscriptions

               In the previous article I have talked about the peculiar aspect of ‘Dharmik Continuum’ that prevailed throughout the existence of Vijayanagara Empire. Actually, that write-up was my impulsive reaction, so to say, about this strange feature of maintaining and upholding the Dharmik values. I feel that no historian of any denomination has touched upon this topic and has ever mentioned it in his/her research!

                I am making such strong claim as I have found yet another great example of this Dharmik Continuum phenomenon and I am sure that the readers too shall acknowledge my feelings. The Belur inscriptions that would be presented in this articles can stand tall in showcasing the Dharmik side of Hindu kings. The inscription of Harihara II can be considered as the ‘crest jewel’ of these Belur inscriptions.


Belur Inscription belonging to Hoysala period:

                The following inscription belongs to the period of Narasimha III [c.1254-91], father of last Hoysala king Vira Ballala III and is dated c.1277. It records a grant made to ‘Sri Kamalanabha Tirtha’ who has been identified as ‘Sri Padmanabha Tirtha’ who succeeded Sri Madhva on Dvaita Peetha.

Padmanabha tirtha inscription in Belur Chennakeshava temple

(Kannada version of Inscription No: 53 from Page 126 of Epigraphia Carnatica Vol 5 Part 1, 1902)


                The English translation of the above inscription is as under:

Padmanabha tritha english version

                This inscription confirms that a certain grant was made in favour of Kamalanabha Tirtha (Padmanabha Tirtha of Madhva lineage) and I have read this inscription quite some time ago i.e. in 2013.

           A fortnight ago, I have bought two volumes of ‘Maadhva Mathagala Shasanagalu’ (MMS) published by Sri Raghavendra Swamy Matha, Mantralayam. As I was reading through the first volume I was wonderstruck with the mention of an inscription at Belur belonging to Harihara II as it records a grant made to a certain Sri Surendra Tirtha of Belur Matha. Hereunder is the full text of the inscription:

Immadi Harihara grant renewal 1

Immadi Harihara grant renewal 2

(From Page 7, 8 & 9 of Maadhva Mathagala Shasanagalu published by SRS Matha, Mantralayam)

It is worthwhile to note that through this inscription, Harihara II had renewed a dysfunctional grant made by his father, Bukk I. I could not get the grant details of Bukkraya. But I presume that Bukka I might have renewed the grant given to Padmanabha Tirtha during Hoysala Narasimha III’s reign.

I have few facts to support this presumption.


The Vanished Madhva Matha of Belur:

               From the inscription of Harihara II, we can understand that the Belur had been an active place of Maadhva yatis as late as c.1498 as the setence “ಬೇಲೂರು ಸುರೇಂದ್ರ ತೀರ್ಥ ಶ್ರೀಪಾದಂಗಳ ಮಠ” ("b£lÀru sur£¯dra t§rtha ¾r§p¡da¯ga©a ma¿ha" ) is a definite pointer towards the existence of a Maadhva Matha at Belur.

           Even the phrases such as the ones below used in Hoysala inscription infer that Sri Padmnabha Tirtha was staying at Belur and from there he was proceeding to other places!

""ಕಮಲನಾಭ ತೀರ್ಥರು ಸ್ಥಲಾಂತರಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದಡೆ";

"kamalan¡bha t§rtharu sthal¡¯tarakke hµda¢e";

"ಯತಿಗಳಲಿದ್ದಡೆ ಯತಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಸಲ್ಲುವುದು ಯಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದಡೆ"

"yatiga©alidda¢e yatiga©ige salluvudu yilladidda¢e"

With these statements, I could deduce that Padmanabha Tirtha was the first yati to establish a Matha in precincts of Belur, the Hoysala capital.

It can also be inferred from the inscription of Harihara II that there must have been a series of yatis who could have succeeded Padmanabha Tirtha’s Belur Peetha from c.1277 up to c.1398 (SS 1199 to 1328) i.e. for almost 121 years. But strangely, we do not have the history of this Belur Matha which appears to have ceased from 15th century onwards. Dr. B.N.K. Sharma too did not make a reference of the existence of a Belur Matha supposedly established by Sri Padmanabha Tirtha.

The Editors of MMS have opined that there must have been a Madhva Matha at Belur established by Sri Padmanabha Tirtha and the same would have got vanished subsequently. The reasons for the closure or discontinuation of Belur Math are unknown hitherto.

Though it is sad to note that we have lost the history of Belur Matha it is quite heartening to see how the first dynasty of Vijayanagar has renewed the dysfunctional grant that traces back to Hoysalas’ period and so I call the Harihara II’s Belur inscription as the ‘crest jewel of Dharmik Continuum of Vijayanagara Empire.’



+1 #1 IVNS Raju 2015-04-08 12:19
What a continuum Sir ji!!
The act of invisible hand is being felt in this country at different times and places. Probably it is in the Divine Scheme that some history would appear to be lost and later it would be traced so that it would have more impact. Your articles are the proof of his.

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