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Sridapadaraya Title Conferment - Further Evidences

This is 4th part in the series of the articles published in MadhvaHistory.com on exploring the historical anecdotes of the event connected to the conferment of 'Sripadaraya' title on Sri Lakshminarayana Tirtha of Mulbagal Matha.

In the previous articles, I have made an argument against a particular story propagated by some sections of Maadhvas that Sri Raghunatha Tirtha conferred the title of 'Sripadaraya' to Lakshminarayana Tirtha of Mulbagal Matha. In order to prove that this story is historically wrong, I have presented few inscriptions, archeological evidences, scriptural references (from contemporary sources of Sripadaraya) etc. and have established the fact that the title has been earned by Lakshminarayana Tirtha after being felicitated by Saluva Narasimha of Vijayanagara Empire and not through an appreciation passed by another Saint.

Subsequent to the publishing of these articles, I had received certain comments and responses which have raised additional questions about the verasity of the facts presented by me. Now, I am herewith producing fresh archeological and scriptural database that are either predates Sripadaraya or of post-date in nature.

Before I give out the new evidences, I wish to recapitualatesome of the evidences furnished in 2nd article and 3rd article of this series. In those two parts, I have presented following archeological artifacts, images, analytical and comparitive studies of the crowns etc. Some of the important evidences are being recapitulated hereunder for the benefit of new readers.

(1) the stone image of Sripadaraya found in Mulbagal Matha's old ramnants;

Sripadaraya stone carving

(2) provided a comparitive study of Krishnaraya's crown as dipicted in his bronze statue located in Tirumala Temple;

comparison of crowns

(3) How Telugu movies altered the design of Krishnaraya's crown to suit a film actor who played the role of Krishnadevaraya in couple of films:

NTR in Tenali Ramakrishna

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In this article, I am presenting further evidences that would strengthen my argument that the title 'Sripadaraya' has become popular only after the felicitation made by Saluva Narasimharaya of 2nd dynasty that ruled Vijayanagara wherein he had presented certain royal ornaments to Lakshminarayana Tirtha. Here are those fresh evidences.

(1) A chATu poem by a Telugu poet named Srinatha Kavi who visited the court of Praudha Devaraya - II (c.1424-46) and was supposed to read out this poem:

srinatha kavi poem

(Excerpt from Page 61 of Chapter ‘Srinatha’s Visit to Vijayanagara; Sources of Vijayanagara by Krishnaswamy Aiyangar)

The opening phrase of this poem reads as "ಕುಲ್ಲಾಯುಂಚಿತಿ" which gets translated in to Kannada as "ಕುಲಾವಿನಿಟ್ಟಿದೆನು."

In the below video, non-Telugu readers may follows the English subtitiles and the expressions/gestures made by the actor to understand the meanings of Telugu words used therein. This clip is from a Telugu movie called "Srinatha Kavisarvabhauma" which was made on the life of much celebrated medieval Telugu poet.

Hereunder reproducing the screen grab of the video with proper identification marks to link the world "ಕುಲ್ಲಾಯುಂಚಿತಿ" with the headgear worn by the actor:

srinatha kavisarvabhauma movie still showing kullayi

Here we can see that the "kulAvi" has been shown as a conical shaped cap which in sync with the crown shown on the bronze statue of Krishnadevaraya at Tirumala temple and also with that of Sripadaraya's stone image.

After the first poem, there comes a 2nd poem, in which, Srinatha praises in eloquent terms one prince/noble by calling as "Samparaya Telunga" (ಸಾಂಪರಾಯ ತೆಲುಂಗ).

Hereunder is the complete Telugu text of the 2nd poem:

శా: ధాటీ ఘోటక రత్న ఘట్టన మిళద్రా ఘిష్ట కళ్యాణ ఘం
     టా టంకార విలుంఠ లుంఠిత మహోన్మత్తాహిత క్షోణి భృ
     త్కోటీ రాంకిత కుంభినీధర సముత్కూ టాటవీ ఝూట
     ర్ణాటాంధ్రాధిప! సాంపరాయని తెలుంగా!నీకు బ్రహ్మాయువౌ!

 

ಶಾ. ಧಾಟೀ ಘೋಟಕ ರತ್ನ ಘಟ್ಟನ ಮಿಳದ್ರಾ ಘಿಷ್ಟ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣ ಘಂ

     ಟಾ ಟಂಕಾರ ವಿಲುಂಠ ಲುಂಠಿತ ಮಹೋನ್ಮತ್ತಾಹಿತ ಕ್ಷೋಣೀ ಭೃ

     ತ್ಕೋಟೀ ರಾಂಕಿತ ಕುಂಭಿನೀಧರ ಸಮುತ್ಕೂಟಾಟವೀ ಝೂಟ

    ರ್ಣಾಟಾಂದ್ರಾಧಿಪ! ಸಾಂಪರಾಯನಿ ತೆಲುಂಗಾ! ನೀಕು ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಯುವೌ!

This Samparayani Telunga was the son of Sambuvaraya by the name "Telunguraya" (ತೆಲುಂಗುರಾಯ). Sambuvaraya was of Kannada origin and was a senior family member of Saluva family in which Saluva Mangideva, the great grandfather of Saluva Narasimha and the trusted general of Kumara Kampana was a junior member. His son, Telugunraya who was a contemporary to Srinatha Kavi seems to have ruled northern parts of modern Andhra Pradesh as inscriptions by his name were found in Simhachalam temple and in parts of Krishna District. Srinatha Kavi address Telunguraya as "ರ್ಣಾಟಾಂದ್ರಾಧಿಪ!thus clearly establishing the Kannada origin but Telugu association that Telunguraya had at the time of his friendship with Srinatha.

If you observe carefully the heargear designed for this Telunguraya who ruled Andhra dominions, it appears to be different from the one worn by Srinatha, which the poet identifies with Kannada tradition.

telunguraya headgear

Srinatha too was a Telugu Brahman and the aforesaid poem was composed in distateful tone about the dressing, food and ornamental decorations of Kannadigas.

I don't have any doubt about the historical accuracy of the aforesaid characters i.e. Srinatha Kavi and Telunguraya being contemporary to each other and the former had composed a poem on the latter. Epigraphica Indica Vol. 8 mentions this poem, the poet and the king or prince called Telunguraya. Hereunder is the reproduction of the contents of Page No. 76 which read as below:

Epigraphia Indica Vol VIII on Telungu Samparaya

Thus, even from the medieval 15th century Telugu literature, we can conclude that the Vijayanagara emperors were wearing "kulAvi" as the royal headgear while the Telugu kings, princes and nobles were having a different design for their crowns. This ramification supports my conclusion that the crown displayed in the stone image of Sripadaraya is none other than Vijayanagara's and thus the title Sripadaraya has been drawn from that crown only and not from a saint such as Raghunatha Tirtha.

Next, I wish to present another set of archeological evidences that prove that not only the bygone emperors but the successive imperial rulers of Vijayanagara up to its total dismemberment in c.1646 have worn crowns that were similar to the one described by Srinatha Kavi who predates Sripadaraya. 

Hereunder, I reproduce the images of Tirumalaraya and Venkatapathiraya - II statues installed inside Tirumala temple:

tirumalaraya image at tirumala

 (Images of Tirumalaraya and his wife - Source: Inscriptions of Tirumala Temple by TTD)

 venkatapatiraya image at tirumala

  (Statue of Venkatapathiraya alias Venkata II - Source: Inscriptions of Tirumala Temple by TTD)

The above crowns of later date emperors of Vijayanagara who came nearly a century later to Sripadaraya are clear indications of the commonality between the crowns described by a Telugu poet (15th cent.), shown on the stone image of Sripadaraya (15/16th cent.), worn by Krishnaraya (early 16th cen.), Tirumalaraya (late 16th cent.) and Venkata - II (16/17th cent.).

Thus, it is but wise to understand that the title Sripadaraya has much to do with the royal crown donned by Lakshminarayana Tirtha than a compliment passed over by a saint!

With all these irrefutable archeological and scriptural evidences we can safely conclude that from the days of Sangama Dynasty (sampled by Devaraya - II c.1424-46) and up to Aravidu Dynasty (Sampled by Tirumala Raya c.1565-72 and Venkata - II c.1586-1614) i.e. for nearly two and half centuries, Vijayanagara emperors' headgear remained unaltered in its design. This is the clinching archeological evidence that must be correlated with the stone image of Sripadaraya.

Also, the phrase "ಕುಲಾವಿ" used by Sri Vyasatirtha in his Kannada eulogy of Sripadaraya is in complete sync with Telugu poet Srinatha's usage of "ಕುಲ್ಲಾಯಿ" wherein the Kannada "ಕುಲಾವಿ" has been spelled as "ಕುಲ್ಲಾಯಿ" in Telugu. Barring this difference in vernacular usage, both the words have same meaning and unmistakenly point towards the popular design of crown used by Vijayanagara emperors. And we find similar crown in the stone image of old Mulbagal Matha. Is this not strong enough to understand the inaccuracy of the other story?

It would not be an outlandish idea to visualise that all the people who have assembled during that felicitation ceremony might have exclaimed in great admiration after looking at Lakshminarayana Tirtha in royal attire with his 'kAshAya vastra' and 'danDa' intact. Thus Sri Vyasatirtha subsequently composed the song "ಮಹಿಮೆ ಸಾಲದೇ ಇಷ್ಟೇ ಮಹಿಮೆ ಸಾಲದೆ" by using the new word "ಶ್ರೀಪಾದರಾಯ" to immortalize his Guru's splendid appearance on the day of felicitation.

All these solid evidences do negate the story narrated in certain Matha literature is fictious  and that no saint of their lineage had ever given the title as a compliment in an unrecorded event held at a village called Kopra wherein Saluva Narasima 'might' have participated.

This story not only lacks the support of contemporary literature, acheological and epigraphical evidences but also suffers from inaccuracies such as Saluva Narasimha going to Koppara village.

It is an impossible event to occur in 15th century that Saluva Narasimha went to Koppara as Koppara was not belonging to Vijayanagara Empire during late 15th century . As per the recorded history by c.1363, entire Raichur district was occupied by the Bahamanis and after the disintigration of Bahamanis by c.1489 it slipped in to the possession of Adil Shahis who formed a splinter Sultanate called Bijapur Sultanet. Thus the travel of Saluva Narasimha, in late 15th century, to Koppra village is totally ruled out. It is also difficult to believe that Hindu Vaishnava saints who were safely lodged in Vijayanagara dominions have gone all the way to Muslim controlled territory of Koppara to hold a congregation?

Thus, by all accounts of historical correctness, Raghunatha Tirtha's story does not gel with the then prevailing conditions. Hence it will be appropriate to arrive at a conclusion that the title "Sripadaraya" had come in to vogue due to the felicitation made by Saluva Narasimha to Lakshminarayana Tirtha at Chandragiri palace. In this said event, the king had submitted to Lakshminarayana Tirtha a crown that was commensurate with his royal headgear and other jewels such as pearl-studded armour and jewel studded ear-rings.

I hereby invite further debate on this topic.

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