Monday, 19 November 2012

The Madhwa Seer who showed the Sun at midnight, drank poison

There are hundreds of seers and saints in India and many of them have played a vital role in shaping the religious, philosophical and even social flow of the country and its people.
Many saints have been blessing people by performing miracles from their Brindavana.  If Raghavendra Swamy, Vadiraja Theertha, Sripadaraja and Raghuttama Theertha continue to inspire millions of people across the globe with their miracles, there is another saint who is equally known for his miracles and prowess. He was such a great Gyani or scholar and devotee of Moola Rama that he once showed the bright Sun to his disciples well after midnight.
This saint also prolonged the life of his Shishya by ten years. He was also called the Trikalajnani of He is none other than Satyabodha Theertha who belongs to the Uttaradhi Matha parampare.
A contemporary and close friend of  Dhirendra Theerta of Raghavendra Swamy Matha, Satyabodha Theertha was an unparalleled scholar and mystic. He was the Guru whom Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore, the Nawab of Savanur and even the British regarded very highly.
Though he was an orthodox Brahmin, he counted thousands of Muslims and Christians and even people from other religions as his followers and disciples.
Just as Sir Thomas Munroe has given us a graphic account of his meeting with Raghavendra Swamy, another British official, James Campbell, has left behind an extensive write up on Satyabodha Theertha.
The write up by Campbell is even today available in the Bombay Gazeteer, Karnataka Dharwad district Chapter III, Page Nos 58-59 edited and published by James M. Campbell.   
Satyabodha Theertha was the 15th pontiff after Ramachandra Theertha to occupy the seat of the Uttaradhi Matha. He was born as Ramacharya in Raichur and he was initiated into the religious order by Sri Satyapriya Theertha, his Guru and Peetadhipathi of the Uttaradhi Matha.
Ramacharya spent his childhood in the Matha and Satyapriya Theertha took great interest in teaching him the Shastras. Once, he was worshipping the saligrama and shanka, when Lord Shvetavarha gave darshan to him in a miniature form.
Satyapriya Theertha soon entered Brindavana and left Satyabodha Theertha to guide the Matha.
Satyabodha then began on a long and extensive tour of India. He defeated all his adversaries (in philosophy and religion) and popularized Dwaitha Siddhantha.  Several Kings and Emperors showered him with letters of appreciation and Tamra Patras (copper plates).
The fame of  the seer spread far and wide and the Nawabs of Savanaur and Ramnad apart from Tipu Sultan honored him. The British too wrote that the seer radiated a hypnotic and divine presence. One British official swore that the seer had telepathic powers.
When the seer’s fame increased, some people felt jealous and decided to do away with the seer. They poisoned his food (Paramanna) which he would eat after performing Naivaidya to Moola Rama and Digvijaya Rama.
When Satyabodha Theertha offered naivaidya to the gods, the face of Moola Rama turn dark. The seer came to know what had happened but he kept quite.
The seer then proceeded to eat the poisoned food even though his Shishyas urged him to desist. His contention was what is good for Moola Rama is good enough for me. All the while, he sought pardon from Moola Rama for having him offered poison.
The poison had no effect and the Seer continued with his normal activities.
Another time, a man claiming to be a Shishya of Satyabodha Theertha had accumulated a lot of wealth by performing some magic. The Shishya claimed that he was doing all activities as per the wishes of Srinivasa. When Satyabodha heard of this, he went to the Shishya and the man could not perform any miracle. Humiliated and chastened, he surrender all his wealth and went away from the matha. He also promised Satyabodha Theertha that he would never resort to trickery to hoodwink people.
During one of his tours to north, Satyabodha Theertha came to Gaya in Bihar where he found that local priests called Pandas had completely taken over the management and daily activities of the Vishnu Pada temple.
The seer found that the Pandas were demanding money for everything and were harassing people in the name of religion. He then set up an exclusive shelter for pilgrims near the temple and named it Rama Gaya. The Pandas were completely isolated and begged the seer for forgiveness.
The seer then proceeded to Kashi and set up a matha at Durga Ghatta to provide facilities for pilgrims.
After his tour, he came to Savanur which then was under the rule of the Nawabs. By then he had ruled the Madhwa pontificate for more than 39 years. He decided to hand over the reigns of the matha to Satyasandha Theertha.
A little later, Satyabodha Theertha found that his successor had only a short time to live. He prayed to Lord Moola Rama with Raksha Stotram and ensure that the life of Satyasandha Theertha was extended by ten more years.
Once he was having food in the night. Several shishyas and others commented about it. They said this was not the first time that Sathyabodha Theertha had violated tradition by eating after daylight. They said it is wrong and not according to scriptures.
Satyabodha Theertha overheard them and asked them to come near him. He asked them to look up at the sky. When the Shishyas saw it first, it was dark and the moon was shining. When they saw it again they saw the Sun shining brightly.
While almost all the disciples were convinced about the prowess and greatness of the Seer, one person disdainfully claimed it was only magic. He immediately lost his eyesight.
The seer realised that his end was near, He wanted to go to the north and bathe in the Ganga. When he went to sleep, Lord  Badarinarayana came in his dreams and asked him to stay back in the Ashrama as Bhagirathi herself would come.
The next day, the Bhagirathi came flowing down to the matha and the seer and his devotees had a bathe in the holy waters.
Satyabodha Theertha left his mortal body at Savanur on March 9, 1783. His Brindavana is in the Uttaradhi Matha at Savanur. Such is his greatness that even today the matha is known as Satyabodha Matha.
Many details of the life and times of the seer can be found in Shri Satyabodha Vijaya written by Kanchi Acharya, his disciple. The kavya is a verse written in 21 saragas and it describes Satyabodha’s life in detail.
Satyabodha Theertha accepted ashrama in 1744 and he entered the brindavana in 1783. Naivedyagavisham in his charamashloka. This is in honour of the poison he took.
Satyabodha Theertha had four main disciples and all of them headed the Uttaradhi Matha. They are Satya Sandha Theertha, Satyavara Theerta, Satya Dharma Theertha and Satya Sankalpa Theertha.
Even today, Satyabodha Theertha continues to perform miracles from his Brindavana. There are hundreds of instances when he has helped devotees in distress. Visit his Brindavana at Savanur to get a feel of his greatness.  The matha has arrangements for staying.  


  1. Samyuktha Harshitha,
    Nice write up and a very nice description abt gurugalu. There is a community page in facebook on shri satyabodha gurugalu. Do like it.

    Thank you

    1. Madhuri,
      Thank you for your compliment. We will look up the community page. In case you have more information on Gurugalu, please fell free to contribute.