Friday, 4 January 2013

An ode to a brother

The pioneer of the Dwaitha system and saint philosopher Madhwacharya not only write several books but he was also instrumental in inspiring all people around him to write, compose and even give discourses on Dwaita Siddantha.
All the four direct disciples of  Madhwacharya-Padmanabha Theertha, Narahari Theertha, Madhava Theertha and Akshobya Theertha have left behind an important body of work, mainly in the field of philosophy.
Similarly, Narayana Panditacharya and Trivikrama Pandit who were closely associated with the Acharya (Madhwacharya) wrote on their Guru himself and his teachings.
Madhwacharya’s sister, Kalyani Devi, and brother Vishnu Theertha, too were inspired by the Acharya and wrote to express their support to Dwaitha system.
Kalyani Devi too was a scholar and she too along with Vishnu Theertha had been given education in Shastras and other religious texts by her parents.
Her father is believed have been her first teacher and late she came under the influence of her brother-Madhwacharya.
She is known to have authored  three works Krishna Stotra,  Anu Vayustuti and Laghu Taratamya Stotra.
All the three books are in Sanskrit and they form an important part of the Sanksrit writing during the Hoysala period.   
The Laghu Taratamya Stotra starts with an invocation to Vishnu and places him among the first in the hierarchy of Gods and Goddesses. The rest of the Gods come later.  
Both Anu Vayu Stuti and Laghu Taratamya Stotra deal with the gradation of gods and they place Hari at the top, with the rest of the gods following him.
The third work-Krishna Stotra- as the name itself suggests, is a work on Krishna. Kalyani Devi is believed to have written it after seeing the Krishna idol her brother consecrated in Udupi-the Sri Krishna Temple.
The Krishna Stotra comprises eight verses and it was first printed from Kumbakonam. It is out of print now.
However, apart from these three works, nothing else is known about her.
Another Kalyani Devi we come across almost during the same period is the sister of Trivikrama Panditacharya.
She too wrote a short composition on Vayu, extolling his virtues and referring to the three incarnations. This work too is called Laghu Vayu Stuti. It is in six verses. It is a short composition of  22 lines with five paragraphs of four lines each and the last paragraph has just two lines.
The Stuti too is a short work. Here, Kalyani Devi praises Vayu and his incarnation. It uses a constant refrain in the second line of each verse- “Anandatheertha mahamunirajam govinda bhakta shikhamanimide”.
This means that I worship Ananda Theertha, another name of Madhwacharya. The Stuti dwells on the three avatars of the Acharya-Hanuma during the Ramayana, Bheema in the Mahabharata and now Madhwa.  
The Stuti is a beautiful play on Sanskrit words and it gives us several meanings. If one meaning of Ananda Theertha is Madhwacharya, another means he is the head of a monastic order, the chief of an order and the first among equals.
Govinda can be broken into Go which in Sanskrit means cow. A deeper meaning is one that gives and one which is a Kamadhenu. Madhwacharya here is the Kamadhenu who has given us the nectar of Dwaitha.
The word Go in Govinda can also mean Vedas, rays of the Sun God, Varuna or water, Indra's weapon Vajra and even the sky or Akasha. It could also depict the Earth, Heaven or Swarga, and some of the organs like a hair or eye.
Thus, the Stuti yields multiple interpretation
Kalyani Devi remained unmarried and she spent time at her house near Vishnu Mangala in Kasargod, Kerala.
Her brother, Trivikrama Panditacharya, wrote the more famous and comprehensive work, Sri Hari Vayu Stuti, during this time.
Trivikrama Panditacharya also wrote commentaries on the Dwaita philosophy and a poem narrating the story of Usha and Aniruddha called Ushaharana.
Narayana Panditacharya composed Madhwavijaya, Manimanjari and a poem called Parijataharana. The daughter of  Trivikrama Panditacharya was also known as Kalyani Devi. She too is known as an author but there appears to be no information about them.
Thus, Madhwa, inspired a number of people to write. Even after he disappeared, his influence continued with the Haridasa literature in Sanakrit and Kannada where all the Madhwa saints and composers who came after him, accepted him as their inspiration and his teachings as their Neethi.    

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