One of the most remarkable Kannada writers of the twentieth century has been Alur Venkata Rao (1880-1964).
Alur was one of the most eminent leaders of the Karnataka Ekikarana movement. He had a very strong impact on the Ekikarana movement which was fighting for a separate state integrating all Kannada speaking areas of
Mysore, Bombay Presidency and Nizam's . Hyderabad
He is the author of Karnataka Gatha Vaibhava. It recounted in great detail the glorious history of Karnataka until the Marathas, Nizam and the British took over. The book created a tremendous impact on the people and the Ekikarana movement was an offshoot of this. The movement soon caught the imagination of the public and people started rallying around the Ekikarana movement and the movement picked up momentum
The book had an impact that Alur came to be known as the Kannada Kula Purohita or the “High priest of the Kannada kula or family.
Alur has written a book on the philosophy of Madhwacharya in which he has specifically dealt with the Rg Bhashya.
Alur says, “The Shlokas of this book are composed in a very easy and flowing style. Such Bhashyas on Vaidic mantras are very rare, or we may say it, is the only one. Though it is easy in style, it is very, very deep in its meaning. Even well- versed Pandits cannot know easily its deep philosophical meanings”.
He says the Pramanas and examples given in the Bhashya can be nowhere else but in the Vedas only. Hence, he feels that mere
Sanskrit Pandits or scholars cannot know its secret meanings.
He says another special feature of the book is that this book
on Vedas is composed by a Sanyasi. Of all the Sanyasis, Madhwacharya is the only one who has composed such a book.
To Alur, the Rh Bhashya is a small book in Sanskrit in Anushtup Chhandas. Alur found that it contained 489 Shlokas.
He found it easy to memorise the lines as they are ion the form of poetry. Madhwacharya’s scholarly work in writing in poetry what is essentially one of the oldest literary works in the world is nothing short of stunning for Alur.
He sees the Bhashya as the first of its kind-a fitting annexe to the Veda Mantras. Such a writing is rare and exceptional to Alur as he says all commentaries in Sanskrit literature such as Panini Sutras, Maha Bhashya of Patanjali, Shaber Bhashya and works on Mimasa and Upanishats are in Sanskrit prose. None, he says, have ever even attempted to wrote in poetry, let alone attempt a metrical text.
Therefore, Alur says, the Rg Bhashya deserves to be ranked alongside other Vedic compositions.
Alur reveals that the book comes up with the etymological meaning of Vedic words, which are not to be found in common Sanskrit literature. Some of the meanings are so complex that they have not been understood even today. Madhwacharya, on the other hand, not only explains them but also traces their etymology and history.
Madhwacharya, to Alur, has fashioned the meaning of Vishnu Para in a broad sense. Unfortunately, it became sectarian in the eyes of some people. He finds the Shlokas very easy and composed in a flowing style.
Alur, therefore, says such Bhashyas on Vaidic mantras are very rare, or this should be the only one. Though the style is easy, Alur says it has several layers of meaning. Even well versed Pandits cannot easily understand its deep philosophical meanings.
Alur finds it interesting that Madhwa’s last main proposition in the Bhashya is about the hierarchy of Gods from Chaturmukha Brahma downwards differing in grades and degrees. He says Madhva views the whole of Rg Veda as essentially a
theosophical document. Madhwacharya thus takes the words of the Geeta, the Katha Upanishad and the Bhagavata literally, and views the entire sacred literature as part of Vedanta.
Alur notes that Madhwacharya maintains the doctrine of three-fold interpretation of Veda in the Bhashya. The Supreme Being or Vishnu is its highest subject matter. All scriptures, including the Rg Veda, primarily sings the glory of the Supreme being. Madhwacharya thus discounts the popular notion that the Vedas sing the praises of plurality of gods.
All the gods for Madhwacharya are subordinate to Vishnu. Thus, the Bhashya for Alur provides details of the mystic line of interpretation of Madhwacharya.
Interestingly, Madwacharya’s stand on the Rg Veda has been vindicated by modern scholars. The scholar-mystic Sri Aurobindo, in his “The Secret of the Veda” completely agrees with Madhwacharya that vedic hymns are clothed in symbolic terminology.