Saint-philosopher of the Dvaita school

CHENNAI, JULY 21. The different schools of Vedanta were consolidated by a succession of preceptors over centuries. The dialectics between the proponents of opposing philosophical standpoints gave rise to copious literature on the subject which were in the nature of both commentaries and original works.

The Dvaita Vedanta tradition established by Madhwacharya has been graced by such a succession of saint-philosophers and Jayatirtha among them has come to be hailed as the ``Tikacharya'' as he was a prolific commentator on Madhwa's works. His works number 18, his magnum opus being the Nyaya Sudha. Jayatirtha's birth and mission were ordained by God and according to traditional accounts he took birth as a bull during Madhwa's advent.

The bull used to listen during the classes along with the other disciples of Madhwa and was saved by the saint by asking it to chant the Dvadasa Stotra when his disciples tried to kill it by setting a snake on it out of jealousy. It was this bull which was reborn as Jayatirtha in its next birth to comment on the Acharya's works as it had the privilege of learning them from him directly.

An interesting anecdote is related about how Jayatirtha's predecessor Akshobya Tirtha, one of Madhwa's disciples, identified him as predicted in his dream by the manner he drank water directly from the river Bhima.

In his discourse, Sri Koulagi Nagaraja Sarma said that Jayatirtha was born in a royal family at Mangalvadi, a village near Pandharpur, in early 14th century. After being spotted by Akshobya Tirtha and ordained as his successor Jayatirtha remembered his earlier birth and his mission. He undertook to write exhaustive and elaborate commentaries on Madhwa's works which are cryptic in nature to elucidate them. Thus he is remembered and revered as the expounder of Madhwa's philosophy in the school.

He earned the respect of not only his followers but also that of the scholars of other schools because he did not extend his polemics to the personal level. His scintillating interpretation of the nature of the Supreme Being in his commentary on the opening aphorism of the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Madhwa showing its concordance to the description in the Bhagavata Purana is based on the logic that there cannot be any difference between these texts as they were both written by Veda Vyasa.

Jayateertha's Brindavan was built by his disciple Vidhyadhi Raja at Malkhed near Gulbarga. Its spiritual vibrations continue to attract many spiritual aspirants to this day.