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Around the Car Street

From the Bus Station to Krishna's shrine

The No. 17 National Highway passes through Udupi, about a kilometre West of the Krishna temple. The bus stand is situated about two furlongs to the West of the temple.

Three roads lead to the Car Street - Tenkupet on the South, Badagupet on the North and the Kanaka Daasa Road (formerly known as Padupet) on the West. One can walk down from any side. They are all one-way approach roads. Motor vehicles can only enter along certain roads and certain other roads are for exit only.

For those who come to Udupi by bus, the most direct route to Sri Krishna Mutt is down the Kanaka Daasa Road. This road passes by the Sanskrit College.

There are two main lanes. One, Sode Mutt lane, is moderately broad -- enough for small vehicles to travel along. The other, in the South-West corner of the Car Street, is known as Admar Mutt lane. This is too narrow for vehicles to use.

The Car Street is constructed of concrete and is well lit of a night. It goes around the Ananteshwara and Chandramaulishvara temples. Around the outside of the Car Street are the eight Mutts, shops, Post Office, and Sri Krishna Mutt.

How the ashhTa-maTha-s came to be

Among the disciples of Sri Madhva, eight stayed at Udupi to take up the responsibility of worshipping the icon of Lord Krishna as well as the propagation of the tenets of Madhva's philosophy. In the beginning all these eight piiThaadhipati-s used to stay together in Sri Krishna Mutt. They used to share the priestly duties according to their convenience by mutual consultation. Then the tradition of each one of them to be in charge of the temple for two months began.

This system continued up to the period of Sri Vâdirâja, who changed it to a two year term. At the same time eight MaTha-s known as Udupi ashhTa-maTha-s came to be constructed around the Car Street.

Evidence for this is found in the biography of Sri Vâdirâja:

    maasadvitayaa paryaayau puujaaM madhva prakalpitaam.h  | 
    varshadvitayaa paryantam kalpayaamaasa sammatiH  ||

    kalpayaamaasa saJNchaare saukaryaM yatinaa tataH  | 
    tathaa pratyekamashTaanaaM yatiinaaM nirmame maTham  ||

    tataH prabhR^iti shrii kR^ishhNa paryaayamahaasambhramaH  |
    atyanta kautukotsaaha hetuH samyag.h vijR^imbhate  ||

Va. Gu. Cha. 4.49-51

Sri Madhva had made the paryaaya of two months and then Sri Vâdirâja changed it to a two-year term. This allowed the Swamijis to undertake long tours and pilgrimages. Sri Vâdirâja also constructed eight Mutts, one for each of the Swamijis. From that time the paryaaya ceremony began to be arranged on a grand scale.

Once when Sri Madhva was camping in KaNva Tîrtha for chaaturmaasya he grouped the eight Swamijis into four groups of two each (called joDi for "dual" or "pair" maTha-s). The reason for this pairing is so that if some difficulty, or illness, arises for the paryaaya Swamiji, then the joDi maTha's head can help with the worship in Sri Krishna MaTha.

A platform around the fig tree where the Acharya proclaimed this system is still to be seen at KaNva Tîrtha.

A work by the name 'Sampradaaya Paddhati' narrates the origin of this dual system as follows:

  teshaaM mantropadesha vrataniyama suraarchaadike sampradaayam.h   |
  yugme prabhinnaM kuruta iti hR^ishikesha tiirthaadikeshu        ||

The Acharya summoned the pairs one at a time and initiated them to different mantras, rituals and puujas. Hrshiikesha Tîrtha and other Swamijis were thus asked to work in pairs of two each and follow the traditions that were attached to each pair.

The eight MaTha-s and their founding heads

The names of the eight MaTha-s, with the first piiThaadhipati of each shown, and arranged into pairs is as follows:
  Sri Hrshiikesha Tîrtha         Palimar Mutt      First 
  Sri Narasimha Tîrtha           Admar Mutt        pair

  Sri Janaardana Tîrtha          Krishnapur Mutt   Second 
  Sri Upendra Tîrtha             Puttige Mutt      pair

  Sri Vaamana Tîrtha             Shirur Mutt       Third
  Sri Vishnu Tîrtha              Sode Mutt         pair

  Sri Raama Tîrtha               Kaniyur Mutt      Fourth
  Sri Adhokshaja Tîrtha          Pejawar Mutt      pair

(NOTE: The original piiThaadhipati of Sri Admar Mutt was Sri Narahari Tîrtha, as per the reference obtained in NaarayaNa Panditacharya's Bhaava Prakashika commentary on the Sumadhva Vijaya `narasimha padaadhaaraaH narahari tiirthaaH').

It would appear that Sri Madhva must have initiated them in the same order. The paryaaya takes place in this same order and each cycle begins with Sri Palimar MaTha and ends with Sri Pejawar MaTha.

The MaTha-s were constructed around the Car Street during the period of Sri Vâdirâja but they are not in the order mentioned above. To find these MaTha-s in their proper order we must start by looking out of the entrance to Sri Krishna Mutt towards the Chandramaulishvara Temple and then turn to our left.

Kaniyur MaTha

When we come out of Sri Krishna Mutt and start going around the Car Street towards the East we pass beside the Madhva sarovara and come across the Kaniyur MaTha. It derived its name from the village of Kaniyur where we can find the main branch of this Mutt.

The original piiThaadhipati of this Mutt was Sri Raama Tîrtha. Sri Madhva bestowed on him the icon of Yoga Narasimha to worship. This icon has four hands and is seated on a swastika symbol. In His two hands, He holds the shankha and chakra and his other two hands are held in his lap. The present piiThaadhipati of Kaniyur Mutt is HH Sri Vidya Varinidhi Tîrtha and he is the 29th pontiff in this line. He was initiated when he was eleven years old in the year 1942, during vaishaakha bahula shashThi of Chitrabhaanu samvatsara.

Sode MaTha

This is located in the South-East corner of the Car Street on the corner of Vâdirâja Marg. Before the time of Sri Vâdirâja Tîrtha, the main village branch of this MaTha was in Kumbhasi village where it was known as Kumbhasi MaTha. Arasappa Naayaka of Sode, a devotee of Sri Vâdirâja Swamiji, served him by presenting to him a gift of land at Sode. Sri Vâdirâja Tîrtha constructed a big Mutt there and redesignated his Mutt as Sode Mutt. The main branches of all seven MaTha-s are in the villages of South Kanara, but that of Sode alone is in the North Kanara District. (More information about the environs of the MaTha at Sode, etc., is available here.

The original piiThaadhipati of this MaTha was Sri Vishnu Tîrtha. He worshipped the icon of Bhuuvaraaha, which was presented to him by Sri Madhva. The icon is known for its remarkable iconography with Bhuudevi on one thigh and the other leg supported on the hood of a serpent. Along with Bhuvaraha the icon of Hayagriiva, the form of Lord Vishnu personally worshipped by Sri Vâdirâja Tîrtha, is also worshipped. Sri Hayagriiva is the presiding deity of knowledge and accordingly the icon has in hand the mudra of knowledge, book, rosary and conch. The 35th pontiff in the lineage, HH Vishvottama Tîrtha Swamiji, is the present head of the Mutt. He was initiated into the order at the age of 9 in the year 1943, during bhaadrapada shuddha caturthi in the samvatsara svabhaaun.

Puttige MaTha

Next to Sode MaTha in the southern portion of the Car Street is Puttige Mutt. The main branche of this Mutt is in the village named Puttige. The first piiThaadhipati of this Mutt was Sri Upendra Tîrtha Swamiji. He was presented with the icon of ViTThala with RukmiNii and Satyabhaama by Sri Madhva. The icon has a smiling face with conch in one hand. The other hand with abhaya mudra is placed on the waist. Since another two MaTha-s also have the icon of ViTThala, the icon of Puttige Mutt is known as Upendra Vithala. The 29th Swamiji in the lineage is HH Sri Sugunendra Tîrtha Swamiji. He was initiated into the order at the age of 13 on the 8th April, 1974.

Between Puttige MaTha and Admar MaTha there are the Post Office, a restaurant, and several shops. V.T. Marg leads off from the Car Street and goes off through Tenkapet.

Admar MaTha

Admar Mutt is located in the South West corner of the Car Street. The main branch of this MaTha is in the village known as Admar.

Sri Madhva presented the icon of KaaLiyamardana Krishna with four arms to Sri Narasimha (Narahari) Tîrtha, the original Swamiji of this MaTha. The icon depicts Lord Krishna with one leg on the serpent and with the other leg lifted up in a dancing pose. One hand is bent in a dancing pose and the other is holding the tail of the serpent. The other two hands hold the conch and the chakra.

The present piiThaadhipati is HH Sri Vibudhesha Tîrtha, the 29th pontiff in the lineage. He was initiated into the order in his 18th year in 1945 AD, paarthiva samvatsara jyeshhTha bahuLa trtiiyaa). The Swamiji initiated his disciple Sri Vishvapriya Tîrtha as his successor. He was initiated into the order in the age of 15 on 2nd June 1972.

Pejavar MaTha

There is a narrow lane separating Admar Mutt on the south side of the Car Street and Pejavar MaTha on the western side. The main branch of this MaTha is in the village named Pejavar.

The icon worshipped here is that of Vithala with Sri Devi and Bhuu Devi. They were presented to the founder piiThaadhipati Sri Adhokshaja Tîrtha by Sri Madhva. This icon, with one hand placed on the hip, is known as Aja Vithala to distinguish it from the other icons of Vithala. Along with Aja Vithala, the icon of Sri Rama of KanvaTîrtha is also worshipped. This is the icon worshipped by Sri Vijayadhvaja Tîrtha.

Sri Vishvesha Tîrtha, the 33rd piiThaadhipati in the leneage, is the present Swamiji. He was initiated in his 8th year in 1938. (Bahudhaanya samvatsara maargashiirshha shuddha dashami.)

Between the Pejavar MaTha and the Palimar MaTha there are shops and the Uttaradi MaTha.

Palimar MaTha

Beyond Sri Pejawar MaTha in the western Car Street there is Palimar MaTha by the side of the Kanakadasa Road. The Chief branch of this Mutt is in the Palimar village.

The icon of Kodanda Rama with Lakshmana and Sita, presented by Sri Madhva to the first piiThaadhipati, Sri Hrshikesha Tîrtha, is worshipped here. The icons of Rama and Lakshmana have bows and arrows in their hands whereas that of Sita has a lotus in her hand. In 1969 the then piiThaadhipati of Palimar Mutt gave up his position. The 29th Swamiji in the lineage, Sri Vidyâmânya Tîrtha, was the next piiThaadhipati until his passing on May 13th, 2000 CE. He accepted the position and continued to be in charge of his own Bhandarkeri Mutt as well. He initiated two junior Swamijis, one for each of the Mutts under his charge. The Swamiji of Palimar MaTha, Sri Vidyadhisha Tîrtha was initiated at the age of 24 years in the year 1979. (Siddhaarthi samvatsara jyeshhTha shuddha navami).

Between Palimar MaTha and Krishnapur Mutt is Kanakadas Road, which leads up to the bus stand, shops and Sri Raghavendra Swami MaTha.

Krishnapur MaTha

The Krishnapur Mutt is located in the northern side of the Car Street. The main branch of this MaTha is in the village Krishnapura.

The icon of Kaliyamardana Krishna was presented to Sri Janaardana Tîrtha by Sri Madhva. The icon is in the attractive pose of Krishna as a child with one leg on the serpent Kaliya and the other leg lifted up. He is holding the tail of the serpent in his left hand. His right hand is in the mudra of abhaya to those who are afraid of the poison. At the request of Sri Janaardana Tîrtha, Sri Madhva had given him another icon. It is of Ugra Narasimha who is in the pose of holding HiraNyakashipu on his lap and tearing away at his intestines with two hands. The remaining six hands hold various weapons. At the foot of this eight handed ferocious Narasimha is the tiny Prahlada standing with folded hands. The 35th piiThaadhipati in the lineage is Sri Vidyasaagara Tîrtha. He was initiated in May 1970.

Between Sri Krishnaput Mutt and Shirur MaTha is K.T. Marg which leads down through Badagupet.

Shirur MaTha

The Shirur Mutt is located next to Sri Krishna Mutt and is opposite the Kanaka shrine. The main branch of this MaTha is in the village Shirur.

The icon worshipped here, ViTThala with Sri Devi and Bhuudevi, was presented to the first piiThaadhipati, Sri Vamana Tîrtha, by Sri Madhva. To distinguish this icon of Vithala from the other icons of Vithala, it has been given the name Vamana Vithala.

The 30th piiThaadhipati in the lineage, Sri Lakshmivara Tirtha, is the present chief of this MaTha. He was initiated at the age of 8 years in June 1971.

Other MaTha-s

There are five Mutts of the Swamijis other than those who are authorized to worship in Krishna MaTha. In between the Puttige Mutt and the Tenkupet there is Bhandarakeri Mutt. Adjacent to Tenkupet in the Western side is Vyaasaraaya MaTha. Next to that is located BhimanakaTTe MaTha. In between the Pejawar Mutt and the Palimar Mutt we can see the Uttaradi Mutt. The Raghavendra Swami MaTha is located in the North-West corner in between the Kanakadasa Road and the Krishnapur MaTha.

Among these, the Bhandarakeri Mutt and the Bhimanakatte MaTha are all Taulava Mutts. The other three are Deshastha MaTha-s. The BhimanakaTTe Mutt is of comparatively recent origin.

There is famous Vrindavana of Sri Raghavendra in the Raghavendra Swami MaTha established in 1926 by Sri Sushilendra Tîrtha Swamiji. This Mutt attracts a large number of devotees.

This section is due to Raymond Crawford. Much of the material comes from a book published for the 1984 paryaaya of H.H. Sri Vishwesha Tîrtha Swamiji, by Bannanje Govindacharya, U.P. Upadhyaya, and Muralidhar Upadhyaya.

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Created April 29, 1996; last updated August 10, 2001.