Sri Jayatîrtha is one of stalwarts of Tattvavâda, and is a very senior scholar of the Mâdhva hierarchy, being next only to Srimad Ananda Tîrtha, Sri Vâdirâja Tîrtha, and Sri Padmanâbha Tîrtha. He is responsible for several commentaries upon Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's works, which are all written in a remarkable style that is unfailingly precise, appropos, and eloquent. Not for him the off-topic digressions, dogmatic and malappropos assertions, axe-grinding, and superfluous literary ornamentation, that are so favored by many lesser talents. Unlike them, he never strays from the straight-and-narrow path of logical presentation -- he never uses two words where one would suffice, nor does he use a word when another might be better suited; he is a model of humility, and does not have any agenda except the service of his master. Perhaps as important to his overall worth, he never introduces spurious new material that does not inhere in the works that he exposits. His definitions of complicated Sanskrit terms are a truly outstanding feature of his scholarship -- one is not only instantly made aware of the correct meaning of the term being used and its relationship to the matter being discussed, but one is also given an angelic whiff of the intellectual ambrosia of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's works. The definitions are rare delicacies, to be savored at great length, and to be valued as literary gems that are known only to a favored few. It is very hard indeed for one who has had a proper exposure to Sri Jayatîrtha's erudition, to settle for, or even to tolerate, the drivel of anyone less.
His clear expositions of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's masterpieces, coming as they do through his very scholarly writing, contributed in no small measure to giving Tattvavâda its place in modern Vedanta. Through his works, he has firmly established himself as one of the all-time front-runners of philosophical Sanskrit literature, and as a most important disciple of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha. As Dr. B.N.K. Sharma puts it, "He is to Madhva even more than what Vacaspati Misra is to Sankara."
It is said that in a previous birth, Sri Jayatîrtha was a bull that served as a pack-animal, and traveled with Srimad Ananda Tîrtha and his devotees, whose library it carried. When Srimad Ananda Tîrtha would give a lecture, the bull would stand at a distance and listen silently. Once, when some disciples approached Srimad Ananda Tîrtha and asked him which of them would be the one to write commentaries on his works, he told those importunates that it would be the bull that would do so, rather than one of them. At this, some jealous disciples laid a curse on the bull, that it would be bitten to death by a snake, but Srimad Ananda Tîrtha changed the wording of the curse slightly, so that the snake bit the bull and itself died immediately, leaving its victim unharmed.
Sri Jayatîrtha's biographies include Anu-Jayatîrtha-Vijaya and Brhad-Jayatîrtha-Vijaya. He spent much of his physical life in Mangalvedhe, which is about 12 miles south-east of Pandharpur (in modern Maharashtra, and home of Lord Vitthala). He was born in the family of a Brahmin king, and was heir to the throne. He was very handsome, healthy, intelligent, endowed with physical vigor, and given to outdoor activity. Once, while the young Dhond Pant Raghunath (his name during pûrva-âshrama) was horse-riding, he bent down and quenched his thirst from a river without dismounting or even stopping his horse. He was seen doing so by Sri Akshobhya Tîrtha, one of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's direct disciples, who asked him: "kim pashuH pûrva-dehe?" ("Were you an animal in a previous life?"; literally: "Did you have an animal's body previously?").
At this, the memory of his past life in service of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha flashed in an instant in the mind of the young Dhond Pant, and he was immediately seized of the irresistible urge to give up material living in favor of the higher realm of service to Sriman-NârâyaNa. He was given sanyâsa-dîkshâ by Sri Akshobhya Tîrtha very shortly thereafter, and gave up his kingdom and all its promises of material joys, over the objections of his parents.
Among the works of Sri Jayatîrtha, the best-known is the Nyâya-Sudhâ, which is a commentary on the Anu Vyâkhyâna of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha (which is itself a commentary on Veda Vyâsa's Brahma Sûtra). In it, Sri Jayatîrtha refutes various schools' criticisms of the Anu Vyâkhyâna's precepts, clearly defines terms that Srimad Ananda Tîrtha uses, and, in his inimitably exquisite style of usage, shows the logical progression of ideas inherent in the Anu Vyâkhyâna's presentation. His ability, as seen in the 'Sudhâ and elsewhere, to anticipate all of one's objections, and to state them much better than one could oneself, before laying them to rest, is a mark of his proficiency in scripture and eloquence in Sanskrit. It is impossible to think up an objection to Srimad Ananda Tîrtha that he has not thought of before, and one can look forward to a most pleasing sensation of satisfaction at receiving the answer, which is always given with no side-stepping or condescension. A saying that tries to capture the delectable treat that the Nyâya-Sudhâ is, goes as: "sudhâ vâ paThanîyâ, vasudhâ vâ pâlanîyâ," which conveys the meaning that the joy of studying the Nyâya-Sudhâ can only be compared to the joy of ruling a kingdom.
Sri Jayatîrtha's VâdâvaLî, which is an original work, refutes the theory of illusion, and counts as the earliest major Mâdhva polemical text after those authored by Srimad Ananda Tîrtha himself; it also is a precursor to the Nyâyamrta and Tarka-tânDava of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha, and other later works.
Sri Jayatîrtha's Brndâvana is at Malkheda, in the north of modern Karnataka state, from where he continues to bless devotees who, in spite of their own lack of any significant ability, wish to understand Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's writings correctly.
(This piece is the result of joint work, being partly due to Narahari S. Pujar, with some additions and editing by Shrisha Rao and Ramachandra Budihal).
References: "History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and its Literature", Dr. B. N. K. Sharma, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1981, 2000.
Created June 15, 1995; last updated August 16, 2000.