Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha -- a short sketch
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Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha -- a short sketch

Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was a `sarva-tantra-swatantra', a master of the sixty-four arts, a winsome and magnetic personality, and the author of over a hundred works (104 are attributed to him). In the eyes of his contemporaries, Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was verily an incarnation of Srimad Acharya come to reinforce his own siddhanta against contemporary opposition. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha established his headquarters in Kumbakonam which belonged to the Nayak dynasty. Tanjavur and Kumbakonam were a replica of the Vijayanagara kingdom, in the cultivation of the art of dance, music, literature, Vedic studies and Darshana-s (philosophical doctrines). It was the age of Venkatamukhi, the authority on Karnatic Music, of Govinda Dikshita, the accomplished minister of the Nayakas, of Appayya Dikshita, the uncrowned monarch of Shaiva Advaita, and of Tatacharya the sun of VisishhTâdvaita. It was in this climate of culture and plenitude that Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha found congenial soil for his labour of love in the cause of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's Sadvaishnava siddhanta. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha saved Madhva siddhanta from a very real and serious threat of extinction in South India, during the 16th century. Hence the followers of Madhva siddhanta should always remain grateful to the memory of Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha's illustrious personality. When the redoubtable Appayya Dikshita and Tatacharya drew Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha into philosophical controversies by their adverse criticisms of Srimad Acharya's works, Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha took them on single-handedly and successfully dispelled their criticisms.

Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was not a bigoted sectarian. He was the very essence and embodiment of catholicity of outlook. This is shown by his generous patronage to scholars of different persuasions, and the uniformly friendly relations he maintained throughout his life with his greatest adversary in thought. Kumbakonam is the city of temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in equal strength and prestige. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha, was, by common consent in charge of all the religious institutions there.

Birth of Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha

Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was born by the great blessings of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha. It so happened that Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha had come to a small village where Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha's parents resided. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha's parents were very old at the time when Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha came to their village. Nevertheless they served Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha with devotion. Pleased by their devotion and service, Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha blessed the old couple that a charming son would be born to them. The old couple had no children , and they lamented,"How can we have children at this old age? We are very unlucky and we do not have the puNya (good deeds) to have children in this lifetime." Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha said, "Lord Sri Moola Gopala Krishna has made me utter these words , and it is His sole responsibility to make it come true." Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha also told them that they were going to have two sons and they should give one of them to him. The old couple were very happy and promised Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha that they would act accordingly by dedicating one of their sons to the service of the Lord.

A couple of years passed and Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha arrived at the same village where Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha's parents lived. Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha was given a grand reception by the old couple and they took the saint to their home. The old couple had been blessed with two children whom they had named 'VittalaCharya' and 'Guru Prasada" and they told Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha that his words had come true and that they were ready to fulfill their promise to him. Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha picked the older child 'VittalaCharya' and told his parents not to worry about him and that Lord Krishna would be very pleased by this donation. From that day, 'VittalaCharya' became the beloved child of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha. Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha performed 'Choula' and 'Upanayana' to VittalaCharya started teaching him the Vedanta shâstra-s, tarka, mîmâmsa, etc. After seeing the latter's devotion and vairagya (being totally uninterested in worldly things and totally getting involved in serving the Lord), Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha offered the sacred sanyâsâshrama to VittalaCharya at a very young age and named him as Sri Vishnu Tîrtha. Sri Vishnu Tîrtha under the guidence of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha became the master of the four-and-sixty traditional arts, and a great scholar.

Sri Vishnu Tîrtha becomes Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha

Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was the most loved disciple of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha. On one ekâdashî day, Sri Surendra Tîrtha along with his students came to visit Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha. Sri Surendra Tîrtha is a saint from the famous Sri Vibhudhendra Matha and the main Deity (paTTa devaru) of that institution is Sri Moola Râma. On the next day, dvâdashî, both saints, Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha and Sri Surendra Tîrtha, performed worship of Sri Moola Gopala Krishna and Sri Moola Râma. The main purpose of Sri Surendra Tîrtha's visit was to get Sri Vishnu Tîrtha and make him his successor. Sri Surendra Tîrtha asked Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha to give Sri Vishnu Tîrtha as a gift. Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha agreed to the request of Sri Surendra Tîrtha. Sri Surendra Tîrtha was extremely happy to get Sri Vishnu Tîrtha as his disciple and made him sit on the throne of Srimad Acharya succeeded previously by Sri Vibudhendra Tîrtha. Sri Surendra Tîrtha renamed Sri Vishnu Tîrtha as Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha and made him the emperor of the Vedanta empire. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha received the keys to the box which had the idol of Sri Moola Râma and Sri Vyâsa peetha which were worshipped by Srimad Achârya from Sri Surendra Tîrtha .Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha also recieved various compositions that were composed by Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha and respectful gifts from the Vijayanagara king , Krishnadevaraya. It is said that Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha is an incarnation of Sri Vibhudendra Tîrtha who was the `vidyA-guru' of Sri Sripâda Raja. This is explained in Sri Vijayîndra Vijaya (Glory of Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha) as shown below.

    vibudhendra yatirdhImAna dhyajAto punarbhuvi  |
    sevArthaM rAmachandrasya sa mayA paripAlitaH  ||
    keshAdishu haMseshhu yo vishhNuriti vishrutaH  |
    sa eva vibudhendrashcha sa mayA yatirUpadR^ik.h  ||
Soon after the swearing in ceremony celebrations, Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha had to debate against a great pundit named Sri Krishna Sharma. Sri Krishna Sharma was an undisputed pundit who had a notion that no one could defeat him. After seeing the glory of Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha, Sri Krishna Sharma challenged Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha to argue with him. Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha got permission from his `vidyâ-guru' Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha to take on the challenger, and explained how the Shruti 'tattvamasi' always supports the `bheda' (difference) between Lord Vishnu and all the `jîva'-s using the proof shown in the shâstra-s. After a very long argument, Sri Krishna Sharma became speechless and came to the conclusion that Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha was indeed a great scholar. Sri Krishna Sharma accepted defeat, bowed to Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha , and said that he had won against many pundits before but had always had a desire to win against Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha . Sri Krishna Sharma continued to say that since it had been impossible for him to win against the disciple (Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha) of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha, he dare not even dream a victory against Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha. Although, Sri Krishna Sharma lost against Sri Vijayîndra Tîrtha, Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha praised the latter's talent and gave him many gifts and compliments. This shows Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha's appreciation of the pundit's knowledge .

This section is due to Bala Krishna, with corrections by R. Parimala.

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