Archive | October 18, 2013

He outsang Tansen’s disciple

He sang in ragas that lit the lamps and also brought in heavy rains.  An expert musician, he easily defeated a disciple of Tansen.

He had been challenged to a bout of Hindustani music by a well-known disciple of Tansen. He accepted this challenge and also the challenge to light by music five pairs of unlit lamps placed in an hall at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.

He not only lit the maps by singing Raaga Deepak but also ensured heavy rains by singing Megh Malhar. Similarly, he proved his talent in sixty three other fields of art called Kala in Sanskrit. 

He once effortlessly walked over a plantain fibre tied across the towers of the KumbeswararTemple and the Sarangapani temple, both in Kumbakonam. This was done to prove his sense of balance and his expertise as a gymnast.

Of course, as he was a Sanyasi, he had in one of his hand a Kamandala and an umbrella in the other. This showed his expertise  in Laghima siddi or the ability to have no weight. The ability to make one’s body lighter than air and fly at will is called Lagima. Mastery over this siddhi enables one to travel on the sun’s rays and enter into the Sun planet.

Since he was sure of his mastery over the 64 arts, he openly challenged people to take him on in any of the arts. Many people did and all of the failed to better him. Whether it was a debate on philosophy or a show of magic, he was unbeatable.

Once an astrologer challenged him to a bout of  prophecy. The challenge was accepted. Both the astrologer and the Sanyasi wrote out their prophecies for the next day and put it in  sealed cover.

When the covers were opened the next day, the astrologer had forecast that the seer would be felicitated by the King of Thamjavur. This proved to be true as the King, who had heard of the unique challenge, had come to Kumbakonam to witness the challenge and he had felicitated the Sanyasi with Ratna Abhishekha.

When the envelope of the Sanyasi was opened, he had foretold that as soon as the envelope would be opened, a messenger would come and tell the astrologer that a son was born to him. Even as this prophecy was being read out, a messenger came to the venue and told the astrologer that a son had been born to him.

The astrologer appeared dumbfounded and acknowledging the superiority of the Sanyasi in the art of astrology, he gracefully accepted defeat and left for home.     

The Sanyasi strode over south India as a colossus for well over six decades. He was universally acknowledged as a person without equal and was given the title “Ajaya”.

The Madhwa Sri Matha that he headed came to be called after him for almost a century. The name remained till Raghavendra Swamy came and occupied the peeta. Even today, the matha is still popular by his name.  This man or Sanyasi is none other than Vijendra Theertha, the paramaguru of Raghavendra Swamy and the guru of  Sudhindra Theertha.

The matha that he ruled from Kumbakonam even today is better known as Vijendra Theertha matha. It was at this matha that Raghavendra Swamy had his education and initiation into sanyas though the formal initiation ceremony took place at Thanjavur.

Vijendra Theertha (1517-1614), the disciple of Vyasa Raja (1437-1539) set such high standards that even today he is fondly remembered as the person who saved Madhwa parampare from the onslaught of other forms of  philosophy.

Kumbakonam was a fairly well-entrenched centre of Shaivite philosophy but Vijendra Theertha defeated several renowned pandits and established Madhwa parampare on a firm footing. His defeat of Linga Rajendra and Appaiah Dixit, both Adwaitah scholars of great repute, centuries ago, is still spoken about with awe and astonishment.

He defeated a renowned magician in the field of magic. A master conversationalist, he could easily take on any expert in any field and score facile wins over them. A master sculptor, he crafted several idols of  Gods and his favourite was Lord Krishna. He gifted several such idols to devotees.    

He has to his credit more than one hundred works covering a variety of topics. He was thus the master of all he surveyed and he is truly a genius who unfortunately has so far not been given his due.