Sri Madhvacharya: Chief proponent of Tattvavāda

January 25, 2007

Picture: Amar Chitra Katha 

Vani Rao continues her commentary about Sri Madhvacharya and narrates how he came to possess the vigraha of Lord Krishna.

Religious establishments
The main icon (vigraha) in Udupi of Lord Krishna was established by Madhvacharya.

Madhvacharya instituted the eight monasteries in Udupi to take care of the daily worship of Lord Krishna he established there.

There is an interesting story about how Madhvacharya came to possess the vigraha of Lord Krishna.

It is said that he was once meditating on the seashore near Udupi, when he saw that a sudden storm in the sea was almost crashing a ship to bits. He lifted his “Angavastra” and guided the ship to safety. The merchants travelling in the ship wanted to offer wealth to Madhvacharya for saving their lives, he instead asked for a lump of “Gopi Chandana”, a type of mud block, light yellow in colour, which they were using as ballast. The merchants gave what he asked for and proceeded on their way.

Madhvacharya brought it to Udupi and washed it in the tank, and lo and behold! Inside the mud block was the idol of Lord Krishna. Madhvacharya immediately constructed a temple for the idol and established the system of daily worship. Gopi Chandana became holy for the followers of Dwaita philosophy, and since then is being used to apply the ‘Dwadasha Mudras’ on the body of all men.

The 8 monasteries (Ashta Mathas) of Udupi have been following his philosophy since then.

The eight monasteries (Ashta Mathas) are Krishnapura, Pejavara, Putthige, Sode(Sondhe), Kaniyoor (Kaneyur), Adamaru, Shirur and Palimaru.

The peculiarity of the Ashta Mathas is that the management of these Mathas is by turn (Paryaya) and each Swami or Pontiff has to manage administration for two years. Perhaps the great preceptor evolved his own democratic way of managing complete hegemony over a religious establishment.

In earlier days, the administration of the Mathas in Udupi used to change hands every two months. Later on it was found that the system was not viable and hence it was decided to give a period of two years before the baton of administration was passed on to the next one.

(To be contd.)

Part One: Sri Madhvacharya: Incarnation of Mukhya Praana 
Part Three: Today is Madhva Navami


15 Responses to “Sri Madhvacharya: Chief proponent of Tattvavāda”

  1. […] Sri Madhvacharya: Chief proponent of Tattvavāda […]

  2. usha Says:

    I have always wondered the compsoition of gopi chandana, dwadasha mudras and their application areas, vani can u provide me some details about this please.

    keep it going, good one 🙂

  3. praneshachar Says:

    a very good effort vani keep it up very happy with the contents
    one small corrction or information
    the management administration and puja of Sri Krishna Temple at Udipi in by rotation called “paryaya” and during these two years the pontif of these maths will be doing krishan puja and will stay in udipi and not move out
    the management of maths will be by themselves others will have no involvement in others activities.

  4. shashi Says:

    Just wondered while we are talking of these Chandamama stories wheteher anyone can shed light on what madhwacharya might have meant by this :While commenting on the nature ( swaroopa) of the soul (aatma0 he says there are three types of souls-
    (1) Mukti Yogyas-destined to attain Moksha
    (2) Nitya–samsarins Those that eternally dangle between death and birth called
    (3) tamo-yogyasa destined to eternal hell. There is no hope for them.
    (Ref The Concept of God in Madhwa’s Vedanta’. Hiriyanna Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume 1972 P.170)

    Will anyone plz explain- any relevance to the varna system at all?

  5. Vijay Says:

    RK: Your posts have ALWAYS been very informative and this write up on Sri Madhvacharya is no different. Thanks Vani for sharing this information.

    I think this is one of your best posts by far.

  6. travel plaza Says:

    RK, great informative post. I have missed blogging for the past few(many) weeks. But I am back now and hope to stay….Vani, great write up, thanks.

    Dude, your blog is refusing to let me comment again:(BTW, check out my latest post..yes, it is finally up!!!

  7. Vani Says:


    Thanks for the encouragement.


    Sorry, I have just some idea about this. Guess your queries will be answered satisfactorily by Dr Vyasanakere Prabhanjanacharya or Sri Bannanje Govindacharya in Bangalore if you are here.

    I will try to find out this information for you.

  8. nilagriva Says:

    I have had doubts on the same questions. I don’t know if any answer to that question will be completely satisfying for a non-mAdhva.

    You can raise this question on the Dvaita list – – the best web resource for dvaita-vedAnta. There are quite a few people well versed in dvaita-vedAnta in the mailing list hosted there.

    Best regards,

  9. Vani Says:


    As Nilagriva points out, the best resource is Dwaita.Org.

    One more issue I would like to comment on is that if these questions are of a purely academic interest, I would be very glad to go out of the way to answer them.

    However, If you are trying to rake up a Dwaita-Adwaita or any sort of caste debate, then I would like to clarify that this platform is not meant for that.

    I am not trying to convince anyone that my beliefs are superior. Relegion is a personal issue, let us leave it at that.

  10. praneshachar Says:

    well said vani
    yes it is to understand the basis on which these philosophy is
    founded. we must respect all religions and thier subsects as each one has faith in them over the years generations after generations.
    ultimately every religion says there is one force above all of us which is identified by all in different ways

    vani appreciate your concern regarding not making this forum a platform for debate on who is great or big

  11. hebbar Says:

    Really I wonder why the Pontiff of ashtamata of udipi fails to understand the current trend? Is it possible to follow the method adopted by Sri Madhwacarya which prevails at that time? Are the Pontiff travel by foot or pallakki?
    Today, the whole world is like a small tennis ball, one can travel the whole world with in few days.
    Can any one through light in this regard to the Pontiffs?

  12. Bhuvanendra Says:

    Readers may please note that the very birth of Acharya Madhwa is purely based on the directive of SriHari(Vishnu-the Supreme of Devatas) to clarify in kaliyuga on the Hari Tatva and the relation ship between the Jeeva and Paramatma.As ordained by Hari -Vaayu incarnated as Madhwa and preached the philosophy in tune with Hari’s sankalpa only.Every concept in the 37 Moola granthas written by Sri Acharya is based on pramana(proof) as enunciated in Shastras which in turn are approved by Sri Hari.Mukhya prana never says anything that is against the Lord’s sankalpa.In other words he executes Lord’s directives.He is Lord’s right hand in divine projects.
    ‘Hariyana matave Hanumana matavu, Hanumana matave Hariya matavu’.

    Madhwa matave matavu,sakala sruti sammatavu, Madhwa rayara dhyana Amruta paana’

    To cite an example, during ‘Draupadi vastrapaharana’ Bheema could have annihilated all the culprits single handed on the spot but it was not in the Hari’s sankalpa.Hari’s sankalpa was that they should serve the Aranya vasa for 12+1 years and to kill kauravas during war only. In between many asuras like kimmeera,Hidimbasura,Bakasura,Jarasandha,keechaka are due to be killed by bheema during vanavasa.This being God’s plan how does the story end abruptly?-It does not.The readers may please understand how Hari’s sankalpa worked.

    Among all pandavas Bheema alone(not other four) is aware of Hari’s Sankalpa at all times as he is one of the ‘Parasukla trayas’.In kaliyuga among all acharyas Madhwa alone explained with crystalline clarity the subtle dharma sukshmas beyond any doubt.One should atleast listen to the gist of sarvamoola granthas to understand srimadacharya’s concept on vedanta and puranas. Just a discussion across internet does not suffice the requirement.Acharya’s philosophy is very clear and serious beyond the scope of non-scholarly ones.
    If readers are keen to know more either contact thru or while in India see personally the Kulapatis at Satyaddyaana vidya peetha,(Mulund)Bombay or Poornaprajna vidyapeetha,Bangalore vidyapeethas.As vani has rightly directed you to Dr.Vyasanakere or sri Bannanje Govindacharya are competent enough to clarify all your doubts on these matters.
    Madhwa’s philosophy is universal and based on understanding. Every one has right to understand and follow.
    During his life time Acharya travelled thru the length and breadth of the country and clarified to all his opponents(Mayavadis) the ‘Hari tatva’/Devata taaratamya/Panchabheda– and won over all without exception.’Bheemana kallu’ in karnataka stands a testimony to the fact that He (Madhwa)is non other than Bheema/Hanuman.
    This platform gave me a nice opportunity to share the facts with friends.Thanks every one
    -Bhuvanendra Bhupala

  13. Ajit Patil Says:

    Dear Vani
    I am pleased to read about Shri acharya. I am lucky enough to be a madhva phylosophy follower.According to me the only path to free ourselves from birth and death cycle is to follow acharya’s phylosophy.In whatever possible way if any one want to check the truth of this phylosophy, either by logic or or by practicality they come to conclusion that in entire world if there is anything to rely upon is our madhva phylosophy.There is more to feel than to experience.I remain ever greatful to you for giving me an opportunity to share my views.

  14. Prasann Kumar M Says:

    Good Effort, needless to say so. But this is just to encourage your good efforts I write this.

    Is it any wonder that most of the saints in the Madhwa lineage are great and revered by the followers of even other religious beliefs? Shri Rayaru, Vadirajaru, Sripadaru, Raghoottamaru. vyasarajaru, the list would be enormous.

    Even today we have saints Like shri, Vishwesha teertharu, Shri Satyatmaru etc.

  15. samaganam Says:

    I always wondered about why we needed so many swamis and gurus,but I think that if a force that unites more than a billion and half together,it must be the good teachings from so many of these Gurus and swamis 🙂

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