Shri Vadiraja Theertha was great saint, ascetic, prolific writer and poet, equally well versed in Sanskrit and Kannada, who has left a very deep imprint on Madhva society. Sri Vadiraja Theertha is unique amongst all Madhva saints for many reasons. Shri Vadiraja Theertha was also the first ascetic who after a long life of 120 years, decided his own time of dropping the mortal connection - entered the Vrundavana and left for heavenly life at his own choice of time and place. Throughout the long life, Shri Vadiraja Theertha contributed a lot to "Vyasa Sahithya" and "Dasa Sahithya", exhibited extra-ordinary divine powers to bless devotees on many occasions and significantly strengthened the philosophy and traditions established by Shri Acharya Madhwa. Through his life and works, and also with other authentic sources, it is very well proved that Shri Vadiraja Theertha is none other than Shri Lathavya, the R^uju devatha, next to Shri Vayu. There are many volume available with beautiful narration of of divine life history of Shri Vadiraja. With his blessing, let us try to recollect some important events in his life, to realise his great personality.
Born to a poor brahmin family, in a small village called Hoovinakere
Udupi District, Karnataka, India), in the paddy field, inspite of all precautions
taken to ensure that the baby should be born inside the house, on
the holy day of "Saadhana Dwadashi" in the year 1480 A.D., exhibiting his
magnificent personality and the baby boy was received in a golden tray,
by the people sent by Shirr Vageesha Theertha, the pontiff who blessed
the couples for their long desire to get a son. The baby was lovely
with all the 32 auspicious attributes indicating a Ruju jiva being born.
Named as " Bhovaraha", had the threading at the age of 5, quickly learnt the Vedas, Kavya, Nyaya and Vedantha at the very young age, ordained as a monk at the age of 8 and continued his studies under Sri VagIsha Theertha. At the very young age, Shri Vadiraja Theertha went for all around India, visiting all the holy places, defeating all opponent scholars and strengthening the philosophy founded by Shri Acharya Madhwa. During this tour, Shri Vadiraja blessed many devotees with his divine powers. Later Shri Vadirja Theertha became successor of Shri Vageesha Theertha, in the Shri Vishnu Theertha MaTha, one of the 8 MaTha established by Shri Madhwacharya, also called as or Kumbhaasi MaTha at that time.
The greatness of Sri Vadiraja's personality can be grasped by
many incidents confirming to highest order of divinity. The fact
that only he could introduce "Paryaya",
the well needed reform in Pooja system of Shri
Krishna Temple confirms that he is very much next to Shri Acharya
.i.e. " Bhavi Samara" who attains the position of Shri Mukhyaprana in the
next Kalpa. The Udupi Krishna temple itself was enlarged,
substantially reconstructed and instead of the 8 ascetics
living in the various parts of the temple, they were provided with the presently existing arrangements of well spaced MaTha buildings for each of them. Shri Vadiraja installed the idols of Shri Mukyaprana and Shri Garuda in the Shri Krishna temple and also installed idols of Shri Acharya Madhva in the Shri Krishna temple and Pajaka kshethra. Sri Vadiraja introduced the practice of singing melodious keerthanas composed in kannada during Udupi Krishna Pooja. One of the songs which is regularly recited even now - "Lakshmi Narayana - jaya - Lakshmi Narayana" was composed by him with the ankitha of Hayavadana. "Dashavathara Stuthi" composed by Shri Vadiraaja is also very melodious in "Ashwa dati" and is being recited very often.
Shri Vadiraja extended the privilege of being Madhvas to other sections of society such as Goldsmiths and also composed many keerthanas in Tulu for the benefit of the local people, mainly labor class and thus blessed them.
Sri Vadiraja Theertha visited Vijayanagara, many times which was a great educational center for Dvaita vedantha that time. ShrI Vadiraja became greatest scholar of the day and made a very deep impression in Vijayanagara. During his long life, three kings ruled the Vijayanagara empire and Shri Vadiraja helped all of them. Shri Vadiraja Thee was honored with the title "Prasangabharana Theertha" by the king. Shri Vadiraja Theertha also cured the disease of the king when all other medicines failed. In order to build up a strong empire, Sri Vadiraja with his divine power, showed the well hidden place of the ancient treasury of Vali to the King of VijayaNagar. Out of that huge lump of wealth, Shri Vadiraja took only two idols, Rama and Vittala, being worshipped in Sode mutt even today.
Shri Vadiraja Theertha, created the holy place Sode, (in North Kanara district) an alternate to Udupi to all Madhwas. Even now we can witness the great marks left behind by Shri Vadiraja Theertha. With the blessings of Sri Vadiraja, Sode became quite prominent as a home for the learned of all descriptions. Shri Vadiraja established a unique temple of Sri Thrivikrama at Sode. The very fact that Shri Thrivikrama Temple could be established only by Lord Brahma and his successors, establishes the 'swaroopa' (intrinsic nature) of Shri Vadiraja Theertha. During the temple construction when a big stone was being raised in position, it slipped and was about to fall down. Then the mason swore by the name of Sri Vadiraja that the stone should not fall and it stayed in midair as such till the situation was retrieved. The specialty of this temple is that idol of Lord Trivikram is placed on a golden chariot which was brought from Badari by Shri Narayana Bhutarjaru. On the way, when he was stopped by enemies, Sri Narayana Bhutha took out one of the wheels to use it as a weapon. There are only 3 wheels today and golden chariot is turned into stone chariot. The stone wheels freely rotate round their axles even now.
Dharmasthala, a major pilgrimage center of South Kanara, is another
important contribution of Shri Vadiraja to our society. When he was
invited by the then residents of that place, Sri Vadiraja accepted on condition
that Shiva - also named Manjunatha should be installed there by him.
The idol was brought from Kadri and duly installed. Sri Vadiraja's
divine power made this place a very special one where religious head of
the place is a Jain, but the presiding
deity is Shiva and it is now very famous pilgrimage center. Sri Vadiraja also created a pond called Dandatirtha, by drawing a line with his sacred Danda on the ground.
There are many more illustrative incidents where Shri Vadiraja blessed his devotees with his divine power. To quote a few
--Composition of Laxmi Shobhane, to give life to the bridegroom who
died due to snake bite. This powerful composition poem describing
marriage of Laxmidevi with Shri Narayana, is being sung by everyone
on all good occasion.
--Climbing the Thirupathi mountain by knees and offering garland of Saligrama to Lord Venkateshwara.
-- During his tour, Shri Vadiraja blessed the Muslim sultan of Delhi, extending his kind heartiness towards other religion people also. The Sultan's son who was dead and buried in a tomb was taken out and by Shri Vadiraja's divine power he became alive again. Carried away by this great divinity, the sultan offered loads of wealth and jewelry, but Shri Vadiraja rejected all of them. When the sultan went of praying, Shri Vadiraja accepted the wealth and then poured them all in the holy Ganges. After knowing this, the sultan sent another load of wealth to Shri Vadiraja. To bless the sultan, Shri Vadiraja accepted this, brought them all to Udupi, buried in the ground and installed Lord Subramanya there. We can see the pictures and description of this incident on the walls of Sri Subramanya temple.
-- Blessing the Goldsmith community.Sri Vaadiraja is highly devoted to shri Hayavadana, and the Lord Himself used to appear in the form of a white horse to please His devotee. It so happened that a goldsmith was trying to make a gold statue of Ganapati. To his surprise, the idol kept taking the shape of Lord Hayavadana. The goldsmith many times, and each time, the cast was took the shape of Lord Hayavadana. The goldsmith got tired and frustrated, and started hitting the idol with a hammer. To his surprise, however hard he hit, nothing damage was happening to the statue. Then, one day the goldsmith had a dream. In the dream, he saw the Sri Hayavadana Himself telling him to give the statue to the saint who would be approaching him the next day. Sri Vadiraja Theertha then went to the goldsmith, as directed by Sri Hayagriiva, and asked for the promised icon. The goldsmith prostrated at the feet of Sri Vaadiraaja Theertha and offered the icon of Lord Hayavadana, which the saint then consecrated and used for worship.
-- Blessing the people of Mattu village near Udupi. The story goes like this. Shri Vadiraja used to offer a special sweet called "Maddi" to Lord Hayagreeva who used to come in the form of white horse, to eat the sweet and leave behind a little as prasadam. (Most us have seen in the photo Shri Vadiraja sitting with tray of "maddi" on his head and Lord Hayavadana eating that in the form of white horse.) But people started suspecting this and once they mixed poison into the sweet.
Shri Vadiraja as usual offered this to Lord Hayavadana and Lord ate all that without leaving behind any prasadam. Shri Vadiraja was very much upset with not getting any prasadam. He spent the whole day thinking about why Lord was upset with him. On the night Lord prompted him about the incident and told him that his body will become blue due to the poison. Lord also suggested Shri Vadiraja to offer special item prepared out of special type of Baigan known as "gulla". Shri Vadiraja called the people from the village Mattu who were praying for his blessings and asked them to plant the "gulla" and offer it to Lord. With this the whole village got blessed by offering "gulla" to Lord Hayavadana. With this special "naivedya", the blueness of Shri Hayavadana vanished soon but remained in the neck to signify this incident.
-- In Moodabidre, when invited by Jain leaders, Shri Vadiraja prayed Lord vittal in the idol of Jain saint Parswanath and the idol turned into Lord Vital. Jain leader surrendered to Shri Vadiraja and that Vittal idol is being worshipped in Sode Mutt even now.
Though Shri Vadiraja had blessed his devotees with divine powers, he never used to get relieved himself of personal afflictions. Sri Vadiraja had accepted certain ailments like fever, blindness in old age as the will of the Lord. When he was to perform Pooja, he used to transfer it temporarily to his stick (Danda) -and people would see the inanimate object shivering, till he took it back on himself after the Pooja.
Shri Vadiraja entered the Brundavan alive, meditating on this holy day in the year 1600 A.D, and the upper stone was covered as per his instructions once the japamani stopped moving. The Vrundavana is very unique known as Pancha Vrundavana. There are 4 small ones around the main Vrundavana. Each one is having the sannidhana of various forms of Lord Vishnu. Brahma, Vayu,Vishnu, Rudra are present - along with Sri Vadiraja in these Vrundavans. By performing prescribed austerities and worship in Sode, people get relieved of all kinds of human misery. The setting is very picturesque and conveys the feeling of a very holy and spiritual place.