Sri Sumatheendra Teertharu
In the succession of Sri Gururaja, it was Sumatheendratheertha who opened a golden chapeter in the history of Mahasamsthana. Mudduvenkatakrishnacharya was his name prior to sanyasa. He was the grandson of Gururajacharya, poorvashrama elder brother of Sri Gururaja, and the son of Venkatanarayancharya. What is ostensible in the whole lineage of Sri Gururaja is that the women are pious, children excel their fathers and younger ones exactly resemble the qualities of their elder brothers.
It was under Gururaja where Mudduvenkatakrishnacharya had his higher education. Sri Gururaja had great affection towards Krishnacharya. He was extremely happy at his quick comphrehension. He had foreseen that the right person to propagate his works would be Krishnacharya only. That was the reason whySri Gururaja had ordered Yogeendra in solitude that Soreendra should suceed Yogeendra; later on Mudduvenkatakrishnacharya should succeed Sooreendra; thus the tradition of Mahasamsthana to continue. Could the prophecy such an ascetic become untrue? Sooreendratheertha entrusted Mahasamsthana to his brother Mudduvenkatakrishnacharya and aptly named him as Sumatheendratheertha.
It was just a few days after the bestowal of sanyasa when Sumatheendra’s pre-eminence unfolded. Started on a tour he reached Arani. It was a small Jahagir in Madras region. Its own was a Mashwa, disciple of Uttaradi Mutt. One, Subhanuraya was the Jahagirdar of Arani during swamiji’s period. He had become a great scholar, matchless poet and had acquired great physical strength by consuming Jyothishmathi oil, a very popular Ayuvedic preparation. That oil meant to be consumed simultaneously by three persons has different effects on different persons. One among those who drink it dies, another would turn mad and the other would become intelligent. By drinking such an oil, the lucky Subhanuraya became not only intelligent but also acquired great physical strength. Infatuated by this acquisition, he went on a spree of challenging the scholars and abashing them. Subhanuraya who learnt that the swamiji had come to his place, invited and felicitated him. He initiated a debate choosing a very tough aspect of grammer. The swamiji defeated him in the debate which lasted eight days.
Further he challenged the swamji to complete with him in composing poems.Instantly swamiji’s reply came thus
That means “I did not worship Kali; have not drunk Jyothismathi. Not indulged in witchcraft. Nor do i plagiarize. In spite of this i am quite competent to compose most fascinating poems. Let me see who equals my challenge”. These remarks provoked Subhanuraya. The stormy competition of poetry kicked off. Before the poetical exellence of the swamji, Subhanuraya’s paranoiac spirit of competition suffered a jerk. Startled Subhanuraya sat benumbled.
The wonderful schoralship of swamiji aroused profound devotion for him in Subhanuraya. He exclaimed, ” all the Mutts hve sanyasis. But O’ Sumatheendra, who is there to come close to you in exellence!” He felt fulfilment by offering `Rahu-Kethu Vadhya’ and a pari of `Chitrasana’ as a mark of his service to the swamji.
Thus the swamji emerging triumphant in debates after all long, reached Srirangam by 1696. The most popular queen Mangamma(1689-1706), daughter-inlaw of Vishwanatha was ruling Madurai, an educational centre. A conference in which the scholars belonging to all the three sects participated took place at Srirangam which was under the rule. The pontiffs of all three Mutts representing Dwaithism assembled was singulaly responsible for the conference.
When a scholar initiated the debate with a poorvapaksha on behalf of Adwaithis, the responsibility of replying him devolved on Madhwas. Sumatheendratheertha lost no time in sensing the silence of the aged Sathyapoornatheertha of Uttaradi Mutt and that of the swamiji of Vyasaraja Mutt, and pleaded with both of them to give him an opportunity. Then strongly refuting everything set forth by the Adwaitha scholar with a befitting reply, the swamiji put forth another poorvapaksha challenging him to come out with a reply
Sathyapoormatheertha of Uttaradi Mutt watching the proceedings all along nodded his headed in appreciation of Sumatheentheertha’s triumph. Then he presented to the swamiji, the seat on which the used to sit and prasied him, “your scholarship is unmatched. Today here in this royal court, the reputation of the dwaitism has reched the zenith through the exellence of your scholarship. Or else a severe ignominy would have stared us in the face. Therefore it would be nice if you accept this seat. From now on in commemoration of the honour i have done to you, carry on the administration of Vedantha Samarajya using the two seta to sit on”. The pontiff of Vyasaraja Mutt too expressed his admiration for swamji’s scholarship.
From then on the custom of using the two seats for swamiji to sit on came into vogue in the Mutt.
The queen Mangamma was no exception and she too became an ardent devotee of the swamiji. greatly impressed by his charisma, she did special honours to the swamiji and gifted him a village Aayirdhama in Srivilliputtur region as also a Mutt there on the day of Pournima of Magha Shuddha in Eshwara Samvatsara of 1697. Also she gifted an idol of Vaikunthavasudeva studded with all the nine gems and a kalpavruksha which the royal treasury had inherited form ancient days.
The recipent of honours from queen Mangamma, swamiji terminating his tour visited Kumbhakonam to stay there for some days. From there he proceeded towards north.One Uttamarangappa who was the chief administrator of Genji in the north, honoured the swamiji with gifts of estates in 1699.Starting from there the swamijicame to Mysore state. Touring all over the state, he installed the idols of Pranadeva at different places to mark his visit and moved towards the river Tungabhadra.Taking a holy bath at the Tungabhadra in Shimoga, the swamiji camped at a village Helavanakatte on his way to Harihar. As it had the shrine of Sriranganatha, the swamiji found it to be an enchanting place.
One Giriyamma, Daughter-in-law of the Shanubhog of that village was an ardent devotee of god. A scared soul who had manifested the Lord.The swamiji, a divine soul had known the greatness of Giriyamma. Atfer the pooja at the house of Shanubhog, the swamiji blessed Giriyamma with theertha and Mantrakshata. Also she was the first to have Mudradharana.
Giriyamma always enjoy the bliss of cuddling the Lord as a child. History has it that the swamiji joined her in fondlling the divine child Giriyamma has extolled Lord Moolarama as
Continuing his journey, the swamiji touring all over north completed his pilgrimage and returned to Srirangam after having a darshan of Sri Gururaja at Mantralaya. Then a sorcerer came to Srirangam and tried to draw the divine charisma from the idol of Lord Ranganatha. It being the Kaliyuga, to show to the ignorant how the evil powers acquired through the persistent appeasemnet of forces like Shakthi can play havoc, the sorcerer succeeded in his evil act. Gradually the sheen on the face of the idol began to wane. The stunned priests arn in panic and surrendered before the swamiji begging him to use his mystic powers at such a catastrophic moment. The all knowledgeable swamiji planned a counter a strategy and made the sorcerer flee. To ward off the ill effects of evil forces, the swamiji installed the idol of Pranadeva in front of Lord Ranganatha. Ever since then, the Mutt began to get special honours at Srirangam.
Shahaji(1684-1711) grandson of King Shivaji who had dedicated his life to the protection of hindusim accorded a royal reception to the swamiji and doing special honours at his royal court, prayed for swamiji’s stay here . The swamiji who stayed there for sometime shone as a symbol of knowledge at the royal court. The swamiji who had been honoured by the King before attaining sanyasa had written several books about the King. Therefore the King who was very eager to provide all the facilities to the swamiji who adorned Mahasamsthana, gave special gifts of estaes to him.
Swamiji’s scholarship was extraordinary. His literary prowess was equally great. The swamiji prior to his sanyasa itself had written Jayaghoshana, Birudavalee, Rajastuthi, Shahuvijaya, Chakravalaprabandha and other shirt treaties on the King Shahaji. In addition he worte literary books such as Ramadhandaka, Ramataravalee, Yogeendravijaya, Yogeendrataravalee, Abhinavakadambari.he also wrote commentaries on Sudheendratheertha’s Subhadraparinaya and Alankaramanjari, Pandithacharya’s Usharana, a poetry, and Vyasarajavijaya of Vijayeendratheertha.
The swamiji also wrote a good commentary ‘Bhavarathnakosha’ on great philosophical books like Geethabhashyaprameyadeepika, tattvaprokashika, Rigbhashyteeka and also adhikarana Rathnamala, a guide to the real meaning of Brahmameemsa.
Swamiji’s recititude was exemplary. As do the literary works of the scholar Jagannatha, swamiji’s works are also full of reservation for other books aand poems. His style of writing is full of vim and vigor. He confidently declares that none other than him is competent to write commentaries on the literary works of Sudheendratheertha.
Books on philosophy too are held in high esteem . It has been described in Raghavendravijaya that Sri Gururaja worte his books foreseeing that ‘Sumatheendra’ in his family would be competent to understand their importance.
Thus it is Sumatheendra who was reowned to be popular litterateur after Sri Gururaja.
He was not a mere litterateur. Also greatly learned and conversant in deed with the essence of Tantrasara. Besides a great ascetic. In his book ‘Mantrarathnakosha’ he has methodology and Dhyanashlokas. Madhwas can never afford to forget this gift. He regulated all the age old customs of the Mutt and introduced a suitable system. It wa sthe swamiji who set the standard for the unique system that is being followed even today in the Mutt. It may not be redundant to state that this has opened altogether a new chapter in the history of the Mutt. It is because of this, he became popular as a trailblazer. Even today, the Mutt is popularly known as Sumatheendra Mutt in Tamilnadu.
From this it become evident how extraordinary the charisma of swamiji is. It is only him can one conspicuously find the grit that vijayeendratheertha displayed in the tradition of the Mutt. What gave rise to his obsession with scholarship was his student hood under Sri Gururaja. The swamiji has carved a permanent niche for him in the history of the Mutt. He spent his last days at the Srirangam itself and reached his heavenly abode there only, in the vicinity of his most beloved and paramaguru Sri Yogeendratheertha.
Courtesy : GURU CHARITE
The original article in Kannada is by Dr. H.K. Vedavyasacharya
Translated by Sri H.V. Pavamanacharya & Sri S. Ramaswamy