Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat pfilliozat at MAGIC.FR
Mon May 22 08:00:49 UTC 2000

Dear friends,
I have been seeing the discussion going on this subject of Shringeri and
Vidyaranya problems and the article by Dr. Kulke published in 1985 or so.
This article was published a decade and a half ago. Since then much has been
done and I did not see  the mention of any  referrence to these recent
publications in this discussion.
In 1986 a seminar was held in Bangalore on the topic of Early Vijayanagara
studies and the papers were published in 1988. Some valuable articles have
appeared in this volume amongst which "Identity of Madhava Vidyaranya by K.
Krishnamurthy annd Vidyaranya's Association with the Vijayanagara Empire by
Venimadhava Shastri". In these articles both the authors have proved the
identity of Madhava &Vidyaranya with scholarly arguments and references.
Now coming to the most recent work, it is the National Book Trust
Publication in 1999 on "Vijayanagar." Of course, though the core of the book
is on the "chronicles on the city of Vijayanagar" I was asked by the
Director of the NBT to intoduce the history of this empire in details. I
took this opportunity to go in details on this subject of so called
Vijayanagara and its association with Vidyaranya.
My research work have led me to arrive at the conclusion that there was no
empire as such called "Vijayanagar". When there is no empire then its
foundation and its association with Vidyaranya do not appear at all.
According to my work the empire was called "Karnatak" extending from Krishna
to Capecomorin NS and the two oceaans EW.   Hoysala Ballala III visited the
northern frontiers of his realm  in 1337 is a historical fact. Probably
afterr this tour he must have held a meeting and convinced the Hindus to
have one empire to face all alien invasions. Only after the death of Ballala
III and his son Ballala IV inscriptions begin to refer to the rule of
Harihara I and Bukka I. Nowhere in the inscriptions the empire is referred
to as Vijayanagara but on the contrary the empire is called Karnataka with
its capital Vijayanagar. The earliest epigraphical reference to the city is
dated 1357. But the usage of the name becomes frequent from 1368 onwards and
its earlier name Hosapattana was forgotten gradually.
In the making of modern Karnataka empire brothers Sayana and Madhava played
a vital role under the guidance of their Guru Vidyatirthamuni who was then
on the pontifical seat of Sharadapitha at Shringeri. All the relatives and
the vassals of defunct Hoysala kings gave their full support to the new
rulers in their efforts of consolidation of one empire. Madhava occupied the
seat of the minister and the adviser to Harihara I is proved from his
"Puranasaara" which is being published by the ORI in Mysore.  We all know
that it is  Madhava's work. Later in Vidyaranya's works we find references
to Puranasara and Parasara Madhaviya which is also Madhavacharya's work.
Madhava became Vidyaranya can be proved from the works of Sayana, Madhava
and Vidyaranya. In Taittariyopanishad Sayana mentions in colophons
"MadhavaVidyaranyasambandhivedarthaprakashe......." where as in his earlier
works it is only Madhaviye vedarthaprakashe....
Vidyaranya's name begins to occur in inscriptions from 1375 onwards and not
earlier. Only a "kadita" in Shringeri matha mentions the fact the Bukka
requested the Guru to send a letter to Vidyaranya to return from Kashi but
it is  not substantiated by the inscriptions.
Next problem is whether the first two rulers of this new empire were of
Telugu origin or converts etc. These are problems of no significance.
Whether they were Telugu or Kannada what does it matter. Only what is their
contribution to the history of India is more important. Their conversion to
Islam is a baseless story.
Now I would like to draw the attention of the  readers on the following
The empire was never called Vijayanagar. It was called Karnataka empire
englobing the whole of south India including Tamilnadu, Andhra and a few
parts of Kerala. Of course, Goa was also a part of Karnataka empire. The
capital was called Vijayanagar.
Madhava played an important role in the beginnings of this empire. Sayana of
course worked as his right  hand man. Later when Madhava became Vidyaranya
and a century later all the legends cropped up to confuse the historians. It
is true Shringeri matha was established in Virupaksha temple at Hampi but
not in the times of Vidyaranya. Later, in the times of Acyutaraya or
Sadashivaraya i.e. after 1530. To  verfy this read Lakkannadandesha's
Shivatattvacintamani and Virupakshavasantotsavacampu. These are works
belonginging to 1430 or so and 1530 or so. Latter work cannot be dated
earlier than 1530.
Following the battle  of Talikota in 1565 the empire which received a death
blow was not the so called empire of Vijayanagar but the "Karnataka Empire".
After this period the name of Karnatak was restricted to some coastal
regions. In the 19th century it was divided into many pieces administered by
various governments.
As the name of Karnataka disappeared from the maps only the name of
Vijayanagar lingered in the memories of foreign visitors of 18th and 19th
centuries. This misled Sewell to bring out a book "Forgotten Empire" and
thus Vijayanagar empire a misnomer is haunting the scholars and the
In fact the name of the capital was Vijayanagar which is identical with
modern village of Hampi. The ruins extend over thirty square kilometres and
due to its outstanding characterstics the whole site along with Anegondi,
Pampasaras and the Madhva saints' Samadhis was written on the World Heritage
list in 1986.
Now some people are involved in constructing bridges over the river for the
sake of "foreign tourists" and the villagers. This has led UNESCO to
transfer the name of Hampi from World Heritage list to the list of "Sites in
danger". Now if no measures are taken for the conservation of Hampi there is
a danger of deleting its name from the list for ever.
If this happens, hopefully not, once again Karnataka will receive a blow.

Vasundhara FILLIOZAT

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