बोलो श्रीमद सुधीन्द्र तीर्थ स्वमि सद्गुरु महाराज की.. जै
श्री संस्थान काशी मठाधीश की… जै
बोलो श्रीमद संयमीन्द्र तीर्थ स्वमि सद्गुरु महाराज की… जै
श्री काशी मठः संस्थान की.. जै
बोलो श्री वेदव्यास रघुपति नरसिंह महाप्रभु की… जै
The Kashi Math was founded in the year 1542 AD.
Foundation of Sri Kashi Math Samsthan
A small vatu entered the yajna mantapa of the emperor Bali of danava vamsha, the traditional enemies of devatas. When the emperor asked him what he wanted, he said he had come there to receive the land covered by his three steps. Shukracharya, the priest of danavas, smelt danger and forewarned the emperor that the vatu was none other than Lord Vishnu in disguise, who had come there to deceive him. In spite of the warning from the priest, the emperor felt so happy that Lord Vishnu had come to his doors as a beggar and promised him to donate the land he had asked for. Right at that moment the small vatu grew to unimaginable proportions and assumed virat rupa. He measured the entire world with one step, the rest of the universe including the sky was measured by his second step and asked the emperor as to where he should keep the third step. Bali offered his head, on which the virat purusha placed his foot, thereby sending him to patala loka. It is recorded that during the measurement of the sky, the toe of the virat purusha (V amana) reached Brahma loka where, Lord Brahma was pleased to receive Vamana (the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and washed the toe with sacred water, which then flowed down the sky and became the river Ganga, who is thus considered to be a daughter of Lord Vishnu and hence became very sacred.
Varanasi, situated on the bank of the river Ganga, is considered as a sacred city through its association with the sacred river. It is also famous because the great Vishveshwara Temple is situated in this city. It was (and still is) a centre of Sanskrit study, where many pundits study and/or teach Hindu Dharma Shastras. One of the Swamijis, Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha Swamiji of the Kashi Matha Samsthan had spent ten years in this city for the study of Dharma Shastras.
Kashi has been a sacred city for Vaishnavas and Shaivas alike. It has also been a repository of knowledge for the scholars, having a thirst for Sanskrit literature. Scholars who had learnt in Kashi are revered all over India. It is from this city that the present Kashi Matha Samsthan got its name.
Shri Vyasaraya was the Rajaguru of the Vijayanagara Empire. Krishnadevaraya (1509-1530) was its famous emperor. Once Shri Vyasaraya happened to visit an old Brahmana couple in their home, where he was treated as an honoured guest. Being pleased with their service, he blessed them, “Let a worthy son be born to you”. With tears in their eyes, the old Brahmana pleaded, “Oh Righteous Swamiji, we are sinners and we are not fortunate enough to have that blessedness. Perhaps it is not in our destiny to have a son born to us. We have already grown old and our clan (vamsha) might get extinguished”, and fell at the Swamiji’s feet. The Swamiji felt sorry. He thought for some time and pondered, “Lord Mulagopalakrishna made me utter those words and it is up to Him to see that the words come true”, and remembering the Lord, the Swamiji addressed the couple, “Do not worry any more. Lord Krishna spoke through me. With his grace nothing is impossible. You will be blessed with not only the son, but two. However, you have to offer the elder son to me. Lord Hari will bless you”. The couple’s joy knew no bounds. The Swamiji departed.
Some years later, the Swamiji visited them again. Now as predicted, two sons were born to the couple and as promised, they offered the elder son, Vittalacharya to the Swamiji. The younger son, Guruprasada, remained with the parents.
Vittalacharya is believed to have been born in A.D. 1517. Nothing more is known about his parentage and the place where he was born. It is known with certainty that his father was a Brahmana.
The young Vittala accompanied Shri Vyasaraya to his headquarters in Vijayanagara, where he was looked after well. This happened around 1522, when Vittala was barely five years old. After performing chowla and upanayana ceremonies, the Swamiji himself taught him Tarka, Vyakarana, Mimamsa, Vedanta etc. Recognizing the development of Bhakti and Vairagya in the child prodigy, the Swamiji initiaged him in 1525 into sanyasa and named him Shri Vishnu Tirtha. This happened when he was eight years of age. (Early in this century, the Swamijis of the eight Mathas of Udupi, founded Shri Madhwacharya, used to initiate young boys into sanyasa. These were balasanyasis).
The education of Shri Vishnu Tirtha was spread over the period 1522-1535. In the meantime (around 1530) Shri Surendra Tirtha of Shri Kumbhakonam Matha visited Vijayanagara to see Shri Vyasaraya (both were brothers in their Purvashrama). Shri Surendra Tirtha was very much impressed by the young shishya-Swami, Shri Vishnu Tirtha. At his request, Shri Vyasaraya offered Shri Vishnu Tirtha to Shri Surendra Tirtha after making him go through the ceremony of danda parivanana, and renamed him Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha.
Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha stayed with Shri Vyasaraya for the next five years and then went to Kumbhakonam to join his new Guru, Shri Surendra Tirtha (in 1535).
A reference to the offerring of Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha to Shri Surendra Tirtha can be found in a kirtana of Saint Purandaradasa (1484-1564)
“Vyasarayara charana kamala darshana dhareyolu Vijayeendra Vadirajaremba parama shishyara padedu merede keeruthiyalli Surendraru putra bhiksheya bede Vijayeedranna karunisi matavanuddharisi …………. ”
The kirtana composed in praise of Shri Vyasaraya (the Swamiji had given Dasa deeksha and had named him Puradaradasa) says, “You became famous by having great disciples like Vijayeendra and Vadiraja. When Surendra (Surendra Tirtha of Kumbhakonam Matha) begged for a son (a disciple-shishya), you offered him Vijayeendra and saved his Mata”.
Later in 1545, a Veerashaiva Mathadhipati of Kumbhakonam challenged Shri Surendra Tirtha to argue with him in Dharma Shastras if he dared. He further stipulated that whoever was defeated should be the servant of the winner. The Swamiji had to accept the challenge. By then Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha had mastered many Shastras and got the titles like Vidyaratnakara, Vidyabdni (Ocean of Vidya), Vidyanidhi (treasure of Vidya) etc. So Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha easily defeated the challenger. As per the terms of the challenge, the Veerashaiva Matha property was handed over to the Kumbhakonam Matha of Shri Surendra Tirtha. A reference to this is found in Epigraphia Indica (Vol. 12, 1913-14, p. 340) as follows:
“Vijayeendra Tirtha was one of the most famous of the Madhva Acharyas. Nothing is known of his parentage or his birth place. Surendra Tirtha of the Purvadi Matha or Sumatindra Matha, the twelfth guru from Shri Madhvacharya, was the spiritual guru of Vijayeendra Tirtha. He also succeeded him on the pontificial see as the thirteenth guru. But Vijayeendra Tirtha, like Vadiraj Tirtha of the Sode Matha, received all his education in philosophy from the great Vyasaraya Tirtha of the Vyasaraya Matha.
“In his purvashrama, he was known by the name of Vittalacharya. He is said to have held the pontificate, according to the list preserved in the Raghavendra Swami Matha, for a period of 55 years, 5 months and 16 days from Saka 1461 to 1517 and to have died on Jeshta Bahula. He appears to have spent the last part of his life at Kumbhakonam. He is said to have been the master of 64 vidyas (branches of learning), which he employed in vanquishing a great Veerashaiva Guru, who had a large following and who had his Matha at Kumbhakonam. The condition under which this philosophical wrangle took place was that if the Veerashaiva Guru succeeded, the Madhva Acharya should join him with all his followers; and if the Madhva Guru won, the other Guru should make over his Matha with his belongings to Madhva Acharya and go away to the north, never after to return to Kumbhakonam. After an eleven-day discussion, Vijayeendra Tirtha came out successful. The Veerashaiva Guru was obliged to leave the place and retire to the north, making over his Matha and all its belongings to his vanquisher, whose spiritual descendants still enjoy its possession. On the anniversary of this event the image of Vijayeendra Tirtha is taken in procession to this Matha even at the present day (1913-14). When Appayya Dikshita wrote condemning the Madhva philosophy, Vijayeendra Tirtha wrote several refutations of his works. He also wrote commentaries on almost all important Madhva works, such as Chakra Mimamsa, Chandrikodahrita, Nyaya Vivarana, Nayayamrita Vyakhya, Appayya Kapola Chapetika, etc. ”
The Guru Parampara from Sri Madhvacharya is given in the above article as follows :
The Swamijis used to (and even now) visit various centers where their followers were residing, perform trikala puja (thrice a day), engage themselves in pravachanas (religious discourses), bless the disciples, etc. On receiving the binnahapatram (invitation) from the elders of the community residing in a particular city, inviting the Swamiji to observe the Chaturmasya Vrita of a particular year in their city (such request come from many cities), the Swamiji accepts one. The Swamiji used to stay for four months (now it is reduced to two months or four fortnights) in the city. According to this custom, Srimad Vijayeendra Tirtha of the Kumbhakonam Matha was invited by the Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas of Kochi to observe the Chaturmasya Vrita of the year A.D. 1539-40. The Swamiji had compiled with their wished and had gone to Kochi. During his stay there he drew a plan, according to which he would select a boy form the Goud Sarasvata Brahmana community an initiate him into sanyasa in Kashi, and found a Matha with the young sanyasi as the head of the Matha. The Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmana community and initiated him into sanyasa in Kashi, and found a Matha with the young sanyasi as the head of the Matha. The Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas agreed and the Swamiji selected a suitable boy from their community and after completion of the Chaturmasya Vrita, took him to Kumbhakonam with him for imparting the necessary training and instructions. With the permission of the Guru-Swami (Shrimad Surendra Tirtha), the Shishya-Swami (Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha) informed the Goud Sarasvata Brahmana residents of Kochi to purchase some land in Kashi on the bank of the river Ganga. Accordingly, the required land was purchased and a building constructed to house the Matha. It was decided that the shishya-Swami (and not the Guru-Swami who was old at that time) would initiate the by into sanyasa and accordingly, Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha set on a long journey form Kumbhakonam to Kashi with the chosen boy and a group of Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas. When the party reached Kashi, the other group, which had already been there, had completed the building for housing the Matha.
On an auspicious day, the boy was initiated into sanyasa and named Srimad Yadavendra Tirtha. The entire group stayed in Kashi in the premises of the Matha for some time and then returned to Kumbhakonam, visiting various sacred places on the way. The new Swamiji was ceremoniously brought before Shrimad Surendra Tirtha, who presented him two deities, one of Lord Ramachandra (Raghupati) and the other of Vedavyasa as well as a shalagrama for the daily puja, along with other paraphernalia, required for different purposes on the same lines as those followed in the Kumbhakonam Matha Samsthan. Each and every Swamiji of the Kashi Matha continued to worship Vyasa Raghupati and shalagrama from that day to the present one. The present head of the Matha is also worshipping these even today.
When Shrimad Surendra Tirtha gave the deities and other things to the Kashi Matha, he also authorized Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha to prescribe rules for conduct of all religious ceremonies and also the authority to enforce these rules, to imprint Mudras (mudra dharana vidhi) on the persons of Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas and to instruct mantropadesha thereby authorizing them to utter certain mantras such as Om Namo Vasudevaya, etc.
(These functions were earlier done by the Swamijis of the Kumbhakonam Matha Samsthan). This authorization, written on a copper plate and dated Magha Shuddha Panchami of Plava Samvatsara . Sh. Sh . 1463, Saturday 21st January, 1542) is in Devanagari script but in Kannada language. A free rendering of the contents of this copper plate, as reproduced in Sarasvata Bhushana, a Marathi book written by Shri Ganesh Ramachandra Sharma (Pub. The Popular Book Depot, Bombay, 1950, pp. 506-507) is given below:
(The title of Shrimad Surendra Tirtha is given at the top).
“We present this copper plate to our beloved Yadavendra Tirtha of Kashi Matha of Konkana residents on Magha Shuddha Panchami of Plava Samvatsara. We are very much pleased with your visit to our Matha. By the very sight of our Deities you have earned our grace. We had given to you free of cost the following:
One deity of Lord Rama, one deity of Vyasa, one shalagrama , one palanquin, one white umbrella (shveta chhatra), two chamaras , two asanas (seats), two deevatigas (torches lighted by burning oil), one dhavala shankha (white conch), nagari (big drum), patakas , talas, etc. We hereby allow you to make use of all these titles when you and your heirs hereafter will be engaged in tours in the country and also delegate to you the right to imprint mudras on the person of all the Brahmanas of your community. Let this tradition be followed now and in future. If per adventure any disputes arise in any matter in your community, we undertake to settle them. Our heirs will also follow this custom in future. Anyone violating these injunctions will be deemed to have committed treachery to the preceptor ( Guru droha ). You Matha should owe allegiance to the Guru Parampara of our Matha alone and to none else. When you observe Chaturmasya Vrita, if one of the four months happens to be Adhika Masa (additional month), your followers should treat you well. Since you also worship Shri Raghupati and Vedavyasa, we have come to the conclusion that you belong to us in all respects. You have to deal with us with due regards and with respect. Our lineage shall have no right whatsoever to demand back whatever we had given to you.
This is our solemn promise, with meditations on Lord Narayana”.
It has been mentioned in Sarasvata Bhushana that this copper plate was presented in Sh. Sh . 1403. This date may not be correct. It is known that the recipient of the copper plate Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha passed away on Ashada Bahula Panchami of Keelaka Samvatsara , Sh. Sh . 1530, i.e., 127 years after receiving the copper plate, if it was really presented in 1403. From this it follows that the Swamiji must have lived for about 140-150 years, taking into account that the boy, who later became Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha, might have been about 15 years of age at the time of initiation into sanyasa in Kashi. It is hard to believe that he lived up to an incredible age of about 150 years. If, on the other hand, it is assumed that the Plava Samvatsara mentioned in the copper plate is of 1463 and not of 1403 as reported in Sarasvata Bhushana (every Samvatsara repeats after sixty years or multiples of sixty years, the total number of Samvatsaras being sixty), the life span of the Swamiji amounts to 80-90 years, a more credible value. Thus it may be said that the copper plate was written and presented in Playa Samvatsara of 1463.
This copper plate was in the possession of Shrimad Bhuvanendra Tirtha Swamiji (17th Swamiji of the Kashi Matha Samsthan). Reference to this was made in a rare book, entitled Dasha Prakarana written in Sanskrit with Marathi commentary and published in 1872 and printed in Nirnayasagara Press, Bombay. The author was the illustrious Kota Lakshmana Narayana Kini Shastri, who had seen the copper plate, and retained a certified copy with him. Subsequently, this book with the Sanskrit original and Kannada translation of the commentary translated by Shri P. Narayana Prabhu, Manager, Prabhakara Press, Udupi was published by Kundapur Narasimha Bhat in 1923 (printed at the Prabhakara Press, Udupi). The copper plate is reproduced partly on pages 230-231 of the Kannada edition. The present author has a copy of the Kannada edition.
Soon after presenting the copper plate to Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha, Shrimad Surendra Tirtha of the Kumbhakonam Matha Samsthan issued letters (these are called rayasapatrams ) to Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas residing in various places under his jurisdiction, informing them that they have to obey the orders and instructions of Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha and of his successors of Kashi Matha Samsthan. One such letter dated Magha Bahula Triteeya of the same year ( Plava Samvatsara ) corresponding to Friday 3rd February, 1542 is available today in the records of the Kashi Matha Samsthan. This letter is also written in Devanagari script and is in Kannada language.
A free rendering of this rayasapatram is as follows:
“With meditations on Lord Narayana we bless our most beloved disciples belonging to different gotras such as Angirasa, Brihaspatya, Bharadvaja etc., who have undergone the sixteen samskaras (religious rites) according to the rules prescribed in the Shastras and residing in the Parashurama Srishti , including Kundodari, Kushasthali, Mathagrama, Shankhavali, Banavali etc. of Sasashti, Anthruji and Konkan and those scholarly Konkana Brahmanas or Kochi, Mangalore, Barkur, Bidnur, Bhatkal, Ankola, Sode, Beligi, Gomantak etc., including vaidikas (priest class) and grihasthas . By the grace of our Gurus and of the Matha Deities we are engaged up today, the Magha Bahula Triteeya of Playa Samvatsara in daily routines such as bathing, Japa , worship of the deities, religious discourses etc. and keeping in mind your welfare, we are praying Shri Raghupati Vedavyasa to that effect. We are doing well. Keep us informed about your affairs. When we visited your districts, we had imprinted mudras on your persons and also instructed some mantras. Subsequently, we had donated the following to Yadavendra Tirtha, a Brahmana of your community – palanquin, two chamaras, shveta chhatra , two asanas, deevatige , dhavala shankha, talas etc. similar to the titles used in our Samsthan and authorized him to conduct mudra dharana vidhi, mantropadesha etc. in your community. Do avail of these facilities. If we or our heirs, in future, come to your region, we will conduct these vidhis . But when we are touring other regions, this Swamiji and his heirs will perform such rites. If any disputes arise in this respect, we hereby undertake to settle them. This shall be observed in the case of our heirs also. You are worshipping Shri Raghupati and Vedavyasa. We do not wish to write more to those who have great regard for us.
We are enclosing herewith gandha, prasada and mantrakshata for you. With meditations on Lord Narayana. Sd/-.”
On the authority of this rayasapatram and the copper plate mentioned above it may be said that the Kashi Matha Samsthan was founded around A.D. 1542 and that Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha was the first Swamiji of the Samsthan.
By founding Shri Kashi Matha Samsthan, Shri Vijayeendra got the title Sarasvata Dharma Peetha Sthapanacharya. Since he had founded Shri Kashi Matha Samsthan the Goud Sarasvata Samaj of Kochi, Mangalore, Mulki etc. (formerly attached to Shri Kumbhakonam Matha) might have considered him as Kashi Matheeya Vijayeendra Tirtha out of regards.
A history of Shri Venkataramana Temple, Mulki, throws some light on the life of Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha. In this temple, Lord Venkataramana, Lord Narasimha, Lord Bindu Madhava and Lord Vittala are worshipped. The stuti recited during deepa namaskara every evening (even now) is as follows:
In the Shri Ugranarasimhashtaka, Shri Vasudeva Ganapati Bhat says,
The other deity of Lord Bindu Madhava was installed in the Mulki temple by a Swamiji of Goshripura (Kochi), obviously of Kashi Matha Samsthan. This God was also being worshipped by the two gotras ( Atri and Vatsa ). Poet Venkanna of Mulki refers to these deities used for processions, in one of his Kannada kirtanas, “Bindu Madhava Namo”. Giving a list of vahanas for the utsava, he says there are Shesha, Garuda, Hanuman, Hamsa, lalki ( mantapa ) etc. for this purpose. Colored flags, chhatra, chamara , silver poles, musical instruments, Veda ghosha etc. were the other accompaniments.
Another Kamlada kirtana, Sri Volalankeshaya Namah , mentions all the idols. First comes that the Vittala , installed by a Swamiji (name not mentioned) in Mulki for the benefit of Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas, who had come from Bhatkal. Then comes Lord Narasimha, installed by Vijayeendra of the Kashi Matha. The third is Lord Venkataramana from Karkala. The fourth one is Lord Bindu Madhava, which a Swamiji (name not mentioned) of Varanasi (Kashi) found in the holy river Ganga while taking a bath. The temple has two statues of Jaya and Vijaya (dwarapalakas of Vaikuntha) near the door of the garbha griha . In the four corners outside the garbha griha are Hanuma (South-East), Ganesha (South-West), Lakshmi (North-West) and Garuda (North-West). The Brahma Rathotsava is being celebrated on Chaitra Shuddha Navami (Rama Navami ). The famous anniversary of installation of Lord Narasimha is being celebrated on Marghashira Shuddha Purnima.
The above stuti refers to Lord Venkataramana (Venkatesha), residing in Mulikapura (Mulki), worshipped by the good Konkana Brahmanas. Lord Narasimha of this temple was installed by Vijayeendra Tirtha of the Kashi Matha. This is corroborated further by another shloka inscribed on the mirror situated in the Vasanta Mantapa of the temple. It reads as follows:-
The three shlokas state that Vijayeendra Tirtha of the Kashi Matha (Vidyaratnakara Tirtha, Vidyabdhi Tirtha) installed the deity of Sri Ugra Narasimha in Mulki. The Swamiji, who initiated a vatu in Banaras around A.D.1540 and called him Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha, was Vijayeendra Tirtha.
In such shlokas, there was a tradition of quizzically indicating the year (in Shalivahana Shaka ) of installation. Thus the names of animals and objects are mentioned to indicate the digits (from unit’s place onwards) of the number. The following are common:
Dyu (Akash, Shunya) 0
Avani (Earth) 1
Abja (Lotus, the seat of Brahma) 1
Sharat(4th Ritu in the six Ritus of a year) 4
Ishu (arrow – Panchabana) 5
Naga (elephant – Ashta diggaja) 8
Ibha (elephant – Ashta diggaja) 8
Nanda (Navananda) 9
While decoding the above shloka (in 1974) I had concluded as follows:
Shalivahakhya Bhubhrit (Bhubhrit, King; Shalivahakhya Shalivana by name) indicates Shalivahana Shaka; Vara Kara (great hand; though man has two hands, one, usually the right, is more important and hence this indicates the number 1); Sharadam (since Sharad Ritu is the fourth among the six Ritus of a year – Yasanta, Grishma,Yarsha, Sharat, Hemant and Shishir) indicates thf; number 4; and finally lndu (moon) indicates 1. Hence the first line of the shloka indicates the number 141. The next Manakramena indicates to be added to. The second line clearly mentions 1346 (this is given in actual number – Shatchatwarimsha-thri-shata-sahasra). So the actual year in Shalivahana Shaka works out to be 141 + 1346 = 1487 and this is equivalent to 1487 + 78 = A.D. 1565. Hence 1 had concluded that the year of installation was A.D. 1565. Subsequently, I came across an article by the late Rashtrakavi Manjeshwara Govinda Pai, in which he had placed the date as Wednesday, 23rd November, 1569. He had not mentioned how he arrived at this date. Perhaps he too had decoded the shloka mentioned above. So there is a difference of four years between our versions. Then r had a second lo()k at the shloka (actually r was pondering over it during a bus journey). Now I split the first line differently! Shalivahakhya indicates Shalivahan Shaka; Bhubhrit Vara Kara indicates the number 5. (Bhubhrit is Yaraha Avatara, who had killed Hiranyaksha and brought Mother Earth from the depths of the ocean by holding her on his lone tusk. Since he had held her on his tllsk, this also may be considered as one hand and Varaha ha~ four regular hands, making five in all). Sharad and /ndu indicate 4 ami 1 respectively and the number in the first line works out to be 145. When this is added to 1346 of the second line, we get 1491 in Shalivahana Shaka or A.D. 1569. This year appears to be correct. Whoever had composed this shloka mllst have been very intelligent and perhaps wanted to test the ability of later scholars in decoding it. We •salute that unknown great scholar.
The copper plate and the rayasapatram issued in A.D. 1542 by Shrimad Surendra Tirtha to Shrimad Yadavendra Tirtha and Goud Sarasvata Brahmana community referred to earlier has been challenged on the supposed ground that Shri Surendra Tirtha had passed away in A.D. 1539. This issue has been conclusively settled, placing this year as A.D. 1575 by Shri Raja S. Gururajacharya in his monumental Kannada book, Ajeya Vijayeendraru (Pub. Shri Parimal Samshodhana and Prakashana Mandira, Nanjanagudu, Mysore, in 1978-11 reprint). In the author’s Introduction on the times of Shri Vijayeendra, he puts the life span as 1517-1614. He refers to a copper plate of 1575 issued jointly to Shri Surendra Tirtha and Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha regarding a donation of a village by Shri Rangaraya (ruled 1572-1586), a king of the Vijayanagara. The same king donated another village to Shri Sudhindra Tirtha of Kumbhakonam Matha in 1576. Again the same king donated a village to Shri Vijayeendra Tirtha as per another copper plate of 1577.
It is significant to note that Shrimad Surendra Tirtha’s name appears in the first copper plate of 1575 and in the subsequent ones of 1576 and 1577, his name is omitted, indicating that he might have passed away in 1575 itself. In any case, he was alive in 1575.
Some more details of the above copper plates are as follows:
The first one, of Monday, Ashadha Shuddha Dwadashi of Yuva Samvatsara, Sh. Sh. 1497 (corresponding to 20th June, 1575) mentions that king Rangaraya had donated Navalur alias Ramachandrapura jointly to Shrimad Surendra Tirtha and Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha. Further, the king praises Shrimad Surendra Tirtha for donating the village to twenty famous panditas.
The second one, dated Magha Krishna Trayodashi of Yuva Samvatsara, Sh. Sh. 1497 (corresponding to 28th January, 1576), describes the donation of five villages to Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha.
Thus, it is certain that Shrimad Surendra Tirtha passed away in 1575 so that there cannot be any objection in his issuing the copper plate and rayaspatram (referred to above) in 1542.
The propriety of choosing Kashi as the founding place of the Matha Samsthan by Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha Swamiji of the Kumbhakonam Matha Samsthan and of advising the Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas to purchase land in Kashi, have been questioned . by. Shri Ananta Vaikunta Bhat of Kumta in his Kannada book Asato Ma Sadgamaya or Satya Marga Darshana (published by him in 1973, pp. 127-128).
He even considers the whole episode as totally baseless. This is how he argues (p.130) (translation, mine) –
“What is the distance between Kochi and Kurnbhakonam? How far is Kashi? Kashi is 1900 miles away from Kochi. To cover this distance by walking in those days would require at least six months. An equal period of time would be needed to return to Kochi. Why did Shrimad Vijayeendra select Kashi for initiating the boy into sanyasa, which would entail the troubles of travel of one year? Did the yatis of Kumbhakonam Matha not perform shishya sveekara vidhi at other places? Did they select it with the sole intention of causing inevitable and unbearable troubles to the boy and Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas? Even if it was true, why should the residents of the region extending from. Mangalore to Kochi get a Matha in Kashi 1900 miles away? Did they not get a suitable place in the region itself? Perhaps they wanted that meeting of Guru-shishya should take place only after a tir~some journey and the Kochi residents approved of this”.
There cannot be any doubts about the propriety of the selection of Kashi as the Matha headquarters, because, as explained earlier, Kashi was one of the sacred places of Vaishnavas, with the presence of the divine river Ganga close by.
Secondly, let us consider the time element raised by Shri Ananta Bhat. Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha was observing the Chaturmasya vrita in Kochi in 1539-40 and the copper plate was issued in 1542, leaving a time interval of two-and-a-half years between these two events. As soon as it was decided to select Kashi as the city for founding the Matha a group of Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas of Kochi could start on a journey to Kashi, which on the argument of Shri Ananta Bhat, could reach Kashi in six months. They would then have at least one year to purchase land and construct a building to house the Matha. Was this time not enough for the purpose? In the meantime another group of Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas could accompany Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha along with the chosen vatu and could reach Kumbhakonam within a few months (obviously less than six months). This group (also comprising people of the priestly class) could stay in Kumbhakonam during the period of training of the vatu. He could easily get about one year for the purpose. There could then be ample time for the vatu, the Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas, already staying in Kumbhakonam and Shrimad Vijayeendra Tirtha to proceed to Kashi, reach Kashi, perform the shishya sveekara ceremony, stay there for some time and return to Kumbhakonam well before 1542 to receive the copper plate from Shrimad Surendra Tirtha of the Kumbhakonam Matha Samsthan. The question, which Shri Ananta Bhat has raised in his book was that whether there was enough time for all these events to take place. As shown above it is perfectly logical for all these events to take place within a period of two years and a half.
Thirdly, let us consider the troubles the people had to take for meeting the Swamiji because of the long distance existing between Kashi and Kochi. It may be pointed out that unless compelled by specific reasons such as study of the Dharma Shastras, renovation of Matha Bhavans or temples, illness, 011 age, etc., the Swamijis used to tour all the places where their followers resided. The Swamijis were not staying at any place for a long time. Since they were touring all the time the meeting between the Swamijis and the followers (shishya varga) could take place without the followers travelling long distances. Further, when a Swamiji camped in a particular city, say for observing Chaturmasya vrita, the followers residing in perhaps the whole district could visit that city and meet the Swamiji. If they cannot take this trouble, it is only their misfortune. Even considering the long distance (1900 miles) between Kochi and Kashi, is it not worth visiting Kashi, the sacred place for Vaishnavas and Shaivas alike? Don’t the devotees go there for pilgrimage? Don’t the devotees climb the giri to have a darshana of Lord Venkatesha of Tirupati? Long distances and steep cliffs do not deter the devotees in their pursuit of having a darshana of God in temple or Swamiji in Matha.
There is a legend about the he.dquarters of the present Kashi Matha Samsthan in Kashi. It is said that the original building had been built with the help of a king of Varanasi. According to the legend (Sarasvata Bhushana of Shri Ganesh Ramachandra Sharma, 1950, p. 238), the king accompanied by his family members, had been to the Brahma Ghat for bathing in the holy Ganga on an auspicious day. The princess lost one of her bangles in the river while bathing. They could not trace it. She returned to the river bank and was pleased to see a Swamiji performing the daily religious rites. She approached the Swamiji, fell prostrate at his feet and told him about the lost bangles. Filled with compassion, the Swamiji prayed to Goddess Ganga, who being pleased with his prayer, raised her hand from the river and returned the bangles to the princess. The king and his family members became very happy and as a token of gratitude, the king built a huge building on the Brahma Ghat and donated it to the Swamiji. This was the original Matha building of the Kashi Matha. If this version is accepted as correct then the choice of Kashi as the initiation place by Vijayeendra Tirtha can be easily explained. Since the sanyasis of Kashi Matha prior to Yadavendra Tirtha were wandering from place to place without paraphernalia, it is likely that they were away from their building in Kashi for a long time. In the meantime, others might have claimed ownership of the plot. It might be that the Kashi Matha sanyasis might have lost the ownership of the building donated by the king mentioned earlier and Vijayeendra Tirtha might have advised the Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas to purchase a part of the land on Brahma Ghat so that a permanent Samsthan could be built. Considering the fact that some of the Swamijis of the Matha were inter-related and that the Swamijis donated a plot of land with structures thereon to their former kith and kin it appears that some families of Vaidikas (they were all Bhats) from Kochi Goud Sarasvata Brahmanas were invited to settle in Kashi. Vijayeendra Tirtha must have thought that if a permanent settlement of his community members was not in Kashi, the Matha premises would again be lost, for the Swamijis would continuously be engaged in wandering from place to place. Unless they were provided with land and houses, no one would migrate from Kochi to Kashi. Further, these Vaidikas were needed to perform the pujas in the temples situated in the Matha premises. And this could be done more easily if the former kith and kin of the Swamiji himself were invited, and provided with accommodation. With this foresight Vijayeendra Tirtha selected Kashi as the headquarters of the new Kashi Matha Samsthan. In fact, he converted the Kashi Matha of wandering sanyasis into Kashi Matha Samsthan with permanent settlements and branches. After making all the arrangements for the stay of Yadavendra Tirtha in Kashi, Vijayeendra Tirtha continued his itinerary and visited various places including Mulki where he installed the idol of Shri Ugra Narasimha in 1569.
Thus Vijayeendra Tirtha may rightly be called the founder of Shri Kashi Matha Samsthan, and he is rightly described as Sarasvata Dharmapeetha Sthapanacharya.
Before the Kashi Math was established, most of the Vaishnava Goud Saraswat Brahmins were followers of Sri Kavindra Math of Srimath Madhwacharya. During the 15th century, Sri Ramachandra Tirtha of Moola Math (Jagadguru Srimath Madhwacharya Moola Maha Samsthana) initiated two Shishyas to sanyasa–Sri Vibhudendra Tirtha and Sri Vidyanidhi Tirtha. The latter started a new math called- Uttaradi Math and became head of the same. Whereas Sri Vibhudendra Tirtha continued the Parampara of Sri Ramachandra Tirtha, the main parampara of Srimath Madhwacharya, now named Sri Raghavendra Math (Mantralaya) after Sri Raghavendra of Mantralaya. Due to their proximity to South Kanara and Kerala.
Later, when Sri Surendra Tirtha became the head of the Math at Kumbhakonam (Moola Matha), one of his disciples, Sri Vijayindra Tirtha undertook a Chaturmasya (a religious event lasting four months) at Cochin in 1539–1540. Here, He selected Sri Hanumantha Bhatta and was given deeksha as Sri Yadavendra Tirtha.
Sri Yadavendra Tirtha went on to become head of the new Kashi Math at Varanasi established in 1542 AD. Shri Kumbhakonam Math gave two idols of Shri Vyasa and Shri Rama (Raghupati) to Shrimat Yadavendra Tirtha along with the rights to guide the Gowda Saraswats.
1) His Holiness Srimad Yadavendra Tirtha
2) His Holiness Srimad Keshavendra Tirtha
3) His Holiness Srimad Upendra Tirtha
4) His Holiness Srimad Yadavendra Tirtha II
5) His Holiness Srimad Raghavendra Tirtha
6) His Holiness Srimad Devendra Tirtha
7) His Holiness Srimad Madhavendra Tirtha
8) His Holiness Srimad Jnaneendra Tirtha
9) His Holiness Srimad Yadavendra Tirtha III
10) His Holiness Srimad Upendra Tirtha II
11) His Holiness Srimad Rajendra Tirtha
12) His Holiness Srimad Surindra Tirtha
13) His Holiness Srimad Vishnu Tirtha
14) His Holiness Srimad Vibhudendra Tirtha
15) His Holiness Srimad Sumateendra Tirtha
16) His Holiness Srimad Vasudendra Tirtha
17) His Holiness Srimad Bhuvanendra Tirtha
18) His Holiness Srimad Varadendra Tirtha
19) His Holiness Srimad Sukrateendra Tirtha
20) His Holiness Srimad Sudhindra Tirtha (MATHADHIPATI)
21) His Holiness Srimad Samyamindra Tirtha (PATTA-SHISHYA)