Vadiraja Tirtha

Huvinakere in present day Kundapura Taluk of Udupi district, Karnataka
Religious career
GuruVagisha Tirtha
Literary worksYuktimallika,Rukminisha Vijaya

Sri Vadiraja Tirtha (c.1480 – c.1600[1]) was a Dvaita philosopher, poet, traveller and mystic. He authored many works, often critical, on Madhva theology and metaphysics. Additionally, he composed numerous poems and as the pontiff of Sodhe Mutt, renovated the temple complex at Udupi and established the Paryaya system of worship. [2] He also enriched the Kannada literature of the time by translating Madhvacharya's works to Kannada,[3] giving impetus and contributing to the Haridasa movement. He has influenced both Carnatic and Hindustani music through his compositions. His compositions are mainly in Kannada and Sanskrit. His mudra is 'Hayavadana'. His works are characterised by their poetic flourishes, wit and humour.[4] [note 1]


Vadirajaru was born as Bhuvaraha in Huvinakere, a village in the Kundapura taluk. He was ordained as a monk at the age of 8 and placed into the care of Vidyanidhi Tirtha and later Vagisha Tirtha, who oversaw his education.[5] Works of contemporary Haridasas and oral traditions point to Vadirajaru being a student of Vyasatirtha along with Vijayendra Tirtha though he never acknowledged Vyasatirtha as his mentor in his works. He eventually assumed the pontifical seat of the mutt at Sodhe, succeeding Vagisha Tirtha. Vadiraja seems to have wielded some influence in the court of the Nayakas of Keladi as Vadiraja's successor, Vedavedya Tirtha, received grants of villages from Keladi Venkatappa Nayak. [1] In 1512, Vadiraja began his tour of the pilgrimages in India lasting for two decades, the details of which he recorded in his travelogue entitled Tirtha Prabanda. A number of miracles have been ascribed to him during these journeys such as resurrection of the dead and exorcism of demons. [6] Traditional accounts also speak of his expertise in occult and of an incident involving the taming of a forest spirit called Annappa or Bhutaraja. [7] Vadiraja is known to have debated the Jain scholars at Moodabidri and Karkala and converted a sect of goldsmith community to the Dvaita fold.They are identified as Daivajnyas.[8] It was around the same time that he restructured the organisation of the temple at Udupi, established the Ashta Mathas around the temple and renovated the temple itself. The religious reforms initiated by him survive to this day. A life of 120 years is ascribed to him.[3] Though the veracity of this claim may be questioned, Sharma notes "there is no doubt he (Vadiraja) enjoyed a long life presiding over the mutt at Sodhe, established by him, for a number of years".[4] His mortal remains (Brindavana) are enshrined at Sodhe.


Vadiraja contributed to Dasa Sahitya, writing several poems under the ankita naama Hayavadana. Yuktimalika is considered to be his work of importance. Sharma notes "The work is brimming with freshness and originality of approach and ideas". [9] He also composed several poems, notable of which is an epic poem of 19 cantos titled Rukminisha Vijaya.

Notable works

Vadiraja is credited with more than sixty works. [10] His body of work is diverse, ranging from short hymns and epic poems to scholarly works on the metaphysical intricacies of Dvaita. Many of his independent works are critical directed not only at Advaita but heterodox schools like Buddhism and especially Jainism which flourished in the South Canara region in the 16th century. [11]

List of scholarly works

Name Description References
Upanyasaratnamala Collective title given to the commentary on the trilogy of refutations by Madhva (Upadhi Khandana,Mayavada Khandana,Mithyatva Anumana Khandana) [10]
Tattva Prakasika Guruvartha Dipika Commentary on the Tattva Prakasika of Jayatirtha [12]
Nyaya Sudha Guruvartha Dipika Commentary on the Nyaya Sudha of Jayatirtha [12]
Ekona-Panchapadika A non-extant polemical treatise criticising the Panchapadika of Padmapadacharya [13]
Vivaranavranam A polemical treatise criticising the Vivarana by Prakashatman of the Vivarana school of Advaita [13]
Pasandakhandanam A polemical treatise directed against the tenets of Buddhism and Jainism [14]
Yuktimalika An independent treatise arguing for the logical supremacy of Dvaita over other schools of thought [15]
Nyayaratnavali An epigrammatical critique of the Advaita doctrines [16]
Madhvavagvajravali A non-extant work possibly containing arguments against Advaita [17]
Kalpalata A work dealing with the epistemology of Dvaita [18]
Lakshalankara Commentary on the Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya of Madhva [19]

List of literary works

Name Description References
Rukminisha Vijaya A poetic rendition of the

Rukmini Haran Leela of Rukmini and Krishna

Tirtha Prabanda A travelogue detailing the pilgrimages undertaken by Vadiraja [20]
Bhugola Varnanam An interpretation of Hindu cosmology according to Dvaita [21]
Lakshmi Shobhana A poem about the marriage of Lakshmi and Narayana


  1. ^ Madhva community believes him to be an incarnation of Latavya, a deity supposed to assume the position of Vayu in the next kalpa


  1. ^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 190.
  2. ^ Rao 2002, p. 33.
  3. ^ a b Dalal 2010.
  4. ^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 192.
  5. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 191-192.
  6. ^ Rao 2002, p. 72-76.
  7. ^ Rao 2002, p. 77.
  8. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 193.
  9. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 201.
  10. ^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 196.
  11. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 194.
  12. ^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 197.
  13. ^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 198.
  14. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 199.
  15. ^ Pandurangi 1992.
  16. ^ Betty 1978.
  17. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 210.
  18. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 211.
  19. ^ a b Zydenbos 1994, p. 177.
  20. ^ Zydenbos 1994, p. 176.
  21. ^ Murthy 2008.