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Sri Vidyaranya Mahaswamiji
Nationality Vijayanagara empire
Senior posting
Title Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Period in office 1380–1386
Predecessor Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha
Successor Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati I

Vidyāraṇya, also known as Madhavacharya or Mādhava Vidyāranya, is variously known as a kingmaker, patron saint and high priest to Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, the founders of the Vijayanagara Empire. He was the 12th Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada Pītham from 1380-6.[1] He was born to Māyaṇācārya and Śrīmatīdevī in Pampakṣetra (modern-day Hampi) in 1268 CE. Another account has it that he was born in Ekasila Nagari (modern Warangal).

Vidyāraṇya helped the brothers establish the empire sometime in 1336. He later served as a mentor and guide to three generations of kings who ruled over the Vijayanagara Empire. Vijayanagara (Hampi), the capital of the empire, had a temple dedicated to Mādhavācārya.

Vidyāraṇya is the author of the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha, a compendium of different philosophical schools of Hindu philosophy and Pañcadaśī, an important text for Advaita Vedanta.

As Vidyaranya


Vidyaranya was born around 1300 A.D. in Shalivahan (शालिवाहन) South India. Madhava Madhavacharya, Madhavamantri, Madhavamataya were the names which Vidyaranya was known before his turning into recluse.[2][3]

His father was Mayana (मायण) and Mother Srimati (श्रीमती), two brothers Sayana (सायण),[4] and Bhogantha (भोगनाथ). He had two Gurus Sarvagyvishnu (सर्वज्ञविष्णु) and Bhartiteerth (भारतीतीर्थ). He established Vijayanagar Empire in 1335 AD with the help of Hukkayaray and Bukkaray. He was also Prime Minister of the Vijayanagar empire. Vidyaranya, was also the spiritual head of Sringeri Math in 1377 A.D to 1386 A.D. He died in 1391 AD.[2]

Vidyaranya was an exponent of the Advaita school of philosophy in Hinduism. He is said to be the brother of Sāyaṇācārya who wrote a commentary on the four Vedas. His younger brother, Shyapa, was associated with him in the administration and was a famous commentator on the Rigveda. Shyapa's commentaries were influenced by and dedicated to Mādhava.


Vidyaranya's most famous works are Pārāśara-Mādhavīya and the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha "Compendium of school of philosophies", a compendium of all the known Indian schools of philosophy. To quote Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha "sketches sixteen systems of thought so as to exhibit a gradually ascending series, culminating in the Advaita Vedanta (or non-dualism)." The sixteen systems of philosophy expounded by him are:[5]

  1. Cārvāka
  2. Buddhism
  3. Arhata or Jainism
  4. Purna-Prajña
  5. Nakulisa-Paśupata
  6. Shaivism
  7. Pratyabhijña (Kashmir Shaivism)
  8. Raseśvara
  9. Vaisheshika or Aulukya
  10. Akshapada or Nyaya
  11. Jaimini
  12. Pāṇiniya
  13. Samkhya
  14. Patanjala or Yoga
  15. Vedanta or Adi Shankara

The Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha itself doesn’t contain the 16th chapter (Advaita Vedanta, or the system of Adi Shankara), the absence of which is explained by a paragraph at the end of the 15th chapter, (the Patanjali-Darsana). It says: “The system of Sankara, which comes next in succession, and which is the crest-gem of all systems, has been explained by us elsewhere, it is therefore left untouched here”.[6]

Vidyaranya tries to refute, chapter by chapter, the other systems of thought prominent in his day. Other than Buddhist and Jaina philosophies, Vidyaranya draws quotes directly from the works of their founders or leading exponents[7] and it also has to be added that in this work, with remarkable mental detachment, he places himself in the position of an adherent of sixteen distinct philosophical systems.

Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha is one of the few available sources of information about lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy in ancient India. In the very first chapter, "The Cārvāka System", he critiques the arguments of lokayatikas. While doing so he quotes extensively from Cārvāka works. It is possible that some of these arguments put forward as the lokayata point of view may be a mere caricature of lokayata philosophy. Yet in the absence of any original work of lokayatikas, it is one of the very few sources of information available today on materialist philosophy in ancient India.


Vidyaranya's Pañcadaśī is a standard text on the philosophy of the Advaita Vedanta tradition. It consists of fifteen chapters which are divided into three sections of five chapters each, which are designated as Viveka(Discrimination), Dipa(Illumination) and Ananda(Bliss). The text elucidates many Vedantic concepts such as, the five sheaths of an individuality, the relation between Isvara(God), Jagat(world) and Jiva(individual), the indistinguishability of cause and effect etc.[8]

Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya

Vidyaranya wrote Madhavia Shankara Vijaya also known as Samkshepa-Sankara-Vijaya. The book is about life and achievements of Shankara BhagavatPada (Adi Sankara).

Vidyaranya also wrote a commentary on the Mimamsa Sutras. He attained Siddhi after a six year stint as an acharya of the monastery of Sringeri.

Founding of Vijayanagara empire

According to one narrative, Harihara Raya I and Bukka Raya I were two brothers in the service of the Kampili chief. After Kampili fell to the Muslim invasion, they were taken to Delhi and converted to Islam. They were sent back to Kampili as the Delhi Sultan's vassals. After gaining power in the region, they approached Vidyaranya, who converted them back to the Hindu faith.[9][10] The historical authenticity of this narrative is doubtful. The contemporary documents, including the inscriptions issued by the earliest rulers of Vijayanagara, do not mention this account. The contemporary Muslim records refer to Harihara (as "Harip" or "Haryab"), but do not mention anything about his conversion to Islam, although they contain details of other converts from Deccan. The first works to mention this narrative were written over 200 years after the establishment of Vijayanagara.[11]

A local legend goes like this: Once, during a hunt, Harihara saw a big rabbit and sent his hunting dog after it. However, the rabbit bit the dog and escaped. While returning from the hunt, Harihara saw a holy man, and narrated the strange incident to him. The holy man was Vidyaranya. The two men went to the place where the rabbit had escaped. Vidyaranya told him that the place was sacred, and advised him to establish the capital of his new kingdom there.[12]

See also


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mādhava Āchārya". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vidyabhaskar, Ramavatar. Panchadasi (in Hindi). Krishnakumar Sharma, PO. Ratangarh, Dist. Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dhole, Nandalal (1899). A Handbook of Hindu Panteism. The Panchdasi of Sreemut Swami. 1 (2013 ed.). Heeralal Dhole Musjid Bari Street Calcutta.CS1 maint: location (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Subodh Kapoor. Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography Vol.2. Genesis Publishing (P) Ltd. p. 620.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Cowell and Gough, p. 22.
  6. Cowell and Gough, p. 273.
  7. Cowell and Gough, p. vii.
  8. Krishnananda, p. 4,5.
  9. Jaywant Joglekar (2006). Decisive Battles India Lost (326 B. C. to 1803 A. D.). p. 69. ISBN 978-1-84728-302-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. R. Blake Michael (1992). The Origins of Vīraśaiva Sects: A Typological Analysis of Ritual and Associational Patterns in the Śūnyasaṃpādane. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 26–. ISBN 978-81-208-0776-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Phillip B Wagoner (2000). David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence (ed.). Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia. University Press of Florida. pp. 300–301. ISBN 978-0-8130-3099-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. B. R. Modak (1995). Sayana. Sahitya Akademi. p. 6. ISBN 978-81-7201-940-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Cowell, E.B.; Gough, A.E. (1882). Sarva-Darsana Sangraha of Madhava Acharya: Review of Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy. New Delhi: Indian Books Centre/Sri Satguru Publications. ISBN 81-703-0875-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Indian Philosophy - a Popular Introduction: Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, People's Publishing House, New Delhi, 7th edition 1993
  • Krishnananda, (Swami). The Philosophy of the Panchadasi. Rishikesh: The Divine Life Society Sivananda Ashram.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Radhakrishnan, S (1929). Indian Philosophy, Volume 1. Muirhead library of philosophy (2nd ed.). London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Mādhava Āchārya" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha
Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Succeeded by
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati I