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Title: Madhavacharya  
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For Madhvacharya, the proponent of Dvaita philosophy, see Madhvacharya.
Sri Vidyaranya Mahaswamiji
Nationality Indian
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 Mādhava Vidyāranya is variously known as being a kingmaker, patron saint and high priest to Harihara Raya I and Bukka Raya I, the founders of the Vijayanagar Empire. He was the 12th Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham from 1380 to 1386 A.D.[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). He helped the brothers establish the empire sometime in 1336 AD. He later served as a mentor and guide to three generations of kings who ruled over the Vijayanagar empire. Vijayanagara or Hampi, the capital of the empire, has a temple dedicated to Mādhavācārya. He is the author of the Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha (सर्वदर्शनसङ्रह), a compendium of different philosophical schools of Hindu thought and Pañcadaśī, an important text in the Advaita Vedanta tradition.

As Vidyaranya

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. He was a Hindu statesman and philosopher who lived at the court of Vijayanagara, the Southern Hindu kingdom. He is believed to have served as a minister under King Bukka of the Vijayanagara empire. 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 Sarva-darśana-saṅ̇graha (Compendium of Speculations), a compendium of all the known Indian schools of philosophy. To quote Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha “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:[2]

  1. Cārvāka
  2. Buddhism
  3. Arhata or Jaina
  4. Purna-Prajna
  5. Nakulisa-Pasupata
  6. Saivaism
  7. Pratyabhijña
  8. Raseśvara
  9. Vaiseshika or Aulukya
  10. Akshapada or Nyaya
  11. Jaimini
  12. Paniniya
  13. Sankhya
  14. Patanjala or Yoga
  15. Vedanta or Adi Shankara

The Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha itself doesn’t contain the 16th chapter (Advaita Vedanta, or the system of Sankara), 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”.[3]

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[4] 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.

Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha 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.[5]

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

Founding of Vijayanagara empire

Harihara Raya I and Bukka Raya I were two Kannada Hoysala Dynasty Army Chiefs. After the Kakatiyas were defeated by Muslim sultans, Harahara and Bukka were forced to convert to Islam. Vidyaranya identified them, reconverted them back and asked them to identify a place to establish a Hindu empire.

When they were traveling, they found a place where a rabbit was chasing a dog. When Vidyaranya was told about the miracle at this place, he planned to establish the kingdom there. As Vidyaranya was also a great astrologer, he as identified a muhurta (auspicious time) for laying the foundation stone, so that the empire would last for 2000 years. When everything was set, the guru told his students that he would go over the next hill, observe the celestial star positions and blow the shankha, or conch shell horn, at which moment the students should lay the foundation stone. After some time, Harihara and Bukka heard a sound of conch and the laid the foundation stone. After a few minutes, they heard another sound. Later the guru asked them for which sound they laid the stone, to which they replied, the first one. The guru calculated the horoscope for the time at which the first sound was heard. He predicted that the empire would last for only two hundred years. The first blow of conch was by a Jangama-Devaru (one who begs). It is said that before the event had happened, Vidyaranya, seeing the Muslim genocide of Hindus, did tapas (Meditation) for Bhuvaneswari Devi (the goddess of the Earth). When she appeared, he asked her for a Hindu empire for 2000 years, but she said that the time does not favor Hindus and gave the boon for only 200 years.

See also



  • Indian Philosophy - a Popular Introduction: Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, People's Publishing House, New Delhi, 7th edition 1993
  • Template:1911

External links

  • Biography at
  • by Madhavacharya (Vidyaranya Swami) - tr by E.B.Cowell (1882) at
  • by Vidyaranya Swami (Sanskrit Text with Hindi Translation) at
  • by Vidyaranya Swami, with Hindi translation at
  • by Vidyaranya Swami, with English translation at
  • of Vidyaranya at
  • Shankara Digvijaya [2] at
Preceded by
Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha
Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Succeeded by
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati I
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