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Article by Prof Dr Colonel (Retired) K Prabhakar Rao
Vidyaranya Swami (1296-1386) a distinguished scholar, spiritual guide of great eminence and a sage lived in 13-14 Th centuries in Karnataka state of India. He was born on 11 April, 1296 to Mayanacharyulu (A distinguished scholar of Vedas) and SriMati Devi. His original name was Madhavarya. Vidyaranya and his brothers initially received education from his father and subsequently left home to learn from another teacher. He was known as Vidyaranya after his renunciation in 1331. He is well known for his most scholarly works on Vedas and other scriptures that are treated as authority.
His role in arresting Islamisation of South India was very great.
13 Th century was full of events and Delhi sultans of Khilji and Tughlaq dynasties led many campaigns of war against South India and destroyed then existing and flourishing south Indian Hindu Kingdoms as a policy in fact. It was the period in which the ruling Muslim kings at Delhi and their governors followed a policy of conversion, repression, murder, mayhem, rape, destruction of Hindu temples, holy places, scriptures and persecution of Hindus in India.
Kakateeya Kindom that flourished in Andhra Pradesh at Warangal (Orugallu) for many centuries was finally destroyed by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq ( Juna Khan) ( 1325-1355) in 1323 after repeated raids and bitter fights in which Kakateeya valiant King Pratapa Rudra lost the war and was captured. It is also believed that caste feelings among the commanders of Kaakateeya Army resulted in the defeat of the kingdom. Pratapa rudra committed suicide by jumping into river Narmada ( some say Godavari) while being taken away to Delhi to ward off dishonor and with this, glory of this empire faded away. There is some dispute about his suicide and existing ballads indicate that he was rescued by his clever minister Yougandharayana and brought back to his state. However the kingdom could not be revived to past glory and soon the State disintegrated (1).
Similarly, the neighboring Kampili kingdom of Jambukeswara (Kampiliraya) in Anegondi was invaded on the pretext of harboring a rebel and destroyed by Tughlaq and the brave king died valiantly on the battle field fighting for his honor and the country. His two ministers Harihara and brother Bukka raya (Formerly in the service of Pratapa rudra) were held prisoners and were taken to Delhi and were forced to convert. They were sent back to their kingdom to rule Anegondi as governors and bring order there as it was in turmoil because revolts surfaced. Soon, the brothers converted to Hinduism and declared their freedom, once central rule became ineffective (2).
These two versatile brothers came in contact with Saint Vidyaranya and were greatly influenced by his radiant personality. Vidyaranya realized the need to protect Hinduism from the marauding Muslim rulers and their aggression in south India and he inspired the two brothers to build a city and to establish a Hindu kingdom at a particular place. Vidyaranya on earlier occasion watched some hares chasing away hunting dogs (wild dogs) on this site and he realized that the place had great potential to build an empire that would withstand Muslim invasions and persecutions in years to come. He realized that on this ground, the hunters would be hunted soon. It is believed that Swami Vidyaranya found a great dump of treasure while excavating and this wealth was used to build the city. Soon, the city of Vijayanagar surfaced at the place and this kingdom was established in 1336 and it flourished by leaps and bounds in a course of time. Kings from generation to generation withstood the onslaught of Muslim invasions and their persecution of Hindus for more than three hundred long years.
It’s might was destroyed by the combined armies of South Indian Muslim states Bijapur, Bidar, Giaconda and Ahmednagar (Birar did not take part in the war) at Tallikota battle fought on 25 December 1564. Araveeti (aliya) Rama Raya the defacto emperor of Vijaynagar led the battle agsint the Muslim army. Sadsivarayalu was the actual emperor. The battle was ferocious and the scales were tilting in favor of Hindu army when the Muslim commanders in the army of Vijaynagar committed treason and switched over to the combined Muslim armies of the Sultans along with their troops. Rama raya lost the day and was captured and killed immediately. There is a saying that any thing rising has to come down. The cities of Vijaynagar and Hampi were ransacked by the victorious Muslim armies. Earlier the royal families left the city for Penukonda with treasures leaving the people to their fate. Muslim troops stayed in the city for five months and destroyed and burnt everything by burning and breaking with hammers and crow bars with vengeance. The ferocity of destruction has no parallel and was unwarranted. No other proof in this world is required for the Hindu hatred among Muslims in the bye gone years. They killed innumerable people without discrimination. With this, the cities lost all its glory. The capital was changed to Penukonda (Anantapur District) and to Chandragiri (Chittoor District). The Vijayanagar Empire although survived for another 80 years lost its glory and faded into pages of history in 1646 plagued by feuds in dynastic succession by the short sighted rulers, treason by the vassals and rift between the minor principalities that ruined cohesion. Its last ruler was Sri Rangaraya III who in spite of valiant efforts failed to stem the rot. His vassals betrayed him. The Empire ceased to exist in 1646. Sri Ranga III probably died in 1680 devoid of empire. South India was thus saved from Islamisation by the kings of Vijayanagar. Hampi and Vijayanagar are now in ruins and are world heritage sites (3). The history of Vijaynagar gathered dust and people completely forgot about the empire till Robert Sewell, the former District collector of Bellary during the British rule gathered information on the empire and wrote the famous outstanding book, “The forgotten Empire”. He did a pioneering work and world is indeed is indebted to him. It is a shame and utter disgrace that Indians forgot about their own once glorious empire and had to be told by a European about their own history. It is believed that Swami Vidyaranya predicted at the time of building the city of Vijayanagar that the empire that is being established would last for three centuries. His prediction came true and the empire vanished after three centuries.
Swami Vidyaranya guided the destiny of the kingdom after its formation and he was the advisor to the kings Harihara Raya and Bukka Raya. He was a great historical personality who influenced course of South Indian history at a most crucial time.
Swami Vidyaranya guided the destiny of the kingdom after its formation and he was the advisor to the kings Harihara Raya and Bukka Raya. He was a great historical personality who influenced course of South Indian history at a most crucial time. There is only one parallel to Swami Vidyaranya in the history of India. It was saint (Sant) Ramdas who lived in Maharshtra State and was the spiritual guide to Chhatrapati ( King of Kings) Shivaji who was inspired by the saint and established an independent Hindu Maratha kingdom in Maharshtra under the very nose of evil emperor Aurangzeb in the 17 th century. He protected Hindu faith from the marauding Mughals and saved Hindus from persecution and forced conversions in those evil years. Maratha Empire grew to great heights in a course of few years and was in a position to even dictate terms to Mughals who by this time became weak in 18 th century. Marathas were a great bottle neck for the spread of influence of East India Company in India till they were defeated in third Panipat war (1761) by the forces of Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali Durrani. Shivaji Maharaj (Great king) is very greatly revered in India and is considered as the incarnation of Lord Shiva (14).Sant Ramdas and Swami Vidyaranya are comparable in Indian History towards their commitment for protection and revival of Hinduism and faith in the face of low Hindu morale and severe persecution by Muslims.
Swami Vidyaranya wrote many scholarly books that are considered authority in Hindu philosophical literature and these are (5) :
1. Jeevanmukti vivekamu (A treatise on salvation)
2.Anubhhoti prakashamu ( Explanation for many Upanishads)
3.Sangeeta saram ( A treatise on Indian classical music)
4.Sankara digvijayamu ( Life history of Sankaracharya)
5.Jaiminiyenyamala ( Elaboration on Dwadasa lakshani written by sage Jaimini )
6.Vivarana prameya sangraha. (Commentary on Vivarana written by sage
Prakashatma and on Pancha padeeka written by Sri Padmapadacharyudu who was
disciple of Adi Sankaracharya)
8.Panchadasi( A treatise on Adwaita Philosophy)
9.Brihadaranya virikasaramu ( A treatise and commentary on the commentary
written by Sri Sureswara ( Ist Disciple of Sankaracharya) on Briharanyakopanishad
which is an important source for Adwaita philosophy
10 . Prayaschitta Suddhanidhi ( A treatise on aspects of ill conduct by men that lead
to downfall and poverty and degradation)
11. Sayana Veda Bhashyamu (detailed explanations on Vedas aided by Sayanacharya, his brother and a distinguished scholar)
The magnum opus of Vidyaranya was the explanations for Vedas which no one has undertaken including Adi Sankaracharya and this is known as Sayana veda Bhashyam. Vidyaranya Swami identified causes for Hindu down fall as a result of interaction with Islam and these are explained in the great book Prayaschitta Suddhanidhi ( A treasure of atonement for the sins). He realized the importance and need for revitalizing the Hindus and build faith and inspire them about their own religion. He fore saw that unless they were fully aware of the greatness of their religion, they would be attracted towards Islam. Writing of Veda Bhashyam was an effort towards this. He identified 14 evil acts and sins of greatest magnitude that result in down fall, degradation, sickness, ailments and loss of wealth, defeat hands and finally death at the hands of enemies. These are (6) :
1.Physical union with menstruating women
2.Tasting the food eaten by menstruating women
3.Physical union with widows
4.Physical union with unmarried girls
5.Moving around with people who have left the right path and leading a wayward life
6.Moving with completely fallen men and sleeping with them
7.Eating in the same plate with people described above
8.Touching female genitals with tongue
9.Oral sex by men and women
10.Taking away the property of temples
11.Taking away the properties of Brahmins and learned men
12.Accepting rewards and gifts from people who live by the acts described above.
13. Accepting prohibited goods
14.Eating evil food and making mockery of those who lead pious lives
People who resort to above would loose their wealth and soon would be victims of ailments such as Heart problems, Diabetes, Stomach ailments, ulcers, Piles, Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Oral cancer and many life threatening ailments. The book reveals how the Hindu commanders, leaders and kings were given to unnatural bad habits in company of Muslim prostitutes, women of easy virtue, notch girls and dancers in those days that resulted in the down fall of Hindus and how they lost their power, kingdoms and lives at the hands of enemies. Swami Vidyaranya in his book also gave the requirement of following certain rituals to overcome such evil effects.
Swami Vidyaranya who was committed to revival of Hindu spirit guided King Bukkaraya as his prime Minister in 1356 and guided the destiny of the kingdom in the formative years and in 1372 retired from political activities and concentrated in spiritual activities as Head of Sringeri religious Establishment. He passed away in 1386 after a glorious life and his role has been written in golden pages of Indian History. His memory has become immortal through his scholarly writings and contribution in building Hindu resistance against Muslim persecution in the most crucial years.
1. Prof Dr colonel ( retired) K Prabhakar Rao, Strategic Studies into Muslim fundamentalism, its rise in India and its growing threat to India security across the borders, Ph D Thesis ( Strategic studies), 2003, USA
2.Dr K Vidyavathi, Vijayanagara Sasanaalu ( Inscriptions), Ph D Thesis. Published by Navodaua Book House, opposite to Arya Samaj Kachiguda Cross Roads, Hyderabad, AP, India 1994, PP 28-31
3. R C Majumdar, HC Ray Chaudhry, Kalikinkar Dutta, An advanced History of India, Macmillan, London, St Martin’s Press, 1967, PP 359-367
4. Ibid, PP 505-515, 671-674
5. Dr Veda Vyasa, Vidyaranya Swami Charitra ( The history of Vidyaranya), Vedavyasa Bharati Publications, Yogamitra Mandali, Sri Konala Nukaraju, secretary, USCEFI( Publication division) 18-92/5 D AV Apppa Rao Road, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District) Andhra Pradesh, India, 1990, PP 91-101
GENERAL RELATED REFERENCES AND ARTICLES
1. Prof Dr Colonel (Retired) K Prabhakar Rao, Strategic studies into Muslim fundamentalism and its rise in India and it’s growing threat to India’s security across the borders. Ph D Thesis in Strategic studies, 2003,
2. Prof Dr Colonel (Retired) K Prabhkar Rao,The commandments for a Hindu for whom Hinduism is a way of life,www.faithcommons.org, September 26, 2007, 09:32
3. Robert Sewell (Collector of Bellary district during British rule in India), A forgotten empire
4. Domingos Paes, Fernao Nuniz, (Compiled by Vasundhara Filliozat), The Vijaynagar Empire, Director of National Book trust, India , New Delhi, 1977
( Paes and Nuniz were Portuguese, European travelers who visited Vijay nagar empire in 16 th century at the time of its zenith and recorded their findings and forms the eye account)
5. Dr CV Ramachandra Rao, South Indian History ( In Telugu), 1336-1765, Telugu Academy, Hyderabad, 1991, PP 8-61
6. Vijaynagar Empire, Wikepedia
7. Dr C V Ramachandra Rao, Raya Vachakam, Compilation, Andhra Sahitya Academy, 1982
Note. This article is written to provide information on Vidyaranya Swamy who was a distinguished personality in Indian history in 14 th century who struggled to uphold and save Hindu faith under severe persecution by Muslims. He was referred in the article ‘The commandments for a Hindu for whom Hinduism is a way of life’, September 26, 2007, 09:32 on faithcommons.org
PS. This article was published n faithcommons.org earlier and the site at present is not functional.