Pajaka Kshetra-Padubelle: The birth place of Shri Madhvacharya

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Report and Pictures by Dr Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

Padubelle, 13 January 2010: Surrounded by natural greenery and granite hillocks, Pajaka Kshetra in Pdubelle, a small sleepy hamlet around 10 kilometres from the famous temple town of Udupi and around 3 kilometres from Moodubelle, seems to be an insignificant location on the map of the Tulunadu. However, Pajaka Kshetra has great significance as the birth place of Shri Madhvacharya, one of the three great Acharyas who gave their own philosophical interpretations of the ancient Vedic scriptures. The other two being Shankaracharya (seventh century) who preached the doctrine of Monism (advaita) and Ramanujacharya (twelfth century) who propounded the principle of monism and dualism (dvaitadvaita). Shri Madhvacharya’s philosophy is quite contrary to those of the other two Acharyas. He emphasized on the doctrine of dualism (dvaita).

Pajaka Kshetra, hemmed by Moodubelle on the east, Katapadi to the west, Shankarpura (Pangala) to the south and Kurkal to the north, besides being the birth place of Shri Madhvacharya, also has one of the most ancient temples, believed to be 2500 years old, on the high granite hill of Kunjarugiri dedicated to Shri Durga Parameshwari. On another granite hillock, opposite the Durga Temple is the Parashurama Betta, which has a temple dedicated to Parashurama.

As Pajaka Kshetra’s importance as a historical and religious place is associated with Shri Madhvacharya, it is important to review briefly the life, teachings and mission of this great medieval bhakti saint during the period of the famous ‘Paryaya’ Ceremonies that will be taking place at Udupi on 18th January 2010, when Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha Swamiji, the pontiff of the Shirur Mutt, one of the Eight Mutts founded by Shri Madhvacharya will ascend the Paryaya Pitha for two years with the right to worship the chief deity of the Udupi Temple, Shri Krishna and administer the Shri Krishna Mutt and the temple.

Shri Madhvacharya, whose original name was Vasudeva was born in 1238 AD on Vijyadashami day after twelve years of austerity and prayers of his parents. Right from childhood, Vasudeva manifested a keen intellect and assimilation of spiritual teachings. He was also good in sports and games of his time like swimming, trekking, wrestling and earned the nickname Bhima.

Vasudeva’s desire to devote his life to the study and interpretation of the Vedas and Vedangas prompted him to undertake the life of a monk. He was initiated to sanyasa by Achyutaprakashacharya at the age of sixteen with a new name ‘Poornaprajna’. Later, he was made the head of the Mutt and received the name of Ananda Tirtha. He assumed the name ‘Madhva’ as the author of the commentaries on the Vedas and Vedangas and became well-known as Shri Madhvacharya.

Shri Madhvacharya evolved his own philosophy of dualism (dvaita), which is also known as ‘Tattvavada’ which is contrary to the principle of Monism (Advaita) propounded by Shankaracharya. Shri Madhvacharya made extensive tour of South and North India from Kanyakumari in the south to Badrinarayan in the north. He wrote about forty books including commentaries on Upanishads, Gita, analysis of Mahabharata and Purnanas, and Rigveda. His musical composition Dwadasa Stotra is quite popular among Vaishnava devotees. Through his simple and effective preaching Shri Madhvacharya enabled the people to realize the path of devotion and salvation.

Like other Bhakti saints, Shri Madhvacharya preached the existence of One God known by many names as Narayana, Ishwara, Brahma, Vishnu and other names. He also claimed that the world is God’s reflection. He also gave a new interpretation to caste system. According to him caste was related more to one’s nature than his or her birth. Further he maintained that a spiritually enlightened chandala (outcaste) was better than an ignorant Brahmin.

Shri Madhvacharya presented a very simple vision of God and the world through his philosophy of dualism (dvaita) also known as the doctrine of Panchabeda or five differences. According to this doctrine there was an absolute distinction between God and the soul, God and matter, souls and matter, each individual soul and another, and each material thing and another. There is an unbridgeable gulf between God and all other beings because God is the only independent Reality.

After his return from North India following his first tour, Shri Madhvacharya installed the image of Lord Krishna in the Udupi Temple. According to a legend following a storm off the coast of Malpe, Shri Madhvacharya calmed the ocean and saved a ship from sinking. In gratitude, the captain of the ship offered him the entire contents of the ship. However, the Acharya declined to accept anything except lumps of gopichandana. With his divine vision, he saw in one of the lumps a beautiful and precious icon of Lord Krishna that had originally been worshipped by Rukmini herself. He carried the lumps on his shoulders and walked towards Udupi. He duly consecrated the icon in Udupi and personally worshipped it for 20 years.

Shri Madhvacharya also established Eight Mutts or Ashta Matthas. These are Palimar, Admar, Sirur, Kaniyur, Pejawar, Krishnapur, Puttige and Sode. Each Mutt was placed under a swami (pontiff). Shri Madhvacharya also laid down that these eight pontiffs would worship the Krishna image for two months each in turn. This system known as ‘Paryaya’ was modified in 1532 extending the term for two years per pontiff. Thus, Shri Madhvacharya evolved his own democratic way of managing the administration of his vast religious establishment.

It has been generally believed by his followers that Shri Madhvacharya disappeared from human sight at the age of 79 while delivering a discourse on Aitareya, his favourite Upanishad at a particular spot at Pajaka Kshetra, which is believed to carry the invisible presence of the Acharya.

Pajaka Kshetra is being developed as the pilgrimage centre for the devotees of Shri Krishna and the followers of Shri Madhvacharya. With the Shri Durga Parameshwari Temple on the Kunjarugiri and the Parashurama Betta behind, the place is also gradually acquiring the necessary attention of the government authorities to be developed as a centre of tourism. The road connecting Subhashnagar with Moodubelle passing through Pajaka Kshetra has already been widened. Hectic wooden and construction work is in progress at the birth place of Shri Madhvacharya to restore the house where he was born in the thirteenth century.

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Comments on this Article
Victor, Moodubelle Tue, August-3-2010, 11:37
Shri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Kunjarugiri BPO, Via Katapady, Udupi District, Karnataka State. PIN:574105.
G Parimalam, Bangalore Mon, August-2-2010, 10:06
I would like to have the correct postal address and contact number of the temple
Deepak,, Dombivali Fri, January-15-2010, 4:13
Good article, well researched, just like my dad
Victor D, Moodubelle / Bahrain Wed, January-13-2010, 4:30
Pajaka kshetra the birth place of Madhvacharya, Parshuram Betta, Kunjarugiri the Durga Parameshwari Temple, Udupi Sri Krishna temple, these are the main historical places of our Tulunadu. Our Bellevision reporter Dr. Eugene is the right person to make historical research about these places and gives us the glory of our great Tulunadu. Honestly we all forgotten but our Belle media tring its best bring back those historical memories to us.
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