[October 24, 2023 is the appearance day of Śrī Madhvācārya, in Vṛndāvana India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on the disappearance day of Śrī Madhvācārya, on February 5, 2017 and February 8, 2014. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is a very special day. It is the disappearance day of Śrī Madhvācārya. He was also known as Ānanda Tīrtha and Pūrṇaprajña.
BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD PASTIMES
Externally speaking Madhvācārya appeared in 1238 AD near Uḍupī in Pājakā-kṣetra to Śrī Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa (also referred as Madhyageha) and Vedavatī. Madhvācārya’s family was poverty-stricken and before him all his siblings had passed away prematurely. [Thus, in order to beget a healthy child] Vedavatī observed a strict vow of sustaining herself only on milk for two years, and as a result she was blessed with Madhvācārya as her son.
Their family's worshipable deity was Śrī Ananta Padmanāba holding a conch, wheel, club and lotus and so his father named Madhvācārya 'Vāsudeva'. In reality, he was a śaktyāveśa–avatāra, a personality empowered by the Lord to accomplish a certain task. Being an incarnation of Bhīma and Hanumān, he displayed many feats of strength and mystical perfections.
As a child, while playing in a nearby forest, Vāsudeva killed the snake demon, Maṇimān, by crushing him with the big toe of his left foot. Vāsudeva’s father had accrued some debt from his brother. As a result, Vāsudeva’s uncle showed up one day demanding his money be returned and threatened to give up his body by fasting to death unless his father was able to return it. To settle the debt, Vāsudeva converted some tamarind seeds into authentic coins and addressed his uncle, “You please take the requisite coins and settle your dues.”
As a five year old, he proclaimed to his father, “I will refute the philosophy of Śaṅkarācārya.” His father was elderly and used to carry a walking stick. He said, “Śaṅkarācārya is Lord Śaṅkara Himself and if you are indeed to refute his philosophy then the stick I am holding will turn into a fruit bearing tree.” Straight away, Vāsudeva planted that stick into the earth pronouncing, “O stick! If I can refute Śaṅkara’s philosophy, then immediately become a fruit bearing tree.” Vāsudeva’s words came to pass as the stick instantly grew into an aśvattha tree (sacred fig tree) and bore fruits. Seeing this, his father was astounded and convinced that indeed his son was not an ordinary personality.
Once a famed wrestler challenged him, so Madhvācārya firmly placed his big toe on the earth and invited the wrestler to try and lift it, but despite exerting great force, the wrestler failed.
FINDING THE UḌUPĪ KṚṢṆA DEITY
Once a merchant ship fully loaded with cargo was stuck and unable to move. Madhvācārya was nearby at the time, and using just a few gestures, managed to bring the ship safely to shore. The captain very much appreciated this timely help and offered Madhvācārya anything among the precious items they were carrying. Madhvācārya told the sailor that he would like to take some of the gopī-candana because it was an item of daily use for him and his disciples. Out of many blocks, Madhvācārya chose two. The captain happily gifted the gopī-candana to Madhvācārya.
While he was carrying them, one block of gopī-candana broke open and a beautiful Deity of Gopāla holding a butter-churning rod in His hand appeared, which was installed by Madhvācārya in Śrī Uḍupī-kṣetra. This Deity is not in the form of Lāḍḍu Gopāla.
There is one unique feature of the temple. Śrī Gopāla is not put to rest (śayana) by closing the temple door, the window to the Deity room always remains open so anyone can have darśana of the Lord at any time.
Madhvācārya established eight maṭhas and made his eight prominent disciples in-charge of those maṭhas as ācāryas. Today, ācāryas in the disciplic succession of all eight prominent disciples, take turns to serve in the main maṭha, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Maṭha, for a period of one year on a rotational basis. They follow very strict standards of worship to this date. There is also a sacred pond in the maṭha premises. No one is allowed to use the pond to wash their hands or feet, as the water is used for cooking for the Lord.
Once, while Madhvācārya was on pilgrimage [passing through Maharashtra, along with his disciples], a local king was digging a big lake. The tyrannical king created a rule requiring whoever passed to participate in excavating mud from the pond. However, when Madhvācārya was confronted to take up this process, he first made the King submit to his own rule before proceeding.
On Māghī-śukla-navamī tithi while writing a commentary on the Aitareya Upaniṣada, he left his body.