“We understand from our acharyas that Vayu had 3 incarnations: first is Hanumanji, second is Bhima, and third Sripad Madhavacharya.” – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami narrates the birth of Madhvacharya
It is explained that when great personalities have longing in their heart, it is Paramatma that inspires them. You see, at that time the Mayavada teachings of Sripad Shankaracharya were predominant over the whole of India. There was practically nowhere that anyone could find the proper understanding of the Vedic scriptures. We know that from the Puranas – Vishnu Purana – that Lord Shiva was ordered by Vishnu to take birth as Shankaracharya to create a Mayavada conception of the Vedas for the purpose of promoting the effects of evils of Kaliyuga. He did such a thorough job. He established the authority of Vedas. But the authority which he conceived was undermining the very purpose of the Vedas: jiver svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa, we are the eternal servants of Krishna.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “If anyone hears Mayavada Philosophy even once submissively, their devotion is ruined.” Even if a person is living in Vaikuntha, he will fall down if he hears this philosophy, because it destroys the whole sentiment of service, and inflames the egoistic propensity to want to become one with God. And the followers of Shankaracharya, over the generations, had become very, very powerful and they held exclusively the reigns of the Vedic culture. To speak against them, what to speak of to challenge them was utter heresy. But many sincere people they could see that this philosophy is full of contradictions and misinterpretations, but what could they say?
Ramanaujacharya appeared in the eastern part of South India, and he did a very formidable job of teaching what he called ‘Qualified Monism’.
“It is explained in the ‘Madhva Vijay’, authorised biography of Sripad Madhavacharya, the great sages, Rishis and some of the devatas, they actually prayed to the Lord to save the earth from the influence of Mayavada philosophy. And he told that he would send his dear servant Vayu to expand himself as an incarnation to do this work.”- Radhanath Swami
Madhyageha and Vedavati tried by many means for many years, but there was no son. They understood: for the purpose of child to be good, there has to be tapasya. It is not that great things come cheap. There is no greater benediction to a householder than to have a God conscious child who could liberate the world. This is what they wanted. They were living here at the Pajaka Kshetra; they would walk all the way to Udupi, and they would do prayer and tapasya for the pleasure of Ananteshwar. We have just come from Udupi; Udupi is the name for the king of the stars, which is the moon. There are two very ancient temples there: one is Chandramualeshwar Shiva, who is holding the moon upon his head. It is said that Udupi was named after him: ‘Lord Shiva who holds the moon.’ And there is also the temple of Ananteshwar who is Vishnu, resting upon Anant Sesha; it is appearing like a shiva-linga but it’s actually Lord Vishnu.
“So Madhyageha Bhatt and his good wife Vedavati would go there (Udupi) and they would worship that deity (Ananteshwar). In fact, they worshipped that deity for 12 years, praying for a son. And doing that for 12 years, they fasted ‘Payovrata’, only taking some milk, some banana.” – Radhanath Swami
This place at that time was very beautiful. It was a vast forest between here and Udupi, and Madhyageha Bhatt who was a land owner who would grow crops. But still each day he would travel those long miles, spend hours and hours and hours doing his puja.
One day there was a big festival in Ananteshwar temple. At that time one of the priests of the temple, he got up on the raised platform where the flag is showing; and he called out with tremendous inspiration, “Lord Ananteshwar is speaking that very soon a child will be born who will be a dear associate of the Lord, who will establish real religion in this age of Kali.” Within his heart, Madhyageha Bhatt knew – that was the message that his prayers and tapasya would be fulfilled.
“Soon after, in this very place, where this beautiful little temple is, Sripad Madhavacharya was born: beautiful child, exhibiting such transcendentally beautiful features. Symbols that were present on his body indicated that he was truly a great soul. His father and mother named him Vasudev.” – Radhanath Swami
When he was just a little child, so many stories are recorded of his incredible qualities. We understand from our acharyas that Vayu had 3 incarnations: first is Hanumanji, second is Bhima, and third Sripad Madhavacharya.
Radhanath Swami narrates pastimes of Madhvacharya’s Childhood
So little Vasudev, he exhibited such incredible qualities. We know Bhima, he performed pastimes of eating a lot; Prabhuapad explains one of his name is Vrikodar, which means one who has incredible appetite and digestion like a wolf. So one time, Vasudeva’s mother and father, they had to go somewhere so they told his sister to baby sit for him and he started crying. So, there is one horse gram, which is usually used to feed oxen, grains. And there was big pile, bigger than what a heard of oxen could eat, and he ate the whole mountain, although he was an infant, a child. When the mother returned and sister told her what happened, she was very much worried. But he did not show even the slightest detection of indigestion.
Another time, early, early morning, his parents happened to just turn their heads and when they turned around again he was gone. They searched everywhere; the whole town and village was looking for Vasudev, but they could not find him. Around sunset time, they happened to see a huge bull entering into the town, and hanging from its tail was little Vasudev. From before sunrise to after sunset he was holding onto the tail of this bull taking a nice excursion of the countryside.
As he grew up little… in this temple, there is a stone, you will see it. It’s a rock, and it was said it was Madhavacharya’s desk. His father began to teach him the alphabet, and that’s what he learnt. This is when he was hardly 5 years old. His father gave him the sacred thread, and initiated him and started teaching him the Sanskrit language and alphabet, grammar, and started teaching him the scriptures. And he was such an incredibly astute student that he could not even tolerate if his father or any other teacher would repeat a lesson more than once. He would listen and that’s all. He was very good at sports; he would jump from mountain to mountain. Whatever he did, he was the champion. So sometimes his teachers were thinking that how he would learn; he was always playing. He said, “You ask me. What question you have?” When they asked him anything, he would explain them everything – all the lectures they had given even weeks and months before. This is the brilliance of his memory.
Radhanath Swami speaks the story of the tamrind tree
One day a business person came to the house. He had loaned the father of Vasudev some money to buy 2 oxen. Now father, Madhygeha Bhatta, he was struggling as farmer and he was not able pay the debt. So in those days, there was such a sense of honour and integrity that if a guest came to your house, whoever it was, until they are satisfied, you could not eat. Now in those days people used to do – to get their debts paid – they would come to your house and they would sit down – not in your house, not outside your house, but right at your doorstep – and they would fast. What does that mean? That meant, you cannot eat, you cannot go anywhere out, and you cannot even drink water until your guest is satisfied. And this was a very very excellent technique of getting your debts paid.
So Vasudev came home after playing and he saw this man sitting on his doorstep. He said, “Why are you here?” The man didn’t answer. Then, he asked his father, and said, “Father, it’s already beyond time for taking Prasad. Why are you not taking Prasad? Let’s go and take Prasad.” Father said, “I cannot take Prasad.” Vasudev understood. He came to the man at the door and he said, “You please come with me.” He was so beautiful, so charming. No one could refuse him.
So just over here is a tamarind tree which has immortal history. He brought him to this tamarind tree and Vasudev filled his own hands with tamarind seeds and offered them as a gift. The man we are speaking of opened his hands and Vasudev filled his hands with these tamarind seeds. He looked in his hands, and each tamarind seed turned into gold coins, exactly the amount of the debt and more. So, this man came to Madhavacharya’s father and told him, “Your debt is paid. Thank you very much.” And then they took nice Prasad together.