Service of the People
Madhavacharya's father was Mayanacharya. He was a pious man of a quiet nature. He had settled down in Pampakshetra (modern Hampe) and lived peacefully and happily teaching his disciples.
He had an equally good wife, Srimatidevi. She too was of a quiet and pious nature. For a long time they had no children. They went on pilgrimage to many holy places. They performed many rituals and religious ceremonies with devotion. At last they had a son, about the year 1268. After observing the necessary rituals he was named Madhava.
After the birth of Madhava, they had two more sons and a daughter. The boys were named Sayana and Bhoganatha and the daughter was named Singala.
Madhavacharya, took the vow of a saint and saffron robes from Bharati Krishnateertha of Sringeri and was named Vidyaranya.
He was now middle-aged. He used to get up early in the morning. He bathed in Tungabhadra, came to the temple of Virupaksha and after worshipping at the temple, he came to his hermitage and engaged himself in studies and religious discourses. All his time was spent in this way and he was regular like a clock. He waited for the coming of the Man of Destiny who would establish the empire.
Years rolled by. There was no sign of his ambition getting fulfilled. Every night before going to bed he wept like a child and prayed with eyes full of tears, "Mother, one more day is wasted.
How many more days are you going to test?"
Vidyaranya asked them, "Who are you? What are your names? Tell me without hesitation why you have come here."
The elder of the youths said, "Gurudeva, we are brothers. My name is Harihara (Hakka). My brother's name is Bukkaraya (Bukka). We were once the rulers of this land. We have lost all and are now wandering without a place to claim as our own."
These youths were the sons of Sangama Deva. He was the son-in-law of Kampila Raya, King of Kummatadurga. Sangama Deva was the treasurer of the State. Enemies laid siege to Kummatadurga. They killed most of the residents mercilessly. Out of the surviving relatives of the King, eleven were taken prisoners by the soldiers of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq's army and were taken to Delhi. Hakka and Bukka were among the eleven prisoners taken to Delhi.
Later, on account of the bad administration of Tughlaq there was lawlessness in the southern states. In order to suppress it, Tughlaq freed able young prisoners and sent them to the South with his army. It was then that these two young men made use of the opportunity and escaped. They were now at the hermitage of Vidyaranya.
Having heard their story, Vidyaranya gave them shelter. He had come to the decision to build the new empire through these youths.
By making use of the celebration of this victory, Vidyaranya selected a suitable place in Pampakshetra and laid the foundation for a new city named Vidyanagara. At this time he found a hidden treasure. This helped him to build the new State. The common people believed that Vidyaranya prayed to Bhuvaneshwari and made her rain goId fora few hours.
As a fulfillment of the long cherished desire of the people, Vidyaranya laid the foundation for this new city on Thursday, the seventh day of the first half of the month of Vaishakha, during the year Dhatu (1336 A.D.). Hakka and Bukka wanted to name it Mdyanagara' (the city of education). But Vidyaranya named it 'Vijayanagara' (the city of victory).
By the grace of Bhuvaneshwarii the city grew to enormous size and was able to attract travellers from all parts of the world. The city grew to the size of 64 square miles and was the capital of Karnataka for three and a half centuries. As desired by Vidyaranya, Harihara (Hakka) became the king of the new State. Bukkaraya ruled over it after the death of Hakka. Vidyaranya guided the Kings as Prime Minister and Preceptor. Vidyaranya was called the Founder-Preceptor of Karnataka by the people.
vidyaranya laid the firm foundation of Vijayanagar empire with piety and righteousness as its cornerstones. He guided the kings properly by imparting correct knowledge regarding religion and faith, during the reign of Bukkaraya.
After the death of Harihara, there was a conflict between the Jains and Srivaishnavas of Vijayanagar on account of some difference of opinion. Vidyaranya solved their problem at that time. He advised Bukkaraya to call the leaders of both religions and tell them that there was perfect freedom to all people to follow the tenets of their religion as prescribed in their religious books; he had a royal proclamation issued which became the law of the land. It fostered a feeling of tolerance among different religions in Vijayanagar Empire.
Vidyaranya was a great saint who hard renounced everything. There was a proper blending of both militancy and other worldly approach. After the founding of the Vijayanagar Empire he felt that the mission of his life had been fulfilled. He rid the internal and external enemies, returned to Sringeri and adorned the Sharada Peetha by becoming its chief.
When Vidyaranya breathed his last, he was probably 118 years old. He dedicated his entire life for welfare of the people. And it was his main aim.
What he hated was injustice and tyranny; and what he achieved was fearlessness and willingness on the part of people to respect other religions. Those that wish to serve people must first earn the merit to serve. To achieve anything worthy it is not enough to have strength of muscle only. Along with it we must have purity and loyalty to the cause. Such people should always have before their eyes the ideal of large-heartedness.
Vidyaranya meditated long. He did not ask for personal happiness or power from Bhuvaneshwari. He begged for wisdom and the power to renounce the world. He became a monk. It was not to draw away from human suffering that he became a saint, so that he might reach the highest point of enlightenment. It was to warn the people who had lost the sense of dignity and self-respect so that they might together build a mighty empire. By the time the empire of Vijayanagar was firmly established, he had already adorned the Sringeri Sharada Peetha as its head. He made over the merit of his tapas to the newly founded empire and guided the Kings in the proper administration of the empire. He made the Kings understand that they should administer the State with the sole object of the welfare of the citizens at heart. He guided the people also to give up hatred and jealousy. He gave a very good support for all the learned people. Through this work he also learnt many things. He became the true devotee of Sharada. In reality he was a saint only so far as his personal life was concerned and practiced renunciation, clean life, loyalty and fidelity to his religion. But in public life he joined hands with kings and Common men to work for the welfare of the People.
People of Karnataka have shown their respect for this great saint and founder of Vijayanagar by installing his idol in the temple of Virupaksha in Pampakshetra (modern Hampe).
Even today we can see this statue of Vidyaranya in the temple of Virupaksha at Hampe.