Madhava Theertharu is the third of the four direct disciples of Acharya- Madhwacharya (the others being Padmanabha Theertha, Narahari Theertha and Akshoba Theertha). His Punya Dheena falls on October 16.
Madhava Theertha took over as the head of the Madhwa matha or Madhwa Samasthana after Narahari Theertha and he is believed to have ruled over the Dwaitha pontificate from 1333 to 1349.
He is supposed to be an avatar of Garuda. Scholars believe that his Brindavana was initially at Hampi but subsequently shifted to Mannur on the banks of river Bheema in Afzalpur taluk of Gulbarga district. Mannur today is a small village 65 kms from Gulbarga and there are buses to this place from Afzalpur (29 kms) and Gulbarga . Bangalore is almost 510 kms away.
The Paduke he wore are still there in Mannur. Apart from his brindavana, Mannur is home to brindavanas of several other Madhwa saints such as Vedesha Theertha. Two Madhwa saints-Yadavaryaru and Govinda Odeyaru spent time here.
Earlier known as Vishnu Shastri, Madhava Theertha is believed to have written commentaries on the four Vedas-Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda. He is also said to be the author of Parashara Madhava Vijaya, a study on parasharasmruti but nothing much of this book is known. It is presumably lost forever.
Not many know that the credit for starting a Madhwa mathas-the Majjigehalli Matha (near Tambihalli in Mulabagal, Kolar) – goes to Madhava Theertha.
Madhava Theertha anointed one of his disciples, Madurai Theertha, to look after the Majjigehalli matha and gave him the idols of Veera Rama to worship. This was one of the many idols that Madhwacharya had personally worshipped.
He also gave ashrama to Akshobya Theertha amd asked him to take care of the Dwaitha matha.
There is a story told about Madhava Theertha when he was worshipping the idol of Lord Krishna in Udupi. The idol was installed by Madhwacharya and after him, it was worshipped by Padmanabha Theertha and Narahari Theerta.
During the course of the pooja to Lord Krishna, Madhava Theertha got up suddenly prostrated himself and then sat down with folded hands. After some time, he held out his hands and drank some water which was put in his hand.
Later, Madhava Theertha told the assembled gathering, which looked dumbfounded, that he had seen Madhwacharya come to the idol and perform Pooje. “I took theertha from the Acharya”, he said.
A surprising aspect is that Sri Jaya Theertha (Teekachar whose brindavana is at Malked in Gulbarga) has written about several saints, including his gurugalu-Akshobya Theertha. He has written about Padmanabha Theertha and Narahari Theertha and of course Madhwacharya but there is no mention of Madhava Theerta.
Mannur also has a beautiful idol of Chenna Keshava which was supposedly consecrated by Dhruva.The temple is more than 1,000 years old. In earlier times, Mannur was known as Manipuri and it was a prosperous city of the Chalukyas during the reign of Vikramaditya (a successor to the Chalukya throne after Pulakeshi ). Chalukyan accounts state that Mannur was an important centre imparting education. Centuries ago, Mannur’s Agara was famous for imparting education in Vyakarna, astrology, tarka, Vedanta, nyaya and other subjects to students.
In 2006, the Bheema had submerged the Brindavana under its waters and also the Vedesha Theertha Vidyapeetha. Check out the ancient Yellamama and Jain Temple here. Spend time at the Uttaradhi Matha. .
Please do not confuse this saint by another Madhwa saint of the same name. In 1766, the then Peetadhipathi of Shirror Math (this was one of the eight or asta maths set up by Madhwacharya to look after the Krishna temple in Udupi), Lakshmi Manohara Theertha, set up the Kanva Matha at Hunasehole in Surapur taluk of Gulbarga district under Venkateshacharya who later came to be called Madhava Theertha.
This matha was set up to exclusively cater to the needs of those who followed Shukla Yajur Veda. The brindavana of Madhava Theertha (Kanva Matha) is at Buddhini, which is off the Maski-Lingsugur state highway (No 19) road in Raichur district. The brindavana was built in 1810.
If you have time, visit Malkhed where you can have darshana of Brindavana of Alkshiba Theertha, Jaya Theertha and Raghunatha Theertha (a contemporary of Vyasa Theertha and head of the Uttaradi Matha) and Yeregol where the brindavana of Ramachandra Theertha and Vidyanidhi Theertha are located. Look for the cave in Yeregol where Jaya Theertha wrote most of his classics.