[Advaita-l] Sri Appayya Dikshitar vilified by a Madhva 'scholar'

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Mar 26 02:41:56 EDT 2020

On Sun, 22 Mar 2020, V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l wrote:

> A series of blunders made by this ignorant Madhva speaker within a very
> short span of time as he speaks vilifying Srimad Appayya Dikshitendra.

It looks like he has garbled some well-known traditions and historical 
facts about eminent figures of that time.

Actually JPs life does overlap partially with AD.  JPs father Peru Bhatta 
was a Tailanga (Andhra) Brahmana who had studied in Kashi and then 
returned to his native village.  JP also received his education in Kashi. 
Father and son both studied Mimamsa under Khandadeva Mishra one of the 
most influential authors on that shastra.  Khandadeva refers to AD as 
"Mimamsaka Murdhanya" so JP would definitely have been aware of who he was
and the esteem in which the scholarly community held him.

Due to turmoil in Vijayanagara, JP left for the north again, first to 
Jaipur.  There a Muslim Qazi was preaching against Hinduism.  JP learnt 
the Islamic doctrines and swiftly defeated him in public debate.  An 
officer of the Mughal court, one Nawab Asaf Ali Khan, witnessed this and 
was impressed.  He asked JP to return with him to Delhi. when several 
years later he died, JP wrote a kavya about his patron called Asafavilasa 
to commemorate him.  Jehangir was the emperor during this time.  JPs kavya 
Jagadabharana is in praise of him.

After Jehangir, Shah Jehan became emperor and JP remained associated with 
the court (It was Shah Jehan who granted him the title Panditaraja.) and 
also spent time in the Pandit community in Kashi.  There the new sensation 
was a Marathi Brahmana named Bhattoji Dikshita.  His rearrangement of 
Panini's sutras called Siddhanta Kaumudi with autocommentary called 
Shabdamanorama caused a revolution in the study of Sanskrit Vyakarana. 
Shabdakaustubha on Panini was another major work.  Both JP and BD had 
studied vyakarana under Vireshwara of Kashis' illustrious South Indian 
Shesha family.  (I recall reading somewhere that Shri Mani Shastri Dravid 
is a descendent of this family.) BDs works criticized the old school 
as represented by Shesha Vireshwara and to JP's mind that made him a 
gurudrohi.  In works called Manoramakuchamardana and Kaustubhakhandana, JP 
attacks the new views of BD with vigor but sometimes going beyond the 
bounds of good taste.  There may have been a personal element too.  It 
seems that JP despite his intelligence was a rather vain and pompous man. 
After Asaf Khans death, JP lost a lot of his influence at court.  That the 
"big shots" of Shah Jehan's day such as the emperors son (and heir until 
he was murdered by his half-brother Aurangzeb) Dara Shikhoh and the 
Pandits of Kashi preferred youngsters like BD must have made JP quite 
jealous and this could explain the vehemence of his polemics.  This 
emnity, by the way,  was strictly one way.  BD's grandson Nagesha Bhatta 
has written several tikas on JPs works with due respect.

During these controversies, BD took a break to visit the South and learn 
Vedanta from AD who was of advanced age.  There is no evidence that AD 
came to the North.  BD stayed with AD until the latter achieved Kailasa, a 
period of about two years, and then returned to Kashi.  JP must have 
decided that anyone associated with his "enemy" must also be an enemy so 
he wrote Chitramimamsakhandana which criticizes AD's work on 
alankarashastra called Chitramimamsa.  There is no evidence, that they 
physically met.

Plus there was the issue of his supposed dalliance with a "Yavana".  It is 
not proven that it actually happened but it was widely believed at the 
time and it is said to be the hidden subtext of JPs kavya Bhaminivilasa. 
The identity of "Lavangi" mentioned in that poem is not known but she 
definitely would not have been the emperors daughter as that would be a 
death penalty offence. Be that as it may this further led to JP being 
ostracized by the Astika community.  It is said that after her death and 
that of their infant son, JP eventually saw the error of his ways and 
composed Gangalahiri and then drowned himself in the Ganga as penance.

To summarize:

1. It should be noted that both Jagannatha and Bhattoji were Vaishnavas by 
inclination but Advaitins in terms of philosophy so employing them in some 
Madhva sectarian fantasy against Appayya also an Advaitin is particularly 

2. Jagganathas main quarrel was with Bhattoji Dikshita.  Any blows against
Appayya were collateral damage.

3. From youth Jaggannatha would have been aware of the fame of Appaya and 
the respect in which his gurus such as Khandadeva held him.

4. Jagannatha had ulterior motives based on his personal life for a lot of 
his arguments.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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