Vadiraja Theertha is one of the most famous Dwaitha saints. His contribution in the field of Madhwa religion, philosophy and Dasa sahitya is unmatched.
Prof B N K Sharma, the Dwaitha scholar, ranks him alongside Madhwacharya and Jaya Theertha in the scholastic order. Vadiraja Theertha is one of the longest living saints. He was born in Huvinakere near Kumbashi in Kundapur taluk in 1480 and entered Brindavana 120 years later at Sode in Sirsi taluk.
However, what many people are not aware of is that Vadiraja Thertha had a brother who was also a seer and that he also headed a Madhwa matha during the period of his illustrious brother.
Vadiraja Theertha was already a Sanyasi when his brother was born. He came back from one of his tours, met his aged parents-Ramachandra and Gowri Devi- and conducted the Upanayana of his younger brother.
Thereafter, Vadiraja Theertha left on his Sanchara and his brother continued to live with his parents at their ancestral house in Hoovinakere. Meanwhile, Vadiraja’s brother learnt all the vedas and Shastras in the course of time he mastered all the religious texts.
A few years later, Gowri Devi passed away and then Ramachandra. After this incident Vadiraja’s brother lost interest in the materialistic world and gave up all the properties to Sode Matha.
He then began staying in the matha itself and began to led a monastic life. He then sought out Vadiraja Theertha and urged him to give Sanyasa deeksha.
Vadiraja then gave Sanyasa deeksha to his brother and named him Surothama Theertha. He then placed him under the care of Raghuvallabha Thertha of Banderkeri Matha. Surothama Theertha ascended the Bandarkeri Matha seat after his guru. He was the 14th seer of the matha founded by Madhwacharya himself.
Interestingly, Surothama Theertha was in Udupi when the Kanakana Kindi incident is supposed to have taken place in the
. Sri Krishna Temple
He has written commentaries on Vadiraja Yukti Mallika and Vishnu Theertha’s Sanyasapaddhati. In his commentary on the Sanyasapaddathi, Surothama Theerth has written that there is no rigid rule that an idol of presiding deity of a temple has to face East. It can face West too, he says, and gives the example of Madhwacharya installing the
Krishna idol in Udupi.
Surothama Theertha handed over the reigns of the Bandarkeri matha to Visvwottama Theertha.
By the way, there is a lot of similarity between the brothers of Madhwacharya and Vadiraja Thertha. Madhwacharya’s brother-Vishnu Theertha-was born after the Acharya decide to take Sanyasa. Similarly, Surothama Theertha was born after Vadiraja was born for an ascetic life according to Vageesha Theertha, the seer of the Sode Matha.
Both Vishnu Theerth and Surothama Theertha lived a life of a householder or Grihasta for several years and took care of their parents. Both decided to take the plunge into Sanyasa only after the death of their parents.
Both were head of different mathas and both were given sanyasa by their illustrious brothers. While Vishnu Theertha was head of the Subramanya and Sode Matha, Surothama Theertha was the chief of the Banderkeri Matha.
Both Vishnu Theertha and Surothama Theertha have written commentaries on some of the works of their brothers. Both were excellent scholars and they had their own standing in the Dwaitha order.
The similarities, however, end here. While Vishnu Theertha disappeared from view at Kumara Parvata, Surothama Theertha entered Brindavana.