Sri Vadirajatirtha happened to be the ever luminous crest jewel of the succession of Sri Vishnutirtha. Vadiraja was born on Magha Shukla Dwadashi of Sharvari Samvatsara (1481 A.D) by the grace of Vagishatirtha, the nineteenth in the hierarchy of Vishnutirtha. His parents were Sri Ramacharya and Gouri. His birth name was spelled as Varaha as he was born with the blessings of Lord Varaha, favourite and presiding deity (idol) given by Madhva to Vishnutirtha. As destined by destiny, Vadiraja's birth took place outside the residence. The essential Samskaras such as Jatakarma, Namakarana etc. were performed on time. Varaha's Upanayanam was celebrated at the age of five and he was ordained the Samnyasashrama soon after the completion of 7 years by Vagishatirtha. He was named as Vadirajatirtha. The Ashramanama is significant as it conveys the rich proficiency and pre-eminence in delivering the true import of lores in skilful manner with fitness evoking surprise. It also means that Vadiraja is an undaunted debater like mighty lion to the elephants of opponents. Vadiraja studied a few primary works under Vidyanidhi, (a senior disciple of Vagishatirtha) and after his demise, he continued his studies under his Guru Vagishatirtha.
When Vadiraja completed the higher studies in different Shastras, he made up his mind to go on a sacred tour to propagate the Dvaita Siddhanta, take the holy bath in the sacred rivers and have the Darshana of Lord and other deities in many places and also to bless the ardent and qualified devotees. It was also a tour to gain wide experience and a chance to exhibit the mystic power involuntarily. He travelled the entire country several times and composed a unique work in Sanskrit viz; Tirthaprabandha that gives an account of various holy Hindu temples, places, sacred rivers and reservoirs.
Vadiraja did many miracles not for the sake of name and fame but to propitiate the Lord and bless the grieved. Next to Madhva, he was the only person who visited Urdhvabadari. At the direction of Lord Vedavyasa, Vadiraja authored an excellent commentary on Mahabharata namely Laksha-lankara. By virtue of this, Vadiraja fulfilled the coveted desire of his mother. Vadiraja brought the Vyasamushti back from Vyasarajaru and kept it in the Madhyavatamatha for daily worship. Since then, the Madhyavatamatha has been under the possession of Sode Vadiraja Matha. As promised, the supreme Lord in the form of Hayagriva (as an Archavatara) appeared before Vadiraja and blessed him. Vadiraja got that Hayagriva icon from Daivajna brahmin's abode. He acco-rded Vaishnavadiksha to Daivajna brahmins and accepted them as Sishyas. Since then, he used to worship and offer a special sweet dish “Hoorana” to the Lord daily. From that icon, the Lord used to appear in full Horse form and taste and eat the Hoorana happily. Vadiraja excelled all great poets by composing a great poetry – Rukminishavijaya endowed with highest literary merits. It was reckoned as Kavyaraja and honoured by the scholarly assembly at Pune. Vadiraja introduced periodical change in the Paryaya system of Lord Krishna's worship i.e. from two months to two years. Vadiraja performed three Paryayas of two months each (from 1518 to 1522 A.D.) and five biennial Paryayas [1532-33, 1548-49, 1564-65, 1580-81 and 1596-97. In total, Vadiraja graced the Sarvajna Peetha 8 times]. When Vadiraja performed his first biennial Paryaya, he was 52 years old. Even then he did five Paryayas. (Vadiraja installed the statue of Venugopala Krishna at Sode and performed fifth Paryaya at Udupi and Sode simultaneously.
He was visibly present in Sode and invisibly fully present in his disciple Vedavedyatirtha at Udupi. The periodical gap, the tenure, preparation, pre-rites, mode of performance etc., at Sode Paryaya were totally in accordance with the details of prescription of Paryaya at Udupi). He saved the life of a bridegroom by propitiating the Lord with glorification of Lakshmisvayamvara by composing Lakshmi shobhane – a master piece in Kannada. Vadiraja made the chariot of Chennakeshava moved ahead at ease in Belur. While staying there, Vadiraja blessed Vaikuntadasa by showing the Lord, Who, in infant form, got engaged in frolics nearby. He installed Shivalinga at Dharmasthala and placed Narasimha Saligrama on that. Thus, he made the holy place as a centre of adoration to both Vaishnavas and Shaivas. He set the difference and enmity aside between Kota and Koteshwara brahmins by according Vaishnavadiksha to Koteshwara brahmins and also accepting them as Shishyas. The brahmins, being excommunicated at Mattu village were favoured by Vadiraja. In Mudabidare, he, with his mystic master power, got Buddha (Shuddha) icon altered into Vitthala form and used to worship it daily. He expiated the adverse affect of curse of Sri Bhutarajaru and blessed him endowed with super occult powers. Since then, Bhutaraja has been prime attendant of Guru (Mukhyakinkara) serving him devotedly. Vadiraja solved the financial crisis of Krishnadevaraya and Achyutadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire by blessing them with abundant treasure of Tretayuga from Valibhandara. He also cured the severe disease of Achyutaraya. He got renovated the Ananteshwara, Chandramouleshwara and Krishna temples and also got constructed eight mutts for Ashtamathadhipatis in car street at Udupi. He gave Samnyasashrama to a celibate and named him Sri Vedavedyatirtha. He saved Akbar, the Moghal prince of Delhi from untimely death. He favoured Kanakadasa for his pure Krishna Bhakti. Vadiraja offered a garland of Saligramas to Lord Venkateshwara and in return received from the Lord the icon of Lord with Sri and Bhu. Vadiraja rescued the king Arasa-ppanayaka from political crisis. He got built a temple at Sonda near Sirsi and installed a Trivi-krama idol therein. (At the time of visiting Urdhvabadari, he saw Trivikrama idol there. Lord Vedavyasa and Madhva blessed that Trivikrama idol to Vadi-raja. He got it carried by Sri Bhutaraja to Sonda for installation. The adorable worship of Lord Trivikrama form is mainly prescribed to Ruju gods in Shastra.
The installation of Lord Trivikrama and Upasana of that clearly support the Rujutva of Vadiraja). He was honoured with a rare and an exquisite title of 'Prasangabharanatirtha' by the king Veeravenkatapatiraya of Vijayanagara dynasty at Penagunda in the year 1585 A.D. Vadiraja was also honoured with distinct and adoring praise worthy titles as “Sarvajnakalpam”, “Shattarkashanmukha” and “Jagadekamallavadi”.
Vadiraja was a blessed and celebrated scholar of Dvaita system. His life was full of adventurous miracles. Being a mystic and saint scholar, he used to respond to the world of pious people suffering from mundane worries and anxious in gaining the merciful grace of the Lord. As he toured this holy land far and wide, he came across the localities in many remote places. He blessed the people by dispelling their agonies and also imparting true knowledge. He instilled the breath of Bhakti and showed the right path of Lord's worship. He used to compose praying songs in their tongue and taught them the same. A few works written by Vadiraja, are also found in regional languages.
Being a gifted scholar, an ardent follower of Dvaita system, an authority in the field of lores, a trenchant debater, Vadiraja took part in the scholarly debates at various places of learning and set up the things beyond doubts. He stood unquestioned, unrivalled, uncompromised. He also faced the challenges successfully. He held the opinion that learning the lores, debating with right and exalted motive and spirit are also the stock samples of Lord's worship. He wrote hundreds of works relating to various disciplines to propitiate the Lord and bless the generation.
The span of Vadiraja's mortal life was running out. He fulfilled the conditions and instructions of Lord Vedavyasa. He also did the entrusted and promised work. He dispelled the doubts and delusions of the learned. He blessed the pious and virtuous. He then made up his mind for his voluntary exit from this world. He fixed the date and time. He got done five Vrindavanas under the supervision of Arasappanayaka and Ramachandranayaka. When the designed construction of the Vrindavanas was completed, Vadiraja worshipped them for few years. He installed the statue of Lord Vedavyasa in front of the Vrindavana and made a small temple for Bhutaraja in the corridor. He also got renovated the sacred pond Dhavalaganga.
One week prior to the appointed day, there came a divine plane with heavenly messengers. They conveyed with respect the requisition of god Indra for disappearance from mundane sight. Vadiraja set it aside outright and said that he would not disa-ppear from mundane sight till the completion of Utsava of Lord Trivikrama. He asked them to rest on the pepal tree till the end of Utsava. Vadiraja celebrated the Utsava of Lord Trivikrama on a grand scale and also instructed all the devotees for its continuation. On the day of his disappearance, he worshipped Lord Haya-griva, Bhuvaraha, Trivi-krama and then also Madhva. He blessed Vedavedya, Vedanidhi the next two pontiffs and also other devotees. He gave his parting me-ssage, granted boons to gathered mass and then entered the holy Vrindavana alive. The period of Vadiraja's Samnyasashrama was 113 years the longest one ever seen.
He sat in a perfect pose and then controlled the breathing. After this, the garland of Tulasi beeds fell from his hand. The front door was placed as instructed. Then there was sounding of bells and gong in divine plane. Vadiraja appeared in the similar form in that plane and at the earnest appeal of disciples and devotees blessed his upper garment and golden sandals to them. The sacred garment is shown to the devotees on Aradhana day. The holy sandals, having full presence of Vadiraja, are worshipped with glorious grace and pomp. The sandals are reckoned as Chalapratika of Vadirajaru. Since then, Vadiraja continues to be present and dwell in the Vrindavana as a source of divine grace and spiritual solace. Assuming five lustrous forms, Vadiraja was present in all five Vrindavanas. These were visible to only divine natured souls. Others saw the one that was beheld by mass of devotees.
At the special command of the Supreme Lord, Vadiraja assumed five forms of Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana similar to that of God Vayu and is present in five Vrindavanas. The Lord Hari is also present with his five forms namely Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Sankarshana, Vasudeva and Narayana in all the five Vrindavanas.
Vadiraja was fortunate enough to be in charge of pontificial seat of Vedanta Empire for 83 years. After some years, being very much pleased with the devoted service of an ardent servant – pupil brahmin, Vadiraja appeared in his dream and taught in detail his Svarupamahima, Vrindavanamahima, an epitome of the Shastras and also Sadhanavishesha to be put into practice by faithful devotees. That dumb brahmin used to spell the taught material meticulously in the morning in front of Sri Vedanidhitirtha and become dumb again. This type of dream teaching went on for several years. And this became a voluminous work known as Sri Svapna-vrindavankhyana, a prime authority in respect of Vadiraja's greatness, especially the Rujutva. The Rujutva of Vadiraja is evidently glorified in Sadagamas like Shrutis, Puranas and in the sayings of Saint seers.
The holy Vrindavana of Vadiraja at Sonda, which is a place of restfulness for grief-stricken devotees and a source of inspiration to the scholars, is attracting thousands and thousands every day.
Vadiraja was a great saint philosopher, the most facile writer in the Dvaita system. He was a gifted poet, a great mystic, a noted Haridasa and the like. Vadiraja also deserves to be accredited as one of the great, authentic and noted facile writers. The style, the line of approach, the vast reference, the analytical explanation etc, seen in the works of Vadiraja place him next to Madhva. He is glorified as an expert in all sixty four Kalas (artistic branches of knowledge). His outstanding contribution in writing does not confine to only Sanskrit language. He is equally competent writer in Kannada. Recently a few of his compositions are also seen in Marathi, Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, and Tulu. He has enriched the Sanskrit language and literature by writing rare and sourcefull works of Vedanta and literature (Mahakavya, Khandakavya, Prameyakavya, Darshanakavya and Stotras). His independent works, commentaries, glosses are of unique natured. In Kannada also, his contribution contains Pada, Suladi, Ugabhoga having the types of compositions such as Dvipadi, Tripadi, Shatpadi, Ashtapadi, Dashapadi. Some works are voluminous in size and others are small. Irrespective of size, all works abound in powerful exposition of different topics that keeps in one's heart in the sweet experience of embellished poetic style. The different topics of Indian philosophy in general and the Dvaitavedanta in particular are distinctly dealt with and discussed by Vadiraja with exalted fitness and rich dexterity.
Vadiraja's works are of unique characteristics. The works are packed and graced with variety of materials, minutely reasoned out and profusely documented. As he was a gifted poet, his works are embellished with poetic beauty par excellence. Even the Vedantic works glitter with great merit of poetic beauty.
The style of Vadiraja is unique and peculiar of its kind. It is simple and lucid in exposition, deep in dedicated discussion and novel in narration. His hair-splitting criticism, appealing argumentation and convincing conclusion confirm and justify the highest literary merits of composition as perfection. The alliteration and other literary merits of his language have enriched the beauty of his style. Vadiraja, being a genius, proved himself successful by contributing a good number of works to the various branches of knowledge. The bio-graphical work V.G.C. states that Vadiraja was gifted in all leading Shastras and he wrote more than hundred works.
As already said more than hundred works stand to the glorious credit of Vadiraja. Though half of them are Stotra natured, they are also significant since they too impart the philosophic truth in most appealing manner in nutshell.
B.N.K. Sharma remarks about Vadiraja “His fine poetic faculty and human touch, the quick flashes of his wit and humour, his apt analogies from the life and literature and his racy way of putting the things have made him the most popular and enthusiastically applauded writer in Dvaita literature. He thinks in poetry and argues in it with all the richness and irresistibility of appeal…..”
K.T. Pandurangi observes –“His works have scholastic appeal as well as poetic appeal. We find in him a scholar, a poet and a great saint of mystic eminence…… The sharpness of the logic of Sri Vadirajatirtha pierces the heart while the poetry of illustrations moves the head in delight”.
D.N. Shanbhag opines “Still, it must be said, if one surveys works in various branches of knowledge in Sanskrit, Vadiraja occupies the position of a writer who contributed substantially to manifold fields of knowledge”….. “Thus, a survey of the works of Vadiraja suffices to prove how his poetic genius functioned in several branches of learning and through several languages”.