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Bhaskararaya Makhin

 

If any one deserves special mention in the field of Srividya after Sri Adi Shankaracharya, it is undoubtedly Sri Bhaskaracharya. He descended to earth in the first half of the eighteenth century. He is known to have been such a great philosopher, scholar, commentator and an Upasaka that the only phrase suitable to describe him would be: `na bhUto na bhaviShyati'. Though he advocated Tantra, he was a devoted follower of the Shrauta path (the path ordained by the Vedas) and also was as much a Shaiva as a Shakta. Though a householder, his Vairagya and Jnana were greater than any accomplished Sanyasin. His works `Saubhagya Bhaskara' and `Setubandha' serve as encyclopedias in the field of mantra Shastra to this day. Though some of his views are not quiet agreable to the ShAnkara Vedanta, his immense respect for Acharya Bhagavatpada displays his final faith in Kevaladvaita.

Sri Bhaskararaya, who needs no introduction, introduces himself (in his work `Saubhagyabhaskara') in the following way:

shriigambhiiravipashchitaH piturabhuudyaH konamaambodare
vidyaaShTaadashakasya marmabhidyaH shriinR^isimhaadguroH |
yashcha shriishivadattashuklacharaNaiH puurNaabhiShikto.abhavat
sa tretaa tripuraa trayiiti manute taameva naathatrayiim ||

To establish Shakta Vidya in its pristine purity, Bhaskaracharya traveled through the length and breadth of the subcontinent and wrote many fine books. Bhaskaracharya was born in the period between the last part of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century. In his own works, we find a mention of his birth date. He is known to have completed his commentary on Sri Lalita Sahasranama in 1728 (Ashwina Shukla Navami) and Setubandha in 1748 (Shivaratri). Though Sri Bhaskaracharya was proficient in all branches of learning, he was essentially a Shakta. Under the leadership of Narayana Bhatta (the grandfather of Kamalakara Bhatta, the author of `Nirnayasindhu'), a large group of scholars assembled in Kashi to defeat and humiliate Bhaskaracharya in a debate. In the debate the ensued, Bhaskaracharya answered all questions of the scholars to their complete satisfaction. A Sanyasin named Kumkumananda, who was present there and who himself was great Upasaka of Sridevi, told the group of scholars that they could never defeat Bhaskaracharya in a religious debate because it was none but Sri Mahatripurasundari who was speaking from his mouth.

Narayana Bhatta refused to accept this truth without a proper proof. He questioned Bhaskaracharya regarding a name `mahAchatuHShaShThikoTiyoginIgaNasevitA' from the Rahasya Sahasranama. He challenged Bhaskaracharya to list the names of the sixty-four crores of Yoginis mentioned in this name. Bhaskaracharya accepted this challenge and began to list the names, seated behind a curtain. The scholars began to write the names that were uttered by him, but soon had to give up the impossible task of writing down sixty-four crore names. Sri Kumkumananda swami suddenly removed the curtain and the scholars were astonished to see Sridevi seated on the shoulders of Bhaskaracharya. Though they were unable to have a complete vision of the form of Sridevi, they were able to see the luminous form of Amba on his shoulders. Accepting their defeat, they fell at the feet of Bhaskaracharya.

A few points may help arrive at the exact period of Bhaskaracharya's life:

1. Bhaskaracharya mentions the name of Appayya Dikshita with great respect. Appayya Dikshita lived between 1554 and 1594.

2. Bhaskaracharya has written a Tika on Varadaraja's `Madhyasiddantakaumudi'. Varadaraja was a disciple of Bhattoji Dikshita and Bhattoji Dikshita himself was a disciple of Appayya Dikshita.

3. Bhaskracharya has also written a Tika on Khandadeva's `Bhaattadipika'. According to Khandadeva's disciple Shambhu Bhatta, his guru attained Siddhi in Kashi in 1666.

4. Nagojibhatta, the great grammarian, lived between 1677 and 1750. Bhaskaracharya has quoted Nagojibhatta in Guptavati and other works.

5. Bhaskaracharya's disciple Umanandanatha wrote `Nityotsava' in 1775. Rameshwara Suri, the commentator on the Kalpasutras, mentions that Umanandanatha claims that Bhaskaracharya has examined Nityotsava personally.

From all these proofs, scholars conclude that Bhaskaracharya lived from the beginning of the eighteenth century to 1768. According to Sri Vatukanatha Shastry Khiste, Bhaskaracharya was born in 1670.

Bhaskaracharya says in Saubhagya Bhaskara: `gurucharaNasanAtho bhAsurAnandanAtho vivR^itimiti rahasyAM vIravR^indairniShevyAm'. Thus, it becomes evident that his Diksha name is `Bhasuranandanatha'. He was born in Bhaagaa Nagara, identified as the present day Hyderabad. His father Sri Gambheeraraya Bharati was a great scholar and the Diwan of Bijapur empire. The Yavana king of Bijapur was so impressed by the rendition of Mahabharata by Gambheeraraya that he made him translate the entire epic into Parsi. Hence the title `Bharati' was added to Gambhiraraya's name. Sri Gambheeraraya gives an introduction of his family and ancestors in his own work named `Vishnunama Prasoonanjali'. According to this account, they belong to Vishwamitra Gotra and their family tree starts from one Ekanatha. His son was Pandita Tukadeva and grandson was Yamaaji Pandita. Gambheeraraya was born to Yamaaji Pandita and his wife Chandramamba. Though Gambheeraraya was a follower of Bhagavata sampradaaya, he studied agama Shastra from his maternal uncle Agamacharya Narayana Pandita belonging to Srivatsa Gotra and took Diksha (initiation) from him. Though Gambheeraraya was a resident of Bijapur, he came to Hyderabad for some official purpose. Bhaskararaya was born as the second son of Konamamba and Gambheeraraya in Hyderabad. Since her first son was a dullard, Konamamba had done intense Upasana of Sri Surya before the birth of Bhaskaracharya. As a result of her penance, Sri Bhaskararaya was born with the blessings of Surya Narayana. Hence he was named `Bhaskara' – which is an epithet of Surya. In the very childhood, Gambheeraraya made Bhaskararaya drink the water of Brahmi herb, purified with mantras and rituals as prescribed by `Saaraswatakalpa'. This made Bhaskaracharya brilliant and scholarly from his very childhood. His Upanayana and Yajnopavita Samskara ceremony was conducted in Kashi. From the age of five, he began to learn rig Veda, since he belonged to Rik Shakha. Even as a boy of seven years, he was abble to excite the admiration of the Sabheshwara with his dialetical abilities.

During this time, Sri Nrisimha Adhwari, a great scholar well versed in Shastras and a famous adhwaryu from Andhra desha [Narayanpet], arrived at Gambheeraraya's house. Seeing the brilliance in young Bhaskararaya, Nrisimha Adhwari expressed his desire to train him. Bhaskararaya stayed at Nrisimha Adhwari's place and studied the eighteen Shastras from him. He also studied Chandas and Alankara from Rukmana Pandita and Nyaya and Gauda Tarka Shastra from Gangadhara Vajpeyi, a great scholar belonging to kANva shakhA of Shukla Yajurveda from Tiruvalankadu and the Asthana Vidwan in the court of Maratha ruler Serfoji. He also mastered Ayurveda, Math, Dhanurveda and other branches of learning. After the formal completion of learning, Gambheeraraya wanted Bhaskararaya to join the royal services. But as per the instructions a Siddha, he inspired his son to take up the task of protecting dharma. The Sampradaya of Adi Shankaracharya has two kinds of disciples: Sanyasins and householders. Bhaskaracharya took up the task of upholding the teachings of Adi Acharya as taught to suit the second category of disciples. Srimadacharya had firmly established both Shiva and Shakti Upasana but they had lost their purity and charm with the course of time. Sri Appayya Dikshita had rejuvenated the Shiva Upasana but Shakti Upasana needed a great rejuvenation and refining. This magnanimous task was undertaken and successfully accomplished by Bhaskaracharya.

Along with Sri Swamy Shastry, a great Mimamsaka and the son of Nrisimha Adhwari, Bhaskaracharya composed a work named `Purva Mimamsaavada Kutuhalam', as per the orders of king Mallikarjuna of Andhra Desha. Sri Shivadutta Shukla was a great Advaitin of Shankaracharya Parampara and a great Srividya Upasaka in those days. He was a Nagara Brahmana residing in Surat. Nrisimha Adhwari sent Bhaskaracharya to study Srividya Shastra from him. During the same time, an Acharya of Vallabha Sampradaaya arrived at Surat and began to challenge the followers of Shankaracharya's Advaita Parampara to a debate. The local scholars decided that the only person who could defeat him was Shivadutta Shukla. However, due to his old age, Shivadutta Shukla sent Bhaskararaya to debate with the Vallabha Sampradayi scholar. Bhaskaracharya defeated the scholar easily and upheld the prestige of Shankara sampradaaya. Greatly pleased with his guru Bhakti and dedication to the cause of Shankara sampradaaya, Sri Shivadutta Shukla initiated Bhaskaracharya into the highest mantras in Srividya and gave him Purna Diksha. This becomes evident from the following Shloka:

Shivadattashukla sharaNAsAdita pUrNAbhiShekasAmrAjyaH |
Gurjaradeshe vidadhe jarjharadhairyam sa vallabhAchAryam ||

He also defeated a scholar belonging to Madhwa's Dvaita sect in a debate and married his daughter Parvati. Seeing that Atharvana Veda had gone out of use becuase of a break in the Sampradaya, he took up the laborious task of mastering the Veda and teaching it to a number of people. It was he who popularized the Devi Bhagavata Mahapurana and the Adbhutakaanda - the eighth Kaanda of Ramayana.

Like Sri Adi Shankara, Bhaskararaya also traveled all along the country. He had four important goals:

1. Establishing the Upasana of Shakti in all its purity.

2. Bringing coordination between the practices of Vedas and Agamas.

3. Commenting on the tantras on the basis of Mimamsa Shastra.

4. Resurrecting old temples.

He also performed great Vedic Yajnas like the Soma Yaga, jyotiShToma etc. in Kashi. In his commentary on Ganesha Sahasranama - `Khadyota', Bhaskara himself mentions that he performed a great fire sacrifice in Varanasi. He wrote a commentary on Nityashodashikarnava of Vamakeshwara Tantra called `Setubandha' in Goa. He constructed a Srichakra-shaped temple for his family goddess Sri Chandralamba. His wife established a Shiva and Parvati temple in an Agrahara called `Bhaskararajapuram', named after Bhaskaracharya, located near Tanjore. They couple constructed many choultries, fed people and indulged in charities. Chandrasena Jadhav, the commander of the Bhonsle kings was Bhaskracharya's disciple. To cure his son of impotency, Bhaskaracharya did intense Surya Upasana. in this context, he wrote a book called `Tatvabhaskara' dealing with Surya Upasana. Bhaskaracharya's scholarship becomes evident by looking at the number of scriptures and works he quotes in his own works. Since he was basically a follower of the school of Mimamsa, his commentaries on tantras are in the light of Mimamsa. His disciple Jagannatha Shukla [a Konkanastha Brahmana from Maharashtra who took Diksha from Sri Bhaskararaya in Tiruvalankadu] was the chief scholar in the court of Tanjore. He has written a book named `Bhaskara Vilasa' in which he mentions about forty works authored by Bhaskaracharya.

Bhaskaracharya underwent Poornabhisheka from Sri Shivadutta Shukla in Surat and defeated many stalwarts of Vallabha sampradaaya in debates. He performed Soma Yaga in Varanasi. He had a son named Panduranga from his wife Anandi. Since Bhaskara Vilasa mentions Parvati as his wife's name, scholars feel that he probably had two wives. He initiated his wife into Srividya with the Diksha name `Padmavatyambika'.

As per the request of his disciple Chandrasena, he left the city of Kashi and began to stay on the banks of river Krishna. Later, he came to Tamil Nadu in southern India to stay close to his Guru Gangadhara Vajapeyi, who lived in a place called `Tiruvalankadu' on the southern banks of river Kaveri. The ruler of Tanjore, Maharatha gifted an Agrahara that was named `Bhaskararajapuram' to Sri Bhaskararaya located on the northern banks of river Kaveri. He stayed here for some years and spent his last days in the holy Kshetra of Madhyarjuna where he attained Siddhi. This place is now known as Tiruvidaimarudur on the main line of Southern Railway. He lived to the ripe old age and it is said that he took Sanyasa in his last days. It was in this place that Lord Shiva had proclaimed that Advaita of Adi Shankaracharya was the absolute truth.

Bhaskararaya constructed numerous temples and repaired many ancient ones. He constructed a temple dedicated to Lord Chakresha or Chakraswami in Varanasi and ordered his son Panduranga to manage it. He constructed a temple for his family deity Chandralamba in the shape of a Srichakra in a place called Sannati. He made the necessary arrangements for Pooja, car festival and other services in the Kaholesha temple in Chola country. His first wife reconstructed the Bhaskareshwara temple in Bhaskararajapuram. The couple also constructed temples for Panduranga at Mulahrda [Maharashtra], Gambhiranatha in the Konkan country and Vajreshwara at Rameshwaram.

Every evening, Bhaskaracharya used to sit comfortably with legs stretched in the verandah of his house and teach his disciples. A Sanyasin originally belonging to Veppattur used to pass by the same route daily, on his way to Mahalinga Swamin temple. Bhaskararaya would neither take notice of the Sanyasin nor greet him properly. One Pradosha day, Bhaskaracharya happened to meet the same Sanyasin in Mahalinga Swamin temple. The Sanyasin humiliated Bhaskararaya in front of the huge crowd for not following the rules of Grihastha Ashrama and paying respects to a Sanyasin. Bhaskaracharya asked the Sanyasin to place his Danda and Kamandala on the floor and fully prostrated before them. Immediately the Danda and Kamandala were shattered into thousands of pieces. Bhaskaracharya explained that the Sanyasin could never accept a prostration from Bhaskaracharya, who, with rites like Mahashodha Nyasa, had attained such levels of energy and oneness with Sri Mahatripurasundari that he had risen beyond these rules and regulations. From then on, Bhaskaracharya would retire into his house when the Sanyasin passed by, as a mark of respect to the Sanyasa Ashrama, the highest among the four Ashramas. It is very unfortunate that Sadhakas of Srividya, including the beginners, quote this example and refrain from paying their respects to even realized souls. They consider themselves even above a person initiated into the Turiya Ashrama. What they fail to see is that the negation of rules and regulations of all kinds occur only when they achieve the state of complete unity with Brahman or Mahatripurasundari. In that state of universal consciousness, when everything is one, where there is nothing different from oneself, where is the existence of a second object, which deserves to command a prostration? People claiming to follow Swecchachara should first of all realize their atman, which is totally independent, or Sweccha. Until then, resorting to practices not acceptable to the Vedic code of Varnashrama dharma can only cause great damage to their Sadhana and pamper the ego. Humility is a basic factor required in a Sadhaka and without this, Sadhana can bear no fruit.

Dhanaji Jadhav, the commander of Shahuji, Shivaji's grandson, was a great disciple of Bhaskararaya. His son Chandrasena Jadhav was also a great disciple of Bhaskaracharya. He came along with his wife to seek the blessings of his guru and requested to be blessed of a son. Due to Bhaskaracharya's blessings, Chandrasena's wife became pregnant in due course of time. Narayana Deva, another disciple of Bhaskaracharya, had obtained a Vak Siddhi named `Bhaluki' due to the grace of goddess Sri Bhramarambika. Hearing about his fame, Chandrasena questioned Narayana Deva regarding the gender of his yet-to-be born baby. Narayana Deva remarked that it would be a girl child. When Chandrasena described what Bhaskaracharya had told him, Narayana Deva replied angrily, "O fool! What have you done? Bhaskaracharya is my Guru too and it is due to his grace that I have obtained my Siddhi. You have doubted the Guru's words. Both our predictions will not be rendered false. You will neither have a son nor a daughter. A eunuch will be born to you". Saying so, Narayana Deva departed from Chandrasena's court.

Chandrasena's wife gave birth to an eunuch who was named Ramachandra. Chandrasena repented for his curiosity and fell at the feet of his guru Bhaskaracharya. Bhaskaracharya assured him that his boon would never fail and began to reside on the banks of river Krishna along with his wives and Ramachandra. He started the Tricharghya Pradana Anushthana to appease Lord Surya Narayana. But Bhaskaracharya's house was located far away from the Krishna River and he had to walk a long distance everyday to perform his Anushthana. Seeing the blisters and wounds in his feet, his disciples felt miserable. Unable to see his disciples suffer in misery, he prayed to Lord Surya, "Bhagavan! To grant potency to Ramachandra Jadhav, I am doing Tricharghya Pradana on the banks of Krishna. Please divert the flow of river Krishna towards my residence and make my disciples happy. Since it is you that we are trying to please with this Anushthana, it is none but you who should help me". Lord Surya appeared before him and diverted the currents of river Krishna towards Bhaskaracharya's residence. Ramachandra also became a potent male as a result of the Anushthana performed by Bhaskararaya. Chandrasena gave the village `Hrid' in which Bhaskaracharya performed this Anushthana, as a gift to him. Bhaskaracharya donated this Agrahara to Brahmanas studying Rig Veda so as to encourage the study of the Vedas. Most of the rulers of that time were Bhaskaracharya's disciples. It is said that there was not one holy place on earth unvisited by him and not one ruler who wasn't his disciple.

The written works of Bhaskararaya provide an insight into his rare brilliance and scholarship.

Vedanta

1. Chandabhaskara.

2. Nilachala Chapetika – both these books were written to refute the claims of the Dvaita text `Prahasta' and uphold the virtues of Advaita.

Mimamsa

1. Vadakautuhala – The compilation of the debate that took place between Bhaskaracharya and his Guru's son Swami Shastry.

2. Bhattachandrodaya – the Tika on Khandadeva's Bhattadeepika.

Vyakarana

1. Rasikaranjini – Based on Varadaraja's `Madhyasiddhanta Kaumudi'.

Nyaya Darshana

1. Nyaya Mandana – a work on the Nyaya Darshana.

Chanda Shastra

1. Chandabhaskara – commentary on Chandasutras.

2. Chandakaustubha.

3. Vrittachandrodaya.

4. Vaartikaraaja.

5. Mritasanjivini.

Kavya

1. Chandrashaalaa.

2. Madhuraamla.

3. Bhaskara Subhashita.

Smriti

1. Smrititatva.

2. Sahasrabhojana Khanda Tika – Tika on Baudhayana's Dharmasutras.

3. Shankhachakrayana Prayashchitta – the purificatory rites for people who have undergone Bharana Nyasa and got Shankha and Chakra Mudras inscribed on their body. This is a Vaishnava custom banned by the Smriti. Sri Bhaskararaya refutes the claims supporting this banned practice.

4. Ekadashi Nirnaya.

5. Pradosha Nirnaya.

6. Trika Bhaskara.

7. Kunda Bhaskara.

Stotra

1. Shiva Stava.

2. Devi Stava.

3. Shiva Dandaka.

4. Commentary on the Shiva Shatanama Stotra.

Mantra Shastra

1. Khadyota – commentary on Ganapathi Sahasranama.

2. Chandralamba Mahatmya Tika.

3. Nathanavaratnamala Manjusha – a work in praise of Guru with description of many esoteric aspects.

4. Bhavanopanishad Bhashya – a commentary on the Bhavanopanishad and illustration of its Prayoga, known as the Mahayaga Krama.

5. Srisukta Bhashya – commentary on the srisukta.

6. Kaulopanishad Bhashya.

7. Tripuropanishad Bhashya.

8. Saubhagya Chandrodaya – a commentary on Vidyananda's `Saubhagya Ratnakara'.

9. Tripurasundari Bahya Varivasya – a manual describing the external Pooja of Sri Mahatripurasundari in the Srichakra. Scholars are now trying to find this work. It is now established that Umanandanatha had not shown his Nityotsava to his Guru. And some scholars like Appoji Dikshita and others frequently mention the difference between the two works.

10. Ratnaloka – a Tika on the Parashurama Kalpasutra - commentary on Parashurama Kalpasutras. A copy of this was available with Sri Ramachandra Iyer of Tirunalveli. It differs at many places with Rameshwara's Vartika.

11. Guptavati – commentary on Sri Durga Saptashati.

12. Shata Shloki – a work based on Durga Saptashati.

13. Saubhagya Bhaskara – a commentary on Sri Lalita Sahasranama Stotra.

14. Setubandha – a commentary on Nityashodashikarnava of Vamakeshwara Tantra.

15. VarivasyaRahasya - with his own commentary named `Prakasha', explaining the higher significance and internal worship of Srividya.

There is also other works like `Shankaracharya padya pushpaa~njali' and `ramaanuja Tatva khaNDanam' ascribed to Sri Bhaskararaya.

The last three are known as the Prasthanatraya of Srividya. He is also said to have compiled the fifteen Malamantras of Sridevi under the name 'Malamantroddhara', based on Lalita Parishishta Tantra. In Varivasya Rahasya and Saubhagya Bhaskara, he also says that he would also write commetaries on Tantraraja Tantra and Lalita Stuti. The philosophy of Bhaskaracharya is based on Appayya Dikshita's `Ratnatraya Pariksha'. According to this, the Nirguna Brahman, due to association with Maya Shakti, takes the form of Dharma and Dharmi. Dharma further assumes the forms of Purusha and Nari. As for Dharmi Tatva, it is verily the transcendent Shiva. Nari is Shakti who is Shiva's power. Purusha is Vishnu who is responsible for the creation, maintenance and destruction of the phenomenal universe. The state of oneness among these entities is what is the final stage of Advaita. Though mainly a follower of the Parinamavada School, from the point of view of metaphysics, Bhaskaracharya follows and propounds the Kevaladvaita of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. In most of his works, like Guptavati and others, he invokes the blessings of Sri Adi Shankaracharya with immense respect and devotion. He quotes from Acharya's Vartika, Vivarana works and also his other works like Saundaryalahari and Prapanchasara Tantra frequently in all his works. He praises Adi Shankaracharya as the very incarnation of Adi Dakshinamurthy and the teacher of the universe – Jagadguru. Though a Shakta, his invinciple devotion to Lord Shiva becomes evident in the Shloka:

kamale kamalotpattiH shrUyate na cha DR^iShyate |
dR^iShTaM shambhoH padAmbhoje viShNulochana pa~Nkajam ||

"The incident of a lotus occurring in another lotus is never seen or heard. However, this can be seen in a case wherein, Vishnu's lotus-like eyes adorn the feet of Sri Shiva's lotus-feet". He expresses faith in Vivartavada of Adi Acharya in his VarivasyaRahasya by saying that though Parinamavadi Tantrikas abuse Vivartavada, he doesn't do the same. In his commentary on the third verse of Varivasya Rahasya, he expresses the same view as propounded in the Advaita Vedanta classic, `Vakya Shuddhi'. It is rather foolish to pick drastic differences between Parinamavada and Vivartavada. Acharya himself speaks in favor of Parinamavada in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya (11-1-14) and also in Saundaryalahari. Sarvajnatman, a direct disciple of Adi Shankaracharya expresses similar views in his `Sankshepashariraka'.

Bhaskararaya taught the unity between:

1. Guru and Parabrahman.

2. Sadhaka and Parabrahman.

3. Brahman and the world.

4. World and Srividya mantra.

5. Srividya and Gayathri.

6. Sadhaka, Sridevi, Srividya and Amba's Shakti Pithas and Matrikas.

7. The three Kutas of Srividya and the three Vedas.

8. Srividya mantra and the meaning of its letters.

9. Srividya, Sridevi and Kundalini.

Thus, he prescribed the contemplation of the unity between Sridevi, Srichakra, Srividya, Sri Guru, the universe and the Sadhaka. He composed Varivasya Rahasya because he well understood the limitations of mere external worship of Devi without internalization. A close examination of Ratnaloka – commentary on Parashurama Kalpasutras, reveals his favorable stand to most aspects of Samayachara or Inner worship. His immense respect for Acharyas like Sri Lakshmidhara, evident in his works like Ratnaloka and Setubandha, is sadly absent among most frauds who claim allegiance to Sri Bhaskara’s Shishya Parampara and find no greater occupation than abuse Sri Lakshmidhara.

From the Shasanas in Sringeri Sharada Peetham, it becomes evident that Bhaskararaya visited the Mutt and was blessed profusely by the then Acharya Sri Purushottama Bharati Mahaswamigal. He was nominated as the official representative of Sringeri Peetham to accomplish Dharma Prachara among the Pancha Dravida-s.

There indeed are several members from Sri Bhaskararaya’s shishya parampara alive and actively pursuing upAsanA today. Sri Yagnanartnam in Chennai, who is the convener of Sri Bhaskara Mandali is from his direct shishya parampara. Sri Raghunatha Rao sathe from Baroda, a great Srividyopasaka was from the direct shishya parampara of Sri Bhaskararaya. He happened to have a tAlpa patra document listing Guru Parampara, said to be in the handwriting of the great Bhaskararaya himself, starting with Adi Natha and Para Bhattarika, including all the Gurus as in Advaita Brahma Vidya Parampara (shuka, vyasa, gaudapada etc), Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada, Sri Vidyaranya Swamin, and after several names – Anandanandanatha, Prakashanandanatha (Sri Shivadatta Shukla of Surat) and Sri Bhaskararaya Makhi. I was blessed with the fortune of seeing this document once. Sri Bhaskararaya had several disciples like Jagannatha of Tanjore – Kumbhakonam belt (Umanandanatha, the writer of Nityotsava), Umapatyanandanatha (Ganesha Dixita of Bidar, Karnataka), Swaprakashanandanatha (Vedagirisha Sharma of Tiruvalankadu), Vimarshanandanatha (Sri Shambhunatha Joshi somewhere in Poona, probably close to one of the 8 Ganapati Kshetras) and Bhushanandanatha (Bhargava Datta Shukla of Surat). These five are said to be the five disciples of Sri Bhaskararaya who had pIThAdhikAra and initiated disciples.

There are several disciples of Umanandanatha’s lineage in Tanjore – Kumbhakonam belt to this day. Sri Melpattur Narayana Iyer of Trissur is from this lineage and possesses a beautiful picture of Sri Bhaskararaya in his pUjA Grha. There are several disciples of Sri Umapatyanandanatha in Bidar and Raichur today, infamous for their reckless and pratyaksha prayoga of Pancha Makara even without the required qualifications. Tiruvalangadu still is the epicenter of Srividya Upasana, where Amba is described with the special epithet – brahmavidyAvimarshinI. Sri Panchapakesha Iyer, remembered by several Srividya Upasakas to this day was from the Shishya Parampara of Sri Swaprakashanandanatha. Sri Ananta Madhusudana Joshi, a great scholar of Purva Mimamsa and an asthAna vidwAn of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham was the great grandson of Sri Vimarshanandantha. His grandson Sri Abhayankara Joshi is a well-known Srividya Upasaka, currently residing in Kashi. An elderly gentleman, he was a close disciple of Sri Karapatri Swamin. I don’t have any information about the shishya parampara of Sri Bhushananandanatha though. The priest at Sri Chandralamba temple in Sannati once mentioned that his father was from Bhaskararaya’s lineage but at that point I didn’t find out further details. As we know, Chandralamba was the kula devata of Sri Bhaskararaya.

Sri Dheeranandantha, Bhaskarararaya’s daughter’s great grandson lived in Narayanpet in Mehabubnagar of Andhra Pradesh and attained Siddhi some years ago. Bhaskara’s second son lived in the Chakreshwara temple at Kashi and had several disciples there. Sri Avadhuta Nityananda Giri Maharaj who lived in Dasashwamedh Ghat and blessed devotees till the late 60s was supposedly a Siddha who was initiated by him. His performance of Deepa Navavarana is much discussed even today. Sri Bhaskararajapuram, an agraharam where he lived, close to Tiruvalankadu, has been recently rejuvenated by Sri Anantharama Shastrigal of Chennai and a Meru has been established there. There are two accounts regarding the Meru originally worshipped by Sri Bhaskararaya. According to some, it is at the Sannidhi of Sri Brhat Sundara Kuchambika, the consort of Sri Madhyarjuneshwara. But this does not seem to be true. There was certain family which lived for several generations in Tiruvalankadu close to Bhaskararaya’s home and when all of his descendents left the place, his Meru was obtained by this family and was duly worshipped for years. This Meru is currently in the possession of a young gentleman named Sri Raja in Chennai (who works for Indian Airforce if I remember correctly), a descendent of the same family.