Aksobhya Defeats Vidyaranya

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Aksobhya Tirtha was a contemporary of the great advaitin philosopher Vidyaranya and the great exponent of Visistha-advaita, Vedanta Desika. Desika was the respected founder of the Vadakalai Movement. The name Desika means Master.

In 1336, Akshobhya Tirtha had a heated debate with Vidyaranya on the interpretation of the Upanishad mantra tattvam asi (“You’re the same” or “I am that”). This event took place in Mulbagal near Kolar, Karnataka.

If this date is accurate it would mean that Aksobhya Tirtha engaged in this debate at the age of 99.

The referee of the discussion was Vedanta Desika himself. Some say that he was personally present at the debate, while others say that Desika wanted all the arguments to be transcribed and then sent to him for consideration. What is certain is that the verdict was favorable to Akshobhya Tirtha.

The epigraphic evidence of this historic victory is engraved on a memorial pillar on a hill near Mulubagal, which can still be seen today.

This victory of the personalistic philosophy against the impersonalistic was a turning point for the Madhvacarya Movement. Even today, no advaitavadi can defeat the Dvaita (dualism) philosophy of the great master.


This is a section of the book “Brilliant as the Sun”.

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