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Appayya Dikshitar Story – Works – Importance of Shlokas of Appayya Dikshita

A verse, attributed to a scholar from the North, describes thus the glory and greatness of Sri Appaya Dikshita, and the great merit of his patron king Chinna Bomma (A.D. 1549– 1578): ‘When there are number of kings who are waiting for an opportunity to pay obeisance to Sri Appayya Dikshitar and become purified by it, can we, by any chance, count the greatness of (Chinna) Bomma, who is in the fortunate position of hearing every day from the master himself, the great verses full of the greatness of Lord Shiva.’

This verse reveals the great respect that Appaya Dikshita commanded as a scholar among the learned circles of the royal courts of the country, his immense contribution to the promotion of Shaivism, and the patronage extended to him by Chinna Bomma, the Nayak ruler of Vellore. Khandadeva, the great authority on ‘Mimamsa’ and author of Bhatta kaustubha, Bhatta-dipika and Bhatta-rahasya, refers to Appaya Dikshita as ‘Mimamsaka Murdhanya.’

In the religious history of South India, the sixteenth century was verily the age of Appayya Dikshita. As literary references by Appaya Dikshita himself point out, he lived the longest period of his life under the patronage of king Chinna Bomma, the Nayak ruler of Vellore, during the reign periods of the Vijayanagara emperors Sadasivaraya (A.D. 1543 – 1570), Tirumalaraya (A.D. 1570-1572), Srirangaraya I (A.D. 1572-1585) and Venkatpatiraya II (A.D. 1585-1614), respectively.

During the thirty years after the middle of the sixteenth century A.D., when religious and philosophical controversies raged high, Dikshita enjoyed the patronage of Chinna Bomma. He wrote more than a dozen works of which Sivarka Mani Dipika was his magnum opus, comparable in bulk and importance only with his other great work Parimala. Both are commentaries interpreting the Brahmasutras of Vedavyasa. Parimala relates itself to the Advaita interpretation and the Sivarka Mani Dipika expounds the Sivadvaita philosophy of Srikanthacharya. On the completion of the monumental Sivarka Mani Dipika, Appaya Dikshita was bathed in gold by Cinna Bomma Nayaka. This significant event called ‘Kanakabhiseka’, is referred to in the works of some contemporary poets and also in the Adyapalem inscription of Appaya Dikshita dated A.D. 1582. From this inscription, we learn that Cinna Bomma made endowments for the maintenance of a college of 500 scholars who studied Sivarka Mani Dipika under Appaya Dikshita.

The Sivarahasya refers to Appaya Dikshita’s historic mission of the resuscitation of ‘Saivasastra,’ thus: Saivasastram tada bhume luptam vistarayishyati. That is why Dikshita is very justifiably known as ‘Srikanthamatasthapanacharya.’

He authored a number of works on the greatness of the Saivite cult, of which the following are the most important: 1) Sikhara Mala 2) Siva tattva viveka 3) Siva karnamrita 4) Ramayana tatparya samgraha 5) Bharata tatparya samgraha 6) Brahmatarka stave 7) Sivarchana Chandrika 8) Sivapuja vidhi 9) Sivadhyana paddhahti 10) Sivarka Mani dipika Another great work of Dikshita on Advaita is Siddhantalesa Samgraha in which he admirably presents a systematic exposition of the chief doctrines on differences among the various schools of Advaita Vedanta, prevalent then. His wide scholarship is revealed by his astonishing number of works. The Sivalilarnava mentions that by the time Dikshita was seventy-two years old, he had authored more than a hundred works. He is the author of 25 works on Vedanta, 26 works on Sivadvaita, 7 volumes on Mimamsa, one each on Kavya Vyakhyana, and Vyakarana Vyakhyana, 3 on Alamkara, 26 works of a devotional nature, and 15 works of a miscellaneous character.

The greatness of Appaya Dikshita rests on the fact that even while being a staunch Advaitin, his mission in life was to reconcile warring religious groups and polemical philosophical systems. He did this in a period noted for religious bigotry and forcible conversions.