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Achyuta Preksha – Teacher Of Madhvacharya

Achyuta Preksha was the teacher of Madhvacharya and an exponent of the Advaita system of Vedanta.

Achyuta Preksha (13th century CE) is not mentioned by Ananda Tirtha himself. The only reference to him is in Madhva Vijaya of Narayana Pandita. It appears that he practiced asceticism holding ekadandi (one staff) and was devoted to Vishnu Bhagavan and to the Pancharatra texts (Ekanta Vaishnava). Though he followed a devotional doctrine, he was deeply influenced by the Advaita Philosophy. He was the head of a monastery at Karey, a small village near the modern Udupi.

According to Narayana Pandita, the preceptor of Achyuta Preksha had imparted to him the Advaitic doctrine of the atman-brahman identity. Moreover he had directed him to adore Vishnu with devotion. Achyuta Preksha had been a worshipper of God Anantheshwara of Udupi.

Ananda Tirtha (Madhvacharya),  known as Vasudeva, was initiated into the ascetic order by his preceptor and was named Purnaprajna. Achyuta Preksha (it is said) fulfilled the desire of Purnaprajna to have a holy dip in the Ganga River by earnestly praying to God Anantheshwara and making the Ganga River spring up from the pond in the monastery.

Achyuta Preksha instructed the disciples in the principles of Advaita, in which he had considerable proficiency. But soon, the preceptor and the disciple began to hold divergent views, especially when Achyuta Preksha taught the Advaita work Ishta Siddhi of Vimuktatman to Anandatirtha.

It is stated that when a Bhagavata recitation was in progress, Purnaprajna found some discrepancies in a few verses and amended them. Achyuta Preksha was impressed by the correctness of his disciple’s view when corroborated with other texts. The acumen of Purnaprajna is attributed to the impressions of his previous births. This incident earned him the new title of ‘Ananda Tirtha’ from his preceptor. Recognizing the talent of his disciple the preceptor made him the head of his institution.

Achyuta Preksha directed his disciple to write a new commentary rivaling that of Shankara on Brahmasutra. The disciple wrote as commanded and interpreted to all, including his preceptor, his new exposition. But it was not an easy task for Ananda Tirtha to convince his preceptor, who was a staunch Advaitin.