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Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu

Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu (1120-1180) along with Sripati Pandit and Mancana Pandit, formed a trinity of scholars (pandita traya). They propagated Shaivism in old Andhra region.

Mallikarjuna Panditaradhya, a Brahmin by birth, was an erudite scholar in the scriptures who inaugurated the Aradhya sect of Shaivism in Andhra region. His service in Shaiva worship was through his writing and lectures. He is considered the foremost among the pandita trio, admired and adored next only to Basaveshwara, the celebrated Virasaiva saint of Karnataka.

Mallikarjuna Panditaradhya was born to Bhimana pandit and Gouramba in Daksharama in 1120 CE. As per some records, he lived between 1120 – 90 CE.

Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhya was initiated into Shaivism by Kotpally Aradhya Deva. Pandit always advocated devotion to Shiva, quoting the authority of Vedas and the stories of Shiva devotees like Ghantakarna, Bhita, Sukesi, Surasarnamma and Basaveshwara. He also enlightened people on the efficacies of the four aspects of Shaivism –holy ash (vibhuti), sacred beads (rudraksha), guru padodaka (the water that has washed the feet of one’s guru, and lingarchana (worship of the linga).

In order to preach and propagate the Shiva worship throughout ancient Andhra, Mallikarjuna Panditaradhyudu proceeded on a journey. On the way, he was confronted by Jaina and Buddhist scholars in the court of King Velanati Choda. He defeated them in disputation to establish the supremacy of Shiva and Shaiva worship, but the disciples of Panditaradhya could not tolerate the censure of Shiva made by a Buddhist scholar and killed him. When Panditaradhyudu took the blame upon himself, the king ordered the removal of the eyes of Panditaradhya as the punishment. He, in turn, cursed the king with complete annihilation, and proceeded to Amaravati to worship Amareswara ( a form of Shiva).

Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu is believed to have attained some divine powers by his unstinted devotion and is said to have once put together the severed foot of a devotee by merely applying the oil from the temple lamp.

Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu is believed to have written a number of works like Pancagadya, Rudra Mahima, Aksharanka-gadya, Amareswara-satakam, Lingodbhava gadya, Ganasaha sramala, Parvata Varanana, Haralila, Srigiri Mallikarjuna Satakam, Dipalaika, Basavagita and others. However, none of these is available now. The only extant work is Shiva Tattva Sara, an outstanding work on Shaiva worship. Though only 489 verses are available now, critics feel that he must have written 1000 verses. Sivatattva Sara is considered the first satakam (composition of a 100 poems) in Telugu, even though the verses do not have the common refrain (makutam). With great love Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhya addresses Shiva in his many verses, and these transmit the joy experienced by the devout soul in enraptured communion with the Supreme Being.

Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu refuted the theory of Advaita and Maya and sought to establish the supremacy of Shiva and Shaivism

Panditaradhya Caritra, the biography of Mallikaarjuna Panditaradhyudu, was composed by Palakuriki Somanatha, the acclaimed Vira Saiva poet of Andhra.