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Virupaksha Pandita – A Kannada Poet Of The Virashaiva Sect

Virupaksha Pandita composed Cennabasava Purana (1584 CE), an important Virasaiva work of the 16th century CE. He was the chief of a well known Virashaiva monastery in the Vijayanagara kingdom.

The poet in his work mainly concentrates on the life of the hero, Channabasava, who is considered an incarnation of Mahadeva Shiva. The poet describes the birth of the hero and his achievements in the city of Kalyana. The major portion of the work, however, deals with the instructions given to Siddharama of Sonnalige, pertaining to Virasaiva tenets including its creation and the marvelous deeds of Shiva, the importance of the rites connected with the Virasaiva School and biographical details of the well known 63 Saiva saints, 770 ganas (Shiva attendants), and 101 viraktas (persons free from worldly attachments). Some scholars believe that Saint Manikayya mentioned in the work is none other than the Tamil saint Manikkavacakar (900 CE).

This work, later on, became very popular in the Lingayat sect, besides throwing light on the history of Kannada literature, for it gives approximate dates of some early Virashaiva saints.

Virupaksha Pandita concludes his work with prediction that the Kannada country would be ruled by o ne Viravasantaraya in 1584 CE and the city of Kalyana would be rebuilt by him. So Venkatapati Raya, a Vijayanagara king who came to power and ruled from Penukonda, was identified with the name predicted in the work.