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Acharya Vaibhavam – Life History – Sri Adivan Satakopa – Short Biography

Acharya Vaibhavam, also famous as Sri Adivan Satakopa, was the founder of the Vaishnava Ahobila Mutt in Andhra Pradesh. Jeeyar Adivan Satakopa (15th century CE) was the son of Kidambi Keshavacharya, one of the disciples of Vadakku-tiru-viti-pillai whose Guru parampara is traced through Nampillai, Nanjiyar, Bhattar and Embar to Ramanuja.

He was born at Thirunarayanapuram in the Mysore region and his original name was Srinivasa. He became a disciple of Ghatikachalam Ammal, a famous scholar of the day and grandson of Nadadur Ammal, known as a great expositor of Sri Bhashya in the line of succession from Ramanuja through Tirukkurukai-p-pillan and Enkal Alvan. Ghatikachalam Ammal was probably advanced in years when young Srinivasa studied under him and it is said that guru sent this disciple to meet the challenge of a formidable disputant scholar in Vedanta from the north. Srinivasa easily overcame his rival and accomplished victory for his master.

As he attained manhood, he dreamt of Bhagavan Lakshmi Narasimha (one of Vishnu’s half-man – half lion manifestations) calling upon him to renounce the world and engage himself in his service. His acharya Ghatikachalam Ammal asked him to obey the divine call and Srinivasa went to the holy hill of Ahobilam lying in the midst of a dense forest and lived there, serving the God, unmindful of dangers and hardships and isolation from the world. He became a jiyar (sannyasin) and went from village to village as a wandering monk of the Sri Vaishnava order under the name Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan.

He is said to have visited Alwar-tirunagari, the birthplace of Nammalvar and got mandapams and other structures built there. He also assisted in reinstalling the Alvar’s image in his shrine after its recovery from a ravine with the help of the local ruler. He visited Puri and after helping the ruler recover his territory from Muslims, prompted him to install many images for worship.

Sathakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan earned laudatory appellations indicative of his being the first of the line of acharyas. He started the propagation of the two Vedantas of Sanskrit ad Tamil at Ahobilam. His mastery of all arts and sciences, and his championship of the Vedic way of life and Ramanuja’s philosophical works were remarkable. The titles Adi (first) and Van (spiritually rich), ubhaya-vedanta acharya, sarva tantra swatantra, bhagavad Ramanuja siddhanta sarvabhauma, etc., are borne by preceptors of the Ahobilam line today. Among his disciples was the great Vaishnava compose of musical pieces, Tallapaka, Annamacharya (1424-1503 CE) of Tirupati. The Vijayanagara ruler of his day (Deva Raya II) became his disciple and helped him build shrines and install an image of Sri Vedanta Desika at Thirunarayanapuram, his native place. At Kanchipuram, Tuppil ad Srirangam, his benefactions, are much in evidence. Ahobila Mutt at Srirangam was built by him. He is also credited with the building of the Simhachalam and Mangalagiri temples in the Andhra area.

The seventh jiyar of the Ahobila Mutt has celebrated Adivan Satakopa Yatindra Mahadesikan’s glories in his Sanskrit works Vasantika Parinayam and Janaki Parinayam. The line of Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar started by Adivan Satakopa provided preceptors to Vijayanagara emperors like Krishnadevaraya. The Jiyar occupies a leading position among Sri Vaishnava Simhasanadhipatis today.