Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Brihanmath Chitradurga.

Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Brihanmath is an outstanding institution in Religious History of Karnataka. The Math is situated on the western side of Chitradurga in a beautiful and calm location. With a celebrated tradition of more than three centuries, the Math, engaged itself in social, religious, educational and cultural activities, is rendering a yeoman service in the development of the state. Thus it is a great asset of the country and hence has acquired a high place.

Though it is called in several ways live Murige Math, Muriga Math, Murugha Math, Vishala Math, Maha Math, etc., it is popularly known as Murugi Math.

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Although the Math was established in the 17th century A.D., the tradition conceived out the Math belongs to the ideals of the great Sharanas like Basaveshwara etc.,. 12th Century A.D. Period of Sharanas is an illuminating chapter in the history of Karnataka. Sharanas of this era have left behind a saga of culture and literature which lead the mankind from darkness to light. The total revolution took place under the stewardship of Sri Basaveshwara is an inspiring event for all those who wish to become fore runners in the bid of social transformation. They gave expression to their genuine feelings and experiences in the form of Vachanas. These are the simple verses in Kannada language which can be understood by even a lay man in the street. Compassion and co -existence was their way of life. Hundreds of persons from all corners of the country came and joined the team of Sharanas to transform themselves and society. Their forum was formally called as ‘Anubhava Mantap’. The history of the Math is so vast as it is traditionally known to be the Shoonya Peetha which is believed to have been established by Basaveshwara, enthroned by Allama Prabhu (nick named as the spiritual emperor) and succeeded by Chenna Basavanna. Further the Peetha being succeeded by great personalities like Thontada Siddalinga Yathi, Siddaveeranna Odeya, Gangadayya, Kattigehalli Siddalingadeva was stationed at Chitradurga by Shanthaveera Desika ( Murige Swamiji -I).

Murige Shanthaveera Swamiji spent most of his life time in religious tour, in his ripe age he was very most bound to the honour and devotion of Baramanna Nayaka, the ruler of Chitradurga and decided to stay at Chitradurga to spend his last days. The Nayaka built two Maths for Swamiji, one on the hill and another at eh bottom towards the west. Thus the Shoonya Peetha which was Chara(mobile) in earlier centuries became Sthira (immobile) at this juncture. The Swamiji who was in the Math, down the hill, entered into the celestial abode on the 5th day of July 1703.A.D. The tomb constructed for him is called Karthru Gaddige.

The Swamiji during his religious tour was honoured by several rulers like Dodda Devaraja and Chikka Devaraj of Mysore, Qutub Badshah of Bhaganagar(Golkonda), Chatrapathi Shivaji of Marathas, Dakina Desai of Gadag, Basavanta Nayaka of Harapanahalli, the ruler of Havanur and so on. The Swamiji was honoured also by a large number of folks belonging to several states. He has written so many works on philosophy and literature.

Gurusiddha Swamiji popularly known as Murige Swamiji II succeeded him and remained as the head of Math upto 1729.A.D. He was honoured as the Raja-guru by the rulers Baramanna Nayaka and his son Hire Madakari Nayaka(1721-48.A.D). He was a profound scholar in both Kannada and Sanskrit and had poetic talent. He has so many works in both the languages his credits.

The Next succeessors Swadi Channabasava Swamiji, Sirahatti Siddalinga Swamiji, Nayakanahatti(Dodda)Gurupada Swamiji, Murusavirada(Sanna) Gurupada Swamiji, were treated with respect as Raja-gurus by Hire Madakari Nayaka, (Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka II (1748-54 AD) and the last Madakari Nayaka (1754-79AD) the rulers of Chitradurga in the year 1779 A.D.,the heritage of the Math continued.

Within two or three decades after the establishment of the Math, hundreds of branch maths were established in various parts of South India, due to the religious influence on the people. The local public began to call the branch maths as "Virakta Maths" and "Murige Maths", to show their devotion.

For these branch maths, the rulers like those of Keladi, Kodagu(Coorg), Sode(Swadi), Harapanahalli, Mattodu, Tarikere, Hagalawadi, Savanur, Sirasangi, Lakshmeswara, Mysore, Ummattur, Punganur, Kolhapur, etc., including Muslim Nawabs and the subjects of all communities showed respect and released so many grants. This clearly indicates the secularism and greatness of the Math. Remarks of two western scholars of the past century and the beginning of the present century are also the clear evidences for the prominence and the high position of the Math. Edward P. Rice author of " A History of Canarese Literature" states that "Lingayatism was the state religion of the early Wodeyars of Mysore and of Ummatur from 1399-1610 and of the Nayaks of Keladi (Ikkeri or Bednur) from 1550-1763. Their Principal Matha in the Mysore country is at Chitradurga". Edgar Thurston who made a survey of "Tribes and castes of South India"., writing on the Lingayat Maths has pointed out that "Each Virakta Math is directly subject to teh Murige Math at Chitaldurga(Chitradurga), which has absolutely jurisdiction over all the Viraktas".

Starting from Sri Murige Swamiji-I to the present Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, twenty pontiffs have adorned the religious seat of the Math.

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[1] From the book "Vachana", pub: Basava Samiti Bangalore 2012.