By Swami Harshananda
Madhusudana Sarasvati was certainly outstanding one amongst the very rare savants who have simultaneously enriched the literature on Advaita Vedānta and bhakti or devotion to personal God. Research scholars assign to him three probable dates. They are CE 1490-1580, CE 1525-1632, CE 1490-1607.
He was the third son of Pramodana Purandarācārya of Bengal. He was born probably at Unaśiyā in the district Faridpur. It is now in Bangladesh. His ancestors are said to have migrated from Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh.
As a boy, Madhusudana was a brilliant student and learnt Sanskrit grammar and poetry at the feet of his own father. His father was a great scholar himself. He is believed to have renounced the world at the age of ten and traveled all the way to Navadvīpa in West Bengal to meet Śri Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, known widely as Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Since Caitanya was away, he stayed on there itself and pursued his studies of Nyāya philosophy under Mathurānātha Tarkavāgīśa. Mathurānātha was the foremost scholar of his times in that field.
He then proceeded to Kāśī to learn Advaita Vedānta under Rāmatīrtha and then the Mīmārṅsā philosophy under a sanyāsin named Mādhava Sarasvati. These studies produced an intense spirit of renunciation in him so much so that he took sanyāsa from Viśveśvara Sarasvati. He is credited with the organizing a sect of militant monks, the Nāgā sādhus, in order to protect the Hindu sanyāsins and other Hindus.
He had three eminent disciples named as:
- Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya
- Puruṣottama Sarasvatī
He authored important works and are:
Total number of works attributed to him are eighteen. The peculiarities of some of the works are:
- The Advaitasiddhi is his magnum opus.
- The Gudhārthadīpikā is a lucid gloss on Saṅkara’s commentary of the Bhagavadgitā.
- The Siddhāntabindu is a scholarly commentary on the Daśaśloki of Śaṅkara.
- The Bhaktirasāyana is a well organised treatise on bhakti or devotion to God.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore