By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Sripadaraja, ZrIpAdarAja, shripaadaraaja
Śrīpādarāja lived in d. A. D. 1486. The Bhakti Movement of Karnataka has been nourished and sustained by two traditions: the Śaiva tradition of the Śivaśaraṇas and the Vaiṣṇava tradition of the Haridāsas. The Vaiṣṇava tradition is divided into two parallel but closely knit streams; the vyāsakuta and the dāsakuṭa. The vyāsakuta comprises the sanyāsins of the Mādhva sect whereas the dāsakuṭa consists of the householders, also of the same sect. Śrīpādarāja was a pioneer of the vyāsakuta.
Known as Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa in his pre-monastic days, he was adopted by Svarṇa-varṇatīrtha, the abbot of a dvaita monastery at Mulabāgilu After initiation into the monastic order, he was given the name Lakṣmīnārāyaṇayogi. Later on he came to be popularly known as Śripādarāja or Sripādarāyaru. Under his guru’s vigorous training he became a great scholar and a monk of repute. After taking over as the abbot of the monastery, when his teacher passed away he worked hard to improve its condition, expand its scope and also the area of its influence.
Sāluva Narasimharāja, who was the king of a small state Candragiri, became his disciple in A. D. 1471 and was greatly benefited by his holy influence. Srīpādarāya then undertook a long pilgrimage to Kāśī and other places, establishing his reputation as an invincible scholar. After returning to his place, he started the new tradition of introducing bhajans and saṅkirtans in Kannada, the local language of the people, in his monastery. He did this especially after ritualistic worship. This gave the common people a grand opportunity to understand the essence of the Sanskrit scriptures in their own language. There are several Kannada compositions attributed to him. He is reputed to have exhibited many miraculous powers including the rising of the Gaṅgā-waters at the pond known as the Nṛsiiṅhatīrtha near the monastery. He passed away in A. D. 1486.
- Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa is the son of Seṣagiri and Giriyamma.
- Mulabāgilu is also known as Mulbagal. It is in the Kolar district of Karnataka.
- Saṅkirtans means devotional hymns and songs.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore