An extremely powerful administrator in the fields of politics and diplomacy,whose entire life was spent in ruling and administering of the empire of Vijaynagar ,was Swami Vidyaranya. He was the mighty Prime Minister of Vijaynagar and advisor to the emperor . He controlled the military might of the state, grappled daily with complex political and administrative problems, yet he was a great saint. He had mastered philosophy and the Vedas, he attended Satsang every day as well as wrote many books.

Swami Vidyaranya’s commentary on the four Vedas is considered a masterpiece even today. The legend goes that post retirement he visited Varanasi and had darshan of Shri Ved Vyas himself. He presented him with the manuscript of his Vedic commentary and requested him to comment on his understanding and exposition of the Vedas. The great acharya could not correct or alter a single word! Ved Vyas ji out of great admiration for his work decorated him with the title of ‘Vidyaranya.’ An ‘Aranya’ (deep forest) of Vidya ( knowledge).

An erudite scholar, deep thinker and exalted as a tall spiritual master, he was invited to become the chief acharyaji of the Shringeri Math.

This noble Saint was a very rajasic diplomat and a power wielding administrator, who, after exhausting his rajoguna (worldly appetites) took Sanyaas. He may be termed a true ‘ Tapasvi Raja’ (Ascetic King)! He fits Plato’s concept of the philosopher King. His most famous composition is the Panchadashi. (15 Chapters). In this treatise on Vedanta Swamiji has expounded only the ‘prakriyas’ ( technical Upanishadic terms). This deep text is taught by acharyas at the beginning and then again at the end of intense spiritual training to  Vedanta students. A text like Panchadashi  could be authored solely by a saint like Swami Vidyaranya!

Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi. Email: prarthnasaran@gmail.com