The Guru parampara of Kaniyooru Matha began with Shri Rama Theertha, a direct disciple of Shri Madhwacharya. The lineage (parampara) from Shri Rama Theertha to the current Swamiji there have been 29 Swamijis. The incumbent Swamiji Paramapoojya Shri Shri Vidyavallabha Theertha is responsible for the overall development of the Matha.
Guru Parampara shloka of Kaniyooru Matha
॥ काणियूरुमठाधीशगुरुपरम्पराश्लोकाः ॥
वंशस्यादीन् सनकादीनुपासे दूर्वाससं परतीर्थाख्यभिक्षुम् ।
सत्यप्रज्ञं प्राज्ञतीर्थं मुनीन्द्रं पश्चाच्छिष्यावच्युतप्रेक्षमध्वौ ॥
मध्वप्रेष्ठं रामतीर्थं रघुनाथं रघोः पतिम् ।
रघुनन्दनतीर्थं च यदुनन्दनमाश्रये ॥
विश्वात्मानं विश्वनाथं वेदगर्भं गुरूत्तमम् ।
वागीशं वरदपतिं मुनिं विश्वपतिं भजे ॥
विश्वमूर्तिं वेदपतिं वेदराजं चतुर्दशम् ।
विद्याधीशयतिश्रेष्ठं विबुधेशं समाश्रये ॥
वारिजाक्षं च विश्वेन्द्रं विबुधैर्वन्द्यनामकम् ।
विद्याधिराजं तच्छिष्यं विद्याराजतपस्विनम् ॥
विबुधप्रियं च द्वाविंशं विद्यासागरमेव च ।
वासुदेवं च विद्यानां पतिं वामनसञ्ज्ञितम् ॥
विद्यानिधिकराब्जोत्थान् श्रीमद्विद्यासमुद्रकान् ।
श्रीमध्वशास्त्रव्याख्यातॄन् श्रीनृसिंहार्चकान् भजे ॥
गोप्राणकृष्णप्राणेष्ठं सदा सन्मन्त्रजापकम् ।
(श्री) विद्यावारिनिधिं वन्दे सपर्यायचतुष्टयम् ॥
Shri Rama Theertha
He was ordained by Shri Madhwacharya himself and is the founder person of Kaniyooru Matha.
Madhwacharya has blessed him with the idol of Shri Yoga Narasimha which is also the Pattada idol of the Matha. Narayana Pandithacharya of the Sumadhwa Vijaya fame has praised him as “Shri Madramapadashraya”. He did the Pooja for a few years and then handed over the reins of the Samsthana to his disciple Shri Raghunatha Theertha. He travelled widely across the country and left for the heavenly abode at the banks of river Bhagirathi on the 5th day of the Magha Bahula.
Shri Raghunatha Theertha
He was the second in the lineage of the Math and he ably conducted his duties of the Math assigned to him by his illustrious Guru. He selected an able successor in Shri Raghupathi Theertha and gave him the responsibility of the Matha and went on a pilgrimage across this land of Bharata and like his Guru left his mortal body on the banks of river Ganga on the 5th day of Chaitra Bahula.
Shri Raghupathi Theertha
He was a great scholar in philosophy and he had won many verbal duels across the whole country, defeating scholars of other philosophy thereby increasing the fame of Madhwacharya’s philosophy.
When he came to know that his life was nearing to an end, he handed over the Matha to his successor Shri Raghunandana Theertha and left for the heavenly abode at Triambakeshwar, Near Nashik in Maharashtra state on the 13th day of Vaishaka Bahula.
Shri Raghunandana Theertha
He was a great scholar and he was highly able to teach the whole Sarvamula Granthas (texts) 18 times. He travelled across the country and left this world at the origin of river Cauvery on the 3rd day of the Magha Shuddha.
Shri Yadunandana Theertha
He regularly conducted classes and discourses on Shri Madhwacharya’s works and also travelled across the country to all the religious places. His unique speciality was that he used to conduct classes and discourses even during pilgrimages. He handed over the seat to his disciple Shri Vishwathma Theertha and left the world at Rameshwaram on the 5th day of Magha Shuddha.
Shri Vishwanatha Theertha
Like his predecessors he too was highly involved in conducting classes and discourses. He also
visited a lot of pilgrimage centres and left for the heavenly abode at Dwaraka (the place where Krishna resided) on the 5th day of Karthika Bahula.
Shri Vedagarbha Theertha
He was a scholar in all shasthras, defeated many scholars and collected victory letters from all of them. During his last days he handed over the Matha to his disciple Shri Vageesha Theertha and
left he world on the full moon day of the Pushya month at the banks of river Tungabhadra.
Shri Vageesha Theertha
Being 9th in the lineage he was a great scholar and has conducted classes for many students.
Finally while undertaking pilgrimage and left his mortal body at the banks of river Ganga on the first day of Magha Shuddha.
Shri Varadapati Theertha
The successor of Vageesha Theertha, Shri Varadapati Theertha was a scholar with profound knowledge. He defeated many scholars propagating other faiths and left for the heavenly abode
on the fifth day of Magha Bahula at Lord Jagannath’s lotus feet in Puri.
Shri Vishwapathi Theertha
He was a great ascetic and had taught many great shastra granthas to his disciples. He undertokk pilgrimage many times and entered vrindavan in the holy place of Kurukshetra on the 14th day of Kartheeka Shuddha.
Shri Vishwamoorthy Theertha
Being the 12th in the Guru Parampara (lineage) , he had in-depth knowledge of the scriptures and taught many disciples. He travelled across the country many times and visited all the places of pilgrimage. He handed over the reins of the Matha to his disciple Shri Vedapathi Theertha and left the mortal body at the birthplace of river Kaveri on the 8th day of Kartheeka Shuddha.
Shri Vedapathi Theertha
The 13th in the lineage of Kaniyooru Matha, he was renowned as a great ascetic. On knowing the greatness of Shrigalu, the ruler of Bellare ( a small town near Puttur, Dakshina Kannada District) offered him the land of penance of Sage Kanwa- the village of Kaniyooru and a 16 armed Narasimha Idol. This idol is worshipped with great reverence even today at the Moola matha of Kaniyooru. He passed the reins of the Matha to his disciple Shri Vedaraja Theertha and left this world at Shri Krishna Kshethra on the 3rd day of Magha Shuddha.
Shri Vedaraja Theertha
He like his Guru had detailed scholarship in shastras and visited Ganga and other theertha kshethras many times. Finally he handed over the Samsthan’s responsibility to his disciple Shri Vidyadheesha Theertha and left for the heavenly abode at the banks of river Godavari on the 8th day of Shravana Bahula.
Shri Vidyadeesha Theertha
He was a great ascetic and once he was doing penance at Kadeshivalaya, on the banks of river Netravati (Bantwal, Dakshina Kannada District) through the Ekakshari Mantra to please Lord Narasimha. At that time Lord Rudra came before him rather than Lord Narasimha. Swamiji said “ I had done these austerities to please Lord Narasimha and why have you come before me?”. Lord Rudra told him that he had come as per the orders of Lord Narasimha and he had come there to bless Swamiji for bearing the difficulties of 10 births in this birth only. Swamiji happily took up this and anointed his disciple Shri Vibhudesha Theertha for leading the Samsthan, Swamiji suffered the difficulties of 10 births at Balya Matha, near Kade Shivalaya and then attained Samadhi. This rare fact was recorded in the Kaifiyat related to Swamiji (dtd. Shalivahana Shaka 1536, 1614 A.D. , Ananda Samvatsara Pushya Shuddha Dashami Shanivara) is on the West wall of Shri Krishna Matha.
His Aradhana falls on Chaitra Shuddha Panchami.
Shri Vibhudesha Theertha
He was always performing full austerities and like his predecessors he visited all places of pilgrimage on regular basis. During such yatras he visited Mannargudi, near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. There he performed severe austerities and pleased Lord Krishna. He got 8 idols of Krishna and awakened the power of the Lord in them, kept one for himself and gave the rest to other 7 mathas. He conducted one Paryaya and then handed over the Samsthana to his direct disciple Shri Varijaksha Theertha and left again for Mannargudi. He stayed there and pleased the Lord of the place Shri Krishna with his steadfast devotion and attained his abode on 5th day of Magha Shuddha.
Shri Varijaksha Theertha
He was famous as an austere person, with profound knowledge of philosophy and giving discourses.
He was also a contemporary of Bhavi Sameera Shri Vadiraja Guru Sarvabhouma, during his period Shri Vadiraja Swami consecrated the idol of Shri Madhwacharya at his birth place, Pajaka. He passed on the responsibility of Samsthana to his disciple Shri Vishwendra Theertha and left the mortal world on the 5th day of Vaishaka Shuddha.
Shri Vishwendra Theertha
He was performing all related activities as per his ashram, including all the japas, he was a scholar par excellence in shasthras and he taught his disciples various works of Madhwacharya. He travelled from Himalaya to Kanyakumari and then passed over the reins to his disciple Shri Vibhudavandhya Theertha and entered Vrindavana at Muni Kanva’s place of penance in Kaniyooru on the 10th day of Magha Bahula.
Shri Vibhudavandhya Theertha
He was well versed and performed all austerities befitting his ashram. He defeated many scholars propagating other different schools of thought and was well known as the conqueror in debates. He handed over the Matha to his disciple Shri Vibhudadhiraja Theertha and entered the Vrindavana at the sannidhana of his guru in Kaniyooru on the 1st day of Magha Shuddha.
Shri Vibhudadhiraja Theertha
He was a great tapaswi and used to give great discourses on Shasthras like his Guru. He went on pilgrimage in regular basis. He handed over the peetha to his disciple Shri Vidyaraja Theertha and entered Vrindavana on 5th day of Chaitra Shuddha at Kaniyooru.
Shri Vidyaraja Theertha
He went on pilgrimage to great places like Kashi, Prayag and also taught many people all the granthas of Madhwa philosophy. He participated in many scholarly conferences and won over many
scholars propagating other schools of thought. He was well honoured and respected by all. There is a shloka available about him which says
yOasau ranjithabhAjanayihi sulasadgAngeyabhAshAganayihi vajrendOpala padmarAga khachithaihi
nAnAnudAnaiyscha yaha | kaaverimagamaddhisham………vidyArAjapadAnkithO mama gururdeyAdalam mangalam ||
Mostly this could be a part of the Mangalashtaka created on Shri Vidyaraja Theertha. If we could get the full work probably lot more information on him could be collected. He entered Vrindavana on 6th day of the Margashira Bahula.
Shri Vibhudhapriya Theertha
He was a great scholar of Madhwa shasthras and a great ascetic. During one of his pilgrimages he was at the banks of river Godavari. At that time , pleased with Shri’s devotion and austerities ,the Ganges came in the form of a stone in his hands. People who were there observed this and then the King of that province honoured Shri learning about his greatness. Also, he gave a Gomed (Hessonite) box to keep the stone idol of Bhageerathi devi. All devotees in the area around the banks of Godavari insisted that such a great swami to stay in that place forever. Swamiji told them that since the Krishna pooja deeksha (Paryaya) was approaching fast he was unable to stay in that place. He came back to Udupi after being immensely honoured by the locals of that place. He made arrangements for daily pooja of Bhageerathi Devi along with Lord Narasimha. Even now, one could see the Gomed boxed Bhageerathi Devi getting worshipped with Lord Narasimha. Later he transferred the reins of the Matha to his disciple Shri Vidyasagara Theertha and left for the heavenly abode on the 12th day of Ashada Shuddha.
Shri Vidyasagara Theertha
He was very famous and when he was travelling through Kodagu (Coorg), there he was honoured by the kings of that province. He also got done in silver, idols of Keshava and other forms which decorate the western window of the inner sanctum of Lord Krishna. The kings of Hyderabad had lot of faith and respect towards Swamiji. When Shri was in Hyderabad, someone poisoned a fruit and offered it to him. He came to know about this with his divine sight and he detoxified it to the surprise of his enemies. He handed over the Samsthan to his disciple Shri Vasudeva Theertha and
reached the heavenly abode on the 7th day of Pushya Shuddha at Udupi.
Shri Vasudeva Theertha
The King of Kodagu and Nizam of Hyderabad were his great devotees and were blessed immensely.
As per the request of the Nizam of Hyderabad he stayed for some period at Bhagyanagar and bless the devotees there. He entered the vrindavana on the 4th day of Ashada Bahula at Sri Krishna Sannidhana at Udupi.
Shri Vidyapati Theertha
He was a very big scholar, he taught his contemporary Swami of the Vyasaraja Matha and got showered with 2000 gold coins. During his paryaya, the then King of Mysore, Krishnarja Wodeyar visited the temple, he was highly impressed with Swamiji’s scholarly talents and gifted him his horse as offering. Swamiji knew that his death would be by serpent bite, so when he was bitten by a serpent went into meditation and left his mortal body on the 12th day of Vaishaka Shuddha.
Shri Vamana Theertha
He constructed a Matha at Kaniyooru and consecrated there the Narasimha idol that was worshipped hitherto by Rishi Kanwa, also he made arrangements there for the daily pooja.
His Aradhana is observed on the 4th day of Ashada Bahula.
Shri Vidyanidhi Theertha
He renovated the mathas in Udupi and Thalebailu (near Kaniyooru). He got specially honoured by the King of Travancore. He offered the small chariot to Lord Krishna for the purpose of daily utsavas.
His Aradhana is observed on the 4th day of Shravana Bahula.