The Sri Vaishnava sect has two sub-sects, Thenkalai and Vadakalai. Vadakalais follow the teachings of Vedanta Desikan, whereas Thenkalais follow the teachings of Pillai Lokacharya. Now the Vedanta Desika Divya Charitram, which you can read here, is a biography of Vedanta Desikan attributed to Dvitiya Brahmatantra Svatantra Jeeyar, who was Vedanta Desikan’s shishya’s shishya. But I have reason to believe that it’s not an authentic work by him. Let me explain.

This excerpt from the Vedanta Desika Charitram contains an odd account of a debate between Vedanta Desikan and a scholar from Sri Rangam named Tuvarapati Kavalar, wherein Vedanta Desikan repudiates the various teachings in his works now associated with Vadakalais and adopts the beliefs of Thenkalais. In some cases he says that he now realizes that something he wrote in his works was wrong, and in other cases he says that while his works may seem to say one thing they actually mean something else. This strikes me as implausible, and seems like it was written to promote the notion that Vedanta Desikan was really a Thenkalai in his beliefs.

But my question is, are there any other works that mention Vedanta Desikan debating someone named Tuvarapati Kavalar? That may help determine whether this work is authentic or not.

I haven't found any references to Tuvarapati Kavalar at first glance. His name means "guardian of Dwaraka", and it's a name of Krishna, if that helps.

1 Answer 1


I will attempt to compile a Yes/No answer for this question in reference to the various biographies of Vedanta Desikan. I will start with one biography and add more later. Others are free to append to this list.

  1. Vedanta Desika Vaibhava Prakasika by Choza-simhapuram (Sholingapuram) Doddayyacharyar does not mention the debate with Tuvarapati Kavalar. You can read this work in translation here (although the translation needs some work IMHO).

On a related note, the Vedanta Desika Divya Charitram you mention is a work in English Translation. There is another book of the title "Vedanta Desika Vaibhavam" in sanskrit which appears to be the source for the English Translation. You can find it here: It appears to have all the sanskrit quotes cited in the original (although I only checked a couple of important ones and they match).

The book title page says that it is a translation by Tiruvahindrapuram Devanatha Desikacharya of the original Manipravala work by the second Parakala Mutt Jeer.

dvitīya brahmatantra svāmibhiḥ maṇipravāḻa bhāṣayā praṇautasya śrī deśikavaibhavasya saṃskṛta bhāṣānuvādaḥ tiruvahīndrapura devanātha deśikācārya vilikhitaḥ

Further in the early verses, the author says he is the son of one Venkatacharya.

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