I have read that there were saints called Kriyashakthi Acharyas in Karnataka and one of them was a contemporary of Shri Vidyaranya of Sringeri during the period of Vijayanagara empire. They seem to have been Shaivas who believed in the supremacy of Lord Shiva.

Who was were they? And who was the contemporary of Shri Vidyaranya who did many socio-cultural works?
Was he of Vedanta and was Vedic Shaiva Sannyasi or was a Lingayt Acharya or a Veerashaiva Acharya? Where can people read about his life and works.

This is the material I could find

  1. Shaivism had several branches such as kalamukha, kapalika, siddhanta-shaiva, and virashaiva. The first and last of these were the most influential during the Vijayanagara era. The teachers of the kalamukhas were greatly respected by the Sangama brothers. It is well-known via inscriptions that Kashivilasa-Kriyashakti (guru of Angirasa-Madhava) and his successors, such as Vanivilasa-Kriyashakti and Vidyashankara-Kriyashakti were honored by the kings of the Vijayanagara empire.


  2. There is this confusion about two Madhavas. One was a disciple of Vidyatheertha of Shringeri and another Madhava ( at Banavasi) who was a disciple of Kriyashakti.

  • @Rickross noted plz remove it Commented May 25, 2022 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Extract from Early Vijayanagara



Much has been written, argued and counterargued about the identification or rather equation of Kriyashakti with Vidyaranya. It may not be necessary to open this floodgate once again here. But a careful study of all the available inscriptions including the recently discovered one indicates that Kriyashakti belongs to Kalamukha Shaiva tradition and he is not identical with Vidyaranya. In fact S. Srikantaya refuted A. Venkatasubbaiah's view that Kriyashakti was Vidyaranya .

Kashi vilasa Kriyashakti, Vanivilasa Kriyashakti, Vidyashankara Kriyashakti, Triyambaka Kriyashakti and Chandrabhushana Kriyashakti are five Kriyashaktis who can be traced from inscrip- tions ranging from 1347 to 1431.^ Whether there were really five Kriyashaktis or whether these prefixes represent one and the same Kriyashakti, it is not easy to state anything conclusively at this stage of our study.

Kriyashakti has been referred to variously as Kriyashaktideva Kriyashakti panditadeva, Kriyashakti yatishvara, Rajaguru Kriya- shakti and in the recently discovered epigraph as Nammaguru Kriyashakti Yatishvara. He has been eulogised as Sakshat Shiva, man of austerities, a great scholar and Vedopaziishanmarga- pravartaJca. Mentioning him along with Vidifaranya, Hosalli copper - plate praises him as a Mahanubhava. As a Rajaguru of the Sangama family he has been glorified as Satirajnanananda Advaitajyoti.^

Kriyashakti yatishvara made an impact on the royal family of early Vijayanagaia and particularly of local chieftains, dandUmaya- kas like Madhavamantxi, Kamayadandanayaka of Hosalli and Basavayya dandanayaka. He was probably equally responsible for the establishment of the Vijayanagara empire. Jlngirasa Madhavamantri was in fact a staunch follower of Kriyashakti. According to Shikaripur inscription of 1368 he practised Pashu- patavrata under Kriyashakti for one year and made a datti of Vidyeshvarapura/

The importance of the socio -religious role of the Kalamukhas like Kriyashakti yatishvara lies in the fact that they added much to the synthesis of different religious sects within the f oldof Hinduism, as evidenced by Balligave inscriptions and monuments.^ The worship of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, Ganapati and Surya in the Trikutachala temple is common (m most of their temples}. This tradition further strengthened the composite culture of the Vijayanagara period, a fact which should not be ignored in the study of the socio-religious history of early medieval Karnataka.

How did these Kalamukhayatis like Kriyashakti look like ? Of course^ we have not traced any sculptural representation or painted portrait Hke the one we find in the Virupaksha temple at Hampi. But the headpieces of the inscribed slabs at BaUigave, Banavasi and other regions give us a clue in this regard. Vama- shaktL's relief figure at Balligave is characterised by long fata, kopina, trimmed moustache and beard Similarly a separately carved figure sculpture of a Kalamukha guru has been noticed at Degulalli during my recent exploration work, in Belgaum district. Bhavikeri inscribed slab does contain a line sketch of a Kalamukha shaiva priest who is performing dhupS.rati. An analysis of these sculptural representations may help us to some extent to sketch or outline the picture of a Kalamukhayati of the early medieval period, along with the inscriptional and literary descriptions of them. It is against this background that the recently discovered lithic record of Kriyashakti yahshvara from Bhavikeri in Ankola taluk of Uttara Kannada district has been reviewed here. The inscrip- tion in twenty-five lines is found engraved on a chloritic schistose slab (115 X 53.5 X 1 1 Cm). It is dated in Saka era which corres- ponds to 18th November 1362.®

The object of the epigraph is to record the grant of the village Bhavikeri in Ankole nSdu made after purchase from the overlord Vira Bukkaraya to the royal g^uru Kriyashakti yatishvara by Mahapradhana Basavayya dandanayaka. Kriyashakti yatishvara perpetuating it, granted the same not only for the daily worship of Mahabaleshvara of Gokarnakshetra but also for the boarding of the Brahmanas in the chatra. At the beginning and end of this particular portion of the donation is noticed the mention of the term "'Tnyambaka". The donative record separately documents at the appropriate context the official approval or signature of both Basavayya dandanayaka and Kriyashakti yahshvara. Not only that the boundaries of the donated village Bhaviken have also been specified; Viz., Selehalla to the east, (Arabian)sea to the west, erected boundary stones to both north and south of Bhavikeri.

The lithic record mentions the royal priest with reverence as Nammaguru (our teacher) and Yatishvara. This Kriyashakti must be the same as Kashi vilasa Kriyashakti mentioned in the Soraba and Shikaripura inscriptions. Needless to say that the Balligave region had a long tradition of Kalamukha Shaivacharyas. BhSvikeri record corroborates the fact that the priesthood of Kriyashakti played an equally important part in the socio-religious life of the early Vijayanagara empire . That this Kriyashakti yahshvara was a worshipper of Svayambu Tnyambaka, one of the eleven forms of Rudra, is evident by the reference to Triyambaka in two contexts of the record. This was probably the main tutelary divinity of the priesthood of Kriyashakti. This may also be taken as the sign- manual of Vira Bukkaraya I .

The historical importance of the inscription lies in the fact that it is one of the early records of the Vijayanagara dynasty so far found in Uttara Kannada district which has so far yielded about one hundred inscriptions of the Vijayanagara period. This record also confirms the fact that the southern part of Uttara Kannada District was brought imder the early Vijayanagara rule in the time of Bukka I and corroborates the popularity of Krii^hakti in this region, with special reference to G5kar^ kshetra. Gokanu in Kumta taluk has been one of the holy places of pilgrimage visited by Kriyashakti as evidenced by a number of inscriptions including the present epigraph.

Thus the new lithic record of Kriyashakti yatishvara from Bhavikeri is yet another record of socio -religious importance and throws light on the personahty and role of Knyashakti dunng the time of Bukka I and mahapradhana Basavayya dandanayaka in 1362.

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