Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 in Madhva Acarya | 0 comments

The Great Madhva Acarya
(1238-1317 A.D.) 

Page 4 – Institutions  

Today the followers of Madhva, collectively known as the Madhvas, are governed by 23 religious organizations called mathas (commonly spelled mutt). The matha consists of a senior ascetic known as a svami along with his students and other followers, usually married couples. Such matha institutions govern the entire religious sect (sampradaya). The Madhva mathas can broadly be grouped by the language spoken by a majority of it’s followers: Tulu, Kannada, Marati, Telugu, and Konkani. These mathas also correspond to the geographic regions where the languages are spoken.

In 1278 Madhvacarya founded the Krishna Mutt in Udupi. In his later years he gave responsibility to eight of his senior disciples to conduct the worship and administrative affairs for his Krishna Mutt. These eight disciples gradually collected their own followers and established their own mathas that later became known as the asta-mathas (eight mutts) of Udupi. These eight mathas are named after the surrounding villages where they originally resided.

Down to the present time this succession of eight matha-svamis are the joint trustees of Madhva’s original Krishna Mutt. Consequently, they hold prestigious positions as custodians of the historical and spiritual center of the Madhvas. In a system of rotation lasting two years they hold office as High Priest for the Krishna Mutt. The change of office from one matha-svami to the next takes place four days after the annual makara-sankranti festival on January 14th of every even year. The festival that marks this change is known as theparyaya festival. The paryaya festival is still current today and is worth traveling to Udupi to see. In addition to the eight mathas of Udupi there are four other mathas, which govern the Tulu speaking followers of Madhva.

Outside of Madhva’s home territory there are 11 other mathas called the “out-country” or desastha-mathas. These mathas serve the needs of Madhva’s Kannada, Marati Telugu and Konkani speaking followers. Each of these mathas has their own rich spiritual and historical traditions.

Shukavak N. Dasa

Dasgupta, Surendranath. A History of Indian Philosophy. 4 Vols. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
Tapasyananda, Svami. Sri Madhvacarya, His Life, Religion and Philosophy. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1981.
Sharma, B. N. K. History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and its Literature.Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981.



Madhva pujari (priest) sitting by the shrine
of Ganga Devi near the tank at Udupi, c. 1986


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Krishna Mutt in Udupi

Krishna Mutt in Udupi


This is Udupi Krsna, the deity of Krsna worshipped in the Udupi Krishna Mutt.


Ratha Cart in Udupi

Ratha Cart in Udupi. Used in temple parades during festivals.


A Madhva sitting in one of the asta-mathas (eight Mutts) in Udupi, c. 1986.