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By Nithin Sridhar
Guru Poornima special- Part 5
Vijayanagara Empire stood as a bulwark for 310 years (between 1336 CE and 1646 CE) against the Islamic invasion of South India.
The purpose of its foundation was to save South India from the conquest of Islamic rulers to save Hindu religion, culture and learning and help them to flourish, according to Dr. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, an Indian historian and academician.(1)
The inspiration and the driving force behind the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire by Harihara I and Bukkaraya was Sri Vidyaranya.
Therefore, the fifth installment of the Guru Poornima series is dedicated to Sri Vidyaranya.
His Life: No definite information is available about the date of his birth, but what is definitely known is that he was the 12th Shankaracharya of Sringeri Peetham(2) from 1380 CE to 1386 CE when he left his body, and his pre-monastic name was Madhava.
According the traditional account as accepted by Sringeri Peetham(3), he was born in present day Warangal, Andra Pradesh and was the elder brother of Sri BharatiTirtha who became the 11th Shankaracharya of Sringeri Peetham in 1333CE and occupied that position till his Samadhi (i.e. left his body) in 1380 CE.
The tradition holds that Sri Vidyaranya took Sannyasa (renunciation) in 1331 AD from Sri Vidya Tirtha, the 10th Shankaracharya of Sringeri. Therefore, according to the traditional account, both the brothers had the same Guru, but the younger brother took renunciation earlier and hence, he succeeded his Guru as 11th Shankaracharya, whereas Sri Vidyaranya became 12th Shankaracharya in 1380 CE.
But some scholars believe that Sri Vidyaranya was none other than Madhavacharya, the elder brother of Sayanacharya; both of whom were ministers in Vijayanagara court. According to this view, Madhavacharya served in the court of Harihara I, Bukkaraya and briefly under Harihara II, before he took Sannyasa in 1380 CE and occupied Sringeri Peetham under the monastic name Vidyaranya. The traditional view considers Madhavacharya, who was a minister in Vijayanagara court, and was the brother of Sayana as being different from Sri Vidyaranya.
Founding Vijayanagara Empire (4): The exact accounts of the origins of Vijayanagara Empire is of dispute. But it is largely agreed that Harihara I and Bukkaraya were either chief in Hoysala kingdom or were serving Kakatiya king in Warangal.
When the kingdoms were attacked by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, it is believed that they captured and converted Harihara I and Bukkaraya into Islam and sent them back as vassals. During that time, Sri Vidyaranya was staying at Matanga Hill and the brothers came there and met him. Under the guidance of Sri Vidyaranya, the brothers returned back to Hinduism and founded the Vijayanagara Empire.
Some consider that these conversions may not have taken place and that the brothers fled the Islamic invasion and took refuge in Sri Vidyaranya. Some accounts even mention that Sri Vidyaranya gave the brothers a large hidden treasure that the saint had discovered.
Irrespective of the accounts, what is clearly known is that Harihara I and Bukkaraya approached Sri Vidyaranya and it was under his inspiration and guidance that they decided to establish the mighty Vijayanagara Empire and managed to revive Hindu religion, culture, arts and crafts.
His Works and Legacy: Sri Vidyaranya has written a number of books on a variety of topics like Meemaamsa, Vedanta, music, Smriti etc. Some of his important works are:
- Shankara Digvijaya: A biographical account of life of Adi Shankaracharya written in poetical form.
- Parashara Madhaviya: A commentary on Parashara’s Smriti.
- Sarvadarshana-Sangraha: A compendium of views of various Hindu schools like Nyaya, Yoga, Samkhya etc.
- Panchadashi: A very important work on Advaita Vedanta.
- Jaimini Nyayamala Vistara: A work on Meemaamsa.
- Sangita Saara: A work on music.
He was one of the most important writers on Advaita in post-Shankara period. His contributions to Advaita like Panchadashi and Jivanmukti-viveka is considered one of the most authentic works on Advaita philosophy.
His works like Parashara Madhaviya,Kala Madhava and Smriti Sangraha are important contributions in the field of Dharma shastras (works on law, polity, duty etc.)
His biography of Adi Shankara is held in high esteem by traditional followers and scholars alike.
In his compendium of various daarshanas (world views), he gives a systematic analysis of various schools of Hindu world view and how each of them is connected to others, inspite of their differences.
Under his guidance, the commentaries on all the Vedas were undertaken and completed by Sayanacarya.
He got many temples built and renovated, and he re-started worship in many temples wherein worship had been suspended.
He was instrumental in building the infrastructure for Sringeri Peetham, which helped the peetham to sustain and spread its dharmic activities for many centuries.
Finally, he was instrumental in the building of Vijayanagara Empire, which resulted in the revival of Hindu religion and practices.
- As quoted in Decisive Battles India Lost (326 B. C. to 1803 A. D.) by Jaywant Joglekar (2006).
- Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Karnataka is one of the four centers established by Adi Shankaracharya.
- The traditional account as accepted by Sringeri Sharada Peetham is briefly mentioned in their official website.
- Robert Sewell in his ‘A Forgotten Empire’, narrates many such accounts. Various historians have accepted various narratives.
1. Nyaya: A school of Hindu philosophy that deals with logic and worldview established through logic.
2.Samkhya: A school of Hindu philosophy that proposes a world model based on duality of Purusha and Prakriti.
3. Yoga: A school of Hindu philosophy that deals with practical application of Samkhya philosophy.
4. Advaita Vedanta: It is a Non-dual philosophy based on Upanishads.
More in this segment:
South India is renowned for many things that elicit culture and tradition. One of the things normally associated with this intricate and impenetrably tradition-bound group of people is their immense love for gold. Their temples, sarees, utensils, and sometimes even food are coated in gold. Their jewellery, while stunning, often bears social implications within their own family hierarchies. One of these traditions is upheld even during Deepavali.
A practice followed usually in wealthy households, Thalai Deepavali is the first Deepavali celebrated after the daughter of the house is married off. During her wedding, the father of the bride would have put up a spectacle, no doubt, but on this occasion as well, he has to host his son-in-law with all the splendour he can afford.
A gold ring studded with diamonds Image credit: Wikimedia commons
The newlyweds come to the bride's house to celebrate an elaborate week of festivities. During their stay, no work is required of them. They are pampered and fed with the best food, choice delicacies, and clothed in beautiful adornments. The son-in-law is taken very good care of and is looked up to as the one who takes up responsibility for the welfare of his bride.
Thalai Deepavali is an intimate celebration while it lasts, but its success reflects only when the groom goes back home. As tradition requires, the bride's father is supposed to present the groom with a ring made of gold. Ideally, it is supposed to represent his worth in the family. Based on the prosperity of the bride's family, and the social standing of the groom's family, the ring is also set with precious stones. It is believed that the pure and unchanging nature of gold will rub off on the wearer. It is every father's wish that his daughter is well-placed in the in-laws' house. When the groom returns home, if the ring does not meet the expectations of his family, it is likely that the relations between both families are soured for a long time.
Deepavali celebrations in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
As enduring as gold is in the southern states, it is a symbol of their culture more than anything else. On the occasion of Deepavali as well, gold is the light that shines on a girl's marital life and the blessing to her husband's family.
Keywords: Thalai Deepavali, Family Celebration, elicit culture and tradition.
Deepavali or Diwali is the name given to the Festival of Lights (deep-lamp, vali - array) and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and certain Buddhists. The celebration lasts five days and is held during the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. Diwali represents the spiritual winning of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
During Diwali, people dress in their best clothes, decorate their homes with diyas and rangoli, hold worship ceremonies for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and gather with their families for family feasts during which sweets and gifts are exchanged.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. The whole city of Jammu comes to life during Diwali, and there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. In preparation for the festival, many begin decorating their homes several months in advance. While some people paint their houses, others meticulously clean their homes.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. | Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash
On Diwali, people put on new clothing and proceed to temples, where they buy large quantities of sweets to distribute to friends and family. To light their homes and places of business, people also purchase earthen lamps, candles, and electrical accessories.
But, Kashmiri Pandits do not celebrate Diwali with great zeal since they adhere to Shivaism, i.e., they follow the Hindu God Shiva in particular. On this day, however, they perform Puja, which is a religious ceremony.
Many people are seen during the evening hours when devotees flock to temples in Srinagar and elsewhere to offer special prayers and light lamps to commemorate the occasion. The sweet stores in Srinagar bustle with customers as Muslims exchange sweets with their Hindu friends and acquaintances.
Keywords: Diwali in Jammu, Kashmiri Pandits, Diyas, temples, Srinagar, Muslims, Lakshmi- Shiva,
Diwali is known for gifting and jewellery tops the list, with the focus on buying gold and diamonds. ORRA jewellery, a trusted diamond jewellery brand is gearing up for the festive and bridal season. As they open their 50th store in the country, IANSlife caught up with Dipu Mehta, Managing Director, ORRA, to find out how the company plans to ramp up its now 50 company-owned and operated stores, expanding its retail presence in Tier-1 and 2 cities and target the millennial segment.
Q: The brand is expanding in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, is brick and mortar the way forward to create a presence in this segment?
A: ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. But we aren't opening stores in any new markets. We are only opening in markets where we are already present. We are increasing the number of stores within cities as the demand for jewellery buying has also increased. Currently, we are present in 25 cities with 50 stores, and by the end of the month, we would be launching another seven stores.
Also with a category like jewellery, it is important to have brick and mortar stores as the customers like to see and hold higher value jewellery before purchasing. Jewellery buying is an important decision to the customers and having a store gives them that assurance.
ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. | Wikimedia Commons
Q: Jewellery is recession-proof do you agree and why?
A: Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion-led purchase. It is also considered a great investment. The pandemic has affected all industries and the purchase pattern of consumers has slowed down. We wouldn't call it recession-proof but due to the festive season coming up, we predict a good season for all retailers.
Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion led purchase. | Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash
Q: The small Indian wedding doesn't mean that jewellery gets minimal, it just means people are investing more in jewellery. Please elaborate on how the brand's consumer behaviour has shifted in this regard.
A: Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. It doesn't matter if the wedding is on a large scale or small scale, the kind of jewellery worn has been large. The only difference we see now is due to the pandemic and the limited number of guests at weddings the families are spending more money than before on buying diamond jewellery. We have seen the customers upgrade to higher-value diamond necklaces than ever before.
Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. | Photo by Aayush(gop) Rawat on Unsplash
Q: The brand is the only one to offer 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery. Please share the idea behind this and what is the impact it has had on sales?
A: The idea came from the insight that during a wedding in the family, the father of the bride is always the most worried about all the wedding expenses. At ORRA, we understand this and decided to offer 0 per cent interest EMI.
We are the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and we have seen a great response from customers. Offering this has led a lot of customers to upgrade the jewellery and purchase larger pieces. We are seeing a growing trend of customers who prefer buying jewellery on EMI and to pay it in equal monthly installments instead of paying the whole amount in one go.
OORA is the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and they have seen a great response from customers. | Needpix
Q: The millennial and Gen Z as a segment, how important are they to you and are you doing any digital marketing for this audience?
A: The millennial and Gen z customers are extremely important to us and we launched our 'Desired Collection' specially to target this age group and style. This generation has a distinct style and makes their own decisions, they are tech savvy and are comfortable making jewellery purchases on our e-commerce website. They love a good deal along with great designs and quality products. Our customers are extremely engaged with us on our social media handles and we ensure that we respond to all their product-related queries within a day. We also have live chat and video calling facility which helps them make a decision.
OORA's customers are extremely engaged with them on our social media handles and they ensure that they respond to all their product-related queries within a day. | Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
Q: Lastly what are the trends you predict for 2021 and 2022?
A: We see an upward trend this season and in the coming few months. We see an increase in demand in diamond jewellery purchases and with the help of 0 percent interest EMI we can see more and more customers buying larger pieces of diamond jewellery. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: diamond jewellery purchase, Diwali is known for gifting and jewelry, festive and bridal season,