The author of shrIvidyArNava tantra is commonly misinterpreted as the head of dakShiNAmnAya shringeri shAradA peeTham, described as the establisher of Vijayanagara Empire. This claim can be easily refuted by observing the following verses from shrIvidyArNava tantra itself:
shrIvishNusharmaNaH shiShyaH pragalbhAcharyapaNDitaH |
tacChiShyeNa mayA prokte granthe.asmin pUrNatAM gate ||
The author of shrIvidyArNava tantra is one vidyAraNya, a disciple of pragalbhAchArya, who in turn is a disciple of viShNu sharman.
vidyAraNya yati lists fourteen disciples of AchArya bhagavatpAda:
Anandabhairavo dhIro gauDaH pAvaka eva cha |
parAsharyaH satyanidhI rAmachandrastataH param |
govindaH sha~NkarAchArya ekasaptatisaMkhyakAH ||
Starting with kapila, till sha~Nkara bhagavatpAda, seventy-one gurus are described. Some count shrImadAchArya in the siddhaugha and some as the Adiguru of mAnavaugha. According to the bimbAmbikA shrIkula sarvottIrNa sampradAya, shrImadAchArya is described as the first Guru of mAnavaugha.
sha~NkarAchAryashiShyAshcha chaturdasha dR^iDhavratAH |
The number of direct disciples of shrImadAchArya (with focus on shrIvidyA sampradAya) is fourteen.
sha~NkaraH padmapAdAkhyo bodho gIrvANa eva cha |
AnandatIrthanAmA cha pa~nchaite bhikShavaH smR^itAH ||
The shrIvidyA pravartaka shiShyas of shrImadAchArya who belonged to the order of monks are five in number. They are: shankara (described as shiShya shankara in gadyavallarI), padmapAda, bodha, gIrvANa and AnandatIrtha.
sundaro viShNusharmA cha lakShmaNo mallikArjunaH |
trivikramaH shrIdharashcha kapardI keshavastataH ||
dAmodara iti khyAtA gR^ihiNo navasaMkhyakAH ||
The householder disciples of AchArya were nine in number: sundara, viShNu sharman, lakShmaNa, mallikArjuna, trivikrama, shrIdhara, kapardin, keshava and dAmodara.
While the list of Gurus before shankara is recorded differently in our lineage based on bimbAmbikA bodha, the list of fourteen disciples is more or less the same. padmapAdAchArya is said to have had six chief disciples in the context of shrIvidyA: mANdala, paripAvaka, nirvANa, govardhana, chidAnanda and shivottama. bhagavatI bimbAmbikA replaces nirvaNa with shrIkaNTha and records a conversation regarding strIdIkShA with paripAvakAchArya. AchArya bodha is said to have initiated various disciples in keraLa desha. The lineage of AchArya gIrvANa includes vidvadgIrvANa, vibudhendra, sudhIndra, mantragIrvANa etc. mallikArjuna, trivikrama, shrIdhara, kapardin are said to have taught disciples in vindhya, purI, gauDa-maithila-bangAla, kAshI-ayodhyA regions. shrIvidyArNava tantra also describes a story relating prauDhadeva, vidyAnagara, AchArya lakShmaNa and vidyaraNya, which we shall revisit shortly. It is this story that is the culprit behind the confusion that prevails regarding the identity of vidyaraNya yati, the author of shrIvidyArNava tantra. Late shrI SKR has provided some valuable information regarding the identity of this vidyAraNya yati. Based on a personal conversation with him, I clearly remember that he was working on a book on vidyAraNya, where he intended to deal with the confusion regarding shrIvidyArNava tantra as well. The book probably never reached completion.