About 700 years ago, Jagadguru Sri Madwacharya, the scholarly saint and the exponent of Dwaita Philosophy installed an enchantingly beautiful idol of Lord Sri Krishna at Udupi. Legend has it that this was the very same idol which Rukmini Devi had lovingly worshipped during the Dwapara Yuga. Ever since the idol was installed, Udupi has been steadily gaining in importance as a hoary centre of pilgrimage. It was left to Sri Vadiraja Swamy to establish eight Maths and to enjoin that the Swamiji of each of these Maths should worship Lord Sri Krishna for two years at a stretch by turns. The biennial event of this transfer of charge came to be known as Paryaya. It is intriguing to note how this formal transfer of charge evolved down the centuries and culminated in assuming the dimensions of a festival of pomp and pengeantry comparable with the fabulous Dasara of Mysore.
Dasara on the one hand and the Paryaya on the other is too striking to be coincidental. The Paryaya procession, ascending the throne, the Darbar and the chariot festival are a few among the highlights of Paryaya. On the eve of the Paryaya, the Swamiji proceeds to the holy Danda Teertha. In the early hours next morning he finishes the ablutions as well as the morning rituals and then returns to Jodukatte. By this time the Swamijis of the different Maths will have arrived there in palanquins. Thousands of devotees will also be waiting there to receive the incoming Swamiji. A breathtakingly spectacular procession with caparisoned elephants and giant guises on the lead, with colourful banners and buntings fluttering in the morning breeze, with numerous tableaux adding pomp and pageant at regular intervals and with bands and nadaswaram playing cheerful notes,winds its way along street. A red carpet reception awaits them at this point. The Swamijis get down from their palanquins and proceed on foot. The prospective Paryaya Swamiji gets a ‘Darshana’ (glimpse) of Lord Krishna through the ‘Kanakana Kindi’ (Kanaka’s window) and after offering prayers at Anantheswhara and Chandreshwara temples, arrives at the main entrance to the Sri Krishna Temple. The outgoing Swamiji receives him there and they enter the temple and pray before the image of Lord Krishna. Then the outgoing Swamiji hands over the hallowe “Akshaya Patra” the ladle and the keys of the sanctum sanctorum to the incoming Swamiji in the presence of the image of Sri Madhwacharya and at his request the incoming Swamiji occupies the throne. This is the same throne which Sri Madhwacharya used to occupy during those days.
The next important item in the programme is the mammoth public meeting at the Rajangana where dignitaries offer felicitations to the Paryaya Swamiji. Religious discourses are held and eminent scholars who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields are honoured at this meeting in a befitting manner. At nightfall ‘theppotsava’ is celebrated in the Madhwa Sarovar where the image of Lord Krishna is taken round in a specially designed and colourfully illuminated boat chariot. One of the most significant events associated with the Paryaya is the Brahma Rathotsava (chariot festival) which takes place at night. The image of Lord Krishna is placed in the Brahma Ratha (huge chariot). After a series of rituals the chariot is drawn along the car street by thousands of devotees. The crescendo of ecstatic shouts of devotion reverberates in the still night. Hour long fire – works weave exotic patterns against the night sky. The streets will be swarming with tens of thousands of devotees, enthralled and rejoicing. The Paryaya Math, with its dazzlingly colourful illumination, becomes the cynosure of all eyes. As soon as the chariot completes its round, the image is taken to Vasantha Mahal for Valaga Mantapa Puja. Lord Krishna is placed in a golden cradle and swung to and fro to the accompaniment of vedic hymns and devotional songs. After this, the image is carried back to the sanctum sanctorum. This marks the close of the festival and the curtains will be down.
The Paryaya Udupi Sri Krishna Math – 18th January, 2006 A.D. is a unique one. Sri Vidyasagara Teertha Swamiji is assuming his Third Paryaya in Sri Krishna Matha on 18th January 2006.