Udupi acquired nation-wide fame, when it was turned into a unique seat of Vedantic learning in the 13th century under the leadership of Sri Madhvacharya. Apart from his contributions to Vedantic philosophy, Sri Madhva founded the famous Krishna Temple of Udupi and made it the fountain-head of a new devotional movement, which eventually spread all over the country.
A detailed account of the episode of the installation of Sri Krishna’s image at Udupi is available in a commentary written by Sri Raghuvarya Theertha of 17th century, a pontiff of Palimar Math. The episode is as follows. Devaki, the mother of Lord Krishna, had not seen the charming feats and frolics of his childhood at Gokula. Therefore, she once entreated Krishna in his adulthood at Dwaraka to show her one of those frolics of his childhood.
In response to his mother’s wish, Lord Krishna once again assumed the form of his childhood, climbed up the laps of Devaki as she was churning curds, sucked herbreast-milk, broke pots of curds, swallowed lumps of butter, and stood up with the churning rod in one hand and the churning rope in another, after snatching them away from his mother’s hands. Devaki’s joy knew no bounds, as she witnessed this sport of the Lord. Rukmini, who also sighted this childhood posture of the Lord requested him to get an image of it carved out in Shalagrama Shila for her daily worship. When Krishna departed from earth at the close of Dwapara Yuga, this rare image was deposited by Arjuna at a holy spot called Rukmini Vana in Dwaraka. In the course of the Kali Yuga, a merchant carried this image as merchandise from Dwaraka, mistaking it for a clod of Gopichandan in which the image lay hidden. The ship was wrecked near the sea-shore of Vadabhandeshwar (near Malpe port). Madhvacharya came to know the wreckage of the ship by intuition, got the image dug out of the ship, kept it immersed for a few days in the holy tank of his Math, and installed it for worship on an auspicious Makara Sankranthi day, nearly 700 years ago. Hence forth, Lord Krishna became the presiding deity of Udupi.
He is the source of happiness and salvation of all good people. Madhva installed this image of Krishna with the avowed purpose of removing all obstacles and relieving the pains, which beset His devotees on their way to salvation.
Among the several disciples of Sri Madhva, eight monks were jointly and severally made responsible for conducting the daily worship of Lord Krishna at Udupi, besides the usual duties of monk hood. These eight direct disciples of Madhva established separate lines of their own by ordination, and these eight lines of ascetics came to be known as the Eight Maths or Ashta Math of Udupi.
In the beginning, the Swamijis of the Eight Maths used to be in charge of Lord Krishna’s worship, by turns, for two months each. The system of worship in its present form is believed to have been established in the 16th century by Sri Vadiraja Swami, a celebrated pontiff of one of the Eight Maths called Sode Math. According to the present practice, the Swamijis of Eight Maths conduct worship, by turns, for two years each. This tenure of worship by rotation is known as paryaya. The Swamiji, who is in charge of the worship, is called the PARYAYA SWAMIJI, and his Math called the PARYAYA Math. The ceremony of handing over the charge of worship by one Math to another is known as the PARYAYA FESTIVAL. This festival, held once in two years, in the month of January, attracts thousands of pilgrims, from various corners