This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
The Sanskrit epic poem Kamparaya Charitam of Ganga Devi, wife of Kumara Kampana, who conquered, for his father, both Tondamandalam and the Madura country from the Sultans of Madura makes the goddess of the South appear to the Prince in a dream. She is made to recount to him all her sufferings, material and moral, as a result of the irruption of the Mahammadans in the south. At the end of this doleful tale, she assured him that he was no less than an avatar of God for the purpose of repairing injuries that she had suffered, and encouraged him to proceed on the expedition of conquest on which he had already proceeded some way to carry it to completion. In token of her goodwill she presented him a sword with which he was to overcome in single combat the Mahammadan Sultan of Madura. Notwithstanding the epic treatment, it is clear that the poetess wishes to convey to the readers that the invasion of the south by Kumara Kampana of Vijayanagar had in it something of the crusading spirit.
He went on his campaign dislodging the Mahammadan garrisons from the various centres and completed it by killing one Sultan of Madura and abolished the Sultanate finally by further campaigns round Madura itself. When the hostile Mahammadan garrisons were dislodged from the south and when they felt quite clear that the death of the Sultan Mahammad Tughlak and the succession of his nephew
Feroze did not produce any change of policy in the Imperial head-quarters in regard to the distant south, they signalised the re-establishment of Hindu dominion in South India by carrying out a complete restoration of Srirangam, and the re-establishment of God Ranganatha there. This rehabilitation of the Vaishnava "holy of holies" is symbolical of the policy that started the movement, and exercised a strong influence throughout the history of the Empire of Vijaya-nagar. The restoration of temples and rehabilitation of gods merely did not complete the religious policy of these rulers.
The first ruler of Vijayanagar who assumed imperial titles was Harihara II, son of Bukka, the third of the five brothers, who were responsible for the foundation of the Empire. The five brothers and their friends and officers did yeomen service in this national effort. In spite of it all, Bukka, to whom more than to any other, the credit of this enterprise must be given, did not feel that the time had come for the assumption of imperial titles all the time that he lived. He died sometime in A.D. 1378 and his eldest son succeeded as Harihara II. It is he that assumed imperial titles sometime about A.D. 1380 almost about the end of the reign of Feroze Tughlak and when the first two well-known kings of the Bahmani kingdom had ruled and passed away. Among the titles assumed by
Harihara occur the following that call for reference here: "The establisher of the four Castes and orders; the publisher of the commentaries on the Vedas, the master in establishing ordinances prescribed by the Vedas; he who has provided the Adhvaryu (priests) with employment, the auspicious ornament of Kings." These titles clearly indicate the ideas underlying the movement, and the duties that the founders of this Empire prescribed to themselves.
In this great work of Hindu rehabilitation in South India a number of great men played a very prominent part, each according to his opportunity. With the foundation of Vijaya-nasrar is associated the name of the two Brahman brothers, Madhava Vidyaranya and his brother Sayana, two Vedic scholars of high rank. Another Madhava generally called Madhava Mantri, is generally described as "Upanishan marga-pratisthapanacharya," he that established the path of the Upanishad to distinguish him from the other Madhava who takes the attribute "Veda-marga-pratishthapanacharya," the title by which learned Brahmans are addressed even now. This Madhava belonged to the orthodox school, while the other was a disciple of Kasi Vilasa Kriyasakti Pandita, a Saiva Acharya.
The brothers Madhava and Sayana were both of them scholars and statesmen. The elder brother is said to have occupied the position of chief adviser to Bukka at the court of Vijaya-nagar, while Sayana was associated with the Viceroyalty of Udayagiri and was the guide, philosopher and friend in a literal sense of the elder Kampana, while he was alive. At the death of Kampana, while his son Sangama was yet a child, Sayana assumed the responsibilities of the regency, conducted the administration for the boy, educated him as his teacher, fought a battle for him when his Viceroyalty was attacked, and thus discharged his debt to his sovereign. But the names of these brothers are not so widely known for their achievements as statesmen, but are handed down to us as Vedic scholars.
Sayana was grammarian and commentator, commented on the Vedas, and did all the work under the inspiration of his brother, called some of them by Madhava's name, such as Madhaviya Dhatu Vritti. Madhava seems to have been a sort of venerable president of an academy of scholars assembled from various parts, and these were set to work to comment upon and to commit to writing various Vedic works which were dangerously near to being lost. These brothers and their companions discharged their duty to the community to which they belonged, which community had already, for thousands of years, discharged the duty of preserving learning. The spirit underlying this work of Vidyaranya is best illustrated by a story in connection with a life of his great Vaishnava contemporary Vedanta Desika.
After the second sack of the temple of Srirangam in 1328, Vedanta Desika had to retire to the southern border of the Mysore plateau, and was there leading the life of a teacher which was the Brahman's birthright. For the sake of maintenance, because he lived as a married man and we know he had a son, he used to go out asking for alms in the shape of raw rice. The moment he had collected enough for the day he returned to the duties of the scholar. Vidya-ranya who had known him and his worth, sent an invitation on behalf of himself and his sovereign inviting Vedanta Desika to court, as in fact, he seems to have taken pains to collect all the scholars about him for the great purpose that he had in view. Vedanta Desika politely declined the invitation on the ground that, having undertaken to serve God, the Great King of Kings, he found it impossible to accept services under an earthly monarch. Notwithstanding this refusal Vidyaranya continued to maintain a high regard for his scholarship and set about his work and completed it with the aid of a number of other scholars.