Sri Padmanabha Tirtha was initially a follower of the Advaita school of philosophy and his earlier name was Shobhana Bhatta. He was one of the most well known scholars of his time. He came under the influence of Shri Madhvacharya and converted to the Dvaita school.His mother tongue was Telugu. Sri Padmanabha Theertha is credited with spreading the Dvaita movement all through Karnataka.
After Sri Madhva left for Badrinath, it was Sri Padmanabha Theertha who took over the "Pitha" and continued the tradition.
Sri Padmanabha Tirtha is foremost among the direct disciples of Sri Madhvacharya. He was a distinguished scholar and was recognized and honoured by people of those times as 'THE DISCIPLE OF SRI MADHWACHARYA'.
He has the greatest honour of lecturing on the Vedas before an assembly of great scholars and was acclaimed to be a master in expounding the meanings of the Vedas. He is known for his learning, intelligence, ever lasting devotion, detachment to worldly affairs, service to His guru, etc. With all these extraordinary qualities, he has rightly succeeded Sri Madhva in the pontificial seat of Sriman Madhvacharya to which almost all the present day mathas trace their root.
Sri Padmanabha Tirtha's purvashrama name was Shobhana Bhatta. He was a renowned Advaita Scholar, accomplished logician and one with great faith in Veda, Mahabharata and Puranas. He is said to have hailed from a region close to the river Godavari. He has won many a great scholar in debates and refuted all the prevalent systems of philosophy before he was defeated by Sri Madhava in a famous debate. His defeat at the hands of Sri Madhva made the bold Shobhana Bhatta to renounce the world and accept sanyasa from Sri Madhwacharya.
Our scriptures explain how difficult it is to be blessed with a guru who knows the real nature of the disciple. It requires several thousands of years of sadhana before one is blessed with such an opportunity to meet an all-knowing Guru. We can think how blessed Sri Padmanabha Tirtha was to have had the opportunity of being the direct disciple of the Sarvagna Jagadguru Sri Madhwacharya himself.
After he drank the 'makaranda' - nectar called Bhasya from Madhva, Sri Padmanabha Tirtha found other's bhashyas to be shallow and tasteless.
He was so impressed by the teachings of Sri Madhwacharya that he used to enthrall the audience by comparing the works of Sri Madhva to a divine Kalpavriksha, capable of fulfilling all of one's desires. His conviction in the doctrine of Sri Madhva can be known from his statement before the audience that the result one gets by studying the works of Madhva is beyond words and thoughts.
He was accredited to be the first to write a commentary, on the great Bhasya of Sri Madhva, which ably brings out the true meaning of the Bhasya. The prolific commentator of Madhva, Sri Jayateertha, honors this great saint in his magnum opus Sriman Nyaya Sudha and pictures him as the serene land, auspicious enough to be the home of the lord of Laxmi, and an ocean which gave rise to a bunch of invaluable pearls called Sannyaya Ratnavali.
Sri Jayateertha owes his scholarship to Sri Padmanabha Tirtha while saying
"sa padmanAbhatIrthakhyagogaNostu dR^ishe mama
na tattva mArge gamanaM vinA yadupajeevanam"
We cannot proceed in the direction of truth without whose blessings, let the light called Sri Padmanabha Tirtha lead me in the right path. His Brindaavana is at Navabrindavana, near Hampi.
Works by Shri Padmanabha Teertharu
1. Sattarkadiipaavali - Commentary on Shrimad Ananda Tiirtha's Brahma-Suutra Bhaashya
2. Sannyaayaratnaavali - Commentary on Shrimad Ananda Tiirtha's Anuvyakhyana)
Works relating to the Bhagavad Gita
1) Commentaries on the ten Prakaranas
Navabrindavana is small island situated nearby to Anegundi of Koppal District. Anegundi is 20 km from Gangavathi. From Anegundi one has to cross River Tungabhadra by boat to reach Navabrindavana. Another way to approach Navabrindavana is via Hampi. Hampi is 12 km from Hospet of Bellary District. In Hampi, again we have to cross River Tungabhadra to reach Navabrindavana.