Madhva Acharya was born near the town of Udupi in 1238 AD to an elderly but pious Brahmin. Educated by his father, the boy at the tender age of 11 felt an “inner urge he could not resist” to take holy orders and lead the life of an ascetic. When Acyutapreksha, the village holy man and a follower of the Adwaita school of Hinduism, initiated Madhva into sannyasa (the life stage of renunciation of the world) he renamed the youth Purna Prajna (by which he is now known among the faithful).
Seven years after he took his vows, Madhva set out on a pilgrimage to places such as Benares, Allahabad, and Delhi. Along the way he debated with various eminent religious scholars and other holy sorts (Buddhist, Jain, as well as Hindu), gathering disciples of his own. It was on this journey that he arrived in Badri; there he observed a vow of silence for 48 days, while bathing frequently in the holy Ganges. When he resumed his meandering, he dictated his first commentary on the Brahma sutras; in the process, Madhva established the philosophical foundation for the Dvaita school of Vedanta Hinduism. Dvaita proclaims a strict distinction between God (Paramatman) and individual souls (jivatman); thus, in this view, souls are not created by God but do depend on him for their existence.
Back in Udupi Madhva Acharya wrote his bhashyas (commentaries) on the ten Upanisads and composed 40 hymns of the Rigveda. He set out for Badri again, afoot and monk’s staff in hand, and then wandered to Goa on his way back to his hometown. Supposedly he enjoyed a long life of robust health, thanks to his religious practices. Having spent the next decades teaching disciples his theology and sending them out to spread his insights, at the age of 79 Madhva “disappeared from vision” and transferred himself to Badarikashrama. There he remains still.