Archive for April, 2010

Bhagvad Ramanuja

April 24, 2010
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Life History and teachings of Sri Ramanujar

(Essence of Visishtadvaitham

)

{Distributed on the occasion of 993

celebrations) of Sri Ramanujar being held from 11

rd annual tirunakshatram-( ten dayth April to 20th April 2010.}

Life History .

He learnt the meaning of the three important rahasyams (secrets)-tirumantram, dvayam & charmaslokam from one of his gurus. Knowledge of these is said to pave way for moksha (salvation of the souls). He had to make eighteen trips to the place of his guru to learn one of the rahasyams. The meaning of these rahasyams used to be taught only to limited persons earlier. Only Sri Ramanujar changed the practice and made it known that those who are disciplined enough in life & interested in attaining salvation through the understanding of these rahsyams, could get initiated under him and learn the meaning. He was keen that more persons could benefit in this process rather than confining the secrets to limited persons.

When questioned by the guru on this breach of practice, he clarified that while he might be denied the moksha for having breached the past practice of limiting the knowledge of these secrets, those who became aware of it now could get moksha and hence in the larger interest of society he thought it better to share these rahasyams.

Overwhelmed by this response the guru embraced him and called him “Emberumanar-

Works of Sri Ramanuja

Sri Ramanujar was born in the year 1017 AD at Sriperumbudhur, Tamilnadu in the Chaitra month- tiruvadirai star. His name was Ilayaazvar. Initially he was placed under the advaitic sanyasi Yadavaprakasar at a nearby place for vedantic learning. He excelled others in this school with his intelligence and cohesive arguments. When his guru misinterpreted some vedantic statements, Ilayaazvar. fearlessly pointed out the errors in the interpretations and corrected him. Fearing that his advaitic philosophy would be demolished by Ilayaazvar, the guru plotted to eliminate him. This made Ilayaazvar leave this place and seek guidance from Sri Perianambi, a vaishnavite scholar. Sri Ramanujar learnt the vedantic and philosophical insights from five vaishnavite gurus. He later took sanyas under the name ”Ramanuja Muni” and subsequently came to be known as “Yatirajar-king of saints”. He dedicated his entire life for propagation of our philosophy. He was one of the greatest saint philosophers of our country. He was the chief expositor of visishtadvaita philosophy, which was enunciated earlier by sage Bodhayanar, also known as Veda Vyasar. His exposition of the doctrine of bakthi and saranagathi (total surrender at the lotus feet of god) is most revealing. He declared that prapatti is an all sufficient way for attaining salvation. He interpreted the messages of upanishads, brahmasutra and Bagavadh gita and established harmony amongst all the vedantic statements. He was an ocean of compassion and his concern for humanity was unique as explained below.henceforth be called “Ramanuja Darsanam”. It is said that mere connection to Sri Ramanuja and his worship is sufficient to get salvation for any soul. oh! My lord” and also declared that sri vaishnavism would

He mastered the vedantic texts, puranas and ithihasas in Sanskrit as well as

In the other schools of thought, both dvaita and advaita, some of the vedic sruthis could not be explained and accepted. Apart from this, his works include Vedartha sangraham, Gita bashyam,

Saranagathi gadyam, Sriranga gadyam, Vaikunta gadyam, Vedanta saram and Vedanta deepam. While the other two commentaries (bashyam) on brahmasutram are known by the names of their authors – by Adisankarar and Madhvacharyar as Sankara bashyam and madhva bashyam respectively – goddess Saraswati is said to have coined Ramanuja’s bashyam as Bashyam”. “SriHe is also known as “Bhashyakarar”

tamil. His magnum opus is Sri Bashyam, his wonderful commentary on Veda Vyasar’s brahmasutram. He established how it was possible to explain and accept all the three types of sruthis in Vedas under visishtadvaita philosophy.

Ramanuja, as the apostle of visishtadvaita refuted mayavadism on the

“Udayavar”. He travelled across the length of the country to

Essence of visishtadvaitam – based on commentaries by Sri Ramanuja.

strength of Upanishads and brahmasutra. He defeated a famous advaitic scholar by name Yagnamurthy of his time, who later became his disciple. He set at right the temple management at several places including Srirangam, the famous vaishnavite temple in South India , for which he came to be known as propagate vaishnavism and also appointed 74 disciples for preaching his school of thought. He lived for 120 years till 1137AD.

Visishtadvaitam means “

which the knowledge is obtained is known as visishtaasya– along with attributes”, ”adviteeyeamnon-“Prameyam” and the instrument or source through“pramanam”. The Vedas together with vedangas, Ithihasas and Puranas are accepted as

Prameyam (reality) in the universe is under three tatvas- Isvara, Chetana and Achetana. Upanishads reveal that Isvara refers to Sriman Narayana, who is the origin of the universe and is therefore the He is omnipresent, omnipotent and has all the pure and auspicious qualities.

He is the embodiment of Satyam(truth), Gnanam (knowledge) and Anantham (eternity). He controls everything and everything exists for him. All other things are supported and controlled by god. The other two tatvas are beings (such as human beings, animals,) and “matter”- the non-sentient substances which are devoid of knowledge.

The Vedas contain three types of statements.

existence of only one supreme being to the exclusion of all.

“Parama pramanam” (supreme authority). Vedas are also “apourusheya”“Para-tatva” or supreme reality.“chetana” also known as soul or atma – the sentient“achetana” also known as theAbhedha sruthis proclaim theBheda sruthis

reveal the existence of multiple objects. There are also

In visishtadvaitha, the paramatma (Sriman Narayana) is the atma or sareeri of all the objects in  the universe -both chetana and achetana as they are his sareea or body. In other words without paramatma the other two cannot exist and all things exist only for his enjoyment. This “sareera -atma bhava sambandham” between the two tatvas & god is unique to this philosophy.

In view of the above concepts, all the three statements of veda are

accepted. When we refer to the three individual tatva the bedha sruthis are used. When denoting the paramatma as the ultimate reality the abhedha sruthis are applied. Because of the “sareera-atma-bhava” relation between pramatma and the other two tatvas, the ghataka sruthis could also be easily explained and accepted.

Knowledge of the tatvas creates a desire for attaining moksha, salvation for the soul.

refuge in the lord, do eternal service to him and the consequent enjoyment of super bliss in Sri vaikuntam. Means for attaining this goal are known as “Parama purushartham” or ultimate goal of each soul is to seek “Hitam”.

dualism”. The objects of knowledge or what needs to be known to us in this universe are known asthe sources of knowledge or pramanam. Within this, Vedas are accepted as the -not of human origin but eternal. As they are not man-made, they are free from any defects.signify the inseparable aspects of paramatma with other realities.. In the dvaita philosophy propounded by Sri Madvacharya only the bhedha sruthis can be accepted and explained and not the others. Similarly in advaita philosophy of Sri Sankara only abedha sruthis can be accepted and Ghataka sruthis, which explained. Only in visishtadvaitha philosophy all the above three types of sruthis can be accepted and explained without any conflict.While karmayoga, gnanayoga and baktiyoga are described as the means in vedas, these require concentrated mind and/or strenuous activities. In today’s world it is very difficult for a common man to practice these. In view of this difficulty, lord Krishna himself declared in Bagavad Gita that total

surrender to him and absolute belief in him for our protection would enable souls to attain moksha, without following these difficult yogas.

All are requested to seek further details from a vaishnavite acharya.

Each soul has to understand the need for moksha and follow means.

Sri Ramanuja’s physical body is even today

preserved and worshipped in a sitting posture at

Srirangam, Tamilnadu, known as “Bhuloka

Vaikuntam”. This sannidhi is almost 900 years old.

There are no chemical preservatives used here.

Aazwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar

tiruvadigale saranam.

(In Tamil)(Prey at the feet of Sri Nammalwar, Sri Ramanujar

and Sri Manavala mamunigal.)

– T E S

Varadhan- Newdelhi, yesvee@sify.com- April 2010

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