Archive for March, 2016

Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja: Life Sketch

March 25, 2016

 

 

Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja  :  Life Sketch

Introduction:

 “yo:nithya machyuatha pada:mbuja yugmarukma vya:mo:hatha sthaditharana trunayame:ne: |

 asmadguro: rbhagavatho:sya dayaika sindho:h ra:ma:nujasya chararanou saranam prapaddye” ||

Lord Srimannarayana incarnated in many forms as ‘Avatars’ to uplift the downtrodden lives of all living beings. But, unfortunately, there were not many who could identify him as the Lord. Some of the living beings, considered him as a man and  even some treated him as an enemy.

While reclining on ‘a:dise:sha’, The Lord was regretting and felt unhappy about the ignorance of people  as his efforts were not benefitting them. ‘a:dise:sha’ noticed the Lord’s predicament and wanted that he could be of service to in this regard. He then requested the Lord to give him an opportunity to serve him so as to help him to overcome his dissatisfaction.  The Lord was pleased with his request and gave his consent for Adisesha to appear on earth and help him in the task. ‘a:dise:sha’ appeared himself in the form of none other than Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja.

Birth of Ramanuja:

In  Sriperumbudur, a village near Chennai, a  Vaishanva couple named Keshavacharyulu and Kantimathi Devi were residing and  were descendants of Asuri Family.  Kanthimathi was a pious and  virtuous lady but the couple had no children. They performed a ‘Putra ka:meshti ya:gam’  . Prior to that, they had  a holy dip in the sea on a lunar eclipse day and also prayed at the Lord Parthasarathi temple in Chennai. As a boon granted by the Yagam, the couple were blessed with a boy. The boy was born on an Arudra star in the Vaishaka month in the year 1017 AD that was exactly 4418 years after the beginning of Kaliyuga.

Childhood and Education:

Ramanuja’s father Keshavacharyulu performed all Vedic Samskaras to him  and also performed thread ceremony by the age of 8. He was taught Vedic knowledge and Sanskrit.  By the age of 16, the boy got married to Tanjamamba .  As time passed, Keshavacharyulu  expired . To pursue his further learning in Sastras, he reached Kanchipuram and started tutelage under a scholar named  ‘Yadava Prakashakulu’.

                                                          

             Jealousy of Guru:

At that time, the king’s daughter there was being tormented by a demon. Yadava Prakashakulu could not help the king to make his daughter well. He then took Ramanuja with him and with the touch of Ramanuja’s holy feet there, the demon left the king’s daughter and she was cured. The guru started becoming jealous after the incident. In another incident, Ramanuja gave a new and better pious interpretation to the meaning of “YADHA KA:PASYAM” in Chando:gya Upanishad. His guru used to explain it as the Lord’s eyes resemble as lower part of a monkey,   while Ramanuja cleverly interpreted as eyes compared to Lotus.  Yadava Prakashakulu was afraid of his knowledge and wisdom. So he thought to eliminate him considering  him as an enemy. He planned a method to kill him on the pretext of sending him on Kasi yatra.  When Ramanuja started on this Yatra, his cousin came to know of the plan of his guru and saved him. Sri Varadaraja Perumal with his consort appeared in the forest as ‘Boya’ couple and  took him to Kanchi.  There, Ramanuja offered the Lord ‘Teertha Kainkaryam’  and  “Chamara” Seva.

Efforts to have  glimpse of Yamunacharya

A Great scholar by name  Sri Yamuncaharya used to reside in Srirangam. He came to know about the greatness of Ramanuja and thought he would be his best successor. He deputed his disciple   Periyanambi to Ramanuja.  Ramanuja was impressed by the ‘Slokam’ “Swabhavikena- vadhikatisaya” from the ‘Strotra Ratna Mala’ written by Yamunacharya recited by his disciple.  After knowing  about  the  greatness of Yamunacharyulu ,  Ramanuja wanted to have a glimpse of him. By then, Yamunacharya  had already trained five of his bright disciples  with the inner and profound meaning of the Sashtras. Yamunacharya was unhappy as he could not finish three of his works during his life time. While he left for heavenly abode, his three fingers remained unusually closed.  Ramanuja came to attend his last rituals and announced there that he would:

  1. to get himself “pancha Samskarams” and spread them among masses.
  2. to  author ‘Sri Bhahyam’ on the basis of ‘Brahma sutras’.
  3. to bring glory to the greatness of Parasara Maharshi author of Vishnupuranam and Vedavyas  author of Braham sutras.

With  this announcement, the closed fingers of Yamunacahrya miraculously got released. The scholars there, were surprised and praised him to be  a true disciple  of  Sri Yamuncharya.

 

Ramanuja  gets  *“Pancha Samskaras”:

As he was not able to get a  glimpse  of  Yamuncharya during his  life time and had only seen his ‘partha Sariram ‘, Ramanuja felt unhappy with the grace of Sriranganadha, the presiding deity there. So, he returned to Kanchipuram without having the glimpse of Sriranganadha.

Kanchipurnulu during  ‘Vinjamara Seva’ used to chat with the Lord.  Ramanuja learnt from Kanchipurnulu about six important points as guidelines from God during his chats.

  1. Sri Maha Vishnu is the ultimate reality.
  2. Living beings and God are different.
  3. Saranagati attitude is the only way to Moksham
  4. After ‘Pancha Samskara’ , remembering and uttering the Lord’s name at the last moments of life is not essential to attain salvation.
  5. ‘Moksham’ will definite after death.
  6. Mahapurnulu is the right guru to offer ‘Pancha Samskaras’.

 

As per the above guidelines, he set on to meet Mahapurnulu to get Panachasamskarams*.  At Madhuranthakam, both happened to cross each other  on their ways. He then got ‘Pancha Samskarams   from him . He also learnt Sastras and Alwar Prabahandhalu from him.

 

Ramanuja   Renouncing:

He took  renunciation at Devaraja Sannidhi in Kanchipuuram. Vardaraja Swami himself addressed Ramanuja as “Yatiraja”. His old guru Yadava Parakasakulu now came to know the greatness of Ramanuja through his mother . As per the Lords’ instructions in his dreams, he took ‘Pancha Samskaramas’  from Ramanuja and became known as Govinddas.  Lord Sriranganadha invited Ramanuja to lead the “Transient Manifestation ”(‘Leela Vibhuthi’) and “ Permanent manifestation ” (Nithya Vibhuti’) .  With that authority,   Ramanuja was appropriately  named as “Udayavar”.

 

*Pancha Samskaras means undergoing five transformations Viz. 1. Thapa 2. Pundra 3. Nama 4. Mantra and 5. Yaga , from the right guru.

 

 

To spread the sacred  essence of ‘Mantra Rajam’ far and wide

 

Ramanuja was eager to learn the hidden contexts of ‘Thirumantram’ and ‘Charama slokamu’  from  Sri Goshtipurnulu.  At last, he succeeded in the final attempt, only after making 18 trips patiently, with the grace of Lord Sriranganadha.  Sri Goshtipurnaulu was pleased with him and happy with the affection of Ramanuja on his disciples   Kurueshulu and Modaliyandan and piousness of his dandam.

It was so difficult  even to Sri Bhagvad Ramanuja to learn about the grandeur of the ‘Mantra’ . He thought about this and was so concerned that how difficult it would be for the ordinary people . So one day, he preached the secret of the mantra to all those desirous among the

devotees who thronged for the festival of Nrisimha perumal. By doing so, he broke the promise given to his guru, but as he was not afraid to go to hell while so many people can reach heaven so easily with the power of this Mantra. This was the benevolence and courage shown by him. Sri Goshtipurnulu was impressed by it and gave the title  ’Yembur Mannar’ and embraced him. He ordered that spreading this mantra will be henceforth called “Ramanuja Siddhatnaatam” from that day. Thus his followers, are always  being blessed by Yembur Mannar.

 

Authoring of Sri Bhashyam and other books  :

Sri Bhagvad Ramanuja mastered Sanskrit literature and ‘Thirumayimojhi’  from his  disciple  Yamunaryulu,  in no time. He also listened to 24 different interpretations of Sri Ramayanam with the perspective of ‘Vishishtadwaita’ under his guru Sri Sailapurnulu. He thought reading through “Bhodharayanavritti” would help him to author ‘Sri Bhashyam’ . For that purpose, he went to Sarada Peetham in Kashmir along with his disciple  Sri Kuresulu. But the Jain monks there, were reluctant to part with the book, even for a while.  Sri Kuresulu, with him being a wizard of memory and retention, could grasp the entire content overnight. The magnificent feat of authoring Sribhashyam was completed with the help of Sri Kuresulu. With this, the second wish of Sri Yamunacharyulu was fulfilled. He later authored “Vedanta Sangraham”,  ‘Vedanta Deepam”  ‘Vedanta Saramu” and Gita Bhashyam”. He authored three proses in the presence of Lord Sriranaganadha  named “Sranagati Gadya” Sriranag Gadya” and Sri Vaikuntha Gadys”. He entrusted the work writing commentary on ‘Thiruvayimojhi”  to a competent disciple named Thirukurugaippiran.

 

Successful Tours to spread Ramanuja  Theology :

Ramanuja made reforms in some rituals at the Srirangam Temple. By doing this, he faced the wrath of some priests there and they even tried to eliminate him.  In spite of that, he started to popularize the ‘Vishsishtadvaita’  philosophy with the blessings of Lord Sriranganadha. Many became his followers and disciples.

He then reached Tirumala Tirupathi and found that Sri Venkateswara by that time lent his ‘Sankhu’ and  ‘Chakra’  to help the king Tondaman during his war. So, he brought back them to the Lord and decorated him. He reformed many procedures and stipulated rules and regulations for the temple management. He also prepared good procedures and plans to be followed during pujas and other rituals. Lord Jagannadh, wished Ramanuja to maintain the status quo  for his rituals and practices there at Puri Jagannath. He reformed the temples of Srikurmam and Simhadri with the blessings of presiding lords at these temples. He reached Badari and prayed intensely to Nara Narayana, the presiding deity there.  He established Srivaishnava order far and wide. There by, he offered salvation to millions.

When Kuranga Nagara perumal enquired about the root cause for his charisma, he preached ‘Mantra Ratnam’ in his right ear. He named Perumal as ‘Sri  Vaishnav Nambi’   . Thus, he became acharya of  even ‘ Sriyahpathi ’ .

 

Sri Bhashyakarlu:

Ramanuja reached Saradapeetham in Kashmir while his disciples were chanting Sri Bhashyam enroute.  Sarada Devi expressed her keen interest in listening to the interpretation of “Yadhyakapasyam” from Ramanuja. Sarada Devi, as sign  of respect,  put  Sribhashyam on her head.  She was also delighted with that some wrong interpretations were corrected by Ramanuja  with pious meanings. As a mark of highest respect,  she bestowed and addressed him as “Bhashyakara”. She presented him with Sri Hayagriva idol, which she was personally worshipping,  till then. Thus, Ramanuja was conferred with the title of “Sri Bhashaykara”.  Even now, the  same idol of Hayagriva can be seen  in Sriranagam at Udayvar (Ramanuja’s)  temple.  Sri Kuruththalwar a beloved disciple of Ramanuja was blessed with two sons by the grace of SriRanganadah.  Ramanuja named them after Sri Parasara Bhattar and Sri Vedavyasa, as was promised to Yamunacahryulu . Thus he could fulfill all the three  promises made by him to Yamaunacharyulu at the time of his demise.

Facing Adversities:

There are always some evil forces obstructing  the good work being done in the society.  A Chola king named Krimikanthaka a staunch Shaivite was having deep hatred towards Srivaishnavites. He was burning with jealousy by knowing about  the glory and the good work of Ramanuja. The king wanted to take him to custody and harass him. Sri Mahapurnulu and   Sri Kuresulu came to know about it and volunteered themselves to be present in the court.    Sri Kuresulu disguised himself as Ramanuja and mislead the king. As they were not succumbing to his pressure tactics he ordered torture and removal of the eyes. Sri Kuresulu without waiting for his soldiers to do the job, he himself removed his own eyes and gave them to the king.  After that, while Kuresulu could reach Kancheepuram,  Mahapurnulu succumbed to the torture and left for heavenly abode on the way.

Sri Bhagvad Ramanuja   escaped to the Mysore kingdom wearing white robes .   He then switched over back to saffron clothes and dandam . He reached Thirunarayana puram (Melkote) and restored the glory of Srirama Priya  perumal.  He came to know that idols which were used in regular rituals were taken away by the then  Delhi nawab ruler, as his daughter took fancy to these idols.  Ramanuja went to his court in Delhi and called to him  the idols as “Samapathkumara” .  Surprisingly,  the idols came moving and sat in the lap of Ramanuja.  After returning back, he arranged for a grand festival welcoming them back and consecrating

them again. Till then, Harijans were not permitted inside the temple. Ramanuja  ,as a social reformer, took a bold step to make them enter the temples. While Ramanuja was away from Srirangam, he came to know about the death of Krimikanathaka.  He returned to Srirangam along with his disciples.  To sustain the activity of   the Srivaishanav tradition even after his demise, Ramanuja  appointed 74 ‘Peethadhipathis’  and made a standing committee of 4 members . To assist them he chose 1200 personal staff to them.

 

Installing his personal idol:

The disciples were feeling lost in the absence of Ramanuja, there. With extreme benevolence, he agreed to make three statues to represent him in his absence .  The statues were made to exactly resemble him and  then he  embraced each statue and transferred his divineness and aura in them. These 3 statues were consecrated at Sriranagm,  Sri Perumbudur and Melkote. A statue of Ramanuja  given by himself to Ananthaalwan was consecrated at Tirumala as directed by Lord Venakteswara himself.  As an embodiment and avatar of Adisheshu, Ramanuja completed his earthly mission in 120 years. He assembled all the disciples and preached 82 ‘Divya shuktulu’  to them.

At the end of his earthly journey, he kept his head on the lap of Govindabahattar and feet in the lap of Andhrapurnulu while his heart was filled with reverence to his guru Yamunacharyulu.  While some disciples like Anandavalli, Bhruguvalli were reciting Thiruvaimojhi and celestial music was permeating .

That was in the month of Magha  and thidhi sudhdha dasami , a Saturday afternoon  Ramanuja liberated his body  through his Brahama Nadi to reach ‘paramapadam’ and returned to the service of his Lord Srimannarayana. He is  popular on the earth with different names and titles as ‘SriBhagavad Ramanuja’,’ Illaya Perumal’, ‘ Yatirajulu’, ‘ Yember Mannar’, ‘ Sri Bhashyakarlu’, and ‘Udayavarlu’ .  He popularized and propagated Ramanuja Theology as Srivaishnavism on the earth and thus offering ultimate liberation to all living beings.

 

Sarvam Sri Krishnarpanamastu :

adiyen Addanki Ramakrishna Ramanuja dasudu  (98491-29148)

seen and approved by H H Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji on 24th March 2016