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Persecution of Ramanuja by the chOzha king

From: K. Srinivasan (srini_at_ireq.ca)
Date: Thu Apr 04 1996 - 08:43:21 PST

 "a.prathivadi-bhayankaram-a" <cbp95183@ccsun.strath.ac.uk> writes:

>"I read in the latest issue of Indian Economic and Social History Review 
>an article by A.Srvathsan about the persecution of Ramanuja by Kulottunga 
>Chola. On the basis of wider sociological connotations, he points out :

>(a) that Ramanuja tried to introduce reforms in srirangam temple 
>specially a change from Vaikhansa to pancharatra and also to appoint 
>srivaishnava brahmins to some of the posts in temple administration which 
>were earlier held by others; Ramanuja also introduced involvement of 
>non-brahmins in temple administration which caused anger to local elites;
>(b) the Kulottunga Chola was weakened due to external threats and hence 
>he was in need of keeping local elites and chieftains happy;
>(c) in these circumstances, the only place that Ramanuja could go safely 
>was Hoysala kingdom; it is said the Bitti Hoysala king who later seems to 
>have been converted to vaishnavism by Ramanuja (from Jainism perhaps) and 
>hence his name was later changed;
>(d) and later when Kulottunga and his son become stabilised they could 
>rescind their earlier order of persecuting Ramanuja and so he returns to 
>srirangam." --- End quote

The persecution of Sri Ramanuja is well documented. However, the
reasons are somewhat subject to speculation.
The recorded reason is that he refused to sign on a document
produced by the chOzha king of Chidambaram in Sanskrit,
"sivaath paratharam naasthi" (nothing is beyond/greater than Siva).
One can produce many explanations for his refusal. The reasons you
gave are also believed to be true by many. Basically, the traditional
religious/social norms in the Tamil country were being changed by
Ramanuja. This did arouse opposition from the people in power.

If you see Sri Rangam's earlier history you will note that, it went from
the Pandian KOlahalan to Alavandhaar and then to Raja Mahendra
chozhan.

The record indicates that:-
Yamunacharyar, the grand son of Sri Nadamuni, the compiler of naalaayira divya
 prabandham, of Sri Rangam. At the age of 12, he won the greatest philosophical
 argument against the elderly Vedantin 'kOlaagalaa' of the Pandian King. The
 King donated part of his kingdom to Yamunacharyar, and named him "aaLavandhaar". He thus became the ruler of this Vaishnava kingdom at Sri
 Rangam. Later 'maNakkaal nambi' convinced aaLavandhhar to relinquish the kingdom to the King Raja Mahendra Chozhan, who made extensive renovation of the Srirangam temple.

It is possible that the temple needed a lot of renovation work during
Alavandar's time and King Raja Mahendra Chozhan made a deal with
Alavandar to renovate the temple. {By the way, thirumangai mannan,
Raja Mahendra Chozhan and finally King of Vijayanagaram contributed to
several additions to the temple.}

The name of the chozhan who persecuted Ramanuja is "krumi kanda chOzhan"
according to the Guru parampara bhavam. It could also just mean,
the chOzhan with an infectious disease.

Another reason for the action of the chOzhan could be that he feared that
Ramanuja might declare Sri Rangam independent from his regime
and might even transfer it to the Pandian. Ramanuja was a great admirer
of Alavandar, who indeed was a King with a lot of authority. Ramanuja
was named "yathi Raja" (King of Ascetics). He named his abode
"mEl kOttai" (western Fort) not just a maTam. So he might have had
ideas of forming a kingdom also. Even his disciples are called as
"simhasanaadhi pathis" or mudhalis.

K. Srinivasan