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Ramanuja's birth anniversary

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Tue Apr 23 1996 - 13:39:10 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

Please take a moment today to remember the greatest
acharya of our tradition and the person who veritably
reestablished the philosophy of God-love as the 
religion of India -- Sri Ramanuja.

Today is the thiru nakshatram of our acharya Bhagavaan
Ramanuja.  Of his many honorific names, he is best known
as Udaiyavar, Bhashyakaarar, Emberumaanaar, Ilaiyaazhvaan, 
and Yatiraja.  It is no exaggeration to say that if
it were not for this great saint, the bhakti religion
would not be recognized as an orthodox teaching of Vedanta, 
and the heart and soul of our religion would have fallen by 
the wayside.

I wish to cite a few slokas in praise of our acharya
as composed by some of his illustrious followers. In
these, we can catch a glimpse of the towering personality 
that he was.  In my opinion, there is no better way
of finding out what it means to be a Sri Vaishnava 
or a Vedanti than by reading about Sri Ramanuja and
emulating him.  In all respects, he set the highest
of standards for us to follow.

This first sloka is well-known to many of us.  It was
composed by his beloved disciple Kooratthaazhvaan
and to this day is recited by Sri Vaishnavas at the
beginning of their worship:

	yo nityam acyuta-padAmbuja-yugma-rukma
	   vyAmohatas tad itarANi tRNAya mene |
	asmad guror bhagavato 'sya dayaika-sindho:
	   rAmAnujasya caraNau SaraNam prapadye ||

	I take refuge at the feet of our guru Bhagavaan
	Ramanuja, that ocean of mercy who, infatuated 
	with the gold-like, lotus feet of the Lord, 
	considered all else as mere blades of grass.

This sloka shows how Ramanuja was intensely in love 
with the Lord.  Anyone who reads even a paragraph of
Ramanuja's writing will immediately understand the 
acharya's deep abiding love of God and his awareness 
of His all-pervasive presence.  Ramanuja never misses an 
opportunity to extol the auspicious attributes of the Lord -- 
even after reciting attribute after attribute, our acharya 
declares that these are only the beginning of the infinite
glories of the Lord! (``--Adi-asankhyeya-kalyANa-guNa-gaNa:'')

The next sloka, composed by Sri Vedanta Desika, expounds on 
the greatness of nature of Ramanuja's restoration of 
the correct understanding of the Vedas:

	yatiksham AbhRdRshtam matam iha navInam tadapi kim 
	   tata: prAg evAnyadvada tad api kim varNanikashe |
	niSAmyantAm yadvA nijamatitiraskAravigamAt 
	   nirAtankAsh-tanka-dramida-guhadeva-prabhRtaya: ||

	Be it that the tradition of Ramanuja new and the
	other religions ancient; so what? (Does it make it less
	correct?) But then again, the essence of Ramanuja's 
	siddhanta has been taught by the ancient Vedantins Tanka,
	Dramida, Guhadeva and other great teachers. 
	(Hence how is it new?)

This sloka speaks for itself: is it not better to be correct
than to be ancient? Further, how can Ramanuja's philosophy
not be called ancient, when he has simply reformulated the
teachings of ancient Vedantins such as Tanka, Dramida, and
others? Happily, Desika is saying, Sri Ramanuja's teachings
are both old and new.

The previous two slokas described Ramanuja's love of the 
Lord and his mighty intellect in reestablishing the ancient
interpretations of Vedanta.  This third and final sloka
completes the triangle that forms the core of Ramanuja's
philosophy: study and reverence of the Divya Prabandham,
the Tamil compositions that our acharya loved so much
and propagated so well.

Sri Manavaala Maamunigal writes:

	SrI rangarAja caraNAmbuja rAjahamsam
	   SrImat parAnkuSa-padAmbuja-bhRngarAjam |
	SrI bhaTTanAtha parakAla-mukhAbjamitram 
	   SrI vatsacihna-SaraNam yatirAjam IDe ||

	I worship Ramanuja, prince among ascetics,
	in whom Kooratthaazhvaan sought refuge, who
	loved the blossoming lotuses that were the
	compositions of Periyaazhvaar, Thirumangai,
	and others, who	was the bee enjoying the 
	lotus feet of Sri Nammaazhvaar, and who
	was the royal swan at the lotus feet of Lord

emberumaanaar thirvadigaLE saraNam!