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Doubtful episode in Ramanuja's Life

From: K. Srinivasan (srini_at_ireq.ca)
Date: Fri Apr 26 1996 - 08:13:32 PDT

From: Parthasarati Dileepan <MFPD@UTCVM.UTC.EDU>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 96 09:33:14 EDT
Subject: kaRRavar kaamuRu seelan

 Parthasarati Dileepan writes:
>Sri Raamaanujar Thirunakshathram:
>While on a trip to Thiruvaali/Thirunagari, Sri Ramanuja
>and his entourage came across an "untouchable" lady.
>Sri Ramanuja requested her to move away (odhungu)
>from the way so that he and his companions can pass.
>The lady replied, "ulagam muzhudhum ulagaLandhaan
>sannithiyaaga irukka, engE odhunguvadhu?" (all the
>world is Thiru Vikraman's shrine, where can I move
>away?)   Sri Ramanuja immediately apologized to the
>lady and offered the Vaishnava insignias to her saying,
>"These should be yours, I am undeserving of them."

I looked up and did not find this episode in "Guruparampara prabhavam",
"Acharya Vaibhava Manjari" and "Raamaanusa nootrandhaadhi".

Personally I think this is an unlikely episode for the following reasons:

1. As a child in Sriperumbudoor, he already played with untouchable
children, antogonized the elders of the city.

2. At mElkOttai, and on trips moved very much in the company of the tribals.
In his rescue from being murdered in Kasi he serves the tribal couple,
who turn out to be perumaaL and thaayaar.

3. Later, it is mentioned that he would give uRangaavilli dhaasan (of
fourth/fifth caste)  the honour of helping him out of kaavEri, after his bath.

Such a person and his entourage need not be enlightened once again by an
untouchable lady. I think the episode is demeaning enberumaanaar.

I think the episode you mentioned appears in the movie of
Sri Sankara and not Sri Ramanuja.

Anyway, many English books on Life of Ramanuja contain distorstions.
If the episode is not in the above three books, it should not be
considered authentic. If the additions were for dramatization or whatever,
as in the play that I translated, it should still not contradict the above
books.

That is my personal opinion.

K. Srinivasan