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SrI UttamUr SwAmi - A Life Sketch

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 21:23:14 PST

SrI abhinava dESika UttamUr VIrarAghavArya mahAdESikAya namaH

namO nArAyaNa!

 Dear devotees,

 << Following is the article by aDiyEn that was accepted by
    Sri Uttamur Viraraghavachariar Centenary Trust, to find its
    place in the front portion of the re-printed Tamizh commentary
    on Bhagavad GIta by SrI UttamUr SwAmi >>

  SrI UttamUr VIrarAghavAchArya (1897-1983 C.E.) was born, after
  Lord VIrarAghava of TiruvaLLUr answering the prayers of his
  parents in the lineage of "Tirumalai NallAn Chakravarti" of
  SrIvatsa Gotra at UttamanallUr, a village near MadhurAntakam,
  Tamilnadu, during the Tamil month of Thai in SwAti star
  (26th January). He had his SamASrayaNam (initiation into the
  SrI-VaishNava sampradAya) from SrI Tirupati SwAmi (SrI VEdAnta
  RAmAnuja MahAdESika) and underwent Bhara-nyAsam (Prapatti)
  apart from studying VEdanta under SrI KOzhiyAlam SwAmi (SrI
  Ra~ngarAmAnuja MahAdESika). Later, he became the successor of
  this lineage.

  At Sanskrit College, ThiruvaiyAru, he mastered
  NyAya (Indian Logic) under SrI Swacchandam SrInivAsAchArya SwAmi
  and MImAmsA under SrI ChinnaswAmi SAstri, the champions in those
  respective SAstras. He later became a walking encyclopedia in
  various systems of Philosophies and was revered by scholars
  allover India, as a great authority especially in NyAya-VaiSEshika
  (Indian Logic, both Old and New Schools), ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta
  and Advaita VEdAnta.

  He had the unique and rare distinction of having attained a high
  and equal authority over both Upanishads (VEdAnta) in Sanskrit,
  as well as Divya Prabandhams of the AzhwArs in Tamil, hailed as
  Dravida VEdas with NammAzhwAr's ThiruvAimozhi being the
  DramidOpanishad (Tamil VEdAnta). He commented upon both the
  Principal and few more authoritative Upanishads, and also the whole
  of Divya Prabandhams with equal ease, adding great clarity and
  profound insights. Hence, he is revered as one of the all time
  great Ubhaya-VEdAnta (Sanskrit and Tamil VEdAnta) scholars.

  He served Sanskrit college,ThiruvaiyAru for a while and even
  taught SAstras at Pushkar,RAjasthan. He served SrI VEnkatESwara
  Oriental College, Tirupati for the major part of his career
  (1928 -53 C.E.) before settling finally at Madras. He has
  trained many students from both North and South India especially
  in NyAya SAstra and ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta.

  His outstanding commentary in the style of Navya (New) NyAya, to
  UdayanAchArya's (10th Cent.C.E.) NyAya-KusumAn~jali, a very terse
  text in the style of PrAcIna (Old) NyAya won the hearts of
  innumerous scholars and students alike for its amazing clarity
  and insights with ample lucidity. His unique commentary to
  "Tarka Sa~ngraha", a fundamantal manual of Navya-NyAya,  presents
  the "SAbdhabOdham" for the entire text. His incomplete profound
  commentary on NyAya-SUtras of Sage Gautama (Or on NyAya-BhAshyam)
  is awaiting publication from the manuscript stage.

  His work "VaiSEshika RasAyanam" as a brilliant commentary on the
  SUtras by Sage KaNAda, won deep admiration of eminent
  scholars for the revival of VaiSEshika Philosophy.

  His excellent commentary for "MImAmsA NyAya-PrakASa", an important
  text in mImAmsA, was very well received by scholars since it makes
  the learning of BhATTa DIpika easier. His lucid commentaries for
  (*) SrI VEdAnta DESika's SESwara MImAmsA and MImAmsA PAduka speak
  volumes on his mastery of mImAmsA SAstra.

  His elaborate gloss "AchArya BhAshya TAtparyaH" to SrI VEdAnta
  DESika's commentary on ISAvAsya Upanishad,
  not only dispels various criticisms on it, but also reveals
  his profound scholarship in various SAstras as well as his
  immaculate dialectical skills.

  He commented upon terse works in VEdAnta like Siddhitraya of
  SrI YAmunAchArya for the benifit of scholars interested in the
  comparitive study of ViSishTAdvaita and Advaita.

  His scholarly Polemic work "ParamArtha PrakASika", a refuttal
  of "Advaita AamOda" - a criticism on Bhagavad RAmAnuja's
  SrI-BhAshya by SrI VAsudEva Abhayankar SAstri - obtained him
  laurals from many quarters of the world of scholars.

  His hair splitting lengthy Polemic work "ParamArtha BhUshaNam"
  written in refutation to his friend SrI AnantakrishNa SAstri's
  "SatabhUshaNI" - a criticism on SrI VEdAnta DESika's SatadUshaNI,
  is recognized as his magnum opus. Its a classic from the pen of
  a matured genius stamping his authority as a champion in VEdAnta
  with enormous originality and logical acumen and also making
  evident his extrordinary mastery of the various intricate issues
  in both ViSishTAdvaita and Advaita VEdAnta, contributed by
  several scholars spanning many a centuries.

  In 1960, he was honoured as the very first recipient of the
  "President's Award", for scholarship in Sanskrit, by the then
  President His Excellency Dr.RAjEndra PrasAd.

  His detailed commentary on SrI VEdAnta DESika's "NyAya PariSuddhi"
  serves as a milestone in the exposition of Epistemology adopted by
  ViSishTAdvaita. His commenatry and detailed Introduction to
  SrI VEdAnta DESika's "NyAya SiddhAn~janam", and commentary on
  SrI VEdAnta DESika's "SarvArtha Siddhi" <Commentary to his own
  Tatva-muktA-kalApa> are cherished by eminent
  scholars for their lucid, brilliant and insightful presentation of
  simple to even very advanced aspects of ViSishTAdvaita Metaphysics,
  Ontology, Epistemology, Cosmology, Eschatology and Theology.

  Two of his well celebrated classics with marks of his scholarly
  genius in ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta, which shed more light on the
  comprehensive and advanced understanding of VEdAnta SUtras by
  Sage VyAsa are (i) "SrI-BhAshyArtha DarpaNa", a commentary to
  SrI BhAshyam <a commentary to VEdAnta SUtras>, the magnum opus of
  (**) Bhagavad RAmAnuja and (ii) SArArtha Ratna-prabhA, a very
  detailed commentary on SrI VEdAnta DESika's masterpiece
  "AdhikaraNa SArAvalI".

  His mastery in various SAstras like NyAya-VaiSEshika, MImAmsA,
  VyAkaraNa, Yoga, SA~nkhya, Advaita, ViSishTAdvaita, Buddhism,
  Jainism etc are easily evident in his various works and his
  tamizh commentary to SrI VEdAnta DESika's "Paramatha Bha~nga"
  adds ample testimony to it.

  His bhUmikas ie.Introductions to his works in general are
  very scholarly in nature. Special mention must be made about his
  two outstanding elaborate bhUmikAs of very high order information
  content: (i) For SrI MEghanAdAri SUri's NayadyumaNi : This very
  elaborate bhUmika is a treatise in itself with brilliant summary
  and expositions of various technical concepts of ViSishTAdvaita
 (ii) For Bhagavad RAmAnuja's GIta BhAshya and SrI VEdAnta DESika's
  TAparya chandrika : This is an outstanding comparitive study on
  the three commentaries to Bhagavad GIta,viz. by SrI SankarAchArya,
  SrI RAmAnujAchArya and SrI MadhvAchArya.

  His majestic scholarly commentary upon SrImad Rahasya Traya SAra,
  the magnum opus of SrI VEdAnta DESika, makes very evident that he
  was an authority in the "rahasya" granthas of SrI VaishNava
  AchAryas expounding the esoteric meanings and significances of
  the three mantras held in high esteem by SrI VaishNava SampradAya.
  He has also written independent works on Prapatti Or
  SaraNAgati (self-surrender to Lord LakshmI-NArAyaNa as the direct
  means to moksha) and allied "rahasya" works apart from commenting
  upon various works on this field by previous AchAryas like
  Prapanna PArijAtam of SrI VAtsya Varadaguru (NaDAdUr ammAL).

  In addition to his commentaries on works like pAn~carAtra Raksha
  of SrI VEdAnta DESika, his independent treatises on the authority
  and teachings of PAn~carAtra and VaikhAnasa Agamas are rich
  contributions to the Agama Literature.

  His tamil commentary to the Sa~nkshEpa RAmAyaNa is a wonderful
  treat for the devotees of Lord SrI RAma.

  Like SrI VEdAnta DESika, he was also a very gifted and talented
  Poet. He has composed many stotras, apart from commenting upon
  all the well celebrated kAvyas of SrI VEdAnta DESika
  viz.YAdavAbhyudaya, PAdukA-Sahasram, Hamsa SandESa, Sa~nkalpa
  SUryOdaya and SubhAshita NIvI. Being a master of Poetry, he could
  even summarize and explain the terse philosophical concepts with
  ease, as evident in his ParamArtha BhUshaNam.

  He never showed any sign of slackness and was ever brisk with
  his publication activities through "Ubhaya VEdAnta GranthamAlA".
  Striking originality, dispassionate analysis, well researched
  writings, profound knowledge, healthy criticisms,lucid explanations
  of terse original texts and establishment of authentic readings
  from manuscripts remain as hallmarks of the invaluable
  Philosophical works by this genius. His total number of known works
  mainly in Sanskrit and Tamil amounts to around 185, discounting
  his various learned articles in different souvenirs and magazines.
  Apart from this, he has also edited around 30 works which are
  mainly by earlier AchAryas. Currently, his publications are
  invariably used in many spheres of Philosophy inclusive of the
  traditional SrI-VaishNava kAlakshEpams(private discourses) and
  upanyAsams (public discourses).

  Though he never compromised upon his own principles and
  Philosophical convictions, his high order intellectual skills with
  proficiency in various SAstras, combined with his excellent
  personality of noble qualities made him a very good friend of
  many eminent scholars of even other systems of VEdAnta, who
  rather admired his genius and held him in high esteem, similar
  to how he was revered by scholars within the SrI VaishNava

  He was a leading guiding star of ViSishTAdvaita VEdanta alias
  Bhagavad RAmAnuja DarSana. Besides being a prolific writer
  and a well accomplished teacher, he also presided numerous
  Seminars and Meets of Scholars (Vidvat Sadas).

  His phenomenal devotion to Lord VishNu especially in the form
  of Lord SrInivAsa of Tirupati was befitting to his awesome
  scholarship. He never longed for name and fame and lead a simple
  life offering all of his spiritual pursuits with humility as a
  selfless service to Lord LakshmI-NArAyaNa and the AchAryas of the
  past. He made alive the Indian culture and tradition having its
  roots in VEdas by his writings and pure conduct and was an
  inspiring personality for others to follow. His signal service to
  the languages Sanskrit and Tamil are cherished by one and all.
  It was a golden era for Indian Philosophy, with his invaluable
  Publications taking the ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta to new higher and
  greater heights. No wonder that in recognition of his Super-Human
  activities, he was and is being hailed by one and all - AchAryas to
  Scholars to Layman as "abhinava dESika" - A Newer VEdAnta DESika
  in their midst.

(*) Bhagavad VEdAnta DESika alias VE~nkaTanAtha (1268-1369 C.E.),
    a genius and versatile Polymath, adorning a unique place in the
    history of India as one of the all time great Philosophers
    cum Poets.

(**) Bhagavad RAmAnuja (1017-1137 C.E.), one of the all time great
     Philosophers and Religious Leaders of great intellect from


  Some of the Awards and Titles conferred upon SrI UttamUr SwAmi :

 1. President's Award for Scholarship in Sanskrit : First recipient
    after the institution of this award during 1960.

 2. "abhinava dESika" : By SrI VEdAnta DESika SampradAya-
                        SudhAsvAdinI SabhA, 1957.

 3. "Ubhaya MImAmsA Vallabha" : By his AchArya SrI KOzhiyAlam SwAmi,
                                                       1942 {60th
                                                       of SrI
KOzhiyAlam SwAmi}

 4. "PaNDita MArtANDa" : By SrI Abinava Ra~nganAtha ParakAla-
                                           YatIndra MahAdESika of
ParakAla Muth.

 5. "PaNDita BhUshaNa" : By SrI Madhva SwAmijI, MantrAlaya
                                          RAghavEndra Muth.

 6. "DESika SarSana Durandhara" : By SrI VaishNava Scholars.

 7. "Ubhaya-VEdAnta Vijaya dhvaja" : By SrI VaishNava Scholars,1977;
thirunakshatram of
UttamUr SwAmi}

 8. "SarvAtma RakhAmaNi" : By SrI VaishNava Scholars,1977;
                                             {80th thirunakshatram of
                                               SrI UttamUr SwAmi}.

 9. "PUrva-Uttara MImAmsA PradIpa" : By SrI DESika SabhA,Tirupati.

10. "PrakASikA PrakASaka" : By SrI VaishNava Scholars.

11. "TarkArNava" : By Ayodhya Parishad.

12. "PaNDita Ratna" : By Sanskrit SAhitya Parishad,North India.

 aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
 KOmANDUr ELayavilli KaralapAkkam anantapadmanAbhan (alias Anand).

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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