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The Life of Kuresan-3

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 05:31:12 PST

Dear friends,

In SriRangam Kuresan soon became his Master,
Sri.Ramanujacharya's faithful shadow.

Ramanuja was by that time the acknowledged leader of a
great movement in the religious and social history of
India. His following was large and growing in numbers.
His new philosophy, called VisishtAdvaitA was
attracting univeral attention and numberless

Yet Ramanuja knew that unless his new philosophy was
institutionalised into a system, the newly founded
school of thought would soon wither away. To that end,
therefore, Ramanuja set about writing down the
principles of what later came to be known as "ramanuja
darsanam"... the philosophical system of Ramanuja.

Ramanuja was assisted greatly in the task of
sytematising his philosophy by 4 principal disciples
who formed the "inner circle". They were Kuresan,
DAsarathi, DevarAt and EmbAr. All 4 were closely
involved with their Master in the daily study of
scripture, the Vedanta sutras, the 'tiruvoimozhi' and
in the formulation of ideological and polemical
attacks on Advaita, Jainism and Buddhism. 

Master and disciples over many years of deep study and
refinement, began to slowly build, brick by brick, the
architecture of VisishtAdvaita until they were sure
that they could proceed with the raising of its

Ramanuja at last decided to record his commentary on
the Brahma-sutras of Vyasa .... the kernel of Truth
contained in the vast body of Vedic knowledge.

It was Kuresa whom he appointed as his amanuensis. 
Ramanuja told him,"Kuresa, begin writing down my
"bhAshya" as I dictate it, but should you find
anything I say to be at variance with what we have all
agreed is the considered position of our new system
you should immediately cease writing. By this way I
may know where to stop dictating and review our

Kuresan agreed. And thus began the stupendous task of
writing the great Sri-bhAshya of Sri.Ramanuja.

In the course of dictation one day, Ramanuja stated
that the distinguishing attribute of the atomic soul
("jeeva") is its cognitive power. At this point Kuresa
put his writing-quill down and ceased writing. He
dumbly looked up at his guru.

The guru RamanujachArya looked at Kuresan and suddenly
flew into a temper. The many years of work done and
the strain of many days of hard intellectual labour
had taken the toll of the ageing guru and his nerves
were frayed. When Kuresan stopped writing indicating
thereby that his Master was probably straying from
right reasoning, Ramanuja mistook it as an affront and
flew off the handle.

"Sir, if you mean to write the "bhAshya" on the
"vyAsa-sutras" you may do so", thundered Ramanuja at
Kuresan. He then kicked him and stomped out in a fit
of rage.

Other disciples who had gathered there were shocked.
They began to commisserate with Kuresan who however
politely told them,"My friends, I am but a chattel of
my guru. He can do what he wants with me or treat me
any way he wishes."

After a while Ramanuja reflected upon the incident.
And he realised that Kuresan was right in finding
fault with his dictated passage.

The definition of the "jeeva" as a cognitive entity
was no doubt a good but not valid definition in as
much as the most essential characteristic of the soul
viz. its allegiance or leigeship to God ('seshatva')
was a serious ommission. Defining the soul as
possessing cognition and bliss without stressing that
it was the sole property of God, the Universal Spirit,
was like defining light without any reference to the
Ramanuja quickly realised that if his original
defintion of the jeeva had gone unchallenged by
Kuresan then the very superstructure of
VisishtAdvaita's theology would have proceeded to be
built on thin air.

Ramanuja grew repentant. He beckoned his Kuresan and
told him, "My son, you are absolutely right! Now
please write down the true nature of the soul as that
which is God's ... and let us proceed with the rest of
the work".    

In such manner, did Kuresan and Ramanuja proceed to
compose the great standard works of "sri-sampradAyam"
that have come down to posterity --- "sri-bhAshya",
"vedanta-deepa", "vedanta-sAra", "vedArtha-sangraha"
and "gita-bhAshya".


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