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PurANa Desika and Abhinava Desika

From: Ram Anbil (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 15:41:09 PST

PurANa Desika and Abhinava Desika
A tribute to Abhinava Desika Uthamur SwAmi
Anbil Ramaswamy
We celebrate this week (on 17th January 2001) the Tirunakshatram of one of 
the greatest  AchAryas hailed by  scholars and layfolk alike as “Abhinava 
Desikan, Sri Uthamur SwAmi”. I proudly recall that during my college days, I 
had the bhAghyam of living at No. 6 of the same NAthamuni Street. T.Nagar 
and having glimpses of this great Savant. I also recall vividly how even a 
casual glimpse of this great
“Saint of SiddhAsramam” is enough to convince anyone that he was indeed a 
Colossus, a legend in his lifetime. It is impossible to recount the glory of 
the great mahAn but I wish to offer my humble homage on the occasion of his 

About 730 years ago, a great luminary illuminated the SrivaishNava -
VisishTAdvaita firmament, viz. Swami Vedanta Desika, and firmly established 
Sri Bhagavad RamAnuja Darsanam. About 630 years later, he came down to earth 
again to live amongst us in the form of NallAn Chakravarthi Sri Uttamur 
SwAmi, who became a legend in his own lifetime, like in his earlier 

Sri Purisai Krishnamachariar Swami calls Swami Desika as “PURANA DESIKA” in 
contrast to Sri Uttamur Swami who is known as “ABHINAVA DESIKA”

1. Both did not take to SannyAsa Ashrama, but though remained in
GrihastAsramam both lived with utmost austerity and dedication expected of 
SannyAsis and earned the admiration of their contemporaries and generations 
after them.

2. Both were prolific writers having authored more than 100 works, all
excelling in quality, clarity, originality, and variety as much as in
quantity so that anyone could grasp the fundamentals of our SathsampradAyam 
- a stupendous feat for any single individual. No wonder, Uttamur SwAmi is 
hailed as “Apara Desika”

3. If Swami Desika had the blessings of his Poorva AchAryas in what is known 
as “madappaLLi maNam”(culinary flavor?) and of NaDADur AmmAL, Bhagavad 
RamAnuja and Atreya RamAnuja, Abhinava Desika had the blessings of three 
yathivaras of his time viz. KethANDipatti SwAmi, Tirupathi SwAmi and 
KozhiyAlam Swami at whose feet he learned all the SAstras. In fact, it is 
known to everyone that His AchArya, KozhiyAlam SwAmi acknowledged his 
mastery in an open Sadas, saying –“If I have attained such adulation at the 
hands of scholars, it is only because of my Sishya Sri Uttamur SwAmi. It is 
very rare to find an AchArya openly praising his Sishya in this fashion.

4. If Lord RanganAtha conferred the title of “Vedantacharya” on Swami
Desika,which Desika strived proven right, when KozhiyAlam Swami, his AchArya 
conferred on Uttamur Swami the honorific of “Abhinava Desika” our swAmi 
strived to prove it right.

5. If SD wrote his VyAkhyAnam for Isavasya Upanishad, AD wrote  a commentary 
on it in his “AchArya BAshya TAthparyam”

6. If SD wrote his magnum opus, “Srimad Rahasya Traya SAra” at the fag end 
of his life, so did AD who gave his  wonderful VyAkhyAnam on the same.

7. For the “Tattva MuktA kalApam” of SD, he wrote a commentary on it called 
“SarvArtha Siddhi”

8. If Lord Hayagriva was seated on the lion-throne at the tip of Swami
Desika’s tongue (jihvAgra simhAsana), for AD, Swami Desika himself seems to 
have  occupied his throne at the tip of Abhinava Desika’s tongue.

9. Swami Desika wrote that we get a clear perception on studying the Divya 
Prabandhams (theLiyAdha marai nilangaL theLiginrOmE) May be, he had in mind 
the emergence of Abhinava Desika whose works (like “ParishkAram” for 
Sanskrit works and “Rakshai” for Tamil Prabandhams) give ignorant folks like 
us, a much clear perception and correct interpretations of AchArya 
SrIsooktis, which we could not have comprehend before.

10. It is acknowledged by all that there is none to match Abhinava Desika in 
faithfully reflecting the “Tiru uLLam” of Swami Desika.

Considering all this, we are tempted to conclude that SwAmi Desika
reincarnated himself as Abhinava Desika for republishing his works and save 
us from being misled by misinterpretations of some half-baked, self styled 

We will now consider a few unique aspects relating to our SwAmi.

1. As Sri RAma was the son of Dasaratha Chakravarthi, (Chakravarthi kulE
jAtha:) our SwAmi was born as son of ChakravarthyAchAriar in the vamsam of 
NallAn Chakravarthi.

2. He bears the name of Sri Veera RAghavan of TiruvalLLUr. How did the Lord 
get the title of Veera? It is his arch enemy who acknowledged it in his own 
"Tham manyE Raghavam veeram NarAyaNam anA mayam”.
Our SwAmi’s majesty and erudition would evoke similar acknowledgements from 
both friends and foes.

3. He was born in the month of Thai, the month in which was born
Tirumazhisai AzhwAr - “mazhisai vanda jOthi”- the amsam of Lord’s discus
“Sudarsanam”. No wonder, his brilliance in exposition revealed he was indeed 
an “apara Mazhisai vanda jOthi”

4. He was born under the asterism of SwAthi nakshatram which is the
Tirunakshtram of Lord Nrisimha. He was verily a lion striking terror in the 
hearts of spurious scholars  who misinterpreted the meanings of Srisooktis.

5. He hails from  Uthamanallur and is therefore known as Uthamur SwAmi.
ANDAL calls “Ongi ulagaLantha Uthaman”. Who is Uthaman? The one who harms 
others is “Adhaman”; One who helps others expecting something in return is 
“Uth”; One who helps others without expecting anything in return is 
“uttara”; one who helps others even at the risk of sacrificing one’s own 
comforts and good is “uthaman” Here is a SwAmi who not only gave 
Kalakshepams, discourses etc to thousands of Sishyas untiringly without 
expecting any return (monetarily or otherwise) but also wrote a staggering 
volume of Granthas for the benefit of posterity -without minding personal 
discomfort and inconvenience till his last breath. He is indeed “Uthamar”

6. SwaAmi Desika while referring to AzhwArs called them as “Abhinava
DasAvatAram” of the Lord. Among the AchAryas also there seems to be an
“Abhinava DasAvatAram” and “Abinava Desika” may be justly considered among 
them as “NrisimhAvatAra”

7. In spite of his unfathomable erudition, he was always seen with a smiling 
face, with sweet words and friendly disposition but without compromising on 
self-discipline and in disciplining his Sishyas (PayananrAgilum, 
pAngallarAgilum seyal nanrAga thiruthip paNikoLvAr”

A few comments by other great AchAryas on our SwAmi

1. TirukkuDanthai AnDavan praised his efforts to publish rare works  saying 
that there can be none equal to him in this regard.
“na hi mudraNa sAmarthyamruthEAbhinavadEsikam”

2.  Mukkur Azhagiya singhar observed while releasing his “BAshyArtah darpana 
VyAkhyAnam’ on SribhAshyam that it was not mere “SruthaprakAsikai’ but a 
“Bahusrutha prakAsikai”

3. D.R.SwAmi praised saying that in every word  of Abhinava Desikar, there 
was substance -“BhAva’ - “BhAvassanthi padE padE’’ Does this not remind of 
the certificate given by Appayya Dikshitar to SwAmi Desika?

4. Reviewing SwAmi’s “kusumAnjali vistharam” which our SwAmi wrote even as a 
student, U. Ve. MahAvidwAn Sriperumpudur Aasoori RmAnujAchArya SwAmi 
commented that “Only one had the divinity in him could write such a 
work”“DeivAmsam illAthavarAl intha urai ezhuthiirukka muDiyAthu”

May this divine AchArya bless us all. It is our duty and privilege to
contribute our mite to see that his unpublished works are brought out in
print. Let us resolve to do this and receive his blessings.
  Based on articles in the Uthamur Sri Veera RAghava MahA Desikan SathamAna 
MahOtsava Malar)

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