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Re: Adisesha /LakshnaNa /Ramanuja

From: Badrinarayanan Seshadri (
Date: Tue Jul 18 1995 - 13:58:35 PDT

In this discussion, Mani wrote:

"The earliest biographies, though, do not mention 
 Ramanuja as an incarnation of anyone.  Neither
 Vedanta Desika nor Manavaala Maamunigal mention
 the Adisesha = Ramanuja equation in their poems 
 in praise of Ramanuja, so it is likely that this 
 story gained currency only later."

to which KS replied:

"According Guruparapara prabhavam, (written by piLLaan
 ar the time of Ramanuja's death), Peria thimulalai nambi,
 uncle of Ramanuja is the one who names the child as
 Ramanuja, Lakshmana, Ilyaazhvaar etc. all after Adisesha.
 Lakshmana is also considered incarnation of Adisesha in
 Ramavataram. So the idea is much older, even though
 Vedanta Desikar does not mention it."


I am not certain of that. I haven't read the Guruparampara
prabhavam but if that really mentions this, I am sure both
manavaaLa maamuni as well as dEsikar would have elaborated on

Patricia Y. Mumme speculates in her book, "The Srivaisnava
Theological Dispute: Manavalamamuni and Vedanta Desika", that
the above theory must have became popular after the period of
Manavala Mamuni, as late as the middle of the 17th century,
when the then/vada kalai split occured. Works were written to
show Manavala Mamuni as an avatar of Adisesha and to make
Manavala Mamuni, the "rightful" heir to Sri Ramanuja,
Ramanuja was also talked of as an avatar of Adisesha.

The theory does sound believable.

It seems to me that rather than understanding and following
Sri Ramanuja's principles, his "followers" are more
interested in making him an incarnation of x or y, make a
statue out of him and pour milk and honey on that statue.
So, whose incarnation is Desikar?


Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Cornell University