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Re: Sri. Mani's Response to Sankara Response

From: Anand Karalapakkam (
Date: Sun Jul 11 1999 - 17:36:24 PDT

SrI Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
SrI Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrIvaN-
SatakOpa SrI nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESikAya namaha

 Dear SrI Mani,
namO nArAyaNA.

> I thank Venkat and Anand for their thoughtful and devout
> responses. I tend to approach these issues from a less
> dogmatic perspective, so please bear with me.

  When Sri Vaishnava guruparampara says that Bhagavad
  RAmanuja is an incarnation of "AdisEsha" alias ananta,
  (even based on some references from purANAs), it is 
  not at all viewed as a dogmatic statement by Sri Vaishnavas
  in general. 
> I personally do not attribute the greatness of Ramanuja's philosophy
> to his being a "nitya-sUri", a pre-anointed perfect being. I think
> of him as someone who carefully and critically studied all the religious
> philosophies of his time, finally concluding that only Yamuna's
> ideas came close to the original intention of the Vedas.

  It is not that SrI ALavandAr (ie. SrI yAmunAchArya) was making 
  some guess work about the intention of vEdAs and was freely 
  speculating to "come close" to the answer; SrI yAmunAchArya's
  each and every word is verily the intention of vEdAs. 
  Bhagavad RAmAnuja did perform all the things as you say. 
  That is not inconsistent with He being the avatAram of a 
  nitya sUri. SrIman nArAyaNA also learnt under sAndIpini muni, 
  viswAmitrar and other sages in His avatArams like KrishNa and 
  rAmA. This doesn't negate His status as the Supreme Lord. 
  The avatAra of bhagavad rAmAnuja has its own role to achieve 
  many things inaccordance with the thiru uLLam of PerumAL. 
  Its pretty obvious that, during such avatArams they perform
  the things as per the role they assume.  
> Clearly Ramanuja was unique -- his life and work spell this out
> -- but what was the source of his greatness, one may ask. This is
> an unanswerable question, clearly it is in large part to God's
> grace, but I think it unnecessary to posit that his authority
> or uniqueness stems from his being an "avatAra" of sorts (in fact,
> neither Desika, Maamunigal, or even Amudanaar assert this).

  adiyEn would like to clarify one thing here. No one
  is saying that one has to accept the teachings of Bhagavad
  RAmAnuja, just because He is a nitya-sUri. The yard-stick
  is certainly the apaurushEya vEdAs and since teachings of Bhagavad
  RAmAnuja is in perfect accordance with vEdAs and allied pramAnAs,
  His teachings are the actual vEdAnta. So, when one carefully
  analyses various philosophies, he/she will certainly land up
  in upholding ViSishtAdavita and this process of analysis is
  independent of the status of the AchAryas (be it even PerumAL 
  Himself, or nitya sUris etc). Once this phase is over ie. in
  accepting ViSishtAdvaita as the perfect authority, then one
  has to accept the sampradAyam which is establishing this 
  vEdAnta. SrIman nArAyaNA didn't initiate the SrI Vaishnava
  sampradAyam for "nAm kE vAstE" (just for name sake). It is only
  through this sampradAyam that PerumAL is revealing the actual
  import of vEdAs. PerumAL has the role of jagatvyApAram and
  He being impartial is giving the results of puNya and pApA
  to each jIvAtmA etc. Current Villivalam Azhagiyasingar used
  to explain that vEdAs are not like one's class-notes given 
  by teachers for children, such that there is no apparent
  ambiguity or apparent contradictions etc. The works like
  Brahma sUtrAs also are not like class notes, completely 
  explaining everything a..z with ample clarity in many possible
  ways. This is because, if it is so clear that anyone who
  reads them understands all the actual tattvam, hitam and 
  purushArtam with ample clarity, then there would be no 
  way to differentiate the jIvAtmAs with certain karma (ie.
  puNya and pApa performed will become useless). Thus, PerumAL
  has our eternal Sri Vaishnava SampradAyam for clearly and 
  correctly explaining the sAstrAs and nitya-sUris actively
  take part in this kainkaryam ( this is again not a dogmatic
  statement; this can be realized after understanding that
  ViSishtAdvaitam explains the vEdAs accurately).  
  Thus, the authority of sampradAyam is very important to 
  be recognized.For instance, in our sampradAyam, the pAsurams 
  and biographies of AzhwArs, the rahasya trata mantrams etc are 
  being passed on from NammAzhwAr, nAthamunigal .....down to
  our AchAryas. The biographies of AzhwArs are not in sAstrAs
  accepted in general by other schools of thought, though SrI 
  Suka Brahma maharishi in SrImad Bhagavatham clearly foretells
  the advent of AzhwArs and AchAryAs of our sampradAyam in the
  famous "kalau kalu bhavishyanti nArAyaNa parAyanAhA...." verse. 
  The biographies of AzhwArs is a "sampradAya" vishayam (ie.matter). 
  One has to accept the authority of sampradAyam on issues like 
  this. Similarly, in sampradAyam, Bhagavad RAmAnuja is regarded 
  as the incarnation of ananta. Not only that it is a sampradAya
  vishayam, references from purANAs are also there. 
  Sri A. GovindAchArya in his book on Bhagavad RAmAnuja
  gives such references from Iswara Samhita (yAdavagiri mAhAtmya
  chapter), Harita Smruti, BrahmAnda purANa (chapter on 
  Badarika MAhAtmya), BhUta puri mAhAtmya, Brahma Vaivarta
  purANa to convey that Bhagavad rAmAnuja is indeed an avatAram
  of AdisEsha. 

  Regarding the source of greatness of Bhagavad RAmAnuja, 
  you yourself raised a question and you say that it is
  unanswerable. While it is a fact that SrIman nArAyaNA's 
  mercy is the important factor in this, the execution of 
  that mercy is through the avatAram of ananta as Bhagavad
  RAmAnuja. He being a nitya sUri was the source of His
  greatness ; but as said before, no one is making a 
  dogmatic statement to accept ViSishtAdvaita just because
  Bhagavad RAmAnuja is a nitya sUri. This part of Bhagavad 
  RAmAnuja being a nitya-sUri was mentioned, only to reveal
  the source of the greatness of Bhagavad RAmAnuja, in 
  explaining and propagating vEdAnta to its true sense.

  Some AchAryAs, while paying tributes to Bhagavad rAmAnuja,
  focussed on various aspects of glorification. In any 
  eulogy / stotra / glorification, we come across things
  like this : She is so devoted that she is a gOpi incarnate,
  Her face is so serene and she has excellent feminine devotee
  qualities that she must a mahALakshmi incarnate etc. In this
  sense, Bhagavad rAmAnujar has also been glorified (in amazement
  or wonder or anubhavam) as either the avatAram of the  
  VishwaksEnar or the combined avatAram of the panchAyudams
  of PerumAL etc by some AchAryAs, while analysing/glorifying
  certain acts/pastimes of Bhagavad rAmAnuja. This does not negate 
  the fact that Bhagavad rAmAnuja is the avatAram of AdisEsha.
  Also, some AchAryas like SrI VenkatAdhvari did say that 
  yemperumAnAr is the avatAram of AdisEshan. adiyEn has a
  vague remembereance that either PrapannAmrutam or Divya sUri
  charitram (or both) say that YatirAjar is the avatAram of 
  AdisEsha. In a side note, Divya sUri charitram of SrI 
  GarudavAhana Panditar did mention the names of nitya sUris 
  (kousthubam, Srivatsam etc) who incarnated as a particular 
  AzhwAr. Also, adiyEn has heard that (didn't verify though)
  the 3rd matAdhipati of ParakAla mutt in His work about the 
  AchAryAs says that yatirAjar is the avatAram of AdisEshan.
  Infact, the bhavishyatAchAryar came much before and 
  pUrvAchAryas knew about the advent of bhagavad rAmAnuja.
  There are many other sampradAyam based sources on this issue.
  The current day AchAryAs also say that yatirAjar is 
  the avatAram of AdisEshan. 
  AzhwAr,yemperumAnAr,dESikan,Azhagiyasingar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam  
  adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
  ananthapadmanAbha dAsan