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Re: Pre-Ramanuja status

From: alwar (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 23:54:16 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,
I have been keenly following the discussions about the origin of Mandayam
Srivaishnavas. I personally feel the present discussion and conclusion that
they(Mandayam Srivaishnavas) were Jains before Sri Ramanuja converted them
is not correct. A lot has been written about the origin of Mandayam
Srivaishnavas, and extensive research has been conducted in this regard in
an objective and dispassionate manner. Though it is agreed upon that just by
saying that someone was a jain before and converted later to Srivaishnavism,
by itself does not lower the status of that community / individual in any
manner, we have to take an objective view about the same and not rely upon
hearsay. I would like to write more about this in an authentic manner after
obtaining the results of the research work that has already been done. I
request the members to kindly bear with me for the delay in this regard.

PS : Apart from this, I would also like to point out that the following quote taken from Sri Padmanabhan's life history of Bhagavan Ramanuja published by LIFCO, and quoted by a member of the Bhakti list recently, has many factual errors, like saying that "Thondanur - another name for Melkote" etc.  The details of the story quoted too are in total contradiction to the revered and accepted authority on the life of Bhagavan Ramanuja -- the Guruparampara Prabhavam of Swami Pinbalagiya Jeeyar. (The contradictions are self-evident when one reads the following, and I feel that this needs no further explanation).  

Sriman R.Padmanabhan, author of " Bhagavan Ramanuja " - LIFCO Books had written :

Ramanuja And Vishnuvardhana

The Hoysalas ( During the time of Ramanuja - they were rulers of the present Karnataka State ) in whose country Ramanuja and his disciples had taken refuge, had their ( Hoysalas ) home in a hill towards the west of Mysore. The kings and in fact the royalty were all Jains allied with the Chalukyas and therefore were against the Cholas. Ramanuja and his disciples had migrated from Srirangam due to the vehement attitude of Saivite Cholas to Sri Vaishnavas.

The king of the Hoysalas was BITTIDEVA. At the time of Ramanuja's visit to Thondanur ( Another name of Melukote ), the daughter of king Bittideva and Queen Shantala was possessed by evil spirits. None of the court magicians or exorcists could exorcise the spirit. On that account they were greatly distressed not knowing what to do. They banned all festivities in the palace until their daughter was thoroughly well.

It was just during this period of distress and agony that the Vaishnava devotee Thondanut Nambu was by chance able to contact Queen Shantala Devi. He suggested to her that Ramanuja, the great apostle of Sri Vaishnavism from Sri Ramgam, could exorcise the spirit by his super human powers, and that the great sanyasin should be summoned forthwith. What better news could there be for the king and queen?

In a short time this king and queen and all his courtiers visited Ramanuja and begged of him to visit the place and exorcise the devil which had possessed their princess. Although Ramanuja was willing to comply with the king's request, he as a sanyasin, disliked his paying a visit to the king's palace. when Tondanur Nambi and Mudaliyandan came to know of their masters hesitation to visit the place, they pleaded with him to visit the place for the cause of Vaishnavism and said " O Master, may we submit that in Melukote hills there us under the authority of king bittideva, there is a Thirunarayana Temple. To strengthen the cause of Sri Vaishnavism, we may renovate it and make it a strong hold of Vasihnavism in the western country. Pray, visit the palace and serve our cause ". So Ramanuja prevailed upon at last to visit the palace of Bittideva.

On Ramanuja arriving entering the royal apartments, his disciples took the water consecrated by their master and asked the princess to drink a little. And Lo! the spirit was exorcised and the next moment  the princess looked as cheerful as ever. Ramanujamuni had succeed where others had failed.

Ramanuja, as suggested by his own disciples took advantage of the opportunity to convert the king, a jaina to Sri Vaishnavism. The King and queen were pleased, and expressed their readiness to accept the new faith. Consequently Ramanuja initiated tem to Vaishnava Faith, and in token of this conversion, he changed Bittideva's name to VISHNUVARDHANA by which name Bittideva is know to history.

Consequently many Jains including royalty converted to Sri  Vaishnavism out of love.

Also, even if one were to accept that many jains converted to Srivaishnavism at that time, it does not go on to prove that those who were converted, later came to be known as Mandayam Srivaishnavas or that all those who were converted were Mandayam Srivaishnavas alone, (as is being deduced by some people.)  

It is very surprising to note that the life history of Bhagavan Ramanuja containing such factual 
errors has been published by a reputed publisher like LIFCO.  It is felt that one should take utmost care while publishing such instances about such vital issues, and verify the same many times before doing so.  
I am thankful to Sri Malolan Cadambi for bringing to light that LIFCO has published such a version of the life history of Bhagavan Ramanuja. I am also grateful to him for refering my name to give an authentic view about the origin of Mandayam Srivaishnavas, which as I mentioned earlier, I will do after going through the available authentic material in thorough manner.

I welcome the feedback of learned members reg. what I have stated above.


----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 4:12 AM
Subject: Pre-Ramanuja status

> Dear bhaktas:
> Earlier I'd mentioned that most Mandya Srivaishnavas were originally
> Jains under King Bittideva of HoyasaLa.  Regardless of the truth of
> this statement, no "corollary" was intended.  We know that Ramanujar
> himself was born into a VaDamAL family that followed Yajur Veda.  Some
> of the Azhwars were also Saivites or Jains, prior to their entering the
> Vaishnavite fold.  It all goes to show, that one's beginnings do not
> necessarily determine one's entire lifespan and legacy.  Some of the
> Mandya Srivaishnavas today are known to be the most faithful followers
> of Ramanuja sampradayam.
> Truly
> -Srinath Chakravarty
> email:
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Old school buds here:
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------------------------------------------------------
>            - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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