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Re: Fwd: Krimikantha

From: Lakshmi Srinivas (lsrinivas_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 23:32:13 PDT

> --- In bhakti-list@egroups.com, VAgarwalV@c...
> wrote:

I can not comment on the wisdom of engaging some of
the Internet type trouble makers :-) for they show 
utter lack of faith for the traditional wisdom of all
traditions except their own. In this case some textual
support seem to have been enlisted ... for greater
authenticity I suppose. Since this list itself is not
confined to Srivaishnava's, one may look at the
relevant data *as available upto now* and see what
emerges.

At the outset I'd like to say that Hari Rao's work on
Koil Olugu etc is well known but it's clear he follows
the school of thought that if the story's not to be
found in epigraphical records, it is a fabrication. I
am amazed that the same scholars do not look at
*contemporary* textual sources and other interlocking
pieces of data from other areas.    

Reverting to your post, there seem to be three issues
here: 
1. Was Sri Ramanuja really persecuted? So did he
actually go to Mysore?
2. Was KurattALvAn really blinded?
3. Were the Cholas or a specific Chola pursue a policy
of intolerance towards Srivaishnavam

Q1. Was Sri Ramanuja really persecuted? So did he
actually go to Mysore?

It is interesting in this context what BR Gopal
(Ramanuja in Karnataka - An Epigraphical Study, New
Delhi, 1983) says about the kind of information
provided by inscriptions themselves:

"They make no reference to the religious and social
conditions of the times, unless they are directly
concerned with them, as in the case of the famous
Sravanabelagola inscription ... Hence it would be too
much to expect from these epigraphs any direct
information about Sri Ramanuja. But whenever they do
refer, they are the most authentic and contemporary
evidences'. (p. 3)

So did Sri Ramanuja visit Mysore? Yes, he did ...
based on any number of inscriptions which refer to
Srivaishnavas consecrating temples. Also, inscriptions
tally with some crucial material in the hagiographies.


For example, the sAligrAma inscription of the 12th
cent which talks of "embArum, ALvAnum, AccAnum" of the
maTha of Srirangam which has been identified as embAr
(Govinda), AnantALvAn (AnantasUri) and kiDAmbi AccAn.
cf. M.E.R, 1913, p. 36; also pp. 12, 13 of the
Dynastic List of Inscriptions, E.C. vol XIV; VN Hari
Rao admits that "this is the most important
contemporary evidence that goes to prove the
traditional account of Ramanuja's visit to Mysore".
cf.VN Hari Rao's doctoral thesis , pp 167-168. 

So was his visit a regular tour (digvijayam) or was it
undertaken under extraordinary circumstances?

If it be argued that former were the case, "his return
to Srirangam would have been certain. In this
connection, it may noted that kUresa in one of his
hymns (Sri SundarabAhustava, verse 130) prays that as
in the past, he should be in the service of Sri
Ramanuja at Srirangam. Thereby he prays to God that
Sri Ramanuja should return to Srirangam. If Sri
Ramanuja's (visit) were simply a tour, kUresa would
not have made such a prayer. Hence, that there was
considerable opposition and even threat to life at
Srirangam which made the acharya abandon the place,
appears almost certain?" 

(BR Gopal, ibid., pp 12-13)

Q2. Was KUrattALvAn really blinded?

An acharya like kUrattALvAn is not going to refer to
his blindness in his works much. So it would be futile
to look for direct evidence in his works for the
blinding episode. There are nevertheless couple of
references which may be utilized as pointers.

For kUresa, "service is the ultimate aim but
KUrattALvAn makes a mysterious further request:

O Lord of unsurpassed compassion! O sea of patience! O
source of everything! Since I am caught up in several
attachments, I pray for something (yat kim api). Pray
grant me this. (Varadarajastavam 90)

Tradition says that in these verses kUrattALvAn is
making a veiled request that the Lord return his
eysight."

(cf Vasudha Narayanan, The Way and the Goal,Washington
DC, 1987, pp 103). 

Prof Narayanan adds, "

More explicit is kUrattALvAn's request at the end of
the SundarabAhustava (SbS):

O Lord of the forested hills! You brought back to life
those killed in the battle at Lanka. You revived the
son of the twice born who died young. you recovered
SandIpani's child and you gave life to the fetus that
hailed from the race of Arjuna. You are constant. How
can you not grant the desire of my guru and
me?(SbS124)

This stotra, written in tirumAlirumcOlai during
kUrattALvAn's exile, confirms that kUrattALvAn was
separated from Ramanuja. It is important because it is
the earliest reference of its kind and comes from a
nonhagiographical source.

kUrattALvAn's requests to be reunited with his guru
and his veiled request for "something" (eyesight?) are
significant, for they come immediately after he takes
refuge with the Lord." (ibid., p. 104)

Q3. Were the Cholas or a specific Chola pursue a
policy of intolerance towards Srivaishnavam?

The answer is a resounding yes, at least to the second
question. For various reasons, Hari Rao thinks the
contemporary king is Kulottunga I and since his
inscriptions involving grants are recorded in the
Srirangam temple, he was not intolerant and ergo, the
entire Srivaishnava tradition of persecution against
their darsana is a fabrication. 

This is quite absurd as the whole thing hinges on some
dating arrived at from conventional sources. If one
were to assume a date 50 years later than hitherto
accepted, one would arrive at Kulottunga II as the
contemporary king. This king's record does show that
he was a saiva partisan and quite possibly an anti
Vaishnava bigot. 

The evidence comes from Chidambaram where it is well
known that Govindaraja swamy sannidhi was right there
by the Siva shrine. (cf Periya tirumozi 3.2.1 thru
3.2.10 and perumAL tirumozi 10.1 thru 10.11). It is
equally well known that a famous court poet
(oTTakUttar) boasted that the king he served had
"thrown an image of Vishnu in to the sea at
Chidambaram". 

He makes the claim three times once each in his
KulOttungaccOLan ulA, rAjarAjaccOlan ulA and
takkayAkapparaNi. These are cited in B. Natarajan, The
city of the cosmic dance, New Delhi, 1974. 

It is equally well known that Sri Ramanuja was
involved in reinstalling of Sri Govindaraja Swamy in
Tirupati at the site of an existing Parthasarathy
temple. For a complete chronology and narration of
these episodes, plse refer TKT Viraraghavacharya,
History of Tirupati, 3 vols, TTD, Tirupati, 1997, pp.
244-287.  

Hope this helps,

LS

 




 






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