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RANGASWAMY_at_plh.af.mil
Date: Mon May 12 1997 - 09:23:23 PDT

Dear Friends,

The following is a brief overview of the life and works of Sri
Ramanujacharya since today (5/11/97) is Ramanuja Jayanti. Ramanujacharya 
lived between 1017-1137 AD.

Asuri Keshavacharya and Bhudevi were childless 
for a long time. As a result, Sri Keshavacharya resolved to perform a
Yajna for Parthasarathy Perumal of TiruvellikeNi and seek the
Lord's blessings for progeny. Pleased with Sri Keshavacharya's penance, 
Parthasarathy Perumal appeared before him in a dream and promised to
incarnate as his son, who would go on to become a great Acharya.
(We were blessed with an excellent series of posts on the Mahima of 
Parthasarathy Perumal by Srimans Sampath Rengarajan, Viji Triplicane,
Sadagopan and Smt. Vaidehi Raja). Accordingly, Sri Ramanujacharya was
born to Asuri Keshavacharya and Bhudevi on April 13, 1017 under the asterism 
of Ardra at Sri Perumbudur. He belonged to Harita lineage and Yajur Veda.

Srisaliapurna (Tirumala Nambi), who was the maternal uncle of
Ramanujacharya, visited his sister shortly after the birth of Sri
Ramanujacharya and was pleased to see the new born baby. The infant 
had several divine traites which reminded Tirumala Nambi of what
Nammazhwar had foretold as the future flag bearer of Vishishtadvaita in 
the Tirumozhi. As a result, Sri Tirumala Nambi was convinced that the 
baby was none other than an incarnation of Lakshmana in Kaliyuga. The 
Brihat Padma Purana and Narada Purana point to the reincarnation of  
Adishesha in Kaliyuga. H.H. Srimad Andavan Swamigal of Srimad
Paundarikapuram beautifully describes the details of Ramanujacharya's 
birth in his Upanyasams of Yatiraja Sapthati.

Sri Ramanujacharya resembled Lakshmana in many respects. Lakshmana's 
only goal was constant service to Lord Rama and Sita. Similarly,
Ramanuja's sole purpose was single-minded devotion and constant 
service to Lord Narayana. When evil natured, self styled leaders 
removed all traces of Bhakti in the hearts of men, Yatirajan 
through his bull-dog tenacity, indomitable presence of mind, unflinching 
courage and indefatigable will single-handedly established the path of 
worship to Lord Narayana and expounded the tenets of 
Vishistadvaita. Although he encountered numerous obstacles and enormous
difficulty in establishing the eternal relationship between Lord Narayana
and Sri, his efforts were ultimately blessed with success. This was
entirely due to his Maha Vishvasam in Lord Narayana. 
 
A great deal has been written very eloquently on this forum by Srimans 
Sadagopan, Koti Sreekrishna and Anbil Ramaswamy about Ramanujacharya in
the past. Therefore, I shall not focus on the details of various instances in 
his life. Instead, I shall briefly refer to the highlights and wrap up my post 
with a listing of our Paramacharyan's works. 

As a young boy, he met 
Sri Tirukacchi Nambigal who was famous for his fan service to Varadaraja. 
Although, Sri Tirukacchi Nambigal was a Sudra by caste, he was highly respected 
for his distinguished service to Lord Varadaraja. Varadaraja Seva was the 
sole motto in the life of Nambigal. As a result Tirukacchi Nambigal was 
blessed with the unique previlege of conversing with the Lord of Hastigiri. 
Sri Sadagopan posted an excellent translation of the Devaraja Ashtakam by 
Tirukacchi Nambi on the occassion of Nambigal's TN, last year. When 
Ramanujacharya recognized Nambigal's 
greatmenss and wanted to salute him, the latter protested that it was not 
correct for a Brahmin to thus honor a Sudra. Tirukacchi Nambigal was amazed by 
the profoundness of Ramanuja's refutation (by using the example of Tiruppan 
Azhwar) of his argument. Immediately, he 
recognized that Ramanujacharya was a special person and took a great liking 
for him.

Sri Ramanujacharya was married to Rakshakambal. Shortly after his marriage, 
Sri Ramanujacharya's father breathed his last. Grief stricken, 
Ramanujacharya, his mother and his wife moved from Sri Perumbudur to 
Kanchipuram. At Kanchipuram, he studied under the tutelage of Yadhava 
Prakashar, a renowned Advaita scholar. Ramanujacharya soon became the favorite 
disciple of Yadhava Prakasar. During the course of his study, Sri 
Ramanujacharya came up with an alternate interpretation of the Chandogya 
Upanishad line "Kapyasam" and the Taittriya Upanishad salutation Satyam, 
Jnanam, Anantam Brahma. In explaining the latter salutation, Ramanujacharya 
clearly demonstrated that the Brahman has the attributes of truth, intellect 
and infinitude. However, truth, intellect and infinitude are not the Brahman. 
He elaborated on this principle by using the analogy "This body is mine, 
but I am not this body". This became the starting point for establishing the 
concept of Saguna Parabrahman. The repurcussions of respectfully disagreeing 
with his Guru, the resultant attempt on his life, and Ramanujacharya's 
escape from death through the grace of the Divya Dampatis are well known and 
shall not be discussed in this post. Subsequently, Yadhava Prakashar became 
a disciple of Ramanujacharya (This was after the former could not cure a 
Princess of a Brahma Rakshasa affliction).

Another interesting episode in the life of Ramanuja 
was his enounter with Tirukottiyur Nambi, also a disciple of Alavandar.
Ramanujacharya made seventeen unsuccessful attempts to obtain MantrOpadesham 
from Tirukottiyur Nambi. Tirukottiyur Nambi instructed our Acharya in the 
Mantram which would grant him Moksham and warned Ramanujacharya that he would 
be condemned to go to hell should the Mantram be revealed to anyone. 
Ramanujacharya immediately climbed the top of a mountain and called out aloud 
for all to assmble. When a significant crowd gathered, he informed them that 
he was aware of a Mantram by means of which they all could go to heaven. 
Tirukottiyur Nambi was enraged by this act of Ramanujacharya and in a fit of
anger declared that Ramanujacharya was now condemned to hell. Sri 
Ramanujacharya replied that "I would gladly go to hell if all those assembled 
here can go to heaven". Hearing this remark, Tirukottiyur Nambi conferred 
upon Ramanujacharya the title of Emperumaanar.

Ramanujacharya was initiated into the Pancha Samskarams by MahapurNa who was 
a disciple of Alavandar. He also maintained close ties with Tirukacchi Nambi.
In fact, Ramanujacharya considered it to be his good fortune to partake of 
the remains after Tirukacchi Nambigal had finished his meal. Rakshakambal 
was upset by this thought on the part of her husband. In fact, she 
behaved disrespectfully towards both MahapurNa's wife and Tirukacchi Nambigal. 
As a result, Ramanujacharya was greatly pained. He decided to send her to 
her father's home and sever his worldly connections by taking up Sanyasa. 
Upon taking up Sanyasa, he was conferred the title of Yati Rajan (Prince 
among ascetics) and settled in Srirangam near the great Temple of Lord 
Ranganatha. 

Ramanujacharya gained a significant following in Srirangam, which upset the 
chief Priest of the Ranganatha Temple. The latter hatched a dastardly plot 
and tried to kill Ramanujacharya on a couple of occassions. However,
Ramanujacharya came out unscathed each time due to the grace of Lord 
Ranganatha. The Lord of Seven Hills adorned himself with the Vaishnava 
Chinnams at the request of Ramanujacharya during his visit to Tirupati. 
The Acharya's journey to Tirunarayanapuram, recovery of the idol from the 
Badshah and the Bibi Nachiyar episode have been presented in great detail 
on this forum in the past. For the benefit of new members to the group, 
Sri Tatachar may consider reposting his informative article (from about 
two years ago). 

The works of our Paramacharyan include:

(1) Vedartha Sangraha: A commentary on Vedic texts and Sruti based 
    works
(2) Sri Bhashya: Detailed commentary on the Brahma Sutras
(3) Gita Bhashya: Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
(4) Vedanta Sara
(5) Vedanta Dipika (?) 
Both (4) and (5) relate to the Brahma Sutras. Could scholars like Srimans
KalaLe or Sadagopan confirm this?
(6) Sharanagati Gadyam
(7) Sri Ranganatha Gadyam
The above two Gadyams are unparalleled in establishing the primordial 
doctrine of SharaNagati, fundamental to Bhagavad Ramanuja Siddhantam. These 
have been discussed in some detail on this forum.
(8) Vaikunta Gadyam: A brilliant description of Sri Vaikuntam through the 
eyes of one who has attained Moksham and derived the bliss of Narayana 
Sayujyam
(9) Nitya Granthas: A guidline for Nitya Karmas and practices.

The Acharya's message to his followers was:

* Read the Sri Bhashya.
* Engage in Divya Prabandha Parayanam.
* Recite the Dvaya Mantram.
* Engage in Bhagavad Kainkaryam.
* Engage in Bhagavata Kainkaryam.

Those from this forum who attended the recent Sri Vaishnavism conference 
at the Bridgewater Temple in NJ were able to hear in considerable detail, 
the implications of the above message. 


Emperumaanar Tiruvadigale SharaNam,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy