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From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Nov 30 1997 - 17:46:54 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi Group :
This article was prepared for the Denver
Sri Vaishnavite Conference .
This might be of interest to you .
---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From:   V. Sadagopan, 75041,3037
TO:     NS,
DATE:   11/30/97 9:45 AM



            Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan
                          Scarborough , New York 

                      OUR  ACHARYA -SANTHATHI

The Guru-Paramparai means the continous , unbroken 
chain ( lineage) of Gurus starting from our prathama 
Guru(first AchAryA )  , Sriman NaarAyaNA , to our current 
Guru . The other name for the Guru-ParamparA is 
Acharya-Santhathi . AchAryA means spiritual perceptor 
and santhathi means kulam . Our Acharya Santhathi is
an ancient one . Our AchAryAs have a revered place in
our religious lives and hence Sri VaishNavism gives
enormous importance to our immediate AchAryA and their
paramparai in the spirit of the Vedic injunction , " AchArya 
dEvO bhava " ( May the preceptor be , to thee , a God ) . 

The AchAryAs and the reverential salutations to them 
are housed in the Taniyans associated with each of them .
The taniyan for an AchAryA is composed generally by the 
prime disciple of that AchAryA . After adorning the symbols of 
the Lord and His upa-vyuhAs on his forehead and upper limbs ,  
every day a Sri VishNavA recites the individual  taniyans of 
the AchAryAs of his/her Guru-paramparai to invoke their blessings.  


There are many AchArya -ParamparAs that have evolved 
since the time of the great AchAryA , Sri RamAnujA .
He appointed 74 simhAsanAthipathis ( occupiers of 
the thrones of Sri VaishNavism ) during his life time 
to take care of the spiritual training and the proper  
practise of the religious observances of  Sri VaishNavAs . 

In the post-RaamAnujA period , these peetAthipathis 
established themselves all over India , wrote commentaries
on the works of Sri Ramanuja  and the earlier AchAryAs
in Sanskrit , manipravALam ( sanskritized-Tamil ) and Tamil .  
Through these efforts , they helped to advance 
Sri Bhagavadh RaamAnuja SiddhAntham in 
the different corners of Bharatha Desam . 
Some focused on the source works written in Sanskrit 
by Sri RaamAnujA dealing with the Upanishads and 
Sri BhAshyam . Others chose to focus on the divine 
hymns of the AzhwArs , which were considered as 
Tamil Vedam .  Thus  they strengthened the tradition of 
ubhaya Vedantham ( twin vedanthams ) established
firmly by AchArya RaamAnujA .

Those  venerable AchAryAs of the various paramparais 
established matams to render invaluable service for guiding the 
spiritual aspirants to acquire the correct knowledge of 
the doctrines and practises of Sri VaishNavism in the traditional
way in which this knowledge was handed down to them by their 
own AchAryAs . Scriptures repeatedly state that a spiritual
aspirant (saadhakA ) needs competent guidance from  
a qualified AchAryA to gain a clear and correct understanding
of  the three doctrines of Sri VaishNavism known as the Tattva Trayam 
( Iswaran , Jivan and achethanam ) and their interrelationship .
These AchAryAs and their paramparais have done extraordinary 
service over the past thousand years to gain a true understanding of
the philosophy , theology and ethical aspects of Sri VaishNavism 
and maintain it in its pristine state . We will review the different
Matams and their AchAryAs in a later section .


Sri VaishNavA tradition recognizes a long lineage of AchAryAs 
starting from our supreme Lord , Sriman NaarAyanA . He is 
thus our first and primordial AchAryA  . The next two links 
in the celestial chain are Maha Lakshmi , the beloved 
consort of our Lord and VishvaksEnA , the commander-in-chief
and the chef-du-cabinet of our Lord's  empire stretching from
His nithya vibhUthi( Sri Vaikuntam )  to His leelA vibhUthi 
( this earth , His playground ) . 


ThirukkuruhUr SatakOpan heads the earthly chain of 
Sri VaishNavite AchAryAs . He  was instructed by " the divine angel " ,
VishvaksEnA . Swami Sri SatakOpan , who was addressed 
by our Lord as NammAzhwAr thus became the first AchAryA 
in the link of AchAryA santhathi on the Lord's earth ( Prapanna 
Jana kUtasthar ) . The successive links in that chain are : 
Natha Muni (824-924 AD ) , PundareekAkshA  
alias  UyyakkondAr ( 826-931AD ) ,
MaNakkAl nambi alias Rama Misrar ( 832-937AD ) ,
AlavandAr alias YaamunAchAryA ( 916-1041 AD ) ,
Periya Nambi alias MahA pUrNar and AchArya
RaamAnujA ( 1017-1317 AD ) . 


There are three stages in the evolution of our 
AchArya -paramparA after RaamAnujA :

(1) the first two hundred years after RaamAnujA that
      includes his direct disciples and their successors
(2) The period of PiLLai LOkAchAr and Vedantha Desikan;
(3) The post - PiLLai LOkAchAr and Vedantha Desikan period,
      which covers the past seven centuries

KurEsA alias SrivatsAnka Misra (1010-1116 AD) , 
Thirukkurhai PirAn PiLLAn , the author of the first 
commentary on Thiruvaimozhi , EmbAr  or Govinda
Misrar (1026-1131 AD ) , Kidambi AcchAn alias 
PraNathArthiharAcchAr /madapaLLI AcchAn 
( 1057-1157AD ) ,  NadAthUr ALvAn , a nephew of 
RaamAnujA were some of the well known direct disciples 
of RaamAnujA . KurEsa and Kidambi AcchAn helped
RaamAnuja write Sri Bhashyam . PiLLAn's commentary 
in manipravAlam ( Sanskritized Tamil prose ) marked 
the beginning of  " the popularization of the teachings 
of AzhwArs " . 

KurEsa"s precocious son , Parasara Bhattar( b1074AD ) 
became the prime disciple of Embar . YengaL AzhwAn 
( 1106-1206 AD ) chose PiLLAN as his AchAryA . Thiruvarangatthu 
AmudanAr , a contemproary of RaamAnujA chose KurEsA as his AchAryA
and paid his tribute to his PrAchAryA( AchAryA's AchAryA )
 through one hundred plus Tamil verses steeped in 
AchArya bhakthi known to us today as RaamAnuja 
nURRandhAthi . Those one hundred and eight verses 
became part of the NaalAyira Divya Prabhandham . 

Parasara Bhattar's line of disciples is a formidable one .
His prime disciple was Melkote NarAyaNa Muni , who is 
familarly known as Namjeeyar . He wrote the commentary on
Thiruvaimozhi called onpatinAyirapadi (9000 granthAs ) .
This is considered equal in length to the Sri Bhashyam
of RaamAnujA . This work was lost in the Cauveri waters 
by Namjeeyar's prime disciple, NampiLLai, when he was 
crossing the flooded waters of Cauveri with the Sri Kosam of 
his AchAryA on his head. NampiLLai was heart broken . He prayed
to his AchAryA and rewrote the commentaries from memory 
and  placed it at the feet of his AchAyA and asked for
Namjeeyar's pardon . Namjeeyar reviewed the manuscript
and embraced his disciple for its excellence and it is thus 
we acquired the onpathinAyirapadi .  . 

NampiLLai had two outstanding sishyAs named 
Periya VaacchAn PiLLai(1167-1262 AD) and vadakku 
Thiruveedhi PiLLai . The former was known as
 "VyAkyAna chakravarthi " because of his asture 
scholarship in writing commentaries on the NaalAyira 
Divya Prabhandham in general and NammAzhwAr's 
Thiruvaimozhi in particular . His commentary on 
Thiruvaimozhi is known as Irupatthu naalAyirapadi 
(24,000 granthAs ) and is considered equivalent 
in length to Srimadh RaamAyaNamm of 
Adhi Kavi Valmeeki .  

The written and oral commentorial tradition 
on Thiruvaimozhi continued with Vadakku- 
Thiruveethip piLLai ( 1167-1264 AD ). His commentary 
is known as the mupattiyArAyirappadi (36,000 granthAs ) 
or eedu (the equivalent to the original prabhandham of
NammAzhwAr ) . It was also named eedu because 
it stimulates our eedupaadu with Thiruvaimozhi .
 Other commentaries followed later
in this AchArya paramparai and this tradition of 
commenting through the chain of AchAryAs is 
known as OrAn Vazhi ( unbroken lineage from
individual to individual ) . 

While NamPiLLai and his disciples were lecturing 
in Srirangam on AzhwAr's hymns, Vatsya VaradAchAryA
alias NadAthUr AmmAL( 1165-1275 AD ) was expounding 
Sri Bhashyam at Kanchipuram . He is the author of the famous 
text called Prapanna PArijAtham , a definitive text on 
SaraNAgathi doctrines and practise. He was blessed
to have two scholarly sishyAs by the names of
Athreya RaamAnujA alias ApuLLAr and Sudarsana
Suri alias Veda VyAsa Bhattar ; latter is the author of 
the commentary on Sri Bhashyam revered  as 
Srutha PrakAsikA .This authoritative text on 
Sri BhAshyam was saved by Swami Sri Desikan
during the time of the Muslim invasion of Srirangam .
 ApuLLAr was the maternal uncle and AchAryA  of one 
of the intellectual giants of the lineage of Sri VaishNava 
AchAryAs celebrated as Swami Sri  Desikan alias 
NigamAntha MahA Desikan of ThUppul agrahAram . 


Vadakku Thiruveethi PiLLai had two illustrious sons 
with the names of PiLLai LOkAchAr (1264-1369 AD )
and Azhahiya MaNavALa NaayanAr , the author of 
the famous Sri VaishNavite text , "AchArya Hrudhayam ".
Vedantha Desika (1268-1369 AD ) , Pillai LokAchAr ,
NaayanArAcchAn PiLLAn , the adopted son of
Periya VaacchAn PiLLAn and his own disciple , Vaadhi-
Kesari Azhagiya MaNavALa Jeeyar were contemproaries. 
Sri VaishNavism reached a new spurt of growth and
vitality during the time of these great AchAryAs . 

A listing of the distinguished works of PiLLai LokAchAr 
and Vedantha Desikan has been assembled by 
Sri Venkateash Elayavalli in his home page entitled ,
" Sri VaishNava AchAryarkal " . Sri VishNavA home page
maintained by Sri Mani Varadarajan and Bahkthi archives 
have additional informaiton on the works of these 
great AchAryAs . 


The tradition of PiLLai LokAchAr was carried on by 
another great AchAryA by the name of MaNavALa
Maamuni ( 1370-1443 AD ) . He was the disciple of 
ThiruvAimozhi PiLLai , who in turn was the disciple
of NaalUr AcchAn Pillai belonging to the lineage of 
EeyuNNI Madhavar , a direct disciple of NampiLLai 
and a cohort of Vadakku Thiruveethi PiLLai . 

The tradition of Vedantha Desikan was carried on 
by his son , KumAra VaradAryA ( 1316-1401AD ) , 
the first Brahmatantra Parakala Swami ( 1286-1386 AD ) . 
Both of them were direct disciples of Vedantha Desikan .  


The school of thought developed by MaNavALa maamuni
has been propagated by a successive chain of AchAryAs
of the Tenkalai sampradhAyam . Matams or religious centers
headed by the followers of the TennAchArya tradition are :
VaanamAmalai matamat NaangunEri ( VaanamAmalai Jeeyars) ,
Thirumalai Jeeyar matam at Tiruppathi , Srirangam
NaarAyaNa Jeeyar matam and the YathirAja Matam
at MelkOte. 

The School of thought developed by Vedantha Desikan 
have been propagated by the AchAryAs of two important
Matams : AhObila Matam and ParakAla matam of Mysore.
During the 18th century, another religious center known
as Andavan Asramam was created at  Srirangam 
by Thirukkudanthai Desikan , who is a disciple of 
SaakshAth Swami . The ascetics of this Matam 
are known as Andavans. This matam branched out 
later into two and they are known today as PeriyAsramam 
and Poundareekapuram Asramam .
AdivaNN SatakOpan (1378-1458 AD ) of Melkote was 
the first pontiff of the AhObila Matam and received 
his  ascetic robes and iniitation into sanyAsam directly
from Bhagavan  Narasimhan of AhObila KshEthram . 
The home page of Ahobila Matam maintained by 
Sri Parthasarathy Dileepan has significant details 
on the AchAryAs of this paramparai . The home page 
for the ParakAla Matam Jeeyars also contain pictures
of Bhagavan Lakshmi HayagreevA , the ArAdhana Murthy  
of  Swami Sri Desikan and information on 
that AchArya paramparai.         


The great Sri Vaishnavite AchAryA , Sri RaamAnuja built
upon the teachings of his purvAchAryAs rooted in 
the three fundamental texts--the prasthAnatraya , viz.,
the BrahmasutrAs , Upanishads , Bhagavad Gita -- and 
the  NaalAyira Divya Prabhandham of the AzhwArs. 
He fortified the citadel of Sri vaishNavism and made 
enduring contributions to the growth of Sri Vaishnavite
philosophy , theology and religious practises through 
the personal selection of a many illustrious AchAryAs , 
who in turn trained other great AchAryAs for 
the advancement of the Sri VaishNavite religion 
across the globe .