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From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
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 . V.Sadagopan ---------- Forwarded Message ---------- From: V. Sadagopan, 75041,3037 TO: NS, INTERNET:Satyan@worldnet.att.net DATE: 11/30/97 9:45 AM RE: Copy of: SALUTATIONS TO SRI VAISHNAVA GURU-PARAMPARAI SALUTATIONS TO SRI VAISHNAVA GURU-PARAMPARAI *********************************************************** 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. THE GROWTH OF THE ACHARYA PARAMPARAIS 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 . ADDITIONAL SERVICE OF THE ACHARYA PARAMPARAIS 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 . THE LINKS IN THE CHAIN : CELESTIAL 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 ) . THE LINKS IN THE CHAIN ON HIS EARTH 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 ) . THE POST-RAMAANUJA PERIOD 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 . PILLAI LOKACHAR AND VEDANTHA DESIKAN'S PERIOD 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 . POST PILLAI LOKACHAR-VEDANTHA DESIKAN PERIOD 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 MATAMS OF SRI VAISHNAVITE ACHARYAS 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. CONCLUSION 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 . SUBHAMASTHU .