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A brief Eulogy on Swami Sri Vedanta Desika
Date: Wed Sep 30 1998 - 10:49:37 PDT

I. A brief Eulogy on  Swami Sri Vedanta Desika

On this auspicious Tirunakshatram day of Swami Sri Vedanta Desikan (which is
also the Tirunakshatram day of Tirumalaiappan Sri Venklatachalapathi (whose
Ghanta Avatara was Swami Desikan) and further blessed by being the Vijaya
Dasami day), I humbly submit an eulogy on Swami Sri Vedanta Desika. 

Anbil Ramaswamy

If Natha muni retrieved the holy collects, if Yamuna muni propounded it, if
Ramanuja muni expounded it, it was given to Vedanta Desika to systematize it
almost to the form of a science. 

Even the great Advaitic critic Appayya Dikshitar was wonderstruck by the
ineffable charm of his poetry and irrefragable power of reason and conferred
on him the title of 'Kavi Tarkika Simham' (Lion- king among poets and
logicians) Appayya Dikshitar praised him as follows: 

Itham Vichintyas Sarvatra Bhaavaah Santhi Padhe Padhe | 
Kavi Taarkika Simhasya Kavyeshu Lalitheswapi ||

"Even in the simple and soft compositions of this Lion of both poets and
logicians, there are poetic excellence evident at every step and indeed in
every word" 

He was also called 'SARVA TANTRA SWATANTRA' (master of all arts, crafts and
artifacts) because his works show his intimate knowledge of almost all arts
and sciences known to human intelligence. His works brim with philosophical
grandeur, ethical excellence and aesthetic glory. 

As a critic, he was as searchingly critical as he was sympathetically
tolerant. He ennobled his poetry through philosophy and embellished his
philosophy through his poetry. He preached only what he practiced and
practiced what he preached. He was a saint par excellence though he remained a
Grihasta throughout. It is difficult to find such a harmonious blend - of
Precept and Practice, of Exalted thinking and Simple living. He synthesized in
himself an inimitable moral fervor and an inspired spiritual insight. 


A poet, philosopher, logician, and a scrupulous Anushtatha he took upon
himself the task of upholding the concepts preached by Bhagavad Ramanuja. It
is because of him that ' Ramanuja Darsanam' came to be recognized by the
world. Swami Vedanta Desika was the brightest star in the firmament of
Visishtadvaita next only to Bhagavad Ramanuja. 

No writer among the followers of Ramanuja fought for the rightful place for
Divya Prabandhams as did Swami Desika. His prolific compositions in pure Tamil
, pure Sanskrit, Praakrit and Manipravala bear ample testimony to the fact
that he is not exclusively a Vadakalai or exclusively a Tenkalai but more
appropriately a 

Swami Desika was born in 1268 AD (about 131 years after Sri Ramanuja attained
Paramapada) at Tooppul near Kanchipuram as the son of one Anantasuri and
Totaramba. They named him Venkatanatha. He is believed to be the incarnation
of the bell of Lord Venkateswara of Tirumalai.

Even while young, he used to attend the Kalakshepam discourses of Nadaadur
Ammal along with his maternal uncle, Appullaar who was also his Acharya.
Before the age of 20, he excelled in all that a person ought to learn. His
exposure to Vedas, Divya Prabandhas and Sastras at a very early age provided
him with an encyclopaedic knowledge and this treasurehouse of knowledge was
matched only by his exemplary modesty and humility- which rarely go together
among scholars. 

Throughout his works- whether small or short, whether extensive and elaborate,
whether poem or drama or Vyakhyanam - the one thread that runs through is his
insatiable dedication in maintaining Ramanuja Darsanam. 

With his inscrutable insight into the various realms of knowledge and incisive
logical talents in demolishing the failings of other schools of thought he
could have built a new system of his own. Any other Acharya of his standing
would have easily bungled into this trap. But, his conviction that Ramanujas
system was not only ancient but also approved by Poorva Acharyas helped him
avoid this and he strengthened the edifice built by Bhagavad Ramanuja. 

Swami Desikan Tiruvadigale Saranam