Life History Sri Ramanujacharya

By Sri. U. Ve. Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan

ChaithrArdhrA sambhavam VishNO: darsana sthApanOthsukam I
ThuNDIramaNdalE utthitham Seshamoorthim RaamAnujam BhajE II

AchArya RaamAnujA born as the incarnation of AdhisEshan

AchArya RaamAnujA was born in ThoNdai Naadu as the son of Sri BhUmi Piratti and Aasurikula Tilakam , Sri Kesava SomayAji at PerumbhUdhUr on a PingaLa Year , Chitthirai Month, Sukla Paksha Panchami day , when ArudhrA constellation ( ThiruvAdhirai ) was in ascendance . This PingaLA year in the western calendar is 1017 A.D. Thirumalai Nampi , a renowned sishyar of AaLavandhAr was the child's uncle. He recognized that the child is an avthAram of Adhi Seshan ; he also recognized that the child is going to become a great Sri VaishNavite AchAryan. Hence , Thirumalai nampi gave the name of RaamAnujan to the new born child. This child lived for 120 years on this earth and during its rich life systematized and established on a firm footing the doctrines of VisishtAdvaithA, which have been expounded earlier by BodhAyanA, DramidA and TankA and elaborated by Nathamuni and AaLavandhAr.

The divine recogniton of Sri RaamAnujA's contributions

AchArya RaamAnujA was recognized for his monumental contributions to Sri ViasishtAdvaitha Darsanam in his own life time by the Divya Dampathis of Srirangam,Kaanchi , ThirunArAyaNapuram , ANDAL of SrivilliputthUr and Devi Sarasvathi through their conferring of the titles of Udayavar ,Sri BhashyakArar and many other honors. AchArya RaamAnujA was also addressed as Ilaya PerumAl by his sishyAs. Further, Lord VaradarAjA initiated RaamAnujA into SanyAsaasramam and conferred on him the title of YathirAjan at that time. Lord VaradarAjA reluctantly gave RaamAnujA later as a gift to Sri RanganAthA. Lord VaradarAjA also answered through Thirukkacchi Nampi the questions that were topmost on the mind of RaamAnujA. The many incidents relating to the Vaibhavam of AchArya RaamAnujA are summarized in the special home pages created by Srimans Achyutharaman and MadhavakkaNNan of Simhapuri and this CD ROM. The works of AchArya RaamAnujA are also covred there as well as the highlights of Bhagavad RaamAnuja Darsanam. BhakthAs are referred to these pages with the URL, Ramanujar/ For now , we will content ourselves with a breif summary of the highlights of the Life and works of Sri RaamAnujA the like of whom we will not be able to see again .

AchArya RaamAnujA's early Tuetlage at Kaanchipuram

Sri RamAnujA studied VedAnthA first under YadhavaprakAsA at Kaanchi. When YadhavaprakAsA misinterpreted the meanings of Sruthi and Upanishadh Vaakyams , Sri RaamAnujA pointed out the correct meanings following the Sri VisishtAdhvaidhic tradition. This angered the Guru. The infuriated Guru plotted to kill RaamAnujA. Lord VaradarAja intervened and saved RaamAnujA from the jealous Guru's wrath. Meanwhile, the intellectual brilliance and the rich Saastraic Jn~Anam of RaamAnujA attracted the attention of Sri ALavandhAr , the greatest Sri VaishNava AchArya of that time , who was staying in Srirangam. ALavandhAr came to Kaanchi and prayed to Lord VaradarAjan to bless RaamAnujA to become the leading pravarthakA and nirvAhakA of Sri VishitAdhvaitha siddhAntham . ALavandhAr did not get to meet RaamAnujA in person at Kaanchi prior to his return to Srirangam. AaLavandhAr's health weakened after return to Srirangam and he reached Sri Vaikuntam without iniitating RaamAnujA in person as his successor. RaamAnujA , who had heard about the illness of ALavandhAr rushed to Srirangam to receive latter's blessings. It was however too late.

When RaamAnujA saw the charama ThirumEni of AalavandhAr , he noticed that three of the fingers of the right hand were closed as if to indicate that he had three unfulfilled wishes. RaamAnujA asked the intimate disciples about those wishes. RaamAnujA was told that the three wishes were:(1) Writing of a commentary for the VyAsa Soothrams (2) Naming of two Brahmin boys with the names of ParAsarA (the author of VishNu PurANam ) and VyAsA ( the author of Brahma Soothrams and Many PurANams ) and (3) the writing of a commentary for Swami NammAzhwAr's ThiruvAimozhi. RaamAnujA pledged to fulfil the three wishes of AaLavandhAr with the anugraham of the divya dampathis of Kanchipuram and the folded fingers on the body of AalavandhAr suddenly opened up after hearing this pledge . All those assembled in sorrow around the chrama ThirumEni of AaLavandhar were overcome by what they witnessed and hailed RaamAnujA as the future Darsana SthApakar of Sri VisishtAdvaitham . RaamAnujA took the permission of the chief disciple of AaLavandhAr, Sri Periya Nampi ( MahA PoorNar ) and returned to Kaanchi with a heavy heart .

Thirukkacchi Nampi and RaamAnujA

Thirukkacchi nampi was a key disciple of AaLavandhAr. He was doing fan service to Lord VaradarAjan at Kaanchi and the Lord of Kaanchi broke His archA samAdhi (silence) to speak to Thirukkacchi Nampi during those ChAmara Kaimkaryam sessions . RaamAnujA admired Thirukkacchi Nampi for his access to the Lord and asked Nampi to get answers from the Lord Himself for questions that were troubling him . Nampi agreed to present those questions to Lord Varadarajan . The Lord's answer to RaamAnujA's questions are known as the six statements referred to below:

(1) We , the Srimaan , is the supreme One (Parathvam).

(2) Our darsanam is BhEdham .

(3) Prapatthi is THE MEANS for Moksham .

(4) Moksham will be gained at the time of shedding of the mortal coils for a Prapannan .

(5) Take refuge at the feet of Periya Nampi as AchAryan.

(6) Anthima Smruthi( Thoughts on the Lord during the last moments of life ) is not essential for the One , who has performed Prapatthi .

RaamAnujA was thrilled to hear the instructions from the Lord Himself and hastened to meet Periya Nampi living at Srirangam. Meanwhile, Periya nampi had a dream in which he was requested by Sri RanganAthA to bring RaamAnujA to Srirangam and groom him to become the next great AchAryA to spread the darsanam . Periya nampi hastened on his journey towards Kaanchi. Both RaamAnujA and Periya Nampi met each other half way at MadhurAnthakam .

Periya nampi initiated RaamAnujA into Sri VishNavite fold through PanchasamskAram and manthra upadEsams. RaamAnujA at this time was a grahasthA. RaamAnujA's wife however had committed three major apachArams to Sri VaishNava BhaagavathAs during the last few months of RaamAnujA as a GrahasthA and sishyar of Periya Nampi . Those incidents took a heavy toll on RaamAnujA's mind.He concluded that SanYaasam is better than GrahathAsramam for him and declared his intentions to Lord varadarAjA , who approved RaamAnujA's request to enter into SanyAsAsramam . Great Sri VaishNavAs like NadAdUr AzhwAn, KooratthAzhwAn , Mudali AaNDAn learnt about the news of RaamAnujA becoming a Yathi and chose him as their own AchAryan. Yaadhava PrakAsar, who resentedRaamAnujA earlier understood the greatness of his former disciple and sought the refuge of RaamAnujA as his own AchAryan, although he was much older than his own former disciple and lived peacefully at the sacred feet of AchArya RaamAnujA .

RaamAnujA's move to Srirangam from Kaanchi

One day, Thiruvaranga perumAL Arayar came to Kaanchi and performed arayar sevai for the Paasurams of Swami NammAzhwAr before Lord VaradarAjan . The Lord of Kaanchi was so pleased with the Arayar that He asked the Arayr to choose a boon close to his heart. The Arayar blurted out and asked for the gift of RaamAnujA . The Lord agreed and gave His permission for RaamAnujA to go to Srirangam with the Arayar and start his work as an AchAryan and to continue the work of AaLavandhAr.

The Five AchAryans of AchArya RaamAnujA

Five great disciples of ALavandhar following the command of their AchAryan instructed RaamAnujA on the essentials of Sri VaishNavam .

Periya nampi or MahA Poornar performed not only Pancha samskArams for RaamAnujA but also taught him the Brahma SoothrAs , the BhagavadgitA and the esoteric meanings (rahasyArthams) of the Sri VaishNavite rahasyams .

Goshti PoorNar or ThirukkOttiyUr nampi tested the readiness of RaamAnujA many times and finally trained him in the observance of Ari VaishNavite religious practices as per the three RahasyAs.

MaalAdhArA or ThirumAlai ANDAn taught RaamAnujA Bhagavadh Vishayam or the subtle meanings of Swami NammAzhwAr's ThiruvAimozhi Paasurams (DrAvida samhithA).

ThiruvarangapperumAL or AaLavandhAr AazhwAn instructed RaamAnujA on the comprehensive text of ThiruvAimozhi , the Sri Sookthis of AaLavandhAr and some auspicious sayings ( SubhAshithams).

Srisaila PoornA or Thirumalai nampi , the uncle of RaamAnujA taught the inner meanings of Srimadh RaamAyana SlOkams. Since Srimadh RaamAyaNam is known as the SaraNAgathi Saasthram , this acquistion of knowledge from a revered elder AchAryan such as Thirumalai Nampi was an important

feature of RaamAnujar's tutelage.

The NINE Sri Sookthis of AchArya RaamAnujA

This CD ROM has focused deeply on the Sri Sookthis of AchArya RaamAnujA and Bhagavadh AarAdhanam. AdiyEn will therfore highlight the main points about AchArya RaamAnujA's Sri Sookthis.

(1) Sri Bhaashyam , the magnum opus of AchArya RaamAnujA is the greatest commentary on Brahma SoothrAs of BadarAyaNA and is based on the BodhAyana Vrutthi , TankA's VaakhyA , DramidA's BhAshyam on TankA's VaakhyA , Saankhyasapathi of IsvarakrishNA , PaancharAthra samhithA , AaLavandhAr's Siddhitrayam and Aagama PrAmANyam .

With the help of select Sruthi, Smruthi and Saathvika PurANam passages, AchArya RaamAnujA effectively crticizes the other commentaries on Brahma SoothrAs based on SankarA's AdhvaithA and BhAskarA's BhEdAbhEdA as untenable and establishes the accuracy of Sri BhAshyam rooted in Sri VisishtAdvaitham .

The essence of Sri Bhaashyam (Four Synoptic propositions) has been summarized by Sro AdhidEvAnandA this way :

(a) It is a reasoned and critical reconstruction of the philosophy of the Upanishads with due appreciation of other sources of knowledge such as perception and inference and the supplementary scriptures.

(b) The reconstruction presents Ultimate Reality , Brahman , the Supreme Spirit ,as the transcendent repository of ALL perfections and as holding as it's own embodiment the totality of finite existence ,sentient and insentient .

(c) The pathway to the final good of life is the blissful communion with Brahman by way of devout and loving contemplation named BHAKTHI , facilitated by a life of virtue and founded on assured philosophical understanding.

(d) The end attained through that means is the eternal experience of Brahman , with all the plentitude and eternity which only that experience can bring to the individual personality. It is the supreme ecstasy of Life in God .

(2) The GitA BhAshyam is an elaboration of AaLavandhAr's GithArtha sangraham. The individual verses are explained in the light of the VisishtAdhvathic tenets: " Reality is personalistic with countless auspicious attributes , and that it is a qualified whole of which Isvaran is the Soul , and the Jiva and the Jagat (Prakrti) form the body in inseparable relation with the Whole, but there are internal divisions of the nature of modes in It."

The saadhanas that an aspiring human being should adopt for Moksham are explained by AchArya RaamAnujA here. Moksham in the complete sense is explained as occuring with the fall of the physical body , "after which the released soul is clothed in a body of suddha-sattvA with which it is able to commune with God and experience His overpoweringly august but loving presence through eternity ". This is described as the experience of ParipUrNa BrahmAnandham in the abode of Sriman NaarAyaNA at Sri Vaikuntam .

3.VedArtha SangrahA: This elaborate treatise is an important commentary on the correct meanings of the important passages of VedAs and Upanishads. This grantham points out the deficiencies in the rival schools of VedanthA in general and AdhvaithA in particular. This grantham pays a lot of attention to the VisishtAdhvaithic intrepretations of Tattva(Reality), HithA ( Means of attaining Brahma ) and PurushArtham ( Supreme Goal of Life).

4. VedAntha DipA: This grantham is a shorter commentary on Brahma SoothrAs. The essential purport of each of the SoothrAs is given. It stays away from the scholarly arguments of Sri Bhaashyam and does not include the ctitique of the rival systems.

5.Vedantha SaarA: This is yet another brief commentary on Brahma SoothrAs for those of average familiartiy with VedAthic doctrines. This grantham gives the meaning of each soothram and AdhikaraNam .

6. SaraNAgathi Gadhyam: This is one of the three Gadhyams bequeathed to us by AchArya RaamAnujA.This gadhyam explains the nature , importance and method of performance of Prapatthi at the sacred feet of the Divya dampathis .

7. Sriranga Gadhyam: Here AchArya RaamAnujA prays to Lord RanganAtha and Sri RanganAyaki with Parama Bhakthi and utter humility .

8. Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam: This is a moving description of Sri Vaikuntam visualized by AchArya RaamAnujA during his divine ecstasy following his Prapatthi on a Panguni Uttharam day in presence of the Divya Dampathis of Srirangam . The depth of AchArya RaamAnujA 's mystical experience of Sri Vaikuntam and the supreme bliss enjoyed there by the MukthAs and Nithya Sooris is unparalleled .

9. The Nithya-GranthA: This practical grantham instructs us about the proper form of worshipping Sriman NaarAyaNA . Hence , this grantham is also known as Bhagavadh-aarAdhana PrayOgA. Fifteen points are stressed and these are elaborated further in this CD ROM dedicated to AchArya RaamAnujA . Our great AchAryan insists that a VishNu Bhakthan MUST perform Aaradhanam to the Lord to qualify as His devotee as described in the twelfth chapter of BhagavadhgitA .

His Kaimkaryam for SamprahAya Pravarthakam:

After his return to Srirangam from ThirunArAyaNapuram , AchArya RaamAnujA as a great administrator established 74 SimhAsanAdhipathis to grow the Darsanam and gave them each a set of Sankham and Chakram for performing Pancha SamskArams. He handed over copies of SrikOsam on Sri Bhaashyam to ThirukkuruhaippirAn PiLLAn , NdAdUr AzhwAn, KidAmpi AacchAn and MudaliANDAn and asked them to continue with the pravachanam of Sri Bhaashyam and made them Sri Bhaashya SimhAsanAthipathis. He singled out ThirukkuruhaippirAn PiLLAn to initiate Bhagavadh Vishaya KaalakshEpam and made this special sishyan (His Jn~Ana Puthran) a Ubhaya SimhAsAnAthipathi.

In addition to the above 74 simhAsanAthipathis, there were 700 Jeeyars and 12,000 EkAnthis and thousands of Kainkarya-parALs , who sought the sacred feet of AchArya RaamAnujA for refuge.

Out of his infinite compassion , AchAryA RaamAnujA in his last days gave us a five point guideline to follow (yathA sakthi) that would assure us the grace of Sriman NaarAyaNA :

(a)Perform KaalakshEpam of Sri Bhaashyam and spread its message to others.

(b) If that is difficult, perform KaalakshEpam of AzhwAr's aruLiccheyalkaL and spread their messages.

(c) If that proves to be diffcult , perform daily Kaimkaryams at Divya Desams through offering NaivEdhyam to the Lord, lighting lamps in sannidhis , SamarpaNam of ThuLasi and flower garlands to the Dhivya dampathis et al.

(d) If that proves to be not possible, recite the Manthra Rathnam, Dhvayam, and contemplate on its meaning.

(e) If none of the above is beyond one's sakthi, then seek Sri VaishNava sathsangam and become the Thiruvadi of BhagavathAs to attain the bliss of Moksham.

Concluding Salutations to NamperumAL and AchArya RaamAnujA

AdiyEn will conclude this short summary of the life and works of AchArya RaamAnujA with the three slOkams uttered in presence of Sri RanganAtha at the conclusion of the AdhyayanOthsavam conducted by AchArya RaamAnujA :

sarvadEsa dasAkAlEshu avyAhata parAkramA
RaamAnujArya dhivyAj~nA vardhathAm abhivardhathAm

---- ThirukkuruhaippirAn PiLLAn

RaamAnujArya DhivyAj~nA prathivAsaramujjvalA
DhiganthavyApini BhUyAth saa hi LokahithaishiNi

---- MudaliANDAn

Sriman Srirangasriyam anubhadravAm anudhinam samvardhaya
Sriman Srirangasriyam anubhadhravAm anudhinam samvardhaya

--- AchArya RaamAnujA

May we seek the blessings of the Parama DayALu , AdhisEshAvathaarar , Sri RaamAnujA and the Guru paramparai established by him on the occasion of the release of this Special CD ROM celebrating his immortal gifts for us and conclude with His Taniyan :

yO nithyam Achyutha PadhAmbhujayugmarugma
vyAmOhatha: tadhitharANi thruNAya mEnE
asmath GurO:BhagavadhOsya dayaikasindhO:
Raamaanujasya CharaNou SaraNam prapdhyE

DaasAnu Daasan , Oppiliappan Koil VaradchAri Sadagopan
PramAthi Samvathsaram, PurattAsi Pooram
KrishNa Paksha ThrayOdasi Thithi .


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