SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
parAsara , vyAsa enter AndAL pAtti’s house with vEdhavalli and aththuzhAy.
parAsara : pAtti, yesterday you said you will be telling us about the life of rAmAnujar and all the disciples that he had.
pAtti: Yes. Before telling about his Sishyas, we should also know one great special aspect of rAmAnujar. That is, even before his physical appearance, nammAzhwAr foretold his appearance some 5000 years ago to madhurakavi AzhwAr and subsequently to nAthamunigaL too. There is a great grantham named charamOpAya nirNayam, which fully reveals our emperumAnAr’s glories – this book documents nammAzhwAr – nAthamunigaL conversation and the revelation of emperumAnAr’s appearance. The divine vigraham of emperumAnAr that was presented by nammAzhwAr to madhurakavi AzhwAr is still worshipped in AzhwArthirunagari, bhavishyadhAchAryan sannidhi.
vyAsa : Wow! So, AzhwAr and some AchAryas already knew his birth. That is great pAtti. Please continue with his life more.
pAtti: Yes, rAmAnujar traveled the length and breadth of our country propagating the vaishNava philosophy , sometimes with no struggle but most of the times with lot of resistance from the other side. rAmAnujar won over all the people with his knowledge and affection. When he was in kAnchIpuram, he was married to thanjammAL but later accepts sanyAsASramam from dhEva perumAL. When rAmAnujar accepts sanyAsASramam, he promises to forego all his belongings in his life except for his nephew, mudhaliyANdAn.
vyAsa : pAtti, why did he get married and then accept sanyAsAshramam? Why couldn’t he just stay married and do all the kainkaryams that he did?
pAtti : vyAsa, there are many reasons to it. One, there were few difference of opinions between him and his wife, two, you must always be willing to do some sacrifices for a greater cause. As we all know, he shouldered the responsibility of winning over the lengths and breaths of our country by propagating the vaishNava philosophy. For eg., the soldiers of our country guard our country, leaving their families and dear ones because they have a greater responsibility. A greater good called safeguarding the country. Similarly, rAmAnujar had a greater cause in his mind. He knew his purpose was to uplift the true essence of vEdhas. Hence he accepted sanyAsASramam. Immediately after he became the jeeyar, great scholars like mudhaliyANdAn and kUraththAzhwAn become Sishyas of rAmAnujar.
aththuzhAy : Isn’t it a burden to take up such a huge responsibility? How did rAmAnujar do it all alone?
pAtti : No aththuzhAy! It was not a burden at all. When you are passionate about your work, you never find it as a burden. Moreover, rAmAnujar was never alone. He was always accompanied by great Sishyas like mudhaliyAndAn, kUraththAzhwAn, embAr, ananthAzhwAn , kidAmbi AchchAn, vaduga nambi, pillai urangavilli dAsar etc who took care of him day in and day out. They were with him throughout his journey of accomplishments. There were many attempts on hurting rAmAnujar and even kill him. On such occasions, Sishyas like embAr and kUraththaAzhwAn put their life in danger to save their AchArya’s life. You all remember how kUraththAzhwAn and periya nambi went to the kingdom of the Saiva emperor and lost their eyesight? With such great disciples around, rAmAnujar also took great care in re-establishing the correct temple administration in many temples.
vEdhavalli : Yes pAtti, I heard that all the temple rules and customs established in many temples like SrIrangam and thiruppathi were all established by rAmAnujar. Can you tell us more about it?
pAtti : That’s right vEdhavalli. He just re-enforced the customs that were stated in vEdhas. He saw to it that all the customs were followed as prescribed and took great care in establishing them. In SrIrangam, the temple was guarded by one named periya kOyil nambi. As I said earlier, rAmAnujar did not get the immediate approval of periya kOyil nambi to make the needed changes in the temple administration. rAmAnujar had to send kUraththAzhwAn to guide and educate periya kOyil nambi to the folds of SrI vaishNavam and proceeded with the changes in the temple administration. periya kOyil nambi, after being guided by AzhwAn , surrenders to rAmAnujar and is later renamed as thiruvarangaththu amudhanAr. He later writes rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi in praise of rAmAnujar. Do you know that the identification of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn as a vishNu lord was done by rAmAnujar and there were other sects of people who claimed otherwise?
parAsara : What? We all know that thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn is none other than lord VishNu Himself. When did they have doubts on that?
pAtti : yes! thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn is lord VishNu Himself. But there were few people who claimed otherwise. Some said He was rudhran and some claimed Him to be a form of skandhan. rAmAnujar traveled to thiruppathi after hearing such claims. He was very unhappy about the events and established the truth on the identity of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn that He is none other than lord SrIman nArAyaNa with the conch and the chakra. So, in thiruppathi, rAmAnujar did more than establishing the temple administration. He established the very identity of thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn. Hence, rAmAnujar is glorified as thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn’s AchAryan. Here is where, rAmAnujar learns the essence of rAmAyana from his maternal uncle periya thirumalai nambi. He goes on to establish the temple duties in many other temples with thirunArAyaNa puram temple being the other prominent one.
aththuzhAy : pAtti, I heard that the jains in mElkote in those days created problems to rAmAnujar.
vyAsa : I also heard that the perumAL of thirunArAyaNa puram temple was stolen by muslim invaders.
pAtti : Yes, that’s true. rAmAnujar faced numerous hardships while bringing about the reforms that he was willing to establish for the betterment of the temples and our sampradhAyam. However, change is something that many don’t welcome. Everybody feels safe with the old customs, right or wrong and never accept changes or the person who tries to bring about the much needed change. That is the common attitude of the society. Even in today’s age, change is difficult, so imagine 1000 years back, when customs and beliefs were so rigid, rAmAnujar had to face so much of resistance before he could bring any positive outcome. The jains scholars were reluctant to accept the eternal truth of our vishishtAdhvaitha philosophy. rAmAnujar was challenged to answer 1000 questions by the 1000 jain scholars simultaneously. rAmAnujar takes his original form – that of AdhishEsha with 1000 hoods and answers all their questions simultaneously thereby winning over the debate.
selvappiLLai uthsava mUrthy of thirunArAyaNa puram temple was stolen by the muslim invaders and was in the premises of the invader’s daughter who was filled with affection and love for selvappiLLai. When rAmAnujar came to rescue selvappiLLai, the invader’s daughter could not bear the separation from selvappiLLai.
aththuzhAy : Just like AndAL could not bear the separation from lord krishNa!
pAtti : yes, exactly like AndAL. The muslim invader’s daughter also couldn’t bear the thought of letting rAmAnujar go away with selvappiLLai. Eventually, rAmAnujar performs the marriage of the muslim king’s daughter and selvappiLLai. This again shows that true devotion and love for lord is beyond any caste or creed.
vyAsa : pAtti, you never told us how rAmAnujar fulfilled the 3 wishes of ALavandhAr.
pAtti : kUraththAzhwAn was blessed with two children. rAmAnujar named the two sons as vyAsa and parAsara thereby acknowledging the greatness of the two rishis and thereby fulfilling his first promise to ALavandhAr. gOvindha bhattar, who was later named as embAr had a younger brother called siriya gOvindha perumAL , whose son was named parAngusa nambi after nammAzhwAr, thereby fulfilling the second promise. And finally, he writes SrIbhAshyam to fulfill the third promise. To write SrIbhAshyam, rAmAnujar travels to kashmir with kUraththAzhwAn.
vEdhavalli : What happens in kashmir?
pAtti : rAmAnujar travels to kashmir to get a previously written book required to write SrIbhAshyam. When they get the book, some wicked people over there, who could not bear the idea that rAmAnujar is using the book from their repository for his own purpose, followed them and snatched the book too.
vyAsa : How cruel!
pAtti : yes! However, even before the wicked people could get their hands on the book, AzhwAn had memorized the entire book and the contents required for writing the SrIbhAshyam.
vyAsa : Memorized an entire book? How is that possible pAtti? Wish even I could memorize my entire subject books like that!
pAtti ( smiling) : kUraththAzhwAn was not just a disciple to rAmAnujar , he was a great asset and a blessing to rAmAnujar. When everyone were uplifted due to the association with rAmAnujar, rAmAnujar himself says that he is uplifted by his association with kUraththAzhwAn. In spite of being such a great scholar, not even an iota of arrogance seeps into the pure heart of AzhwAn which is the residence of rAmAnujar. With the help of kUraththAzhwAn, rAmAnujar completes writing the SrIbhAshyam thereby fulfilling the final promise he made to ALavandhAr. After the Saiva king who ruled SrIrangam, died, rAmAnujar returns to SrIrangam.
Finally, before leaving this world to reach the eternal abode, just like ALavandhAr, rAmAnujar decides on the next AchAryan to lead the torch of our sampradhAyam, the revered son of AzhwAn, parAsara bhattar. He instructs bhattar and few other Sishyas to take shelter of embAr and learn under embAr’s guidance. He tells all his disciples to treat bhattar just like how they treat him. He also tells bhattar to bring nanjIyar to the sampradhAyam, just like how ALavandhAr appointed periya nambi to bring rAmAnujar to the sampradhAyam. Meditating on his AchArya, periya nambi and ALavandhAr, emperumAnAr leaves this world to continue his kainkaryam in the eternal abode of lord SrIman nArAyaNan. Soon, unable to bear the separation of rAmAnujar, embAr ascends to paramapadham too.
parAsara : pAtti, I heard that rAmAnujar’s body is still preserved in SrIrangam. Is that true?
pAtti : Yes parAsara, it is true, And when we talk about great AchAryas, we say thirumEni, just like we refer to perumAL, with respect. It is indeed true that the thirumEni of rAmAnujar is preserved inside the SrIrangam temple, just below the rAmAnujar thirumEni in his sannidhi. The sannidhi that we see today as rAmAnujr sannidhi was once the vasantha mandapam of lord SrI ranganAthan of SrIrangam. Now, let us all pray at the lotus feet of rAmAnujar and lord SrI ranganAthan to give us the interest and involvement to learn more about our AchAryas and their glories. Now, you all must leave as it is getting late. The next time we meet, I will tell you about rAmAnujar’s various Sishyas , their glories and their contribution in rAmAnujar’s victorious journey.
The children leave thinking about rAmAnujar, his various kainkaryams, the various difficulties he faced and how he emerged as the great AchAryan of our sampradhAyam.
adiyEn jAnaki rAmAnuja dAsi