Beginner’s guide – vEdhAnthAchAryar

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ANdAL pAtti was wreathing a garland and watching the passersby walking to the temple, from her home. She caught the children running to her home by the corner of her eye and smiled to herself. She adorned periya perumAL and thAyAr’s picture with the garland and welcomed them.

pAtti: Come in children. Do you know whom are we going to discuss about today?

All children in Chorus: vEdhAnthAchAryar

pAtti: Yes. Do you know who named him so?

vyAsA: periya perumAL named him as vEdhAnthAchAryar. Is that right pAtti?

pAtti: Right, vyAsA. His birth name was vEnkatanAthan. He was born in kAnchIpuram to the divine couple anantha sUri and thOthArambai.

parAsaran: Tell us more about his initiation into our sampradAyam, pAtti.

pAtti: Sure, parAsara. In the kAlakshEpa ghoshti of NadaadUr Ammal, there was a a famous Srivaishnava named kidAmbi appuLLAr. When vEdhAnthAchAryar was young he went with his maternal uncle (Sri kidAmbi appuLAr) to attend Sri nadAdhUr ammAL’s kAlakshEpa goshti. Sri nadAdhUr ammAL had blessed him at that time that he will establish well and clear all the oppositions of viSishtAdhvaitha Srivaishnava sidhdhAntham.

aththuzhAy : Wow! Indeed his blessing came true!

pAtti (with a beaming smile): Yes, aththuzhAy. The blessings of elders will never go unfulfilled.

vEdhavalli: I heard he is an incarnation of the holy bell of thiruvEnkadamudaiyAn. Is that right, pAtti?

pAtti: Yes, you are right, aththuzhAy. He has written more than a hundred granthams in samskrutham, thamizh and maNipravALam.

vyAsAn: Wow! A hundred ?

pAtti: Yes, some of the important ones are thAthparya chandhrikai (a commentary on SrI bhagavath gIthA), thathvateekai, nyAya sidhdhAnjanam, Satha dhUshani and AhAra niyamam (a commentary on food habits).

parAsaran: PAtti, I cannot stop wondering about how can one person write basic granthams for eating habits and also write about complex philosophical commentaries at the same time.

pAtti: Our pUrvAchAryas’ knowledge was as deep as the ocean, parASara! No wonder, he was conferred the title ‘sarva-thanthra-svathanthra’ (master of all arts and crafts) by our own thAyAr (SrI ranganAachchiyAr).

aththuzhAy : Tell us more, pAtti. It is interesting to hear all these facts about him

pAtti: vEdhAnthAchAryar was also known as ‘kavithArkika kEsari’  (lion amongst poets). He once won over an advaithi named krishNamiSra after a long debate of 18 days. He composed ‘pAdhuka sahasram’ when challenged by a vain Poet. This is a 1008 verse poem praising the divine sandals of Lord ranganAtha.

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kAnchi thUppuL vEdAnthAchAryar during avathAra uthsavam

vEdhavalli: That is impressive! We are indeed blessed to have such noble Acharyas who had such humility despite such phenomenal accomplishments.

pAtti: Well said, vEdhavalli. vEdhAntha dhESikan and many other contemporary Acharyas had mutual love and reverence for each other. In his abhithistavamhe asks Lord ranganAtha “Oh Lord! let me reside in SrIrangam at the feet of the great ones who are mutual well-wishers’. maNavALa mAmunigaL, eRumbi appA, vAdhikESari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar, dhoddAcharyar of choLasimhapuram (Sholingur) have all quoted his granthams in their works. vEdhAntha dhESikan himself had great admiration for piLLai lOkAchAryar , which can be easily understood from the grantham he composed called “lOkAchArya panchAsath”. This grantham is recited regularly in thirunArAyaNapuram (Melkote, Karnataka).

parAsaran: How did vEdhAnthAchAryar regard Sri Ramanujar?

pAtti: Sri vEdhAnthAchAryar’s devotion to Sri rAmanujar is very well known; in his ‘nyAsa thilakA’ in the verse starting ‘ukthya dhananjaya…’ he pacifies perumAL for having indirectly told him that mOksham need not be granted by Him, as it had already been guaranteed to him by his connection with Sri rAmAnujar.

vyAsa: There is so much to learn about our AcharyAs, pAtti!

pAtti: Yes, vEdhAnthAchArya Vijaya’ also known as ‘AchArya-champu’, written in Sanskrit in the form of prose and verse, by a great scholar and poet named ‘kouSika kavithArkikasimha vEdanthAcharyar’, who lived around 1717 CE gives a good glimpse into the life and works of vEdhAntha dhESikan

aththuzhAy : Oh, nice! pAtti, today we learnt about vEdhAnthAchAryar’s literary prowess in samskrutham and thamizh, his humility and bhakthi. We are truly blessed to follow such a great example.

pAtti: Yes, children. Let us remember such great souls always! We will meet again tomorrow. Its time for you all to go home.

Children (in chorus): Thank you pAtti!

adiyen bhArgavi rAmAnuja dasi

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