Know More About Ramanujacharya
Heavenly Stars rarely descend on Earth and Sri Ramanuja was one such human manifestation who lighted the path of equality and bhakthi. Born in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, in 1017 A.D, dedicated His entire life for reformism and left no stone unturned in dispelling darkness from the minds and lives of people. His ultimate objective was to induce vedic way of life into the society, which met with glorious success. He was a saint who propagated universal brotherhood. He embraced the untouchables and treated them on par with the elites. Seeing His compassion towards the oppressed, His delighted guru honoured him with the coveted title “ Em-perum- anar” you are ahead of us. Sri Ramanuja named subjugated classes as Thirukkulathar-Born Divine.
It would not be wrong to acclaim Him as a legendary personality who revolted against the inhuman practises inflicted on the less privileged. He gave the secretly guarded mantra to the oppressed and allowed them to enter temples at a time when it was strictly forbidden! He was a great visionary and free thinker, who revived society on the grounds of universal salvation through Bhakti, compassion, humility, equality and mutual respect! He spread the Divine message of God to the common man, irrespective of caste, gender or creed.
The Sri Vaishnavam Sampradaya is a genius system designed as a dissoluble tie by Ramanujacharya to unite the heterogeneous population of universe through mutual respect, equality and thereby, the whole world in one spiritual bond. The social philosophy of Ramanujacharya was designed to cross the boundary of caste system and embrace the whole of humanity. He has thus been acclaimed as a great religious and social genius, and has been rightly given the title “Bhagwad”.
He disclosed the secret, quintessential knowledge and true essence of the Vedas to the common man from temple tops. He established the correct procedures for rituals performed in temples throughout India, the most famous being Tirumala and Srirangam. He composed numerous commentaries on our Vedic scriptures. He was a great philosopher-Saint, theologian, social reformer and chief exponent of the Visishtadvaita School of Vedanta or qualified non-dualism.
Bhagawad Ramanujacharya made hard journeys in His lifetime, to distant places across the Indian subcontinent and taught that the social order is actually a moral order (rule of conduct) and the crux of all values is man’s desire for the better. 2017 marks the 1000th year since Bhagawad Ramanujacharya’s birth. To honour His contributions to society and India as a whole, a 216 feet tall statue will be erected and consecrated in 2017.
During 11th and 12th Century, when the society was crippling under the darkness of social evils like untouchability and class-based discrimination; Bhagawad Ramanujacharya was no less than a silver lining in the dark cloud in the lives of the oppressed. When the identity of Sanathana Dharma was at stake, Bhagwad Ramanujacharya appeared as a “Dharmic Charioteer” for its protection and steered it towards its propagation.
In His lifetime, Sri Ramanujacharya was instrumental in glorifying the essence 108 Vishnu temples known as Divya Desams, throughout India.Ramanujacharya risked His life multiple times in order to accomplish His mission of correcting the fraudulent systems in the temples, around which the lives of the individuals was supposed to revolve. He was an exponent of Visishtadvaita and was a contemporary to Shankaracharya and Madhvacharya. Sri Ramanujacharya was the pioneer of Bhakti Movement and advocated the Visishtadvaita philosophy which formed the basis for several Bhakti Movements like: Madhya, Nimbarka, Gauda, Swaminarayan, Vallabhacharya, Iskcon, Eknath, Ramanand, Chaitanya, Kabir, Surdas, Meerabai, Tulsidas, Annamacharya and many other saints and lineages.
He established the truth that – “Divinity is present in all of mankind and that everyone is eligible for Lord Narayana’s grace”. He gave everyone an equal platform and made sure there was no discrimination against the people based on caste. It was Ramanujacharya who declared from temple rooftops that “All are equal before God!” He taught His disciples, who came from various walks of life and belonged to all castes, creed, colour and gender; the virtues of humility and equality.
Bhagavad Ramanujacharya taught that life has to be lived as a harmonious development of one’s character towards a moral goal (Moksha)!
Ramanujacharya’s public appeal was both compassionate and socially reforming and as an erudite scholar, highly revered for His knowledge and literary poweress. Bhagavad Ramanujacharya was respected by both the common man and the elite of society because of these qualities of knowledge and compassion. Ramanujacharya was always called as “Bhagavad”. The word was used as a prefix to His name as a sign of respect and authority. He was greatly known for His knowledge, teachings and actions of humility, service and commitment of working towards the upliftment of downtrodden and propounding equality and equal opportunity.
Lord Ramanuja was also the greatest and most devout student or Sishya to His Gurus and Acharyas. He had mastered all the Vedas and Shastras by the age of 16! He travelled 18 times by walk from Srirangam to Madurai to seek the divine teachings and spiritual guidance of his Acharya, only to get rejected 17 times. He was successful on the 18th attempt. Ramanujacharya’s hunger, dedication and perseverance to attain knowledge and the blessings of His respected Acharyas and teachers epitomises Him as one of the greatest Sishyas as well as the greatest Acharyas to have walked the earth.
He had reached an almost God-like status, because Bhagavad Ramanujacharya practiced, followed and implemented the very teachings He taught His disciples and devotees, everyday of His life! Being both God and Acharya gave Him a divine status and Ramanujacharya’s selfless service to society gained Him immortality in the minds of the people long after He was gone.
The greatest testimony of Ramanujacharya’s incredible contributions is that every temple and house where Lord Srimannarayana and His avatars are worshipped, Bhagavad Ramanujacharya is worshipped as the foremost great teacher or Acharya and His worship goes hand in hand with everyday prayer.
Ramanujacharya travelled the length and breadth of India from Tamil Nadu in the south, right up to the north and Kashmir. He travelled across the country peacefully teaching, propagating and establishing humanism and universal brotherhood. He taught and ensured that all scriptural duties are to be performed as per the Vedic Sasthras and in the spirit of a servant of God. The procedure of worship laid down by Him are practiced and followed in temples across India and Nepal to this very day.
Bhagavad Ramanuja established a congregation of 700 sanyasis and 74 mutts(branches) and thousands of men and women, devotees and Sishyas in order to promote the message of peace, love, worship of the Supreme Lord Srimannarayana through Bhakti and devotion, Saranagathi (devotional surrender), mutual respect, humility and selfless service to mankind.
Ramanujacharya’s philosophy was to serve all beings as service to god and to provide opportunity for all to attend the basic needs of life. This tradition remains in tact and continues to thrive, to this very day!
Sri Bhashyam is Sri Ramanuja’s magnum opus, which is the greatest commentary on Brahma Sutras. This monumental contribution was part of the 3 wishes Sri Ramanujacharya fulfilled for His revered master and Guru Sri Yamunacharya, who breathed His last even before meeting Sri Ramanuja in person.
Sri Ramanujacharya wrote 9 scriptures or the Navrathnas through His lifetime.
1. Vedartha-Sangraha – A treatise presenting the tenets of VisHishtadvaita, a reconciliation of different conflicting srutis.
2. Sri Bhashya – A detailed commentary on the Vedanta Sutras
3. Gita-Bhasya – A detailed commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita
4. Vedanta-Dipa – A brief commentary on the Vedanta Sutras
5. Vedanta-Sara – Another brief commentary on the Vedanta Sutras and meant for beginners.
6. Saranagati-Gadya – A prayer of complete surrender to the lotus feet of Lord Srimannarayana.
7. Sriranga-Gadya – Manuals of self surrender to Lord Vishnu.
8. Shri Vaikuntha-Gadya – Describes Shri Vaikuntha-loka and the position of the liberated souls.
9. Nitya-Grantha – A short manual intended to guide the Shri Vaishnava Devotees about day to day worship and activities.