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The Situation before Sri Ramanujacharya:

It is a common thing that this world does not give 100% joy or 100% satisfaction If you go to a slum dweller or a very wealthy person / Industrialist whether they are satisfied with their life surely they will have some complaint or dissatisfaction .Happiness ,pure and simple is indeed rare in this present world. Then naturally a question arises, how can he escape from this miseries and get permanent happiness? Is death the end of all or do we live after death?. What are we and why are we created in this world. It is to solve these questions such as these that religions have come into existence. Each religion says only by following me and me alone and none other, you can get salvation. One is rather confused and does not know which religion he should follow, each individual has to judge and then follow particular religion according to his own convictions. Among all the major religions of world the Hinduism occupies a Prime position, it is one of the oldest religions of world and secondly it has unique system of Philosophy which has a prominent place in the present day world. The Philosopher who brings to prominence of particular system of Religious thought and practice is called the founder of that Philosophy.

Now I am taking you all to period 550 BC, When speculation was alive in other parts of the world, two system of philosophy which developed into separate religions, took shape in North India. These two systems - Buddhism and Jainism grew out of Brahminical Hinduism, as modified by the teachings of two noble Kshtriyas, Gautama Buddha and Mahavira respectively. Both systematically rely on the active support of an organisation of monks, and reject the authority of the Vedas, and teach the doctrine of respect for every form of animal life (Ahimsa), both have their Holy Scriptures, doctrines and practices. In comparison to Jainism, Buddhism spread rapidly all over India and it was possible due to patronage of great Kings of that time Ashoka and Kanishka. After some decades of success Buddhism also died out gradually, but it flourished abundantly in Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet, China, Japan, Thailand, and Some parts of Asia. Then came the Golden age of Gupthas and Gupta Emperor encouraged Vaishnavism. The great change was accompanied by a freer large scale use of Sanskrit, in books and inscriptions.
Then in Ninth Century one leading stars from south arose and he was none other than Sri Adhi Shankaracharya. He controlled the spread of Buddhism and established a new School of thought his philosophy was known as Adwaitha. He did the damage control act and the Buddhism declined. He traveled throughout the length and breadth of Bhartha Desha and established several Mutts (Monasteries) and even now they are functioning well. Under the inspiration of His Master Govindapada, Sri Shankara who was only sixteen years of age and re interpreted the three great scriptures of that period, viz. The Shruthi, the Bhagavath Gita and the Brahma Sutra. His style of interpretation of the scriptures was a challenge to Buddhism and Jainism as well as to conflicting Hindu Cults and sects and the gross worldliness which the crisis of the sprit has caused. Shankara had been a dynamic personality and his Adwaitha philosophy still has great following. Shankara has composed lot of Vedantic Hymns on Lord Sriman Narayana and famous among them are Baja Govindam, Karavilambha Shostram etc.

Vaishnavism can be traced to the period of Alwars who preceded Sri Ramanuja .Then In-between period number of Vaishanava philosopher were there , The greatest among them was Srimath Nathamuni a great exponent of Vaishnavism and it was because of him we have the treasure of Nala Aiyara Divya Prabhandam which he recovered in his Yogic trance from Sri Namalwar. He was a great Yogi. He was succeeded by His chief Disciples Sri Pundarikasha and Ramamisra are chiefly remembered as Spiritual Teacher of Yamunacharaya also known by names of Yamunamuni, Yamunai Thuraivan, Alavandar, Maha Bhasya Bhatta etc. We can say that Yamunacharaya was Parama Guru of Sri Ramanujacharya even though Ramanuja did not study directly under Yamunai Thuraivan. Yamuna Muni had identified our Ramanujacharya as his successor who will take Sri Vaishnavism to new heights. We will se a small brief on Yamuna Muni in latter part.

Birth and Early life of Ramanujacharya:

Before starting the life history of Udayavar let me go to the period of Namalwar. Disciples of Namalwar wanted to make a Archa Vigraham of Namalwar, they made it but it did not come up to their expectation, Then they gave it to Namalwar he then gave it to Madhura Kavi Alwar ( The picture is correct but wrongly described)   saying that it is the Vigraham of Bhavishyath Acharya , even to these days the same Vigraham is in Thirukoorugur . It is only in Thirukoorugur you can see Archa Vigraham in of Acharya in white robe, nowhere you will see in Sanyasa robe, since it was well before his birth and Sanyasa it is adorned with white robe. See the picture which is self explanatory and this painting is in Sriperumpudur. (I have not visited Thirukoorugur and I am planning to do so in future and I will definitely get this picture for you all).

To support the above paragraph see the Sloka from Namalwar Thiruvai Mozi

thiriyum kaliyugam neengith dhEvargaL thaamum pugundhu,
periya kidhayugam paRRip pErinba veLLam peruga,
kariya mugilvaNNa Nnemmaan kadalvaNNan boodhangaL maNmEl,
iriyap pugundhisai paadi engum idangoN danavE. 5.2.3
 

Meaning Kaliyug is capable of corrupting everything and everyone's minds with dirt and ills; Such a kalyug will no more exist and the mood and nature of the Most Divine Krutha yugham is being brought by these SrIvaishNavaas with their existence and singing and dancing on Lord's Glories. Even NityaSUris are here to witness these SrIvaishNvaas' excitement and bhakti. Everywhere, SrIvaishNavam has spread and spanned

Then one more picture which reflects this Sloka

Ananthah Prathamam Roopam, Threthaya Lakshmanascha Tathah |
Dwapare Balabadrascha, Kalou Kaschit Bhavishyathi ||

The meaning of the Sloka is

I
n Krutha Yuga (First) it is Adhi Seshan (The Snake bed of Lord Maha Vishnu) In Thretha Yuga it was Lakshmana (Brother of Lord Sri Ramachandra), In Dwapara Yuga it is Balarama(Brother of Sri Krishna) and in Kali Yuga it is Ramanuja the Adhi Seshan Avathara in the form of human. (it was explained to me by the Mudal Thirthakarar of Sriperumpudur as mention below the Sloka and I have the same in my digital format( MP3 format )

In the 10th century there was a place in south India named Bhoothapuri also known as Sriperumpudur of modern day, there lived a great Scholar named "ASURI SARVAKRUTHU KESHAVA DIKSHITHAR also known as “Keshava Somayajiar" He belonged to "HARITHA GOTHRA" (You can see the detailed story of Haritha Maharishi {who was a descendant of Lord Sri Rama} in Sriperumpudur temple site how from a king how he turned in sage and his descendants are known to be from "HARITHA Gothra " ). At that period there was a person known as Sri Saila Purnar also known as Periya Thirumalai Nambhi who was one of the prominent disciple of Alavandar. Even though he was in Thirumalai he was Yamunai Thuraivan's Disciple. He had two sisters of them He got his sister Kandhimathi married to ASURI SARVAKRUTHU KESHAVA DIKSHITHAR, and got his another sister married to Deepamathi to Kamalanayana Bhattar of Mazalaimagalam (present day Madhuramangalam). For long time they Keshvachar did not have issues, so he prayed to Lord and Lord told him through Thirukachi Nambhi that he should proceed to Thiruvalikeni and perform a Yagam. He went along with his wife and performed the Yagya. Then in the dream Lord Parthasarathy revealed that he will come and will be born to him and he will be a leading light and establish the religious philosophy in the Kali Yuga.

Then in year CE 1017 On a Thursday, in the Tamil Month of Chitrai, Sukla Paksha panchami, in the constellation of Aridra (Thiruvadurai) Keshavachar and Kandhimathi got a Beautiful Male child and its face was glowing like anything. Then Deepamathi also was blessed with a Son. Then she visited her sister's house at Sriperumpudur. Then Sri Saila Purnar (Periya Thirumalai Nambhi visited Sriperumpudur. One seeing Kanthimathi's son he immediately remembered Namalwar saying Kaliyum Kedumin Kandu Konmin and saw a radiant glow in the face of the child the star constellation etc was similar to Lakshmana. The child appeared to him as intelligent as Sri Rama's brother Lakshmana. so he named the child as Ramanujan (Rama's Anujan) or Ellaialwan, Then he named Deepamathi;s son as Govindan. Astrologers cast his horoscope and predicted that child would be an intellectual genius and a unique preacher of a religion,

Srisailapuranar looked after the boy carefully and when time all the samaskaram like Annaprasnam, Chowalam, Vidhyaarambham and Upanayanam was done. Even as boy , Ramanuja mastered the scriptures under the care of his father and Uncle Srisailapuranar and exhibited his great intellectual capacities .The Vaishanava Scholars soon came to regard him as great genius and recognized in him all the signs of the Superman.


Thirukachi Nambhi:

In those days lived a Great Bhagavatha named Kanchi Purnar ( Also Known as Thirukachi Nambi). Even thought he was a Velala ( A non Brahmin by birth) but his Kanikaryam to Lord Varadharajar he was highly respected by All the people, He was such a great man that he did the Alavatta Kanikaryam ( Fanning service ) to Lord Varadharajar and he had a Parama Bhagayam of Having a dialogue with Lord Vardhan. He was born in Sowmiya Varusham, Masi Month, In star constellation of Mirugasirisha at Thirumeghushi (Now near modern day Poonamallee) He was also known as Bharghavapriyar, Gajendra Vardharrajadasar .He was most of the time in Thirukachi only so he got the name Thirukachi Nambhi. He was the Abhimana Shishya of Great Religious Acharya of the time Sri Yamunacharya also known as Alavandar. He did seva to Thirukoshtiyur Nambhi as per Lord Perarulalan, then he wanted to do Allavattam Kanikaryam to Sri Ranganathar of Srirangam, but lord Ranganathar told that he is surrounded by Cauvery river and it is cool, o he instructed him to sevai to Lord of Seven hills Sri Srinivasan, Then Thirukachi Nambhi went to Thirumalai and told the Niyamanam of Lord Ranganathar,. Lord Srinivasan told He is surrounded by Hills, Clouds and Cool breeze, so visit Kanchi do Alavatta sevai to Lord Varadharajar as he is has come out from Agni Jawalai from the Yagya done by Brahma and Lord Perarulalan needs the Kanikaryam more. Then he came to Kanchi back and did the sevai to Perarulalan. He was one of the Five Guru of Lord Emperumanar. He passed away it the age of 55 years. Please have a look at his picture. Now once again we come back to main track. As earlier mention Thirukachi Nambhi use to commute between Thirumeghushi and Thirukachi daily, so he had to pass the Sriperumpudur which was situated in between both the places. So when he as passing one day our Ramanuja was also coming from his teachers house , Ramanuja was struck by the brilliance in the face of Thirukachi Nambi, and developed a sneha bahavam with him, He requested the Nambhi to have Food in his house and go , Nambhi seeing the brilliance in Ramanuja’s face , so he could not refuse the invitation. After having dinner our Udayavar went to Nambhigal’s rest place wanted to massage the Nambhigal’s feet, but immediately nambhigal refused to accept the sevai saying, I am a Velala by caste and I am your servant and you should not do the sevai, For that for Udayavar told The person by birth or by wearing Sacred thread alone does not become Brahmin, he who is having parama bhakti towards Lord alone is Brahmin. Thirukachi Nambhigal was attracted to Ramanuja Then onwards they used to meet often .
 

His Marriage

By this time, Ramanuja had attained the age of sixteen and his father thought fit that Ramanuja Should get married. Accordingly a girl named Tanjam Ammal was selected from a family very well known to Somayajiar and his wife, and married to Ramanuja. The girl was without doubt sweet and of a gentle disposition. Young and fresh , she was supremely happy in her husbands house.

Death of Keshava Somayajiar:

Ramanuja’s father died not very long after his sons marriage . He passed away much to Ramanuja’s grief. Ramanuja performed the All the samaskaram in honour of his father in Sriperumpudur. His father’s sudden death was certainly a great shock to him. However he succeeded in regaining his calm to console his bereaved mother.

In spite of his father’s death, Ramanuja remained undaunted and wished to continue his studies in the Vedanta. He was ever thinking of the Vedas and Brahma Sutras and eagerly wished to enter an academy, where he could obtain true knowledge and enlightenment. He was in search of a professor who could stand the onslaught of his keen intellect ands amazing Logic.


Ramanuja in Academy of Yadhavaprakasha:

Then Ramanuja along with his mother and wife shifted the base from Sriperumpudur to Thiruputukuzi near Kanchi. At that time lived a well learned Adwaitha Philosopher Sri Yadhavaprakasha, He ran a academy to train the youths. Ramanuja went got him self admitted in the academy and here his cousin Govinda Bhattar also joined, as was the Guru Kula Tradition he boarded with his master and acquired the mastery over the scriptures. Of all the Pupils at academy Our Ramanuja was the super intelligent, His extra-m ordinary intelligence, sharp with and energy filled his teacher and fellow students with wonder and admiration. He always excelled other by his arguments and always gained his view point in disputations.

Even thought he was with Yadhavaprakasha, he did not like his Adwaitha Philosophy, but out of respect to his teacher he did not pin point the mistakes of his Teacher.

One day, after morning lessons all went to for lunch break, Yadhavaprakasha asked Ramanuja to massage his body with oil (customary service to be performed by a student in those days). Then one of the fellow student had some doubts over the lesson on Chandogya which was taught in the morning. As the boy had failed to grasp the meaning of the seventh verse of the first chapter of Chandogya, which began with “tasya yatha kapyasam pundarikam evam akshini”. Yadhavaprakasha gave the interpretation according to Shankaracharya which described the sublime qualities of the Lords eyes in a manner which was highly objectionable. On hearing the words of his teacher, the heart of Ramanuja, which was full of love for the Supreme Godhead, was saddened, and hot tears streamed down from his eyes and fell on the thigh of Yadava. Looking up at the touch of the hot tears, Yadava could understand that something was troubling Ramanuja. When he inquired about Ramanuja's distress, Ramanuja replied, "O great and wise Guru, I have been deeply hurt to hear such an unbecoming explanation from a noble soul like you. How sinful it is of you to debase the Supreme, who is endowed with all gracious qualities and who is the source of all beautiful things in this world. From the mouth of such a scholar as you I would never have expected such a low and deceitful interpretation!" In a very gentle voice Ramanuja replied, sir, there is no need to give a low-minded interpretation to the verse when the real meaning is direct and glorious." Then he asked for the explanation from Ramanuja and thus replied our Udayavar . Ramanuja then stood up and with great humility recited the meaning of the verse and explained the meaning as "The two eyes of the Supreme are as lovely as two lotuses that are blossomed by the rays of the Sun." and not the Monkeys Base as interpreted by Yadhavaprakasha.
 

Will be continued shortly

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