1000 year Birth Anniversary 1017 – 2017
Srimate Ramanjujaya Namah
“Salutations to Sri Ramanuja”
I decided to write a brief introduction to Sri Ramanuja on the occasion of his 1000th birth anniversary. The Vedanta philosophy has established itself among the world systems of philosophy. The Advaita-Vedanta of which Sankaracharya is the most prominent exponent has received much recognition. The Visistadvaita school of Vedanta also deserves to be more widely known and appreciated.
It is particularly relevant to students who respect Sri T. Krishnamacharya, as Ramanuja is the acharya of the Srivaishnava family lineage of Krishnamacharya.
The teachings of Ramanuja can help us to understand the way of living and teaching of Sri Krishnamacharya.
Ramanuja was an incarnation of Adishesha and was a mystic philosopher and bhakta. In his own life he demonstrated a universal philosophy and embodied the aspects of yoga as karma yoga by living a life of 120 years of devoted service, as jnana yoga by his commentary and teaching on the Vedanta-Sutras and Bhagavad Gita, and as bhakti yoga by his focus on devotion to the Supreme Lord as the path to liberation. His compassion was for all and he was great social reformer and cared for the poor and underprivileged. He wanted all to be able to be spiritually uplifted.
Ramanuja was born in Sri Perumbudur, near Chennai, in 1017 in the month of Chaitra (mid March to mid April) and lived for 120 years until 1137.
He was raised in a devout family and had learnt all the Sastras by age 16 at which time he was married to Rakshamba. He studied further with a number of teachers, one of whom plotted to murder him out of jealousy. Overcoming many difficulties he enlivened, reformed and spread the Srivaishnava tradition.
Later in life, after he arranged for the welfare of his wife, he became a Sanyasa. Due to his divine qualities he received the titles of Yati Raja ( king among Sanyasins) and Ramanuja Muni (indicating that he was Yogi). He applied himself fully to the task of a renaissance of Vedic Dharma while following the regulations of life for one seeking liberation. He also fulfilled various tasks that his Guru had requested him to undertake.
At the time when he perceived he would leave the earth he assembled his disciples and informed them. They all said they could not stay alive without his presence, such was their devotion. He told them that they must remain alive on earth until their allotted time and addressed them with uplifting words of instruction.
“Our material life in this world depends on our past deeds (karma) and therefore we do not have control over it. Our spiritual life depends solely on the Almighty Lord Narayana and we do not have any control over that aspect of life either. Hence our only task in this life is to aspire for the grace of the Lord.
One should do all the duties that are prescribed in the scriptures, in accord with his own varna and ashrama as service to the Lord, without expecting anything in return. Lord Sriman Narayana alone is the bestower of all fruits of our deeds, past and present, both in this world and the world yonder.
Hence, please perform everything you do as a service unto him.”
The core teaching of Visistadvaita is that the World of Matter, the Soul and Brahman (God) are the three ultimate entities. While Brahman is one absolute being, the world and the soul are effects produced by Brahman. Matter and soul are essentially different, and God is absolutely different from these effects. The Supreme Brahman is the cause of the Universe made of matter and soul and these are effects produced by Supreme Brahman. Brahman is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe and exists in each being as the indweller that rules and guides from within.
Here is a summary of the Lineage of Preceptors – The Srivaishnava Guru Parampara
Sriman Narayana – Supreme Lord
Sri Devi (Laksmi) – Divine Mother
Sri Vishwaksena – Vishnu
Sri Nammalvar – b. 3100 B.C.
Sri Nathamuni – b. 824 CE
Sri Pundarikaksha – b.?
Sri Rama Misra – b.?
Sri Yamunacharya – b. early 10th century CE
Sri Mahapurna – b.?
Sri Ramanuja – b. 1017
May the teachings of Sri Ramanuja, the incarnation of compassion and apostle of bhakti, continue to bless us, like a spring of pure water, with the Divine and Liberating teachings of Vedic Dharma
You may wish to read further on Sri Ramanuja and some possibilities are listed in the following bibliography.
Sri Ramanuja – Life and Philosophy. Prof. M.A. Lakshmithathachar & Dr. M.A. Alwar
Sri Ramanuja – His Life, Religion & Philosophy. Swami Tapasyananda
The Vedanta-Sutras with the Sri Bhashya of Ramanujacharya, Vol. 1. M. Rangacharya & M.B. Aiyangar
Blissful Experience, Bhakti. T.K. Sribhashyam and Alamelu Sheshadri
Srivaisnavism Through the Ages. Swami Harshananda
Sri Ramanuja Gita Bhasya. Swami Adidevananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math.