Bhagavad Ra:ma:nujacha:rya's Life Story

Sri Ra:ma:nuja was born in 1017 A.D in Sriperumbudur to the blessed parents Sri Kesavacharya and Smt. Kanthimathi. Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja was a unique and revolutionary philosopher who dedicated his whole life to the service of the society propagating the essence of Vedas. He practiced the highest standards of spiritual values and taught the same to the common people by setting a practical example. He always believed that everyone was worthy of God’s love, and allowed the admission of the downtrodden and all classes of people onto the temple premises. He realized that temples are the main centers that can cater to the needs of all sections of society, bridging the gaps between them. He believed that properly administered temples could cleanse society of its evils.

Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja travelled a very long distance several times to meet Goshti Purna in Thiurukottiyur, to receive the Mantra that would take the person who listens to it directly to Vaikunttham. On the eighteenth visit, Goshti Purna agreed to give the Mantra to Ra:ma:nuja, but told him not pass this Mantra to anyone, or else he would suffer in hell. Ra:ma:nuja reverently received the Mantra and the meaning of the Charama Slokam, but was not contented. He wanted this Mantra to be known to anyone who seek Vaikunttham, and they should not go through so much hardship. His compassion for the society burned his heart, and He was not concerned about Himself. Ra:ma:nuja went to a nearby temple, and called whoever was interested to learn the divine Mantra. Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja established the initiation process for the Pancha Samska:ra and Thirumantra Upade:sam, and the same process is followed even to this day.

Incidents in Bhagavad Ra:ma:nujacha:rya life that show his compassion and devotion.

Written in Telugu; Click to read

Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja established the rich traditions at Tirumala, Sri Rangam, and other temples. Ra:ma:nuja went to visit Lord Sri Venkateswara and felt that his feet should not touch the sacred hills. So he tied his legs back and climbed up the Seven Hills with his knees, prostrating again and again to every stone and tree on the way, considering it as the divine form of the Lord. Ra:ma:nuja’s faith and commitment were incomparable and immeasurable. After reaching Tirumala, he had the darsan of Lord Srimannarayana in the form of Sri Srinivasa. In those days, there was contention between various groups who the presiding deity at Tirumala was. Using ancient scriptures as evidence, Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja presented a clear evidence how Lord Srimannarayana Himself had taken this unique form, for the purpose of redeeming us from our sorrows by reassuring us of His presence. Ra:ma:nuja arranged to have the weapons of various divinities, including Lord Srimannarayana placed in the sanctum at the feet of the Lord. The sanctum doors were locked, and the doubters were asked to wait till morning. At sunrise, the doors to the temple were unlocked and the temple was opened. To everyone’s surprise, the Lord appeared in all His Grandeur holding the Sankha (Divine Conch) and Chakra (Divine Discus), the same ones that devotees see to this day. As these symbols belong only to Lord Srimannarayana, all were now convinced that the Lord indeed had come to earth in this divine form. With this, the Lord Himself accepted Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja as His guru.

Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja established the glory of Sri Venkateswara with rich traditions and reforms, as proved by the Puranas and the A:gama Sa:stra, which are followed to this day. Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja challenged traditions, provided new meanings and commentaries, and suggested reforms based on the true understanding of Vedanta. There were some elders who did not like this and tried their best to eliminate Him. First, Ra:ma:nuja’s guru, Ya:dava Praka:sa, tried to kill Ra:ma:nuja when He was a young student. Later, the head priest of Sri Rangam tried to eliminate Ra:ma:nuja by poisoning him. However, they forgot that the Lord Himself takes the responsibility of protecting his true devotees, like Prahla:da. In spite of many attempts to silence Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja, the Lord Srimannarayana protected Him either directly or through other devotees. It shows that even Sanya:sis who renounce all the pleasures and comforts of this life, and who work tirelessly to uplift the society, may go through hardships. But, Lord Srimannarayana, out of love towards His children, protects such a:charyas, and helps them succeed.

Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja established the Vishista:dvaita philosophy based on the Vedas and the alwars’ Divya Prabandam. He explained this in nine books, also referred to as the nine precious gems, the Navarathnas. Ra:ma:nuja explained His philosophy in the “Veda:rtha Sangraha”, which is a commentary on the vision of all the Upanishads. He provided an excellent commentary on the Brahma Sutras as the “Sri Bhasyam”. The “Veda:nta Sa:ra” (essence of Veda:nta) and “Veda:nta Deepa” (the light of Vedanta) are appendices to the Sri Bhasya. The “Gita Bhashya” is His commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and the “Nithya Grantham” explains day-to-day activities to be performed by all the devotees. The “Vaikunttha Gadyam” describes, in great detail, Vaikunttha, the realm of Vishnu. The “Sriranga Gadyam” is a prayer of surrender to the feet of Lord Ranganatha. The “Sarana:gati Gadyam” is an imagined dialogue between Ra:ma:nuja and Lord Srimannarayana where he petitions Lakshmi to tell Narayana to show grace. After striving tirelessly for 120 years to put humanity in the path to attain Vaikunttham, Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja reached the Lord from Srirangam.