(for Thennacharya parampara click here)
1. PERIYA PERUMAL and 2. PERIYA PIRATTI
The very first Acharya is the DIVYA DAMPATHI. As the slokas go:
(meaning) I salute the line of our preceptors which starts with Lakshmi Naatha, Naatha Muni, Yaamuna Muni and others coming in between and up to my present Acharya.
(meaning) I salute my Guru, his Guru and his Guru praising them and prostrating before them right up to the first divine couple who are the first and foremost masters of the world. (sloka 1 of Yathiraja Saptadhi of Swami Desika)
(meaning) I salute the most ancient of Acharyas, who is always with Kamala ( Lakshmi) and who in the very beginning taught Vedas and Pancharaatra Sastras personally thus being very first Acharya .I bow to him in the first place.
The Tirunakshtram of Periya Perumal is Revati while that of Periya Piraatti is Panguni Uthiram.
2. The sloka relating to Periya Piraatti says: (sloka 2 of Yathiraja Saptadhi of Swami Desika)
(meaning) Next to Emperumaan in the Acharya line is Periya Piraatti. Forever in the company of Emperumaan, her only concern is the welfare of the world. She is so much a personification of compassion that is simply ignorant of what is known as punishing the chetanas, whatever their faults. Thus, she is instrumental in the performance of the Dharma of the Divya Dhampathi in protecting the Chetanas. I bow to her, who has this signal distinction.
Swami Desika in his Rahasya Traya Sara says that we should invoke the
blessings of the Prathama Acharyas while meditating on the Guruparampara.
He says" We should remember that there is nothing greater than Acharya".
"Acharyaath Eva Devathaanaam Samadhikam Anyam Na Manyaamahe"
We should remember how the Lord took several Avataras like Hamsa, Matsya,
Hayagriva, Rama, Krishna etc, how he acted as Paramaguru by instructing
Brahma and others in Vedas, Vedantas and Prapatti Sastras, how he ordered
his " Devi, Bushana, Hetyaadhi Ayudhas" to take Avataras like Nammalwar
and propagated Dravida Vedam through them. We should remember how the Lord
took upon himself the roles of Guru and Sishya ( as Nara and Narayana)
at Badarikasramam to present role models of an Acharya and a Sishya.
He is said to have been born in the month Aippasi in the constellation of Pooradam. The lord first taught Periya Piraatti and she in turn taught Senai Mudaliar the esoteric meanings. The Slokas relating to Vishwaksena are as follows:
(meaning) Next Acharya is Vishwaksena also known as Senai Mudaliar. Staying in Vaikunta, he directs, controls and supervises the duties of all. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord. He wields a whip in his hand. The entire Prapancha functions in the constant fear of the whip-end striking them, if they err. His wife is Sootravathi. He rules over the entire world by his command. I next bow to this Vishwaksena.
I worship the one by whose quick commands function the entire Universe
right from the Nityasuris downwards, the one who always removes obstacles
and impediments (in performing ones duties) - I bow to such a one - Vishwaksena.
PERIOD B: NAMMALWAR AND HIS TIMES
4.NAMMAZHWAR (Vaikasi - Visakam )
Nammalwar, is an incarnation of Vishvaksena ( the Chief of staff of Lord Vishnu ) Date of birth: Several theories have been expounded regarding the dates of Alwars and Acharyas. for example, Nammalwar is reported to have been born on the 43rd day of commencement of the present Kaliyuga in 3102 BC and the first three Alwars at a much earlier period according to Katapayadhi Samkhya. The findings of modern research scholars like Dr. M. Rajamanickanars "Alwargal Kaala Aaraaichi"( Research on the period of Alwars) place the date in the 8th and 9th century AD and even mention the exact date as 4th May 798 AD. Irrespective of when they were born, the fact remains that their births and lives have shaped the destinies of their contemporaries and successive generations is unquestionable.
All are, however, agreed that he was born in the month of Vaikasi, in Suklapaksha, on Pournami day, a Friday in the constellation of Visaka in Karkataka Lagna.(PAL)
He was the son of Kaari, a Vellala agriculturist of Tirukkurugur on the banks of Tamraparni river and his mother was Udayanangai of Tiruvanparicharam in Kerala. The familial genealogy of Satakopa is as follows: Vibhutinatha - Dharmadhara - Chakrapani - Achyuta - Paataalalochana - Porkaari - Kaari ( who married Naathanayika aka Udaiya nangai - Satakopa. (PRA)
Since the child did not open its eyes to see or mouth to eat, never cried like other children, the parents named it as 'Maaran"-' one different.' He controlled the wind called 'Satam ' which afflicts the just born. According to Garbhopanishad, the foetus in the womb develops consciousness of its past births, present existence and the future destiny and resolves never again to go through the cycle. But, even as the child is born, this wind enters the newborn and makes it oblivious of all the consciousness and becomes worldly- conscious. He banished it with indignation even as he was born and established himself in yoga. Therefore, he was called ' Sata kopa'.
His parents prayed to Lord Adhinatha and put the child in a cradle and left it under the tamarind tree that stood beside the temple. It is believed that the tree is an incarnation of Aadhi Sesha, the serpent couch of Lord Narayana. The child grew up in the same state of trance for 16 years. People wondered at this marvel of a boy and everyone called him Nam Alwar- Our Alwar. Incidentally, this is the way he was called by the Lord himself. It is said that even Christians, Muslims, Bouddhas, Jains and Saivites marvelled at this phenomenon and claimed him to be one of their own.( Vide Introduction to 4000 Divya Prabandham published by Lifco Associates, Madras )
Just like the word "Rama" denotes, Sitaraman, the word Alwar denotes unerringly Nammalwar. There was and is none like Satakopa since he regarded Kannan as " Unnum Sorum, Parugu Neerum Thinnum Vetrilayum". Lord Krishna lamented in Bhagavad Gita " Vaasudevah Sarvam Ithi Sa Mahaathmaa Su Durlabhah" perhaps having in mind his having to ascend to His Nitya Vibhuti before the birth of Satakopa. Similarly, Satakopa lamented on his not having been born a few days before since he narrowly missed seeing Kannan who by then had ascended to his Parama Padam. His involvement with the wonderful experiences of Krishna Avatar was such that Bhattar in his Rangaraja Stavam observed that it is the thirst of the love of Krishna that had personified itself and came down to earth as Para Ankusa.(PPM)
The Alwar experienced Parama Purusha and out of the ecstasy generated by such experience proceeds to give expression to the same. Swami Desika says that since his works convey all that Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa, Puraana all combined were only trying to convey, it stands far superior to them all.
Kamban Says " One who is devoted to Satakopa is verily the real ascetic entitled to rule over us" "Satakopanai Senru Irainjum Dhanyar Yevar Avarae Yemmai Aalum Tapodhanarae" (PPM)
Swami Desika in Sloka 4 of his Yatiraja Saptadhi pays homage to Nammalwar thus:-
(meaning) Vishwaksena taught the esoteric meanings to Nammalwar. Therefore, our next Acharya is Nammalwar. His words carry the fragrance of the Maghizha flowers. His Arulicheyals like Tiruvoimozhi is a flood of nectar that flows in chaste Tamil to instruct with clarity these meanings contained in the Vedas to benefit everyone irrespective of caste etc. Because his Sri Sooktis perform the work of all the Vedas put together more efficiently, the Vedas can now go to take rest. We will constantly meditate on Nammalwar who blessed us with such glorious Sri Sooktis.
There was at that time a Brahmin saint by name Madhurakavi of Tirukkolur who was visiting holy places in the north. When he was at Ayodhya, he saw a bright light shining in the far south which seemed to beckon him. Following the direction of the light, Madhurakavi reached where Maaran was. When Madhurakavi posed a 'bit question' to the boy, he opened his eyes, looked at Madhurakavi and gave a 'fit answer.' Immediately, Madhurakavi acknowledged the boy as his Guru and the latter acknowledged Madhurakavi as his disciple.
The manner in which the individual soul is afflicted when entangled with `Prakriti' or matter which includes our body is vividly portrayed in the conversational session of Sri MADHURA KAVI with his preceptor NAMMALWAR. MADHURAKAVI asks NAMMALWAR "If the `small one' is born in the womb of the `dead one' what will it eat and where will it lie?". NAMMALWAR answers :" `That' it will eat, and `There' it will lie". The `small one' refers to the individual soul ( subtle spirit) which is believed to be atomic in size. The `dead one' refers to the (gross matter) body. Only when the soul enters the body, the body comes to life. Before the soul entering it and after the soul leaving it, the body is only a dead matter or corpse. The soul when it gets into the body and so long as it remains therein it experiences the pleasures and pains through that body and the senses, quite oblivious of its own innate nature of knowledge and bliss and unaware of its creator, the Paramatma. This is the meaning of the reply of NAMMALWAR. In other words, the distinction of the three entities and the behavior of the soul when in conjunction with the body have been dramatically displayed. This brought the master and disciple together. After his encounter with Madhurakavi, Nammalwar stayed under the tamarind tree for 32 years
Lord Adhinatha presented him with a garland of Vakula flowers from his own neck. Hence, the name VAKULABHARANAN. The Lord called him "OUR ALWAR"- NAM ALWAR. As already mentioned all people at that time also called him, thereupon, endearingly as Nam Alwar. The sectarians of all ages and faiths feared him just like an elephant fears the sharp iron goad. Hence, his name " PARA ANKUSAN"(LA) He is also known as Sataari, and Kurugai Piraan.
He is considered to be the foremost among the Alwars and foremost among the Acharyas as well. His works brim with devotion, love, poetic excellence and literary flavor that hold in its grip the attention of anyone who cares to read. They explain the essence of Vaishnavism, Tattva trayam, Artha panchakam etc and is deservedly called the 'Tamil Veda'. In fact, he is known as "Vedam Tamizh Seitha Maaran" The four works of Nammalwar written down by Madhurakavi are considered to be the essence of the four Vedas.
(i) Tiru viruttam in a special style in Tamil called Viruttam in 100
verses is the essence of RigVeda.
The sentiments expressed in every single verse of his works would kindle
an insatiable interest and transport one to an enrapturing state of Bhakti
ecstasy. It is very difficult to select one verse in preference to another
for appreciating the poetic excellence or the emotional content of his
works. It is more because of our own limitations, space and time restrictions
that we have to restrict ourselves to just a few of his expressions. But,
even one among the many of his incomparable verses can bestow on the reader
an unprecedented delectable experience.
PERIOD C: SRI NAATHA MUNI AND HIS TIMES
Whenever the Vaishnavas refer to 'Muni Trayam'- the three sages, they are paying homage to the three extraordinary preceptors of the philosophy- Natha muni, Yamuna muni and Ramanuja muni. We will consider very briefly a few facts about of these Acharyas who have bequeathed to us a rich and vibrant heritage. This does not purport to be exhaustive in point of coverage of all the Acharyas or of the details in full even of those referred in here.
If Vaishnavism has a global appeal today, it is due to the great Nathamuni who literally recovered from oblivion the hymns of the Alwars and inaugurated devotional Vaishnavism. Ranganathamuni as Nathamuni was originally called was born at Veera narayana puram near Kattu Mannar Koil. His other names are Shadamarshana Kula Tilakar and Sottai Kulathu Arasar. He is believed to be the Amsam of Gajaananar, one of the Nityasuris in Paramapadam and one of the ministers of Vishwaksena -( not to be confused with the elephant headed son of Siva).(PPM)
His period has been placed at Kaliyuga 3684 (according to Katapayati Samkhya) which corresponds to 584 AD of Christian era . PTA, however, places him at Kali 3264 which corresponds to 164 AD. All are, however agreed, that he was born in the year Sobakrit, Ani month, in the constellation of Anusham in Krishna Paksha, Thithi 7, a Wednesday (GLE and PRA).
The following passage foretells his birth: " There will arrive one Natha, a great Yogi who by his yogic power will restore to the world the long lost sacred collect of Sri Satakopa" (Vriddha Padma Purana quoted by PPV and referred in GLE) According to PPM, he lived for 340 years from 593 AD to 933 AD.
It was a period when the reign of Buddhism and Jainism had lost their influence due to the glorious efforts of the devotional hymnology of Alwars and Nayanmars. People had retired in smug satisfaction forgetting the Alwars and their monumental works.
While Nathamuni was worshipping at the local temple, he heard a few pilgrims reciting a decad of Nammalwar's Tiruvoimozhi praising Lord 'AraVamudhan'- the unsatiating nectar. This concluded saying " those who recited these ten which formed part of my 1000 psalms "would become the darling of the Gods." Nathamuni was so impressed with the poetic beauty of the decad and asked them whether they knew the full text of Tiruvoimozhi or at least point out anyone who could help. They directed him to one Parankusa daasa in Kurugur who was a disciple of Madhura kavi.
Natha muni made straight to Kurugur but Parankusa daasa also could not help. But, he suggested that if Natha muni could recite the " Kanni nun Siruthambu" of Madhura kavi 12,000 times at one stretch in front of the famous tamarind tree in Adhi natha temple, he might get an insight into the original verses. This Natha muni did with utmost devotion. He obtained in his trance a vision of Nammalwar himself who personally taught him not only his own compositions but also those of all the other Alwars. Since he got his insight into the Divya Prabandhams through the Paasuram on Aravamudhan, he came to be known as Aaraaa Amudh Aazhwaan"
Natha muni promptly codified the treasure of devotional hymns as the 'Nalayira Divya Prabhandam'. He set them to melodious music and rhythm and taught them to his two nephews Sri Krishnan and Sri Varadan also known as Keezhai Agathu Alwan and Melai Agathu Alwan and brought to the forefront the long lost Divya Prabandham.(PPM). He also revived the Adhyayana Utsavam instituted by Tiru mangai Alwar. The tradition of reciting these had been established by him and kept alive these 1000 years and more . He also institutionalized the tradition of 'Arayar Sevai' before the Lord on special occasions -( a form of dance performed by male dancers specially trained for the purpose) in the Srirangam temple even today. Similarly, it was he who revived the propagation of Rahasyas and Vyasas Brahma Sutra. It was from his time only that our Sampradaya began to shine like a beacon light. He had 8 Sishyas. After a long life of 340 years , major part of which was spent in yoga (meditation), he ascended to his Heavenly abode during the lifetime of Manakkaal Nambi. (PPM)
Naatha muni wrote 3 scholarly works
( 1 ) Nyaya Tattva which contains the following 5 chapters viz., ( i ) Jnaana (Knowledge), (ii) Prameya ( Objects of cognition), (iii)Pramaatru (the Cognizer),(iv) Karma (Action) and (v) Nyaaya (Logic)
( 2 ) Yoga Rahasya which is said to have contained the nuances of devotion (Bhagavad Upaasana) to the Lord through Dhyaanam (meditation) and
(3 ) Purusha Nirnaya. But none of them is available today. He also composed the Tanian for Tiruvoimozhi called "Bhaktaamrutham".
His grandson, Yamuna muni later known as Aalavandaar was just 12 years of age when Natha muni passed away. And, it is this Aalavandaar who inaugurated the matrix of Sri vaishnavism by his spiritual leadership.
Sri Natha Muni's Tanian reads as follows:
Another Tanian runs as follows : (SAA)
(meaning)Salutations to Naatha muni who is having single minded devotion to the Lord and who is the treasure of both Gnaana and Vairaaghya.
Familial lineage and Guru-Sishya Parampara from Sri Naatha muni to Sri Raamaanuja muni
The familial Parampara of Sri Naatha Muni is as follows:
His son was Sri NAATHA MUNI.
His son was Easwara Bhatta Aazhvaan.
His son was Yaamuna Muni.
His son was Sottai Nambi.
His son was Ennaachaan.
His son was Pillaiappar.
His son was Thozhappar.
SRI NAATHA MUNI- His Prime Sishya was- PADMAAKSHAR aka PUNDARIKAAKSHAR, UYYAKKONDAAR. His other Sishyas were
(1) Kurugai Kaavalappan
SRI UYYAK KONDAAR:
MANAKKAAL NAMBI: His Prime Sishya was: YAAMUNA MUNI (aka) AALAVANDAAR His other Sishyas were: (1) Deivathukku Arasu Nambi (2) Gomatathu Tiruvin Nagarappan (3) Sirup Pulloor Aavudayap Pillai and (4) Aachi
YAAMUNI MUNI ( AALAVANDAAR): His Prime Sishya was: PERIYA NAMBI (aka) MAHA POORNAR His other Sishyas were: (1)Tiruk Koshtiyur Nambi (2) Periya Tirumalai Nambi (3)Aalavandaar Aalwan (4) Tirumalai Aandaan (5) Eesaandaan (6) Deiva Vaari Aandaan (7) Siriya (or Jeeyar) Aandaan (8) Tiru Mogur Appan (9) Tiruk Kurugoor Daasar (10) Deivap Perumaal (11) Tirumangai Aaliyaar (12) Pillai Tirumaal Irum Cholai Daasar (13) Maaraner Nambi (14) Aatkondi Ammangi . Some other accounts like (ATA) mention the following also as his Sishyas: (15) Tiruk Kachchi Nambi (16) Vaanamaamalai Aandaan (17) Vakulabharana Somayajiyar (18) Vada maduraip Pirandaan
According to (ATA), the sons of Aalavandaar were (1) Deivathukku Arasu Nambi (2) Pillai Arasu Nambi (3) Sottai Nambi and (4) Aazhwar Tiruvaranga Perumaal Araiyar.
PERIYA NAMBI (aka) MAHAPOORNAR: His Prime Sishya was: BHAGAVAD RAMANUJAR His other Sishyas were: (1) Malai Kuniya Ninraar (2) Aarya Satakopa Daasar (3) Aniyarangathu Amudhanaar (4) Tiruvaik Kulam Udaiyaar Bhattar and (5) Tiruk Kachchi Nambi.
6.PUNDARIKAKSHA ( UYYAK KONDAAR)- (CHITRAI- KARTIGAI)
He was born as the Amsam of Jayatsenar, one of the Nityasuris in Paramapadam. He was born at Tiruvellarai. Scholars place his date of birth differently.; As per GLE: 825AD; as per MKS: 826AD;and as per PPM : 827 AD. However all are agreed that he was born in the month Chittirai and in the constellation of Kartigai. ATA and PPM hold that he was a 'Puras Sikhaa Srivaishnava'.
As ordered by his master, Sri Natha Muni, he escorted Aravindap Paavai, Sri Natha Muni's wife to her parent's home. There, the womenfolk known as Vangipurathu Aachis made him sit in an open space called 'Mutram' and eat stale remnants of food left over. Pundarikaksha partook the same with relish as it was food offered to him by the Parijanas ( those dear to) of his Acharya. "Tad Uchishtam Sukhaavaham" . On his return, he felt greatly elated when he narrated the incident to his Acharya. The Acharya was overwhelmed and exclaimed " Nammai Uyyak Kondeero?"-Oh ! You came to redeem me?". From then on, he came to be known as Uyyak Kondaar.(PPM)
In Sloka 6 of Yathiraja Saptadhi, Swami Desika praises him thus:
(meaning) Lord Krishna was the 'Sarva Loka Natha'. His Tirumeni is of Suddha Satva. His eyes are lotus-like. Uyyakkaondar fully understood the 'Tiru Ullam' of Sri Nathamuni and lived up to it. This is possible only for one who is full of Sattva Guna untainted by Rajo and Tamo gunas. Also, the name Pundarikaksha (Lotus- eyed) refers to Lord Krishna. He looked as if Lord Pundarikaksha of Tiruvellarai himself was reborn as Uyyak Kondaar. He was a renowned dialectician. A passage from his work is quoted by Swami Desika in his Satadushani.
His Tanian runs as follows: (SAA.p200)
(meaning) Salutations to the lotus eyed master, who is the leader of our Kula at whose lotus feet we can cast all our burdens.
7. RAMA MISRAR ( MANAK KAAL NAMBI)-(MAASI- MAGAM)
He was born as the Amsam of Kumudan, one of the Nityasuris in Paramapadam. He was born in the Manakkaal Agraharam adjacent to ANBIL, in Lalgudi Taluk, Trichy District. His date of birth is also variously placed by scholars: PPM: 832 AD; MSR: 870AD; MKS: 876 AD. But, all are agreed that he was born in the year Virodhi, month of Masi in the constellation of Magham.
The credit for transforming Yamunai thuraivan into Yamuna Muni goes to him (PPM). For 12 years, he rendered personal service to his Acharya, Uyyak Kondaar and after the demise of Uyyak Kondaar's wife, he took over the culinary duties and cooked food for his Acharya. (PPM)
Embar describes that Nammalwar drank of the ocean of mercy of the Lord Narayana and rained it through Natha muni and that Pundarikaksha was like the fountain spring that let the stream reach Alavandar. Pundarikaksha learned the holy collects and Yoga Rahasya from Natha Muni and passed them on to Alavandar. His devotion to his Guru was such that on an occasion when two daughters of Pundarikaksha had to cross the slush on their way back home after bath in the river, he laid himself down on the slush and asked them to walk over on his back. Since, the sands at the feet of the Guru's daughters were on his body, he came to be known as ' Manal Kaal Nambi' . He took to Sannyas. He does not seem to have written any work. But, citations of his teachings are found in the works of other Acharyas. Swami Desikan quotes his teachings in Nyaaya Parisuddhi. So, he is known as "Yathaartha Khyaadhi" Swami Desika in Sloka 7 of his Yatiraja Saptadhi praises Manakkaal Nambi as follows:
(meaning) The one who learned through Upadesam all the Sastaraarthas from Uyyakkondaar was Manakkaal Nambi. There were only three Ramas before. Here comes the fourth Rama. The defects noticeable in the other 3 Ramas were totally absent in this 4th Rama.
ANUJJITHA KSHAMAA YOGAM : Parasurama had no patience. Out of jealousy, he fought with 'Chakravarthi Tirumagan'. With an uncontrollable rage, he embarked on destroying the entire Kshatriya race. But, Manakkaal Nambi never lost his composure and kept his senses under absolute control.
APUNYA JANA BHAADAKAM: Dasaratha Rama destroyed the Rakshasas, otherwise known as 'Punya Jana'. But, Manakkaal Nambi never harmed anyone but always did all the good he could to Sadhus who are also known as 'Punya Jana'
ASPRUSHTA MADHA RAAGAM: Balarama became reddish in color by excessive drinking Manakkaal Nambi never exhibited any pride or prejudice or any excessive attachment to anything worldly. Let us prostrate before this blemish less 4th Rama
YAMUNA MUNI (ALAVANDAR) & HIS TIMES He was the grandson of Nathamuni and son of Iswara Bhattalwan and Ranganayaki He is considered the Amsam of Simhavahana, one of the Nityasuris in Paramapada.(TKP) but as per PPM, he was the Amsam of Harivaktra, another Nityasuri in Paramapada..
His date of birth as per PPM and GLE is 917 AD , the latter specifying the year in Kali yuga 4017 which tallies with 917 AD and born in the year Daatu, Adi month, in the constellation of Uttraashada on a Friday, (But as per MSR and MKS the year is 916 AD). He was born at Kuppankuzhi (2 Kms from Kaattu mannaar koil- Veeranarayanpuram). As per TKG his term of life is 125 years which means he should have lived till 1042 AD. He was named Yamunai thuraivan- Yamuna , for short. The boy grew apace, a marvel of loveliness and intelligence. He learned all branches of knowledge, both secular and spiritual.
Once a haughty royal chaplain by name Akkiyalvan was challenging and humiliating learned men. Yamuna accepted the challenge and went to the court to argue with him. The queen was so impressed with the boy that she prevailed upon the king to give him half the kingdom if he won in the debate offering herself to be thrown to wild dogs, if the boy failed.
Akkiyalvan asked the boy to state three propositions positive or negative which he offered to counter. And, if he could not , the boy would be declared the winner. Yamuna posed:
( i ) Your mother is not a barren woman ( ii ) The king is a righteous and powerful ruler and ( iii ) The queen is a model of chastity.
By no stretch of imagination could Akkiyalvan affirm that his mother was barren, by no assumption of courage could he call the king wicked and powerless and no way could he allege that the queen was unchaste. He hung his head in shame. The King now asked Yamuna to disprove his own statements.
Yamuna clarified by observing the following:-
( i ) The sacred laws say that an only son is no son at all. So, Akkiyalvan's mother was as good as barren in the eyes of the law.
( ii ) The king cannot be called righteous when he entertained such an arrogant person to be his chaplain and his not dismissing the chaplain showed that the king was indeed powerless.
( iii ) According to the Sruti texts, every woman is wedded first to Soma, then Gandharva and then Agni before marrying her earthly partner. The queen was no exception and therefore cannot be deemed a model of chastity.
The King fired Akkiyalvan and gave Yamuna half his kingdom as promised to the queen . The queen hailed the boy as 'Alavandar'-' one who came to save me' . Thus, Alavandar entered his royal career in right earnest. This demanded all his attention so much that he could not attend even to the religious duties properly.
Meanwhile, Rama Misra was trying to carry out his promise to his Guru to install Alavandar as the spiritual successor to Nathamuni.. But, he could not get an audience with Alavandar - the king, to discuss the matter. He hit upon a curious plan. He made friends with the servants in the royal kitchen and through them learned that Alavandar relished a special variety of spinach called "Toodu Valai Keerai". He started supplying the spinach daily. After a period of about six months he suddenly stopped deliveries. Alavandar enquired why the spinach was not being served. The servants replied that an old man who used to supply had suddenly not turned up. He ordered that the old man be brought before him when he visited the next time. The very next day Rama Misra appeared and was duly taken to the king.
During this session, Rama Misra explained the purpose of his mission and requested Alavandar to take over the reins of spiritual leadership bequeathed to him by his illustrious grandfather, Nathamuni. Alavandar took to Sannyas and was thenceforward known as YAMUNA MUNI.
He is the one who composed the earliest Stotras of Srivaishnava Sampradaya (ATA) Alavandar wrote several works that are as lofty in content and simple in style. They include (1) chatusloki (2) Stotra Ratnam (3) Siddhitrayam consisting of (i) AtmaSiddhi. (ii) Samvitsiddhi and (iii) Easwara Siddhi (4) Agama Pramanya (5 ) Maha Purusha Nirnayam and (6) Gitartha Sangraha (7) Nityam (8) Maayaa Vaadha Khandanam
Swami Desika in Sloka 7 of his Yathiraja Saptadhi pays homage to Yamuna thus:
(meaning) Alavandar who learned Vedanta Arthas at the feet of Manakkaal Nambi was not only the one residing on the banks of Yamuna (Yamunai Thuraivan) by name but was also like the clear flowing waters of the river Yamuna. Lord Krishna got rid of the cruel Kaalinga from the river and made its water pure and clear for all to drink. He was most delighted when he played with the Gopis of Brindavanam in the Yamuna waters. Likewise, Alavandar vanquished those who misinterpreted the Vedas and established Vedanta Siddhanta. Just as one can derive supreme pleasure by bathing in the holy waters of Yamuna, one can enjoy supreme Bhagavad Gunanubhava by immersing in the lucid granthas of Yaamuna.
PERIOD F: BETWEEN YAMUNA MUNI AND RAMANUJA MUNI PERIYA NAMBI (MAHA POORNAR , SRI POORNAR) - (MARGAZHI-KETTAI)
He was born as the Amsam of Kumudakshar, one of the Nityasuris in Paramapada (PPM).His date of birth is placed in 998 AD Hevilambi year, Margazhi month and in the constellation of Kettai on a Wednesday (PPM and MKS). Not much is known about him except that he was the direct disciple of Alavandaar and that it was he who did Pancha Samskaram to and destined to become the Acharya of Sri Ramanuja..
At the same time, the Lord of Kanchi bade Tirukkachchi Nambi to send Ramanuja to Periya Nambi at Srirangam to learn Vedanta Arthas. In deference to this, Ramanuja set forth towards Srirangam. Both Ramanuja and Periya Nambi met with each other at Madurantakam- midway between Kanchi and Srirangam. Having recounted their mutual experiences , Periya Nambi performed the Panchasamskaram to Ramanuja there itself. According to PPM, he wrote a Granta called Tirup Pathithak Kovai..
Swami Desika in Sloka 9 of his Yathiraja Saptadhi pays his respects to Mahapoorna thus:-
(Explanation) When there was a danger from other faiths to Visishtadvaita Siddhanta, Lord Tiruvarangan commanded Periya Nambi " Whatever you have learned from Alavandar, you pass on to Ramanuja who is in Kanchi and through him arrange for the growth of the Siddahantam". Periya Nambi immediately set out to Kanchi to carry out the command of the Lord of Srirangam. GLE reports that earlier, he hesitated to do this but later on relented and performed it saying that it was by the command of his own Acharya that he was performing the Pancha Samskaram. Both returned to Kanchipuram where Periya Nambi did Upadesam to Ramanuja of all that he had learned at the feet of Alavandar. Thus, Periya Nambi fulfilled the wishes of Periya Perumal and by initiating Ramanuja paved the way for the redemption of our Siddhanta once again.
I take refuge at the feet of this all- round master (Desikam Poornam) who fulfilled the wishes of Lord Vishnu (Vishnoh Pooryatha Manorathah)
The less known fact even among Srivaishnavas about this well known Acharya by whose name Srivaishnava philosophy is called ' Ramanuja Darsanam ' and who is hailed as "Sri Vaishnava Siddhanta Nirdhaarana Saarva bouma" is that he was a 'Vadama' by birth.(Authority :" Periya Thrumudi Adaivu, Pazhanadai Vilakkam and Visishtaadvaita Catechism" - quoted in GLE)
HIS AVATARA AND EARLY DAYS
Ilaya Perumal was born to Kesava Perumal Somayaji Dikhsitar and Kanthimathi Ammal at Sriperumpudur. Just as Sage Vasishta on seeing the brilliance in the face of the child named him as Lakshmana saying "Lakshmano Lakshmi Sampannaha", Periya Thiru malai Nambi struck by the Tejas of the child, named him after Lakshmana as Ilaya Perumal. (PPM) aka Ilayalwar.
There is a sloka in Yadhavaachala Mahatmyam which says:
(meaning) It is the same who was Adhisesha first, Lakshmana after and Balarama in the third who is born as Sri Ramanuja in the Kali yuga. This Kaschit is taken by our Poorva Acharyas as referring to Ramanuja (PPM)
HIS BIRTH: (CHITRAI- TIRUVADHIRAI)
His date of birth is placed differently by different authorities.As per PPM, he was born in Kaliyuga year 4119 which corresponds to1017 AD. PPM fixes even the exact date as 13th April 1017 AD, interms of English Calendar.
PRA, though notes the year as 4118 Kali , maintains the year as 1017 AD only and gives additional information that the Rasi was Karkataka and the time of birth was exactly at noon.
VAC, MKS and MSR also agree on the year 1017. PTA gives a few more details like the Yogam being Ayushman, Karanam being Bhadra, Gotra being Harita, Saakha being Yajus, Sutra being Apasthambha and Sect being Vadama ( Vide p.45 of GLE).
PPM and ATA mention the year as Pingala, month Chitrai and the constellation Tiruvadirai. PPM adds that it was a Sukla Paksha Panchami, a Friday.
It will be for the Research minded scholars to piece together all these details to arrive at the correct date, time etc.
Vriddha Padma Purana presages his incarnation thus:-
" Long, long afterwards, the Lord himself will come down on earth as a Tridanda Sannyasin, to restore the good law. At that time heretics and men of perverted intellects will confuse the minds of the people. Aasuric Saastraas, based upon fallacious arguments and various schools of thought, very attractive and almost indistinguishable from the Vedanta, will turn away mens' hearts from Vishnu and cause them to forget His glory. That glorious incarnation will, through the good fortune of the Lord's devotees, come down upon earth, to explain and amplify the teachings of the great Sage Baadaraayana and the divine singer of the Gita. The holy one would compose a Bhaashya on the Vyaasa Sutras, to save men from the confusion and despair caused by spurious doctrines and lead them to the True faith" ( Vide p.44 of GLE)
While still a boy , he lost his father and was living with his mother at Kanchipuram under the protection of one 'Tiruk kachi Nambi' This Nambi was believed to converse and was on 'speaking terms' with Lord Varadaraja in the Archa form.
EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF SRI RAMANUJA
(1) Within 16 years of age, he had mastered all the Vedas and Sastras. At age 17, he married Rakshakaambaal ( Tanjammal, in Tamil) (PPM)
(2) Ilaya Perumal was placed under the Advaitic Sannyasi called YADAVA PRAKASA at Tirupput kuzhi for training in Advaita Purva Paksha Sastra of Vedanta. Once during this period, Alavandar who desired nominating Ilaya Perumal to succeed himself visited Tirupput kuzhi, met with him but had no opportunity to speak to him and had to return to Srirangam.
Very many occasions arose when the Saivite Guru clashed with Ilaya Perumal when the Guru misinterpreted Vedantic statements. Ilaya Perumal fearlessly pointed out the errors in the Guru's interpretations and corrected him. This enraged the Guru. Fearing that one day, Ilaya Perumal would demolish Advaita philosophy, he plotted to kill Ilaya Perumal by drowning him in Ganga while on a pilgrimage tour of the country with his disciples.
Learning of the design through one Govinda, another disciple who was also related to him, Ilaya Perumal slipped out into the forest at dead of night. Miraculously, an aged hunter couple appeared and guided him. As Ilaya Perumal who was in a trance, opened his eyes, he found himself at the outskirts of Kanchipuram and the couple had disappeared. He realized that it was Lord Varadaraja and Perundevi Thayar who had come in the guise of the hunter couple. He stayed at Kanchi for a while to assist Tiruk Kachi Nambi in his daily chores of service to Lord Varadaraja.
(3) News came that Alavandar was very sick and he desired to meet with Ilaya Perumal. Just as Tirukkachi Nambi and Alavandar arrived, they saw the funeral procession of Alavandar. During the last rites, they noticed that three fingers of Alavandar remained folded signifying three of his last unfulfilled wishes. As Ilaya Perumal swore
( i ) that he would write a commentary on Veda Vyasa's Brahma Sutra ( ii ) that he would perpetuate the memory of Vyasa and Parasara and ( iii ) that he would strive to propagate Visishtadvaita on the lines of the 4000 holy collects of Alwars, the fingers unfolded one by one automatically and stretched out to normal position signifying that these were his last wishes. Since he could not meet with Alavandar, he returned to Kanchi without even going into the temple at Srirangam (PPM)
(4) Tirukkachi Nambi obtained from Lord Varadaraja the famous ' Six Words ' and passed them on to Ilayalwar. The six words provided the guidelines for Ilayalwar to follow. They were:-
( i ) that Lord Narayana is the Paramatma. (ii ) that the individual souls were different from Paramatma. ( iii ) that Prapatti is the means to attain salvation. ( iv) that the last remembrance of the Lord on the part of the departing soul was not necessary. ( v ) that Moksha can be obtained only on laying off the mortal coils ( Videha Mukti) & ( vi ) that Ilaya Perumal should take refuge at the feet of Periya Nambi.
Accordingly, he met with Periya Nambi at Madurantakam , where under the shade of Vakula tree Periya Nambi performed Pancha Samskara to him. As he was initiated into the esoteric of Dvaya Mantra at Madurantakam, the place came to be known as "Dvayam Vilaindha Tiruppathi" (PPM) Both returned to Srirangam and did Kalakshepams on Brahma Sutra etc. for sometime. It was at this time that Lord Ranganatha called him "Nammudaiyavar" (He is ours).(PPM)
(5) Ilaya Perumals was not a happy married life. His wife never understood either his greatness nor appreciated his catholicity and always acted on her own wavelength and there was no compatibility as between them. Several instances are cited wherein the lady ensconced in her own in her own pet ideas of being holy or otherwise showed scant respect to Bhagavatas and this greatly annoyed Ilayalwar. When he was about 30 years of age, Ilayalwar took Sannyas with the name of 'Ramanuja Muni'. He was the king among Sannyasis. Hence, he is called ' Yati Rajar'- a honorific invested by Lord Devaathi Rajan.
(6) The seat of Acharya at Srirangam was lying vacant without a successor to take over. He was prevailed upon to assume charge. But, before doing so, he wanted to equip himself with the secrets of the three great Mantras. For this purpose, he approached one " Tiruk Koshtiyur Nambi" who made him come several times before actually instructing him. He cautioned Ramanuja that he should not give out the secrets to all and sundry and if he did so, he would go to hell.
Immediately on receiving the instructions, Ramanuja climbed up to the top of the steeple of the temple and proclaimed to the large gathering of his disciples assembled there the purport of the instruction.
The popular belief that he gave out the Mantras is not correct; What he actually gave out was that he had found out the way to attain Moksha through the three great Mantras and invited those who sincerely wished to follow him and get initiated. Also, he did not advise all and sundry as assumed by some. By the time of this episode, he had already gathered a huge following of disciples who congregated at the main entrance to the temple and he was thus addressing his own disciples (as explained in a separate posting in this series). This is another less known fact about the well known Acharya Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi was so enraged and demanded an explanation. Ramanuja replied that he did not give out the secrets and even if he had transgressed the specific warning of the Guru, only he himself would go to hell but the multitude of humanity that listened to his clarion ' wake - up' call would be saved spiritually. The Guru was overwhelmed by this reply . Embracing Ramanuja appreciating his broad mindedness, he called him 'Emperumanar'- " O! My lord" and declared that Srivaishnavism would thenceforward be known as " Ramanuja Darsanam"- ' the light of Ramanuja'
(7) Yadava prakasa, his old Guru had by then returned to Kanchi, became Ramanuja's disciple assuming the name of 'Govinda Yogi'
(8) Ramanuja used to go round the streets for his Biksha. An evil minded fellow had mixed poison in the biksha. His wife while serving the biksha fell at Ramanujas feet with tears in her eyes. Ramanuja understood that there was something wrong. When the Sishyas sorted out the biksha for cooking, they found out that poison was mixed with it. Ramanuja went on a fast with a view to cleanse the mind of the evil-doer. On hearing this, Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi rushed all the way to Srirangam. When Ramanuja heard of the coming of his Guru, he rushed to the banks of River Kaveri to receive him. It was the height of summer. Ramanuja ran towards him in the hot Sun to receive him and fell at his feet on the burning sands on the banks of river Kaveri. Nambi did not ask him to get up. Such was his Acharya Bhakti. At that time , Kidambi Aachaan, who was nearby told Nambi " Your action (in not asking Ramanuja to get up) is worse than the poison mixed in the bikshai". Such was the Acharya bhakti of Ramanujas Sishya !(Like master, like pupil !). Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi exclaimed, " After all, now I can cast off my physical body since I have found one who would take the greatest care of Ramanuja"
(9) Ramanuja traveled throughout the country spreading the message of Visishtadvaita. Once a votary of the ' illusion theory' Yagna Murthi by name confronted him for 16 days in endless arguments and counter arguments. Finally, he accepted defeat and became a disciple of Ramanuja assuming the name of 'Arulala Perumal Emperumanar' and wrote 'Gnana Saram and Prameya Saram'.
(10) One of the most important disciples who was totally devoted to Ramanuja was Kuresan also known as ' Kurattalwan'. Once, Kuresan participated in the shradda ceremony performed for his mother by the famous Tiruvarangathu Amudanar. This Amudanar was in charge of the Srirangam temple. When Amudanar inquired what Kuresan desired as reward for his participation, Kuresan replied that the administration of the temple should be handed over to Ramanuja. Amudanar, who had already known the greatness of Ramanuja was only too glad to hand over the key to Ramanuja. It is this Tiruvarangattu Amudanar who subsequently wrote the Ramanuja Noorrantadhi of 108 verses which was included in the holy collects to make up the total of 4,000.
(11) After Mastering the Bodhaayana Vritti of Sage Vyaasa, he wrote several works like Vedanta Sangraham explaining the various viewpoints of Sankara, Yadhava, Bhaskara and others, Vedanta Deepam, Geetha Bashyam etc.
(12) During Panguni Uttram, he did Prapatti before the Divya Dhampathi in Serthi and submitted his famous Gadhyatrayam (comprising Saranagathi Gadhyam, Sriranga Gadhyam and Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam ),
(13) Later, he wrote a Grantha called Nityam detailing the Tiruvaradhana Kramam
(14) While he was on his Sancharam, it is believed that the Lord himself appeared before him at Tiruk Kurum Kudi as a Srivaishnava got Samasrayanam from Udaiyavar (PPM)
(15) When he visited Saraswati Peetam, Goddess Saraswati was so impressed with his commentary on Brahma Sutram that she named it "Sri Bhashyam" and conferred on him the title of "Bhashyakaarar". It must be noted that while the other commentaries are known by the names of their authors like 'Sankara Bashyam' written by Aadhi Sankara, the commentary of Ramanuja is always referred to with the venerable honorific 'Sri' denoting its unsurpassed quality and clarity and known as ' Sri Bashyam' (PPM)
(16) When he visited Tirumala, a miracle happened. Some argued that the Lord of Tirumalai was Saiva param. It is surprising that such a claim should have arisen about the Lord who had been worshipped as Lord Vishnu by all the Alwars and Acharyas besides Elango Adigal and other Tamil Pulavars for several centuries. This was because the Lord had earlier entrusted His insignia to a King called Tondamaan. (SAA p.57-58). The Lord desired to take back from Tondamaan, these insignia viz., Sankhu, Tiruvaazhi, Soolam, Damarukam etc. They were placed in the Sannidhi the previous night. And, when the doors were opened the next morning, the Lord gave Darshan adorning all his insignia (PPM). Ramanuja was hailed as " Appanukku Sangaazhi Alittha Perumaal" Poet Arunagiri himself sang clearing all doubts in this regard saying Ulageenra Pachai umaiyanan, Vada Venkadathil Uraibhavan, Uyar Sanga Chakra kara Thalan"
(17) Ramanuja "was the greatest synoptic thinker which the world ever produced to systematize Visishtadvaitic philosophy, faithfully interpreting the ancient knowledge in tune with the letter and spirit of the text in the light of revelation and experience tested by stern logic"- [- Hon'ble Justice K.S.Krishnaswami Iyengar of the High Court of Judicture, Madras in his foreword to Desika Prabahandam( P.31) published by Lifco Associates, Madras- 3rd Edition, 1982. ]
(18) His magnum opus is his wonderful commentary on Vedavyasa's Brahma Sutram and a simpler commentary thereon called Vedanta Saram. Kuresan was very helpful in publishing his works. Thus, he fulfilled his FIRST PROMISE to Alavandar. It is this Kuresan (aka) Sri Vatsanka Misra who wrote the famous Pancha Sthava consisting of Athi Maanusha Sthava, Sri Sthava, Varadaraja Sthava, Vaikunta Sthava and Sundarabaahu Sthava.
(19) He asked Kuresan to name his two sons after Veda Vyasa and Parasara and thus fulfilled his SECOND PROMISE to Alavandar. It was this Parasara Bhattar who subsequently wrote the famous commentary on Vishnu Sahasra Nama as ordained by Ramanuja.
(20) Another disciple of Ramanuja was Pillaan. Once, when Ramanuja was alone mentally reciting a particular hymn of Tiruvoimozhi, Pillaan entered his room and inquired if he was meditating on a particular hymn. And, it was indeed the one Ramanuja was actually meditating on!. Ramanuja decided that Pillaan was the person best suited to write a commentary on Tiruvoimozhi. As ordered, he wrote the famous 'AARAAYIRAPPADI' (the commentary known as the 6000 Padi also known as Bhagavad Vishayam) and called Pillaan as 'Tirukkurugai Piraan" after the name of Nammalwar. He was also known as Kurugesar and Braathru Thozhappar. Thus, he fulfilled his THIRD PROMISE to Alavandar. He was one of the Sri Bhashya ubhaya Simhasana Adhipathis.(PPM)
(21) Kulothunga Chola was a staunch devotee of Siva. He commanded Ramanuja to come to his court with a view to enlisting his support to establish the superiority of Siva over all other deities. (including Vishnu ). If the support was not forthcoming, the king was planning to kill Ramanuja. Sensing the danger, Kuresa went to the court disguised as Ramanuja along with another disciple called Periya Nambi. The king ordered him to sign a document to the effect that 'Siva is the greatest'. Kuresa added that ' Sivam was no doubt great but Dronam was greater than Sivam'- both expressions referring to units of measurement. The enraged king ordered both of them to be blinded when he came to know that he was Kuresa who was impersonating Ramanuja. Periya Nambi was tortured to death while Kuresa survived. Kuresa, though he himself was blinded, was happy that he had saved Ramanuja. It is this Kulothunga who is reported to have thrown away the idol of Govindaraja in the sea. Ramanuja recovered it and had it installed at Tirupati.
(22) While on an itinerary, Ramanuja noticed an officer of state, by name Danur daasa, a hunter by birth was over -concerned and over- protective about the beauty of his wife who was walking along on the hot sands on the banks of the river Kaveri. Ramanuja offered to show him something more beautiful than his wife and took him to the proximity of the image of Lord Ranganatha. Danur daasa was enraptured by the charm of the Lord and became a disciple of Ramanuja assuming the name of ' Uranga Villi Daasar'. Ramanuja never entertained any caste distinctions and was conferring his benedictions even on the lowliest of the lowly whom he called 'Tiruk Kulattar'.
(23) Ramanuja went to Tiru narayana puram in search of white clay paste used for applying caste marks by Vaishnavites. The idol of the temple there had been taken away by the muslim invaders and was being used at play as a doll by the muslim princess in Delhi. Ramanuja went to Delhi and when he endearingly called ' Come on! My dear child 'Selva Pillaiye Vaarum', the idol miraculously came onto his lap. Ramanuja reinstalled it in the temple.
(24) Once some kids were playing on the road pretending to construct a temple, installing an idol of the Lord, offering fruits and flowers etc all the time using the dust on the road for the purpose. They offered some mud as prasadam to Ramanuja who was passing along , he received it with due respect. He remembered in this connection the words of Poigai Alwar who said that the Lord took whatever name and form his sincere devotees wished and in the instant case though the kids were only playing, they sincerely believed in what they were doing.
(25) Another disciple of Ramanuja was Vaduga Nambi who put the sandals of his Guru along with those of the Lord. When questioned, he replied that the Acharya's sandals were for him as holy as those of the Lord. When Lord Ranganatha was coming on his rounds on the streets of Srirangam, Vaduga Nambi remarked that the eyes that had seen the charm in the eyes of Ramanuja would not be able to appreciate the beauty of the eyes of even the Lord.-'En Amudinai Kanda Kangal Marronrinai Kaanaave.' Such was his devotion to his Acharya.
(26) Ramanuja arranged to make a lifelike idol of himself and embracing it invested it with his powers and had it installed in Tirumalai at Tirupati. The only temple consecrated in Tirumalai , other than that of Lord Venkateswara, is that of Ramanuja.(SAA p.58) The Archa moorthi of Ramanuja known as "Thaan Ugantha Tirumeni" was installed in Tirunarayanapuram.
(27) Once, when he visited Tondanoor in Hoysala State, he happened to meet a Jain king called Devarayan. His daughter was possessed by a demon and none could get rid of her predicament. When Ramanuja's SriPaada Theertham ( water consecrated by association with his feet) was sprinkled on her,she was cured of the devil. The King pleaded to be accepted as Ramanujas Sishya. Ramanuja accepted and named him "Vishnu Vardhana".
(27) Ramanuja nominated 74 Acharyas to succeed him. It is he who instituted the 13 day "iyal Goshti in Srirangam. (PPM)
HIS ASCENT TO PARAMAPADAM With his head on the lap of Embar and his feet on the lap of Vaduga Nambi, Ramanuja breathed his last in 1137 AD listening to the recitation of the Divya Prabandam.
Born in PINGALA year, he left for his heavenly abode also in PINGALA year that followed 120 years from the year of his Avatara. Thus, he lived TWO full cycles of Tamil years after his birth
PLV places the date in Saaka era 1009, Pingala, in the month of Magha, the 10 th day of Sukla Paksha under the constellation of Tiruvadirai and at noon ( as in the time of his birth).
TKG notes that Lord Ranganatha and Periya Piraatti bathed and purified themselves as relatives do.
PRA avers that he died on a Saturday
VAC places the date as 4238 Kali yuga which corresponds to 1137 AD.
PTA, however, states that he lived for 128 years and died in the year Durmati in the month of Vaisaka.
Again, Research scholars may fin ways to piece together all these information to arrive at the correct date.
His physical body is preserved even today in a sitting posture in the Sannidhi (Sanctum Sanctorum) dedicated to him on the southwest corner on the fifth round within the Srirangam temple as ordered by Lord Ranganatha himself.
The whole world is aghast at the feat of preservation of the mummies of Egypt and the body of St. .Xavier in Goa in India and make so much fuss about them.
Even some Srivaishnavas are not aware that here in Srirangam. their holiest place hailed as ' Bhuloka Vaikuntam' ( Heaven on Earth) lies preserved the body of Sri Ramanuja in all its pristine state unostentatiously, without any fanfare or publicity and without using any of the chemical preservatives employed by the Egyptian and Goan models.
Swami Desika in Sloka 10 of his Yathiraja Saptadhi pays obeisance to Bhagavad Ramanuja thus before proceeding with his eulogy.
(meaning) I beseech Sri Ramanuja whose Srisookthis claimed the acclaim of the Lord and adorned the Upanishads to kindly accept my Pranams. There is another famous Sloka which says :-
(meaning) I bow to that Sri Ramanuja, the great Yogi who became the very soul of Vedas, Upanishads and other Sutras.
BHAGAVAD RAMANUJA'S ACHARYAS: He studied under 5 Acharyas: Periya Nambi: Had his Samasrayanam, Learned Sutram, Gita and Rahasyaartha Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi : Was initiated into Ashtaakshara and Charama Sloka Tirumalai Aandaan : Studied Bhagavad Vishayam Aalavandaaraazhwaan, s/o Yamuna Muni: Tiruvoimozhi, Stotras and Nal Vaarthai Tirumalai Nambi : His own uncle : Listened to Ramayanam discourses. BHAGAVAD RAMANUJA'S SISHYAS WHOM HE NOMINATED AS SIMHASANA ADHIPATHIS: Bhagavad Ramanuja installed 74 of his disciples as Simhasana Adhipathis. (Authorities : AVM, GLE and ATA) They are as follows:-
1. Chottai Nambi, son of Aalavandaar
Parasara Bhattar was the son of Kurathalwan. His Acharya was Embar. He learned the Sastras so well that he came to be called a 'walking university'. His works include his commentary on Vishnu Sahasra Nama Bashya ( 1,000 names of Vishnu ) also known as 'Bhagavad Guna Darpanam', Rangaraja Stava, Ranganatha Ashtaka, Sri Guna Ratna Kosam, Kriyaa Deepam, Ashta Sloki, Satusloki, Dvisloki, Tanisloki While he was a kid, a haughty Advaita exponent by name 'Vidvad Jana Kolahala Panditha' was being carried on a palanquin to engage in a debate with Ramanuja. The boy stopped him on the way. Holding a handful of sand in his closed fist, he asked the Panditha how much of sand was there in his palm. The Panditha was nonplussed and asked how could anyone count the sands. Parasara retorted saying that if he could not answer that it was just a 'fistful' how did he propose to win an argument with the great Ramanuja. The Panditha praised the boy, his father Kuresa and his Acharya, Embar. The Panditha subsequently became the disciple of Parasara assuming the name of ' Per Arulala Perumal Emperumanar' Parasara and his brother helped the master in the documenting the Sribhashya. (p.315 of GLE). When the master bade Embar to bring the baby for naming, Embar brought the baby and by way of protection was muttering Dvaya Mantram. When the master enquired how the baby showed off an unusual brilliance, Embar narrated what he did on the way. The master exclaimed that he had prevented Koorathaalwaan from being the Guru for the baby since only the one who initiates in Dvaya would be the Acharya. Since he had done this, the master asked Embar to act as the Guru for the baby. (p.32-33 0f ATA). (p.33-34 of ATA) His TANIAN runs as follows:'(SAA p.199)
7. Raamaanuja, son of Aandaan
12. PILLAI AAZHWAAN: He was the disciple of Koorathaalwaan. The latter breathed hi last lying on the lap of Pillai Pillai Alwaan. (p.36 of ATA)
13. VARADA VISHNU AACHAARYA ( NADAADOOR): He was born in the month Chitrai in Chitra Nakshatram in the year 1165 AD. He lived for 110 years and attained Paramapadam in 1275 AD (PPM). He was also known as Sudarsanar. He belonged to Srivatsa Gotram. He also assisted the master in documenting the Sri Bhashya (p.315 of GLE) and acted as a scribe for Sri Bhashyam along with Kooratha Azhwaan. His father was Devarajap Perumaal and his grandfather was Nadadoor Aazhwaan He was a Sribhashya Simhaasana Adhipathi. It is he who installed the Archa Vigraha of Emperumaanaar at Kaanchi. His own Archa Vigraham is at Tiruvellarai (p.28 of ATA). He wrote 19 granthas which include : PRAPANNA PAARIJAATHAM, Sloka Dvayam, Paratvaadhi Panchaka Sthuthi, Tattva Nirnayam, Tattva Saaram, Saamaanya Adhikarana Vaadham, Yathilinga Samarthanam, Hethiraja Sthavam, Prameya maala, Sri bhashya Sangraham, and Aahnika Choodaamani (which is not extant) (Authority: PPM and Payyampadi Setlur Srivatsaankaachaaryars Preface to the Commentary on Prapanna Paarijatham by Abhinava Desika Uttamur Swami.) He was the master of Kidambi Appullaar who learned the Sastras at his feet while he was delivering Kalakshepam on the Eastern side of Perarulalan Sannidhi in Kanchipuram. Like a mother who feeds her child, he offered to Lord Varadaraja hot milk ( neither too hot nor too cold) but just hot enough to drink .Therefore, the Lord was pleased to exclaim "Oh ! Are you my mother? ". That is how he came to be known as Nadadoor Ammaal.
14. VISHNU CHITTHA ( ENGAL AAZHWAAN): He was born in the month Chitrai and in the constellation of Rohini (MSR). A Tiruvellarai Sozhiyar, he was delivering discourses (Pravachanam) on Sri Bhashyam and Bhagavad Vishayam. He wrote a commentary on Vishnu Puranam. He was born in the month Aani in the constellation of Swaathi. He wrote Vishnuchitteeyam, Saaraartha Chathushtayam and Sangathi maasam. (PPM) He attained Paramapadam at a place called Kollakkonda near Srivilliputtur (PPM)
15. Marichyaarya ( Milagaazhwaan)
18. ANANTHAARYA (ANANTHAAZHWAAN): He was one of the direct disciples of Bhasyakarar. He spent most of his life in Tirumalai having been deputed there to do offer Pushpa Kaimkaryam. Once, he was stung by a poisonous snake while plucking flowers. He prayed to the Lord saying that if he got cured of snake bite, he would take bath in Tirukkoneri and if he were to die, he would still take bath in the Viraja and reach Paramapada Naathan. It is he who composed the Tanian for Tiruvoimozhi commencing with the words " Aeinda Perum Keerthi".
19. Vedaanthi Aazhwaan
23. GOVINDA ( EMBAAR) He was born in the Month Thai in the constellation of Punarvasu (MSR). He was a cousin of Ramanuja. His earlier name was Govinda. He studied under Yadava prakasa along with Ramanuja. It is he who rescued Ramanuja from the plot , the Guru Yadava prakasa hatched to kill Ramanuja. Subsequently, as he was taking bath in a river once, a Sivalinga (an icon in the phallic form of Siva ) mysteriously landed on his palm. He became a Saivite for a while. Later, on the advice of his uncle, Tirumalai Nambi and Ramanuja he returned to Vaishnavism and closely followed Ramanuja in all his itineraries assuming the name of ' Embar'. .(vide p.15 and 16 of ATA). He made the Masters bed, shampooed him when tired, offered him his arm while walking, and took charge of his garments (p.315 of GLE) TKG narrates how he bade farewell to Parasara, son of Alwaan and attained Acharyas Tiruvadi (p.303 - 304 0f GLE) See also paragraph 1 in Part 1 of this series.) His Tanian reads as follows: (SAA p.199)
24. PRANATHA AARTHI HARA ( KIDAAMBI AACHAAN) looked after the refectory along with Kidambi Perumal. (p.315 of GLE) It is he who took over the culinary duties for the master after the poisoning incident when Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi entrusted Ramanuja to his loving care. Therefore, he came to be known Madappalli Aachaan.
25. Baalaarya II (Kaniyanur Siriya Aazhwaan)
39. PILLAAN ( TIRUK KURUGAI PIRAAN PILLAAN): He was born in Aippasi -Pooraadam (PPM & MSR). He was declared as the Gnaana Putran of the Master. (Vide p.23 and 24 of ATA and paragraph 20 in Part 12 of this series).
40. Vallalaar ( Periya Koil Vallalaar)
56. DEVARAAJA MUNI (ARULAALAP PERUMAAL EMPERUMAANAAR) He was Sri Ramanujas former Advitic Guru, Yagnamurthi, who subsequently became his Sishya. He wrote Gnaana Saara and Prameya Saara. The master critically examined and approved these. He was entrusted with the daily Tiruvaradhana of the image of Lord Varada.(Vide p.315 0f GLE, p.8 ATA and paragraph 9 in Part 11 of this series)
57. Thondanoor Nambi
63. AANDHRA PURNA ( VADUGA NAMBI ) attended upon the master during his bath and tended the masters cows. (p.315 of GLE). Please see paragraph 25 in Part 13 in this series for other details about his Acharya bhakti (p.299-300 of GLE) He used to boil milk and offer it to the master. When the master breathed his last, he kept his feet on the lap of Vaduga Nambi and head on the lap of Embar. (p.42 of ATA)
64. Vanki purathu Nambi
Besides the above there were numerous other Sishyas : (Authorities : GLE. AVM and ATA) 1. KOORATHAALWAAN ( AALWAAN) He was born in 1031 AD (MSR) in the month Thai - Hastham. He assisted the master in documenting the Sri Bhashya (p.315 of GLE) (Please see also paragraphs 10 in Part 11 and 21 in Part 12 of this series) It is he who wrote Pancha Sthavams. He lived for 106 years p.11 and 12 of ATA) One of his sons, Parasara Bhattar was nominated by Ramanuja as one of the Simhaasana Adhipathis (Vide I-6 above). 2. Maadabhooshi Aalwaan 3. AKALANGA NAATTU AALWAAN: he was put in charge of defeating the enemies of the faith (p.316 0f GLE) 4. Kaaraanji Aalwaan 5. Iyunni Aalwaan 6. MUDALI AANDAAN: Aka Daasarathi, Ramanujan Ponnadi, Sri Vaishnava Daasar, Tiru Maru Maarbhan He was THE FIRST Sishya of the master. He had the signal distinction of representing the Masters nephew, his holy feet and holy Tridandam. It was his son Kandaadai Aandaan who installed the Archa Vigraham of the master in Sriperumbudur. During the absence of the master away on Sancharam in the north, it was he who carried out the Srikaryam Kainkaryam in Srirangam (p.39-40 of ATA). 7. Ammangi Aandaan 8. Kandaadai Aandaan 9. Pillai Aandaan 10. Siriya Aachchaan 11. Ennaachchaan 12. Aiyap Pillai Aachchaan 13. Thooyap Pillai Aachchaan 14. Aachi Aachchaan 15. Sri Villiputtur Nambi 16. Sri Paraankusa Bhattar 17. Varam Tharum Periya Perumaal Bhattar 18. Azhagiya Manvaala Bhattar 19. Sri Veda Vyaasa Bhattar 20. Govinda Bhattar 21. Tiruvaranga Bhattar 22. Sri Rangaraaja Bhattar 23. Periya Perumaal Bhattar 24. Sri Kulasekhara Jeeyar 25. Tirumazhisai Jeeyar 26. Tiruvoimozhi Jeeyar 27. Tiru Narayana Pura Jeeyar 28. Sri Saalagraama Jeeyar 29. Govinda Jeeyar 30. Tirumaal irum cholai Jeeyar 31. Tiruvanantha Purathu Araiyar 32. Raja Mahendrap Perumaal Araiyar 33. Pillai Vizhup Puttur Araiyar 34. Tiru Venkadathu Araiyar 35. Aatkonda Ammaal 36. Pattinap Perumaal 37. Raamaanujap Pillaan 38. Gomadathu Ayyan 39. Vaitha Maa Nidhi Siriyappan 40. Periyappan 41. Aniyarangathu Amudhanaar 42. TIRUVARANGATHU AMUDHANAAR (Please see paragraph10 in Part 11 of this series and p.34 of ATA) 43. Aimpathiruvar 44. Emperumaanaar Selvap Pillai 45. Saatraadha Mudhaligal 46. Sri Kulasekarap Perumaal 47. Bhattar Piraan Daasar 48. Pagaivilli Daasar 49. Sri Villiputtur Daasar 50. Sri Narayana Daasar 51. Sri Govardhana Daasar 52. Sri Ramanuja Daasar 53. PILLAI URANGAA VILLI DAASAR (aka Danur Daasa): Looked after the treasury (p.315 of GLE) See also paragraph 22 in Part 12 of this series and p.34-35 of ATA). 54. Ramanuja Velkkaarar 55. Tiruvaranga Daasar 56. Tiruvenkata Daasar 57. Perarulaala Daasar 58. Yathivara Choodaamani Daasar 59. Yathiraaja Daasar 60. Ilayaalwar Daasar 61. Maghizh Alankaara Daasar 62. Sri Satakopa Daasar 63. Pillai Tiruvoimozhi Daasar 64. Senaa Naatha Brahma Raayar
66. Anaatha Brahma Raayar 67 Veera Raaghava Brahma Raayar 68. THIRUMANJANAM EDUKKUM THOOYA MUNI VEZHAM : He brought water for the master to bathe (p.315 of GLE) 69. Sri Pandaaram Kaaval 70. Tiruvarangathu Maaligaiyaar 71. Aandavar 72. Ariyavar 73. Tiruvanantha Purathu Ammai 74. Tiru Vattatru Ammai 75. Tiruvan Parisaarathu Ammai 76. Mannaarkovil Poretr Ammai 77. Tiru Naraiyoor Ammai 78. Tiruk Kanna Purathu Ammai 79. Tirupathi Sri Kaaryam Seyyum Ammai 80. Aandaal Ammai 81. Naayaka Deviyaar 82. Thuyyap Perun Deviyaar 83. Athuzhaai Ammai 84. Ammangi Ammai 85. Koorathu Aandaal 86. Devakip Piraatiyaar 87. Yathiraajavalliyaar 88. Pankayach Chelviyaar 89. Innila Vanjiyaar 90. Soodikkoduthaal Tiruppaavai Paadinaal 91. NAMBI TIRUVAZHUDHI VALANAADU DAASAR: Both he and Pillaan (Sl.93) were moved to tears when the master was to cast away his mortal coils (p.302 of GLE) 92. PILLAAN TIRUVAZHUDHI VALANAADU ARAIYAR: -do- 93. VANDA Both he and Sunda (Sl.94) served for a 1000 pieces of gold each and made over the same to the mutt (p.316 0f GLE) 94. SUNDA -do- 95. KUNRATHU JEEYAR: He became an expert in Divya Prabhanda having learned at the feet of the master.(Vide p.21 of ATA) TKG gives the following further information: (Vide p.299 of GLE) The Sishyas of the Master included - Sannyaasins 700 Ekaangis 12,000 Kothis (Women) 300
THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHY - The Guru Parampara has been identified differently by different authorities. The following is from PLV (Palanadai Vilakkam) 1. The Mantra Parampara 2. The Mantraartha Parampara 3. Sri Bhashya Parampara 4. Bhagavad Vishaya Parampara From Bhagavaan to Bhagavad Ramanuja, the succession is the same for all the four:- Bhagavaan, The Divine Mother, Vishwaksena, Satakopa, Naatha Muni, Pundarikaaksha, Raama Misra, Yaamuna Muni, Mahaa Poorna & Bhagavad Ramanuja.
1.MANTRA PARAMPARA This consists of the 74 Simhasana Adhipathis AND their descendants. This includes the Guru Paramparas of Ahobila Mutt and Parakaala Mutt.
2.MANTRA ARTHA PARAMPARA Bhagavad Ramanuja Kidambi Aachchaan (Pranathaarthihara) Kidambi Ramanuja Kidambi Sri Rangaraja Kidambi Appullaar Swami Vedanta Desika Brahmatantra Swami
3. SRI BHASHYA PARAMPARA Bhagavad Ramanuja Pillaan Vishnu Chitta Nadadoor Ammaal Appullaar Swami Vedanta Desika Brahmatantra Swami
4. BHAGAVAD VISHAYA PARAMPARA Same up to Swami Desika; Then Nainaarachaarya and then Brahmatantra Swami GURU PARAMPARA IS ALSO CLASSIFIED INTO 2 CATEGORIES AS FOLLOWS: I. AASRAYANA PARAMPARA and II GRANTHA PARAMPARA
I. AASRAYANA PARAMPARA Same as the above as far as Bhagavad Ramanuja. Then Embaar Paraasara Nanjeeyar Nampillai Sri Krishnapaada (Vadakku Tiruveedhip Pillai) Pillai Lokaachaarya Sri Sailesa (Tiruvoimozhip Pillai) Manavaala Maa Muni( Periya Jeeyar)
II. GRANTHA PARAMPARA This is considered under THREE subdivisions:
( i ) RAHASYA GRANTHA PARAMPARA Inserts Koora Kulottama Daasa after Pillai Lokachaarya
( ii ) BHAGAVAD VISHAYA PARAMPARA Bhagavad Ramanuja Pillaan Embaar Aalvaan Bhattar Nanjeeyar Nampillai Sri Krishnapaada(Vadakku Tiruveedhip Pillai) Iyunni Maadhava Iyunni Padmanaabha Kola Varaaha Nainar Nalloor Devaraaja Sri Sailesa (Tiruvoimozhip Pillai) Periya Jeeyar (Some substitute Nampillai here) Krishna Samaahvaya (Periya Vaachaan Pillai) Nainaar Achaan Pillai Azhagiya Manavaala Jeeyar Vaadhi Khanteerava
(iii) SRI BHASHYA PARAMPARA Bhagavad Ramanuja Embaar Bhattar Nanjiyar Nampillai Sri Krishnapaada (Vadakku Tiruveedhip Pillai) Pillai Lokaachaarya ( Some substitute one Ramanuja here) Pillaan Vishnu Chitta Nadadoor Ammaal Appullaar Swami Vedanta Desika Nainaaraachaarya Prathivaadhi Bhayamkaram Annan Polippaakkam Nainar
PERIOD H : BETWEEN BHAGAVAD RAMANUJA AND SWAMI DESIKA
(11) Kidambi Aachaan, (12) Kidambi RamanujapPillaan, (13) Kidambi Rangarajar and (14) Kidambi Appullaar Anbil Ramaswamy
11. KIDAAMBI AACHAAN (PPM) It is this Kidaambi Aachaan otherwise known as Madappalli Aachaan, since he took over charge of culinary duties for Ramanuja after the incident in which Tirukkoshtiyur Nambi declared him as the one to take personal care of Ramanuja after the poisoning incident. He was nominated as one of the Simhasana Adhipathis of Rahasya Sampradaaya Parampara He studied Vedanta at least 12 times at the feet of Bhagavad Ramanuja. His Tanian runs as follows:
(meaning) I take refuge at the feet of the great master by name Pranatha Aarthi Hara who was born in Aatreya Gotram and who is compassionate to those who resort to him.
12. KIDAAMBI RAMANUJAP PILLAAN (Son of Kidaambi Aachaan).(PPM) He was born in the month Aippasi in the constellation Pooraadam.. Nothing more is available about this Acharya. His Tanian runs as follows:
(meaning) Let us seek refuge at the feet of Ramanuja Guru, son of Pranatharthihara Desika, who was born in Aatreya Gotram and who shone like the full moon, was strict in Aacharam and who is adorned with auspicious personal qualities.
13. KIDAAMBI RANGARAJAR Was also known as Kidambi Padmanabhachar. He was the son of Ramanujap Pillaan and Grandson of Kidaambi Aachaan. He was born in the month Panguni and in the constellation of Rohini. This is exactly the same month and Nakshatram under which our Prakritam Paravaakottai Gopaala Desika Mahaa Desikan Swami of Poundarikapuram Ashramam was born. His Tanian runs as follows:
(meaning) I seek refuge at the feet of Rangaraja Guru who is verily Lord Rangaraaja reincarnated as the son of Raamaanuja Guru, and who belongs to Aatreya Gotram, with a pleasing personality and like his father, was full of Aatmaguna, but totally blemishless.
14. KIDAAMBI APPULLAAR (Chitrai- Tiruvadirai) He was the maternal uncle of Swami Desika. He learned in all the Sastras and Siddhantam from his father Sri Rangarajar so well that elders wondered if he was the reincarnation of Periya Thiruvadi - the Vedaatma - and asked"Ivar Ap Pullaaro? ". "Pull"means bird especially Garuda. Hence, his name Appullaar which became very widely known in the entire Srivaishnava community. His sister was Totaramba who was married to one Anantasuri, Son of Pundarika Yajvaa. She was the mother of the great Swami Desika.
OTHER ACHARYAS IN SRIVAISHNAVA SAMPRADAYA DURING THIS PERIOD
NOTE The 4 Acharyas mentioned in the last posting belong to the same familial lineage. The following were outside this but were very well known Acharyas in their own right. 15. NANJEEYAR : (1054 AD - Panguni- Uthram) (MSR) He was the disciple of Parasara Bhattar who won him over in an argument on Tirunedum Taandakam. Later, he argued with the opponents of faith and vanquished them and made them embrace Visishtadvaita Siddhanta. Pleased with his performance, Bhattar called him " Nam Jeeyar". He entered Sannyas under the name of "Nam Jeeyar". He wrote the famous 9,000 Padi commentary of Tiruvoimozhi. Once, he entrusted the manuscripts of his work to one Nambur Varadarajar. But, when Varadarajar was crossing Kaveri, a big wave arose in which he lost the manuscripts. He was so sad but he remembered every word of what was contained in the manuscripts and was able to resurrect and reconstruct the work. While doing so, however, he had added his own commentaries here and there. When he submitted this to Nanjeeyar, he was impressed with his additions and inquired what had happened. Varadarajar narrated the incident and hugged Varadarajar calling him " Tiruk Kali Kanri Daasar" and taught him all the Vedanta Arthas. Nanjeeyars other works include the 2,000 Padi commentary of Tirup Paavai, Tiruvantadis, Kanni nun Siruthaambu, Tirup Pallaandu, 108 explanations of Rahasya Traya, commentary on Saranagathi Gadhyam, Sri Sooktha Bhashyam etc. It was he who looked after the administration of Srirangam temple after Parasara Bhattar and Veda Vyasa Bhattar (ATA) His Tanian reads as follows :
16. NAM PILLAI : (1127 AD Kartigai- Kartigai)(MSR) : This is the same Kali Kanri Daaasar above. KanthAdai Thozhappar who was earlier envious about Nampillai later on realized his folly and called him " Lokaachaarya"- the Universal preceptor. Nampillai dictated to one Vadakku Tiruveedhip Pillai his commentaries on Tiruvoimozhi hailed as EEDU and 36,000 Padi, considered to be the best commentary on Tiruvoimozhi. It was during the period of Nampillai that a king called Sadavarma Sundara Pandian undertook the construction of golden dome of Sri Ranga Vimaanam over the Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Ranganatha. Another disciple of Nampillai was the famous " Periyavaachaan Pillai who wrote extensive explanations to all the 4,000 hymns of Divya Prabhandam and was renowned as the " Vyaakhyaana Chakravarthi"- "Emperor among Commentators". With the blessings of Nampillai, he wrote also the 24,000 Padi Commentary on Tiruvoimozhi. His Tanian reads as follows (SAA p. 199)
PERIOD I :
DESIKA AND HIS TIMES - ( 1 )
I. A brief Eulogy