Apr 1: Sri Ramanujacharya – 1

1 Apr

Sri Prakashji of Boston rendered the beautiful discourse on Sri Ramanujacharya.

It is said that “Hanumath samena Guruna”, which connotes that Hanumanji is considered is the greatest of Gurus. The Lord created this universe out of his Maya and very well perceived the mentality of people. The minds of people are filled with lots of questions which have taken over faith and were totally oblivious of what is good and not so good for them reveling in samsara. However Hanumanji knows the fate of people who question and also was aware of the state of the supreme-being.  When Vibishana surrendered unto the holy feet of Lord Rama, there was a lot of questioning that was going on between Vanaras and also people in the close proximity of Lord Rama and only one person who expressed his complete willingness to accept Vibhishana was Hanuman. He did not care about the traits of Vibhisana and his origin. As a Guru, Hanuman led Vibhishana to Lord Rama.  Mahatmas do not even have a doubt if someone is good or bad. Unconditional love is showered by them always. In that lineage of Acharyas, was a Mahatma known as Ramanujacharya who incarnated in this earth on an Arudra Nakshatra day in the tamil month of Chitrai. His love was boundless and was beyond religion, caste and creed and saw Lord in everyone. He was one of the proponents of Nama Sankirtan. He is one of the proponents who showered his grace on everyone irrespective of any caste or creed. He is often considered as an incarnation of Lakshmana himself, interestingly akin to an Adisesha.  In Krishna Avatar, Balarama was the eldest and Krishna the younger sibling was the supreme most and Balarama was very happy to see his brother take over. Akin to Lakshmana showered his praise and was totally dedicated to Lord Rama, Ramanujacharya is often considered as a manifestation of Lakshmana because he performed immense service to Sri Ranaganatha in Srirangam, who is considered as Lord Rama. Ramanujacharya did divine service to Lord Ranganatha with unconditional Rama akin to Lakshmana. Lord Rama, at one point considered Lakshmana to be his father, as he built a home for the Lord.  Then Rama says – “Bhaavagnena kruthgnena dharmagnena cha lakshmana” . Rama praises the help provided by Lakshmana, the passion, love and respect that Lakshmana had on Lord Rama is akin to how their father, King Dasaratha showered on Rama.

Ramaujacharya enjoyed doing service to Lord Ranganatha. He was born in Sriperumbudur and it is believed that Adi Keshava Perumal, the deity of Sriperumbudur was waiting for the incarnation of Ramanujacharya to happen.  He was born to a devout couple Keshava Suri, who was adept in all Vedas and Kanthimathi. Keshava Suri was adept in all Vedas and Vedantas and was a Nithya Agnihotri and led a life per the definition of scriptures. This pious couple was not having any children and so they prayed to Adi Keshava Perumal, and as ordained by the Lord, went to Thiruvalikeni Parthasarathy Perumal and Kanthimati begot Ramanujacharya. He grew up as a divine boy and had deep yearning for satsangs.

As he was growing up, he came into acquaintance with Thirukachinambigal who was a resident of Ponnamalee. He used to travel all the way to Kanchipuram daily to have the divine darshan of Varadaraja Perumal and go back again to his home. One day as he was crossing Sriperumbudur enroute to Kanchipuram, he met Ramanujacharya and both their divine forms attracted each other mutually. Ramaujacharya’s desire to meet and spend time with Thirukachinambigal began to increase and yearned to spend time with him. Thurkachinambigal started to spend days in Sriperumbudur where they would reminisce about Lord Varadaraja.

Ramanujacharya grew up in due course of time. There were not many Pandits and Mahans in Sriperumbudur and so they relocated to Kanchipuram to enhance his knowledge. He got tutelage from Sri Yadava Prakasha, who was well-versed in Vedas and Shastras. Ramanujacharya considered him as his first Guru, – Vidya guru, who imparted him all precepts needed for life.

Ramanujacharya being a divine kid always won over his Guru inadverently in debates and slowly people around came to terms with the fact that Ramanujacharya was a divine kid and that was more knowledgeable than Yadava Prakasha himself. There was once a Pallava king in Kanchipuram, whose daughter was mentally retarded due to an external force residing in her body, and believed that Yadava Prakasha being the foremost learned person would cure her. The king’s ministry requested Yadava Prakasha to come to the kingdom to cure his daughter. He accepted the request and set out to meet the king along with his disciples. When Yadava Prakasha touched the princess, the evil force within replied through a Asarirvak that the touch of Yadava Prakasha cannot cure her and that his disciple, Ramaujacharya’s  divine touch on the feet of the princess would destroy all the evilness of this external force. When Ramanujacharya touched the feet of the king’s daughter, she was immediately cured and she came back to her normal state. Everyone realized the greatness of Ramanujacharya and the king started to celebrate Ramanujacharya. Yadava Prakasha became jealous of him and hatched a plot to assassinate Ramanujacharya since he felt insecurity of position. Even though he was a learned scholar, he lacked Jnana and decided to kill his disciple Ramanuja.  The plan was to bring Ramanuja to Varanasi on a pilgrimage tour on the pretext that his education would continue there.  Ramanuja had an aged mother and was not sure if he would be able to accompany them or not. But his  mother insisted that his education was very important and ordained him to embark on his pilgrimage to Varanasi.  Ramanujar set to Varanasi along with his cousin brother Govinda, who is later known to the world as Embar, a disciple of Ramanujacharya and his Guru Yadava Prakasha.  Upon reaching Varanasi, Govinda and Ramaujacharya visit temples and stayed over in Kasi. One night when all were resting, Govinda overheard Yadava Prakash’s plot of killing Ramanuja and immediately confided to his cousin brother. Ramanuja and Govinda slipped out to the forest in the middle of the night and they meet a hunter king and his wife there. Ramanuja asked them if they can help them in getting back to Kanchipuram and they very much agreed to his request. Ramanuja related the hunter to Guhan in Ramayanam and was very eager to expound Ramayana to them. He enquired with them if they had listened to Ramayana and when they expressed eagerness in listening to it, he started to discourse on Ramayana. At the end of his discourse, the hunter’s wife was very emotional and began to shed tears and she thinks about Ramanuja’s mother who has been blessed with this divine kid and with lots of difficulty she came to terms with the fact that she cannot be the mother of Ramanuja.

Vedanta Desikar says that there can be no one like Ramanujacharya in this verse -“Anaena Sadhrusho Bala na bhuto na bhavishyathi”.

The hunter couple started to show the way to get back to Kanchi and by dawn they reached a village. Upon reaching the village, the hunter requested Ramanuja to get some water to his wife who was very thirsty and took his Kamandalu and climbed down a well to get water. When he came out of the well, he was unable to locate the couple. He enquired with some people and realized that he was already in Kanchipuram. Ramanuja was in tears and realized that the hunter couple was none other than Lord Varadaraja and the Divine Mother. He understood that it was not humanly possible to reach Kanchi from Varanasi overnight.

Days passed by and Ramanuja was immersed in reading a lot of books related to Puranas and Shastras and Yadava Prakasha also came back to Kanchi. Thirukachinambigal was observing Ramanuja and knew the fact that he was not born to read Puranas but instead to uplift the whole world. He prayed to Lord Narayana to take Ramanuja unto his fold.  Thirukachinambigal was a great Bhagavatotama and used to be in divine communion with the Lord. One day Ramanuja seeing the divine service performed by Thirukachinambigal and expressed his earnest desire to do service to the Lord Varadaraja and requested to him if he can also have the opportunity to serve the Lord. Thirukachinambigal acknowledged his request and told him that he will talk to the Lord when he got a chance. Thirukachinambigal used to fan the Lord [Alavatta kainkaryam] for the whole night where he would fan from divine mother and then fan the Lord.  During one such night Thirukachinambigal confided to Varadaraja Perumal about Ramanuja’s desire to do service to the Lord. The Lord immediately asked him to tell Ramanuja that the divine mother needs holy water from a well in Salai road. Ramanuja was waiting outside the divine sanctorum and the next morning and eagerly asked him if the Lord had blessed with some service. As soon as the Ramanuja heard what the Lord wanted him to do, he was in emotional ecstasy and his joy knew no bounds. He understood the clear opportunity to serve water to the Lord and divine mother earlier. From that moment, he being a learned scholar, adept in Vedas and Shastras was now focused in doing this great service to the Lord.

Varadraja is compared to cloud in a Bhava. The cloud brings the water from the sea and throws it out as rain since it is at a higher altitude. Akin to this cloud is Lord Varadaraja who is at a high altitude. He also has a bow akin to the rainbow on the sky. Just like how the cloud makes thunder noises, the Lord Varadaraja also makes sounds with his conch. The similarity does not end here. The cloud by itself does not pour rain on its own. It needs the water from the sea to give rain. Varadraja Perumal and divine mother bestow the people on this earth because of the divine water partook by the divine couple which was offered by Ramanuja through his Kainkarya

The satsang ended with Prayers and Namasankirtan.

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