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Enclyopedia of Visistadvaitam (Sri Vaishnavam)

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The personal relationship between the Lord and the individual is the same for everyone, but how much one understands this varies from person to person. The great saints, called AzhvArs, were the most blessed people as the felt the Lord every moment. One of them Sri periyAzhvAr goes to the extent of treating Lord Krishna as a child, and

singing about the everyday activities for the child - bathing, getting dressed up, adorning flowers, playing with children etc. One other AzhvAr, thirumangai AzhvAr goes to the extent of fighting with the Lord when He hesitates to show Himself to the AzhvAr. Where are these saints? Where are we? Why don’t we feel the same way they did? Think about it.

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Nails in the Fence

Once, there lived a little boy who had a terrible temper. Even the slightest event that did not go his way made him throw a tantrum. Soon, his friends at school stopped talking to him, his teachers sent him home every night with notes about his bad attitude; Even his sisters and brothers refused to speak to him.

One day, the little boy's father took him out to the backyard and gave him a box of nails and a hammer. He told the little boy that rather than throwing a tantrum, every day he should come home and drive a nail for each time that he got angry that day. The little boy did not quite understand why his father wanted him to do this, but remembering how fun it is to play with hammers and nails, he told his father that he would give it a try.

The first day, the little boy came home and drove 37 nails into the fence. It took him lot longer than he thought it would and made him feel very tired.

The next day the number of nails were slightly fewer than the first; the third he drove less nails than the second. Soon, the number of nails became hardly any at all, because the little boy realized that it was a lot easier to just not be angry than to have to come home to drive all those nails into the fence.

One day, he found that he didn't need to drive any nails at all, because he hadn't been angry all day. Overjoyed, the little boy raced to his father to tell him the good news.

"That's fine, Son," his father said, "But your job isn't over, yet. You are now going to have to start pulling those nails out of the fence. Take your time, though, and let me know when you are done." Since he was really hoping that his father would be proud of him, the little boy took only a few days to remove the nails from the fence. Soon, he raced back to his father, again, and told him that the job was done.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, My Son, but just look at all those holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. This is what happened every time you got angry. It left a scar a scar just like the holes in this fence. It doesn't matter whether you hit someone or yell at someone. Because physically or verbally, anger leaves a wound that can never really heal.

All good people, especially fellow devotees of God, are very rare jewels. They are genuine, make you smile and encourage you to succeed in your goals. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to you.

The next time that you meet with one, let he/she know that you are glad to be their bandhu (godbrother or godsister). And share this story with them, and seek their forgiveness for any "nails that you may have driven into their fence".


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Pray with sincerity humility and gratitude for atleast 15 minutes a day.


Eat anything only after offering it to God.


Meditate on the beauty of God, atleast thrice a day,

atleast a minimum of 3 minutes each time. Chant Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam (the 1000 Holy Names of Lord Vishnu) once a day.


Strive to lead a life in which you will never hurt

a fellow living being for any reason.


Earn to live, educate, support and serve and not for

the sake of pursuing materialistic desires.


Donate however little it may be to noble causes.

Feeding the needy is the highest form of charity.


Be happy and content that you are His. Thank your preceptors at least once a day for blessing you with this awareness.


Place complete trust in the supreme LORD. Do not go against His way.


Strive to live a life free from selfish desire and anger.

Always adorn a peaceful smile; it will work on others and on you too

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THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER - (Anjali Vaibhavam)

Aam Jalayathi ithi Anjalihi

Aam refers to The Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana. Jalayathi means to liquify, to melt. Anjali means folding of hands; Vaibhavam depicts the greatness of folding of hands towards Lotus feet of Lord. The Anjali that we perform towards Emperuman (our Lord) melts him and thus for such a Anjali, He showers his Full Grace on us.

ANJALI VAIBAVAM is a detailed exposition of the 28<sup>th</sup> sloka of the Stotraratnam, The Hymn Jewel, of Swami Alavandar. Before moving on to the topic, let me brief about the great Acaryan Sri Alavandar.

A Brief note on Swami Alavandar

Swami Alavandar‘s birth place is Kattumannar Koyil, or Veeranarayanapuram, as it is known in Sanskrit. (South Arcot District-

Tamilnadu), His original name is Yamunacharyar, and he is the grandson of our foremost Acaryar Sriman Nathamunigal.

Yamunacharyar was spending his childhood days at

Veeranarayanapuram. During that period there was a egoistic pundit in

the Chola kingdom called Kolahalan, who under the royal patronage of

Chola king, collected taxes from all other Scholars in realm as an

acknowledgement of his own scholarly superiority. At this time, young

Yamanucharya was taking care of the Gurukulam (The School), since his

teacher was away attending to some pressing matters. One of the

messengers of the Egoistic Pandit “Kolahalan” came to the school and

delivered a tax notice to Yamunacharya to give to his teacher. Yamunacharya tore it into pieces and declared that he himself, a mere student, could easily defeat the egoistic Scholar in Sastric disputation. Although he knew that Yamunacharya was far from ready to do so, Kolahalan accepted the challenge and had him brought to the Chola king's court. With the Lord's Grace, Yamunacharya proved his words to be true by defeating Kolahalan in a difficult scholarly debate. The queen of the Chola Kingdom was so pleased by the arguments of the young prodigy she dubbed him as Alavandaro - which in Tamil means the one who came to conquer. Then on, this title became his name, and he was recognized by everyone as Alavandar.

Works of Swami Alavandar: Swami Alavandar wrote several works in Sanskrit. Some of his works include Siddhitraya, Geethartha Sangraha Agama Pramanya, Mahapurusha Nirnayam. Sriman Alavandar has also composed two hymns in Sanskrit -one in praise of Piratti, Sri, known as Chathusloki, and the other in praise of Emperuman, which is popularly known as Sthothraratnam, the Hymn-Jewel.

The later Acharyas took the works of Alavandar as the base for their literary works on Sri Visishtadvaita philosophy.

About Stotra Ratnam

Swaadyanniha sarveshaam Tryanththaartham Sudugraham

Sthotrayaamasa Yogindrastham vandE Yamunaahvayam

I bow to the king of yogis - Sri Yamunacharyar who through his Stotraratnam has conveyed fully the meaning of Vedas in a lucid manner, such that there wisdom could be understood easily.

Swami Desikar, who is also called Sri Vedanthacharyar, has made a detailed commentary on some of works of Sri Alavandar. His commentary on Stotraratnam and Chathusloki is called as Rahasya Raksha.

Vedanthacharyar has made a detailed commentary on the 28<sup>th</sup> sloka of Stotraratnam which depicts the greatness of Anjali- Symbol of Prapathi. This Anjali Vaibavam is in continuation to the 27<sup>th</sup> Sloka of Stotraratnam, wherein Sri Alavandar expresses that he who has resorted to the eternal nectar filled lotus feet of Lord, shall never think of anyone else.

It is worth here to quote the verses from Sri Guna Ratna Kosam of Sri

Parasara Battar, where in he has also sung the greatness of Anjali.

The sloka reads: (58<sup>th</sup> Slokam)

Aishwaryam Aksharagathim Paramam Padam Va

Kasmai chidanjali baram vahathe vitheerya

Asmai na kinchid uchitam krutumithyathaamba

Tvam Lajjase kathay koyamudar bavaha

In this sloka Battar conveys that ThAyar, the Divine Mother, feels touched with even a single folding of hands is offered towards Her, so much so that whatever she has to offer us in return in terms of Aishwaryam (Wealth), Kaivalyam (self-realization) and even

Paramapadam (the Highest Abode) - all these are not commensurate as befitting the burden of folding of hands from her devotees.

Thus, the Compassion of the Lord and His Consort is clear and Prapaththi (Surrender) as expressed as Anjali can alone help us in seeking his grace.

Sri Vedanthacharyar has divided the 28<sup>th</sup> sloka into ten phrases and has quoted Sanskrit verses in authority of his explanation /interpretation.

I would like to briefly bring about the essence of his commentary on the 28<sup>th</sup> Sloka of Stotraratnam-Anjali Vaibavam.

Hitaya Sarvajagatham vyaktham yonjalivaibavam

Prachikashat tam vandeham vedantha yugadeshikam.

I bow to the Vedantha Desikar, who for the good of everyone has clearly and in concrete manner explained the greatness of Anjali.

Anjali is the symbol of Prapathi and it is the first step to Prapathi.

The 28<sup>th</sup> sloka of Stotraratnam conveys the greatness of Anjali. The sloka reads:

Tvadangrim uddishya kadaapi kenachit yataa tathaa vaapi sakruth krithonjalihi

Tadaiva mushnaathi ashubaani aseshatah shubaani pushnaathi na jaathu hIyathE.

Swami Alavandar by this sloka has conveyed the greatness of Anjali

made unto the lotus feet of Lord Narayana. The meaning of this sloka is as follows

“He who has folded his hands towards your pair of feet, whosoever he may be and whatever be the time, whatever in the form that very instant the act of folding hands dispels at once all his misfortunes and fosters him an eternal bliss.

Tvad-Angrim uddisya ’’ - the greatness of Lotus feet of Lord is emphasized. - which alone shall lead us to salvation, i.e. moksha.

In Bhagavad Gita, Emperuman has conveyed that He alone can grant moksha (salvation), and all the other deities are under His control. It is worth here to quote the verses from the 23<sup>rd</sup> verse of chapter 7 of the Gita, where Lord declares, “the fruits gained by worshiping other deities is perishable and the worshippers of these gods and demigods attain them, while my devotees howsoever they worship me, eventually come to me and me alone.

“Kadapi kenachit”

By this word Swami Alavandar conveys that this Anjali towards the pair of feet of Lord can be done at anytime and by any person. It is the simplest way to attain Him and is not dependent on time or place.

Anjali is a symbol of prapaththi (surrender), which is the only way to attain His Lotus Feet. It is so simple and there is no need for any other human initiative. It is the best pathway for the aspirant, as it is not limited to a specific caste or creed.

-Tad ekopayatha Yancha prapaththi-hi Saranagathi-hi

“Yathaa tathaa vaapi”

Anjali does not require any subsidiaries, and thus it can be performed in any manner.

This means that Emperuman does not expect anything from us, merely folding of hands pleases him. However, the other deities created and controlled by Emperuman expect more offerings and sacrifices from us. And no matter how much we do, the fruits of our penances are limited. Whereas the Compassionate Lord, out of his Vaatsalya (Parental Love) accepts our prayer, although it may be just folding of hands in whatever manner.

Nammalvar in his Thiruvaimozhi has conveyed that the best offering

that will please Emperuman and kindle His grace is Anjali, and he says to Lord that “the words coming out of my heart in praise of you is the sandal paste that I offer to you, my pasurams (songs) are the garland and silk cloth for you, the best ornament that I can offer you is my Anjali.” This Anjali, I perform unto the supreme Lord, who maintains this entire universe, even during the Great Deluge.

“Sakruth kritah Anjali”

This folding of palms towards His Holy Feet, even if performed only once, bestows us with auspicious things. Even the ten Ashvametha Yaga (the Ten Great Sacrifices) shall not yield you Moksham, but singing Lord's glory with our hands folded in prayer shall relieve one from the bondage in the endless cycle of reincarnation.

“Dasha Ashwamedhi Punarethi Janma, Krishna pranami na punar bavaya”

“Tad-Eva -Mushnaathi Ashubaani AsEshathaha”

That very moment, the folding of hands steals away all our misfortunes and miseries without leaving any remainder.

The verb Mushnaathi indicates how the Lord stealthily removes our inauspicious qualities without even allowing us to realize it. “The Anjali made unto His feet, draws us unto Him and removes all the obstacles that prevents us from knowing Him.

“Shubaani Pushnaathi na jaathu hIyate”

The folding of hands bestows us with auspicious qualities and provides

us with eternal bliss. Swami Desikar in his Varadaraja Pancasath says “If

Thou art going to discharge Your powerful arrow of Punishment on us,

who have committed innumerable sins from beginningless time, we

have got a counter shaft (Viz. Anjali) which shall overcome Thy arrow

in spite of Your being omnipotent - “Prathyastram Anjalirasow tava


Thus, the eternal grace we receive for single effort made by us shows the greatness of Anjali.


“Bagavantham samuddisya tad Eka sharanaha naraha kadaachit na cha hIyanthe kamyakarmaartha api”

The above sloka means “one who seeks Him by way of His Lotus Feet never fails to attain Him.”

Swami Desikar in his commentary on the 28<sup>th</sup> sloka of stotraratnam has dealt in detail as how this Prapaththi- Anjali kindles the grace of The Supreme Lord Narayana. The several aspects that may be pointed out are

1. How a seeker shall not strive for anything else other than

seeking the Lord alone.

2. How there is no restriction on time, place, caste or of


3. Prapatthi, Surrender, is the only easy way to attain the Lord.

4. How that Anjali dispels all inauspicious qualities and pours

eternal bliss forever.

5. How it bestows eternal fruit at all times on all devotees devoid

of all other attachments and also to a person who is attached to

worldly pleasures.

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Among thinkers and scholars, particularly those here in West, Sri

Ramanuja has been recognized for his monumental philosophical ideals,

which completely and accurately summarize the essence of the Vedas

and Upanishads into an integrated message on the nature of God, the

nature of the souls, and the nature of this world. To his followers, the Sri

Vaishnavas, Sri Ramanuja is seen as a beacon light in a long lineage of

teachers, who irrefutably proved how the Eternal Truths of these

mystical revelations are the very same truths that were revealed to us in

the lucid and heartfelt devotional renderings of the Azhvars. But, there is

one other great message that would be beneficial for all of us to learn,

and this can be drawn from Sri Ramanuja’s remarkable life of service

and humanitarianism, which can lead us only further into understanding

what this Great Soul had in mind for all his disciples and devotees.

What I am about to share is the message that I was inspired to try and learn from my mentors and teachers. As always, I am indebted to HH Sri Tridandi Sriman Narayana Ramanuja Jeeyar Svami for his inspiration, and seek his forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of all other devotees, for any errors or misinterpretations in this article.

Each one of us is born at a certain place, at a certain time; to certain

people that we call our parents, and share life with those we call our

siblings, our friends, our spouses, and or co-workers. For those of us

who hail from Vedic heritage, we are born into a particular family

belonging to a particular caste, and each one of us has obligations and

limitations associated with this. Each one of us has followed a specific

path leading to a specific career, and is earning suitable salaries based on

this path. Each one of us has hopes and dreams, interests, hobbies, and

talents. And all of these things, which can only be gifts from God, make

us unique as individuals. But, if we are concerned only with these, the

things that make us unique also keep us separated from one another.

Going one step deeper though, we find that as human beings, we all share similar emotions. We all need to love and receive love in return. We all need friendship and support. We all have times when we need to cry, to sing, to rejoice, to be in our own thoughts. We all need to know that we make a difference in this world and in each other's lives. These human values are universal in nature and take us to a place where we can begin to connect with each other.

But, for those of us who have been blessed to have connection to Sri

Ramanuja through an Acharya, this level of human connection goes one step deeper into an awareness of our connection to Sriman Narayana. For we come to learn that each and every soul, from the one that occupies the body of the smallest ant to the one that is now known as Chathurmukha Brahma (The four-headed god who is responsible for creating the Universe) is in its essential nature, its svarUpam as it is known in Sanskrit, a simple receptacle to the Lord's Grace, and a humble instrument to His Good. This nature of sEshatvam, servitude, is not only

limited to the soul, but is indeed the nature of matter, as well. Consequently, the Lord is likened to the Soul of the Universe, with all the myriad of souls, the bodies in which they reside, and the matter that are their material possessions, being likened to His Body, dependent wholly upon Him and serving as Instruments to His Good. It only stands to reason then that when we seek to love and serve God, we must be willing and able to serve what is His, namely His Body, this Universe.

When we go beyond the things that separate us, when we know that each and every one of us exists solely because of the Grace of Sriman Narayana, and when we know that all living beings are in their True Nature ThirumAl adimai, servants to Sriman Narayana, we can begin to operate from this mood of serving the world as a means of expressing love and servitude to Him, nurturing and caring for each other such that we can serve Him better. This ideal of individual beings working together in a mood of serving a Higher Good, is expressed in Sanskrit as

samAnAdhikAranya (the concept of dynamic dependents), and is revealed in sAstra to be the mechanism behind how this Universe works.

If one can operate from such a place, from a spirit of appreciation for our interdependence centered on Sriman Narayana's Love and Grace, our life, indeed, our very existence, begins to take on a more refined purpose, as it becomes centered on improving ourselves and providing others with the opportunity to improve themselves, such that we can serve Him together. Our relationships with the people in our lives, the obligations of our job, our dreams, ambitions, and talents when seen outside of their

usual mundane significance, become gifts to be appreciated and nurtured, as they have been provided to us by Him solely out of His Unconditional Love. And each and every gift, each and every moment in our life, is provided such that it serves as an opportunity to serve Him and All That is His.

For those of us seeking to live a Vedic life, this dedication to service will

make us see caste as not being a state of high or low, but rather a post in

life that Sriman Narayana has placed us such that we can best serve His


In time, service itself become its own reward, as it becomes a means of ever-constant way of expressing gratitude to Sriman Narayana for all that He has blessed us with.

While all of this seems to be an ideal that is yet to be achieved by all of

us, we should be aware of the fact that Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja, being

one who understood the truths of the Vedas, was the very embodiment of

these principles. Recognizing that he was to be the greatest example of

what he wished to share, Ramanuja broke free of the traditional bonds of

sanyAsa Ashram, which up until that time had required aloofness and

detachment, to a life of being the "Supreme Servant". Long before the

conditions of society allowed, and centuries before even such great souls

like Mahatma Gandhi had even envisioned the idea, Ramanuja brought

people from all castes and backgrounds, even those from the lowest

strata of society, under the message that has been so well-summed up by

HH Sri Chinna Jeeyar Svami as, "Serve All Living Beings as Service to

God". Sri Ramanuja ensured that each person and each community that

sought to live the Sri Vaishnava way was provided with the opportunity

to serve the Lord in His Temples, in their homes, and in the festivals and

rituals that were geared towards expressing our love for Him. Despite

his erudition and the austerities required of him by his caste and position

as leader of a faith, Sri Ramanuja freely moved about with all of his

people, caring for their welfare, making sure that each was treated fairly

and was provided with the opportunity to utilize his/her talents for the

good of the Sri Vaishnava community.

Sri Ramanuja made certain that all of the 74 disciples that he had selected to promote His Vision, the simhAsanadhipathis or Acharya purushas, had this message of universal servitude and fellowship imbibed in their hearts. And, it is because of this that we are blessed to know it to this day. All that it requires for us to begin on this path is to aspire to live in way that reveres that Very Great Soul, Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja, who brought this message to all of us.


That Thiru Narayanapuram (Melkote) has a renowned Sanskrit Research Institute? This institute (called Academy of Sanskrit Research) has in its possession numerous priceless palm leaf manuscripts in Sanskrit pertaining to every field of philosophy.

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We Can Pray; We Should Pray; Will We Pray?

Sri nidhim nidhim apAram arthinAm arthithArtha paridAna dIkshitam

sarva bhUta suhrdam dayAnidhim dEvarAjam adhirAjam AsrayE

(Let my salutations be to Lord DevarAja - King of the gods, Sriman

Narayana - whose unparalleled wealth is PerundEvi thayar - the Supreme

Goddess and Mother, who Himself is the wealth of all the wanting souls,

who has resolved to grant all the needs of His bhaktas, who is the well

wisher of one and all and who is a Treasure of Mercy).

Svami KurattazhvAn’s invocatory verse of Sri Varadaraja stavam (the Hymn

to the Lord Who is the Bestower of Boons) has a lot to convey to us. It is

all the more important in these days of unrest. We need to pray together

and individually for the safety and well being of all our fellow citizens

on Mother Earth. Sri Vaishnavism and all the vedas accept that the whole

universe is the divine body of Sriman Narayana. All the residents of this

earth, cutting across countries, language, sex, community, caste, religion

and above all whether they are humans or flora or fauna, belong to one

group - Servants to the Supreme Lord. One attribute that is common to

all of us is sEshatva - absolute unconditional servitude to our Lord. This

jIvatma's (soul) first and foremost identification is this sEshatva (quality of

servitude). Svami Ramanuja defines sEshatvam as paragata atisaya AdAna

iccha (a servant who always wants to add glory to his Master. So let us

try to add glory to the Lord).

But, alas! Adding glory to Him would be impossible; how can we bring

Glory to the One Who is the Ultimate Glory? He is proclaimed as

"avikArAya suddhAya nityAya paRamatmanE, sadaika rUpa rUpaya vishnavE

sarva jishnavE" (one whose inherent nature, attributes and divine body is

unchanged). Consequently, we fail in our attempt to add any glory to

Him as He is already full with it.

This leads to a paradoxical problem. While He is Perfect, no service can

ever add to His Glory. However, if we do not seek to serve him and

glorify Him, it would be against our True Nature to be His sEsha.

Our preceptors have showed us the way to wriggle out of this problem

and retain our sEshatvam. Because, He is the very soul of all the sentient

and non-sentient beings in this Universe. Since these beings are not

perfect in their nature, we can add to their glory by selflessly serving

them. Therefore, Service to our fellow beings becomes a means to

serving and glorifying God, and would be in accordance with our True

Nature as His sEsha.

There is a popularly held misconception that service should be limited to

other devotees, other Sri Vaishnavas. But, as the Lord is the Inner Spirit

and Master of all living beings, we cannot and should not limit ourselves

only to them. Let us pack up these ideas and focus on serving everyone

who is in need. Let us seek to serve the world as a whole.

Now, this leads to the question of the best way to serve. We can

monetarily or physically help those in times of need. However, we can

often encounter so many road blocks while implementing this. Each of

us has access to only a few people that we whom we can help in times of

need. Go ahead and do your might. But how do we serve all living

beings at large? Seek the help of someone who is close to all of them.

That unique personality is none other than Sriman Narayana. Whether

others agree to His Lordship or not, we agree to their servanthood. So let

us look upon Sriman Narayana to help everyone. He is the one who can

and who should give a helping hand.

This is why Svami Koorathazhvan calls upon us to collectively pray to

Him as He is the "sarva bhUta suhrt" (common well wisher). Prayer is

nothing but a call, a representation, and a plea - not only for me but for

Him, for His well being. His well being would mean the well being of

this Universe. So bhaktas, let us resolve from today to pray together for

the well being of our Lord and humanity. This fetches many fruits in one

throw. I retain my sEshatva; I have prayed for Him, I have prayed for

everyone. And this prayer itself becomes a form of "dyAnam"

(concentration and meditation).

Svami Ramanuja says that the first step to salvation is jIvAtma paRamatma

jnAnam (knowledge about self and the Lord). But mere knowledge

would make one grope in the darkness of samsAra, drowning one in

often times painful and seemingly unanswerable questions. We need to

focus this jnAnam on PaRamatma which transforms to dyAnam -


Meditation is often seen to be only in the form of mantra japa (repetitive

chanting of mantras), vigraha pUja (offering prayer to the Deity) etc.

However, this kind of codified approach to meditation often makes one

rigid and egotistical. One needs to refine mediation with love and

affection (snEham). Sri Ramanuja says "dyAna arcana pranAmadibhi:

atyartha priya: tat prApti phala:" (the Lord is pleased with meditation, pUja

and surrender; His pleasure is the means to salvation). He also defines

bhakti as "snEha pUrvam anu dyAnam bhakti:" (meditation with love is

known as bhakti).

Svami Nammazhwar says "eNNilum varum.”(first centum tenth decade of

ThiruvAymozhi). The Lord is waiting in the aisle to come to our rescue,

expecting us to simply to think about Him. A humble thought has the

power to invoke Him.

I am sure you would all now appreciate the importance of dyAnam. Is it

not just closing our eyes and thinking about our Lord. We need to do

more. We must enjoy His Qualities, recollect His Divine actions during

incarnations for our well being, plead for His Well Being (mangalasanam /

pallandu pallandu un sevadi sevvi tirukkappu - May good tidings come to

you, Oh, Lord/Forever and ever may your Sacred Feet be Blessed) and

in turn ensure the well being of everyone. PeriyAzhvar pleaded for the

safety of His lotus feet, which serves as the very soul of all devotees.

So make it a daily practice to establish an undisturbed stream of focused

thoughts on Sriman Narayana. Pray to Him. Do not plead for any mean

fruit. Request for the well being of everyone. All the other wealth would

automatically be granted. Once in a while, make this jointly in a satsang,

then the energy gets multiplied and you start feeling the synergy.

We can pray. We should pray. Will we pray?

SarvE janA: sukhinO bhavantu. Samasta san mangalAni santu.

(May good come to all living beings. May good tidings come to the

whole Universe)


“Why do we not feel about the

Lord the same way as the Azhvars did?” The reason for that is their total

love for the Lord, which came about as a result of the Lord’s uninitiated

grace towards them. The Lord blessed them with blemish less

knowledge. That is why they are who they are, and are known as

“mayarvu aRa madhinalam aruLa-p-perRRavargaL” (those who were blessed

with blemishless, unforgettable knowledge). Svami Nammazhvar starts the

thiruvaymozhi with the statement “Oh mind! Go worship and surrender

to the One who granted the blemishless knowledge”.

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<CENTER>Acharya Vamsa Vruksham


Acharya means Guru or Teacher. Vamsa means Lineage Vriksham means tree. What is the relation between these 3 words. Are we telling that Acharya is a tree? No

Imagine a tree… say Banyan tree… A huge tree… is it not? What are the parts of a tree? Let us start from the root. The tree has root, stem, branches, leaves, and fruits etc.

Our Lineage of spiritual teachers is compared with a tree. Like the root has the connection to stem, stem to branches, branch to leaves and fruits. Our Acharya parampara has connection from the first acharya to our present Acharya.

By the way who is your present acharya? Ask your parents. We call them as Jeeyar or Andavan.Do you know who is your first Acharya? It is Sriman Narayana

So our Acharya Vamsa Vriksham starts from Sriman narayan and ends with our present acharya. Do you remember a Thaniyan,we recite before starting recitation of Pallandu?

Lakshmi naatha samaarambhaam, natha yaamuna madhyamaam.

asmadh aacharya paryanthaam vandhE guru paramparaam


I salute the line of acharyas starting with Lakshminathan i.e.: Sriman Narayana, the others like Nathamuni, Yamuna muni coming in between, and up to my present Acharya

Now let’s us learn briefly about our acharya parampara. First let us see a chart of our acharya lineage (See next page)

In this write up, let us learn about our Acharyas up to Swami Desika. In fact the acharya lineage after Ramanuja branches out in multifold and we have hundreds and hundreds of acharyas upto present day acharya.


<CENTER>Sriman Narayana



Sri Lakshmi



Sri Vishwaksenar



Sri Nammazhvar



Sri Nathamuni



Sri Uyyakondar



Sri Manakkalnambi



Sri Yamuna Muni



Sri Perianambi



Sri Ramanuja



Sri Desika



Present Day Acharyas</CENTER>

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Svami Ramanuja’s favorite Place

Presiding Deity:

Sri Yoga Narasimha (hill top), Sri ThiruNarayana (Moolavar), Sri

Yadugiri Naachiyaar (Divine Consort), Chelva Pillai (Sampath KuMAran) (Processional Deity) and Yatiraja (Sri Ramanujacharya -Tamar uganda Tirumeni (The image that is dear to the devotees).

Salient Aspects of the Place and Temple:

ThiruNarayanapuram is also called Yadavadri, Yadushaila, and Melukote. It is located in the present Mysore/Karnataka district. This small town’s hub of activity is its temple. This Sri Vaishnava abhimAna sthalam was the place where Ramanuja resided after he and his disciples were exiled from Srirangam by the local fanatical chieftains. Of all of the places where he resided, ThiruNarayanapuram was particularly dear to his heart; so much so, that he stated that he would place his very spirit in the processional image that bears an exact likeness to him, and instructed all of his disciples to make an effort to reside here.

ThiruNarayanapuram is a place where people glorify Sri Ramanuja as the

King of Ascetics, the King of Philosophers, the King the Vedas awaited,

and the Father of the divine child Sampath KumAran (Chelva Pillai-the

dear darling child). Despite its appearance as a sleepy little town, the

temple and town is home for many learned Acharya Purushas and Vedic


Sri Vaishnava tradition with Sri Ramanuja as its central focus and most

important acharya, explains the important relationship of this Great Soul

with his beloved child, Sri Chelva Pillai. It is understood that Sriman

Narayana is the Only Being in this Universe that is Truly Independent,

i.e., His Actions and His Will is not limited by the bounds of karma, as it

is with every other soul. But, since His Very Nature is Love and

Compassion, He is under the sway of those who love him, and to Great

Souls like Sri Ramanuja, He becomes like their own child, much in the

same way in which He allowed Himself to become Nandagopa's and

Yashoda's Beloved Son, Krishna. Sri Ramanuja is the father to Chelva

Pillai, caring for Him, nurturing Him, as well as instructing Him on the

merciful attitude He should maintain when He is approached by all


Establishment of the Temple:


The auspicious Thai Punarvasu (the Makara month) when Sri Ramanuja

found His TiruNarayana from the Hills in Yadavadri is celebrated with

much enthusiasm. All the temple festivities to this date are carried out

by the local Mahans in the same manner as Sri Ramanuja established

more than 900 years ago. In 1098-99 Sri Ramanuja reached this town at

the age of 82 and uncovered TiruNarayana who was hidden, buried in

the Yadavadri Hills. A temple was built and the Lord worshipped by the

pAncharAtra tradition. As Sri Ramanuja was in search for a processional

deity for the temple festivities, He was instructed by the Lord to go north

(Delhi) and bring Him back from the Delhi Sultan’s daughter Bibi. Sri

Ramanuja resided in Melkote for 12 years, establishing and

administering temple.


Many scholars and people from different faiths surrendered to Sri Ramanuja under the Hoysala reign of King Vishnuvardhana. The Mandyam, HebbAr, Hemmige, and MelnAttar communities are some of the many Sri Vaishnava groups that have originated from here.

Although their spoken language is the Sanskrit based Kannada, more importance is given to the Dravida Vedas, the 4000 Divine outpourings of the Azhvars, than to the Sanskrit Vedas.

Tradition and Festivals:

In accordance with the Sri Vaishnava tradition where the Acharya is given equal or more importance than the Lord, the bhagavathas of this special divine place give extraordinary importance to Sri Ramanuja and His Darling Child. The daily worship is done first at the shrine of Sri Ramanuja and subsequently to the main presiding deities.


Although there are no azhvar pasurams sung in direct reference to


Thirunarayanapuram, Sri Ramanuja dedicated the 4.1.1 verse of Sri

Nammazhvar’s Thiruvaimozhi to ThiruNarayana.

The two main festivals held at this sacred place are the famous Vairamudi festival (The Festival of the Diamond Crown) and Sri Ramanuja Tirunakshattiram (Sri Ramanuja’s Appearance Day) festival. The former is held in the Tamil/Solar month Panguni on the star Pushyam where Chelva Pillai also called Yatiraja Sampath KuMAran majestically adorns the sparkling, resplendent diamond-studded crown. The latter is held during the month of Chittirai, during the TiruvAdirai star. Both these are 10-day-long festivals where the town sees tens of thousands of devotees to enjoy the Divine Form of the Lord ThiruNarayana and His Father, Yatiraja Sri Ramanuja.



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Sri Manavala Mamunigal is the greatest Sri Vaishnava Acharya in our Parampara. He is regarded as the avatar of Bhagavad Ramanujar Himself. This is not fanciful thinking, but has actually been proven. Lord Narayana Himself took Manavala Mamunigal as His Acharya and presented this invocatory verse (Thaniyan):


Sri Sailesa Dayapathram Dhibhaktyadi Gunarnavam Yathindra Pravanam Vande Ramyaja Matharam Munim.


Thus, the Lord who has stressed so much on the importance of the Spiritual Master's role in enlightening a Jivatma Himself took somebody as His Spiritual Master. And for anyone doubting this, Sri PBA Swamy has analysed the Sloka and concluded that it was authored by Sriman Narayana only, and nobody else:




As Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, Sriman Narayana had

surrendered to a few people and yet each time He was

not happy with those people. He found drawbacks in

each of them and was dissatisfied. As such, He took

Sri Manavala Mamunigal as His acharya and became

happy that He finally had surrendered to one who has

all the qualities to be an acharya. This is clearly

shown by Him in each of the terms of the taniyan.



1. SriSailEsa dayApAtram: In Sri Rama avatar, He took

refuge with a sailEsa dayApAtran. Now, He salutes

SrisailEsa dayApAtran. SailEsa dayApAtran is Sugriva.

The sailam here is Ricyamukha mountain. The Lord of

that sailam is Mathanka Muni, and Sugriva lived under

this rishi's dayA. At one time, Vali had fought an

asura named Dundubi and killed him. Vali then had

tossed the body of the asura a long distance and at

that time some blood drops from his body had fallen

on Mathanka Muni's ashramam. Mathanka Muni was

angered by that and had cursed that whosoever had

done that and his associates would die if they

stepped on that mountain. Sugriva after earning the

enemity of Vali had taken refuge in this mountain to

escape his brother. Hence he is the sailEsa dayApAtra.


Sri Rama had taken refuge with Sugriva initially,

but later was disappointed by him. Even after the

rainy season was over, after the killing of Vali,

Sugriva did not make any efforts in helping Sri

Rama locate Sri Sita. As such, Sri Rama told Sri

Lakshmana to meet Sugriva and tell him that "one

who forgets the help of a friend is a lowly person;

the way Vali was sent is also open to Sugriva; Sri

Rama is ready to send Sugriva, his friends and

relatives to the domain of Yama". Thus Sri Rama had

become dissatisfied with the sailEsa dayApAtran with

whom He had taken refuge. In order that this be

rectified, He now takes refuge with Srisailesa

Dayapatrar who is Sri Manavala Mamunigal.


He salutes Sri Manavala Mamunigal who is the receipient

of the dayA of ThiruvAymozhippiLLai (Thirumalai AzhvAr

also known as Srisailesar).


2. dhIbhaktyAdi guNArNavam: In Rama avatar, He had

bowed to the lord of the salty ocean ("lavaNArNavam").

Based on Vibeeshana's words, Sri Rama performed

saranagati to the ocean. However, the lord of the ocean

chose to ignore Sri Rama and at that time Sri Rama

decided to send a fierce astram and empty the ocean

and make it into dry land. Thus, He ended up with

disappointment with one to whom He had made saranagati.

In order to make up the disappointment of surrendering

to the ocean of salt, He now surrenders to the ocean

of great guNas who is Sri Manavala Mamunigal.


3. yatIndra pravaNam: That Lord Sri Ranaganatha

is the same as Lord Srinivasa is known from pasurams

such as "manthipAy vadavEnkada mAmalai vAnavarkaL

santhi seyya ninRAn arangaththaravinaNaiyAn". And as

Lord Srinivasa, He received the Conch and Discus from

Sri Ramanuja and therefore took him as His acharya.

While there was no disappointment for the Lord with

Sri Ramanuja, after listening to the Ramanuja

Noorranthathi verse "thannaiyuRRat seyyum thanmaiyinOr",

where it is said that rather than being attached to

Sri Ramanuja it is better to be attached to those who

are attached to Sri Ramanuja, He decided on becoming

the sishya of Yatindra Paravanar rather than being the

sishya of Yatindrar.


Yatindra Pravanar is a special name given to Sri

Manavala Mamunigal.


4. vandE ramyajAmAtaram munim: During avatars, He

became a disciple of muni's: as Sri Rama with Sage

Vishvamitra and as Sri Krishna with Sage Santhipini.

However, He became disappointed with them both. In

Mithilai, He heard about the details of Sage

Vishvamitra's past and became disappointed that He

had taken such a person who was subject to rajas

and tamas, as His acharya. In Sri Krishna avatar,

even after knowing that Sri Krishna was none but

Sriman Narayana, Sage Santhipini requested a lower

purushartha which was his son's life rather than the

higher purushartha which is moksha. As such, He

became disappointed with this muni as well. Thus,

He decided to take on the muni who is the ocean of

satva guNas as His acharya, who is Ramya Jamatru




Thus, this taniyan which has so many special and

hidden meanings could not have been authored by

anyone but Sriman Narayana.

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