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Anatoly Shestakov
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Ramanuja Life History In Tamil Pdf

Ramanuja Life History In Tamil Pdf: A Guide to the Life and Teachings of the Great Vaishnava Saint

Ramanuja (1017-1137 CE) was one of the most influential Hindu philosophers and saints who expounded the doctrine of Vishishtadvaita or qualified non-dualism. He was born in Sriperumbudur near Chennai and spent most of his life in Srirangam, where he established the Sri Vaishnava tradition and reformed the worship and administration of the Ranganatha temple. He also traveled to various holy places and wrote commentaries on the Vedanta scriptures. He is revered as Udayavar or Yatiraja (king of ascetics) by his followers and is considered an incarnation of Adisesha, the serpent bed of Lord Vishnu.

Ramanuja Life History In Tamil Pdf


The Early Life of Ramanuja

Ramanuja was born in a Brahmin family of the Harita gotra in the year 1017 CE. His father was Kesava Somayaji and his mother was Kantimati. His original name was Ilaya Perumal or Lakshmana. He was a bright and pious child who mastered the Vedas and other scriptures at a young age. He was married to Rakshakambal (also known as Tanjammal) when he was 16 years old.

He studied under Yadava Prakasha, a renowned scholar of Advaita Vedanta, the monistic philosophy of Shankara. However, he soon found himself disagreeing with his teacher on many points of interpretation and logic. He also felt a strong attraction towards the devotional path of the Alwars, the Tamil poet-saints who sang praises of Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.

He had a miraculous encounter with Kanchipurna, a devout Vaishnava who served as a water-carrier in the Varadaraja temple in Kanchipuram. Ramanuja was impressed by his humility and devotion and sought his blessings. Kanchipurna recognized Ramanuja as a great soul and predicted that he would become a leader of the Vaishnava faith.

The Guru-Disciple Relationship with Yamunacharya

Ramanuja's life took a decisive turn when he came to know about Yamunacharya, also known as Alavandar, the foremost exponent of Vishishtadvaita and the head of the Srirangam monastery. Ramanuja felt a strong urge to meet him and learn from him. He left his home and teacher and set out for Srirangam with his cousin Govinda (also known as Embar).

However, by the time he reached Srirangam, Yamunacharya had passed away. Ramanuja was heartbroken and went to see his body lying in state. He noticed that three fingers of Yamunacharya's right hand were curled up, indicating that he had three unfulfilled wishes. Mahapurna, one of Yamunacharya's disciples, explained that these were:

  • To write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras, the aphorisms of Vedanta.

  • To propagate the divine names of Vishnu as taught by the Alwars.

  • To entrust the Srirangam monastery to a worthy successor.

Ramanuja was moved by these wishes and vowed to fulfill them. He touched Yamunacharya's hand and prayed for his grace. To everyone's astonishment, the three fingers straightened up, indicating that Yamunacharya had accepted Ramanuja as his spiritual heir.

The Leadership of Srirangam and Beyond

Ramanuja became the head of the Srirangam monastery after undergoing initiation from Mahapurna and Periya Nambi, two senior disciples of Yamunacharya. He also received the sacred mantra of eight syllables (Om Namo Narayanaya) from Gosthipurna, another disciple who had received it directly from Nammalvar, one of the greatest Alwars.

Ramanuja dedicated his life to spreading the message of Vishishtadvaita and Sri Vaishnavism among the masses. He wrote Sri Bhashya, a monumental commentary on the Brahma Sutras, which established Vishishtadvaita as a valid and coherent system of Vedanta. He also wrote commentaries on other scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.

He reformed the worship and administration of the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam according to the Pancharatra Agama, a scripture that prescribes the rituals and rules for Vaishnava temples. He introduced the practice of honoring all devotees irrespective of their caste or status as equal recipients of God's grace. He also organized his followers into 74 branches (simhasana adhipatis) and appointed them as acharyas (teachers) to propagate his teachings.

He traveled to various holy places such as Tirupati, Kanchipuram, Melkote, Kashmir, etc., to spread his message and establish temples and monasteries. He also converted many people from other faiths such as Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, etc., to Vaishnavism by engaging them in debates and dialogues.

The Persecution and Exile of Ramanuja

Ramanuja faced many challenges and dangers in his life due to his bold and uncompromising stance on religious matters. He had to face the opposition and hostility of the rulers, the priests, and even some of his own relatives and disciples.

One of the most notorious enemies of Ramanuja was Kulothunga Chola I, the king of the Chola dynasty, who was a fanatical follower of Shaivism. He persecuted the Vaishnavas and tried to force them to convert to Shaivism. He also ordered the destruction of many Vaishnava temples and images.

Ramanuja had to flee from Srirangam to escape the wrath of the king. He took refuge in the Hoysala kingdom under the protection of King Vishnuvardhana, who was a devotee of Vishnu. Ramanuja stayed there for about 12 years and converted many people to Vaishnavism. He also established a temple and a monastery in Melkote, which became a center of learning and pilgrimage.

During his exile, Ramanuja also visited Kashmir, where he obtained a rare manuscript of the Bodhayana Vritti, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras attributed to an ancient sage. He used this manuscript to complete his Sri Bhashya, which he had started earlier but left unfinished due to lack of sources.

The Return and Legacy of Ramanuja

After the death of Kulothunga Chola I, Ramanuja returned to Srirangam with his followers. He was welcomed with great joy and reverence by the people. He resumed his leadership of the Srirangam monastery and continued his mission of spreading Vishishtadvaita and Sri Vaishnavism.

He also initiated many disciples into his tradition and appointed them as acharyas or teachers. Some of his most prominent disciples were Kuresa, Dhanurdasa, Andhrapurna, Mudaliyandan, Embaar, Parasara Bhattar, Vaduga Nambi, Pillan, etc. He also ordained 12 Alwars (poet-saints) as azhagiyasingars (beautiful lions) and gave them specific tasks and responsibilities.

Ramanuja lived for 120 years and passed away in 1137 CE. His mortal remains were interred in the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam. His shrine is still visited by thousands of devotees who pay their respects to him. He is regarded as one of the greatest saints and philosophers of India and one of the foremost exponents of Vaishnavism.


Ramanuja was a remarkable personality who left a lasting impact on the religious and philosophical thought of India. He was a visionary who synthesized the best elements of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Alwars' hymns into a coherent and comprehensive system of Vishishtadvaita. He was a reformer who challenged the rigid and oppressive social norms of his time and advocated for the equality and dignity of all human beings as part of God's creation. He was a leader who inspired and guided millions of people to follow the path of devotion and surrender to Lord Vishnu. He was a saint who exemplified the highest ideals of love, compassion, humility, and service.

Ramanuja's life and teachings have been preserved and propagated by his followers for centuries. His tradition is still alive and vibrant in many parts of India and abroad. His works are still studied and revered by scholars and seekers of truth. His legacy is still relevant and inspiring for the modern world. He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest spiritual masters of all time.

The Teachings and Works of Ramanuja

Ramanuja's main contribution to Hindu philosophy was his exposition and defense of Vishishtadvaita, which means "qualified non-dualism" or "non-dualism with attributes". According to this doctrine, Brahman or the Supreme Reality is not an impersonal and abstract entity, but a personal and compassionate God who has infinite attributes and qualities. He is also known as Narayana or Vishnu, the Lord of the universe and the source of all beings.

Ramanuja argued that the individual souls (jivas) are not identical with Brahman, but are parts or modes of Brahman. They are eternal and distinct, but dependent on Brahman for their existence and bliss. They are also subject to the cycle of birth and death (samsara) due to their ignorance (avidya) and attachment (karma) to the material world (maya). The only way to escape from samsara and attain liberation (moksha) is to surrender (prapatti) to the grace (prasada) of Brahman, who is also known as Sriman Narayana or Lakshmi-Narayana, the consort of Goddess Lakshmi, the embodiment of divine love and compassion.

Ramanuja also emphasized the importance of devotion (bhakti) as the means of attaining moksha. He advocated the worship of Vishnu and his various incarnations (avatars), especially Rama and Krishna, as well as his divine consort Lakshmi and his devotees (bhagavatas). He also revered the Alwars, the 12 Tamil poet-saints who composed hymns in praise of Vishnu, as his spiritual predecessors. He incorporated their hymns into his daily rituals and teachings.

Ramanuja wrote many works in Sanskrit and Tamil to explain and propagate his philosophy. His most famous work is the Sri Bhashya, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras, which is considered as one of the most authoritative texts on Vedanta. He also wrote commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, as well as independent treatises such as the Vedanta Sara, Vedanta Dipa, Vedartha Sangraha, etc. He also composed hymns in Tamil such as the Gadya Trayam, Nitya Grantham, etc. d282676c82


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