SRI RAMANUJACHARYA’S LIFE HISTORY (BY SRI UBHAYA VEDANTHA ANBIL RAMASWAMY)
Sri Ramanuja (1017 – 1137 CE), the most important philosopher-saint of Sri Vaishnavam and one of the most dynamic characters of Hinduism. He was a philosophical as well as a social reformer, displaying a catholicity that was nearly unparalleled in Hindu religious history before him. He revitalised Indian philosophy and popular religion so much that nearly every aspect of Hinduism has been influenced by his work. His life and works show a truly unique personality, combining contemplative insight, logical acumen, catholicity, charismatic energy, and selfless dedication to God.
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:
Ananthah Prathamam Roopam Lakshmanascha Tathah Parah |
Balabadram Thritheeyasthu Kalou Kaschit Bhavishyathi ||
(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 to 1017 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 (Ardra nakshatra). 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
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.