Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
1057-1135 AD = 78 years
[February 5th is Shree Raamanujaachaarya's disappearance day. The following is a transcription of Srila Bhaktivedaant Narayana Gosvami Maharaja's informal Darshan, given in Hawaii in 2007, at which time Srila Maharaja discussed his glories. That informal Darshan took place with only the few devotees in his traveling party, so we especially thank his personal cook, Madhuvrat Daas Brahmchaaree, for sending us the sound-file. Srila Narayana Maharaja’s talk was brief, and therefore we have included excerpts from his lecture given in Mathuraa in 2000, in green color in brackets, to fill out the history:]
[Shree Raamaanujaachaarya is an incarnation of Lakshman (Lord Raam’s younger brother), and he accepted the Shree Sampradaaya. Srila Bhaktisiddhaant Saraswatee Thaakur Prabhupaad took many teachings from him, such as the duties of the Sanyaasee, the duties of the disciple, and the etiquette of the Vaishnav. He utilized one-hundred and eight teachings. His teachings have been published in Bhagvat Patrikaa and Gaudiyaa Patrikaa (Hindi and Bangaalee Magazines).]
Bhagavaan Saves His Life
Later, when Raamaanuj was massaging Yaadavaachaarya, he told him - "The explanation you have given for "Kapyasam" is wrong. "Kapi" can be understood to mean "that which takes water from everywhere". Now who takes water? The Sun. The word "asam" also means "to blossom", so the word "kapi-asam" can be understood as "that which blossoms under the Sun", or, in other words, "the lotus flower". Thus, we can understand the verse to mean that the Lord’s eyes are as beautiful as the lotus flower.”
[Shree Raamaanujaachaarya took birth in a simple family. His mother and father were not very wealthy, but they were of a high Braahman caste and they were very learned. Raamaanuj was an outstanding boy from his childhood. While under the guidance of a Maayaavaadee Guru named Yaadavaachaarya, he was very careful in his studies. One day, when his Guru was giving an impersonal explanation of a verse that contained the word Kapyasan, he compared the lotus-eyes of the Lord to the hind part of a monkey which is reddish near its tail. Hearing this from his Guru Dev’s mouth, Raamaanuj began to cry in great pain. He felt grief in his heart that his Guru Dev had used such a bad analogy for describing the lotus-like eyes of the Lord. After collecting himself, he very politely asked if he could say something about the verse. Yaadavaachaarya assented, and Raamaanuj very nicely gave many explanations according to Sanskrit grammar. He said that the term Kapyasam actually means one who brings water, and that is the Sun. The lotus blossoms by the potency of the Sun, and therefore the Lord’s eyes are compared to the lotus, not the monkey.]
Raamaanuj’s teacher became astonished, thinking, “If this boy is so knowledgeable at such a young age, what will he do when he is grown up? If he remains alive, this Maayaavaad teaching will be finished.” His teacher then planned to murder him.
[When Yaadavaachaarya heard this, he thought, “This boy is dangerous. He is very expert and is giving such nice explanations. In the future he might uproot all the impersonal teachings from the Vedas, and so I must kill him.”]
Thinking to trick Raamaanuj, Yaadavaachaarya told him that he was going to travel with all his students to do some preaching, and that Raamaanuj should also accompany them. Raamaanuj was a very sincere and innocent boy, so he didn’t understand his teacher’s intentions.
Then, when they were all in a very deep forest, they decided that this would be the time to murder him. Govind, his cousin, told him of their plan, and urged him to quickly flee from there. Therefore, in the middle of the night, Raamaanuj told them that he was going to the toilet, and he ran away. Now alone, he suddenly saw a hunter, along with his wife, holding a hurricane light. The man asked him, “Where are you going?”
Raamaanuj answered, “I am going to Kaancheepuram.” The man replied, “We are also going there, so come with us.” When he arrived at Kaancheepuram, his own village, which was still very far away, those people disappeared. Raamaanuj then began to weep. He understood that it was certainly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Naaraayan Himself, along with His eternal consort, Lakshmee, who had saved his life.
[Throughout the day and night, he passed through the dense forest. It was very difficult for him to discern his way, especially at night. The Lord, seeing His dear devotee in such a state, then appeared in the form of Bharadraaj and, holding a lantern in His hand, showed Raamaanuj the way. Thus, within no time at all, Raamaanuj crossed the entire distance of the forest and found that he was standing outside his village.]
Sometime later, Raamaanuj’s teacher returned to the village. He had been thinking that perhaps a lion or tiger had eaten Raamaanuj, so he was very happy. However, when he arrived at Kaacheepuram, he saw that Raamaanuj was alive. He called him and told him to forget everything that had happened, Raamaanuj again resumed his Sanskrit studies with Yaadavaachaarya.
[After some days, out of compassion for Yaadavaachaarya and with a desire to deliver him, he again began studying under his guidance. After some years, Raamaanuj converted Yaadavaachaarya to Vaishnav philosophy, whereupon his teacher became his disciple. At one point thereafter, Raamaanuj began hearing of the qualities of a great Vaishnav Guru in South India by the name of Shree Yamunaachaarya, and he eventually became Shree Yamunaachaarya’s disciple.]
Raamaanuj as the Disciple of Yamunaachaarya
One day, a disciple of Shree Yamunaachaarya named Kaancheepoorn came to the house of Raamaanuj. He was from a very low-caste family, but he was a very high-class devotee. He came there along with his wife by the order of his Guru Dev, and he now began to give his association to Raamaanuj.
One day, when Raamaanuj’s wife was drawing water from the well, Kaancheepoorn’s wife was also there drawing water. Some water from the bucket of Kaancheepoorn’s wife fell into Raamaanuj’s wife’s bucket. She immediately became very angry and started to insult the wife of Kaancheepoorn with abusive language. When Kaancheepoorn returned, his wife told him of the incident at the well, and he immediately left the house of Raamaanuj. Upon hearing the reason why his Shikshaa-Guru had departed, Raamaanuj began to think, “I should not be with this lady. Somehow, I should give her up right away.”
Raamaanuj in Shree Rang Peeth
One day, when Raamaanuj was teaching at the school, a hungry Braahman came there. Raamaanuj said to him, “If you go to my house to beg, my wife will give you something.” However, when the Braahman went there, Raamaanuj’s very cruel wife said, “I can’t give you anything. Go! Get out of here!” The Braahman returned to Raamaanuj, who then told him to go back to his house and tell his wife, “I am coming from the house of your father. He sent me to you, so please take this letter from him.” Raamaanuj personally wrote the letter and gave it to the Braahman to deliver to his wife. The letter stated, “Your brother will marry very soon, so you must come to your father’s house.” After reading the letter, Raamaanuj’s wife began to honor that Braahman, and she gave him a large quantity of delicious Prasaadam.
[One day, a hungry Braahman came to Raamaanuj, asking for some food. Raamaanuj sent this Braahman to his wife, telling him, “Go to my home and tell my wife that I sent you. She will give you some food.” When that Braahman came to Raamaanuj’s wife, she boldly insulted him again and again. She told him he should get out of there, and that there was no food for him. Returning to Raamaanuj, the Braahman reported what had happened, and Raamaanuj replied, “Wait here for a few minutes.” He left and wrote a letter to his wife, as though it was written by her father, stating, “O my dear daughter, I am arranging the marriage of my son, your brother. So you should come. Please bring your husband with you.”
Writing these words very nicely, he folded that letter and tied it with colorful threads. And, along with that, he sent a coconut and other auspicious items. He then gave that letter to the Braahman and said, “Now go again to my wife. She will welcome you nicely this time. The Braahman went again. After reading the letter, Raamaanuj’s wife’s behavior completely changed. This time she welcomed him warmly and sweetly, and offered him all kinds of palatable food and sweets. When Raamaanuj came home, his wife told him about the marriage. She cited her father’s request for both of them to come, and requested him to please come along. Ramanuja said, “No, I cannot come, for I am very busy; you may go now with this Braahman. Don’t be late.”]
When his wife left to go to the house of her father, Raamaanuj also left that house. He went to Shree Rangam to meet his Guru Dev, Shree Yamunaachaarya, but Yamunaachaarya had already left his body just before Raamaanuj arrived. Raamaanuj saw that many devotees were walking with the transcendental body of Yamunaachaarya. All of his disciples were weeping as they carried his body to be placed in Samaadhi.
[After his wife left with that Braahman, Raamaanuj locked the door of his house and went to Shree Rangam to meet his Guru Dev, Shree Yamunaachaarya. He wanted to take Sanyaas from him, but when he reached Shree Rangam, he found that Shree Yamunaachaarya had just passed away and his disciples were walking in procession with his divine body. Raamaanuj felt very disheartened and sad.]
He told them, “I have accepted Yamunaachaarya as my Guru Dev. I want to see his face.” Yamunaachaarya’s disciples stopped and lifted the cloth from his body. Raamaanuj could see that three of Yamunaachaarya’s fingers were folded. He inquired from the disciples all around as to why this was there, and he wanted to know when it happened. No one could answer. They said, “We didn’t notice it before; it must have happened just now.”
Raamaanuj became silent, and after some time he spoke, addressing Shree Yamunaachaarya’s transcendental body. He said, “Now, I will first of all write a Vaishnav commentary on Vedaant, and I will preach that Vaishnav commentary throughout India.” One finger opened, and Raamaanuj spoke further, “I will take Tri-dandee Sanyaas right now, and I will preach the message of Vaishnav Dharm and your teachings.” When Shree Yamunaachaarya Jee heard that, his second finger opened. Raamaanuj then said, “I will systematically write about Vaishnav etiquette, explaining the behavior required to execute pure devotional service, and what precautions should be taken. I will also preach this throughout India.” After uttering this third statement, Shree Raamaanujaachaarya observed, along with all present, that three of Yamunaachaarya’s fingers had now opened. Then and there, Shree Raamaanujaachaarya formally accepted Tri-dandee Sanyaas from Shree Yamunaachaarya.
Raamaanuj as Aachaarya
Coming down he was faced with the wrath of his Guru to which he replied, "I don’t mind going to hell in exchange for all of these people attaining liberation". At this, the stunned Guru hailed Raamaanuj as the foremost exponent of the Vaishnav faith in the country and accepted his leadership. He then spent some time with each of the prominent disciples of Yamunaachaarya. He served them and heard from them what they had learned from their Guru. Only after hearing from them for two years did he accept the post of Aachaarya.
While Raamaanuj conquered everyone with his large compassionate heart, the time was such that Aadi Shankar had to prove with his erudition the validity of what he claimed as the truth. Amongst the series of debates, the most famous is the debate with Mandan Mishra which lasted fifteen days and was refereed by his learned wife Ubhaya Bhaaratee.
Debate Between Raamaanuj and the King Koluttunga II
In the palace there was a great debate, during which Kuresh defeated all the Pandit of the King. However, Kuresh was alone, so the King’s Pandit told everyone that he had been defeated. They forcibly detained him, and only released him after blinding him by plucking out both of his eyes. He then began to search for his Guru Dev, who was now very far away. Fortunately, after some time, he came to the same village where Raamaanuj was residing.
Raamaanuj and His Two Disciples
That very poor Braahman immediately went to beg for ingredients so that his wife could cook Prasaadam. He had only one piece of proper cloth, which his wife used, so when he would go for begging, he would take that cloth of his wife and went to beg. On that particular day, after midday, he could not collect the alms any more, and so decided to return home. In the meantime, Raamaanuj, with all of his disciples, suddenly came to his house. His wife was very happy to see her Guru Dev, but she also felt very ashamed because she had no proper cloth to wear. Raamaanuj understood this, and he gave her his own Chaadar (wrapping cloth). She wrapped that cloth around herself and came in his presence. After that she him gave a mat and his followers to sit on, she began to wonder, "How shall I arrange Prasaadam for everyone?"
She remembered that one of her neighbors, who was a rich businessman, was very attracted to her and had lusty desires toward her. He had previously told her of his desires, but she was very chaste and had always rejected his proposals. However, in her current predicament, she went to that man and told him that she would fulfill his desire.
She was thinking, “What is the use of my chastity if I cannot serve my Guru Dev? For my Guru Dev, I should be prepared to do anything.” She told that rich man, “I am ready to do whatever you want, but in return I want you to arrange many ingredients so that I can cook and give Prasaadam to my Guru Dev and all of his disciples.” Hearing this, the rich man became very joyful and gave her more than what she wanted. Taking all that he gave her, she prepared very good Prasaadam for all the devotees, and everyone was happy.
While Raamaanuj and all the devotees were resting after Prasaadam, her husband returned home. He asked her, "Guru Dev and all his disciples have come. How are we going to arrange for their needs?" She replied, "I have done everything. There is nothing to worry about. They have all taken Prasaadam and are resting now." Her husband asked, "How did you make all those arrangements?"
She began to tell him the story about the lusty neighbor. She said, "I was thinking that my Guru Dev has come; if I cannot serve him, then what is the use of my chastity? So I went and told that lusty man that if he would give me all the ingredients to make very nice Prasaadam, then I would offer myself to him. He did as I asked, so now that it is night I must go to him.” Her husband told her, “I will come with you.”
It was raining at that time, so they took an umbrella and went to the house of that rich person along with the Mahaa-Prasaadam. The wife entered his home alone, and the man became very happy. The man asked her, “It is raining heavily tonight, and it appears you have come all alone. Didn’t anyone bring you?” She told him, “My husband came with me,” and she gave him the Prasaadam remnants of Raamaanuj's food. The lusty man took those remnants and became totally transformed. He fell flat at the lotus feet of that lady and begged her, “Excuse me. Excuse me.” The lady and her husband then returned to their house. The next day, their neighbor came to Raamaanuj and prayed to him, “I want to be initiated by you.” Raamaanuj then initiated him.
In the meantime, Kuresh arrived in the village of the poor devotee couple where Raamaanuj was staying. Seeing Kuresh, Raamaanuj called out his name. Kuresh went to his Guru Dev and wanted to have his Darshan, but he had no eyes. Raamaanuj put his hand over Kuresh’s wounds and his two eyes manifested at once on his face. He could see again.
Raamaamuj and His Another Disciple Kuresh
Some say - "One of his disciples made some notes from that text (whatever he could do) during that night, as the book was to be returned the next morning. The Bodh-Yaan Vritti has never been seen by anybody else nor any verse of that has been quoted by anybody else. So the status of Bodh Yaana Vritti is at best like that of the Brahm Tark of Madhwaachaarya, which only Madhwaachaarya claimed to have seen.
When Shree Raamaanujaachaarya officially became the Aachaarya, he began preaching the cult of Shree Yamunaachaarya very strongly. In South India, two impersonalist sects are very prominent: Shaiv and Shankaraachaarya. Shankaraachaarya’s followers subscribed to the Vedaant Sootra like "Sarvam Kaalvidam Brahm" and "Tat Twam Asi." They think themselves impersonal Brahm (God), and they think everything comes from Brahm. The Shaiv School considers Shiv to be the ultimate truth, and they want to merge into him. This is the basic difference between the two. Raamaanujaachaarya refuted and defeated all impersonalism by his very strong and effective preaching.
(1) His most famous work is known as the Shree Bhaashya or Brahm Sootra
Bhaashya. It is a commentary on the Brahm Sootra, known also as the
Vedaant Sootra of Baadaraayan.
Some Dates in Raamaanuj's Life
2 x 8 = 16th year - Raamaanuj got married and entered Grihasth Ashram in (1033 AD)
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/12/12