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FOLLOWERS OF RAMANUJA & LORD NARAYANA

One of the fundamental qualities of a follower of Ramanuja Sampradayam is, although one must be
completely tolerant of other beliefs, on a personal level the devotee maintains exclusive
monotheistic devotion to the Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana, as one's sole Refuge and Protection. The
reason for this is not just dogma or blind faith, but is the result of a logical understanding of the purpose of
spirituality as it is taught in the Vedas and as it is revealed to us by our Acharyas.

For every human being, faith is very essential towards leading a purposeful and productive life. That faith
should be based on sound principles and should be derived from a proper understanding of the venerated
practices and teachers of the past. Faith such be of such a nature that it frees one from worrying about the
past, the present or the future, encouraging a person to focus instead on living a productive and good life,
such that not only the individual but all those around that individual are benefited. To gain such an attitude
that leads to the Good,
one must be safe in the knowledge that he/she is being guided and cared for by the Divine.
To have such a faith, one must follow a path that is lucid and straightforward, free of contradictions and
discrepancies.Consequently, it must be directed towards One Being, One Supreme Good, One Absolute
Truth. That One Being should be all powerful such that we know that He can easily save us from what
would otherwise be an unending web of accumulated sins that bind us to our false egos and our material
desires. At the same time, that Being should be very compassionate, forgiving, and accessible, so that we can
be rest assured that we can turn to Him in spite of our sinful nature. He must also be impartial to everyone
such that He readily accepts anyone and everyone who turns to Him, irrespective of their caste, race, gender
or station in life. He must also possess many charming and wondrous qualities such that we are easily
drawn to Him. And, He must be one who loves us unconditionally, and who is willing to accept our
unconditional love in return. Such a being would easily be accepted into our hearts and lives.

Given our human foibles, however, even if such a being were to stand
before us at this moment, telling us that He is the One that we are
seeking, our nature would be to doubt Him. So, In addition to all the
Divine Qualities, He must be one whose supremacy has been proven by
what others have taught, and is time-honored and proven. Over the
ages, great people should have consistently worshipped Him, and that
worship should be consistent with the books/revelations that tell us of such a Person.

Our Acharyas teach us that the Vedas, which form the basis of any Indian spiritual system, emphatically
declare that such a Lord is none other than Sriman Narayana, the Supreme Being Vishnu, the consort of the
Goddess Sri, the refuge of all souls. Great saints and mystics have worshipped Him through the ages, and
have passed on their legacy to others. Ramanuja adopted this legacy from them, and has shared this great
treasure with all of us through his lineage of Teachers. It is for this reason, that followers of Ramanuja put
their complete trust in Sriman Narayana as the Way and the Goal of Life.

Great Saints

This section will provide information about great saints and teachers. In this section we
provide information about two great saints - (1) thondar-adi-p-podi-azhvaar, (2) thiru-
mazhisai-azhvaar. Azhwars are mystic saints who are blessed with divine knowledge by the
Lord, and whose outpourings known as the divya-prabhandam (divine verses) are venerated
as the highest source of devotional/philosophical knowledge.
thondar-adi-p-podi-azhvar :
Literally translated, the meaning of the Azhvar's name is the Azhvar who is "dust of the feet of
the devotees of the Lord". This is a tamil name. The equivalent in sanskrit is
"Bhaktangrirennu".His original name was Vipra-Narayana.Vipra-narayana was born near Sri
Rangam, and was brought up by his parents to be a devotee of the Lord. After his childhood,
he moved to Sri Rangam, and started performing service laced with deep devotion to the Lord
of SriRangam - Lord Ranganatha. His primary means of service was collecting flowers and
basil leaves, making garlands out of them and offering it for adoring the Lord everyday. While
living such a devout life, a dancer with some deceit and considerable effort, attracted him and made
him fall in love with her. After Vipranarayana fell in love with her, she moved to a village near Sri
Rangam. Vipranarayana, in his illusion and demented state, forgot all about the Lord, and went to her
house. She refused to let him in, and he stayed outside the house day and night praying for her to let him in.
Seeing his state, the Lord and Lakshmi decided to change him. They enacted a few incidents, and
Vipranarayana realized his wandering away from the truth and his true state of serving the Lord. He came
back
to srIrangam, and to atone for all his sins, he took the name of thoNdar-adi-p-podi, and started performing
service to ALL devotees, irrespective of where they came from. The Lord blessed him with diving
knowledge; he gave us two works - thiru-p-paLLi-ezhuchchi and thiru-mAlai.
Thiru-p-paLLi-ezhuchchi literally translates to “the waking up of the diving”. It is sung everyday in most
temples when the early morning rituals start.Thiru-mAlai translates into “divine garland”. It is
an emotional outpouring on the Lord of Sri Rangam, and contains many verses where the Azhvaar thanks
the Lord who blessed him with grace inspite of his many shortcomings.

thiru-mazhisai-AzhvAr :
This AzhvAr’s name is derived from the holy place where he lived - it is
called thiru-mazhisai, and is currently a suburb of the city of Chennai in
India. His original name was Bhakti-sAra (the essence of devotion). This
AzhvAr practiced many different religions in his quest for the truth. He
got disillusioned with every one of them, and was fortunately, through
the divine will, taught by one of the earliest Azhvaars known as pEy-
AzhvAr. Bhakti-sAra found the truth in Vaishnavism, and became a great
devotee of Lord Sriman Narayana. His affection and concern for the
Lord, and his relationship with Him is legendary. The Lord of thiru-vehaa
(a place in current day kanchipuram), yathOkthakAri or sonnavaNNam
seydha perumAL (the Lord who did as instructed!) is said to have adhered
to this Azhvaar’s commands and have left the town for a day, and on the
Azhvaar’s commands, come back. Similarly, the Lord of thiru-k-kudandhai
(present day Kumbakonam, in Tamilnadu), Araavamudhan is said to have
listened to the Azhvaar’s pleas to stop getting up to welcome his
devotee, the Azhvaar who came there to worship Him. To this day, we
can see the Lord there in a posture that is between completely lying
down, and sitting. This AzhvAr gave us a composition called thiru-ch-
chanda-viruttam (chanda-viruttam is the name of a form of Tamil poetry;
thiru is added as it is holy poetry).

Divine Places - SriRangam

Presiding Deity :

Sri Ranganatha (The Lord of SriRangam), also known as Periya Perumal (the foremost lord) -
reclining on Adisesha (the foremost devotee or servant of the Lord, present in form of a
serpent, coiled up serving as a bed to the Lord) in a posture known as bujanga Sayanam
(reclining with the hand supporting the face), facing south. The procession deity is
called Azhagiya manavalan (the handsome bridegroom), or namperumal (Our Lord).

Divine Consort :

Sri Ranga nachiyar (The queen/goddess of SriRangam), also known as Sri Ranga Nayaki
Thayar (The consort of Sri Rangantha).

Temple Legend :

Eons ago, Lord Ranganatha (in the exact same form as He is present in SriRangam Today),
was worshipped by Brahma in a place knows as Satyaloka (one of the seven worlds according
to Vedic literature). During a period, known as trethayuga (one of the four ages per Vedic
Tradition), He was Worshipped on earth by a king knows as Ishvaku, the son of Manu (the
author of code of conduct known as Manu Smrithi). This deity passed on through the
generations to Lord Rama, who presented it to Vibheeshana, the king of Lanka after the
ramayana war. On the way to Lanka from Ayodhya, the Lord was attracted by srirangam and
wanted to rest there permanently. He promised Vibheeshana that he will grace him and Lanka
by facing south (SriLanka is directly south of SriRangam).

Salient Aspects of the temple :

Vimanam (the name of the tower above the presiding deity's sanctum):
sri ranga vimanam, also known as pranavakruthi vimanam.

theertham (the name of the holy tank whose water is used for various purposes in this
temple): chandra theertham (the most prominent one, currently present).

This temple has a unique arrangement. It is believed to be designed by satya varma (the
divine architect) himself. There are sevengopuras(towers), named after the seven worlds, present in
each of seven prAkArAs (passages around the temple). There are several sanctums for various
incarnations/forms of Lord VishNu in these seven prAkArAs. There are also numerous sanctums for great
teachers and saints of the religion in these prAkArAs.

Diving Outpourings on the Lord:

Srirangam is the only holy place that has been sung by 11 AzhvArs with a total of 247 verses. One of them,
srI thoNdar-adi-p-podi AzhvAr sung exclusively about Lord ranganAthA. srI parAsara bhattar
composed magnificent Sanskrit stOtrAs (praise verses) on the Lord, the key among which is known as srI
rangarAja sthavam. Sri vEdAnta dEsika composed a
magnificent stOtra called srI pAduka sahasram (1000 verses on the Lord’s holy feet) here.

Great Teachers and Saints:

Srirangam has been, and is the seat of the Sri VaishNava religion. Given that, all the great teachers and
saints have lived in Srirangam, and have propagated the religion from there. The following is a partial list of
important sanctums present -
(i) All the AzhvArs (12)
(ii) srIman nAthamuni
(iii) srI yAmunAchArya (ALavandAr)
(iv) srI rAmAnuja
(v) srI kUrattAzhvAn
(vi) srI parAsar bhattar
(vii) srI nampiLLai
(viii) srI piLLai lOkAchAriAr
(ix) srI vEdAnta dEsika
(x) srI maNavALa mAmunigaL

Other important facts:


(i) Ramanuja established Srirangam as the seat of learning
(following the footsteps of yAmunAchArya and srIman
nAthamuni), established all the temple procedures and
services and established families to render specific services
to the Lord. He was followed by great teachers like srI
parAsara bhattar, srI nampiLLai and srI piLLai
lOkAchAriar. During the life of srI piLLAi lOkAchAriAr,
srIrangam was invaded by the North Indian rulers, and the
temple procedures were lost. Two generations later, svAmi maNavALa mAmuni reestablished the temple
procedures,rejuvenated the rAmAnuja sampradAya, and made Srirangam the seat of learning again.
(ii) A method of propagating the concepts of SriVaishNavism
using song and dance, called araiyar sEvai, was established
by srIman nAthmuni. Following in that tradition, there are
several occasions a year when learned scholars belonging to
the araiyar family enact verses from the divine outpourings
of the AzhvArs.

How to get there:

Srirangam is located near Trichy (Thiru-chi-ra-palli) - about 10


kilometers from there. There is a railway station at Srirangam, and most of the express trains stop there. It is
about 300 kilometers from Chennai. It takes about 6 hours by road from Chennai.

PROCESSION DEITY OF LORD RANGANATHA


Q & A: NEED FOR SPIRITUALITY AND ACHARYAS
Question 1: What is Spiritual Knowledge, and what is the need for it? Who is a
bonafide Acharya (spiritual teacher)? (With so many available)
Any developed, civilized society seeks to find out the purpose of life, Why am I here, Who am I, Who
created this universe, these questions will lead us to seek out the Truth.

There has to be a greater purpose than eating, sleeping and reproducing. This leads us to think further and
more questions come, am I more than this flesh and blood, am I "jeevatma"? (Spiritual Being)

The very important question of "who am I and what is my purpose", makes us seek "True Knowledge"
(Spiritual Knowledge).This spiritual knowledge is gained through the study of spiritual science.

This deals with


1. Chit - Jivathmas (Soul) :- has Knowledge
2. Achit - Time, Matter etc.
3. Ishwara - Paramathma (Supreme soul) :- God, Sriman Narayana

In order to gain a proper understanding of this knowledge such that it can be to our benefit, as well as of
benefit to the world, we need to seek an Acharyawho has this type of knowledge, and is willing to share
it readily with those who sincerely desire to learn it.

Question 2: How do we know the Acharya is true? How do we find THE Acharya?
God out of his Kripa (mercy), reveals the true knowledge to us, via a Acharya parampara (lineage of
Spiritual Teachers).
Lord, Sriman Narayana (a.k.a, Vishnu, Sri Hari) is the first Acharya. He revealed this true knowledge to:
"Sri" (Maha Lakshmi, the Divine Mother). The Divine Mother revealed the true knowledge
to Vishvaksena (Commander in Chief in Vaikhunta), who in turn taught it to Satakopa
Muni (Nammazhwar). The lineage of teachers continued on through Nathamuni, Pundarikaksha,
Ramamisra, Yamunucharya, Goshti Purna, to Sri Ramanuja, the foremost and most magnanimous of all of
the Spiritual Teachers (Time on Earth: 1017 to 1137 AD).

Due to his unparalleled wisdom and compassion, Sri Ramanuja is regarded to be the foremost example of
what it means to be a Spiritual Teacher. Thus all other teachers after him, have had their teachings validated
because of their connection to Sri Ramanuja.

Consequently, All Acharyas following in this lineage of Acharyas after his time are named with
suffixes/prefixes of Ramanuja, they represent Ramanuja and his teachings as they are.
All these Acharyas passed down the knowledge as it is, without any
adulteration to the original as given by Lord Narayana to MahaLakshmi.

You may approach any of the Acharyas in this lineage.

Question 3: Is this Acharya Lineage based on Birth. Are there any caste restrictions on who can
be in this lineage?
No this lineage is not based on birth. We have Acharyas from all walks
of life and all castes. SwamiSatagopan (Nammazhwar) the first Acharya
in Earth was born in 4th Caste. He is the most important acharya who
brought the teachings to all the Sri Vaishnavas. There is a lot of
misconceptions regarding Caste System, let us discuss that in another
session.

Question 4: Is the Spiritual knowledge we get today is same as was given by LORD?
In Sri Vaishnavite Sampradaya, this knowledge is being handed down from Teacher to Student (who then
takes over the role of teacher for the next generation)

Such a lineage can be regarded to be like” a clean pipe”, with all the Acharyas being regarded as smaller
clean pipes connecting through a main “junction box”, Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja.

Since the water coming in is pure, and all the pipes are clean and untainted by false ego or false knowledge,
the water coming at the end of the pipe is exactly the same as it at was at its source (Sriman Naryana).
Spiritual Knowledge revealed by the Lord, is given to us by our Acharya, as taught through the Lineage of
Acharyas. This knowledge is thus flawless and true spiritual Knowledge.

So any one interested in learning the True knowledge will approach an


Acharya of this lineage (RamanujaAcharyas, some call them as
Sadacharyas) as they are all representing Acharya Ramanuja (and will pass the message AS IS to their
devotees)

Question 5: How to approach Acharya?


Due to, Lord SrimanNarayana's grace and benevolence we get accepted by our Acharya, the Acharya
accepts us (it is never the other way). One should be extremely grateful and fortunate to be accepted by a
qualified RamanujaAcharya of this lineage.

Question 6: What do we need to get accepted by such an Acharya?


Genuine Interest is all that you need to have. If you are a true devotee seeking the Truth and are willing to
understand and follow it respectfully, Ramanujacharyas will never turn you down.

It is our great fortune that Acharyas accept us and impart the True knowledge to us in appropriate doses
based on our individual capacity. In Sastras, Acharya is Described as Equivalent to GOD, If needed we
can explain reasons later.

So all the true devotees treat their Acharya as GOD himself.

Question 7: Like GOD, is that not stroking some Ego? Is this needed?

True devotees treat their Acharya as GOD himself, But the True Acharya NEVER says "I am God"
never behaves with EGO or Anger,
Never entertains any caste, community, regional or language barriers.

Question 8: How to know the True Acharyas from Fake Sadhus?


There are so many others claiming to be the Perfect Acharya and that they are GOD. If you see such people
go ask them if they are the SUPREME GOD(The Creator of this universe). Nobody is greater than or equal
to the SUPREME GOD.

Ask such people if they can even create a grain of rice without the help of Lord, Sriman Narayana. Ask if
anyone can create or bring life to an otherwise life-less object. No-one can create anything, only GOD can.
Still we find fake ones claiming to be GOD etc.

True Acharya NEVER says "I am God"

You can be assured that an Acharya representing Bhagavad Ramanuja


and his message is passing on the message as revealed by LORD and is a Bonafide True Acharya, capable of
delivering us to GOD.

In some sense it depends on what you are seeking, if you are seeking true spiritual knowledge, GOD will
allow you to come under the guidance of an Acharya of the Lineage Started by HIM, with the LORD as the
First Acharya.

HIS grace is always upon you; let us pray for all of us, to fall in love with HIM more and more and not to
resist/block his Grace with our false ego.

Gopuram at Srirangam. Lord Ranganatha (main deity), The three great teachers
- NammAzhvAr, Ramanuja and MaNavALa mAmuni

MUMUKSHUPPADI
An Introduction

Sri Pillai Lokacharya, who is the son of Sri Vadakku Thiruveethi Pillai and the elder brother of Sri
Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar, has written eighteen important rahasya granthas which
are together known as the Ashtadasa Rahasyas. These contain such phenomenal works
as Mumukshuppadi, Srivacana Bhushanam, etc., which are of great importance to Sri
Vaishnavas.
Mumukshuppadi is an important work to Mumukshus - those who wish to
attain Moksha (liberation), the lotus feet of Lord Sriman Narayana. It explains in three
parts (prakaraNams) the sweet and immeasurable meanings of the three mantras together
known as the Rahasyatraya. The Rahasyatraya are the Thirumantra, Dwaya mantra
and Carama shloka. To every soul that seeks liberation from
this samasaric and karmic (suffering due to ego and the complex effects of karma) existence,
understanding of these three mantras is essential.

The three mantras contain in them the five great meanings known as Arthapanchakam. These
five meanings are: 1. Knowledge of the Supreme, 2. Knowledge of the Jiva, 3. Knowledge of the
means, 4. Knowledge of the goal, and 5. Knowledge of the obstacles to that goal. All three
great mantras were revealed by none other than Sriman Narayana Himself. Thirumantra which
is known as Mantra Rajam, was revealed in Badri and was advised to Nara by Narayana (both
were forms of the Lord).
Dwayam which is known as Mantra Ratnam, was revealed to Sri Mahalakshmi by the Lord in Sri
Vishnu Loka. Carama shloka was revealed to Arjuna by Lord Sri Krishna in the battlefield of
Kurukshetra. As all three mantras were given by Him, He stands as the first amongst acharyas.
It is therefore that Sri Kuratthazhvan started his guru parampara thaniyan with "Lakshminatha"
- Sriman Narayana.

Our acharyas have delighted in the great and deep meanings of these mantras for a long time.
Prior to Sri Ramanuja, these rahasyas and their meanings were told only to a selective few by
our acharyas. As foreseen by Sri Nathamuni, Sri Ramanuja was born in this world to break such
rules and show the path of salvation to everyone. And so, Sri Ramanuja made these rahasyas
available to everyone. Sri Pillai Lokacharya then
brought these meanings to us in written form through the work Mumukshuppadi. Swami
Manavala Mamunigal, out of his greatcompassion to us, decided to make these meanings
understandable even to us and wrote an extensive vyakhyanam for Mumukshuppadi.
It is therefore very important for all those who seek salvation to try to gain a greater
understanding of these three mantras by learning the Mumukshuppadi. Even after gaining
Mamunigal's vyakhyanam, the explicit and hidden meanings of this work are hard to grasp. It
is therefore essential to seek learned acharyas and learn this work from them.

LIFE HISTORY OF OUR TEACHERS

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT


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.

MORAL STORY
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".

HE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER - (Anjali Vaibhavam)

FALL IN LOVE WITH GOD


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

RESTRICT FOOD CONSUMPTION


Eat anything only after offering it to God.

MEDITATION
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.

RESPECT FOR ALL THAT IS HIS


Strive to lead a life in which you will never hurt
a fellow living being for any reason.

MONEY
Earn to live, educate, support and serve and not for
the sake of pursuing materialistic desires.

CHARITY
Donate however little it may be to noble causes.
Feeding the needy is the highest form of charity.

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

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

SELF - CONTROL
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
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 28th 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. Hiscommentary on Stotraratnam and Chathusloki is called as
Rahasya Raksha.

Vedanthacharyar has made a detailed commentary on the 28th sloka of Stotraratnam which
depicts the greatness of Anjali- Symbol of Prapathi. This Anjali Vaibavam is in continuation to
the 27th 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: (58th 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 28th 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 28th 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 28th 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
23rd 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
nigraha-astre”
Thus, the eternal grace we receive for single effort made by us shows the greatness of Anjali.

Conclusion:

“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 28th 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
subsidiaries.
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.

RAMANUJA’S DOCTRINE OF SERVICE

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 toSriman 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
Good.

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 orAcharya 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.

DO YOU KNOW?
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.
PRAYER
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.
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)
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
“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”.

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
Meaning:
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.

Sriman Narayana
|
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Sri Lakshmi
|
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Sri Vishwaksenar
|
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Sri Nammazhvar
|
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Sri Nathamuni
|
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Sri Uyyakondar
|
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Sri Manakkalnambi
|
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Sri Yamuna Muni
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Sri Perianambi
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Sri Ramanuja
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Sri Desika
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Present Day Acharyas

IN FOCUS - THIRUNARAYANAPURAM
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
Pandits.

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
souls.
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.
People:

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 RamanujaTirunakshattiram (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.
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:

ARTICLE BY PBA SWAMY

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
Muni.

Thus, this taniyan which has so many special and


hidden meanings could not have been authored by
anyone but Sriman Narayana.

SRIVAISHNAVISM - A CONCISE SUDY - PART I

INTRODUCTION
Srivaishnavism aims at God-realisation within the framework of our normal wordly activities.
The term Vaishnavism denotes the system developed by Sri Ramanuja where Vishnu & his
consort Godess Sri(Lakshmi) are accepted as Supreme Being. Godess Lakshmi is the mother
of the entire creation, being the consort of Lord Vishnu. Being inseparable from
Him(Nityanapetam Sriyam), she acts as the mediatrix(purushakara) between man & God . She
is also reckoned to be an Acharya or teacher in this tradition. This system of Sri Ramanuja is
also therefore known as Sri Sampradaya. It is for reasons such as these that the system of Sri
Ramanuja is called Srivaishnavism. Sri Ramanuja is the systematiser of Srivaishnavism as it is
followed today. Srivaishnavism is as old as Vedas. In the introductory verse of Sri Bhasya(the
commentary on Brahma Sutras), Sri Ramanuja traces this philosophy to the Upanishads. It is
believed that sage Vyasa, Bhodayana, Guhadeva & others have brought out this philosophy
but their writings are not available except for the references by Sri Ramanuja. Srivaishnavism
denotes the religious aspect whereas Visitadvaita refers to the philosophy followed by this
school. In this school, the first teacher is the Lord Narayana himself & his student was his
consort Godess Lakshmi who communicated the same to the commander-in-chief Visvaksena.
From him it was handed over to a series of teachers headed by Sathakopa(Nammalwar). Then
came the lineage of Acharyas led by Sri Nathamuni who was bestowed upon with knowledge
by Sri Nammalwar. His grandson Yamunacharya(Alavandhar) was next to follow with his
disciple Sri Ramnuja & series of Acharyas like Sri Kuresa, Sri Nadadur Alvan, Sri Kidambi
Accan, Tirukkurugaippiran Pillan who were followed by a hierarchy of Acharyas as listed in the
Guruparampara. The Sanskrit verse by Kurattalvan establishes link between the mortals and
Sriman Narayana "Lakshminatha Samrambham nathayamunamadhyamam, asmadacharya-
paryantham vande guruparamaparam" The Alwars or Saints were more emotional in nature
than metaphysical. They were the great devotees of Lord Vishnu(Nityas or Lords attendants)
who left behind the knowledge of the absolute by propagating Visistadvaita in their
songs(which is the collection of 4000 hymns popularly known as Divya Prabhandham). To
succeed the Alwars were the Acharyas who were orthodox Brahmanas well versed in Sanskrit
& Tamil. Apart from preaching & establishing Visitadvaita they also laid down the rules for the
proper observance of festivals, fasts, vows & customs. These acharayas date back to days of
Alwars with Nathamuni(824-924 AD) being the first of them. The reference to the
Guruparamparai would list the succeding Acharyas with due mention to Sri Ramanuja(1017 -
1137 AD) who is referred to as the Paramacharya. It is well known that Sri Ramanuja
synthesised and explained the various truths contained in the Brahmasutras in accordance to
the spirit of the Vedas, Upanishads, Agamas, Itihasas, Puranas and the Divys Prabhandas. For
this reason he is deemed to be the foremost propounder of the Visistadvaitha school which is
therefore called "Ramanuja Darshanam', even though the philosophy was expounded during
the times of his ancesstors like Sri Nathamuni and Sri Alavandhar. Sri Ramanuja with a vision
then appointed seventy four Simhasanadhipathis (Heads) to carry the message of
Visistadvaita
SriVaishnavam philosophy - Visistadvaita
Any account of the history of Srivaishnavism should be deemed incomplete without a
description of its philosophical tenets. It is now understood that this philosophy is much older
than Sri Ramanuja, who only systematized it. This philosophy of Visitadvaitha is also referred
to as "Ubahya Vedanta" since it accepts both the Sanskrit Prasthanatraya & Tamil
Prabhandham. In SriVaishnavam, appearing as an ordinary God in the Rg Veda, the earliest of
Vedas and as one of the several deities, Lord Vishnu attained pre-eminence and came to be
recognised as the Supreme Being by the time if the Itihasas and the Puranas. This
transformation of Lord Vishnu to be the Supreme can be traced in the following way : Rg Veda
: In the Rg Veda, Agni(fire) is glorified first and Indra is designated as the King of Godsand
praised in the maximum number of hymns. Vishnu, Rudra, Varuna, Vayu and others occupy
next positions in the Vediv pantheon of deities. Lord Vishnu is described as a young and
powerful God helping Indra in his many wars against the Asuras and evil forces. The following
epithets testify to His importance : His highest abode is said to be fixed "like an eye in the
sky" and always seen by the wise Nitya-Suries(Tad Visnoh paramam padam, sada pasyanti
surayah) There is a spring of honey in his abode(Vishnoh pade parame madhva utsah) He
measured the entire universe with three great strides(Idam Visnuh Vicakrame, tredha nidadhe
padam, samudhamsya pamsure) Although not expressed in so many words, the above
statements signify, according to scholars, the supremacy of Lord Vishnu; for the spring of
Honey is nothing but divine nectar or Amritha, which indicates that Vishnu’s abode is
the place of immortality and His place is fixed(dhruva). Yajur Veda : In the Krishan Yajurveda,
Vishnu is described as the creator, protector and destroyer of everything in this universe. He is
said to protect the sacrifices which came to occupy an important place in the ancient
Bharata(India). In the Sukla Yajurveda, he is said to preside over the sacrifices. "Lord Vishnu
has his abode in the orb of the Sun" says the Veda. Vishnu’s lifting of the earth as a
Great Boar(Varaha Avataram) is referred to here : "Kolavaraha monrai Nilam Kotidai Konda
Yandai". It is also stated that all other Gods like Agni, Vayu remain alert and discharge their
duties due to the fear of Lord Vishnu "Bhisa asmad Vatah pavate bhisodeti Suryah bhisasmad
Agnisca Indrasca Mrtyur-dhavati Pancama iti" The Purusa Sukta: Here there is a description of
a cosmic purusa, who by performing a sacrifice, became the cosmos itself. His consorts are
Godess Hri(Bhudevi) and Godess Sri(Sridevi). "Tat Purusasya Visvam ajaanamagre, Hrischa te
lakshmischa patnayau" The Brahmanas: In the Aitareya Bhahmana, it is said that Agni is the
lowest and Vishnu is highest among Gods :Agnir avamo devatanam Vishnuh Paramah. The
Satapatha Brahmana refers to a Divinity called "Narayana" who perfromed a sacrifice for five
days and nights and became great. The Taittiriya Aranyaka contains a reference to Lord
Narasimha and Lord Vamana, the two important avataras of Lord Vishnu. The Upanishads: The
Upanishads(the final portion of the Vedas) contains references such as "Only Narayana existed
in the beginning of the creation, neither Brahma or Shiva existed then". The Ithihasas (Epics):
The Ramayana : The first of the two epics, Ramayana contains many references to Sri Rama,
the hero of the epic being none other than Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Being, who has his
abode in Sri Vaikuntha. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama, after heeding to the appeals of
the celestials to destroy the demon King Ravana who was harassing the entire universe by his
misdeeds and wild strength. Though born of human parents and thinking and behaving like a
human being(atmanam manusam manye Ramam Dasarathatmajam "I consider myself a man,
son of Dasaratha), Sri Rama(avatara of Vishnu) established the supremacy of Lord Vishnu by
the following actions" In the duel between Vishnu and Siva, as narrated by Parasurama, the
former made the latter motionless by a mere ‘humkara’(frowning). He sends
Jatayu, the Vulture King to the supreme heaven and says "My friend, I permit you to go to the
Upper regions("gaccha lokan anuttaman") He pierces seven huge Sala trees with a single
arrow, and with his toe tosses the hillock-like skeletal remains of demon Dundubhi, and also
fells Vali, the victor of Ravana himself with just one arrow. He grants Moksha to Sabari, the
tribal women who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu who retained her life only for a glimpse
of Him in his avatara as Sri Rama. The Mahabharata : The second epic, Mahabharata has
several instances where the supremacy of Lord Vishnu in his avatara as Sri Krishna is
established. Sri Krishna is born to Devaki, in His celestial form with four arms, Conch, Disc, et
al and later on only, assumes the human form. The soul of Sisupala, whose head was severed
by Sri Krishna, enters the person of Sri Krishna, in the presence of all assembled kings. Sri
Krishna shows His cosmic form in the court of Dhritarasthra, when evil Duryodhana and his
cohorts decide to bind Sri Krishna with a rope; the entire assembly with the exception of
Bhimshma, Vidura and few others faint at this sight. Sri Krishna saves Draupadi from being
dishonoured, by giving his "Akshaya Vastra" when she was being disrobed by Dushyasana. Sri
Krishna shows His cosmic form to Arjuna in the battle field; expounds "Bhagavad Gita"(the
essence of Upanishads) to him. In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna declares himself as the
Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the entire universe. In particular, in Chapter X & XI, Sri
Krishna shows that the entire universe is but a fraction of His unbounded splendour and that
everything amanates from Him and merges in His cosmic from. Sri Krishna declares
unequivocally that He is the goal of all existance and advises Souls to surrender to
Him(Chapter XVIII.66). This is the summum bonum of all teachings and is called
"Charmasloka" in the Srivaishnava Sampradayam " "Sarva Dharmaan Parityajya Maam Ekam
Sharanam Vraja, Aham tva Sarva Papebyo Moksha Isyaami maa Sucha" The Puranas: The
Vishnu Purana: Sri Parasara, the author of the Vishnu purana establishes that Vishnu is the
Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of this universe. This purana also states that all these
activities are His play(Lila or Krida) and Vishnu is superior to the other Gods of the Trinity;
Brahma and Shiva. The Bhagavata Purana: In Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Krishna is declared to
be Purna-Avatara- "Krishnastu Bhagavan Swayam", while the earlier Avataras are treated as
Vibhava Avataras. He is said to possess all the six supreme qualities of perfection, "Bhaga"
such as Jnana(Supreme Knowledge), Sakti(Supreme Potency), Bala(Supreme Strength),
Aisvarya(Supreme Lordship), Virya(Supreme Virility) and Tejas(Supreme Splendour). As a
avatara of Lord Vishnu, Sri Krishna establishes the twin qualities of Paratva.(transcendental
character or Supremacy) and Saulabhya(easy accessibility) to a remarkable degree. Much
more than in Ramayana, Bhagavatam contains numerous episodes testifying to Sri
Vishnu’s Supremacy. Viz. Divine adventurous stories of Dhruva, Prahlada, Gajendra,
Krishna’s sport with Gopi’s at Brindavan, the slaying of demoness Putana,
Sakatasura, poisonous serpent Kaliya, Demon-King Kamsa, Emperor Naraka and others.
SRI and Vaishnavam philosophy - the link of this school with Sri his consort Sri is regarded as
the Mother of the Universe, also acts as a mediatrix(purushakara as referred in Sri Pillai
Lokacharya’s Srivachanabhusanam) between man and God bringing man close to God
and thirdly she is mentioned as the teacher(acharya) in the transmission of this tradition. This
school of thought recently systematised by Sri Ramanuja Godess Sri occupies a important
place. In the Vishnu Purana, the author Sri Parasara glorifies Lord Vishnu who is the Supreme
being always associated with Sri or Lakshmi as mutually inseparable, Whatever form the Lord
may take, Sri joins him is a suitable form. In the Ramayana, Laksmi becomes Sita; in days of
Sri Krishna avatara(Dwapara Yuga), Sri becomes Rukmini as understood in the couplet below :
"raghavatve abhavat sita, rukmini krishna janmani anyesu ca avataresu visnoresanapayini"
According to tradition, Sri has several connotations:
Srnati (nikhilan dosan) She removes all sins.
Srinati (ca gunair jagat) She nourishes the world by her virtues.
Sriyate (ca akhilair nityam) She is resorted to by all beings forever.
Srayate (paramampadam) She stays in the Highest abode.
Srnoti She hears the petitions.
Sravayati She makes the Lord hear.
In the Purusha Sukta, Lakshmi(Sri) and Bhudevi(Hri) are described as two consorts of Lord
Vishnu "Hrishcha te Lakshmischa Patnyau..." In the Sri Suktha, she is described as Godess of
plenty, Charm and golden complexion, seated in the Lord’s Chest, hearing the cries od
humanity, having a charitable disposition and keeping the Lord always in good humour to
forgive the sins of men. In the Chatuhsloki, a hymn composed by Yamunacharya(Sri
Alavandhar), describes Sri as Godess of plenty, prosperity, compassion and supreme authority,
all other Gods & Godesses as subordinate to Her, She stays in the Vaikuntha (Nitya-Vibhuti)
along with Her Lord Vishnu, She is so great that even She Herself or the Lord does not know
Her greatness in full. Without Her grace, none can aspire for any welfare in any of the world.
She as an Acharya can even grant liberation through Her grace. Many other Acharyas have
sung hymns in praise of Lakshmi - Sriistava by Sri Kuresa, Sri Gunaratnakosa by Sri Parasara
Bhattar and more. In the Saranagathi Gadya, Sri Ramanuja refers to Lakshmi as follows :
Akhila Jaganmaataram - Mother of the whole world
Asaranyasaranyam - Refuge of all the helpless
Nityanapayinim - Never separated from the Lord Asankheya-Kalyana
Gunaganam - Possessor of innumerable auspicious qualities

It is to Her that Sri Ramanuja makes Saranagathi(Surrender) first requesting Her to bless him
in his effforts to perform Saranagathi at the feet of the Lord, thus confirming Her role as the
Purusakara(Meidatrix). Sri Sita, who is none other than Godess Lakshmi, intercedes with Sri
Rama and saves Kakasura (the deamon crow) from sure death even though the latter had
grievously hurt her. Another instance is that when Hanuman wanted to kill the Raksasis who
were tormenting and torturing Sri Sita in Ravana’s Asokavana, Sri Sita pleads to
Hanuman and protects them from Hanuman’s wrath, She tells Hanuman that "a noble
person must be kind even to the most abominable sinners, there is none in this world who
does not err (na Kascin-naparadhyati)".

SRIVAISHNAVISM - A CONSCISE STUDY - PART II

The Three realities


There are three realities or tattvas (tattvatraya), according to Visistadvaita philosophy. These
are:
Cit (all living beings)
Acit (inanimate) or prakriti and
Isvara (the Supreme Lord)
CIT
Cit or sentient being or soul, is the name given to millions of Jivas. Each jiva or soul, is
different from a body it inhabits, the sense organs, mind, vital airs(pranas); it is eternal , self-
manifest, indestructible and is blissful by nature. Each soul of jiva acquires a body (a clothing
as it were) made out of the evolutes of Prakriti given to it by the Ultimate Reality, God, in
keeping with its past karma, inside each jiva dwells Isvara who supports the jiva.
Knowledge is a quality which characterises the jiva in all states of existence of the human
body, wakefulness, dream-perception, deep-sleep and transcendental stage. Thus, it never
loses its identity and is forever clothed in and inseparable from the knowledge which is in-born
in it.
This knowledge is called "Dharma-Bhuta-Jnana" or "attributive consciousness", it is self-
luminous.
But being in association with perishable and decaying Prakrti, the soul goes through the cycle
of births and deaths; when it is in the womb or is born, its knowledge expands or contracts in
proportion to its merits or demerits. At some point of time, with the grace of Supreme Lord,
and by adopting Bhakthi Yoga or Saranagati, the soul will extricate itself from this
transmigratory existence and attain Moksha.(Sri Vaikuntham), or the Supreme Abode. While
attaining the state of liberation, its knowledge expands larger and becomes almost equal to
the knowledge of the Supreme Reality.
Isvara or Paramatman who resides inside the jivas is unmoved by the jivas experiences or
actions and is a silent spectator thereof.
There are three types of jivas :
Nityas - the ever - free souls
Muktas - the liberated jivas (from samsara)
Baddhas - the bound who live in
NITYAS
Nityas or Nityasuries, as they are also called, are eternal souls; these are ever-liberated souls
like Ananta, Garuda, Visvaksena(Commander-in-Chief) etc. respectively, the great serpent,
Adisesa which is the bed of Lord Vishnu, the divine eagle which is His Vehicle and the
Commander-in-chief of divine forces and the foremost. In the Rahasyatrayasara, the Nityas
manifest their essential nature without any beginning, and they are totally dependent on the
Lord. Further there is no mutual difference between their respective states of continuous
existence in time. The service they render to the Lord, though also different, forms a
continuous stream. Nityas have no cycle of births and deaths. Except when the Lord assigns
them some functions, for a specific purpose , in the mundane universe like when Ananta or
Adisesa took avataras as Lakshmana along with Sri Rama and as Balarama along with Sri
Krsna, Visvaksena and Garuda assumed the advent of Nammalvar and Perialwar respectively,
they do not take birth in this mortal world.
Muktas
Muktas are those jivas who were initially involved in samsara, or the cycle of birth and death,
and subsequently, by the grace of God, broke this chain of samsara by following Bhakthi-
marga(loving devotion) or Saranagati (whole-hearted surrender) and have reached Sri
Vaikuntham. The Muktas are those realized souls who have attained their essential nature in a
manifest condition, and whose self-realisation will last eternally. The only difference between
one Mukta and other is his having realised himself earlier or later. Muktas are engaged in a
specific kind of service in a manner directed by the Lord for his delectation in the supreme
abode (Paramapada) also blissful by nature and live in a state of supreme satisfaction.
Baddhas
The Baddhas are bound souls (human beings, animals, etc) who continue to be entangled in
the cycle of transmigration and unable to realize themselves through the effect of their
previous actions. The baddha-jivas can also become Muktas by the Grace of God and through
the performance of Bhakthi yoga or through the act of Prapatti.
After liberation they join the ranks of Muktas and reside in Sri Vaikuntham serving the Lord in
a capacity that the Lord himself orders/confers upon them. Such a service (kainkarya) to Lord
Visnu and Goddess Lakshmi. His consort is the summum bonum of human existence,
according to Sri Ramanuja's system.
ACIT
Acit or Prakrti primarily means primordial matter and consists 24 evolutes according to Sankya
philosophy. This evolution is depicted in the following chart. The total evolutes, including the
first three are 24 in number. The whole world of matter and the bodies for souls are evolved
out of Prakrti under the Will of God.

ISVARA

The third reality is Isvara, the ultimate unchanging reality who creates the universe consisting
of jiva (souls) and the evolutes of Prakrti (matter) and has them under His control. He creates
this material world from acit or prakrti for the benefit of jivas (souls). On Isvara depend the
existence of the other realities, for they constitute His body in myriad forms. Being impartial,
He gives each jiva a body in accordance with its past karma. He does not interfere with the
jivas going through with their Karma and getting involved in the cycle of samsara. But He
bestows his grace on the jivas at an appropriate time when the jivas will yearn for salvation
and take recourse to Bhakti marga or prapatti (total surrender)
He has an infinite number of virtues, among which sadgunya or bhaga is the main : Strength,
Knowledge, Lordship, Valour, Energy and Splendour, Goodness, spontaneous love and similar
qualities make him accessible to all.
This action-oriented world consisting of jivas and prakrti-(Souls and matter) is Isvara
lilavibhuti, where He exhibits His above mentioned innumerable qualities for which He has no
opportunity in His Nitya-Vibhuti or Sri Vaikuntham
Isvara is full of Suddhasattva and there is no admixture of rajas, not to speak of tamas at all,
in His form.
At all times and in all circumstances, Isvara is associated with His consort Goddess Sri or
Lakshmi( on His right chest) and hence He is referred to as ‘Sriyahpatih’. As
He is the supporter of jiva and prakrti and also resides in them, He exists everywhere. He is
also called Sriman Narayana or Lord Vishnu or Parabrahman or Paramatman.
At the time of cosmic dissolution (Paralaya) which occurs at the end of Kalpa or four yugas,
Acit and Cit are withdrawn by Him in his form and exist in a subtle state, possessing none of
the qualities which makes them objects of experience or cognising objects. From this subtle
state, creation evolves by the will of Isvara; and subtle matter (acit) reemerges as gross
matter or prakrti.