[with the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna, with the blessings of Sri Mukkur Swami and with the blessings of Sri Velukkudi Swami, I have been able to complete 500 lectures. I earnesly thank all the readers of this Blog for their support and encouragement]
Swami Ramanuja occupies a very important place in the Srivaishnava Guru parampara [heirarchy of Acharyas]. Called Jagadacharya, he wrote many works, so that the true meaning of Vedas and Upanishads are explained to the World. We are at present in his birth place, Sriperumbudur. Today's [26th December 2008] lecture is from the mandapam at the place where he was born.
We enter the temple from the sannidhi street. We can see the gopuram and mandapam.
Swami Ramanuja's sannidhi is just opposite the main entrance. There is a large avatar mandapam. Here, Swami Ramanuja was born some 1000 years back. His year of birth is 1017, corresponding to Tamil year Pingala, Chitthirai, Shukla Panchami, on a Thursday in the star Thiruvadirai [பிங்கள, சித்திரை, சுக்ல பஞ்சமி, வியாழக் கிழமை] . His parents were Asoori Kesava Somayajiyar [ஆசூரி கேசவ சொமயாஜியார்] and Kanthimati Ammangar [காந்திமதி அம்மங்கார்]. His parnents, before the birth of Swami Ramanuja, visited Sri Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Chennai, and prayed for a child like the Lord. Since there is none like Him, He Himself was born to them as Swami Ramanuja! The Sun drives away the darkness outside us; but the darkness of ignorance in us, can not that easily be eliminated. To eliminate this inside darkness, Swami Ramanuja appeared as Divakara [Sun] and spread Bhakti in Him. We are in that sacred place, where he was born. Inside the temple we can see many sculptures, as reliefs on walls. We can see Sri Adikesava Perumal prominantly among them. On one side we can see the sculptures af all Alwars. On another side we can see the large sculpture of Swami Ramanuja, with safron robe and holding Tridanda [த்ரிதண்டம்]. On his sides we can see Swami Koorattalwan and Swami Mudaliyandan. We can also note the 74 Simhasanadhipatis, who were appointed by Swami Ramanuja to spread the philosophy and perform pancha samskara [पंचसंस्कार] to all devotees. All the pillars in the mandapam are sculpted beautifully. We can see the Lord as Sri Matsya, Sri Koorma, Sri Varaha and Sri Narasimha. We can see the sculpture in which Arjuna very submissively listens to Sri Krishna, Who is preaching Gita. An ancient picture of Swami Ramanuja can be seen. In Ramanuja nootrandadi, Swami Thiruvarangathamudhanar [திருவரங்கத்து அமுதனார்] says in the verse 'man misai yonigal thorum pirandu..மண் மிசை யோனிகள் தோறும் பிறந்து.. ', that Swami Ramanuja alone could correct the people, who could not be corrected by the Lord in spite of many Avatars! Swami Manavala Mamunigal says that one might forget the birth days of the Avatars of the Lord or even of Alwars, but never one should forget Swami Ramanuja's birth day! Thiruvadirai is known in Sanskrit as Ardra, which also means wet. Swami Ramanuja also exhibited that 'wet' or merciful heart [ஈர நெஞ்சம்] to all. He had the compassion that all should be redeemed. It is difficult to say whether Swami Ramanuja lived as preached in Gita or the Lord preached in Gita, Swami Ramanuja's qualities. Sri Krishna lists some more good habits we have to cultivate in us, in sloka 14:
santustah satatam yogi
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
"Always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me."
The Lord says His bahkta is very dear to Him. We should aspire for this previlege! If Sri Krishna appears before us and says that we were His dear ones, what else we have to achieve? This is what the Lord says in 'yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah'. We may like to be the favourite of the Lord; then, we should know what efforts we have to take to be included in that favourite list. But all obstacles are seen in our efforts. This desire can be achieved if we have the determination. We should not misunderstand this as mad [வெறி] but determination [உறுதி]. We will list the desired qualities: (continued from the last list)
8. Santushta = contented [not to be misunderstood as happy]. We have to be satisfied with what the Lord has bestowed on us.
9. satatam =always, yogi = meditating about atman.
10. Yatatma = well controlled mind. Controlled mind will give satisfaction and satisfaction will control the mind. Thinking about atman, will pacify and control mind. Once the mind is controlled all thoughts will be after atman. Thus all these three are inter related.
11. Drda nischaya = determined belief or confident. We have to firmly believe that it is beacause of His grace that we have this life and facilities. The Lord is our goal and we have to attain Him only. This firm belief should never be cahnged in any circumstance.
12. Mayy = in Me [Sri Krishna], arpita = entrusted, mano-buddhi = mind and intellect. That is we have to regard every action of ours as devoted to Him. We have to do every work dedicated to Him. In such actions both mind and intellect have to be entrusted. Mind is an instrument to think; while buddhi is dharma bhuta gyana. Our intellect is buddhi, and with its help we use the mind to think. Thus both the mind and the thought propelling intellect, have to be dedicated to the Lord.
Such a Bhakta is the favourite of the Lord or he is liked by the Lord. Swami Ramanuja tells whom the Lord likes. We have to be liked by Him, by practically following the qualities listed in the Seven slokas. To get that liking we have to sincerely do the prescribed duties for us and do them with the attitude that the Lord Himself is doing and dedicate the results to Him. That will make us endear to the Lord. To cultivate these, we have to be contented with what we have and never be greedy; we should never be complaining about our health or wealth; but be happy with what we have. No doubt, there will be scope for improvement in all our activities. These should not be in amssing wealth, but in Bhakti in Him. Normally, rich people never get contentment in life; poor are satisfied with what they have. Swami Ramanuja stands tall to be emulated by us.