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Ramanujacharya: His Life, Philosophy, Teachings, and Death

Posted on Mar 21, 2022


Ramanuja, also known as Ramanujacharya or Ilaiya Perumal (Tamil: Perumal [God]), was a South Indian Brahman theologian and philosopher who is regarded as Hinduism's most significant thinker. Ramanuja landed in Srirangam after a long journey, where he established temple worship and founded centers to spread his theory of devotion to the god Vishnu and his consort Shri (Lakshmi).

In three major commentaries, he laid an intellectual basis for the practice of bhakti (devotional worship): the Vedartha-samgraha (on the Vedas, Hinduism's earliest writings), the Shri-bhashya on The Bhagavadgita bhashya, and the Brahma-sutras (on the Bhagavadgita).

Ramanuja's philosophical foundation was qualified monism, which the Hindu tradition refers to as Vishishtadvaita. [18][59] di Shankara'sAdvaita (absolute monism) and Madhvchrya's Dvaita are the other two sub-schools of Vedanta (dualism).

Ramanujacharya History

The biography of this Indian theologian and teacher is mostly based on mythology that has been passed down through the generations. Ramanuja was born in Sriperumbudur, a hamlet in southern India about 25 miles west of Madras, into an affluent Brahmin family in the year 1017. Kantimathi was his mother, while his father was Kesava Samayaji. Ramanuja married Rahshambal somewhere about 1033. His father passed away several days before the wedding, causing him a great deal of pain. Ramanuja took his young bride and mother and moved to Kanchipuram. They were soon joined by Ramanuja's cousin, Govinda Bhatta, his closest friend and a person with whom he had a mutual fondness from childhood.

A Jealous Teacher

Ramanuja excelled in school. Ramanuja had not yet completed all of his Vedanta teachings. He was looking for the appropriate guru'. Yadavaprakasha was one of the most renowned intellectuals of his time. Ramanuja was accepted as a student. Even though he became a student, he disliked the way the teacher instructed him. It would, of course, be inappropriate to criticize one's instructor. But, in Ramanuja's opinion, Yadavaprakasha was not correctly interpreting the passages. Ramanuja was torn between two options.

The teacher was discussing some difficult lines from the Chandogya Upanishad one day. The teacher's interpretation of the passage was pretty unsophisticated. Ramanuja explained how he interpreted the line. The teacher was enraged that the student had the audacity to disagree with him on a point.

But he was angry with him.

“Look here”. You don't have to take any more classes if you're unhappy with the way I teach." The teacher expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation. Ramanuja walked away without saying anything. He had an excessive amount of admiration for his teacher.

Ramanuja was disliked by his classmates, who wished to get rid of him. The instructor and his students, including Govinda and Ramanuja, were all on their way to Varanasi on a trip. They were getting close to the Vindhya Mountains. When Yadava Prakasha and his other pupils plotted to assassinate Ramanuja when they were trekking through an impassable jungle, Govinda felt it and told his brother to flee for his life. As a result, Ramanuja departed.

Who Saved Ramanujacharya’s Life?

The teacher and the other kids scoured the jungle anxiously for him. They assumed he'd been murdered by a wild animal and continued on their journey to Varanasi.

Ramanuja ran around aimlessly in the woods. Hunger and thirst were killing him.

A man and a lady emerged on the scene at that very moment. They were a couple of hunters. When they heard the boy's tale of misery, they were saddened. Ramanuja followed them south since they were also traveling south.

When they emerged from the woods, it had already been dark. They slept for the night at a decent location in the plain. The hunter's wife expressed her thirst sometime after midnight. Ramanuja got up and began looking for water.

He went to a nearby pond and got some water. After sipping it, the hunter's wife asked for more.

It was nearly daylight when Ramanuja returned to the pond for more water. Ramanuja was taken aback when he found himself in a familiar setting of temple towers, coconut palms, and woodlands. He'd unintentionally returned to Kancheepuram!

He was perplexed as to how he had made it all the way from the Vindhyas in a single night. He reasoned that it had to be the will of the Almighty. The hunter-couple who had followed him, he deduced, was none other than Lord Narayana and his spouse Lakshmi.

Ramanuja Lord, in the guise of Hunter, came to my rescue.

He dashed back to where the hunter-couple had been staying. They weren't there anymore.

Ramanuja was indebted to God.

He began carrying water from the pond for the worship of God Varadaraja on that day. Ramanuja took it upon himself to bring the holy water every day.

Back to Guru

From Varanasi, Yadavaprakasha and his students returned to Kanchi. They feared that their nefarious plans had been exposed. They were shocked to learn that Ramanuja had returned safely. Ramanuja, on the other hand, remained unfazed and described the supernatural intervention that had allowed him to return to Kanchi in one night. Ramanuja was advised by the guru to return to him to continue his studies. As a result, Ramanuja's studentship was reinstated.

Dispute with Wife

Ramanuja was an outspoken opponent of the caste system.

He was not a fan of superstitions. Lord Varadaraja was a devotee of the sage Kanchipoorna. He was regarded as a great man. He wasn't a Brahmin by any stretch of the imagination. Ramanuja, on the other hand, embraced him as his teacher and used to bow down to him. Ramanuja had been prohibited by the guru to welcome him. But Ramanuja continued since he had always considered himself a Kanchipoorna student.

Once upon a time, Ramanuja hosted a supper for sage Kanchipoorna at his home. He wished to feed him and be blessed by him.

The sage agreed to the invitation, and a meal was planned. Ramanuja's wife was an orthodox woman, as the guru knew. So, when Ramanuja was out, he went to their residence to get the important visitor.

When Ramanuja returned, he knew what had transpired. He was enraged because his wife had denied him the chance to get the guru's blessings. He despised her narrow-mindedness. She was unable to comprehend Ramanuja's lofty emotions, the wonderful guy who had been born for the sake of humanity.

A gang of hungry people showed up at his house on another occasion. Ramanuja requested his wife to look around the home for some food for them. She stated that there was no food available. When Ramanuja discovered that she had uttered a falsehood, he became enraged.

Journey of Ramanuja to Yathiraja

Kanchipoorna was referred to by Ramanuja whenever he needed answers to philosophical concerns. Because Ramanuja was a brilliant scholar, the latter often struggled to respond to the queries. He would stand before the deity and ask for answers at such times. He relayed the response he received from God to Ramanuja. The responses made Ramanuja very delighted. Vishishtadvaita's main ideas were born from this.

Ramanuja traveled to Srirangam to meet with Mahapoorna, his potential master. At the same time, Mahapoorna and his wife were on their way to Kanchi to encourage Ramanuja to finish Yamunacharya's duty.

Their paths collided and they ran into each other. Ramanuja accepted Mahapoorna's offer to be his mentor.

Ramanuja was escorted to a location beside a baklava tree, where he was taught the philosophical nuances of Vishishtadvaita following the preceding ceremonies. Ramanuja brought his master to Kanchi and stayed with him.

As a result, Ramanuja was renamed Yatriraja. His ties to the outside world had been cut for good.

Ramanuja’s Death


Ramanuja spent twenty years in Karnataka.

In Melkote, he founded the Yatiraja Math, as well as numerous additional Maths and temples. In Melkote, he was successful in propagating the Shrivaishnava religion's teachings. He desired to return to Srirangam and finish his work there. He remembered Kooresha, Dhanurdasa, and other old followers. There was still a lot of work to be done. The devout Chola king was no longer in power, and his successor was more accepting of various religions. After bidding farewell to companions at Melkote, the time was ripe for Ramanuja to return to Srirangam.

When Ramanuja reappeared among them, his old companions were energised with fresh zeal. When he saw the blinded old man Kooresha, who had gone away some years before, he was extremely saddened.

Ramanuja restored numerous historic temples that had fallen into disrepair. By this time, he was a ripe old man of 120 years. Since he had accomplished what he desired, his gaze was drawn upward. He made the decision to take on the form of a mortal. His likeness was sculpted into a life-size statue. Before he died, Ramanuja put new life into it. In Sri Perambudur, a life-like statue was erected.

Ramanuja's final words to his disciples were as follows:

"Get rid of your ego." God's believers are to be adored. Serve the cause of God's offspring, mankind. Nobody is infallible; no one should be humiliated. The purity of thought and behavior is of paramount significance."

His seventy-four disciples disseminated his teachings across the land, and Maths was erected in various locations.

The conclusion was in sight. Ramanuja sat down with his head on Govinda's lap and his feet on Andhrapoorna's. On the tenth day of the month of Magha, in the year 1059 of the Shalivahana period, he obtained eternal happiness in that pose (A. D. 1137).

Ramanuja emphasised God's compassionate character in particular. God is endowed with many qualities, including truth, grace, and beauty. God will benefit us if we worship him faithfully. We shouldn't put too much emphasis on personal satisfaction. Those who adore God, regardless of caste or creed, are true great men.

Frequently Asked Questions on Ramanujacharya

1. Is Ramanujacharya a God?
Ramanuja, also known as Ramanujacharya or Ilaiya Perumal (Tamil: Ageless Perumal [God]), was a South Indian Brahman theologian and philosopher who lived from 1017 to 1137 at Srirangam.

2. What are the teachings of Ramanujacharya?
Ramanuja believed that the existence of souls and matter is reliant on Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate Soul, which may be found in both finite souls and matter. Brahman resides in unknown souls till it attains emancipation. Although finite souls become aware of their divine essence, they do not become identical to God.

3. What are the disciples of Ramanujacharya called?
Ramanuja surrounded himself with a group of followers who were his closest colleagues. KurathAzhwan, Mudaliandan, and KidambiAcchan, as well as his five followers who were also his gurus, were among them. Koorathazhwan, also known as Kuresa and Srivatsanka Mishra, was Acharya Ramanuj's primary disciple.

4. When was Ramanujacharya born?
Ramanujacharya was born in 1017.

5. Sri Ramanujacharya stayed at Melkote for how long?
Sri Ramanujacharya, a prominent Srivaishnava saint from Tamil Nadu, resided at Melukote for roughly 12 years in the early 12th century.

6. What brought Ramanujacharya to Karnataka?
Ramanuja had escaped Kulathunga II's fanaticism and arrived in the Hoysala empire, where he acquired the Emperor's love and assistance. He was given a large amount of land on which he and his disciples might live, and he re-consecrated Thirunarayanan's temple on the Hoysala/Chozha boundary, which is today known as Melkote.

7. What is Ramanujacharya's philosophy like?
The Hindu tradition refers to Ramanuja's philosophical foundation as Vishishtadvaita or qualified monism. di Shankara'sAdvaita (absolute monism) and Madhvchrya'sDvaita are the other two subschools of Vedanta (dualism).

8. What is Ramanujacharya's contribution?
In three important commentaries, the Vedartha-samgraha (on the Vedas, Hinduism's earliest writings), the Shri-bhashya (on the Brahma-sutras), and the Bhagavadgita-bhashya (on the Bhagavadgita), he offered an intellectual foundation for the practice of bhakti (devotional worship) (on the Bhagavadgita).