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Shri Ramanuja

Shri Ramanuja 
 
Sri Ramanuja
(also known as Ilaya Perumal) was born to Kesava Perumal Somayaji Dikhsitar and Kanthimathi Ammal at Sriperum pudur. He was born in Kaliyuga year 4119 which corresponds to1017 AD. PPM fixes even the exact date as 13th April 1017 AD, interms of English Calendar (the date of birth is placed differently by different authorities). Within 16 years of age, he had mastered all the Vedas and Sastras. At age 17, he married Rakshakaambaal ( Tanjammal, in Tamil).  Ramanuja was placed under the Advaitic Sannyasi called Yadava Prakasa at Tirupput kuzhi for training in Advaita Purva Paksha Sastra of Vedanta. Very many occasions arose when the Ramanuja clashed with Yadava when he  misinterpreted Vedantic statements. Ramanuja fearlessly pointed out the errors in his Guru's interpretations and corrected him. This enraged the Yadav. Fearing that one day, Ramanuja  would demolish Advaita philosophy, he plotted to kill him by drowning him in river Gangess while on a pilgrimage tour of the country with his disciples. Learning of the design through one Govinda, another disciple who was also related to him, Ramanuja  slipped out into the forest at dead of night and escaped death.
Once during this period, Alavandar who desired nominating Ramanuja to succeed himself visited Tirupput kuzhi, met with him but had no opportunity to speak to him and had to return to Srirangam. When Alavandar was old and sick he sent Periya Nambi to bring Ramanuja to Srirangam. However, before they could reach Srirangam, Alavandar attained Vaikundam. Ramanuja returned to Kanchi after promising to satisfy the three requests from Alavandar:
  1. Compose a commentary on Upanishads, Vedanta Sutras and Bhagavad Gita
  2. Compose a commentary on Tiruvaymozhi of St. Nammaazhvaar
  3. The name of Parasara, should be commemorated on the earth by giving it to a person worthy to bear it.
Ramanuja returned to Srirangam after taking up the ascetic order. Ramanuja's two important disciples, Koorathazhcan and Mudaliandan accompanied him and stayed with him at Srirangam. While in Srirangam he made sure that Alavandar's teachings and his desires are met. He became popular and converted many to Sri Vaishnava Sampradhayam, including Yadava Prakasa, who became his disciple.
While in Srirangam he composed many works such as Vedanta Sangraham, Vedanta Sara, Vedanta Deepam, and Geetha Bashyam. During Panguni Uttram, he did Prapatti before the Divya Dhampathi in Serthi and submitted his famous Gadhyatrayam
(comprising Saranagathi Gadhyam, Sriranga Gadhyam and Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam ). Later, he wrote a Grantha called Nityam detailing the Tiruvaradhana Kramam.
He wanted to know the meaning for the secret mantra,  known as tirumantra. So he approached Tiruk kottiyur nambi, a disciple of Alavandar. Nambi refused to grant his request and made him go back to Srirangam. This continued for about 17 times. On his 18th attempt, Nambi oblidged Ramanuja's request and started teaching him the meaning of the mantra. At the end of the upadesam, Nambi extracted a promise from Ramanuja that he would not reveal the mantras to those unqualified to receive them. However, the following day, Ramanuja went to the nearby temple hall of terk kazhvan at tiruk kottiyur and announced the sacred mantra to all those assembled there. When Nambi heared this, he demanded an explanation from Ramanuja for his direct disobedience. To this, Ramanuja, replied that if the act of his results in thousand souls reaching Vaikundam, he would be glad to be burned in hell (Burning in hell is the punishment for those who disobey their guru's commands). On hearing the explanation, Nambi was speachless and embracing him gave him the title Emperumaanaar. Since then Ramanuja's followers are known as Creed of Emperumaanaar.
In order to fulfill his promise to Alavandar, Ramanuja and Koorathazhvan went on a pilgrimage to North India. There they studied the text of Vedavyasa's Brahma Sutram. With the help of Koorathazhvan's memory, he was able to write a commentary, Sri Bashyam for the text. Thus he fulfilled the First promise made to Alavandar.
One day, while he was meditating in silence, on one of the paasurams of Tiruvaimozhi, one of his disciples called Pillan walked in and inquired if he was meditating on the particula hymn. Sencing the vision of Pillan, Ramanuja entrusted the task of writing a commentary on Tiruvaimozhi to Pillan. When the commentary was written, Ramanuja titled him Tirukkurugai Piraan. Thus his second promise to Alavandar was fulfilled.
When koorathazhvan had two children, both boys, Ramanuja and Govinda visited him. Ramanuja was very happy to see the two bright boys and ordered Govinda to perform pancha-samskaram and name them as Parasara Bhatta and Vyasa Bhatta, thus fulfilling the third and the final wish of Alavandar.
Ramanuja, restored many temples to the Vaishnava tradition, including Tirumala, Melukote (Tiru Narayanapuam). He was a great social reformer, and converted many irrespective of cast origins to Sri Vaishnavam and taught them Divya Prabandam. He established a list of 74 Simhasana Adhipathis for the sole purpose of promoting and teaching Sri Vaishnavam. With his head on the lap of Embar and his feet on the lap of Vaduga Nambi, Ramanuja breathed his last in 1137 AD listening to the recitation of the Divya Prabandam