The Peerless Preceptor – 13

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Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore

Homage to the Guruparampara is made easy by Swami Desikan’s pasuram, “ennuyir tandu aLitthavarai sharanam pukki”. We can observe in this pasuram, that the choicest adjectives are reserved for Sri Ramanuja (“Pin aruLAl PerumbUdUr vanda vaLLal”). This indicates Swami Desikan’s boundless bhakti for the BhashyakAra.

And what might be the prime reason for such lavish praise?

Apart from any other reason, Swami Desikan is a parama vaidika, whose every word and action is based on the Vedas. His admiration for Emperumanar is easily understood, when we realise that it was Sri Ramanuja who rescued the Vedas from the morass of advaitic misinterpretation they had fallen into. By adorning the VedamAtA with garlands of correct and consistent interpretation, Sri Ramanuja did Her yeomen service. So much so that the Vedas became impregnable to further assaults by the ill informed. This generated much relief and delight to the Vedas, and as Sri Tiruvarangattu Amudanar says, “NaraNanai kAttiya Vedam kaLipputtradu – நாரணனை காட்டிய வேதம் களிப்புற்றது”. Swami Desikan confirms this in his Etiraja Saptati, by likening Emperumanar to a physician who cured the Vedas of chronic fever caused by mistreatment by quacks-“ShruteenAm…antarjvaram aseesamat”.

Swami Desikan is unreserved in his praise for the Bhashyakara for his protection of the Vedas, and this theme occurs repeatedly in his Etiraja Saptati. Just as the Empress’s private attendants minister to her various needs, Sri Ramanuja’s sree sooktis render multifarious services to the Vedamata, and make her glow with beauty. “prasAdhayati yat sookti: svAdheena patikAm shrutim”.

Sri KoorattAzhwan too says that Sri Ramanuja’s yagyOpaveetam acts as the mangala sootra for the Vedas “trayya mAngalya sootram” (Sri DhAtee Panchakam). The Voice of Ramanuja is filled with the heady perfume of the Shrutis, says Swami Desikan-“Shruti surabhaya:”. That the Bhashyakara’s works are but paraphrases of the Vedas and enhance their enchantment, is brought out by the Etiraja Saptati sloka

“PratishttA TarkANAm pratipadam RichAm dhAma YajushAm
parishkAra: SAmnAm paripaNam atharva AngirasAm”

The divine outpourings of Sri Ramanuja add beauty to the SamaVeda vakyas, form a supporting base for the YAjusha mantras, and a legacy for the Atharva Veda. The purport here is that Sri Bhashya, Sri Vedarttha Sangraha, Sri Vedanta Deepa, Sri Vedanta Sara, and other works of Sri Ramanuja decisively clarify the unfathomable depths of Veda Vedanta vakyas, and resolve the apparent contradictions between some of them, demonstrating conclusively that all the mantras
in all the Vedas declare in unison that Sriman Narayana is the Parabrahmam, Prapatti is the upAya to reach Him and eternal service to the Lord is the ultimate goal.

Vedas are akin to a high-powered focus lamp illuminating the divya mangala vigraha and the boundless auspicious qualities of the Paramapurusha. It is this lamp, which enables us to have a clear view of the Ultimate. However, at one time, due to poor upkeep by electricians (who learnt their trade through “Do It Yourself” books), the lamp started to flicker, conjuring up illusory images of the Lord, burned low and ultimately burnt itself out, totally blacking out the common man’s view of the Lord.

Then came Sri Ramanuja, the master electrician, a perfect practitioner of the craft learnt at the traditional school. Through expert attention, he restored the lamp to its pristine glory and fine-tuned its focus to show up the Lord in all His splendour.

Swami Desikan lavishly lauds the Bhashyakara’s contribution for its unmatched originality though rooted deeply in tradition, its successful rejuvenation of the Vaidika sampradaya and its unfailing adherence to tenets of the Shruti. Just as the Mudal Azhwars lit a lamp each on a stormy night to have a glimpse of the Lord, Sri Ramanuja too, through his Sri Bhashya and other works, lit up an eternal flame, by the light of which the Lord shines out magnificently, even to our rheumy eyes clouded with ahankara and mamakara.

Sri Koorattazhwan ,renowned for his unparalleled Acharya bhakti, describes Sri Ramanuja as the exalted gem adorning the forehead of the Vedamata, illuminating her boundless beauty for all to see-“trai vidya choodAmaNi:”. He goes on to say that the mighty Vedas lean on the Bhashyakara’s sacred Tridandam for support (“Traiyyanta Alamba dandam”). If the PerumboodUr VaLlal could captivate and mesmerise even hard nuts like adiyen and make adiyen unable to proceed with the other Preceptors, it indeed speaks volumes of the Acharya’s glory, which grows with each recounting.

Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore

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