Today Thirunakshatram of Sri Kumara Varadacharya

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Swami Desikan

Today is also the thirunakshathram of Sri Kumara Varadacharya- son of Swamy Vedanta Desikan. He was also born on AvaNi RohiNi. Kumara Varadacharya learnt all the traditional texts under his father himself and acquired a remarkable mastery of them within a short span of time. When Desika was in his forties, a son was born to him and his wife. Reflecting his love for his household deity Lord Varadaraja, Desika named the boy Varada, and tradition remembers him as Nayanacharya or Kumara Varadacharya. Kumara Varadacharya also became a scholar of some repute, and we are indebted to him for recording some biographical details of his father in his Desika Mangalam, Pillai Anthaadi, and Desika Dinacharyai.

After Swamy Desikan’s attainment of Paramadham, Varadacharya continued the propagation of the Srivaishnava religion and philosophy. He toured all over India extending the frontiers of Srivaishnavism and conquering many opponents belonging to other schools of Philosophy. Apart from important places in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, he is said to have visited Ahobilam, Sihmachalam, Sri Kaakulam, in Andhra. He established his sishya paramaparai in these places as well.

Tradition avers that Sri Kumara Varadacharya composed few rahasyagranthas in Telugu also, so as to cater to the needs of his followers in the Telugu land. Like his father Vedanta Desika, he is said to have been patronized by the Telugu ruler of Raachakona, Sarvagna Singama Nayaka of the Velama Dynasty.

KAlakshEpam at SathyagalamSri Kumara Varadarya may be called as one of the Chief architects of the Srivaishnava religion in Andhra Desa where he was affectionately called Nayanacharya [The Glorious son and preceptor]. The Srivaishnava temples as can be seen in Mangalagiri, Simhachalam, Sri Kurmam, Ontimitta [all in Andhra], Purushotthamam [Puri in Orissa], and Sholapur [in Maharashtra] still follow the tradition of worship instituted by Swamy Kumara Varacharya.

A number of accounts about the scholastic pursuits and prowess of Kumara Varadarya are also popular as in the case of illustrious father. It is said that one Saakalyamalla, a staunch Advaitin and the author of an 18-canto poem Uddhaaraaghava was vanquished in debate by Kumara Varadarya in the court of Singama Nayaka referred to earlier. It is said that Kumara Varada also successfully counteracted the black magic employed by that scholar. However, there is another opinion that the Saakalyamalla under question was a court poet of King Prataaparuda of Warangal [1290 -1326 CE] and that he was defeated by Vedanta Desika whom he met in the court of Singama Nayaka. According to Guru paramapara Prabhaavam, Kumara Varada breathed his last on the KrishNasapthami day of the PhalguNa month of the Year Jaya. The wonderful works of Kumara Varadarya: According to tradition Kumara Varadarya is said to have composed many works but only 36 of them have come down to us. Even among these, only a few have been printed and the rest are still in the form of manuscripts which await the attention of scholars. A very brief account of these available works is given below:

INDEPENDENT WORKS IN SANSKRIT.

  • Bhagavadhyanapadhhathi:This is a short work consisting of 12 verses sung in praise of the Lord Sri Kaakulam a village near Vijayawada in Andha [different from Srikakulam district]. This text is modeled after Bhagavadhyana sopanam sung by Vedanta Desika on Sriranganatha and Amalanadhipiraan of Thiruppanaazhwaar’s.
  • Harisandesa: This is a lyrical composition similar to Kokilasandesa enumerated below:
  • Kokilasandesa:This is a small literary work on the lines of Kuyilpaattu[cuckoosong] of Sri AndAL. A cuckoo is requested to be messenger carrying the message of the devotee to the Lord.
  • Lakshmisathaka: This is a 100 verses in praise of Divine mother bringing out her virtues of which Daya is the most Prominent One.
  • Sankhasathaka:100 verses on Sankha[ConchShell] of the Lord.
  • Sukasandesa:another lyric similar to Kokil sandesa listed above with the difference here it is the parrot which is the messenger.
  • SriVedantaDesikadinacharya:ThisisashortworkdescribingthedailyroutineofSwamy Vedanta Desika and the anushtAnam of his during the whole day.
  • Sri Vedanta Desika mangalam: This comprises verses on Sri Vedanta Desika’s greatness wishing for his continued glory.
  • Sri Vedanta Desika praarthana ashtakam: eight verses invoking the blessings of Swamy Desikan.
  • Sri Vedanta Desika dhivya mangla vigraha dhyanam: Kumara Varadarya composed in praise of the divine beauty of Swamy Desikan’s ThirumEni; vigraha installed in Thooppul village, the birth place of Swamy Desika.
  • Sri Vedanta Desika Prapatti: This was composed in praise of Swamy Desika highlighting his role as the only refuge of the disciples.
  • Thyaagasabda artha ninrnaya: This work gives the conclusive epitome of Srivaishnava teaching [Charamasloka] depicting the soul as taking refuge at the lotus feet of the Lord. It explains the word tyaaga as implied in the verse Sarvadharmaan. [GitA 18.66]
  • Virodhibhanjani: This is a philosophical treatise refuting other systems of though and establishing the Supremacy of Visistadvaita.

Moving to Sathyagalam(B) WORKS IN TAMIL:

1. Pillai anthAthi: 20 verses in praise of Swamy Desikan [in the lines of Ramanuja nooRRanthAthi and Madhurakavi AzhwAr’s KaNNinunchiRuthAmbu] bringing out the divine qualities of his father, acharya and God Himself – Swamy Vedanta Desikan.

(C) COMMENTARIES ON SWAMY DESIKA’S WORKS:

  • AdhikaranachinthaamaNi: This is commentary on Desikan’s Adhikaranasaravali which in turn is an exposition of Sribhashya in verse form.
  • Asrayaanupapatti:This work is arefulation of Advaitins’ view that Brahman is the Asraya [substratum] of avidya. The discussion concerns one of the seven kinds of anupapatti [untenable nature explained in the works of Swamy Ramanuja and Sri Sudharsana suri].
  • Chit Achith Iswara tattva niroopana: an elaborate commentary of Svetaasvataranamtra, bhokta bhogyam preritaaram cha matvaa” [1.12] bringing out the concept of tattvatraya.
  • Tattvathrayaniroopana or Tattvathrayaculakaartha sangraha: Commetary of Tattvathrayachulakam
  • Nyasathilakavyaakhya:Exposition of Swamy Desikan’s Nyasavimsathi. Desikan also had written a commentary for the same.
  • Mimaamsapaadhuka-parithraaNa:Commenatry of Desikan’s Mimaamsa padhuka where the correlation between the Poorvamimaamsa and Uttharamimaamsa is established in the light of the Visistadvaita Vedanta. In the original work Desika refuted some of the arguments of the Bhatta and Prabhakaras.

D. COMPENDIUMS:

  • Rahaysyathraya sangraha: This is Sanskrit rendering of the work of the same name Rahasyathrayasaram composed by Vedanta Desika in Manipravala style. This was composed Kumara varadarya mainly for the benefit of Andhra Disciples who found it difficult to follow the Manipravala style of the original.
  • Rahasyathrayasaraarthasangraha: Another rendering in Sanskrit of the above. A detailed exposition of this work is taken up in the following chapters.

E. REFUTING OTHER SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT:

  • Abheda khandana: This refutes the concept of Abheda or non-difference on which the Advaita system is based.
  • Avidyakhandana: concepts of Advaita-namely Maaya Nirguna brahmam are refuted here.
  • Khandanachathushtaya: refutes the veiws of Sankara, Bhaskara,Yadavaprakasa, and Saiva siddhantha thereby establishing the Visishtadvaita unambiguously and in unparalleled manner.
  • Muktivaichaara: refutes the concept of Moksha according to Charvaka and such other systems and establishes the view of Ramanuja sampradaya.
  • Prapanchamityatva[anumaana] khandana: large text refuting the Advaita concept of the illusory character of the world, on the basis of scriptural texts.
  • Saguna brahma samarthana: this work criticizes the Nirguna, nirvisesha Brahman concept of the Advaitins and establishes the Visistadvaitic view that the Brahman is qualified by innumerable perfections [saguna].
  • Sankaasathaka:This is the form of refutation of other schools of Vedantaan dissimlar to SatadhooshaNi of Desikan. 8. Vyaavahaarika khandana: The advaitins accept three stages of reality- Vyahavaarika [conventional], Pratibhasika [phenomenal] and Paaramaartthika [absolute]. According to this school the world is an illusion like a dream sequence. Kumara Varadarya refutes this view and establishes that the world can not be brushed aside as non- reality.

F. TRANSLATIONS FORM TAMIL INTO SANSKRIT:

  • Abhayapradhana saaram: This is a Sanskrit rendering of Swamy Desikan’s Abhayapradhanasaaram in Tamil explaining the principles of Prapatti quoting from Srimad Ramayana especially VibheeshaNa Sarabagathi.
  • Ahaaraniyamasloka:SanskritversionofDesikan’sTamilversion.
  • Prabandha saram: Sanskrit version of Swamy Desikan’s Tamil verses on AzhwArs mentioning their greatness, their Thirunakshathram and their works, giving a resume of all AzhwArs.
  • Rahasyatharaya chulakam: Sanskrit version of Desikan’s work on the same. Kumara Varadaya is said to have inherited some of the titles of his father such as Nikhila taarkika choodamaNi [the crest jewel of all the logicians of the Sampradaya], Sarvathanthra swathanthra [scholar par excellence in different schools of philosophy]; Manthramahodhadhi [the ocean of sacred formulae]; Srilakshmanayogindhra siddhantha vijayadhvaja [the victorious banner for Sri Ramanuja system].

Some of his prominent disciples are:

  • 1st Parakalamutt Jeer Brahmathanthraswathanthrar [as he attended Bhagavad Vishayam kalakshepam from this Swami]
  • Swamy Prathivaadhibhayankaram Annan [the title was conferred on Swamy by Kumara Varadarya himself]
  • Kandhadai Annan
  • Komandoor Acchaan
  • Pillaipaakkam Naayinaar
  • Thirumalai appar
  • Kidaambhi Appar
  • Nadaadhoor ALwaan
  • Anandhappan
  • Kandhaadai Appan
  • EmeprumaanarAppan

For all Srivaishnavas regardless of Kalai, Swamy Desikan and thereby his son Swami Kumara Varadacharya come in Sri Bhashya Guruparampara. On his Thirunakshathram, hence let us all place our heads at the lotus feet of this glorious acharya kumarar – peerless one like all our Srivaishnava Acharyas.

Courtesy: Sri Madhava Kannan

swami desikan

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