Thuppul PiLLai: 4 – Placing VisishtAdvaita On Firm Basis And 4000 On Par With Vedas


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SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:

SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |

vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||

Even to read the list of Swamy’s granthas will take so much time. Swamy alone can compose so many works in one lifetime. When we see /enjoy later these works individually later, we will realize that what sweetness, depths, literary values, rhythms, grammars, variety of meanings they contain! How true are those words and fully in accordance with Sri Ramanuja’s works ,Vedas and saasthrAs! We will have to read to believe it!

Sri Ramanuja is reputed to have authored nine works- Sri Bhashyam, Sri Gita Bhashyam, VedArttha Sangraham, Vedanta Deepam, Vedanta Saram, Sharanagati Gadyam, Sri Vaikunta Gadyam, Sriranga Gadyam and Nityam. Sri Bhashyam, Vedartha Sangraham, Deepam and Saram are aimed at elucidating the purport of the Brahma Sutras and select Veda Vedanta passages, and are, as such, polemical works aimed at establishment of the VisishtAdvaita Darsanam on a sound pedestal after demolishing the faulty structures put up by other schools of philosophy

Swamy’s aim in writing is more than one.

1.  The system of Visishtadvaita should be kept on very strong basis.

2.  Sriman Nathamuni was the earliest scholar to write the nyAya tattva. The systems of Jaimini, Gautama were in vogue during Nathamuni period. These were not written on the basis of Vedas. The nyAya tattva of Sriman Nathamuni deals with the topics of nyAya, VaishEshika, meemaamsa, and treated in a manner to interpret the Vedanthic system.

3.  Ramanuja’s concepts [expounded from Nathamuni, Yamunacharya’s works] and theories were attacked by the opponents and the refutations had to be answered and dismissed as they were baseless [as they are non-vedic] and where Vedic, they violate some of other vedic statements [even if they claim that it is based on Vedas]. Counter arguments had to be framed in defence strongly as well.

4.  The writers who came after Ramanuja, were not in a position to evolve the metaphysical and logical theories consistent with the teachings of Ramanuja. These all were required to be given a shape in the light of Ramanuja?s teaching. NONE BUT Vedantha Desika achieved this professional success- though he never claimed or declared the same- due to his utter humility.

5.  Some of the Acharyas who came after Ramanuja did good service to the cause of Srivaishnavam by their expositions in Tamil hymns of the AzhwArs, but could not establish their position in unshakeable foundation in an unparalleled and unambiguous manner.

6.  Finally, it is only Desika that repulsed the attacks on the importance of the Tamil hymns of AzhwArs and placed them on a string basis on par with Vedas if not more; as the fountain source of Vedantha system. He himself wrote some wonderful tamil hymns on par with azhwAr”s works.

Let us enjoy his avathAra vaibhavam, life history first and then his sthOthras in brief summaries. Also, it is my intent to let us pay our obeisance to our ThUppul PiLLai through his son’s works.. and then come back to Acharya’s works. Glorifying our Acharya and his works pleases the Lord and all Acharyas as well. So let us begin. [with the blessings of Divya Dampathi and Acharyas]. May They pardon me for my daring venture with no qualifications at all , except being under the shadow of Their lotus feet- for any errors and omissions caused unintentionally.]

The life history of our Acharyas and Alwars in an enigma. There is no historical record or evidence by which we may definitely say how many years they lived in a particular place, what miracles they had performed therein, when and in which city they wrote several works and in what serial order were their compositions were etc? They had not chosen to write about these things for they lived, moved and had their devotion fully on the Lord. Their aim in life was jnAnam, vairAgyam (detachment) and devotion (bhakthi). They spent their whole life all hours in the service of the Lord and the godly and in doing things for the enlightenment and redemption of humanity. They had absolutely no desire for a biography or an autobiography. If at all there is any reference to their life in their works, it will be only to their pilgrimage to the divya desams- temples, to their Acahryas under whom they studied. The only source from which we are able to know the life history of Acharyas is the Guru parampara which has been written by those who were not their contemporaries and they have written what they have heard by tradition- first one probably written within few years after the disappearance of Acharyas.

There are several Guruparamparas which narrate the life and works of Acharyas. Though they agree in some cases, they also differ at few places because the authors had written the portion of the Acharya’s life that had appealed to them. There are contradictions as well sometimes. This is equally true in the life of Vedantha Desika; but Swamy’s drama Sankalpa Sooryodhaya gives us some sort of evidence.

Let us enjoy his avatara vaibhavam first in next few posts.

Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam

kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |

Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||

Writeup by : Sri Madhavakannan


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