SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||
Sri Krishna declares in the Bhagavad Gita:- whatever beling in endowed with power, splendour and firmness of mind, know that it was sprung from a tiny part of my irresistible power?
yadh yadh vibhUthimadh sattvam srImad UrjithamEva vA |
tat tadEvAvagaccha tvam mama tEjOmSa sambhavam || [10-41]
But with reference to these great and learned men- acharya purushas, who inpart right spiritual knowledge to others for their redemption the saasthras state that they are Bhagawaan Narayanan Himself. ? Bhagawaan who comes into this world taking the body of a human being as an acharya, and with synmpathy lifts up the beings in this world, sunk in ignorance, with saasthras as his hand.
saasthrAnnArAyaNO dEva: kruthvA martyamayIm tanum |
magnAn uddharathE lOkAn kAruNyAth SaasthrapANinA || [Jayaakhya samhitha]
So a preceptor, especially in the field of philosophy and religion, is really an incarnation of God. A study of the life of Acharya Sri Vedantha Desika will reveal that he was really one such. This manifestation of Divinity in him can be seen even from before the time of his birth.
There was a great renaissance of the Philosophy of the Upanishads and the religion of the Alwars during the time of Acharya Sri Ramanuja. He sought several acharyas [preceptors] who belonged to the school of Sri Nathamuni- Sri Yamunamuni- [as explained in earlier posts in the series] and acquired a knowledge of every branch of philosophy. First he was a student of Yadavaprakasa at Kanchi. Then he became a disciple of Mahapoornar (Periya Nambhi). Under his advice Sri Ramanuja approached Thirukkottoyoor Nambi from whom he learnt the essence and inner meanings of esoteric mantras. He learnt the Divya prabandham of alwars from Thirumalai Andaaan; He studied SRimad Ramanyana from Thirumalai Nambhi- all of these acharyas were sishyas of Sri Yamunacharya. He had a strong a desire to spread knowledge [he had acquired] for the benefit of all and he set a band of religious minded and well trained scholars and advised them to go from place to place and enlighten people coming to them. Some were enthroned in the under the name as Simhasanaadhipathis. He wrote elaborate commentaries on the Brahma suthras and Gita Bhashya. He also asked one of his main disciples, Sri Kurukesa- to write a detailed commentary on Thiruvaymozhi of Nammalwar.
Srirangam and Kanchi became centres of learning and there was an unbroken chain of Acharyas in both the cities from that time. Kidaambi Acchaan (also known as MadappaLLi Acchaan) stayed at Srirangam and taught his students; who in their own turn carried on the torch of learning. His grandson was Sri Rangaraja who had a son by name Athreya Ramanuja and a daughter TotthAramba. Athreya Ramanuja was very intelligent and was called AppuLLAr (the incarnation of GarudA). He was given the title of Vadhihamsaambhuvaahar when he defeated those who belonged to other schools of thoughts- in disputation at Kanchi.
Nadadhur AzhwAn was a nephew of Sri Ramanuja. He chose Kanchi as the place for his teaching. After him, his grandson Vaathsya Varadaachaarya became the preceptor. His exposition was clear, lively and interesting. So many students and disciples came to learn from him. Sudarsana Bhattar, grandon of Parasara Bhattar (great grand son of KooratthAzhwAn) of Srirangam and appullAr (great grand son of Kidaambhi Acchaan) were the two of the intelligent and promising disciples of Vaatsya Varadacharya who was most popularly known as Nadadhoor AmmaL because of his devotion to Lord Varadaraja with maternal motherly love like Yasodha had on Kutti Kannan. He used to teach Sri Bhashya to his disciples in the mandapam which is within the precincts of the temple just behind of the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord.
Anantha Somayaji was one of the 74 simhaasanaadhipathis chosen by Sri Ramanuja. He lived in Kanchi with his son PuNdareekaaksha, who had a son, AnanthasUri by name and who studied all saasthras. When he was of marriageable age, Pundarikaksha approached AppullAr with a request that the latter’s sister Tottarambha might be given as Kanya dhanam to his son. AppullAr prayed to the Lord Varada for guidance in this matter. That night Lord appeared in his dream’s and said, Give your consent. By this marriage, a great acharya will be born who will work for the good of the world by his precept and practice’. Next morning, Appullar met Pundarikaksha and said that the Lord himself had approved the wedding. On an auspicious day, the marriage was held. Ananthasuri and Tottarambha began to lead an ideal householder’s life in their house at Thuppul opposite to the shrine of Lord Deepaprakasa. Years passed by and their desire to beget a son grew. They prayed to the Lord for a son. They started on a pilgrimage and visited several divya desams, bathing in several holy rivers and sacred pushkarnis. At last they came to Thirumala. They bathed in Swami pushkarini and paid obeisance to Lord Varaha first on its bank and then went into the temple of Lord Srinivasa and worshipped Him with great devotion. They also prayed to the Lord for a son.
After the evening worship, the devoted and pure minded couple went to sleep. In the later part of the night Lord Srinivasa appeared in their dream and said, Ananthasuri, here is a son of wonderful powers for you. Having said, he gave him the hand bell (ganTAmaNi) of the sannidhi. Tottaramba had swallowed it. She also had such a dream of having swallowed the Divine Bell. At dawn they both woke up and shared their dream and were feeling extremely happy.
In the morning, the Bhattar (priest) of the sannidhi came in to conduct the morning Aradhana. When he opened the door, he found the gaNTAmaNi missing and reported the matter to authorities. Suspecting the servants, they were making enquiries. Just at that time, the Thirumalai jeeyer the religious head appeared on the scene and said that he had a wonderful dream in which he saw the Lord Himself giving the Bell to the devoted pilgrim couple and so nobody need be punished. When the authorities sent for AnantasUri and his wife they also mentioned about the dream and confirmed. Still there was an air of suspicion. Suddenly the Jeer fell into a trance and the Lord through the Jeer spoke: Do not suspect anyone. We ourselves gave the bell to AnanthasUri. We will take birth as his son by means of this gaNTAmaNi, who will establish the Vaidika dharma as propounded by ancient sages and the Holy Azhwars. From this day on, our worship will be conducted without the gaNTAmaNi. Even today, this command is strictly followed and no maNi is rung at sannidhi. There is only a huge bell in the front hall outside that is rung.
Next day Anantasuri and Tottarambha took leave of the Lord after workshipping him and returned to Kanchi with great joy.
Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||
Salutations to Sri Venkatesa, in whom all perfections reside, who is the teacher of Vedanta and the lion among poets and debaters
Writeup by : Sri Madhavakannan