For Vaishnavaites in Tamil Nadu, Ramanuja is more than a philosopher or a theologian. He is someone who recharged the faith not only intellectually but also emotionally. It cannot be denied that if it weren’t for him, Vaishnavism in Tamil Nadu may today be on the fringes.
In the 4,000 Divya Prabhandam, the sacred text for Tamil speaking Vaishnavaites, although not an Azhwar, 108 verses on Ramanuja by his disciple bring the book to a count of 4,000.
In addition to revitalising the religion, he was a remarkable administrator and many of his systems in important temples at Srirangam and Tirupati are still adhered to.
Ramanuja was an ideal leader, charismatic, knowledgeable and perseverant, and was able to balance inspiring people as well as getting the task accomplished successfully.
In this context, Srirangam-based scholar, A. Krishnamachari’s “Managerial Ability of Sri Ramanuja In Retrospection” is a welcome addition.Segregation of workers
Ramanuja’s segregation of the various workers in Srirangam is elaborate and comprehensive. From the five that Tirumangai Azhwar had created, he created 10. Kovanavar (superintendent of the inner organisation of the temple), Tirupani seivar (those who carry out periodic repairs and cleaning), Kodavar, Bhagavata Nambi (archakas), Ullurar (assistants for rituals), Talaiyiuduvar (sthalathar of today), Tirukaragakkaiyar (water providers for temple rituals), Vinappam seivar (Araiyar), Aryabhattal, Dasanambi (flower providers) and Vetrapani.
In addition were another 10 posts - Karalappan (measured the grain), Koil Kata Peruman (guard in Rajamahendra area), Villuparayan (accountant), Kaikola Mudali (assistant for various rituals) Devadasi and so on for potters, jewellers and boatmen. Ramanuja’s reforms at Tirupati and Melkote are just as detailed and each job comes with a thorough job description.
From this, one can comprehend his ability to get into minute detail and understand the basic needs of people – in terms of physical needs such as food and nourishment – that the temple paid as wages as well as more complex needs for inclusion and status.
Ramanuja was not only able to give everyone a special place but also convince the system to run in a way that religion was used as a binding force rather than a divisive force.
One hopes this is the first in a series of other acharyas of Vaishnavism.