M. VARADARAJAN

KOORESA VIJAYAM: B. K. Vasudevan; T. R. Publications, A-32, 3rd Floor, B Block, Gulmohar Apartments, 35, South Boag Road, T. Nagar, Chennai-600017. Rs. 450.

The contribution of Ramanuja and his band of disciples to the revival of Sri Vaishnavism is unparalleled. In that group was Kooresa, who had abdicated his throne to further the cause of religion. Seven years older than Ramanuja and an ardent disciple, he was so dedicated that he made it a point to be always with his preceptor. He carved a niche for himself through his scholarly works.

Kooresa, more commonly known as ‘Koora-th-thazhvan’, was born 1000 years ago and it is but appropriate that this book has been brought out when the millennium of his birth is to be celebrated.

The author starts the narration with the celestial backdrop to the divine manifestation as Acharya Kooresa and proceeds to speak elaborately of the life of Ramanuja — his birth, his tutelage under Yadavaprakasa, and the several impediments he came across at various stages.

Events

Kooresa’s birth, early education, priestly assignment in the Srirangam temple, expedition to Kashmir to retrieve an ancient scriptural text and, above all, his extraordinary ability to flawlessly reproduce that text from memory are described in great detail. The famous episode — wherein Kuresa displays his mastery of debating skills while upholding his religious faith and demonstrates an outstanding courage of his conviction going to the extent of sacrificing his vision (along with another Acharya, Periya Nambigal) — and several other significant events are told in a gripping manner.

Quite remarkable was Kuresa’s involvement and the depth of his insight into the Azhwar’s hymns, and this is reflected in his works of interpretation on those hymns, as borne out by a striking reference in this book. While expounding the import of the first verse in Tiruvaimozhi, Kooresa was so overwhelmed that he went into a trance and subsequently Ramanuja rushed to his side, embraced him, and called him Azhvan, one who is steeped in devotion.

Master-disciple bond

The life of Kooresa brings out sharply the true attributes of the ideal acharya-disciple relationship. There are numerous episodes that highlight his compassion for one and all. Panchastava, a cluster of five great works of Kooresa, are a veritable treasure-trove for the Sri Vaishnavas. Kooresa Vimsati by his grandson, Vedavyasa Bhattar, and Kooresa Panchasat by Suddhasatva Doddacharya eulogise him.

Vasudevan, author of this book, has identified and drawn from Kooresa Panchasat some beautiful epithets used with reference to Kooresa and has also explained their significance. Shantimaan, Koorarann Maheedhara, and Koora Bhoopathi, to mention just three. The author has provided a useful glossary and an authentic bibliography. The book, which has 18 chapters, will be cherished by the followers of Ramanuja.