OTHERS

Ramanuja, torchbearer of Azhwars' teachings

CHENNAI, APRIL 30. There had been a period in the country when people witnessed turmoil in all fields, particularly in religious affairs. There had been abuses by one group against another. During such times, God sent His representatives to guide people on the proper path. Their responsibility was to systematise the practices of worship at individual and collective levels besides spreading spiritual knowledge. A code of conduct was also formulated. Their aim was to see that tradition built over centuries, faith in God and adoption of instructions contained in the Vedas were upheld so that men may get liberation.

A great torchbearer who showed the easier path of submission, toned up the administration of temples, prescribed proper steps for personal worship and propagated the message of faith in the Supreme Lord as the one Divine Principle from whom all emanations start in the scriptural statements, was himself a target of attack by some antagonists. On one occasion when attempts were planned to destroy him, he had to temporarily discard his ochre robes, usually worn to distinguish him as an ascetic, and get away from the midst of such evil forces by wearing white dress. That was Ramanuja, a revolutionary in ideas but faithful to ancestral teachings.

Ramanuja had created 74 religious ``thrones'' in charge of distinguished disciples and had left important works based on the Vedas. He is called the spiritual torchbearer of Azhwars' teachings. The ``Gadya Thrayam'' presented before devotees a description of the Lord as He resides in His abode and of Lord Ranganatha in Srirangam. The third has its theme absolute surrender to God.His teachings are to a large extent drawn from the writings of the Azhwars led by Nammazhwar and of his (Ramanuja's) previous Acharyas.

In his discourse on Ramanuja Jayanthi, the Jeeyar Swami of the Ahobila Math referred to the extraordinary attention which the Acharya paid to the observance of the daily compulsory religious duty which includes the ``offering of consecrated water'' to the Lord and His creations. Even at the last stage of his life (at nearly 120 years of age) he stood up, though with great difficulty, with his staff in hand and zealously safeguarded this tradition. Sri Adivann Satagopa Yateendra Mahadesikan, who founded the Ahobila Math, six centuries ago, was equally keen on devotees and disciples upholding the noble traditions of Visishtadwaita philosophy handed down by Azhwars and Acharyas, especially ``Ramanuja''.

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