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Visishtadvaita Sampradayam

Srivaishnava siddhantam is as old as vedads. One should be Loyal to Rmanuja


for showing an easy path to achieve parmartha through his teachings in the school of
Visitadvaita. Visistadvaita sampradayam is a ultimate gift to us given by Simadramanuja
to achieve the realization of Paramatma and Paramartha within the framework of our
normal wordly activities. Our Sapradaya is very simple to follow. A Sri Vaishnava is
one who believes Vishnu & his consort Godess Sri (Lakshmi) as Supreme Being and
put Mahaviswasam on them. Godess Lakshmi (SRI), the mother of the entire creation,
being inseparable from Vishnu and she acts as mediatrix (purushakara) between man &
God. Therefore the followers of this system are known as Srivaishnavas.

In our Visistadvaita Sampradayam, the first teacher is the Lord Narayana himself
and his student was his consort Godess Lakshmi who communicated the same to the
commander-in-chief Visvaksena and to Sathakopa(Nammalwar). Then came the lineage
of Acharyas led by Sri Nathamuni, and his grandson Yamunacharya. His was next to
follow with his disciple Sri Ramnuja and other series of Acharyas like Sri Kuresa, Sri
Nadadur Alvan, Sri Kidambi Acchan, Tirukkurugaippiran Pillan who were followed by a
hierarchy of Acharyas upto our acharyas (Ashmadacharya) as listed in the
Guruparampara.

The following sloka establishes link between the mortals and Sriman Narayana

"Lakshminatha Samrambham nathayamunamadhyamam,


asmadacharya-paryantham vande guruparamaparam"

Therefore we can establish a continuous link through our acharya to Srimannaryana


through poorvacharyas, Nammalwar, Visvaksenar. Hence the Acharya anugraham is
most important in our philosophy.

Importnace of SRI – Vaishnu and SriVaishnavaavam

his consort Sri is regarded as the Mother of the Universe, also acts as a
mediatrix(purushakara as referred in Sri Pillai Lokacharya’s Srivachanabhusanam)
between man and God bringing man close to God and thirdly she is mentioned as the
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teacher(acharya) in the transmission of this tradition. This school of thought recently


systematised by Sri Ramanuja Godess Sri occupies a important place.

In the Vishnu Purana, the author Sri Parasara glorifies Lord Vishnu who is the Supreme
being always associated with Sri or Lakshmi as mutually inseparable, Whatever form the
Lord may take, Sri joins him in a suitable form. As Sita in Ramayana, Rukmini in
Dwapara (with Krishna) etc:

"raghavatve abhavat sita, rukmini krishna janmani


anyesu cha avataresu visnoresanapayini"

In the Lakshmi(Sri) and Bhudevi(Hri) are described as two consorts of Lord Vishnu
"Hrishcha te Lakshmischa Patnyau..."

In the hymns of Purusha Sukta, Sri Suktha, Chatuhsloki, Lakshmi – Sriistava,


Gunaratnakosa, Saranagathi Gadya described the Charm, greatness, authority, her
leelavighuti are described by our Sri Ramanuja and his predecessors.

For example in the Saranagathi Gadya, Sri Ramanuja refers to Lakshmi as follows :

Akhila Jaganmaataram - - Mother of the whole world


Asaranyasaranyam -- Refuge of all the helpless
Nityanapayinim - - Never separated from the Lord
Asankheya-Kalyana Gunaganam -- - Possessor of innumerable auspicious qualities

Making Saranagathi(Surrender) first requesting Her to bless him in his effforts to


perform Saranagathi at the feet of the Lord, thus confirming Her role as the
Purusakara(Meidatrix).

The Three realities-Visishtadvaitam:

There are three realities or tattvas (tattvatraya), according to Visistadvaita philosophy.


These are:

1. Jeevatma (all living beings)


2. Prakruti (inanimate)
3. Paramatma (the Supreme Lord)

Jeevatma

Jeevatma is name given to millions of Jivas, which is entirely different from the body
which it inhabits. Body made up of Panchbhtas, the sense organs, mind, and Jeevatma is
eternal , self-manifest, indestructible by nature. Each soul of jivatma acquires a body
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(a clothing as it were) made out of the evolutes of Prakriti given to it by the Ultimate
Reality, God, in keeping with its past karma.

Prakruti:

All the inanimate matter come under Prakruti. Prakruti (the mattere) which is a main
constituent to form a deha (body) to the Jeevatma. What ever the experiences will be

experence bt Deha and the Atma. Atma orders the Deha to do the work. In this Atma is
master and the Deha is the servent. Being the body of the Atma, this Deha will become
an obedient servant.

Paramatma: Paramatma is the ultimate unchanging reality who creates the universe
consisting of jivatma and Prakrti (matter). The JEEVatmas and the other matter forms
the body of the Paramatma.

As the Jeevatma has the body made up of Prakruti, The Jeevtmas and Prakruti
together forms the body of the Paramatma. As a master the Jeevatma controls the
body which it inhabits, the Paramatma will have controlling pwer on his body that is all
Jeevtmas and Prakruti. In other words as a part of the body of the Paramatma, we
the Jeevas always should be obedient to the ultimate GOD Lord Vishnu.

Five forms of Lord Vishnu

Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Antaryami and Arcavatara. Are the five forms or modes of the
Lord Vishnu

Para form of the Lord is like the waters which surround the cosmos (only belief, beyond
imaginary) – (The presence of cosmos water is beyond the imagination)

Vyuha is like the milky ocean. (imaginary)- Milky ocean (One can imagine how it
would be)

Vibhava forms are like flash floods (occational) - (Floods appear suddenly and
afterwards disappers)

Antaryami is like the subsoil water (in hidden form)- (the presence water is everywhere
in the soil)

Archa form is like the water that is in rivers, ponds, wells, lakes, etc (can be seen and
felt) - Easy access to every body.
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The Archa form is there in many sacred palces. The AlWars have sung in praise
of Archa forms in 108 scacred places and realised Godhead, now popularly
known as 108 Divya Deshams .

The Archa forms can be classified as Swayamvyakta, Daiva, Arsa


andmanusha:

In SWAYAMVYAKTA the Archa form is revealed by God himself and not made
by man; for example Lord Srinivasa at Tirupati, Lord Badrinarayana at Badrinath
Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam etc. PUTTAKONDA LAKSHMI NARASIMHA
SWAMI (Pedapudi mandal, EG dt, Andhra Pradesh) IS ALSO BELIEVED TO
BE THE SWAYAMVYAKTA FORM and all Kainkaryam is being done
following panchratragam.

Daiva (Installed by devas) Arsa (installed by sages) Manusha (installed by men)


are the other forms of Archa Roopa of Lord Srimannarayana.

Paths of Liberation: includes Bhakti Marga, Saranagati etc.

In which Saranagati is the easiest mode and can be followed by any one with
simplest initial determination. Once decided the, Saranagati becomes part of the life style
and is very easy to follow in this materialistic world. Whereas the other ways like Bhakti
marga require a continuous practice and process.

The Saranagati can be practiced through Acharya Seva and Acharya Anugraham.

As a Sri Vaishnava one should follow the following:

Putting Dasa Namam, keeping Mahaviswasam on Lord Srimannaryana only

Meditate with Rahasya Thraya Mantras:

Pranayama with Ashtakshara Mantra

Charama Sloka Parayana

Nitya Bhagavardhana

In this materialistic world we are, not following the actual Dharma (Our OWN
Dharma) what we have to follow. Many of the younger generation is not aware of
many things associated with SRIVAISHNAVA philosophy. What is required to
follow is just get associated with our own ACHARYA. He can show the path, he can
show the light he can show every thing.
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Now let us experience the divine association of ACHARYAS to lead safe, secured,
purposeful and meaningful life. For this we have to start searching for this.

We ourselves can start the programs for this purpose.

Let us call this Program as:

Acharya Samprka Anubhava Anveshana


And experience of the glory of Visishtadvaita siddhanta.

Asmat Gurubhom Namaha

Asmath Sarva Gurubhom Namaha

Asmath ParamaGurubhom Namaha

Sarvam Sri Krishnarpanamastu.


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Acharyanugraham of Bhagavad
Ramanuja

A few experiences of Bhagavad Ramanuja with Sri Alavandar and Tirukkottiyur


Nambigal are narrated in this article.
Sri Alavandar looked at Sri Ramanuja while worshipping Lord Varadaraja in
Kancipuram and cast a benedictive glance (which enabled him to later reestablish
Vishishtadvaita system) during his student days, but did not meet him. On a later
occasion Sri Ramanuja, on hearing the former's majestic verse sung by Sri Periya Nambi,
was awe-struck. Though Udaiyavar continued studying under Yadavaprakasha, these
questions kept ringing in his ears ever since. He developed a yearning to meet his
Paramacharya and get his blessings.
However, later when such a meeting was indeed planned and was about to
materialise, Sri Alavandar left his mortal form before meeting Udaiyavar. When
Udaiyavar inspected the mortal remains of Sri Alavandar, he found three fingers of his
right hand bent (or closed). On enquiry, Ramanuja learnt of three unfulfilled desires of
the Paramacharya. He then made an earnest request to the Divine couple that he
(Ramanuja) should be able to complete those desires and in a way signifying that it
would indeed be so, the bent fingers of the corpse of Sri Alavandar straightened at once!
This shows the grace of Sri Alavandar on Bhagavad Ramanuja, who then truly became
the Darsana-sthapaka, establisher of our system of philosophy.
The three desires are, (1) write a commentary on Brahma Sutras establishing soul-
body relationship between the Lord Sriman Narayana and the cit and acit substances, as
described by Upanishads, 2. select a suitable person and give him the name Sri Parashara,
the author of Sri Vishnupurana which proclaims the supremacy of the Divya Dampati,
and 3. select a suitable person and give him the name of Swami Nammazhvar, the author
of Thiruvaymozhi which reveals the true nature of jivas and the means for salvation.
Bhagavad Ramanuja fulfilled all the three desires. He wrote Sri Bhashyam, gave the
name Parashara to the elder son of Swami Kuresar, and gave the name
Thirukkurugaipiraan (Swami Nammazhavar) to Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi’s son,
Pillan. Pillan thus came to be known as Thiruk kurukaipiran Pillan.

Ramanuja has composed this beautiful verse on Yamunacharya in memory of


such unsurpassed blessing in Gita Bhashyam:
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Even in Sri Bhashyam, he declares that the proper meanings of the Brahma Sutras have
been determined by earlier masters and he merely shows their relationships

with the letters of the aphorisms. Clearly, Sri Alavandar's works including the
famous 'Siddhi Trayam' have been a guiding light here. In Vedartha Sangraha also, he has
composed a verse on Yamunacharya to show that it was Sri Alavandar who
systematically refuted the three schools of Advaita and upheld Upanishad siddhanta as:
used verbatim by Ramanuja (and Swami Sri Desikan has explained it in Rahasya
Granthas).
Another of his Acharyas, i.e, Sri Tirukkottiyur Nambigal had taught Ramanuja the
secret hymns of the Sampradaya after due processes of rigorous testing for fulfilling the
requirements of a worthy recipient. He had strictly prohibited Ramanuja from passing on
these tenets to others (except Kuresa, who in the teacher's opinion was the only worthy
recipient from Ramanuja for rahasyas), without the express permission of his Acharya.
However, the incident wherein, out of abundant compassion towards all beings,
Ramanuja explained the purport of these hymns to a large audience in a temple, was
brought to the notice of the master duly by some people. On hearing this, the master got
angry and summoned Ramanuja to enquire about it. Here is his rebuke:
“Do you realise what you have done and what would befall you for this violation of my
strict instruction?” thundered the master.
Ramanuja's humble reply was, “By violating the sacred injunction of the Acharya,
I would sure reach downward path (hell), but innumerable living beings (souls) would get
released from bondage. This was the motivation for me to undertake this misadventure.”
On hearing this reply, the master was immensely pleased and was moved by the
compassion of Ramanuja. He then said, “I did this only to test your natural concern for
fellow-souls' emancipation so that you could qualify to be the leader of our spiritual
path.”
Let us all salute this great Acharya and feel justifiably proud of being his disciples
and the great lineage of Acharyas in an unbroken chain from him till our own Acharyas.
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Acharya Mahima (Greatness)


The term Guru means one who dispels darkness. The Gautama Dharma Sootra eloquently
expounds on the greatness of an Acharya as “Achaarya shreshto gurunaam” (An Acharya
is foremost among one’s Gurus). The Srivaishnava tradition is known as Sat
Sampradayam on account of an unbroken chain of Acharyas from our present day
Acharyas all the way to Lord Narayana, who is revered as the first Acharya. As a result,
successive Acharyas in this chain are known as Sadhacharyas. Next it is helpful to
address the question, who is qualified to serve as an Acharya. An Acharya is one who
blesses an individual with the following three functions: (i) Provides instruction of Tattva
(the Supreme Being, Lord Sriman Narayana), Hita (means to attain Tattva -
Unconditional total surrender to the lotus feet of Lord Sriman Narayana) and
Purushaartha (the fruit - Service to the Lord and His Bhagavatas) (ii) Administers the
rite of Samaashrayanam (iii) Performs the rite of Bharasamarpanam
(Sharanagati/Prapatti) In the absence of Acharya Sambandha (relationship) no amount
of Punyas will provide moksha (liberation). Similarly, even if one has committed a
motherlode of sins, moksham is readily available through Acharya. These two cases are
illustrated by the lives of Pundarika and Kshatrabandhu. The former was an extremely
devout Brahmin, who engaged in tireless worship of Lord Narayana through the rituals
enjoined in the Vedas. However, even he was unable to secure the ultimate purushaartha
of moksha (liberation) resulting in eternal service for the Divine Couple. He was at a loss
to understand why after performing all the prescribed rites in the scriptures, he was
denied the ultimate benefit of moksha. At this juncture, sage Narada appeared before him
and initiated him in the sacred ashtakshara mantra as a result of which Pundarikaksha
gained moksha. Kshatrabandhu was an extremely cruel robber, whose livelihood
depended on looting people that dared to cross a forest, which was his domain. One day,
the seven sages happened to pass by. As per his usual practice, Kshatrabandhu decided to
relieve them of their valuables. However, the sages stopped him and enquired the reason
for his thieving. Kshatrabandhu replied “I have a family that needs to be supported.
Having no other means of livelihood, I am forced to lead the life of a robber.” The sages
exhorted “Your family survives on account of your loot. However, please find out from
them if they will partake of the Karma (sins) arising from your deeds.” To his
astonishment and dismay, Kshatrabandhu discovered that his family did not want to have
anything to do with the Karma arising from his deeds. Realizing the folly of his ways,
Kshatrabandhu fell at the feet of the Sages and reformed himself to ultimately secure the
grace of Lord Narayana.
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It may also be remembered that even Tirukacchi Nambi (Kanchi Purna), who had the
privilege of conversing with Lord Varadaraja could not secure moksha until he obtained
Acharya Sambandha with Periya Nambi (Mahaa Purna). Thus, to beget the grace of Lord

Narayana, it is most important to have connection to a Sada Acharya. Acharya


Sambandha can result only if one is blessed by Lord Narayana.
Vedas waxe eloquent in their exposition of Acharya Sambandha. For example, the
Chandogya Upanishad states “Achaary aaddhaeeva vidhyaa vidhithaa saadhishtam
praapath” (Vidya gained through the Acharya alone would lead one to the ultimate good)
in the conversation between Satyakama Jabala to his Guru Gautama. Another instance
cited in the Chandogya Upanishad is that of Upakosala, initiated into the Vedic truths by
the sacred fires was commanded by the very fires to receive knowledge of Archiraadhi
gathi and others from an Acharya “Acharyasthu the gathim vaktha”. The Taittriya
Upanishad declares “Acharya devo Bhava” (Revere Acharya as God). Not satisfied with
this, Vedas transformed themselves into the Ramayana to illustrate the greatness of
Acharya Sambandha. First, it may be seen that Lord Rama’s impeccable conduct leading
to his glorification as Dharmo vigrahavan was a product of Acharya Sambandha with
Sage Vashishta, who was famous for his exemplary jnaana, Bhakti, vairaagya, and
austere practices in strict adherence to Shastraic principles.
Again, the greatness of the Acharyas becomes evident from the Ramayana while Lord
Rama departs to the forest. Specifically while setting out, Lord Rama selected the
Padhukas on his own accord to accompany him. It must be remembered that Seetha had
to submit impassioned appeals and convincing arguments for the Lord to permit her to
accompany him to the forest, while Lakshmana performed Sharanagati (surrender) at the
Lotus Feet of Lord Rama for the same purpose. The inner meaning underlying this
incident becomes evident by noting the equivalence between the Padhukas and Shatari
Soori/Swami NammAzhwar (and Sadha Acharyas in his line) as discussed by Swami
Desikan in twenty delectable verses of the Samakhya Paddhati of the Padhuka Sahasram.
Swami Nammazhwar is recognized in the Srivaishnava tradition as the Prapanna Jana
Kootasthar (Founding father of the Prapannas). Therefore, even pre-eminent personages
like Seetha and Lakshmana could beget Sambandha with Lord Rama only on account of
the Padhukas (Acharya Sambandha).
Further references attesting to the greatness of Acharyas can be found in Sri Parashara
Bhattar’s opening line of the Vishnu Sahasranamam commentary “Prathamamapi Gurum
Nathameedey”, the Manu smriti injunction “Loukikam Vaidikam vaapi
thathaadhyatmikameyvacha, Adadaiti yato Gnaanam tam Pooravam abhivadayet”, and
the Meemamsakarika declaration “abhivandya guroon adau sishyadheepadmini raven”
In summary, Sadhaacharya sambandha confers upon one the knowledge of their real
nature, their inseparable relationship with Lord Narayana, and the ultimate goal of life -
securing the bliss of eternal service to the Lord. Swami Sri Desikan declares in Srimad
RahasyatrayasAram “gurum prakaashayeth dheemaan manthram yathnena gopayeth”
(glorify the Guru and safeguard the manthram instructed by him). In Subhashitha Nivi,
Swami Sri Desikan says, “ekaiva guror dhrushtya…” (a single glance of the Guru onfers
a benefit that exceeds the combined benefit accruing from the glances of the
Shiva,BrahmaandIndra).
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Sat Sampradayam
Dayam is inheritance. It is common knowledge that we are not entitled to an inheritance
if the wealth was earned through the effort of the parents. On the other hand, if the family
fortune is from ancestral bequeath, then one has a birthright to that property. For
example, a grandchild has a birth right to the wealth of his or her grandfather. Such a
wealth is called “Pradayam”. When such wealth is earned through righteous means and
put to moral use it is called “Sampradayam”.

The wealth for which one has a birthright need not only be material wealth. Often a
prized family heirloom may not have any material value. Yet, its value may be
immeasurable to the family members. It may even be valued more than all the material
wealth. Our Sri Vasihnava Sampradayam is such an ancestral wealth. This wealth is
incomparable, matchless, and ultimate. It comes down to us from none other than the
primordial Lord Sriman Narayana. So ours is Sat Sampradayam.
The unbroken chain of Acharyas, starting from Sriman Narayana and Periya Piratti
Mahalakshmi, have preserved, protected and passed this wealth down to us over the eons.
We have a right to this inheritance. All we have to do is approach an Acharya in this
lineage. When claiming an earthly inheritance one is often required to produce proof of
identity. Similarly, to prove our identity as worthy of receiving the wealth of Sri
Vaishnava Sat Sampradayam, we should undertake the rite of Samasrayanam, also
known as Panca Samskaram.
After securing our right to the Sat Sampradayam, we need to remain indebted to our
Acharyas without whom we wouldn’t even know of the existence of this priceless wealth.
However, we must also realize that it is impossible to even think of compensating our
Acharyas for the debt we owe.
Our Acharyan has lit the light of knowledge and has destroyed the darkness of our folly.
Even the Lord cannot adequately compensate such an Acharyan for the benefit he has
bestowed upon us. All that is left for us to do is to delight in his admiration, meditate
upon him, and relentlessly endeavor to enhance his glory. Even all this is just a trifle in
comparison to what our Acharya granted us.