This past Monday, April 27th, was Shri Ramanuja Acharya’s Appearance Day (according to the lunar calendar). He is the avatar of none other than Shri Aadhi Sesha, the divine serpent of Lord Hari-ji, and in essence, the Lord Himself.
I humbly pay homage to Him, to Jagadhguru, with this piece:
Without Shri Ramanuja Acharya, Indian culture and Sanathan Dharma would most likely have disappeared thousands of years back. The temple customs and culture seen today wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for Him and His efforts in preserving the divine culture.
He takes on the responsibility as a guru, as an acharya, to make sure souls are liberated and are reunited with the Lord.
Below are two short snippets from His divine pastimes:
1. The Revelation of the Divine Mantra
Shri Ramanuja Acharya was the one to give the Lord’s name (“Aum Namo Narayanaya” mantra) to everyone. When visiting Thirukotiyur, it took Him 18 visits to Goshtipurna, a revered scholar and Shri Ramanuja Acharya’s guru, to obtain the mantra. Only when Shri Ramanuja acknowledged the shedding of His own ego in approaching His guru did Goshtipurna bestow the mantra onto Him. Goshtipurna told Shri Ramanuja to not tell this mantra to anyone as it is divine and gives salvation from the material world to those who chant it.
And what does this sweet summer child, Shri Ramanuja, do?
Overjoyed at receiving the mantra, this child promptly runs out and CLIMBS (hello parkour inventor) TO THE TOP OF THE GOPURAM – the extremely tall, ornate tower that is the entrance to temples – of Thirukotiyur’s Lord Sowmya Narayana.
And He YELLS, at the top of His lungs for everyone in the town to gather at the temple….AND PROCEEDS TO LOUDLY CHANT THE MANTRA to everyone listening below. Shri Ramanuja proclaims to the world that this is the mantra that will free souls from the clutches of the material world and reunite them with the Lord.
Of course His guru Goshtipurna heard about all of this and once Shri Ramanuja comes back down, Goshtipurna curses Him that He could go to hell for this.
Compassionate and filled with motherly love towards all souls, Shri Ramanuja smiled, unperturbed, and said that it is perfectly fine if one soul goes to hell in return for millions attaining liberation.
(This is some insane chaotic good energy, not gonna lie)
Goshtipurna’s joy knew no bounds once he heard those words. Embracing his dear disciple, he asks for forgiveness. This is when Goshtipurna refers to Shri Ramanuja as the great Lord, Emberumanar (aka Emberumanar Jeeyar).
2. Godhāgraja – The Older Brother of Shri Godhā-ji
Shri Ramanuja Acharya is called as Thiruppavai Jeeyar, or Great Soul who is fond of the Thiruppavai, a 30 verse composition on the Lord made by Shri Godhā-ji aka Shri Andal-ji, the avatar of Shri-ji taken in South India.
Shri Ramanuja Acharya also is very devoted to Shri Godhā-ji and the rest of Her compositions on the Lord.
Once when reciting the Nachiyar Thirumozhi (another major composition by Shri Godhā-ji), Shri Ramanuja notices that in one of the verses, Shri Godhā-ji promised to offer 100 vessels of akkara-vadisil (sweet rice made with jaggery and milk) to Lord Azhagar (the Most Beautiful Lord), aka Lord Sundhar-bahu, of Thirumāliruncholai, Madhurai, in return for being wed to Lord Ranganatha. (*Note: These Lords are all forms of Lord Hari-ji, the Supreme Being)
Shri Godhā-ji is wed to and reunites with the Lord before She can fulfill this promise.
Shri Ramanuja takes it upon Himself to, therefore, fulfill Her promise.
In visiting Thirumāliruncholai, Madhurai, He prepared 100 vessels of akkara-vadisil and offered it to Lord Azhagar, fulfilling Shri Godhā-ji’s promise.
When He visits Srivilliputhur to receive Shri Godhā-ji’s blessings, Shri Godhā-ji blesses Him with Her dharshan (ability to see the Divine) and runs out from the inner sanctum of the temple to greet Him. She affectionately calls Him “Anna!” or Older Brother in Tamil.
Even if Her Appearance was before Shri Ramanuja, because He fulfilled Her promise like an older brother would do for his younger siblings, She calls Him as Her Older Brother.
Thus, Shri Ramanuja is also known as Shri Godhāgraja or Shri Kovil Anna.
May Jagadhguru Shri Ramanuja Acharya (our sweet summer child) bless us all.
Andal Emberumanar Jeeyar Alwar Thiruvadigale Sharanam!