Ramanujar is the great philosopher and thinker who laid the fountain stone for bhakti cult in Hinduism. He is the religious exponent of Vaishnavism which hails the worship of Lord Vishnu to seek mukthi. He promoted the intellectual form of bhakti to attain salvation.
Ramanuja Jayanti falls in the month of Chithirai (April-May) on the day when the Thiruvathirai star occurs. This year, Sri Ramanuja Jayanthi falls on May 1, 2017, Monday. The speciality of Ramanuja Jayanti this year is that it is 1000th year celebrations of his birth anniversary going on from 2016.
Ramanujar was born in Sriperumbudur near Chennai in South India to a brahmin family in 1017 C.E. He lived 120 years till 1137 C.E. He was called Illaiya Perumal, meaning the little avatar of Vishnu in his early life and started preaching the tenets of Hinduism at an early age. He grew in a period of Chola dynasty when there were various religious beliefs like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, smartham, Buddhism and Jainism in vogue.
After his marriage, Ramanujar went to Kancheepuram and started learning Vedanta. Ramanujar ’s guru was Yadav Prakash and he did not agree to theAdvaita vedanta of his guru and followed the tradition of alvars like Nathamuni and Yamunacharya. He devoted himself to the mission of spreading bhakti cult among the Hindus.
When he became the priest of Varadharaja Perumal temple in Kancheepuram, he advocated the worship of saguna Vishnu for attaining moksha or liberation of the soul instead of realizing nirguna Brahman as advocated by Adi Shankara.He established centres for the worship of Lord Vishnu and promotion of bhakti cult.
Ramanujar propounded Vishishtadvaita, which is opposed to the monism or Advaita policy of Adi Shankara.According to him, we can reach God through devotion or bhakti.To reach God, we can choose the worship of a single deity or more. By this worship, he can attain mukthi or moksha or liberation of the soul. One can attain nirvana through devotion to God.
Ramanujar accepts that there is a soul in everybody and it can realize the universal Brahman. His Vishishtadvaita theory declares that atman and paramathman are separate but atman can realise paramathman and reach paramathman through bhakti. This is opposed to the monistic theory of AdiShankara and dualistic theory of Madhvacharya.
Ramanujar has toured around many parts of India and has written Vedartha Samgraha, Shri Bhasya (bhashyam on Brahma Sutra) and Bhagavad Gita Bhasya.The intensity of his thoughts has been acknowledged by all the religious stalwarts and his books are referred even today when there is a need for it. He has been hailed high for his alternative interpretations of Upanishads for Adi Shankara’s interpretations.
RamanujarJayanti is celebrated all over India. On the day of celebration, the utsav murthi of Ramanujar is given a holy bath and prayers and recitals on the preachings of Ramanujar are conducted. Upanishads are also recited sinceRamanujar was very much interested in interpreting Upanishads. Devotees take around the temple to seek the blessings of this great religious guru.
Surdas Jayanti falls on the same day in the month of Vaikasa in the Sukla Paksha as per the North Indian calendar. Sant Surdas is a great North Indian poet whose worship of Lord Krishna is in the form of a mother enjoying her kid’s pranks. Vatsalya rasa is the major component of ‘Sur Sagar’, the great literary work of Surdas.
Surdas was born blind and left home at a very early stage. He saw Krishna in his dreams and was asked to go to Vrindavan by Krishna. There, he met GuruVallabhacharya, the pious devotee of Sri Krishna. From him, he learnt about the scriptures and dedicated his life to singing in the glory of Krishna in the background of Vrindavan. Mugal emperor Akbar patronized him and he lived on the donations offered for his bhajans.
Both Ramanujar and Surdas wanted to reach unto God through bhakti. When Ramanujar used an intellectual form of bhakti and advised people to worship a deity of their choice to seek liberation, Surdas sang in praise of Krishna’s childhood pranks and hailed him with the affection of a mother. Thus, both chose bhakti to attain God but their modes of worship were different.
Ramanujar is a great religious exponent whose precepts are well acclaimed over a long period of time.Let us pray to him on his Jayanti to seek moksha through bhakti.