Mathura, India: April 9, 2000
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Correcting His Guru
Sri Ramanujacarya took birth in a simple family.
His mother and father were not very wealthy, but they were of a
high brahmana caste and they were very learned. Ramanuja was an
outstanding boy from his childhood. While under the guidance of a
Mayavadi guru named Yadavacarya, he was very careful in his
studies. One day, when his guru was giving an impersonal
explanation of a verse that contained the word taptyasana, he
compared the lotus-eyes of the Lord to the hind part of a monkey
which is reddish near its tail. Hearing this from his gurudevas
mouth, Ramanuja began to cry in great pain. He felt grief in his
heart that his gurudeva had used such a bad analogy for describing
the lotus-eyes of the Lord. After collecting himself, he very
politely asked if he could say something about the verse.
Yadavacarya assented, and Ramanuja very nicely gave many
explanations according to Sanskrit grammar. He said that the term
taptyasana actually means one who bring s water, and that is the
sun. The lotus blossoms by the potency of the sun, and therefore
the Lords eyes are compared to the lotus, not the monkey.
When Yadavacarya heard this, he thought, This boy is dangerous.
He is very expert and is giving such nice explanations. In the
future he might uproot all the impersonal teachings from the
Vedas, and so I must kill him.
Protected by the Lord
Fearing in this way, he announced to the boys that
they would be going on an outing on a particular day. He also very
confidentially told a few of his disciples of his plan to kill
Ramanuja on that day. Within the group of these disciples, one boy
was a cousin-brother of Ramanuja named Govinda. He discreetly came
to Ramanuja and quietly informed him of their teachers intention.
He said, O brother, you should be very careful, for our teacher
is planning to kill yo u tonight when we are all out together.
Hearing this from Govinda, Ramanuja immediately left that place.
Throughout the day and night, he passed through the dense forest,
and it was difficult for him to discern his way, especially at
night. Seeing His dear devotee in such a state, the Lord appeared
in the form of Bharadvaja and, holding a conch in His hand, showed
Ramanuja the way. Thus, within no time at all Ramanuja crossed the
entire distance of the forest, and he found himself standing
outside a village. After some days, out of compassion for
Yadavacarya and with a desire to deliver him, he again began
studying under his guidance.
After some years, Ramanuja converted Yadavacarya to Vaisnava
philosophy, whereupon his teacher became his disciple. At one
point thereafter, Ramanuja began hearing of the qualities of a
great Vaisnava guru in South India by the name of Sri Yamunacarya,
and he eventually became Sri Yamunacaryas d isciple.
The Quarrelsome Wife
Later on he married, and his wife was very
quarrelsome. Her behavior was discourteous and uncooperative, and
incidents would often take place, which he would have to somehow
A disciple of Sri Yamunacarya and elder god-brother of Ramanuja
named Kancipurna came to Ramanujas village along with his wife.
Ramanuja accepted Kancipurna as a siksa-guru. One day, when
Kancipurnas wife was taking some water from a well, she met
Ramanujas wife, who had also come to the well for drawing water.
It so happened that while taking the water out of the well, some
water from the pot of Kancipurnas wife spilled into the pot of
Ramanujas wife. Although this was a small accident, Ramanujas
wife became furious and insulted Kancipurnas wife with abusive
language. Kancipurna became hurt when he later on heard about this
and, wi thout informing Ramanuja, he and his wife left that place
and went to Sri Rangam.
When Sri Ramanuja came to know that his wifes behavior had
offended a Vaisnava, he felt very bad and thought, She is
committing vaisnava-aparadha; she has such an offensive mentality.
I must do something about it.
One day, a hungry brahmana came to Ramanuja, asking
for some food. Ramanuja sent this brahmana to his wife, telling
him, Go to my home and tell my wife that I sent you. She will
give you some food.
When that brahmana came to Ramanujas wife, she boldly insulted
him again and again. She told him he should get out of there, and
that there was no food for him.
Returning to Ramanuja, the brahmana reported what had happened,
and Ramanuja replied, Wait here for a few minutes.
He left and wrote a letter to his wife, as though it was written
by her father, stating, O my dear daughter, I am arranging the
marriage of my son, your brother. So you should come. Please bring
your husband with you.
Writing these words very nicely, he folded that letter and tied it
with colorful threads. And, along with that, he sent a coconut and
other auspicious items. He then gave that letter to the brahmana
and said, Now go again to my wife. She will welcome you nicely
this time. The brahmana went again. After reading the letter,
Ramanujas wifes behavior completely changed. This time she
welcomed him warmly and sweetly, and offered him all kinds of
palatable food and sweets. When Ramanuja came home, his wife told
him about the marriage. She cited her fathers request for both of
them to come and requested him to please come along.
Ramanuja said, No, I cannot come, for I am very busy; you may go
now with this brahmana. Dont be lat e.
After his wife left with that brahmana, Ramanuja
locked the door of his house and went to Sri Rangam to meet his
Gurudeva, Sri Yamunacarya. He wanted to take sannyasa from him,
but when he reached Sri Rangam, he found that Sri Yamunacarya had
just passed away and his disciples were walking in a funeral
procession with his divine body. Ramanuja felt very disheartened
and sad. He asked them to stop for a moment. He wanted them to
uncover the transcendental body so that he could take darsana of
his Gurudevas divine form. He observed that all the fingers on
one of his Gurudevas hands were open, and on the other, three
fingers were closed. He inquired from the disciples all around as
to why this was, and he wanted to know when it happened.
No one could answer. They said, We didnt notice it before; it
must have happened just now.
Ramanuja became silent, and after some time he spoke, addressing
Sri Yamunacaryas transcendental body. He said, Now, I will first
of all write a Vaisnava commentary on Vedanta, and I will preach
that Vaisnava commentary throughout India. One finger opened, and
Ramanuja spoke further, I will take tridandi-sannyasa right now,
and I will preach the message of vaisnava-dharma and your
When Sri Yamunacarya heard that, his second finger opened.
Ramanuja then said, I will systematically write about Vaisnava
etiquette, explaining the behavior required to execute pure
devotional service, and what precautions should be taken. I will
also preach this throughout India.
After uttering this third statement, Sri Ramanujacarya observed,
along with all present, that three of Yamunacaryas fingers had
now opened. Then and there, Sri Ramanujacarya formally accepted
tridandi sannyasa from Sri Yamu nacarya.
The Ideal Disciple
What is the duty of an ideal disciple? He should
not merely stay with gurudeva; he should try to give his energy by
body, mind and words, and try to serve him according to his
desires. He should not just be present physically, thinking
something exciting is going to happen, while remaining
unenthusiastic to serve. That is not a disciple, but rather
something quite opposite. A true disciple always desires, with
heart and mind, to better serve his gurudeva.
Sri Ramanujacarya had now formally taken initiation from Sri
Yamunacarya. Afterwards, all the disciples of Sri Yamunacarya, who
were great scholars and who had served their Gurudeva for so many
years, came together. Having seen the extraordinary
characteristics and personality of Sri Ramanujacarya, they
collectively decided that he should be appointed as the next
acarya after their Guru, and they honored him with the acarya seat
in Sri Rangam. Sri Ramanujacarya accepted the orders of his
god-brothers, but before sitting and acting as the acarya, he went
to each of his god-brothers, for two months, four months, six
months, or one year, and served each of them. He thus formally
endeavored to understand the teachings of Sri Yamunacarya since he
had not gotten the opportunity to spend much time with him. After
serving and satisfying them, Sri Ramanujacarya commenced his role
as acarya of the Sri
Sampradaya in Sri Rangam
Sampradaya in Sri Rangam
We should carefully follow Sri Ramanujacaryas
example. Not only should we intimately serve our Gurudeva, we
shoul d also respect and properly honor our god-brothers and
god-sisters. If someone is senior to us, having served our
gurudeva longer, we should show that person great honor. If
someone is equal to us, we should give friendly honor to him, and
if we encounter someone in an inferior position and who is serious
about learning, we should always be merciful. We should try to
perform devotional service in a very harmonious way.
Refuting the Impersonalists
When Sri Ramanujacarya officially became the acarya,
he began preaching the cult of Sri Yamunacarya very strongly. In
South India, two impersonalist sects are very prominent: Saiva and
Sankaracarya. Sankaracaryas followers subscribe to the vedanta-sutras
like "sarvam kalvidam brahma" and "tat tvam asi." They think
themselves impersonal brahma, and they think everything comes from
brahma. The Saiva School considers Lord Siva to be the ultimate
truth, and they want to merge into him. This is the basic
difference between the two. Sri Ramanujacarya refuted and defeated
all impersonalism by his very strong and effective preaching.