55 Facts About Ramanuja


Ramanuja is noted to be one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism.


Ramanuja's guru was Yadava Prakasa, a scholar who according to tradition belonged to the Advaita Vedanta tradition, but probably was a Bhedabheda scholar.


Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Ramanuja disagreed with his guru and the non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta, and instead followed in the footsteps of Tamil Alvars tradition, the scholars Nathamuni and Yamunacharya.


Ramanuja is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedanta, and his disciples were likely authors of texts such as the Shatyayaniya Upanishad.


Ramanuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhasya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.


Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God as a means to spiritual liberation.


Ramanuja's theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Atman and Brahman, while he affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.


Ramanuja was born into a Tamil Brahmin community, in a village called Sriperumbudur under the Chola Empire.


Ramanuja is believed to have been born in the month of Chithirai under the star Tiruvadhirai.


Ramanuja married, moved to Kanchipuram, and studied with Yadava Prakasa as his guru.


Ramanuja attempted to meet another famed Vedanta scholar of 11th-century Yamunacharya, but Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that the latter died before the meeting and they never met.


One hagiography states that after leaving Yadava Prakasa, Ramanuja was initiated into Sri Vaishnavism by Periya Nambi, called Mahapurna, another Vedanta scholar.


Ramanuja renounced his married life, and became a Hindu monk.


However, states Katherine Young, the historical evidence on whether Ramanuja led a married life or he did renounce and became a monk is uncertain.


Ramanuja became a priest at the Varadharaja Perumal temple at Kanchipuram, where he began to teach that moksha is to be achieved not with metaphysical, nirguna Brahman but with the help of personal god and saguna Vishnu.


Ramanuja has long enjoyed foremost authority in the Sri Vaishnava tradition.


Ramanuja grew up in the Tamil culture, in a stable society during the rule of the Chola dynasty.


Ramanuja's fame grew because he was considered the first thinker in centuries that disputed Shankara's theories, and offered an alternative interpretation of Upanishadic scriptures.


When Mahapurna met Ramanuja and informed him of his guru's desire, Ramanuja was overjoyed and they both immediately left for Srirangam.


Heart-broken, Ramanuja then left for Kanchi and refused to worship Sri Ranganatha for he held him responsible for taking away Yamunacharya from this world.


Meanwhile, in Kanchi, Ramanuja met with Kanchipurna, a fellow devotee, regularly and soon decided that he would become Kanchipurna's disciple.


When he approached Kanchipurna about this, Kanchipurna politely refused as he did not belong to the same caste as Ramanuja and told him that he would get a more appropriate guru.


Mahapurna immediately obliged and Ramanuja received the Panchasamskaras.


Some hagiographies, composed centuries after Ramanuja died, state that a Chola king, Kulothunga II, had immense hatred towards Sri Vaishnavism.


Ramanuja was called Kirimikanta Chola or worm-necked Chola, so called as the king is said to have suffered from the cancer of the neck or throat.


Sri Ramanuja then moved to Hoysala kingdom for 14 years, wherein he converted a Jain king, Bitti Deva to Hinduism after miraculously healing his daughter.


King Vishnuvardhana assisted Sri Ramanuja to build a temple of Lord Thirunarayanaswamy at Melukote which is presently a temple town in Mandya district of Karnataka.


Ramanuja later returned on his own to Tamil Nadu after the demise of Krimikanta Chola.


Ramanuja is said to have made Kulottunga III as a disciple of his nephew, Dasarathi.


Some historians hold that Krimikanta, the persecutor of Ramanuja had a personal animosity towards Ramanuja and did not persecute Vaishnavites.


The Sri Vaishnavite order prior to Ramanuja was not averse to people from other castes as both Kanchipurna and Mahapurna were non-Brahmins.


Ramanuja called these downtrodden classes as Tirukulattar, meaning "of noble descent" in Tamil, and was instrumental in admitting them into the temple in Melukote.


When he was a student under Yadava Prakasa, the latter grew jealous of Ramanuja's rise to fame.


Govinda, Ramanuja's cousin, learned of this plot and warned Ramanuja who then left the group and escaped to Kanchi with the help of an elderly hunter couple.


The head priest of the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam did not like Ramanuja and decided to kill him.


However, when Ramanuja arrived, the priest's wife saw the divine glow of Ramanuja and immediately confessed her husband's plan.


Ramanuja poisoned the temple Theertham and served it to Ramanuja.


However instead of dying Ramanuja began to dance with joy.


Ramanuja's ideas are one of three subschools in Vedanta, the other two are known as Adi Shankara's Advaita and Madhvacharya's Dvaita.


Ramanuja was unique in his view that bhakti or devotion is itself an epistemic state.


Ramanuja says that when bhakti takes firm root in an individual, it turns into parabhakti, which is the highest form of bhakti and that bhakti is the direct awareness of Brahman's nature and thus is a kind of knowledge.


Ramanuja is explicit in holding that theoretical knowledge of Brahman's nature will not suffice to procure liberation.


The remedy to be employed, according Ramanuja, is what he calls bhakti yoga, or the discipline of devotion or worship.


For Ramanuja, liberation is not a negative separation from transmigration, or a series of rebirths, but rather the joy of the contemplating the divine perfection.


Ramanuja argued that Shankara's interpretation of the Upanishads had serious errors.


Ramanuja accepted that the Vedas are a reliable source of knowledge, then critiqued other schools of Hindu philosophy, including Advaita Vedanta, as having failed in interpreting all of the Vedic texts.


Ramanuja asserted, in his Sri Bhashya, that purvapaksin selectively interpret those Upanishadic passages that support their monistic interpretation, and ignore those passages that support the pluralism interpretation.


However, in contrast to Madhvacharya's views, Ramanuja asserts "qualified non-dualism", that souls share the same essential nature of Brahman, and that there is a universal sameness in the quality and degree of bliss possible for human souls, and every soul can reach the bliss state of God Himself.


In contrast, Ramanuja's theory posits both Brahman and the world of matter are two different absolutes, both metaphysically real, neither should be called false or illusive, and saguna Brahman with attributes is real.


God, like man, states Ramanuja, has both soul and body, and all of the world of matter is the glory of God's body.


The path to Brahman, asserted Ramanuja, is devotion to godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and love of personal god.


Ramanuja reformed the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple complex, undertook India-wide tours and expanded the reach of his organization.


Ramanuja set up centers of studies for his philosophy during the 11th and 12th centuries, by traveling through India in that era, and these influenced generations of poet saints devoted to the Bhakti movement.


The birthplace of Ramanuja near Chennai hosts a temple and is an active Vishishtadvaita school.


Ramanuja is known as, Udaiyavar, Ethirajar, Bhashyakara, Godagrajar, Thiruppavai Jeeyar, Emberumanar and Lakshmana Muni.