Ramanuja was one of the most important and influential philosopher and perhaps the most noted amongst the exponents of Sri Vaishnavism tradition and sect amongst Hinduism.
Ramanuja Jayanti celebrates the birth anniversary of this exponentially knowledgeable philosopher. In 2017 Ramanuja’s birthday will be celebrated on the 1st of May as per Gregorian calendar or the dwadashi of Krishna Paksha in the month of Vaishakha. Ramanuja is also known as Ilea Perusal, which means the glowing one.
Who is Ramanuja?
Ramanuja , as mentioned earlier is amongst the most noted Hindu theologians, who was born to mother Kantimath and father Kesava Somayaji in a village new Chennai in about 1077 CE. Ramanuja studied in a Advaita Vedanta monastery, where his Guru was Yadava Prakasa. However, they kept disagrreing on the varied interpretation of the Upanishad and on that note they separated. There are lots of contradictory evidences as to what happened at this stage of life. Some says that he was named the head of the Sri Vaishnava sect headed by a then-dead Yamunacharya. Some says he renounced marital life and became a Hindu monk.
However, he began to worship and became the priest of Varadaraja Srirangam temple at Kanchipuram, which was a Vishnu temple. While here, he started propagating the theory that Nirvana or Moksha, which is the ultimate redemption and release from this material familial life is not a physical thing, it is to be achieved by the personal God and what he called saguna Vishnu.
His intellectual and theological works namely Vedartha Samgraha, Shri Bhasya and Bhagavad Gita Bhasya proves his deep intellect and his distinct thought process. He was the one person who propagated that every devotee, if worshipped by their deep devotion can attain moksha and reach the highest rung of devotion by their own means.the three main volumes as mentioned earlier are Vedartha Samgraha which is a commentary on the Vedas, Sri Bhasya which is a commentary on the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita Bhasya; which is, as the name suggests is a discourse on Bhagwad Gita. His total volume of works of 9 books is known as Navarathnas, or the nine gems.
What he taught about?
The core of his teaching was all about equality. He preached and spoke about attaining the ultimate spiritual bliss by following and worshipping what you think well. He spoke at length about personal God which he called Saguna Vishnu, or Lord Vishnu by yourself. His philosophy was that of everyman and in all walks of life. his philosophy is referred to as the Vishista Advaita as it combined the singularity of God with all its other attributes He was an avid lover of mankind and his life as such was devoted to the love of mankind and showing them a path to reach God by not following the typically empirical laid down rules. His philosophy was known as Vishishtadvaita in accordance to the Hindu tradition. He emphasized that no religious script should be read and interpreted in isolation; rather it should always be considered as an integrated corpus. It was these advanced thoughts which had earned him the eulogies as being probably the solo most influential thinker and interpreter of Hinduism. He travelled through entire India in trying to propagate his theories.
How is Ramanuja Jayanti celebrated?
Because Ramanuja’s theory probably holds true at this modern age more than ever, his birth anniversary is celebrated with suitable relevance and reverence. From Northern to Southern India, devotees make special arrangements to celebrate this day. Various discourses on Ramanuja’s teachings and life are held on this day. The statues of Shri Ramanuja Acharya or the Utsava Murthy are given a traditional holy bath. Recitals of Upanishads are also considered to be auspicious and are organized in almost all the temples celebrating this occasion. The Ramanujacharya Jayanti is celebrated in the Srirangam Sri Ranganatha Swami Temple every year and also in all other Vaishnava Maths or monasteries.
The rituals that are generally followed are – fasting on the day, worshipping Lord Vishnu, feeding the Brahmans and recitation of the Upanishads.