• Decades come and go but what remain are the impression and great acts of the social reformers.• India is privileged to have number of great souls like Dayanand Saraswati and Raja Ram Mohan Roy.• They managed to bring revolutions by making radical changes in the society.• Some of the reformers took up the challenges of breaking the jinx of prevailing caste-system while some fought for the introduction of girls-education and widow remarriage.• The contributions, made by these, simple yet eminent souls towards humanity are really extraordinary.• Their activities and thoughts guided the nation to a new beginning.
Shankaracharya Sage Sri Sankaracharya, the great Indian Philosopher and social reformer who lived in the 8th century, was born in atiny village Kalady in Ernakulam District of Kerala, India, on the banks of famous River Periyar. In his short lifespan of thirty-two years, he became one of the greatest teachers of the Vedas..The only weapon he used for this achievementwas pure knowledge and spirituality. Sankara is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
• Shri Adi Shankaracharya or the first Shankara with his remarkable reinterpretations of Hindu scriptures, especially on Upanishads or Vedanta, had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism at a time when chaos, superstition and bigotry was rampant.• Shankara advocated the greatness of the Vedas and was the most famous Advaita philosopher who restored the Vedic Dharma and Advaita Vedanta to its pristine purity and glory.
• Shri Adi Shankaracharya, known as Bhagavatpada Acharya (the guru at the feet of Lord), apart from refurbishing the scriptures, cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses and ushered in the core teaching of Vedanta, which is Advaita or non-dualism for the mankind.• Shankara restructured various forms of desultory religious practices into acceptable norms and stressed on the ways of worship as laid down in the Vedas.
Shankara’s ChildhoodShankara was born in a Brahmin familycirca 788 AD in a village named Kaladi onthe banks of the river Purna (now Periyar)in the Southern Indian coastal stateKerala. His parents, Sivaguru andAryamba, had been childless for a longtime and the birth of Shankara was ajoyous and blessed occasion for thecouple. Legend has it that Aryamba had avision of Lord Shiva and promised herthat he would incarnate in the form ofher first-born child.Shankara was a prodigious child and washailed as ‘Eka-Sruti-Dara’, one who canretain anything that has been read justonce. Shankara mastered all the Vedasand the six Vedangas from the localgurukul and recited extensively from theepics and Puranas. Shankara also studiedthe philosophies of diverse sects and wasa storehouse of philosophical knowledge.When he was three years of age, he losthis father, and his widowed motherAryamba raised him alone.
• The phenomenal world of beings and non-beings is notPhilosophy of Adi apart from the Brahman but ultimately become one withShankara Brahman. The crux of Advaita is that Brahman alone is real, and the phenomenal world is unreal or an illusion. ThroughHis teachings are based on the unity of intense practice of the concept of Advaita, ego and ideas ofthe soul and Brahman, in which Brahman duality can be removed from the mind of man.Theis viewed as without attributes. Shankaratravelled across India and other parts of comprehensive philosophy of Shankara is inimitable for theSouth Asia to propagate his philosophy fact that the doctrine of Advaita includes both worldly andthrough discourses and debates with transcendental experience.other thinkers. • Shankara while stressing the sole reality of Brahman, didHe was a major proponent of the Vedanta not undermine the phenomenal world or the multiplicitytenet that Lord Brahma and men are of of Gods in the scriptures.one essence and every individual shouldtry to develop this vision of oneness. • Shankara’s philosophy is based on three levels of reality,Shankara spread the tenets of Advaita viz., paramarthika satta (Brahman), vyavaharika sattaVedanta, the supreme philosophy of (empirical world of beings and non-beings) andmonism to the four corners of India with pratibhashika satta (reality).his ‘digvijaya’ (the conquest of the • Shankara’s theology maintains that seeing the self wherequarters). The quintessence of AdvaitaVedanta (non-dualism) is to reiterate the there is no self causes spiritual ignorance or avidya. Onetruth of reality of one’s essential divine should learn to distinguish knowledge (jnana) from avidyaidentity and to reject one’s thought of to realize the True Self or Brahman. He taught the rules ofbeing a finite human being with a name bhakti, yoga and karma to enlighten the intellect and purifyand form subject to earthly changes. the heart as Advaita is the awareness of the ‘Divine’.According to the Advaita maxim, the True • Shankara developed his philosophy through commentariesSelf is Brahman (Divine Creator).Brahman is the ‘I’ of ‘Who Am I?’ The on the various scriptures. It is believed that the reveredAdvaita doctrine propagated by Shankara saint completed these works before the age of sixteen. Hisviews that the bodies are manifold but major works fall into three distinct categories -the separate bodies have the one Divine commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras andin them. the Bhagavad Gita.
He founded four Shankaracharya peethas (monasteries) called ‘mathas’, in the four corners of India, to uphold his spiritual teachings. They are -• Sarada Peetham at Sringeri (Karnataka),• Kalika Peetham at Dwaraka (Gujarat),• Jyotih Peetham, Badarikashrama (Uttarakhand/Uttaranchal) and• Govardhana Peetham in Jagannath ,Puri (Orissa). These peethas are amongst the most revered pilgrim destinations in the country.
Sri Sankaracharyas Path to Sanyasam• After mastering the Vedas by the age of sixteen, he • Later at Kashi, he had a strange experience. started his quest for truth. One day a miracle took When he was going to have his at bath River place. While Sankara was taking his bath in the Ganges, an outcaste came from the opposite river he was caught by the leg by a crocodile. direction with four dogs and obstructed the way. Horrified, he cried and his mother ran to the river Sankara ordered him out his path. To his only to see his beloved son dragged to the river. Helplessly as she watched the horrific scene, the surprise, the outcaste retorted, "O, venerable son said to his mother that there was only one way Guru! You are a preacher of Advaita Vedanta to get release from the jaws of the monster and and yet you make a great difference between that was she should allow him to enter the sanyasa man and man. How can this be consistent with ashram. As there was no other alternative at that your teaching of Advaitism? Is Advaita only a moment, she agreed and the crocodile let him go. theory?"• Before taking leave of her, Sankara assured his • Sankara soon realized that the outcaste mother that he would be with her in her last days (Chandala) was none other than Lord Shiva, who and would perform the funeral rites, which he took this form to teach him a lesson. He fulfilled in spite of the problems he faced from his immediately fell prostrate at his feet. He community. composed then and there five Slokas called the• To fulfill his spiritual path, he set out in in search of ‘Manisha Panchaka’. Every Sloka ends thus: “He a preceptor. He met his guru, Swami Govindapada who learnt to look on the phenomena in the Acharya in a hermitage on the banks of the River light of Advaita is my true Guru, be he a Narmada. Under his guidance he mastered yoga, Chandala or be he a Brahmin”. Vedanta and other systems and became a knower of the Brahman. Sankara travelled all over India and met the leaders of different schools of thought.
Sri Sankaracharyas shrines at Kalady• Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam is an eight-story memorial built by Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. The entrance to the memorial is guarded by two elephant statues. It leads to the Paduka Mandapam. Two silver knobs represent the padukas, or wooden sandals of the Teacher. The walls of the memorial feature framed relief paintings relating the story of Adi Sankaracharya. This shrine is open to all, irrespective of the caste and religion.• Sree Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram has a spacious prayer hall and a shrine.• Sri Krishna Temple, a small temple, known as the ancestral deity of Sree Sankara Acharya, is at the west of the Srigeri Mutt. It is the only surviving structure from the time of Sankara, where the poojas are conducted by Namboodhiris.• Nayathodu Sankara Narayana Temple, 3 km west of Kalady, is an example of Advaitam in worship by Sankara Acharya.• Aryadevi Samadhi Mandapam is the resting place of Sri Sankara Acharyas mother Aryadevi.
Ramanujacharya Chief exponent of the Vishishtadvaita school of Vedanta and a great social reformer. "If I can bring deliverance to so many, I do not mind being condemned to hell," he said, and spread his spiritual message to even the lowliest of classes of people. He established the Yatiraja Math and theCheluvanarayanaswami temple at Melkote in Karnataka, and also renovatedmany ancient temples. He wrote many philosophical works and preached the oneness of mankind.
• Sri Ramanuja (1017 - 1137 CE), the most important philosopher-saint of Sri Vaishnavam and one of the most dynamic characters of Hinduism. He was a philosophical as well as a social reformer, displaying a catholicity that was nearly unparalleled in Hindu religious history before him. He revitalized Indian philosophy and popular religion so much that nearly every aspect of Hinduism has been influenced by his work. His life and works show a truly unique personality, combining contemplative insight, logical acumen, catholicity, charismatic energy, and selfless dedication to God.• The less known fact even among Srivaishnavas about this well known Acharya by whose name Srivaishnava philosophy is called Ramanuja Darsanam and who is hailed as "Sri Vaishnava Siddhanta Nirdhaarana Saarva bouma" is that he was a Vadama by birth.(Authority :" Periya Thrumudi Adaivu, Pazhanadai Vilakkam and Visishtaadvaita Catechism" - quoted in GLE)
Childhoood, Marriage • Ramanuja was a bright child. Since he• Yamunacharya was also resembled Sri Ramas brother calledAlawandar. Srishailapurna was (anuja) Lakshmana, he was called his disciple. The latter had two Ramanuja or Ramas brother. sisters, the elder of whom was • The boy Ramanuja was very smart. If Bhudevi. She was the wife of Asuri he read or listened to his lessons Keshavacharya, also called Keshava even once, he could always Perumal. Bhudevi and Keshavacharya remember them. Naturally the lived in a temple at Sri Perambudur, teachers came to like him. They were about thirty miles away from Madras. very fond of him. He learnt the Vedas Ramanuja, their only son, was born in and the Vedangas even as a child. A.D. 1017. Sridevi was Shailapuranas younger sister. She was the wife of Kusumanayana Bhatta. A boy called Govinda was born of this couple exactly at the same time as Ramanuja was born. These two continued to live in amity till the end of their life, and had great mutual affection.
• He had his sacred thread ceremony at the right time. When Ramanuja was about sixteen years old he married a girl called Rakshambal who appears to have been known also as Tanjamma. After a few days, his father Keshavacharya died. This caused bitter sorrow to Ramanuja. With his wife and mother he left for Kanchipuram and settled there. Govinda followed them to Kanchipuram.
Extraordinary Disciple• Ramanuja had not yet received all his • One day the teacher was explaining lessons in Vedanta. He was on the some intricate sentence in the lookout for the right guru. Chandogya Upanishad. The meaning Yadavapraksha was one of the of the passage as given by the greatest scholars of those days. teacher was rather crude. Ramanuja Ramanuja became his student. gave his own interpretation of the• Though he became a student, he did line. The teacher resented that the not relish the manner in which the student had the temerity to debate a teacher taught him. It would of point with the teacher. He was even course be wrong to find fault with nervous that some day his student ones teacher. But in Ramanujas might steal a march over him. It judgement, Yadavaprakasha was not happened that on another day, they explaining the texts properly. were discussing a line in Taittiriya Ramanuja was in a dilemma. Upanishad. The teacher gave a faulty explanation. Ramanuja explained the line in his own way. The teacher should have felt happy with his student who had given such a brilliant exposition. Instead he became angry with him.
• "Look here. If you are not satisfied with my way of teaching, you dont have to take any more lessons." The teacher spoke with obvious displeasure. Ramanuja went away without uttering a word. He was too full of respect for his teacher.
• His fellow students hated Ramanuja and wanted to get rid of him. The teacher and the students including Govinda and Ramanuja were all going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi. They approached the Vindhya Mountains. They were travelling through an impenetrable jungle when Yadava Prakasha and his other disciples hatched a plot to kill Ramanuja, Govinda somehow sensed it; he warned his brother and advised him to run for his life.• Accordingly Ramanuja went away. The teacher and the other students frantically searched for him in the forest. They presumed that he had been killed by some wild animal and they proceeded on their way to Varanasi.• Ramanuja wandered wildly in the forest. He was tormented by hunger and thirst. There was also the fear of the wild animals. He prayed to God and slept under a tree. It was already nightfall when he awoke. He was not feeling hunger and thirst any longer. However it was not easy to find his way out from the wild forest.
• Just then a man and a woman appeared on the scene. They were a hunter-couple. They felt sad when they heard the boys tale of woe. Since they were also heading south, Ramanuja followed them.• It was already dark when they emerged from the jungle. They found a suitable place in the plain and rested for the night. Some time after midnight, the hunter’s wife said she was thirsty. Ramanuja got up and went in search of water. He fetched water from a far-off pond. The hunters wife, after drinking it, asked for some more. When Ramanuja went back to the pond for more water, it was already daybreak. Ramanuja surprised to find himself in the midst of familiar surroundings - temple towers, coconut trees and woods. He had unconsciously come back toKanchipuram!• He wondered how he had managed to come all the way here from the Vindhyas, and that in a single night. It must be the will of -the Almighty, he thought. He then guessed that the hunter-couple who had accompanied him were none other than Lord Narayana and his consort Lakshmi.
• He rushed back to the, place where the hunter-couple had stayed. They were no longer there.• Ramanuja was profoundly grateful to God. From that day onwards he made it a custom to carry water from the pond for the worship of God Varadaraja. Ramanuja took upon himself the responsibility of carrying the holy water every day.• Yadavaprakasha and his disciples returned to Kanchi from Varanasi. They feared that their evil designs had come to light. They were dismayed to find that Ramanuja had come back safely. But Ramanujaremained unperturbed and explained the divine intercession, which had enabled him to return to Kanchi in one night. The guru told Ramanuja to come back to him for continuing his lessons. Ramanujas studentship was thus resumed.
The Lamp of the Future• In those days Yamunacharya was the leader of the Vishishtadvaita School. He had authored many learned works in Sanskrit on that school of philosophy. Mighty contributions yet remained to be made for the development of its tenets, but Yamunacharya was becoming very old. He was wondering who would continue the great tradition. He was then living in Sriranga. He had devoted himself to the worship of Lord Ranganatha. He used to hear now and then about Ramanuja. Once he happened to come to Kanchi. He saw Ramanuja when the latter was going in a crowd, and was much pleased. Ramanuja was tall, handsome and well built. He thought that Ramanuja was the right man for the task of guiding the Vishishtadvaita School. He prayed to God Varadaraja Swami that Ramanuja would be the Successor. That day was not tar off.• Ramanujas guru continued to nurse his ill feeling towards his disciple. One day the teacher was explaining the Upanishadic line -Sarvam khalvidam brahma (God is everywhere). The explanation did not appeal to Ramanuja. He gave his own explanation. The teacher grew angry and told him unequivocally that he would not teach him any longer. Ramanuja was sad. He thenceforward spent all his time in the service of Lord Varadaraja.
• Yamunacharya came to know that Ramanuja had been estranged from Yadavaprakasha. His own end was drawing near. He told his student Mahapoorna to fetch Ramanuja from Kanchi. However, Yamuna died even before Ramanuja arrived.• Mahapoorna travelled day and night and reached Kanchi. He was fascinated by the magnificent personality of Ramanuja.• He explained to Ramanuja the condition of Yamunacharya. Ramanuja longed to see the great man. They came to Sriranga. They saw a crowd on the banks of the river Cauvery. People had assembled there for the funeral rites of the great Yamuna. Ramanuja was shocked. But he felt comforted that he was fortunate to see at least the dead body of the great man.
• A miracle happened then. Ramanuja stood before the corpse and gazed at it. He observed that the three fingers of the right hand had been bent. He was told by disciples of the guru that the latter had left unfinished three important tasks in his life. Ramanuja took an oath that he would accomplish them. He vowed that he would propagate the Srivaishnava philosophy, that he would pay his tribute to Vyasa, Parashara and Nammalwar, and that he would write a commentary on Vyasas Brahma Sutras. Even as he declared his vows, the three fingers of Yamunacharya got straightened one by one. It was clear that Sri Yamuna had blessed Ramanuja. It was also clear that Ramanuja would be the future torchbearer of the Srivaishnava tradition.• Ramanuja did not believe in the caste system. He disliked superstitions. The sage Kanchipoorna was a devotee of Lord Varadaraja. He was known to be a great man. He was not a brahmin. But Ramanuja accepted him as his guru and he used to prostrate before him. The guru had forbidden Ramanuja to greet him. But Ramanuja persisted since he always considered himself a disciple of Kanchipoorna.
• It hdppened that once Ramanuja invited sage Kanchipoorna to a dinner at his house. He wanted to feed him and receive his blessings. The sage accepted the invitation and dinner was arranged. The sage knew that Ramanuias wife was a very orthodox woman. So, he went to their house when Ramanuja was away to fetch the distinguished guest. Kanchipoorna dined at Ramanujas house aid returned. Ramanujas wife gave away the remaining food to some others; she cleaned the house, bathed and cooked fresh food for the family.• Ramanuja came back and realized what had happened. He was angry that his wife had denied him the opportunity ofreceiving the blessings of the guru. Her narrow- mindedness disgusted him. She was incapable of understanding the noble feelings of Ramanuja, the great man who had taken birth for the welfare of mankind.• On another occasion a group of hungry people came to his doors. Ramanuja asked his wife to see if she could find some food in the house for them. She replied that there was no food to offer. Ramanuja became furious when he later came to know that she had told a lie.
Ramanuja Becomes "Yatiraja"• Whenever Ramanuja wanted solutions to any philosophical questions, he would refer them to Kanchipoorna. The latter would often find it difficult to answer the questions, since Ramanuja himself was a profound scholar. On such occasions he stood before the deify and appealed for answers. He conveyed back to Ramanuja the response he received from god. Ramanuja was most happy with the answers. These became the basic tenets of Vishishtadvaita.• Ramanuja left for Sriranga to meet his prospective guru Mahapoorna. At the same time Mahapoorna and his wife were on the way to Kanchi to persuade Ramanuja to take up the task left uncompleted by Yamunacharya. Their paths crossed and they both met on the way. Mahapoorna agreed to Ramanujas guru. Ramanuja was taken to a place near a bakula tree, and after the preliminary rituals he was taught the philosophical intricacies of Vishishtadvaita. Ramanuja took his guru to Kanchi and kept him with him there.• For nearly six months Ramanuja served his master and learnt from him the inner esoteric meaning of the Nalayira (four thousand) Prabandha compositions. He learnt the essence of Vishishtadvaita contained in those hymns.
• Mahapoorna was not a brahmin. One day his wife was drawing water from the well, and inadvertently a few drops were splashed on the pitcher of Ramanujas wife. The latter became angry that she had been polluted and started a row. Maha- poorna felt deeply hurt by her conduct. He decided to leave the place lest his presence create further estrangement between Ramanuja and his wife, and proceeded to Sriranga. Ramanuja came to know that his guru had left. His anger knew no bounds.• How could he continue to live with such a wife? He cleverly dispatched her to her fathers house and took to Sannyasa in the presence of Lord Varadaraja. Ramanuja thus became Yatriraja. His worldly bonds had been severed forever.
To Sriranga• The news of Ramanujas becoming a sannyasi spread everywhere. People came to see him in large numbers. Many were attracted by his brilliant personality and became his disciples. Among them were Ramanujas nephew Dasarathi and Kooresha. His old guru Yadavaprakasha had by then repented for his past follies. When he came to know that a vast number of people went to call on Ramanuja, he too joined them. He met Ramanuja and he too was happy. Kooresha was able to find answers to many of the philosophical questions which were vexing Yadava- prakasha. He was thus converted into Srivaishnava faith and then onwards assumed the name Govinda Jeer.• Although Ramanuja had no dearth of disciples, he felt the need of his brother Govinda. He was therefore brought to Kanchi from Kalahasti.• The disciples of Yamunacharya at Sriranga continued to think of Ramanuja. They sent their chief Vararanga in order to fetch Ramanuja to Sriranga. They propitiated the God at Sriranga and succeeded in taking Ramanuja to Sriranga.• Though Ramanuja preached hisphilosophy daily he felt that his knowledge was still incomplete. Therefore he once again approached Mahapoorna and learnt quite a few things from him. But Mahapoorna said: "There is a man called Goshtipoorna in Goshtipura, he is the only man who can further teach you the significance of Srivaishnava tenets."
"What If I Go To Hell ... ?"• Goshtipoora did not easily accord his benediction to Ramanuja. He was bent on testing the latters fitness and devotion.• He often evaded Ramanuja saying he was busy and refused to meet him. At last he was convinced that Ramanuja was a deserving student. He told Ramanuja to approach him with his walking stick and Kamandalu. Ramanuja cameaccompanied by Dasarathi and Kooresha. "I told you to come alone. Why did you bring these two with you?" the guru asked. Ramanuja said: "Dasarathi is my walking stick and Kooresha is the Kamandalu. I just cannot survive without them." Goshtipoorna was deeply touched by Ramanujas affection for his disciples.• He taught Ramanuja the significance of the ashtakshari hymn: "Since those who recite it will find god realization, you should be discriminating while teaching it," he said.• But Ramanuja did not like such invidious distinctions between man and man. He wanted that every one should profit by such divine knowledge.
• Next day he climbed the temple tower and summoned all the residents of the town. He spread broadcast to them all the mystical knowledge he had learnt. He made them repeat the hymn and then explained the meaning. People were elated with joy.• Goshtipoorna was wrathful when he heard all this. He asked Ramanuja if ever he knew what punishment would befall him for the crime he had committed. Ramanuja spoke calmly: I know I may have to go to hell for having defied my Guru. My action has brought happiness and deliverance to so many, and hence it does not matter even if I am condemned to everlasting perdition.”• The words brought wisdom to Goshti- poorna. He realized that Ramanuja was a great man who had taken his birth only for the deliverance of the world. He called him My Lord and embraced him.
• The teachings of Yamunacharya had been distributed among his five disciples, namely Kanchipoorna, Mahapoorna, Goshtipoorna, Maladhara, and Vararanga. Ramanuja had received instruction at the hands of three of them. He was yet tomeet the remaining two He went to Maladhara to learn the hymns of Nammalwar.• Maladhara was also known as Tirumalai Andan. Ramanuja sat at his feet to learn. The guru explained Nammalwars Tiruvaimoli in the light of the interpretation he had heard from the lips of Yamuna- charya. But Ramanuja tried to read even richer meaning into those songs. Maladhara was displeased. Goshtipooma also came to know of it, and tried to mollify the feelings of Maladhara. He assured him that Ramanuja was a great genius who had received the grace of his guru Yamuna- charya, and therefore the teacher should continue his lessons unmindful of the incidental irritation. Later Ramanuja received lessons for Vararanga on the Nalayira hymns.• The philosophical tenets of Yamunacharya which had remained fragmented were gathered together from various sources and codified by Ramanuja. Ramanuja thus became Paripooma (complete) and his probation was over. He was in a position to disseminate the essentials of Srivaishnava religion among his contemporaries. He wrote the three classics called Gadya- traya, Nitya-grantha and Gita-bhashya. He exercised all his faculties in obtaining divine grace and sharing the fruits of his experience with his fellowmen.
• After Ramanuja came to Sriranga, the stranglehold of the priests was released. But they felt frustrated and were waiting for a chance to avenge them by killing him. One day when Ramanuja was on his usual rounds to collect the days alms, he was standing before the doorsteps of a house. The lady of the house came out to offer him alms. As soon as she saw the unusually brilliant eyes and graceful saintly face of the sannyasi, she began to shiver with fright. When Ramanuja asked her the reason for her strange conduct, she could not help confessing the truth before the great man. She had been instigated by her husband and his friends to poison the food that was to be offered to the sannyasi. Ramanuja threw the food into the river.• When the disciples came to know what had happened, they decided to cook the food themselves thereafter.There lived a famous scholar called Yajnamurthy. He had defeated many opponents in philosophical disputes. He was a very insolent man, too. He came to Ramanuja in order to challenge him to a dispute. He came to Sriranga withcartloads of ancient tomes and a crowd of disciples. The arguments went on for eighteen days. It was a meeting of two equals. On the nineteenth day Ramanuja presented a line of argument based on Yamunacharyas works. The proud controversialist was humbled, and later he became a favorite disciple of Ramanuja. He became known as Devaraja-muni.
• Thus Ramanujas reputation extended far and wide. He wanted to visit holy places. Accompanied by his students he visited the places where once the Alwars lived and he came to a village called Ashtasahasragrama. There he had two disciples-Yajnesha, a rich man, and Varadarya, a poor man. Ramanuja and his disciples visited the house of Varadarya for collecting alms for the day. They were cordially welcomed by the lady of the house. But there was little that the poor woman could offer to the guests. But Ramanuja admired her devotion.• The other disciple was rich but somewhat insolent. He waited in vain for his guru the whole day. He realized his folly and went to his teacher. He fell at his feet and apologised. Ramanuja exhorted him to treat all living creatures with equal humanity.• Then Ramanuja went up the Tirupati Hills to offer worship to Lord Srinivasa. At the foot of the hills he spent nearly a year studying Ramayana under the guidance of Srishailapoorna.
• It was then that Ramanuja remembered he had not fulfilled one of the promises he had made to his departed guru Yamuna. He was yet to write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa. He needed to consult the learned commentary written by Bodhayana, the immediate disciple of Vedavyasa. But that great work was in Kashmir. Ramanuja and his disciple Kooresha went on foot all the way to Kashmir. The King and his court-scholars were astounded by Ramanujas profound knowledge. Ramanuja begged them to give him the work of Bodhayana. But the scholars refused. They did not even permit him to make a copy of the text. "At least, please let me glance through the work once," he begged of them. It was a very difficult text, and the scholars thought that there would be no harm if they allowed Ramanuja to merely thumb through the pages of the book. Kooresha read it aloud from cover to cover, and the teacher listened in silence. Kooresha understood his masters predicament. He had a prodigious memory and he was able to make a copy of the whole book by a mere cursory glance at it. The happy guru and his disciple returned to Sriranga.• And then began the composition of Sribhashya, the commentary on Bramha Sutras. The guru dictated and the disciple wrote it down. Whenever doubts occurred he would stop and listen. Thus the writing went on.
• At one point the disciple grew a little uncertain about the meaning of a passage, and he paused. Seeing that Kooresha had stopped writing down, the teacher became angry; he abruptly got up and went out.• But he soon realized his mistake and apologized to his student. He had clearly made a mistake and if the student had mechanically continued the writing, a serious mistake would have crept into the commentary.• Thus the Sribhashya was concluded and Ramanuja came to be called Sribhashyakara. The students of Ramanuja wanted what their teachers mission should also include visits to pilgrim centers. The teacher agreed and they went on foot all the way. They toured the Chola and Pandya kingdoms and went to North India. They visited distant holy places like Dwaraka and Badari and reached Kashmir. They’e the Goddess of learning Sri Sharda appeared before him and blessed him by presenting an icon of Hayagreeva. Later he visited Varanasi. At Puri he established the Embar Math. He reorganized the temple service at Jagannath. He toured all over India and returned to Sriranga.
To Karnataka• Karikala was the ruler of the Chola kingdom. He was a worshipper of Shiva, and he was a fanatic. He wanted to force Ramanuja to accept his religion. He issued a proclamation saying There is no god greater than Shiva and someone suggested that the king should get Ramanuja to subscribe to that view. He sent for him. When the kings emissaries arrived at Sriranga, Ramanuja was taking his bath. Sensing the imminent danger to the master, Kooresha disguised himself as Ramanuja. Ramanuja came to know of what had transpired from Dasarathi, and was thus able to escape. He decided to leave Sriranga. He crossed the Cauvery River and arrived in Karnataka.• The disciples of Ramanuja had to bear the brunt of the tyrants wrath. Kooresha and Mahapoorna were taken to a jungle and their eyes where gouged out. Mahapoorna died in agony. Kooresha settled in a small remote village.• On arriving in Karnataka Ramanujareached Saligrama. The serene atmosphere of the place appealed to him. Vaduhanambi, the priest of the local Narasimha temple, became Ramanujas disciple. The people of the vicinity, on learning that Ramanuja had arrived at the village, gathered round him. There is pond in that village and it is a kind of memorial to the great man. Even today Sripada Tirtha is considered to be sacred to all Srivaishnavas. The temple is still in charge of the descendants of the family of Vaduhanambi.
• Ramanuja traveled eastward and came to Tondanur, the second capital of the Hoysala Empire. Bitti Deva (Vittala Devaraya) was the name of the Hoysala ruler. His daughter was suffering from a mental illness. Ramanuja by now had become famous as the man who cured the illness of the Chola princess. When the king sent for Ramanuja, he did not go at first. But when a disciple,Tondanurunambi, assured him that the Hoysala king was not a fanatical tyrant like the Chola king, Ramanuja agreed to go. He cured the illness of the princess, to the delight of the king. He was drawn to Ramanujas faith and became a Srivaishnava. He then onwards came to be known as Vishnu- vardhana. In memory of this great event, the king built five Vaishnava temples Channiganarayana temple at Belur, Nambinarayana temple at Tondanur, Kirtinarayana temple at Talakad, Veeranarayana temple at Gadag and Chaluvanarayana temple at Melkote. These temples are lasting monuments of Karnataka culture and architecture. Ramanuja built many other temples too in Tondanur. He also got constructed a huge reservoir called ‘Tirumalasagara(now called Moti Talab).• He left Tondanur for Melkote, which was also known as Tirunarayanapura or Yadavagiri. It was a hilly area overgrown with a thick jungle. The original idol of god Tirunarayana was lying hidden in a molehill. Ramanuja got it dug out and installed the idol in a specially built shrine.
• There is a beautiful legend about the Utsavamoorti of this temple. (Utsavamoorti is a small idol of the same deity used for taking out in procession.)• Formerly the temple did not have the idol, which is meant for being taken out in procession. It was said that the idol was in the custody of a Muslim king. When Ramanuja went to see the Sultan, the Sultan was impressed by Ramanujas magnificent personality. He had no objection to parting with the idol if his daughter also agreed. It is said Ramanuja called aloud - "Come, my king Selvapillay and the idol came dancing to Ramanuja. The Sultans daughter would not easily part with the idol, since she loved it dearly, and she followed it when it was taken out to Melkote. It is said that when she could not get back the idol, she put an end to her life at the feet of the deity.• The Harijans ware of great help to Ramanuja in building the shrines and in accomplishing other public utility works in Melkote.• Ramanuja called them Tirukulattar (high-born). He arranged to have them admitted to the temple on three days in a year, when they could have free darshan of the deity.
Last Days• Ramanuja lived in Karnataka for twenty years. He established the Yatiraja Math in Melkote, and also several other Maths and temples. He had succeeded in spreading the tenets of Srivaishnava relig ion in Melkote. He wanted to return to Sriranga to complete his task there. He remembered his former disciples, Kooresha, Dhanurdasa and others. Much work remained to be done. The fanatical Chola king was no more and his successor was more tolerant towards other faiths. Time was thus propitious for returning and Ramanuja came to Sriranga, after bidding farewell to associates at Melkote.• Ramanujas old acquaintances were electrified with new zest when Ramanuja was back among them. He was deeply moved to see the blinded old man Kooresha who passed away some time later.• Ramanuja renovated many old temples, which were in ruins. He was by now a ripe old man of 120 years. His eyes turned
• Heavenward since he had fulfilled all that he wanted to achieve. He decided to cast of his mortal frame. A life-size statue of his was made. Ramanuja breathed life into it before he passed away. The life like statue was installed in Sri Perambudur.• Ramanuja delivered his final message to his disciples: "Shed your ego. Love the devotees of God. Serve the cause of mankind who is Gods children. Nobody is infallible; do not humiliate any one. What is of supreme importance is purity of mind and deed." His message was spread all over the country by his seventy-four disciples and Maths was built in different parts. The end was nearing. Ramanuja lay down keeping his head on the lap of Govinda and his feet on Andhrapoornas lap. He attained eternal bliss in that posture, on the tenth day of the month of Magha, in the year 1059 of Shalivahana era (A. D. 1137).• Ramanuja particularly laid stress on the merciful nature of God. God possesses numerous attributes like truth, grace and beauty. If we worship God devotedly, he will bless us. We should not make much of personal happiness. Those who love God are the real great men irrespective of their caste or religion. Ramanuja loved all mankind without making any distinction between man and man. He taught his disciples the virtues of humility and equality.
• Madhvacharya was a great religious reformer and an orthodox commentator on the Brahma Sutras and the ten Upanishads. He was born in 1199 A.D. at Velali, a few miles from Udipi in the district of South Kanara in South India. He was a Tulu Brahmin by birth. He was born of Madhya Geha and Vedavati. Vedavati was a virtuous woman. Madhva is regarded as an incarnation of Vayu, the Wind-God. The father gave him the name Vasudeva.• Madhva distinguished himself in physical exercises and field games. He had a wonderful physique. He could wrestle, run, jump and swim. So people gave him the nickname Bhima. Madhva took to the study of the Vedas and the Vedangas and became well-versed in them. He took Sannyasa in his twenty-fifth year. Achyutaprakashacharya initiated him. Madhva was now known by the name Purna Prajna. Achyutaprakashacharya found that Madhva was a brilliant Sannyasin with efficient knowledge in Vedanta and other scriptures. He put Madhva as head of the Mutt in his place. Madhva received the name of Ananda Tirtha now. He went on an extensive tour in Southern and Northern India to preach his gospel of Bhakti. He made several converts. He went to Badrinarayan, and soon after his return, he wrote his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedanta Sutras. He built several temples at Udipi, the principal centre of the Madhva sect. Most of the orthodox Madhvas try to go to Udipi at least once in their life.
• Madhva had superhuman powers. He performed many miracles. He saved a boat which was caught in a storm. A boat which contained an image of Lord Krishna capsized. Madhva brought back the image from the ocean. During his tour, king Ishvara Deva in Maharashtra asked Madhva to work in building a dam. Madhva noticed that he had been unconsciously working for the king the whole day. Once he stilled the waves of the ocean when he went to take bath.• Madhvacharya is the great exponent of the Dvaita school of philosophy. His Vaishnavism is called Sad-Vaishnavism in order to distinguish it from the Sri-Vaishnavism of Ramanujacharya. According to his philosophy, the Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana. Every follower of the Madhva school should have a firm belief in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions—viz., the distinction between the Supreme Being and the individual soul, between spirit and matter, between one Jiva and another Jiva, between the Jiva and matter, between one piece of matter and another. The phenomenal world is real and eternal. The worship of Vishnu consists in (i) Ankana, marking the body with His symbols, (ii) Namakarana, giving the names of the Lord to children and (iii) Bhajana, singing His glories. Madhva laid much stress on constant practice of the remembrance of God (Smarana). He says, "Form a strong habit of remembering God. Then only it will be easy for you to remember Him at the moment of death". Madhva pointed out that when the Lord incarnated, no Prakrita Deha or material body was put on by Him. He prescribed a rigorous kind of fasting to his followers.
A great reformer• Renunciation, devotion and • Madhvacharya was a great reformer of direct cognition of the Lord his times. He was not subdued by the onslaught of Advaitic thought so through meditation lead to the predominant during his times. He took attainment of salvation. The a fresh look at the Vedas and its aspirant should equip himself ancillary literature. He revived the age old Bhagavata dharma based on Vedic with the study of the Vedas, teachings in the light of the Brahma control of the senses, Sutras. Once he went against the dispassion and perfect self- practice of killing animals during Vedic sacrifices. He recommended that surrender, if he wants to have offering Pishta pashu or a figure made the vision of the Lord. These out of flour should be practiced instead are some of the important in this kaliyuga. He claimed that this is teachings of Madhvacharya, truly Vedic. He prevailed over the scholars and made his brother the renowned exponent of the successfully perform a sacrifice using dualistic school of philosophy. the pishta pashu.
Teachings of Madhvacharya• The soul is bound in this samsara and experiences sorrow because of its ignorance• Escape from all sorrows is achievable only by the grace of Vishnu. Therefore one should strive to earn the grace of Vishnu.• The benevolence of Bhagavan Vishnu which is the primary cause for liberation can only be achieved by Bhakti. Vishnu will be pleased only by Bhakti and not by any other means.• Bhakti is that incessant flow of love, which greatly supercedes all other objects such as oneself, ones relatives etc. and which does not recede inspite of thousands of obstacles and which is coupled with the knowledge that Bhagavan Vishnu possesses unrestrained, infinite, blemish-less, auspicious attributes.• Bhakti will not develop until Bhagavan Vishnu is seen• Bhagavan Vishnu, who is obscure by nature, cannot be seen by any means except through his blessings.• The blessing of Bhagavan Vishnu which is the only means to His vision is not possible without meditating upon His blemish-less, suitable form *according to one’s eligibility+ for a long duration, with utmost respect and continuity.• Meditation is not possible until one undertakes a self-study of the textual instructions received [from a qualified guru]; otherwise one would not be free from doubt and wrong knowledge.• Therefore self-study after receiving spiritual instructions from a qualified guru is to be taken up as it is the means to liberation through meditation and god’s grace.
• Today, a large part of the world remains oblivious of this divine personality and the knowledge imparted by him.• As a result, mankind has found itself in a severe crisis.• This is inspite of all the technical advancements.• Therefore, even today there is a great need to propagate the ancient, divine and impeccable knowledge preached by Madhvacharya to every living soul.
BasavannaBasava(also known as Bhakti Bhandari Basavanna or Basaveshwara , (1134– 1196) was a philosopher, Statesman and a social reformer from present-dayKarnataka, India. Basava fought against the inhuman practice of caste system, which discriminated people based on their birth, and certain rituals inHinduism. He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. Basavanna used Ishtalinga to eradicate untouchability, establish equality among all human beings and a means to attain spiritual enlightenment. These are rational and progressive social thoughts coupled with established perception of God in Hindu society.
• Eight hundred years ago, there lived a couple by name Madarasa and Madalambike in a village called Bagewadi of Bijapur District, in Karnataka, (South India). They were very pious and deeply religious. There was a temple of andeesh- wara in that village. The husband and the wife were devotees of Nandeeshwara. Madalambike was longing to have a son. She offered worship every day to God Shiva and prayed to Him to fulfil her desire. One day after performing the worship she sat in meditation. A jasmine flower, placed on the Shivalinga as an offering, fell into her lap. She took it with great devotion, pressed it gently to her eyes and then wore it in her hair. The whole day she was beside herself with joy. At night she had a dream: Shiva from Kailasa had sent Nandi, the bull on which he rode, to this world. Nandi came to the house of Madarasa and Madalambike. Then there was light everywhere.• The next morning Madalambike revealed this dream to Madarasa. He in turn reported it to the Guru, a spiritual guide of the village. The Guru told him that it was a good sign. The couple would have a worthy son; he would exalt the entire family. He would also uplift and enlighten the whole world. The couple felt very happy when they heard these words of prophecy.• Bagewadi was a small village. Madarasa was its chief. Soon the news of Madalambikes dream spread all over the village.• In course of time Madalambike gave birth to a son. It was a charming baby. Its face shone with a brightness not of this world. But strangely enough it did not cry at all as babies usually do. It did not open its eyes. It did not move its limbs. It was still and silent like a sage in meditation. The mother was worried. The revered Guru of the family was in Kudalasangarna. Madarasa decided to report this curious state of the baby to him.
• Kudalasangama is a holy place where the two rivers Krishna and Malapahari meet. A temple of God Sangameshwara is there. The revered Guru of Madarasas family was in sole charge of the temple where he was running a Gurukula (a school). By his devout meditation and scholarship he commanded the respect of all and wielded much influence. To him came Madarasa with the news of his new, born baby and its curious state. The Guru immediately went with him to Bagewadi.• He realized that this was no ordinary babe. He smeared its forehead with the sacred ashes brought from the holy Sangama. Only then the baby opened its eyes. The Guru tied the Linga round its neck. It started smiling. Thus the Guru admitted the little infant into a spiritual order. This was something new to Madarasa and Madalambike. The Guru then said: "By the grace of God Shiva, Nandi (Vrishabha) himself has been born as your son. He will become a great man and will promote Dharma in the world. The welfare of the entire mankind will be accomplished by him. This indeed is your good fortune as also of this land. Name him as Basava.“• Basava is the Kannada form of theSanskrit word Vrishabha. As instructed by the Guru the baby was named Basava. Later, out of respect, people called him Basaveshwara. While working for the good of all his fellowmen, he showed great love for them and was very close to them. So they began to call him affectionately Basavanna (Basava, the elder brother). He was born in 1131 A.D.
• Basavanna grew up to be a lovely boy. He was a feast to the eyes and hearts of his parents and of all others in Bagewadi. He was known as the brightest student in the Gurukula. He was very, very intelligent for his age. He was a very good boy. He was friendly with every one. Even at such a tender age he would think for himself and form his own views. The teachers used to teach things in the traditional way. But at every step this boy would ask them How?’ and Why?’ The teachers no doubt admired his boldness and independent thinking. But they found it difficult to answer his questions.• There used to be several religious ceremonies in the village. Basavanna would want to know the meaning of every thing. But it was not possible for the elder to satisfy him. There was the traditional case system; according to this some were considered high and some low. This seemed wrong to Basavanna. All should be treated as equals. All should be pure and devoted to God. Everyone should work. Liberal views such as these took shape in the mind of Basavanna even in his childhood. It was indeed Gods grace.
• Basavanna completed his eighth year. In accordance with the family custom Madarasa decided to perform the Upanayana (investing with the holy thread) of his son. What was the meaning of this ceremony? How did he need it? Even as a baby he had been blessed by Guru Sangameshwara with a linga to wear on his body. So he needed no other initiation’---- so thought Basavanna. He also told his father regarding the same thing. Madarasa was taken aback. He felt pained also. But Basavannas stand was clear and firm. How to break this family tradition was a big problem to Madarasa. Basavanna also thought over it a good deal. At last he told his father: "Father, you may respect this family tradition. But it is not for me. Let me not place you in a difficult position. I shall leave this house for good and continue my education at Sangama. I shall learn at the feet of the revered GuruSangameshwara.“• However much the parents and the closest kinsmen entreated, Basavanna would not change his mind. Leaving his home once and for all he set out for Kudalasangama. This bold and firm decision of so young a boy amazed everybody. No doubt it was indicative of the great religious revolution that he was to bring about later in his life.
• In those days religion had become mostly a matter of convention. People were rigidly bound down to certain rituals and formalities. The essence of religion was lost sight of. People forgot that there is only one God and had created several lower gods and goddesses. In the name of religion many castes and creeds had come to be formed. There were many blind beliefs. Birth and profession determined the status of a man. Because of the desire for heaven, life in this world had taken a wrong course.• There is one God. All are his children. They must have equal opportunities in religion. All should live together in love. Kindness is the basis of all religions. It was very necessary to develop these ideas in the minds of people. It was at such a time that Basavanna was born. He took a daring step even in his very child- hood. The child is father of the man. He showed that he was born with a mission to fulfill in future. Thus Basavanna as an independent thinker left Bagewadi in protest against the meaningless conventions.• When he came to Sangama he was most warmly received by the Guru Sangameshwara. "Come, Basavanna," said the Guru affectionately, "I knew that you would come here. Brilliant students like you will surely bring credit to this school and make it more famous. Here you will be near Lord Sangam- eshwara; I am sure that your spiritual personality will blossom out. You will do great things in future for the good of humanity."
Education• Basavanna had left his parents and come away. These sweet words of blessing spoken by the Guru were very soothing to him. He felt happy. His education began under the guidance of the Guru. A new chapter began in his life. Basavanna would get up before dawn. He would meditate on God for some time. It was his practice to gather flowers for worship, before sunrise. The sight of flowers always gladdened his heart. For, he felt the presence of the divine in every flower. When he wor- shipped Sangameshwara he forgot himself completely. So exalted was his state of mind that he felt the presence of God everywhere and in all things-in the linga he wore on his body, in the image of Sangameshwara and in the entire world. All people admired his deep devotion andhis worship of the Lord. Worship was followed by studies. He studied the lessons of the day and also read several books connected with each subject. He had the same concentration in his studies as in the worship. After reading the books he would discuss certain points with his teachers. Then he would go to attend the classes and to participate in other school activities. He enjoyed long walks on the bank of the river in the evenings.• His scholarship, devotion, modesty and good behavior soon made him the beloved of all. Smart and active, simple and frank, and always cheerful as he was, he was also of a serious reflective nature. Thus his personality was shaping itself most wonderfully. The Guru felt proud of it.• There were teachers of profound scholar- ship and deep religious convictions in that academy. Students were given both worldly and spiritual education. It was not the type of education that trained the students to pass the examinations and get jobs. The aim of education was to help the development of the inner self of the students, and prepare them to achieve something great in life. Basavanna got the best out of the school.
• Years rolled by. Basavanna made a study of all the branches of learning. He learnt what he needed for his worldly life; and he also gained spiritual learning. He grew up with a sound mind in a sound body. What is the meaning of mans life? What is its final goal? What is his duty? Basavanna seriously pondered over these questions.• Basavannas education in the school was coming to an end. Accounts of Basavannas remarkable personality had spread far and wide Baladeva, a man of the same area, was a minister in the city of Kalyana. He too heard much about Basavanna.• Kalyana was the capital of the Chalukya kingdom. During Basavannas time Bijjala of Kalachurya dynasty was ruling. Baladeva was his minister. Baladeva had great reverence for Sangama and also for the Guru in Sangameshwara. Hearing glorifying reports about Basavanna he made a trip to Kudalasangama. He was very happy to meet Basavanna. The Guru also spoke very highly of Basavannas personality.• Baladeva thought it would be a very good thing if a brilliant man like Basavanna held some responsible office in the court of Bijjala. He felt the prosperity and the fame of the kingdom would grow. He also thought that Basvanna was the best man to marry his daughter. The Guru also approved.• Basavanna had already thought deeply about his career and aim in life. The idea of entering service in the Kings court had never occurred to him. Nor had he thought of marriage. He believed that all this would not enable him to achieve his ideal. But his Guru advised him to agree to Baladevas proposal. He told Basavanna that it would later help his great mission of human upliftment. Basavanna could not go against the commands of his Guru. He thought that it might be Gods will. So at last he consented.• A few days after this, Basavanna traveled to the city of Kalyana. The grace of Lord Sangameshwara, the blessings of his Guru and the best wishes of others went with him, it was about the year 1155A.D.
• The coming of Basavanna to Kalyana paved the way for the welfare of mankind. Basavanna started his career as a junior officer in the state treasury of King Bijjala. He found the office in a mess. The officials were lazy. Basavanna spared no pains to set things right. The King admired his sharp intellect and administrative ability.• Once a copper plate containing an old inscription was discovered. The writing was in code language. No one, not even the language experts could read and understand it. But Basavanna with his extraordinary intelligence was able to understand it. He explained its contents to the King. Following its directions the King was able to find out a hidden treasure; this brought enormous wealth to the state treasury. Basavanna suggested several plans to the King so that this wealth might be used for the welfare of his subjects. Bijjala was greatly pleased with this. He appointed Basavanna as the chief officer of the treasury.• Later Basavanna married Gangambike, the daughter of Minister Baladeva, and Neelambike, the adopted sister of king Bijjala. So Basavanna had two wives and his family life was pleasant. The new family and the new office increased his responsibilities. The field of work grew. He was young but already held a high place. So some people in the Kings court grew jealous of him.
• Even at the time he came to Kalyana, Basavanna had chalked out in his mind a program of spiritual awakening. Beliefs of high and low had broken the society into pieces. Meaningless rituals had become important. And there was no equality in the society, no social and economical justice But Basavanna studied all these very well. The essence of religion had slipped to the background. Real devotion and virtuous life had disappeared. All did not have the right to perform Puja (worship) or to receive religious education. So Basavanna made the principle of the equality of all, the basis of his religious life.• He formed a new spiritual institution on a democratic foundation. And that was Anubhava Mantapa. Any one, whatever his caste by birth, could become a member. Women, too, were allowed to join it. Piety and good character alone were required of any one who came to Anubhava Mantapa. Everybody was to take up some work or the other for livelihood. They were not to have any caste feelings or feelings of untouchability. These were some of the principles they were expected to follow.• Anubhava Mantapa soon became popular. Many devotees from different parts of Karnataka and India came to Kalyana and joined the new order. These devotees were provided with food and facilities for puja in Mahamane. The residence of Basavanna. The two wives of Basavanna, his sister Akkanagamma, his nephew Channabasavanna and some other devotees were in charge of various arrangements both in the Anubhava Mantapa and in the Mahamane. Discussions on religious and spiritual matters were held in Anubhava Mantapa. The number of participants increased every day.
• People in the Kings court who were jealous of Basavanna got an idea. They reported to the King that Basavanna was feeding a large number of his followers -the Shaiva devotees - out of the money taken from the Kings treasury. Bijjala asked Basavanna about it. Basavannas answer was clear: "The expenses of Mahamane are met by the earnings of several devotees. I am a devotee of Shiva and do not want other peoples money. If you have suspicions, well, I shall tender my resignation this very moment. Before that let there be a detailed inquiry about these charges. The cash and all accounts of the treasury may be checked this moment.“• Upon this Bijjala himself checked the accounts and the cash. Everything was absolutely correct. Bijjala begged to be forgiven. He also requested Basavanna to continue as the chief officer. Thus the false charges made by the jealous courtiers only established Basavannas perfect honesty and increased his fame.• After the death of Baladeva, Bijjala made Basavanna his minister. Basavanna proved very efficient in this new office. He led his usual simple life. But his thoughts were always high and his heart was pure. His utterances were like a string of pearls. He was polite and civil, with folded hands and bowed head while moving with the common people. In matters of justice he was always firm and never yielded to personal considerations. He was fearless even in the face of great difficulty and danger.
His Philosophy• Basavanna continued his mission for the formation of a new society, through Anubhava Mantapa. This work was based on certain noble principles. Some of them were as folIows:• There is only one God. He has many names. Surrender yourself completely to Him in devotion.• Compassion is the root of all religions. Treat all living beings with kindness. Live for the welfare of all. Do not live for selfish and personal interests.• Those who are acceptable in this world will be acceptable in the next world too.People should lead a proper life as householders, only then they will be fit for spiritual life. One need not give up the family and become a monk.• No man should be proud thinking I give this or I do that. What a man does he should do not of devotion in his heart. It should not be for the sake of show or publicity; nor even to win public praise.• True devotion and virtuous conduct should be given greater importance than the outward religious formalities. One should lead a clean and good life both within and without. A pure mind is more important than scriptures and conventions.
• All people should have equal opportunities for religious life. Birth, profession, position or sex should make no difference.• One should not eat or drink just to please the tongue. Food and water should be taken as Prasada (the gracious gift) of Lord Shiva. Humility is Gods love. Never try to show off your power and position; and do not be vain.• Everyone should take up a fair and honest means of livelihood. No one should beg. Out of the daily earnings one should take only as much as is needed for the maintenance of the family. The rest should be offered, by way of service, to God for the benefit of others. Everyone should set right the crookedness of his mind. Everyone should try to rise to the level of Godliness through prayer and meditation. This is the goal of life.• These teachings were not just words in speeches or books. They were practiced in daily life by all the members of the Anubhava Mantapa. There were men and women of different professions and social ranks among them. Basavanna was a minister; Prabhudeva, a shining spiritual leader; Siddharama a Karmayogi (dedicated to work and service); Chan n abasavan na, a scholar of spiritual eminence; Akkamahadevi, a fiery ascetic; Machayya, a washerman; Chandayya, a ropernaker; Ramanna, a cowherd; Muddayya, a farmer; Remmavve, aweaver; constable Ramideva, oil miller Kannayya, physician Sanganna, carpenter Basappa, tanner Kakkaiah, cobbler Haralayya all these were there in the Anubhava Mantapa as brothers and sisters.
Preaching Practiced• Basavanna, the minister of a state, himself first followed the great principles of the Anubhava Mantapa and then preached them to others and guided them.• One midnight Basavanna, disturbed by some noise, woke up from his sleep. Opening his eyes he saw a burglar attempting to remove the ornaments of his wife who was fast, asleep!• Basavanna wished that the thief should not be put to any trouble, so he himself removed the ornaments and gave them to the burglar. For he saw only God even in the thief.• Another time the cows of his house were stolen by some thieves. Only the young calves were left behind. They were hungry and crying for their mothers. Basavannas heart was moved. So immediately he made arrangements to send the calves to the thieves so that they could be with their mothers.• This kind act of Basavanna made the thieves feel ashamed and sorry. They reformed themselves and lived honestly thereafter.• Thus Basavanna by his noble influence on several deceitful and cunning fellows changed the course of their lives. Many were his marvelous deeds.• The society of Shiva Sharanas (those who have surrendered themselves to God) formed by Basavanna and the high ideals it practiced brought new strength to the masses. Basavannas fame spread everywhere.
• But there were some orthodox people who did not like this new social system. They had been opposing Basavanna from the beginning. They were waiting for an opportunity to harm him. And they got one such opportunity. Madhuvarasa, a Brahmin and Haralayya, a cobbler, had joined Anubhava Mantapa after being initiated and given a linga to wear as their personal god. So they were equals. Madhuvarasas daughter was given in marriage to Haralayyas son. In those days of rigid caste system and orthodoxy, this was a revolutionary event. But the marriage had the approval of Basavanna and all others of Anubhava Mantapa.• The orthodox group rose in violent protest against this marriage. They raised hue and cry. They said that their sacred religious system was spoilt by Basavanna. It was the duty of the King to protect and maintain the old religious customs and traditions. Therefore Bijjala should punish Madhu- varasa and Haralayya - so they strongly insisted. Yielding to their pressure the King sentenced those saintly persons to death. Basavanna, deeply pained, at once decided to quit Kalyana which was rendered impure by such injustice. He resigned his ministership and returned to the holy Sangama, an abode of peace. He spent the rest of his life in prayer and meditation. Later in about 1167 A.D., he left this world and became one with.• God Sangameshwara.Haralayya and Madhuvarasa died for a noble cause and became martyrs. This noble sacrifice only proclaimed to the world the great worth of Basavannas philosophy. The Shiva Sharanas who left Kalyana during these disturbances scattered all over the country and settled in various places, far and near. They spread the message and preaching of Basavanna everywhere. These preaching have been inspiring many people even today.
• There is a deep sense of fulfillment in his vachana. Speech finds its fulfillment in chanting His name. The eyes find theirs irT seeing His lovely form. The mind or heart has its fulfillment in thoughts are feelings relating to Him only. The ears delight in listening to the praise of His glory. The self, like the bumblebee sucking honey from a lotus forgets itself in the ecstasy of being one with the Divine.• In the last line of his vachanas there is a fine pun on the Kannada word Tumbi. In consonance with the eadier lines it means filled. Aptly associated with the lotus it means a bumble-bee.• Basavanna lived as a man of God. He showed others also the way to become godly men. Even after eight hundred years the light that was lit by him continues to shine brightly. And Basavanna himself is such an effulgent light of life.
Akka MahadeviAkka Mahadevi was a prominent figure of the Veerashaiva Bhakti movement of the 12th century Karnataka. Mahadevi or Akka Mahadevi, sometimes called simply Akka, was born in Udutadi in the Karnataka region of India. At age 10, she was initiated as a devotee of Shiva, the pale-skinned god ofdestruction and rebirth, lord of yogis and ascetics. She worshiped Shiva in the form of Chennamallikarjuna, which means literally "Mallikas beautiful Arjuna."
• It is said that Mahadevi was married by arrangement to Kausika, a local king. There were immediate tensions, however, as Kausika was a Jain, a group that tended to be wealthy and was, as a result, much resented by the rest of the population. Much of Akkas poetry explores the themes of rejecting mortal love in favor of the everlasting, "illicit" love of God, and this seems to be the path she chose as well.• She ran away from her life of luxury to live as a wandering poet-saint, traveling throughout the region and singing praises to her Lord Shiva. A true ascetic, Mahadevi is said to have refused to even wear clothing -- a common practice among male ascetics, but shocking for a woman.• In Kalyana, she met the famous Shaivite saints Basava and Allama Prabhu.• Akka spent the last of her days in the Srisailam area. Tradition says she left the world in her twenties, entering mahasamadhi (final divine union) with a flash of light.
PurandaradasaPurandara (1484–1564) (sometimes spelled as a single word) is one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music and is widely regarded as "Naradaavatari"(Sage Naradas avatar) and the "Father of Carnatic Music". Purandara Dasa addressed social issues in addition to worship in his compositions, a practice emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanaka Dasa.Purandara Dasas Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada; some arein Sanskrit. He signed his compositions with the mudra (pen name), "PurandaraVittala" (Vittala is one of the incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu). About 2000 of his songs are available.
• Purandara Dasa was born to a pawnbroker named Varadappa Nayaka. Varadappa Nayaka and his wife Lakshmi Bai had been childless for several years, and finally, after praying to Lord Srinivasa of Tirupati, they became proud parents of a child whom they called Srinivasa. The family are supposed to have hailed from Pandarapur in modern day Maharashtra but Purandara Dasa lived in Hampi during the latter part of his life.• Srinivasa Nayaka grew up and entered his fathers business. However, unlike his father, he was a miser, so much so that it is said that he even baulked at spending money on treatment for his fathers illness. His wife Saraswathi bai was the opposite: always wishing to contribute to charity much to the displeasure of her husband.
• One day, Lord Vishnu in the guise of a poor priest visited Srinivasa Nayakas shop who wanted some alms to perform the thread ceremony for his son. Srinivasa Nayaka, being a miser, asked him to return the following day, and kept the Brahmin coming for another six months. Finally, fed up with the Brahmins persistence, he gave him one fake coin that he played with as a child. Vishnu as the priest then told Srinivasas wife Saraswathi the pitiful story of how a miserly pawnbroker made him come to his shop every day for six months only to give him a fake coin in the end. Saraswathis heart melted and she gave the Brahmin her nose ring as alms (a gift from her parents and thus not something that she got from her husband).• The Brahmin promptly took the nose ring back to Srinivasa Nayakas shop, where he wanted to pawn it for money. The pawnbroker recognized it, however, so he locked it up in his safe and hurried home. He demanded that Saraswathi produce her nose ring immediately. Struck with fear, Saraswathi locked herself in the kitchen and tried to swallow poison. Miraculously, the nose ring dropped from the heavens into her cup of poison and she was able to produce it for her husband. Upon returning to his shop, he opened the safe, only to find that the nose ring in the safe had vanished.
• This put his mind into a turmoil. After deep thought, he came to the conclusion that the brahmin was none other than Lord Shri Purandara Vitthala Himself. He recalled all the incidents that had transpired in the previous six months. Wonderstruck, he was ashamed of his miserliness, Srinivasa Nayaka decided to renounce all material belongings and become a dasa (servant)of god.• Thus, Srinivasa Nayaka came to be Purandara Dasa. In gratitude for this event, he would later compose a song dedicated to his wife, for having shown him the path to God. From that day onwards he became a devotee of Shri Hari. The once Navkoti Narayana became a Narayana bhakta, the hands which sported gold and diamond rings now played the tamboora, the neck which used to be resplendent with golden chains now housed the tulasi mAla.• The man who had turned away countless people away, now himself went around collecting alms and living the life of a mendicant. The Nayaka who would have lived and died an inconsequential life became the Great Purandaradasa, loved and revered even centuries after his death.
KanakadasaKanaka Dasaru (1509–1609) was a poet, philosopher, musician and composer from modern Karnataka. He is known for his Kirtanesand Ugabhoga compositions in the Kannada language for Carnatic music. Like some other Dasas, he often used colloquial language for his compositions. He was a deciple of Vyasathirtha and a follower of Dwaita philosophy propounded by Madhvacharya.
Life• The life of Kanakadasa states that he hailed from the Kuruba Gowda community, born to Biregowda and Beechamma. At his birth he was christened Thimmappa Nayaka , by his parents and later assumed the name, Kanaka Dasa, given to him by his spiritual master, Vyasaraja.• The life of Kanakadasa took a sudden twist with the intervention of divine grace. It is believed that Kanakadasa was engaged in a battle with an opponent to win the hand of one Krishnakumari. The divine intervened in the form of Lord Krishna, and suggested him to surrender. Kanakadasa blinded with passion, refused to succumb and continued with the battle, only to• suffer mortal wounds. However, with divine intercession he is miraculously saved. From then on till the end of his life, Kanakadasas passion was directed towards Lord Krishna, that he came up with innumerable compositions in Karnatic music on the Lord. He was all put into one, a composer, a musician, a poet, a social reformer, philosopher and saint.• The life of Kanakadasa has it that he was inspired by the Haridasa movement and became a follower of its founder, Vyasaraja. It is believed that he spent his later part of his life in Tirupati.
Kanakadasa in Udupi• The divine miracle in Udupi, in the life of Kanakadasa, which still stands as a testimony, is familiar among people. However, to make a mention of it during Kanakadasa Jayanti is to partake of the bliss of the divine intercession.• Kanakadasa belonging to a lower caste, was denied admission into the temple of Udupi, where he wanted to worship Lord Krishna. His eyes were about to be plucked for the breach of the rule, when the idol of Lord Krishna turned around to the direction where Kanakadasa stood, with his voice breaking forth into devotional rendition; the wall is said to have broken to reveal the sight of the Lord to Kanakadasa. Later a window, called the Kanakana Kindi was created on the wall, where to this day, devotees set eyes on the Lord.• It is believed that, the idol turned itself to face the west from its former way of facing the east.
Kanakadasa’s compositions• The numerous compositions of Kanakadasa in Carnatic music, reveals the dominance of devotion in the life of the saint. Nalacharitre (Story of Nala), Haribhaktisara (core of Krishna devotion), Nrisimhastava (compositions in praise of Lord Narasimha), Ramadhanyacharite (story of ragi millet) and an epic, Mohanatarangini (Krishna-river), were some of the most popular ones. His compositions not only revealed the aspect of devotion, but also carried messages on social reformation.• While condemning, the mere following of external rituals, his works also emphasised the importance of moral conduct. An interesting incident in the life of Kanakadasa, crisply reveals the spiritual maturity of the saint.• Once when he was confronted by one Vyasatirtha, in a gathering, as to who would attain Moksha or liberation, Kanakadasa humbly asserted that only he can attain Moksha, much to the shock of the pundits.• When asked for an explanation, Kanakadasa revealed the essence of Vedanta in his reply, that only the one who has lost the I, the ego would attain Moksha.• This is represented in the popular phrase quoted by the saint, “I shall go (to heaven) if my-self (my selfishness) goes (away)" Let us thus dwell on the crux of Vedanta, as revealed by Kanakadasa to seek eternal liberation. Let us celebrate Kanakadasa Jayanti holding on to this view.