Today 7th of September is Aavani Hastham. It was on this sacred day the Thaniyans “rAmAnuja dhayApAthram jnAna vairAgya bhooshaNam |srImath vEnkatanAthAryam vandhE vEdhAntha dEsikam ||”, on Swami Desikan and “shrImallakshmana yogIndra …” on Sri Nayanaracharya, were sung by Sri Brahmatantra Swatantra Parakala Jeeyar Swami (1st Jeeyar of parakala mutt), who was Swamy Desikan’s direct and prime disciple. These thaniyans were composed and sung at Thirunarayanapuram by Sri Brahmatantra Swatantrar before beginning Bhagavad vishaya kAlakshepam at the feet of Swamy Nayanaracharya.
Swami Desikan studied all the shastras from his maternal uncle Sri Athreya Ramanuja. Swami Desikan was also the direct recipient of the choicest anugrahams of Ramanuja at Thirunarayanapuram. Incidentally both Athreya Ramanuja and Bhagavad Ramanuja share the same thirunakshatram, that being Chittirai ThiruvAdirai. May be these are some of the insights that prompted Parakala Jeeyar to use the most wonderful sobriquet “rAmAnuja dayApAtram” when singing the glories of Swami Desikan. Poorvacharyas have elaborately commented on these taniyans that are rich with esoterical meanings.
Let us sing these Thaniyan on this auspicious day.
ராமானுஜ தயாபாத்ரம் ஜ்ஞாநவைராக்ய பூஷணம் ஸ்ரீமத் வேங்கடநாதார்யம் வந்தே வேதாந்ததேசிகம்
“rAmAnuja dayA pAtram jnAnavairAgya bhUShaNam
shrImadveNkaTanAthAryaM vande vedAntha deshikam || “
ராமானுஜ தயாபாத்ரம் – ஸ்ரீ ஆத்ரேய ராமானுசரான ஸ்ரீ அப்புள்ளாருடையவும் பகவத் ராமானுஜருடையவும் தயைக்கு பாத்திரமான
ஞான வைராக்ய பூஷணம் – ஞான, வைராக்யங்களை ஆபரணங்களாகக் கொண்டவரும்
ஸ்ரீமத் வேங்கடநாதார்யம் – ஸ்ரீமத் வேங்கட நாதாசார்யருமான
வந்தே வேதாந்த தேசிகம் – வேதாந்தங்களை கற்பித்த ஆசார்யரை வணங்குகின்றேன்
“Bow we to the great VenkatanAthArya Vedantha Deshika who was the recipient of the divine grace of Ramanuja and who was embellished by the noble virtues of jnaanam and vairAgyam.”
“shrImallakshmaNa yogIndra siddhAntha vijayadhvajam |
vishvAmitrAnvayAbdhIndum varadAryamaham bhaje || “
– Sri Brahmatantra Swatantra Parakala Jeeyar
“Bow we to the great Varadarya, born in the race of Vishwamitra and who beams resplendently as the victory flag of the darshanam of Ramanuja.”
The day is twice auspicious as it also marks the thirunakshatram of Srimath Mukkur Azhagiyasingar – 44th pattam – Srimath Ahobila mutt.
Each and every Jivatma, especially Srivaishnavas should be grateful for the upakarams done by Swami Desikan to our sampradayam and should keep meditating on Him and his works.
Over seven hundred and fourty-five years ago, in the year 1268 CE, Swami Desikan was born as Venkatanathan to his parents, Anantha Suri and TotAmba, in a small village called Thuppul on the outskirts of the famous town of Kanchi. Swamy Vedantha Desikan’s contribution to the VisishtAdvaita Srivaishnava philosophy [Bhagawath Ramanuja Darsanam] in the proper evaluation of the theories and concepts of all schools of thought and rejection of those which are opposed to those of his system i.e. Vedanthic and Vedic religions, can’t be described in words. There is no name in the world of Sanksrit literature and philosophy combined like the name of Vedantha Desika.
He is the one who makes all those who surrender to His feet- as Mahaadesikan. He is simply phenomenal. Scholars who lived during Swamy Desikan’s period also mentioned that Swamy is an adhubutha avtar. He is a vidwAn- few said. He is a great intellect few said. He is the greatest poet; some praised. He is our fortune to establish firmly the VisishtAdvaita- some said. Every one said, based on the extent they understood Swamy.
Swamy Vedantha Desikan, we can boldly say was the greatest intellect India has ever produced. He appreciated Vedic philosophy. He was philosophical; and religious; His thoughts were moulded by the writings and teaching of his Poorvacharyas, the galaxy of them- right from Sri SaTakOpa muni (NammAzhwAr), Nathamuni- Yamunacharya- Ramanujacharya- and others. He was a very faithful follower of his master- Sri Ramanuja. He built a fortress around the philosophy of Ramanuja so well; that none can dare enter. He had fullest conviction in the teachings and followings of Ramanuja. He was a lion among poets and logicians. He was a poetic genius. He had the mastery over languages and could use them very effectively to communicate anything he had visualised. But he never went astray with his poetic skills and license and adhered to nothing but the philosophy of VisishtAdvaita. He was the greatest logician, developed logic to argue vidhaNdAvaadhis, he entered into hair-splitting discussions and dialogues in his works when he had to explain the various Vedic Upanishadic and other purAnic works. His works are about 120 in number. The subjects are varied. But the soul of these works is the same.. i.e. Ramanuja darsanam. He wrote original works in Sanskrit; also commented on the works of his Acharyas- namely Yamunacharya and Ramanujacharya. He wrote sthothras, kaavyas, drama, prose etc.. His style is inimitable for its depth of ideas, sweetness, simplicity and ease; it is majestic, sometimes tough. He was a great admirer of Adhikavi Vaalmeeki and Kalidasa. His poetic work Hamsa sandhEsam, though similar to Kalidasa’s mEgasandhEsam, is original in many respects. Daya sathakam is a unique composition wherein he personifies grace (Divine grace- daya), without which Lord’s other qualities are of little value and help to suffering mankind- Swamy says. AbhIthi sthavam is an invocation for the Lord’s protection from evil forces from both within and without. His GodhA sthuthi is a piece of place of great lyric beauty and merit and talks of Sri GodhA’s influence with the Lord through love and Desikan’s surrender to Her compassion.
If Nathamuni retrieved the holy collects, if Yamunamuni propounded it, if Ramanuja muni expounded it, it was given to Vedanta Desika to systematize it!
Swami Desikan was conferred the title of Sarva Tantra Swatantra (master of all arts, one with the capacity for independent thinking and originality in any field), by Ranganayaki thaayar Herself, and Swamy was adorned with the title Vedantachariar by the Lord of Sri Rangam Sri Ranganatha.