திங்கள், 6 மார்ச், 2017

Anuja in the footsteps of Rama


-Pala.Palaniyappan


Both practised the principle of universal brotherhood.

The name Ramanuja, given to the Acharya, by his maternal uncle Thirumalai Nambi, must have been given with great foresight.

The lives of Sri Rama and Sri Ramanuja have many similarities. The word ‘Ayanam’ means the path. Hence Ramayana, the epic, means the path adopted by Sri Rama.

One of the many laudable principles that Sri Rama followed was the practice of Universal Brotherhood. Rama accepted Guhan, boatman on the banks of the Ganga, Sugriva, Vanara king and Vibhishana, rakhasa as his brothers, though they were not Kshatriyas.

Thirumangai Azhwar is all praise for Guhan, who helped Rama but never got anything in return. Guhan surrendered to Rama as Prabathi Saranagathi, which was propagated by Sri Ramanuja.

The episode of Rama performing the last rites of the bird Jatayu is one of the moving scenes in the epic. Rama was born to Dasarata and Kausalya by virtue of Dasarata performing the Puthra Kameshti Yaga. The king longed for a son, who would be his heir. But Dasarata did not have the fortune of his last rites being performed by his first-born Rama. The privilege went to Jatayu. Rama accepted Jatayu as his father and performed his last rites.

It would be apt to recall this episode from Ramanuja’s life. When in Srirangam, Ramanuja accepted bhiksha daily from seven homes and, while doing so, would recite Tiruppavai rendered by Andal Nachiyar. On one such occasion, he was reciting the eighteenth Thiruppavai pasuram, “Undhu Madha Kalitran Odaadha Tholvaliyan” and when he came in front of the house of Periya Nambi he was uttering the last few lines:

“Un maithunan perpaada Senthamaraikkaiyaal seeraarvalai olippa Vanthu thiravai magizhnthelor embavai.”

Athuzhai, daughter of Periya Nambi, on hearing his voice opened the door with hands adorned with tinkling bangles. The sound transported Ramanuja to Nappinnai Piratti’s period and he prostrated before her on the threshold, much to her shock. This action has a deeper meaning.

Periya Nambi performed the last rites of Maraner Nambi, a Panchamar (non-Vaishnava). Hence, Vaishnavites at Srirangam excommunicated him and also ordered that Namperumal’s procession would not stop before his house.

Through his gesture, Ramanuja indicated that he approved the act of Periya Nambi in performing the rites of Maraner Nambi. It was proved right, as the next day the persons carrying the idol of Namperumal had to stop in front of Periya Nambi’s house. They found that the idol had suddenly gained weight and had to halt for respite and to change shoulders. The temple authorities had to accept the verdict of the Lord and take Periya Nambi back into the fold.

The bhashyakara for this wrote the meaning as follows: “Am I (Periya Nambi) greater than Sri Rama, born Ikshuvagu Kula and adopted samanya dharma? Is Maraner Nambi lower in esteem than the bird Jatayu that had the fortune of rites performed by Sri Rama? Is Maraner Nambi lower than Vithura? Is the pasuram of Nammazhvar in ‘Thiru Voi Mozhi’ (following one) a mere lyric and not Veda for Vaishnavites?”

Payilum Sudar Oli Murthiyai, Pangayak Kannanai, Payila Iniya nam paarkadal serntha Paramanai, Payilum thiru udaiyar evarelum, avar kandeer Payilum pirappidai thorum emai aalum paramare.” (Thiruvoi Mozhi, 3:7:1)

On his way to Tirumala from Kanchipuram, Ramanuja and his disciples lost the way. A peasant showed the path and the group started moving but not Ramanuja. The acharya prostrated before the peasant and to his followers, who were aghast, he said: “The bhagavatha who directs us towards Paraman, who in turn shows us the way to Moksha, is an Acharya himself and there is nothing wrong in my act.”

Ramanuja’s accepting of Kuresan as his pavithram and his courage in requesting Thiru Kachi Nambi, a vaisya, to be his guru underline his egalitarian outlook.. Ramanuja treated Thiru Kachi Nambi as his manasa guru and learned much from him and approached him for guidance on many occasions.

Rama’s Ayanam and Ramanuja’s Ayanam are similar in that they both practised what they were taught and what they preached.
(The author is Kamban Adisudi Pala Palaniappan, Secretary of Karaikudi Kamban Kazhagam. He can be reached at kambantamilcentre@ gmail.com, msampala@yahoo.com).Courtesy: THE HINDU -FRIDAY REVIEW



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