Ramanuja, a famous Vaishnava acharya of South India is considered as an avatara (incarnation) by most of his followers.

During his life, it is said that he traveled to many places for establishing the pancharatra mode of worship in the temples.

For example, I am quoting the following passages from Nitaaiveda (authentic gaudiya vaishnava site) and KamakotimandAli (another famous site for Vedanta)

RAmAnuja’s work in the Puri Temple has been described by AnantAchArya in PrapannAmrita. [excerpt from History of Medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa]

RAmAnuja had the divine service performed by other BrAhmins, according to the PAncharAtra rite, which was observed in the ShrIrangam temple. Consternation and disgrace stared at the face of the priests and at nightfall they assembled before the altar of JagannAth. “Hark thee, O Lord” they cried. “RAmAnuja seeketh to introduce changes in the form of Thy worship. We belong to the old school and we abhor such changes. Save us, we beseech Thee, from this imperious Sannyasi. Otherwise we will die before Thee.”


(Same story)

Ramanujacarya visited Puri in the twelfth century. Ramanujacarya is the propagator of the Sri sampradaya. He was a great Vaisnava acarya and also famous as very learned personality. He preached the doctrine of visista advaitavad and vigorously opposed the teachings of Sankarcharya At that time King Choda Ganga Deva ruled the state of Orissa. Ramanuja had much influence over the king. Ramanuja recognized Lord Jagannath as Maha-Vishnu. He saw that the Lord was being worshiped with the mixture of different processes. He was concerned that low-caste people, such as Daitapatis could take part in offering puja. Ramanuja argued that Lord Jagannath should be worshiped with the Vedic process only. He wanted to change the process of puja in Jagannath temple. He presented many changes to the king and made him agree to his proposals. Jagannaths sevaks objected to the new system. But the King would not listen to their appeals. Finally the date was fixed for Ramanuja to change the puja process in Jagannath temple. The King and all of the brahmanas arrived at the temple in the early morning. They announced that from that day, a new system of worship would be introduced by the great acarya, Ramanuja. Everyone, including the king, waited anxiously at the temple for the arrival of Ramanujacarya. But he never showed. After waiting for a long time, the king ordered the pujari to start the worship of Lord Jagannath according to the previous system.

Then the king ordered his minister to find Ramanujacarya. It was discovered that during the previous night while Ramanujacharya was sleeping, Lord Jagannath appeared to him. The Lord chastised him, "Who are you to change my puja system? Let My devotees worship me as they have been worshiping Me from the beginning. They are my special devotees. I have a special relationship with them. You do not understand this. Do not disturb them. Get out of here!"

The Lord flew Ramanuja out of Orissa by the help of Garuda. The next day Ra¬manuja was found in South India in a village called Kurma Kshetra. (Sri Kurmam/ Andhra Pradesh).

Note: RAmAnuja is known to have never returned to Puri again.


Another incident where he changed the temple worship in many VaikhAnasa temples.

Inscriptions from perhaps the eighth century CE identify Vaikhanasas as temple priests, and from the end of the tenth century they are prominently mentioned in South Indian inscriptions. Vaikhanasas were the priests of Vaishnava temples. They were not merely ritual priests, but were trusted with administering the temples and their lands. With the rise of the Shri Vaishnavas the Vaikhanasas declined in their temple role. Ramanuja, leader of the Shri Vaishnavas and the first organiser of temple administration at Srirangam Temple, replaced the Vaikhanasa system of worship with the more liberal Pancaratra system, expanded the fivefold division of temple servants into tenfold, and gave an important part in ritual to sudra, lowest caste, ascetics. This change spread to other Vaishnava temples.


Based on such incidents, my questions are:

What was the need to change the ancient temple worship forms?

What was the need to insist those were were not willing to change?

Most important questions:

If rAmAnuja was an incarnation of the lord then how come he had such an ordeal with Lord Jagannatha himself?

Why would Lord Jagannatha deport one of his avataras to Srikurmam?

"If indeed he was an avatara then how come not successful in this mission?"

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    Similar story was said relating to Ananta Padmanabha swamy temple in Kerala. Here, Namboodris are mentioned. These story of Jagannatha and Ananta Padmanatha swamy are not mentioned in the traditional biographies of Ramanujacharya or by his contemporaries. Lord Vishnu would never talk harshly to his devotee in such a way. "more liberal Pancaratra system, expanded the fivefold division of temple servants into tenfold, " This might be the reason. I think they were not forced. I think they were converted with will. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:46
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    @SreeCharan If they were willing then there would be no question of insisting.Its there in temple story and history books all cant be fake stories. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:21
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    Note to editors: Don't add honorifics to post. It's upto the OP to do that. See related meta post Do we need honorifics like “Lord” Brahma, “Lord” Shiva & “Maa” Sita .. etc?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 16:55
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    @RakeshJoshi then you should edit the question to word that way. The current question seems to emphasize alleged displeasure of Jagannatha. The comment you mentioned is a clear representation of the question while the actual question has unnecessary allegations. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 6:27
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    @user1952500 Its claim of temple people that priests prayed in front of jagan nath before the day of changing. Hence next day ramanuja was mysteriously deported to somewhere else. He did not preside over the ceremonies. This shows that something went wrong that night else he would have come to change the worship mode. It is also known that he never visited puri again. This too explains a lot of things. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 6:35

2 Answers 2


Why would Lord Jagannatha deport one of his avataras to Srikurmam?

A possible answer to this question is provided in the following link

The content is copied here:

Emperumaanar had many meetings with the king, holding religious discussions with him. ‘Ananta Varman Choda Ganga Deva’ (Chodaganga) was the king at that time, who earlier had a leaning towards Saivite philosophy. The king developed a strong belief in Vaishnavism in his later years, during which time he had the opportunity of meeting Sri Ramanuja. The king was impressed by his preachings and deep knowledge of Vedic literature. It is believed that king Chodaganga grew deeper in his faith in Vaishnavism by the devotion and brilliance he witnessed in Sri Ramanujacharya.

Sri Ramanujacharya had a deep interest in establishing proper temple worship procedures wherever he went. He strongly believed in the Pancharatra Agama – school of temple worship, as followed at Sri Rangam. He desired to lay the foundations of the same style of worship in the Puri Jagannath temple. King Chodaganga eagerly supported this move. The temple priests came to know about Sri Ramanujacharya’s intentions and grew uncomfortable. They were very stiff in their opposition and were not ready to accept any changes in their earlier practices. During the night, the priests grew anxious and prayed to lord Jagannatha to prevent Emperumaanr from changing the customs followed by them. Lord Jagannatha in all his mercy decided to grant the priests their wish. While Emperumaanar was asleep, Sri Jagannatha appeared in his dreams and informed him that his current mission needed to be abandoned due to the requests of His devotees.

Meanwhile it is believed that a bunch of people wanted to eliminate Ramanujar and headed to where the Acharya was asleep. The Acharya was oblivious to the danger that was expected to befall him. They brandished their weapons ready to strike. And suddenly, Sri Ramanujacharya disappeared from sight right in front of them! With the rising sun the following day, Sri Ramanujar found himself transported several miles away from Puri, to a place near the town of Srikakulam in the present day Andhra Pradesh. Viewed in the perspective of how difficult it would have been for people to travel distances by foot or by cart in those days, the distance to which he had been transported overnight was phenomenal!It is said that Sri Jagannatha out of His kind mercy sent Garuda to transport Sri Ramanujar away from a problematic situation.

Emperumaanar was surprised to be alone in an unknown land and saddened by the separation from his loving disciples. However he could sense that he was in a divine sthala, and noticed that he was near a temple tank. He explored the temple to find out that the inner sanctum housed a black stone which seemed to be Linga. Sri Ramanujar was saddened further as he thought lord Jagannatha had in anger denied the Acharya a glimpse of His form in the temple. As the Acharya would not eat food not offered to the lord (Vishnu), he fasted that day. In his dreams the following night, Sriman Narayana revealed the true identity of the deity at the temple. Emperumaanar woke up the next day and was overjoyed! Lord Jagannath had not sent him here for nothing!

The deity at the sanctum sanctorum was a swayambhu – or naturally occurring stone. It has a distinct shape, of the fossilised structure of a turtle. The lord appeared in the Acharya’s dreams to inform him that the deity was none other than the manifestation of the Kurma avatara of the lord. Sri Ramanujar also discussed it with the locals and was surprised to note that many of them already considered the stone as Sri Kurma, based on ancient stories. Even from a geological perspective, the temple is not too far from the sea, which supports the fossilised structure of a turtle theory. Interestingly there is also another stone – apaprently a Sudarshana-saligrama which had been placed earlier by Adi Sankara’s disciples at the tail end of the turtle-structure.

Note that the fact that the Lord sent his beloved Garuda to transport Ramanuja, and the fact that he went to another puNya-kshetra adds credit to the fact that the Lord did not banish him out of displeasure.

Another similar story from srimatham.com:

Desiring that the priests of the Jagannatha temple adopt the Pancharatrika system of worship, as explained by Narada Muni, Ramanuja appealed to the King of Orissa to arrange a debate between them. Being fearful of the outcome of such a confrontation, all the priests prayed to Lord Jagannatha to save them from inevitable defeat. That very night as Yatiraja was sleeping, he was flung three hundred miles by Lord Jagannatha to the holy dhama of Kurmaksetra. When he awoke, Ramanuja was bewildered to find himself in a completely different place and without any of the disciples who had been accompanying him. At first he thought that the temple nearby was dedicated to Lord Siva, and so he decided to fast for the day as a penance for his inability to worship Lord Narayana. However, when he inquired from some of the local people, he was informed that the Deity was in fact that of Lord Kurmadeva, one of the incarnations of Lord Visnu. He then went to the temple and happily engaged in the worship of the Lord.

Note: the above are from a few random links from the web just as the question. I will dig up sources that are more authentic when I get a chance.

EDIT: Another question has been appended to the same set of questions and am adding another answer so appending this answer.

"If indeed he was an avatara then how come not successful in this mission?"

I don't agree or disagree about the fact that Ramanuja is an avatara, but every avatara does follow fate and destiny and Dharma.


  1. Rama asked for Varuna's 'help' to cross the ocean and got angry and was prepared to dry up the ocean.
  2. Rama could have killed Ravana on day one, but got fatigued and needed help and encouragement along with mantras from Agastya etc.
  3. Krishna and Balarama could have eliminated Jarasandha but instead chose to relocate to Dvaraka.
  4. Krishna left the battlefield and ran into a cave in order to let Muchukunda kill KAlayAvana.

If Rama needed Agastya's and Vibheeshana's help to kill Ravana, and Hanuman's help to trace the location of Sita, is he an avatara?

If Krishna needs Bhima's help, Muchukunda's help and Satyabhama's help to kill demons, is he an Avatara?

In the cases of avataras, there are some cases which are attributed to leela, or the fact that the avatara wants to teach the world something. It should not be attributed to inability.

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    My claims are not from Random sites. One is authentic Gaudiya vaishnava site and other is Kanchi Kamakoti site. Both are well respected. This one looks more spurious. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 6:39
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    @RakeshJoshi Kamakoti mandali (www.kamakotimandali.com) is not an official site, It is a commercial website. Kamakoti.org is the official website of Kanchi Kamakoti matham. Nitaaiveda is also a website maintained by Gaudiya Vaishnava followers. It has scriptures. Yes. But it is not the official website of ISKCON. Even this answer has the same info you have provided. ISKCON has the same information you have given. So, which is authentic and what is the problem if it is a random blog? Info is exactly the same. Srimatham also gives valid information. It publishes books. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 9:42
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    @SreeCharan see the number of times the above said sites are mentioned in this forum and then compare with this blog. See yourself. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 9:50
  • @RakeshJoshi responding to your question Did any avatara fail in his/her mission? here. What do you think was the mission of Ramanuja? Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 18:49
  • @user1952500 he visited all india for implementing pancharatra in vishnu temples ad also for vishishta advaita. if not what else was his mission ? Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 19:00

Sri Ramanuja was a great social reformer who established his own sect of Vishishtadwaita philosophy. As he could not accept God in any other form other than his own he went on converting kings and the temples in their kingdoms to his 'panth'. In this process he came to Puri. Even though the king was converted to his panth, the sevayats (archakas) of Puri Jagannath did not agree. Shorn of all divinization and miraculization it was a confrontation between Sri Ramanuja and the Puri archakas which most likely turned physical as indicated on one of the posts above. That might have prompted him to leave Puri post haste. Then he must have moved southward to what is today called Srikurmam. I visited this temple several times. It was decidedly a Shiva shrine originally. Firstly, one will find the front part of the temple older than the rear part having all sculptures of Shiva and related deities. One will find a panel containing 100 shivalingas in addition to the above said sculptures. All these sculptures were made red sandstone or Khondolite which is locally available. The front part looks clearly much older than the rear part. The rear part is made of Blackstone or granite and relatively new and well preserved. It contains all vaishnava deities. Interestingly there is one sculpture that shows half Shiva and half Vishnu in one deity. Obviously it was introduced to pacify the original archakas who were advaitees. When you see the sanctum sanctorum you will see that the deity (called Kurma now) is surrounded by cement platform that looks a later addition. You will also find Salagramams on one side. If you enquire the archaka tells you that they were installed by Adishankara. Now Adishankara had established a practice of worshipping Vishnu in shivalaya and shiva in vishnvalaya so that there will be no animosity between saivites and vaishnavaites. That is why the Salagramams which represent Vishnu were installed there. There is a practice of conducting abhisheka at 4.00 am every day with all the eleven types of items used for shivabhisheka. This is done before the temple is opened for public. Nowadays if one asks in advance one can attend the abhishekam. But very few know it. It is not notified in the Sevas. Now the main entry for public is the old front side. The vaishnava archakas enter the temple from the backside. Interestingly, the main deity faces the backside and not the front side. There is a belief which the archakas tell you: those who visit Arasavalli nearby and have a Shani affliction would certainly visit Srikurmam. This further confirms the saivaite nature of the shrine. ! The picture shows ShivaPanel containing 100 shivalingasKalabhairava So much of shaivaite evidence will not be there if the original temple was of Vishnu or Kurma. Certainly, Sri Ramanuja would not have permitted Shiva sculptures and shiva abhisheka as the first worship. So one can safely conclude that the temple was originally of Shiva and changed to Kurma by Sri Ramanuja after he won over the local pandits in an argument which was his favourite method.


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