The Gadya Trayam is a set of three prose hymns composed by the famous Sri Vaishnava Acharya Ramanujacharya on the subject of Sharanagati or complete surrender to Vishnu as a means of attaining Moksha. The three hymns are the Sharanagati Gadyam, the Sri Ranga Gadyam, and the Vaikuntha Gadyam, and they were composed by Ramanujacharya in 1054 AD during the annual Panguni Uttaram festival in Sri Rangam. This was the occasion of Ramanujacharya’s own performance of Sharanagati. But I just found an indication that he may have done Sharanagati before that.

Here is what the 12th century Sri Vaishnava Acharya Periyavachan Pillai says in the Sharanagati Gadyam:

This is how this (composition) came into being: On a particular auspicious festival (Panguni Uttaram day) while Lord Ranganatha came out with His consorts (for the festival), and sat in Court, Emperumanar (Sri Ramanuja) came and worshipped at the feet of the Lord. On this occasion (due to our good fortune) fear of Samsara (cycle of birth, ignorance etc.) crossed his mind and he fell at the holy feet and conveyed his total surrender seeking the Lord's protection.

Here a question arises: Did he not seek this refuge when he first sought Ashrayana (initiation) at the feet of his Acarya Mahapurna (Periya Nambi)? Has not the Lord expressed that this 'seeking' is to be made only once? ... This is the answer: he cannot remain passive because of his anxiety and eagerness in realising the goal and so surrenders his all and seeks the fruit. This is the state of our Alwars too. The same is the case of our Acharyas who follow the Alwars’) footsteps. As fear of Samsara as well as the desire to realise the goal keep on increasing, all that they (alvars) can do is to seek the protective refuge of the Lord nine times (many times) in the same way as they did once. Thus he seeks the protective refuge of the great Lord's feet for relief from samsara and acceptance in His service.

I'm interested in the part in bold. For those who don’t know, years before the Panguni Uttaram incident, Ramanujacharya performed the Samashrayanam or initiation ritual with his guru Periya Nambi in a place called Madhurantakam. Now the two sub-sects of the Sri Vaishnava sect perform Sharanagati differently. Thenkalais just do Samashrayanam, as they don’t think an explicit act of surrender is necessary. Whereas Vadakalais perform Sharanagati separately from their Samashrayanam, in an explicit act of surrender known as Bharanyasam. What Periyavachan Pillai seems to be saying that is that Ramanujacharya first performed Sharanagati in Madhurantakam on the occasion of his Samashrayanam, and then he performed Sharanagati again in Sri Rangam on the occasion of Panguni Uttaram.

In any case, are there any other works of Sri Vaishnava Acharyas which say that Ramanujacharya did Sharanagati in Madhurantakam first?


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