Sri Ramanujacharya is popularly believed by all as Sankarshana/Balarama/Sesha avatara (incarnation of Adisesha). But let us delve a bit and understand who Ramanujacharya actually is?
Let’s look at the name Ramanuja.
It means Raama + Anuja i.e. the younger brother of Lord Raama.
Who is this younger brother?
People jump to the conclusion that it is Lakshmana.
Yes, It applies to Lakshmana also.
But, what it actually means is that Ramaanuja is the younger brother of Balaraama i.e. Lord Krishna, himself.
Already, Keshav Srinivasan has provided some proofs from puranas and a few more texts.
I will try to supplement and complement it with proofs from others texts.
In the biography of Ramanujacharya (12th -13 th century); it is clearly mentioned as follows
kEsava sOmayAji (father of Ramanujacharya) came and worshipped rukmiNi samEtha vEnkatakrishna (Lord Parthasarathy) and performed puthra kAmEshti yAgam to beget a child. Lord Parthasarathy (Krishna) appeared to him and told him that he will himself take birth as his child.
So, thiruvallikkENi (one of 108 vaishnava kshtras), Lord Krishna himself came as Sri Ramanujacharya.
Let’s look at the works of Tiruvarangath Amudanar (11 th-12th century - who was disciple of Kuresa who in turn was direct disciple of SriRamanujacharya) raamanujaNootrandhadhi in tamil and works of great acharya like Vedanta desika (13th century)
Verses from rammanujaNootrandhadhi of Tiruarangath Amudhanar (11th-12th century)
adaiyAr kamalaththu alarmagaL kELvan * kai Azhi ennum
padaiyOdu nAndhagamum padar thaNdum ** oN sArngka villum
pudaiyAr purisangkamum indhap bUthalam kAppadhaRku * enRu
idaiyE * irAmAnusa muni Ayina innilaththE (verse 33)
Meaning :The Lord of lotus-dame Lakshmi wields the discus sudarsana, the dagger Nandaki, the mace kaumodaki, the bow sarnga, and the dextral conch Panchajanya. To protect the good, they have come into this world in the form of a Muni called Ramanuja.
adal koNda nEmiyan Aruyir nAthan * anRAraNach sol
kadal koNda oNporuL kaNdaLippa ** pinnum kAsiniyOr
idarin kaN vIzhndhidath thAnum avvoNporuL koNdu * avar pin
padarum guNan * em irAmAnusan than padi idhuvE (verse 36)
Meaning :Then in the yore, the lord of all souls, wielder of the discus, brought out the hidden meaning of Vedic texts to Arjuna. Even then, seeing the impatient worldly ones trapped in despair, the lord followed ones trapped in despair, the lord's followed them with good advice. That is how our Ramanuja came to be!
adiyaith thodarndhezhum aivargatkAy * anRu bArathap pOr
mudiyap * parinedunthEr vidum kOnai ** muzhudhuNarndha
adiyarkkamudham irAmAnusan * ennai ALa vandhu ip
padiyil piRandhadhu * maRRillai kAraNam pArththidilE ( Verse 51 )
Meaning : Then in the yore the lord drove the steed-driven chariot for the five devoted Pandavas in the Bharata war. Now he has taken birth again as Ramanuja, the sweet ambrosia of devotees, for my upliftment alone, I can see no other reason.
So, from the above three verses it is very clear that Lord Krishna/Narayana himself came down as Sri Ramanujacharya. When Lord comes all his paraphernalia like weapons come along with him.
Here in above verses it says Ramanujacharya was all in one (Lord Krishna + all his weapons)
Let us look at another more verses from rammanujaNootrandhadhi of Amudhanar (11th -12 th century)
jnAnam kanindha nalam koNdu * nAL thoRum naibavarkku
vAnam koduppadhu mAdhavan ** valvinaiyEn manaththil
Inam kadindha irAmAnusan * thannai eydhinarkku ath
thAnam koduppadhu * than thagavennum charaN koduththE (verse 66)
Meaning :For those who offer worship everyday with a heart mellowed by knowledge the Lord Madhava (Lord Narayana/Krishna) grants the sky world of Moksha. Ramanuja, who removed the inadequacies of my heart, gives that same position to those who approach him, through compassion for the refuge-seekers.
saraNam adaindha dharumanukkA * paNdu nURRuvarai
maraNam adaiviththa mAyavan ** thannai vaNangka vaiththa
karaNam ivai umakkanRenRu irAmAnusan * uyirgatku
araN angkamaiththilanEl * araNAr maRRu ivvAruyirkkE? (verse 67)
Meaning :The wonder-Lord caused victory over the hundred for Dharmaputra who took refuge in him. Ramanuja taught us that these limbs are not for personal use but for service to the lord. But for him, who would have provided refuge to these suffering souls?
Ar enakkinRu nigar sollil? * mAyan anRu aivar dheyvath
thErinil seppiya * gIthaiyin semmaip ** poruL theriyap
pArinil sonna irAmAnusanaip paNiyum nallOr *
sIrinil senRu paNindhadhu * en Aviyum sindhaiyumE (Verse 68)
Meaning :Then in the yore the wonder Lord gave the Gita driving the chariot for Arjuna in the battle. Our master Ramanuja expounded its meaning to the world, with a lucid commentary. My heart and soul forever bathe in the goodness of his devotees. Come to say, who is my peer?
thErAr maRaiyin thiRam enRu * mAyavan thIyavaraik
kUrAzhi koNdu kuRaippadhu ** koNdal anaiya vaNmai
ErAr guNaththu em irAmAnusan * avvezhil maRaiyil
sErAdhavaraich sidhaippadhu * appOdhu oru sinthai seydhE (Verse 74)
Meaning: With his fierce discus of time, the wonder Lord wipes out the wicked ones that do not follow the Vedic path, whereas the cool-as-the-raincloud Ramanuja convinces them through reason and brings them into the radiant Vedic path.
kali mikka sennel kazhanik kuRaiyal * kalaip perumAn
oli mikka pAdalai uNdu * than uLLam thadiththu ** adhanAl
vali mikka sIyam irAmAnusan * maRai vAdhiyarAm
pulimikkadhenRu * ipbuvanaththil vandhamai pORRuvanE
Meaning : When the tigers of heretic thoughts roamed everywhere freely, Ramanuja came as a lion unto them, strengthened of heart by the Pann-based songs of fertile Kuraiyalur's king kalikanri. I bow to him.
vaLarndha vengkOpa madangkalonRAy * anRu vAL avuNan
kiLarndha * pon Agam kizhiththavan ** kIrththip payir ezhundhu
viLaindhidum sindhai irAmAnusan * endhan meyvinai nOy
kaLaindhu nan njAnam aLiththanan * kaiyil kani ennalE (Verse103 )
Meaning :Then in the yore the Lord appeared as a huge, terribly angry man-lion and tore the mighty golden chest of the heavily armed Hiranya. His glory grows in the fertile fields of Ramanuja's heart. Pulling out the weeds of my karmic birth, he gives me a good harvest of ripe knowledge.
kaiyil kani ennak kaNNanaik kAttith tharilum * undhan
meyyil piRangkiya * sIr anRi vENdilan yAn ** nirayath
thoyyil kidakkilum sOdhi viN sErilum ivvaruL nI *
seyyil tharippan * irAmAnusa! en sezhung koNdalE! (verse 104 )
Meaning : O Ramanuja! My ripe rain-cloud! Even if you give me Krishna like a fruit in my hands, I still seek the glory that flows from your frame only, Whether I fall into the dungeon of hell or whether I attain the glorious high heaven, you must give me this, or else I shall not live.
Let’s look at the similarity between the Lord and Ramanujacharya in the above mentioned verses.
1) It is clear that Lord Madhava gives moksha. Ramanujacharya also gives moksha.
2) Lord Krishna gave refuge to Yudhistitra and got a victory to him in the Mahabharata war. Ramanujacharya provides refuge to lakhs and thousands of suffering souls.
3) Lord Krishna gave bhagavad gita to Arjuna (soul). Sri Ramanujacharya gave the ultimate true meaning meaning of Bhagavad gita to the suffering souls.
4) Lord wipes of the wicked by his discus, Sri Ramanujacharya sweeps (convinces) them through reason and brings them to the royal vedic path.
5) Lord came as Naarasimha and destroyed Hiranyakasipu and liberated Prahalada. Sri Ramanujacharya came and destroyed the karmas of the suffering souls and thereby liberated them.
Finally, Amdhunar concludes saying that even if Lord Krishna himself comes to him and provides succor, he will not accept him. He will accept Lord Krishna only when he comes in Sri Ramanujacharya’s form and provides him relief from the samsaric ills.
As per Yatiraja saptati of great poet and philosopher Vedanta Desika (13 th century):
1) Ramanujacharya is an incarnation of the Lord’s five weapons (Verse 12),
2) and of Vishvaksena, the commander-in-chief of the Lord’s army in Vaikuntha (Verse 32),
3) and the Lord Himself (verse 63).
In the verse 13 of Yatiraja saptati, Sri Vedanta Desika (13th century) says as follows
Samithodaya sankaradi garvaha
(Ramanujacharya strongly refuted the advaita philosophy of Shankara and others, similar to lord Krishna who sudued Siva during the Banasura episode, subduing Indra and Bramha)
(Ramanujacharya disproved Yadavaprakasa who was an advaitin guru and accepted him as his disciple. This is similar to Lord Krishna defeating Kamsa and providing peace to Yadavas)
(Ramanujacharya gave the correct interpretations of Vedanta sutras there by removing all the mis representations and removing all the fears. This is similar to the Krishna removing the fears of Arjuna (the word ApiParthan should be broken as Api + parthan meaning like Lord Krishna destroyed the enemies of arjuna and protected pandavas)
nanu ramavarajaha sa yesha bhuyaha
(It is great fortune that Lord Krishna himself come as SriRamanujacharya)
So, Sri Ramanujacharya is Supreme Lord Narayana/Krishna/Vishnu, himself.
In his work, Garudapanchasath – Garudadandakam archanaavyakyanam (in telugu) the author, Sriman I. Bhasyakaracharyaulu, in the introduction provides, references of Garuda and greatness from various sources like Vedas, ithihasas (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and Puranas. The author says that in madhuramangala mahatyam (dakshina madhura) of Bramhavaivarta purana, it is mentioned as follows
Evam vivardhamnesya mahatmayam vividhey buddhahaa !
Chintaavisheshanaa mugraanam smitadranstravaseeyujaam !
Kaminibhogina masya pratyaneekathayaa sadaa !
Sarpa?syasparshagenaapi samsara vishanashanat !!
Raamanuja priyatvacha srisasya vahanad sada !
Amrutapaharanaachapi sarvshaamapi yachatham!!
Anumanai grahisyanthi bahudaasya kageysatham !
(Lord Narayana appeared in front of Garuda and told him go to earth during Kaliyuga in form of govinda bhattar (Embar; Cousin brother of Ramanujacharya) become a disciple of Ramanujacharya and help in propagation of sampradayam.)
We all know, Garuda always serves the Lord exclusively. In his avataram as Embar or Govinda bhattar, he served Ramanujacharya.
This also is strong proof that Sri Ramanujacharya is Lord Vasudeva/Narayana/Krishna/Vishnu himself.
Let’s look at the a few Vishnu sahasranama verses and see how they refer to Sri Ramanujacharya perfectly:
570 - sahishnuh
a) He who is endowed with enormous patience – Ramanujacharya was endowed with great patience and went on to extent of giving the Aastakshari mantra to one and all.
b) He who forgives – He forgave his own guru who wanted to planned to kill and made him a great Acharya and also forgave Kulothunga Chola who prosecuted vaishnavas. He also forgave those who tried to poison him and made them his principle disciples.
c) He who conquers His foes – Ramanujacharya conquered all by his reasoning and by his writing with vedas as pramana and made them follow the path of Saranagathy.
e) He who willingly accepts the offerings of His devotees - When tikurrukapiran pillan (one of close disciples) wrote the first commentary on Alwars divya prabhandham, Ramanujacharya accepted it and gave his approval. There are many more instances.
a) The best instructor in the path of dharma – Acharya literally instructed the best path towards moksha and for serving the Lord
b) The Best among the refuges to be sought – Acharya was refuge to all including great philosophers, Kings (Vishnuvardhana of Hoyasala kingdom ) etc. Lord Krishna himself took refuge in him and in his avatara as Ramanujacharya, he became Acharya of Lord Krishna/Venkateshwara, by providing conch and discus to him in Tirumala temple.
c) The Ultimate Support for all the suffering souls – By providing the Astakshari mantra to all easily and showing the path of prapatti Ramanujacharya became the ultimate support for the suffering souls.
a) He who cuts asunder the bonds when desires are renounced – Ramanujacharya made the path of surrender available to all and there cut the bonds of desires of his suffering souls
b) The Institutor of the samnyasa asrama for the attainment of moksha – As described in Vriddha Padma purana Ramanujacharya was the tridandi sanysasi and provided the royal path for attainment for moksha.
c) He Who shows the path of Saranagati to His devotee – This is self explanatory
a) He who instructs on how to control anger etc – Ramanujacharya didn’t show any anger and was full of control when Kulothunga chola was prosecuting Vaishnavas.
b) Ramanujacharya instructs that control of mind is the principal dharma for samnyasin.
c) Ramanujacharya put an end to the darkness in His devotees' mind
Ramanujacharya is “Golden Coloured” for He is, in the form of Lord’s devotee, he is crystal pure ;
Mundaka Upanishad declares: “When the Seer sees Him of Golden- hue.” Upon witnessing the Self-Effulgent (Golden) Being, the seer’s realization is completely transforming, and “then that wise one, shaking off all deeds of merits and demerits, becomes stainless, and attains the supreme State of Equipoise.”
“One who has limbs of Gold.” Ramanujacharya’s limbs are brilliant and pure
“With beautiful limbs.” Ramanujacharya has beautiful limbs. Also, Vara can take the meaning “lovable,” therefore, Ramanujacharya is described here as “One whose form (limbs) is supremely “lovable” to the devotees.”
All these clearly and lucidly prove that Sri Ramanujacharya is Lord Narayana/Krishna/Vishnu, himself. He is in fact BalaRaamanuja, the younger brother of Balarama, i.e. Lord Krishna/Narayana/Vishnu.