What is Ra:ma:nuja:rya Divya:jna: ?!

One thousand and two years have passed after the appearance of the great soul, Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja. Through his conduct and teachings, Ra:ma:nuja inspired thousands of scholars, kings, heretics, women, children, tribes, to accept the teachings of the true meanings of the Ve:da and practice them in their life and continues to inspire even today. What were some of the most prominent instructions of this great soul? Let us all use this occasion to recollect the divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja, popularly known by “Ra:ma:nuja:rya divya:jna”

venkatanadhuniki guruvugaa side view

Today, in all temples, both in the morning, as well as evening, the following words are recollected and recited in front of the Lord at the beginning of thi:rttha go:shti/ Sa:ththrumurai:

sarva de:sa dasa: ka:le:shu avya:hatha para:krama: |

ra:ma:nuja:rya divya:jna: vardhatha:m abhivardhatha:m ||

ra:ma:nuja:rya divya:jna: prathiva:saram ujjwala: |

digantha vya:pini: bhu:ya:th sa: hi lo:ka hithaishini: ||

“Let divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya of unimpeded valor flourish at all times, places, and circumstances. May the divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya shine forth on every day. May it spread in all directions, for it is, indeed, of the nature of causing welfare to the world.”

After the demise of Ya:muna:cha:rya, Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya moved to Sri:rangam to carry out the mission of spreading the Vaishnava faith and look after the temple affairs. Even while at Sri:rangam, Ra:ma:nujacha:rya began to pay attention to Thirumala. The forest was infested with wild animals and the deity, Lord Ve:nkate:swara, atop the hill was inaccessible to devotees. Distressed about this, during his discourse at Sri:rangam one day, he wanted to know if anyone among his disciples was willing to travel to Tirumala to serve the deity there. Anantha:cha:rya was the only one, who showed willingness. Delighted, Ra:ma:nuja called him ‘Aanpillai’ (the real man) for his bold step to travel to Thirumala, and instructed him to revive worship at Thirumala, dig a lake and create a garden.

However, Ramanuja’s dream of visiting Thirumala turned into a reality under unpleasant circumstances. A dispute had erupted over the Thirumala deity – some claimed he was Siva, or Skanda. Ramanuja’s intervention was sought in the matter by his maternal uncle, Periya Thirumalai Nambi, who was local to that place, and Anantha:cha:rya. He was summoned to establish that the Lord atop the hill was solely a manifestation of the Supreme Lord Na:ra:yana. Ra:ma:nuja came there, convinced the ruling king Ya:davara:ja that the deity was none other than Sri:niva:sa, a manifestation of Sri: Maha: Vishnu by citing extensively from the Pura:nas and other sources. In a surprising turn of events by the grace of the deity Himself, Ra:ma:nujacha:rya re-established the divine conch and discus on the deity which the deity had previously given away to King Thondama:n when the latter had requested them to win battles. Thus, he became the a:cha:rya of Lord Ve:nkate:swara Himself!

He introduced several reforms in the worship of the Lord and in the temple administration and arranged for regular conduct of worship and festivals there. These reforms are detailed in the work “Ve:nkata:chala Ithiha:sa Ma:la” and are called “Ra:ma:nuja:rya Divya:jna” , or the “divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja” in connection with temple worship.

One of Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s key instructions that has general applicability to any temple of any God throughout the world is that only those who have faith in the deity, who are faithful to the Lord and their ancestors and a:cha:ryas, who carry love and regard for the deity, who carry the Lord’s symbols should serve in any capacity within the temple administration. To substantiate this, Ra:ma:nuja cites from the Ithiha:sas and Pura:nas:

As Sri: Krushna prepared to leave Dwa:raka to Hasthina:pura to kill enemies, He was asked by the people there who they should let into the city of Dwa:raka when He is away. “You are going for the war. We do not know how long it will take for You to return. How should we keep ruling this place until You return? Whom should we let into the city? Whom should we let reside in the city?” To this, He is said to have replied:

chakra:nkitha:ha prave:shtavya:ha ya:vad a:gamanam mama |
na:mudritha:ha prave:shtavya: ya:vad a:gamanam mama ||

“Until I return, let only those who are faithful to Me into the city of Dwa:raka. Do not let those who are unfaithful into the city.”

The reason is that the unfaithful not only destroy the systems and practices but also destroy the faith of the rest of the people in the systems established by their predecessors. One rotten apple is sufficient to destroy an entire basket of good apples. Temples are centers of learning and are symbols of our great culture and heritage where everything has the Lord at their center. So, whoever is involved in temple administration – be they guards outside, the archakas inside, or the management that is ruling, or the finance department, or the various people who register to serve in the temple in various capacities – must have full faith in the Lord and the deity of that temple, and the systems established by their predecessors. They must vow not to change them under any circumstances. When worship is carried out by such an administration, the glory of the temple and the deity will increase, and the visitors to the temple are likely to benefit.

This is true for any temple – be it a Siva:laya, a Vishnva:laya, or a Sa:ktha:laya! The devotees there must be faithful to the systems coming since ancient times.

In connection to the divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja, the Ve:nkata:chala Ithiha:sa Ma:la records the following details:

Having established a system of worship for the Lord there, as he was starting from there, Ra:ma:nuja willed that his divine instruction on temple worship receive the blessing of the Lord so that there will not be any impediments to the same. Accordingly, Sri:saila Pu:rna, and Anantha:charya petitioned in front of the Lord that He bless this instruction.

A few days after this incident, the Lord Ve:nkate:swara once appeared in the dream of Sri:saila Pu:rna and said: “As much as I felt happy re-adorning my weapons, the divine conch and the discus due to the effort of Ra:ma:nuja, I am happy with the system of worship he established”

Sri:saila Pu:rna presented this dream in front of the scholars and ordinary men and requested the Lord to issue His sanction on Ra:ma:nuja’s divine instruction to the open public. The Lord then assumed one of the devotees there, and said, “Dear devotees, may you all hear this divine instruction. Just as I followed the divine instruction of sages like Vasishta and Viswamithra in my previous avatha:ras as Ra:ma and Krushna, I shall also honor the divine instruction of Ra:ma:nuja muni, who established My Supremacy through his extensive scholarship in the Ve:dic literature. All may understand that the divine instruction of Ra:manuja established herein is extremely dear to Me, and must be followed without fail by those who take shelter of Me.”

Hearing this, everyone present there became pleased. The chief priest then declared that understanding the Lord’s desire in relation to the reforms introduced by Ra:ma:nuja called the “Ra:ma:nuja:rya divya:jna”, everyone must follow them faithfully, and those who go against them are declared heretics.

Thus, there is not the slightest exaggeration in saying that Ra:ma:nuja:charya is one of the reasons why the culture of worshiping the Lord in a temple is still alive today.

Some also relate to “Ra:ma:nuja:rya divya:jna” as the six instructions that he gave toward the end of his life.

Upon arrival of the time of his departure from this mortal world, Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya became fixed in a mood of intense devotion, and many of his disciples began to lament loudly. On hearing their cries, he came out of his trance and said that they should remain without showing any ill-will toward any bha:gavatha ever. He said further that there are three classes of men in this world: those favorable to God, called the bha:gavathas, those against God called the atheists, and those indifferent to God. The association of the first type is to be cherished and a meeting with them should manifest a joy like the joy of stumbling upon sweet fragrances in this world. One must stay away from the second class of people like one would stay away from a deadly disease, a venomous reptile, fire, or so forth which can destroy one upon their contact with them. If one comes across people of the third class called samsa:ris, one must not mind them as one remains indifferent to the stocks and stones that lie on one’s way. If, however, one discovers any willingness in them to approach God, one must teach them about God. Otherwise, one must take compassion upon them, and treat them with pity.

Out of pride and arrogance, one must never offend any Vaishnava, for, such an offense is nothing short of offense toward God Himself. Stooping down to such lower qualities as pride and arrogance from one’s own Vaishnava position is like the king’s wife wandering in the streets for begging. Similarly, if Vaishnavas allow themselves to be attracted to the material wealth and enjoyments of the samsa:ris, then all of their wisdom is considered to be in vain.

There are six ways in which one can usefully spend their time while in this world

1. Learn the Sri: Bha:shyam, and teach it to others.

2. If this is above one’s level, one must at least attempt to learn the Divya Prabandham, particularly, the Thiruvayimo:zhi of Namma:zhwa:r, and make others read it.

3. If that is also beyond one’s level, one must build a home in a holy land (Thiruna:ra:yanapuram) and reside there in the association of bha:gavathas.

4. If that is impracticable, one must try to regularly render some services in a temple.

5. If that is inconvenient, one must dwell always on the deeper meanings of the three sacred manthras that one receives from their a:cha:rya.
6. If that is also difficult, one must take shelter of a bha:gavatha, constantly serve him, and live such that they can obtain their grace.

He asked them to be ever vigilant to the archa mu:rthi in the temple. Returning to his mattha, he commanded his disciples not to stray away from the Path after his departure, asked them to approach him, and swear by his holy feet that they will carry out his behests, and never swerve from the path of virtue that he had marked out for them all.

Giving his last words and blessings, he sought forgiveness from them all if he ever offended any of them. He sought forgiveness for any of his shortcomings. He said that after his departure, Lord Rangana:ttha shall ever be here to take care of them all.

A party of elders, in solemn tones, sang the Bramhavalli, and the Bhruguvalli of the Ve:das, another sang the divya prabandhas. Ra:manuja withdrew himself gently as if falling into a quiet natural sleep, closed his eyes, laid himself down, his head turned toward the temple, and rested on the lap of Emba:r, and placed his feet on A:ndhra Pu:rna. As they watched him lying in this state, the crown of his head burst, and the holy soul winged his way back to the Holy Parama padam in AD 1037, in the year Pingala, in the month of ma:gha, on the dasami thitthi. Lord Rangana:ttha ordered the consecration of his charama de:ham in His own Vasantha Mandapam in the northeastern corner of the Sri: Rangam temple.

-Contributed by Dr. Raghav Karumur, Minneapolis, MN, USA