Saint Ramanujacharya, also known as Ramanuja, was born in the 11th century around 1017 in a Tamil Brahmin family in Sriperumbudur village of Tamil Nadu. When born he was named as 'Lakshmana' and was also known as Ilaya Perumal ie. 'a radiant one'.
He was sent to Kanchi (Kanchipuram) for schooling, under the teacher Yadavaprakasha, who was a follower of the monistic (Advaita) system of the Vedanta of Shankara and the famous 8th-century philosopher.
Ramanuja was a very brilliant student. He was not satisfied with Yadavaprakasha's interpretations of Vedic texts. Ramanuja picked up several errors in the teachings of his master and gave his own interpretations.
Those were appreciated by all the co-students. Yadavaprakasha was very jealous of Ramanuja due to his intelligence and planned to finish Ramanuja.
He arranged for a pilgrimage to Varanasi for Ramanuja and his cousin Govinda Bhatta, who was a fellow student. Govinda Bhatta, was a favourite dissiple of Yadavaprakasha.
Saint Ramanuja's temple at SriPerumbudur
He came to know the conspiracy, while travelling. He alerted Ramanuja of the wicked plan and let him escape. Later, Ramanuja settled in Shrirangam.
There he organized temple worship and founded centres to spread his belief of devotion to the god Vishnu and his consort Shri (Lakshmi).
Ramanuja further constructed some few more Vishnu temples in and around Mysore and spread the Visishtadvaita philosophy and Vishnu worship throughout the king's dominions.
Then for about twenty years he continued his efforts with his thousands of dissiples. Ramanuja had visited all the Vaishnavite shrines in South India.
Finally settled himself permanently st Srirangam and continued his preachin and writing books. Several people attended his lectures everyday. He had a group of many Sannyasins and dignitaries, who revered him as a God.
He convinced lakhs of people to follow the path of Bhakti and gave initiation. The northern and southern tradition of Vaishnavism was combined by him and he also strengthened the religious belief and the worship of Lord Vishnu.
He was a theologian, philosopher and the single most influential thinker of devotional Hinduism. At the age of 120, he left for his heavenly abode in 1137 CE in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu.
Saint Ramanuja Celebration at Hyderabad
In order to celebrate 1000th birth anniversary of Ramanujaacharya and as a mark of gratitude His Holiness Chinna Jeeyar Swami planned a statue of Bhagawad Ramanujacharya Swami, over 45 acres of land in Samshabad, Hyderabad.
1- Thirunagari Pillai
Once Ramanuja was on a pilgrimage to Thiruvali Thirunagari and the surrounding Divyadesams. While travelling he saw an apparently illiterate sudra woman in his way. Ramanuja told her to stay aside till he crossed the way.
However, to the surprise of Ramanuja, the lady asked him which side shall she should move? when a Holy Self, a Brahmin, was in front of her whom she cannot approach with the fear that she might pollute him by her nearness.
She added that behind her, was the Holy shrine of Thirukannapuram. She further said that to her right were the Thirumanam Kollai.
There Saint Thirumanagai way laid the Lord and Thiruvarasu (the Peepul Tree) used by the Saint as his watch tower and to her left was Thiruvali Manavalan.
She told that there was purity all around her, so which side her impurity could turn?. Ramanuja was shaken by her dialogue and pleaded apology.
He administered to her the holy Vaishnava sacraments and allotted her a place in the shrine, where her image is seen and revered by all the pilgrims to this day.
2- Shaivite and Vaishnavite
Ramanuja travelled throughout India to spread the path of devotion. He visited all the sacred places such as - Kashi, Kashmir and Badrinath.
On his way back he visited the Tirupathi hills, where he found the Shaivites and the Vaishnavites quarrelling with one another.
One group insisted on the belief that the image of the Lord in the Tirupathi hills was a Shaivite one and the other party believed it as a Vaishnavite one.
Ramanuja suggested that both groups should leave it to the Lord Himself to decide. So they left the images of both Shiva and Vishnu at the feet of the Lord and waited outside on guard after closing the door of the temple.
Next morning, as they opened the door, it was found that the image of the Lord was wearing the emblems of Vishnu. The emblems of Shiva were lying at its feet as left there before.
Hence it was confirmed that the temple was a Vaishnavite one and it remained so forever till today.
Ramanuja had a great reverence for Kanchipurna and invited him for meals in his house. Ramanuja had a desire to entertain Kanchipurna and personally serve him the meals.
However, he tjought of eating afterwards. Unfortunately, Kanchipurna came for meals when Ramanuja was away and not at home and had his meals served by Ramanuja's wife.
When Ramanuja came back home, he found the house washed and his wife bathing for having served meals to a Sudra. This irated Ramanuja so much that he hated his wife who was an orthodox lady of a different social ideal.
After such similar incidences, Ramanuja renunciated the routine householder life and became a Sannyasin.