CHENNAI: Cutting across all barriers of caste, religion and language, Sri Ramanuja, the 11th century Vaishnavite seer, who systematised the ‘Vishistadvaita’ system of Vedanta philosophy is still “relevant and contemporary” in a strife-torn world.
This unique aspect of Sri Ramanuja, which has added glory to the saint a thousand-fold since his birth in the small village of Sriperumbudur near Chennai, and the inclusive manner in which he brought to light the “essence” of the ‘Vedas’ will be the hallmark of the “1000th year celebrations of Sri Ramanuja Acharya commencing this week.
The yearlong celebrations of the diverse facets of this rare spiritual and intellectual ‘Guru’ who was also a bridge to the common man, will culminate on May 1, 2017, coinciding with his birth star as per the Hindu almanac, ‘Chithirai maasam Thiruvaadhirai Nakshatra’, five senior scholars of Vaishnavism said here on Thursday.
At a joint press conference led by the acclaimed scholar and popular religious exponent Sri Velukkudi Krishnan and other scholars including Sri Karunakarachariyar, Sri. Ananthapadmanabhan, Sri Dhamal Ramakrishnan and Sri Srinidhi Akkarakkani, they explained how Sri Ramanuja was among the tallest practitioners of ‘Sanatana Dharma’.
They told reporters that the first phase of the celebrations from May 10 to May 13 at the Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai, would set the stage for the grand “Sri Ramannujar Sahasrabdi”, the 1000th birth anniversary celebrations of the great Vaishnavite saint.
Jointly organised by ‘Kaustubha Media Works’ and ‘Bakthisagaram.com’, the first set of events on those four days will include spiritual discourses on the import of Sri Ramanuja’s life and philosophy by these renowned scholars, a dance drama on the life-events of Sri Ramanuja, combined with a soulful musical component.
Fashioned in the Tamil tradition of triadic celebrations – ‘Iyal, Isai and Naadakam’-, which will also showcase the different temples and towns associated with Sri Ramanuja’s life including Kancheepuram, Srirangam and Melkote, the music for the programme has been composed by A S Ram, with the dance choreography done by Sheela Unnikrishnan and Divya Sena. Ms Revathy Sankaran will anchor the programmes on all four days and has also penned the lyrics for the dance drama, said Sri Akkarakkani.
What made him a “revolutionary saint” was that even 1,000 years ago, when societal mores were much more rigid, Sri Ramanuja himself had laid down the temple worship practices wherein Dalits and other oppressed sections were allowed entry into the Melkote temple on three festival occasions in a year, Sri Akkarakkani said, adding, Ramanuja universalised access to God for all through “simple love and Bakthi”.
Explaining how Sri Ramanuja was both “contemporary and relevant”, Sri Velukkudi said the former “stood the test of time” as a visionary who brought out the timeless aspects of the ‘Vedas’ and ‘Vedanta’ that strikes a chord in people’s hearts even today, as a means of ‘spiritual uplift’ of every individual soul.
The 1000th year commemorative celebrations of Sri Ramanuja should
be an opportunity to renew that noble legacy and to take his message to “every nook and corner” through different types of activities.