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Oppiliappan List Archive: Message 00128 Oct 2003

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SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||

May the glorious Venkatanatha, the greatest of teachers of Vedanta, and the 
lion among poets and debaters, reside forever in my heart.

Dearest Srivaishnavas,

It was the month of maargazhi (December- January) dear to Andal and dearer 
to Krishna from the days of Acharya Nathamuni [9th century CE] who brought 
about the renaissance of the Divya Prabandham of Alwars, a festival 
adhyayanOthsavam by name is conducted in a grand manner for 21 days ? ten
days before and then days after Vaikunta EkAdasi day. Uthsava murthi of Lord 
Ranganatha is taken out from the Sanctum Sanctorum in procession to a 
specially decorated hall and placed on a high pedestal. The deities of 
Alwars and Acharayas are also arranged in front of the Lord in a semi 
circle. The hymns of Alwars are sung before the Lord in particular tune by 
chosen devotees who go by the name of Araaiyars and who dance and explain 
certain fixed songs. The first two thousand verses are sung on the first ten 
days beginning with the prathama of Sukhlapaksha and the third thousand in 
ten days beginning with Vaikunta EkAdasi day. The fourth thousand 
collectively called IyaRpaa are sung on 21st day with the Lord in asnactum 
sanctorum by the member of  different family which goes by the name
Anudhanar. Hundreds of scholars and devotees assemble there to listen and 
enjoy these songs in front of the Lord and among Alwars and Acharyas.

One year during the life time of Sri Vedanta Desika, a team of scholars 
belonging to Advaita school, which swears b the Sanskrit Upanishad and 
Bhagavd Gita, but does not accept the validity of Dhivya prabandham, came to 
Srirangam when the perapartions for the conduct of the adhyayanOthsavam were 
in progress. They met the Srivaishnava acharyas and argued: A festival in 
glorification of Tamil hymns in a temple has no saasthric sanction, even 
though the Vaishnavas may accept them as Dramida Upanishad. You may conduct 
the festival if you succeed in establishing your views before us in

The Srivaishnava acharyas were rather advanced in age and hesitated to 
accept the challenge due to their ageing. They discussed among themselves 
and concluded that they could send for Sri Vedata Desika from kanchi whose 
reputation as a follower and propounder of the teachings of Acharya Sri
Ramanuja had spread far and wide.

So they sent an urgent message to Sri Vedanta Desika as the command of Lord 
Ranganatha?s commander in chief Vishvaksena to come at once to Srirangam, a 
command which is received with bent and bowed down heads by the devotee of 
his devotees as a head ornament [and straight away carried out and executed]

Sri Desika received the divine command with great respect and joy and became 
ready for the journey. He went to the temple, took leave of the Divine 
copule Lord Varada and His consort and left Kanchi for Srirangam.

On the way, Sri Desika went to Sri Perumupudhur, the birth place of ACharya 
Ramanuja to worship him in the archa form and seek his blessings before the 
journey to Srirangam.  His yathirAja Sapthathi is a moving lyric of seventy 
four verses on Ramanuja, YathirAja, (the king of Sanyaasis) in which he
declares that Yathiraja was verily an incarnation of Bhagawaan and the 
philosophy he reinforced was authoritative since it was strictly based on 
Upanishads and he spent his whole life working for the good of everyone.

The arrival of Sri Desika in Srirangam was a great relief to Srivaishnava 
acharyas. They made all arrangements for the conduct of the debate in the 
spacious hall of the temple. The two opposing parties assembled there in the 
ixed day. Sri Desika requested the disputant to state their objects first
so that he might categorically answer point wise each one of them to their 
satisfaction. The debate went on for about a week. Sri Vedanta Desika 
established with the support of the saasthra that the alwars were the 
servitors of the Lord and were born to redeem the souls in bondage by their
hymns. Itw as per command of the Lord and there are references in 
Bhagawathas about their briths. He also proved that the ideas of their hymns 
were quite in consonance with the teaching of Vedas and quoted hymns in 
which the Alwars declare that they are saying in Tamil what the Vedas and
Saasthras said in Sanskrit. The opponents were satisfied and permitted the 
conduct of adhyayana utsavam to the joy of all Srivaishnavas there.

During his stay in Srirangam, Sri Vedanta Desika composed BhagavdhyAna 
sOpAnam, Dasavathara sthOthra, nyAsa thilakam, nyAsa vimsathy, and wrote 
several works in Sanskrit on the philosophy of VishsihtAdvaita as well as 
ChillaRai rahaysams in maNipravALam. He visted azhagar kOil and Madurai,
Alwar Thirunagari and Srivilliputthur, Vanamamalai and Trivandrum. He came 
back to Srirangam and continued the work of writing granthas and instruction 
to disciples. Lord Ranagantha was so much pleased with the knowledge 
teachings and works of Sri Desika that he conferred upon the title of
Vedantacharya. Sri Desika himself mentions this with justifiable pride in 
more than one of his works. There is also a title Sarvathanthra swathanthrar 
conferred upon him by Sri Ranagayaki thaayar- the divine consort of 

Sri Vedanta Desika lived in peace in Srirangam for several years.
Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Namo narayana
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||

Salutations to Sri Venkatesa, in whom all perfections reside, who is the 
teacher of Vedanta and the lion among poets and debaters

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