Tuesday, 25 December 2007


From the time immemorial, man has been wondering about his origin. Various theories have been propounded, resulting in various practices, .beliefs and prejudices. While history attempts to trace the political and social circumstances for these, science tries to rationalize them. India has been in the forefront of countries that have given to the world their schools of thoughts. India’s culture and heritage are still regarded very ancient, as a result of which India offers the ONLY active link between modern and the ancient world. Hinduism is the ONLY ancient religion still being practiced regularly by a large percentage of the world’s population.

The Veda of India has been a strong base for numerous schools of philosophical thoughts, as propounded by various Sages. These great sages, in their wisdom, have been passing on this knowledge in various forms, to their disciples, their disciples, and so on.

A bit of history
The dim past conceals the specific details of our origin, but it may be safe to say that we were members of that race of humans who were present when Indian subcontinent did not exist, and was a part of the greater African continent. Later, as the land mass broke away, so did we, and drifted and formed what is now our present land and became inhabitants of the Land of The Lord’s Avatars, the land of Ramayana and Mahabharat, the land of the Azhwars, the land where Ramanuja taught Vishistadvaita, the land of great magnificent temples thanks to the efforts of some very great kings and common men.

However, as time passes, change is inevitable, and now, nearly a thousand years after Ramanuja, the same question in the minds of the young generation has once again come up, who are we?

So, to follow up this thought, we can be further classified as South Indian Brahmins, Vaishnavas, Thengalais, (Thennacharya Sampradhayam), Swayam Acharya Pratiwadi Bhayankarams Iyengars. The word Iyengar from the Tamil (Aiya?kar) … (Aindu angangal)… literally means "people characterized by Five Components", referring to the five parts of Divine worship that Sri Vaishnavas who have had pancha samskara under a qualified guru perform.

Who are Vaishnavas?
Vaishnavas are Hindus who adore Vishnu, who is described in the vedas, ithihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharatha (which includes the famous Bhagawad Gita) and Puranas like Vishnu Purana and Srimad Bhaghavatha Purana as the Lord, object of love and devotion and ultimate refuge of all beings.

Who are Srivaishnavas?
Srivaishnavas are Vaishnavas, who are distinguished by their contemplation of the Lord as inseparable from Sri or Lakshmi .

This system of Vaishnavism, was developed by Sri Ramanuja where Vishnu & his consort Godess Sri(Lakshmi) are accepted as Supreme Being. Goddess Lakshmi is the mother of the entire creation, being the consort of Lord Vishnu, and being inseparable from Him, She acts as the mediatory (purushakara) between man & God. It is for reasons such as these that the system of Sri Ramanuja is called Srivaishnavism, or Sri Sampradaya.

Srivaishnavas are broadly divided into the northern and southern sects- thenkalai and vadakalai. The two prominent acharyas (teachers) are Swami Desikan for Vadakalai and Sri Manavala Mamuni for Thenkalai. Sri Manavala Mamuni was born in 1370 , about 100 years subsequent to Swami Desikan. It is important to remember that Swami Deskan is included in the Thenkalai guruparampara. Sri Manavalamamuni is not included in the vadakali guruparampara, but his srisukthis (auspicious utterances) are often quoted by Vadakalai scholars and Acharyas with great esteem. Both the sects have the same common basics However, a little difference is on account of special attachment of some vidwans regarding some finer points, and of course, the basic human failing, bigotry.

Manavala mamuni had many disciples, however, the following eight were the chief disciples known as Ashtadiggajas (elephants of the eight directions): Vanamaamalai Jeeyar, Bhattar Piraan jeeyar, Tiruvengada jeeyar, Koil kanthaadai annan, Prathiwaadhibhayankaram annan, Erumbi appaa, Appillai and Appillan.

They and their disciples made many contributions to promoting Srivaishnavam.

Pratiwadibhayankaram Iyengars
Pratiwadibhayankaram Iyengars are descendants of the famous Pratiwadibhayankaram Annan’ who, as mentioned above, was a disciple of Manavala Mamuni.

PVS Iyengar
I have been one of the few fortunates to be born in the family of Pratiwadi Bhayankaram Venkatachar Srinivasa Iyengar, or PVS Iyengar of Karolbagh, as he was known. PVS was a very staunch Veera Vaishnavite, and in spite of the fact that he had moved out of his native Bangalore in 1929, continued to maintain, foster, nurture and develop Srivaishnavism for the benefit of other Srivaishnavites in and around him.

He was one of the primary inspirations behind the formation of VAISHNAVA SIDDHANTHA SABHA in New Delhi, and along with the Brahmins Vaideki Association provided various Vaidika services to Vaishnavites.

He was also primarily instrumental in getting Great Srivaishnava Acharyas, Gurus, and other Sages well versed in Srivaishnavism to address various meetings in Delhi for this purpose.

In addition, he maintained a very pure life, and his Nitya Thiru Aradhana has been a source of great encouragement to me and others like.

It is therefore but just that I present through these words my feelings and understanding of what we are, what we are supposed to do, how we should conduct ourselves, and what are those traditions and routines we should follow as Sri Vaishnavas.


Srilata said...

What is guruparampara?

Alpha said...

My mother was from the P.B. family (she passed away in 2008), and I grew up in New Delhi. Would be great to connect

Sunil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vijay Tn said...

guruparampara is the people who are the successor of ramanujacharya that means ramanujacharyas sons and their family and their generations who are also known as swayamacharyas there are many of his great great grand sons who are living who are known as swayamacharyas

Anand said...

May I add one correction to Sri Vijay Tn, please ?
1st line may be corrected as "... that means Ramanujacharya's disciples and their disciples some of whom were accepted as acharyas, to form a lineage/ chain of acharyas.." A much better definition of this Guru paramparai may also be understood from web search in Sri Vaishnava websites. Bhagvad Ramanujacharya, as the historical records show, did not have any son(s).