Monday, September 24, 2018

Ramanuja is a history – 6 (Evidences for Ramanuja’s stay in Karnataka)

It is not far from true to say that the history of Ramanuja has received an unfair treatment in the hands of historians of Independent India. Particularly on the issue of the identity of the Chola king who persecuted him, all the historians have written what one may call “Purana” -  in the terminology of Dr Nagaswamy!

Adhirajendra was identified as Krimikanṭha Chola but without verifying the literary sources and the available inscriptions, he was buried by the historians in a riot that happened before he could persecute Ramanuja! Some historians blamed Kulottunga I as the persecutor but could not justify how he lived through to give back the administration of Srirangam temple to Ramanuja who was supposed to have returned only after he died –assuming he was Krimikanṭha Chola! After coming to know of many inscriptions in support of Kulottunga’s generosity towards Vishnu temples, the easy solution for them was to damn the history of Ramanuja as false instead of re-working their research to find out the truth.

The most emphatic of this lot is Dr Nagaswamy who failed to even recognise that a king nick-named Krimikanṭha Chola existed in the history of Ramanuja’s life. For him like others of his ilk, evidence matters – that too epigraphic evidence. But none of them seem to realise  that even the smallest evidence that exists contrary to their theory cannot be ignored, for, as an “Objective Historian” one “must not dismiss counter evidence without scholarly consideration”. Such a historian must not even reject the version of the historical accounts without taking “the motives of historical actors into consideration”. [i]

To give an example, Dr Nagaswamy in his urge to reject Ramanuja’s history, had belittled the history of all the 63 Nayanmars at one stroke by quoting Periya Purana. [ii]

It is surprising that he had done this by completely ignoring the inscription in the pillars near the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Rajarajeswaram dated at the 3rd regnal year of Rajendra Chola I informing of the installation of the image of ‘Meip porul Nayanar’, one of the 63 Nayanmars who stopped the capture of his murderer by telling his guard “Dattha namar”.[iii] The same words that appear in the Periya Puranam are also found engraved in this inscription making it very clear that the so-called ‘Purana’ was a real history! This single inscription is ‘counter evidence’ to the dismissal of Nayamanars’ history as Purana or myth for an Objective Historian.

In the life of Ramanuja there are many counter-evidences to the claims of Dr Nagaswamy who propounded the idea that “Most of the episodes mentioned are myths and not reality.”[iv] To substantiate this claim Dr Nagaswamy relies on inscriptions in Srirangam only and makes a sweeping remark that there are no evidences to support the historicity of events in Ramanuja’s life. The most unfortunate after- effect his claims is that they are being spread as truth-immortal by internet historians and vested interests in Tamilnadu. [v] This is going on in spite of the counter written to his claims[vi].

In this backdrop we are presenting the counter- evidences that were not well brought out to the readers so far. As we are still dealing with first issue[vii] of Melkote related events, we will expose the hollowness of the claims of Dr Nagaswamy in the context of Ramanuja’s stay in Karnataka.
Dr Nagaswamy has absolutely nothing to say on Ramanuja’s stay in Karnataka where he made two revolutionary reforms in the social sphere. One was his role in the construction of Tonnur Lake and the other in having uplifted the outcastes and given a honorary status as ‘Tirukkulatthar’. But Dr Nagaswamy’s final conclusion is that Ramanuja was not interested “in the so-called social reforms that are visualised in modern times.”[viii] 

Ramanuja as a social reformer.

Numerous accounts have been written on this facet of Ramanuja, but here we are going to present two historically verifiable events as mentioned above during Ramanuja’s sojourn in Karnataka.

1. Construction of Tonnur Lake

Tonnur Lake or Thondanur Lake also known as Tonnur kere was a man-made one formed by a bund between two hills. In his travelogue published in 1807, Buchanan refers to this lake by the name it was known at that time, as Yadavi Nuddi and formed by none other than Ramanuja.[ix]

The ‘legend’ prevalent in the beginning of 19th century is that Ramanuja had devised the idea to harness the wasting away of the water and caused the mound to be created so that water was available for irrigation. A popular name for this lake even today is ‘Tirumala Sagara’ - a name that could not have come into existence without the influence of some Vaishnavite in the past. Another landmark in this region is the waterfall-like appearance of the out flow from the lake known as ‘Ramanuja Gange’

Ramanuja Gange
Pic curtesy : Here

It is possible argue that someone in the later period had coined these names out of devotion for the Lord of Tirumala and Ramanuja.

But these landmarks are in Thondanur where Ramanuja had stayed for long. And the evidence for Ramanuja’s role in forming the lake is found – of all the places - in the Jain text, the Sthala Purana of Sravana Belagola.[x]

Sthala Puaranas are not treated as evidences by historians, but the same historians had no hesitation to rely on Kalingatthu Bharani on a selective basis. What we must look for in the case of literary sources is the cross-references that can be used to check the veracity of the claims made by these texts.
The above narration from the Sthala Purana makes 3 points, (1) the year the king Vishnuvardhana alias Bittideva ‘converted’ to Hinduism under the influence of Ramanuja, (2) the number of Jain temples destroyed to build Pancha Narayana temples and also the Thondanur lake and (3) the name of the lake being ‘Tirumala sagara’.

  • The Sthala Purana mentions the year Durmukhi as the year when Vishnuvardhana (Bittideva / Bittavardhana) was converted by Ramanuja. This year corresponds to 1116-1117. In the same Durmukhi year Āndan, one of the prime disciples of Ramanuja had attended the inauguration festival of Vijaya Narayana (Chenna Kesava) temple at Belur. This is found inscribed in the stone panel above the eastern main entrance of the temple and recorded in volume II of Indian Antiquary. [xi]

It looks obvious that the Sthala Purana writers had mistaken the year of the inauguration of the Chenna Kesava temple which had happened in the presence of the disciple of Ramanuja as the year of conversion of Bittideva by Ramanuja himself. Āndan was a close associate of Ramanuja throughout his stay in Karnataka. Therefore his presence in the festival at Belur was mistaken for the presence of Ramanuja himself, but the inscription clearly says that Ramanuja had sent Āndan. This means Ramanuja had left Karnataka before 1116.

·       Another feature of the first point says that Ramanuja converted King Vishnuvardhana into Vaishnava religion. Let us check the veracity of this claim.

·       Did Ramanuja convert Vishnuvardhana?

‘Conversion’ in the context of kings is an alien concept used by Indian historians to give colour of certain traits to the kings. By and large most kings of the period under discussion were neutral to all sects while following their own sect in all earnestness. Vishnuvardhana was a Hindu, claiming descent from Yadava clan. The prashasti of many of his inscriptions state that he belonged to the Yadava kula.  He had even conducted Asvamedha yajna as befitting a Hindu king. [xii]  Most of his inscriptions while tracing his ancestry mention his name as Vishnu only.

Many researchers think that his original name of Bittideva and it was changed into Vishnuvardhana by Ramanuja upon converting him to Vaishnavism. Author B.R.Gopal says that “this is only a ‘floating tradition’ and the name Bittiga is only a Kannada derivation of the word Visnu.”[xiii] This sounds plausible as the Tamil equivalent of Vishnu is ‘Vittu’ which when changed into Kannada becomes ‘Bittu’ due to va-ba inter-change between the two languages. With predominant connection between Gangavadi and Tamil lands, the interchange between the languages sounds possible. This also concurs with the reference to Vishnuvardhana as ‘Bettavardhana’ in  the Sthala Purana of Sravana Belagola cited above.

Even his father Ereyanga who is branded by all historians as a Jain claims Hindu Puranic descent in his inscription.[xiv]  But they all have patronised all sects and honoured intellectuals of all sects in their courts. [xivi] They only differed in the personal choice they made in having their preceptor.

Vishnuvardhana chose Ramanuja as his preceptor early in his life soon after Ramanuja arrived at Saligrama. There are traditional accounts on his daughter getting cured by Ramanuja, but what is discernible is that Ramanuja had a special place in his life. And he was close to Vaishnavism even though he was not averse to paying due reverence to other sects.

Only the Sthala Purana of Sravana belagola makes a statement that Ramanuja converted him. If this is true should we say that he re-converted back to Jainism, for, there are references to his worship of the Jain Goddess Vasanthika? In an inscription found at Nagamangala taluk, this reference is immediately followed by the line that he was “delighting in the service of the lotus feet of Mukunda”.[xv]

A Jainna shasana dated at CE 1145 on the grant of land to the Jain Guru Munichandra Deva after detailing the prashasti of Vishnuvardhana gives the lineage of this Guru by mentioning Vishnuvardhana Deva, “ The descent of whose Guru is as follows”, implying that Munichnadra Deva was Vishnuvardhana’s Guru![xvii]

The same inscription says that Vishnuvardhana acquired the fame of a conqueror by worshiping at the feet of Achyuta! It also says that he led a ‘pure life rendered permanent by the praise of Nrisimha”. These references show that he was basically a Vishnu worshiper, but was respectful of and even worshiping deities of other sects too. This is being highlighted here to show that the historian’s perception of branding the kings (perhaps of this period) into specific sects is not always true.

  • The next two points in Sthala Purana about the Thondanur Lake are proof of the formation of this lake during the period of the stay of Ramanuja in Thondanur and his role in forming the lake. Further burden of proof lies with the archaeologists. Though this lake came to be called as Moti talab, a name purportedly coined by Tipu Sultan, none had forgotten the olden and original name as Tirumala Sagara and the influence of Ramanuja. This oral tradition recorded by Buchanan cannot be whisked away baseless.
Thondanur Lake

·       On the issue of the alleged destruction of Jain temples to build Hindu temples, facts speak a different story. The Jain Sthala Purana of Sravana Belagola makes this allegation but further account of the same text tells about the restoration of the Jain grants from the king Vishnuvardhana. It is common sense that different sects would like to influence the king to get favours for themselves. Before the arrival of Ramanuja to Thondanur, all the Vishnu temples seemed to have been neglected for want of a strong voice to attract the attention of the king. After Ramanuja had set foot in the country he had got the Vishnu temples revived. It is here we find mis-interpretation that Jain temples were destroyed to build Hindu temples.

Were Jain temples destroyed to construct Hindu temples?

A belief spread by historians, leftist and others – is that the Jains, non-violent as they are, had never destroyed the temples. But a contrary notion that Hindus had destroyed Jain temples has been implanted in the general public.  This article in Deccan Herald says that the Nambi Narayana temple at Thondanur was a Jain temple originally and was converted into a Hindu temple with the arrival of Ramanuja and his conversion of Vishnuvardhana  into his fold. The same article says that the idol of the temple is more than 5500 years old but the temple was only 1000 years old. How could this happen unless the temple was originally built 5500 years ago but converted into a Jain basadi sometime later?

Sri Nambinarayana at Thondanur

Another temple in the same area is that of Venugopala Swamy which was supposed to have been installed by Yudhishtira. But today this temple has a tower like a Jain temple. How could this have happened unless Jains had built their temples in the place of the Hindu temples? It must be remembered that Hindu temples always followed the concept of ‘prāna pratishtha’ of the deity in the chosen location within the temple premises. The atman of the deity is supposed to be fixated there. So no Hindu temple can be built over a Jain temple or a temple of any other sect. If the Jain tower is found in Venugopalaswamy temple it is proof enough that the Hindu temple was usurped by Jains to build their temple.

The same must be case with Nambi Narayana temple. The same must be true of the 700 basti temples mentioned in the Sthala Purana of Sravana Belagola that they have been destroyed to give way for Hindu temples. Thondanur was originally called as Yadavapuri. Place names such as Pandava kallu and Pandava puram are reminiscent of Pandava’s visit to this place. Yudhistira’s name is connected with Venugopalaswamy temple. Ramapriyan, the utsava murthy of Melkote was said to have been worshiped by Krishna. And it was originally said to have belonged to daughter of Kusha, son of Rama. Though all these are legends, some element of truth can be sensed due to the connection with Yadavas to this place.

Venugopalaswamy temple at Thondanur

In the absence of patrons and due to neglect, these temples had become dilapidated. Added to this was the raid by Mir Bakthiar who destroyed the temple at Melkote. The temples at Thondanur also must have suffered damage during his raid. Later when Jain occupation started in this region, they have established their basadis in the location of temples.

Establishing Jain images over Hindu temples had been reported in Jaina Bibliography which says that a Jain image was found on top of the Saiva temple of Jagadish in Vasa.[xviii] The same text says that a Saiva temple at Santpur remained without an idol for many years after which a Jaina image was installed inside the temple. Why should the Saiva temple lose the deity unless it was caused by a raid? Jains being non-violent didn’t cause the raids, but had occupied temples abandoned after the raids.

The same looks possible in Thondanur which had borne the brunt of invasion by the fanatic follower of Ghazni. The Jains had occupied the numerous temples left vacant by the raid and with no Hindus to take care. When Ramanuaja had arrived he had restored the temples with the help of Vishnuvardhana. With his victory over Jains in Saligrama in debate, people had come back to their original fold. Those who had left due to raids could have returned. It was Yadavapura, the land of Yadavas, of Krishna clan and it is natural to expect the returnees to cling to their original cult.

Therefore to say that Ramanuja ‘converted’ the people and the Jain basadis as well is a misnomer. What he has done was ‘restoration’ of the temples and the Faith. Vishnuvardhana, the co-regent of the Hoysala kingdom in charge of Thondanur had complied with Ramanuja in his supreme adulation for Ramanuja. Vishnuvardhana had even visited Srirangam temple which we will be discussing in due course in the context of establishing the year of Ramanuja’s return to Srirangam.

If Thondanur Lake stands as an evidence for Ramanuja’s social service, the basadi towers found in many temples of Thondanur testify the ill-fate suffered by those temples and the restoration done by Ramanuja.

2. Upliftment of Tirukkulattar.

Earlier in Part 4 of Ramanuja’s Delhi visit, a brief account was given on Tirukkulattar (Blessed descendants) who protected Ramanuja and Ramapriyan (Utsava murthy) on Ramanuja’s return trip from Delhi to Melkote. Ramanuja had elevated them in the social strata by giving them the name Tirukkulattar and conferring privileges on them. Buchanan has recorded that in his travelogue based on the information he gathered about them. [xix]

During the Royal visit of the British Prince and Princess of Wales to Bangalore on 5th February, 1906 a Pandal was erected bearing the inscription ‘Tirukkulattar’ to greet the Royal couple. This was reported in The Hindu of that date that “nothing is of greater historical interest than the word Tirukkulattar”. [xx] The historical background can be traced to none other than Ramanuja whose contribution has been blindly rejected by Dr Nagaswamy.

That the Tirukkulattars had enjoyed equal status with others is known from an inscription at Sravana Belagola during the time of Vijayanagara King Bukka I. [xxi]

This is perhaps the only known inscription mentioning Tirukkulattars. Their presence along with Acharyas and Srivaishnavas in the meeting establishes the equal status they enjoyed only because of the religio-social engineering pioneered by Ramanuja. Denial of recognition of this feat, unthinkable in those times speaks about the level of scholarship of present day historians.

The unscientific manner of handling Ramanuja’s story by the historians can be established by other evidences too.

Evidence 1: The year of Ramanuja leaving Srirangam.

No historian has been able to say the year Ramanuja left Srirangam mainly because none of them had done a serious epigraphic or historical study of Ramanuja. Despite the presence of many inscriptions on Ramanuja particularly in Karnataka, the historians had treated his life history as a literary work.
The literary works do give the name of the year of leaving as Kalayukti. It corresponds to CE 1078 in the Gregorian calendar. The inscription at Pandava Kallu in Nagamangala was cited in Part 2  that established the date as  July 19, 1078[xxii] It is once again reproduced here.[xxiii]

This inscription must put at rest any doubt on Ramanuja leaving Srirangam to reach Karnataka. The year was 1078 and not 1070 to which the historians like K.A.N.Sastri assigned the death of Adhirajendra in a riot and voiced the opinion that “There is just a possibility that these disturbances were religious in origin and connected with the Cola persecution of Vaishnavism in the days of Ramanuja, a fact well attested in legends, though the details of the story are very obscure”. [xxiv]
Without checking the year (Kalayukti) for the riot period and the inscription at Pandava Kallu, verdict had been passed on the life of Ramanuja as obscure.

Evidence 2: Absence of reference to Kulottunga I as Krimikanṭha Chola.

According to all historians including K.A.Nilakanta Sastri, Kulottunga I was reigning at that time. But no primary text of Vaishnavites identified Kulottunga I as the persecutor of Ramanuja, only the historians did.

Writing on this topic, Dr Nagaswamy also tows the same line. But he says that “Vaishnavahistorians - and not just historians - identified Kulottunga I as Krimikantha Chola.

By his own admission they did so because Kulottunga I was the only king found at that time who fitted the bill. This makes it clear that they didn’t identify Kulottunga I due to any Vaishnava leanings. Such being the case, giving a religious colour to the historians is something unexpected from a person of his stature. At the same time Dr Nagaswamy has failed to recognise the fact that none of the traditional Vaishnava texts identified Kulottunga I as Krimikanṭha Chola.

In fact, Koyil Oɻugu, the chronicle of Srirangam temple says unequivocally that on receipt of the information that Ramanuja had come back to Srirangam, Kulottunga I went to his Matha and handed over the administration which Ramanuja asked Mudali Āndan to take over. (Part 1, page 395)[xxv]

This shows that there was no issue with Kulottunga and this concurs with the inscriptional evidence of generous attitude of Kulottunga towards Vishnu temples. The unwritten message of this is that the king whose actions made Ramanuja to leave was someone else. The above narration also shows that Kulottunga I had supervised the affairs of the Srirangam temple during Ramanuja’s absence. Going by the way he had offered to transfer the power to Ramanuja (above) it looks more likely that none of the disciples of Ramanuja were around in the temple premises to take care of the temple- affairs during Ramanuja’s absence.

A serious historian looking for hidden history would have pondered over the question what made Ramanuja disappear from Srirangam along with his disciples? And what made Kulottunga I remain dormant without taking any effort to bring back Ramanuja to Srirangam all along?

In this context we find the ‘evidence’ provided by Dr Nagaswamy to establish that the names of Ramanuja or Kurattazhan or Mudali Andan never figured in the list of Srikaryam during the tenure of Kulottunga I as direct appointees of the king turns out to be counter-evidence for the supposition that Ramanuja did not leave the country (Srirangam) due to persecution. His list consists of 3 columns with the first one mentioning “the name of the officers, the second the regnal year of the king and the third the number of the inscription in the SII volume in Srirangam..” Kulottunga’s reign is given till serial number 29 in the list. After that Vikrama Chola’s regnal years are mentioned. A look at the list gives our counter-evidence. [xxvi]

According to all historians, Kulottunga I started his reign in CE 1070. His regnal years are counted from that year. But Ramanuja’s earliest presence in Karnataka is noticed in the year 1078 based on the Pandava Kallu inscription. This means Ramanuja had left in the 8th regnal year of Kulottunga I. Until then he was in Srirangam along with Kurattazhwan and Mudali Andan.

The above list starts from the 13th regnal year of Kulottunga that corresponds to the year 1083 at which time Ramanuja was in Karnataka. How then could Dr Nagaswamy expect the names of Ramanuja and others figure in this list?

The last time Kulottunga’s name appears in the list is in his 44th year, which corresponds to the year 1114 CE. But Kulottunga lived till 1120 as known from Pithapuram inscription of Mallappadeva.[xxvii]  It is also told by historians that “No inscriptions of his reign beyond his 50th regnal year are known.”[xxviii] So he has lived for 6 more years but his regnal year didn’t find mention in the appointment of the Srikaryam in Srirangam. What explanation Dr Nagaswamy has for the absence of Kulottunga’s name beyond 1114 and before 1083? Can this be taken as evidence for Ramanuja’s absence in Srirangam between 1083 and 1114? Or does the entire list deserve to be discarded as something not a credible way of proving the hold of Ramanuja in the temple affairs of Srirangam?

Evidence 3: Ramanuja’s presence in Saligrama.

The presence of Ramanuja in Nagamangala is something not found in traditional texts, but proved by epigraphy. Certainly epigraphy plays a valuable role in constructing history. At the same time the literary evidences on people and events are not to be rejected particularly when they have been recorded in traditional works by persons having no extraneous motives but only due to an earnest desire to record true history.

The next stop after the penance at Nagamangala was Saligrama where Ramanuja removed the aspersions of the local people by just asking Mudali Āndan to place his feet on the water of a pond. According to 6000 Padi text, that contact had sanctified the water as Sripada theertha and the locals who had partaken the water were seen to have shed their prejudices and had become the disciples of Ramanuja.

Even today this pond is known as Sripada Theertha pond and there is a temple of Ramanuja in front of it. An inscription has been found on the beam of the doorway to the pond saying that Embar, Alvan and Achan of the Matha of Srirangam had come over there for conducting a festival and have offered food (prasada). [xxix]

All these three were close disciples of Ramanuja whose names figure in all the Vaishnavite texts on Ramanuja’s life. That they belonged to the Matha of Srirangam is attested by this inscription. Their visit to Saligrama where the Sripada theertha pond is found establishes beyond doubt the traditional narrative on Ramanuja’s stay in that place and the reverence attached to the pond. Dr Nagaswamy who claims to have done a critical study of Ramanuja’s life has to say how much imagination had gone into the narrative of Ramanuja’s stay in Saligrama and in the ‘legend’ of Sripada Theertha pond.

Though the date of this inscription is not available, there is a hint found in the inscription to deduce the time period – whether long after Ramanuja or during his life time. The hint is the name ‘Alvan’ (Azhwan). Traditionally Alvan refers to Kurattazhwan. But he did not accompany Ramanuja when he left Srirangam. So this inscription could not have come up anytime during the period Ramanuja was in Karnataka.  

There is another Alvan, popularly known as Tirumalai Ananthalwan, a contemporary and disciple of Ramanuja who was staying at Tirumala, taking care of the flower garden there. It is most unlikely he was in Srirangam and accompanied Ramanuja to Karnataka. But he was born in Siruputhoor (Kiranganoor) near Melkote. His name appearing in this inscription shows that a trip by these three disciples was made to Saligrama after Ramanuja had returned to Srirangam. Ananthalwan had accompanied the other disciples of Ramanuja on a kind of pilgrimage to the places Ramanuja was associated with and established sanctity at those places. So it is likely that this inscription has come up after Ramanuja’s return to Srirangam while Ramanuja was still alive. 

Evidence 4: Udayavar Niyamanappadi, the Manual of Melkote.

Ramanuja discovered the murthy of Tirunarayana under an ant-hill at Melkote in Bahudhanya year that corresponds to CE 1099. (Refer Part 2). He has immediately constituted a team of 52 persons and allotted specific functions for them to run the temple affairs. Known as “Udayavar Niyamanappadi”, this temple Manual continues to exist till today.

According to Dr R.Vasantha a copy of it is available in the Oriental Manuscripts Library at Madras. She also refers to a paper manuscript which is 100 years old and a palm leaf manuscript that is 250 year old.[xxx] Such recent dates do not undermine the authenticity of Udayavar Niyamanappadi as records were kept in palm leaves and had to be re-written when they wither away.

According to K.S Narayanacharya an original copy of the Manual written in Grantha script bearing the signature of Ramanuja is still being preserved at Melkote.[xxxi]

This Manual with the year name Bahudhanya stands as strong counter evidence to skeptics of Ramanuja’s life. The descendants of some of the 52 persons are still around. Even the descendants of Vaduga Nambi, the primary biographer of Ramanuja continue to exist according to the writer Alkondaville Govindacharya. [xxxii]

The evidences on Ramanuja’s presence in Karnataka starting from 1078 (Pandava Kallu inscriptions) to 1099 (Udayavar Niyamanappadi) reveal one phase of his presence which was for most part spent in Thondanur. The second phase started in Melkote in 1099 and was supposed to have lasted for 12 years according to traditional texts. All these texts including our primary text Yatiraja Vaibhavam says that he returned only after the Chola king who caused him to leave the country died. Counting 12 years to 1099, we arrive at the year CE 1111 as the date of return of Ramanuja to Srirangam. We will establish this date epigraphically and historically in the upcoming articles.

Turning exile into a Victory march

At the time of his return, Ramanuja must have been a very satisfied person for having made a number of achievements of unparalleled nature. From restoring Vaishnavism in all the regions around him to re- establishing the temple of Tirunarayana at Melkote to its former glory after the near impossible feat of recovering Ramapriyan from Turkish ruler, and getting the king build Pancha Narayana temples, it was a long victory march for Ramanuja from what originally appeared to be self-exile.
His reverberating presence was immortalised at Melkote by the installation of his image such that thenceforth Yadavagiri came to be known as Yatigiri.[xxxii] His victorious deeds at Melkote proved beyond doubt that Melkote was his ‘Vijayasthana’ – a term used by Vedanta Desika for Melkote - as Vijayasthana of Ramanuja.[xxxiv] 

Local tradition at Nagamangala says that Ramanuja established a ‘Vijaya stambha’ at the Saumya Kesava temple at Nagamangala before leaving for Srirangam. The Deepa Stambha in the temple is being shown as the pillar established to commemorate his successful stay in Karnataka. There is no way to check the veracity of this claim, but this claim looks logical as Ramanuja had stayed here before making his first major halt at Saligrama in his trip to Karnataka. It is here he had done his penance, as known from Pandava kallu inscription. No one knows what he meditated on, but it can be guessed. From what looked like a sudden uprooting of a massive tree from Srirangam, Ramanujacharya turned out to be a cosmic Ashwatha tree with its roots up in the Heavens and branches enveloping the earth.

He had nothing to lose but the king who caused him to leave suffered unhappy death, says Yatiraja Vaibhavam.[xxxv] It means the king had suffered a lot due to some ill-health, which is something unknown in those days for a king. Kings cherished death at battle field but not at sick bed. And the nature of sickness is known from traditional Vaishnavite texts only and not from any text on Cholas. So he remains as Krimikanṭha Chola, one whose neck was infested with worms.

That he was not Kulottunga I is again reiterated by the fact that Kulottunga met Ramanuja in his matha and transferred the administration of Srirangam temple to him. Krimikanṭha Chola had remained as a king along with Kulottunga I until then. How was this possible? We will discuss it in the next article.

[i] Wendie E. Schneider in ‘Yale Law Journal’, dated May 3,2001, Page 1535

[ii] Dr R.Nagaswamy (2008) “Ramanuja Myth and Reality – a critical study of Ramanuja’s Life and Works”, Tamil Arts Academy, Chennai. Page 9

[iii]  Vai. Sundaresa Vandaiyar, (2009), “30 Kalvettugal”, Palaniappa Brothers, Chennai. Pages 69-71.

[iv] Dr R.Nagaswamy (2008) “Ramanuja Myth and Reality – a critical study of Ramanuja’s Life and Works”, Tamil Arts Academy, Chennai. Page 10.

[vi] Garudaswamy aka A.Krishnamachari (2009) “Ramanuja A Reality Not a Myth”, Sri Vaishnava Sri Publications, Chennai.

[viii] Ibid., Page 125.

[ix] Francis Buchanan, T. Cadell and W. Davies, (1807) “A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar..” Page 82.

[x] Coelho, William (1949) “Hoysala Vamsa”, page 282-283.

[xi] Narayanacharya K.S, “Ramanuja Melkote & Srivaishnavism” Page 76.

[xii] Ibid., Page 114.

[xiii] A.Srivathsan, (1992) “The persecution of Ramanuja: A view from the Srirangam temple complex”, Madras.

[xiv] Coelho, William (1949) “Hoysala Vamsa”, page 9.

[xv] Ibid., page 276.

[xvi] Epigraphia Carnatica, Volume IV, part II, page 113.

[xvii] Ibid., Page 131-132.

[xviii] Chhotelal Jain (1945), Jaina Bibliography, page 268.

[xix] Govindacharya, Alkondaville (1906), “The Life of Ramanujacharya”, Madras. Page 190.

[xx] Ibid., Page 191.

[xxi] Prof Raman, “Sri Ramanuja in Epigraphy” paper presented  at the First All India Seminar on Ramanujam in 1979.

[xxiii] Narayanacharya K.S, “Ramanuja Melkote & Srivaishnavism” Page 74.

[xxiv] KA Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, “The Colas”, University of Madras, 2nd edition, page 297.

[xxv] Garudaswamy aka A.Krishnamachari (2009) “Ramanuja A Reality Not a Myth”, Sri Vaishnava Sri Publications, Chennai. Page F-48

[xxvi] Dr R.Nagaswamy (2008) “Ramanuja Myth and Reality – a critical study of Ramanuja’s Life and Works”, Tamil Arts Academy, Chennai. Page 47-48.

[xxvii] Epigraphia Indica, Vol 4 (1896-97), No 23, Verse 22.

[xxviii] Mysore-Gazetteer, Vol2, Part 2, page 1128.

[xxix] Sarojini Jagannathan, (1994), “Impact of Ramanujacharya on Temple Worship”, Nag Publishers. Page 161.

[xxx] Dr R.Vasantha (1991), “The Narayanasvami temple at Melkote”, published by Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Mysore. Page xiv

[xxxi] Narayanacharya K.S, “Ramanuja Melkote & Srivaishnavism” Page 75.

[xxxii] Govindacharya, Alkondaville (1906), “The Life of Ramanujacharya”, Madras. Page 220.

[xxxiii] Yatiraja Vaibhavam. Verse 103.

[xxxiv] Sarojini Jagannathan, (1994), “Impact of Ramanujacharya on Temple Worship”, Nag Publishers. Page 162.

[xxxv] Yatiraja Vaibhavam, verse 102.