Soon after coming back from enjoying the Birthday Abhisheka of Ramanujacharya at Sriperumbudur, I was jolted to receive this book review mailed by a friend. The book review did not shock me. Rather it was the other book against which this book was written as a rebuttal shocked me.
The book written by Mr Garudaswamy aka A.Krishnamachari was a rebuttal of the book "Ramanuja - Myth and Reality" (October 2008) written by Dr Nagaswamy whose website on archeology of Tamil lands was attractive enough for me to have included it in my list of must-reads in this blog. In his book, Dr Nagaswamy does not recognize the works of Ramanujacharya as a social reformer nor does he see him as an intellectual. Mr Garuda swamy counters these views in his "RAMANUJA - A REALITY NOT A MYTH".
Before making these two allegations (that he did not reform the society by bringing in all, irrespective of caste and creed and that he was not an intellectual) anyone wishing to meander through Ramanuja's history must align himself in Ramanuja darsanam and live the way that Ramanuja ascribed and study what he wrote and preached. He must see the devotees in the monthly Thiruvadhirai abhishekam of Ramanujacharya. They are of different varnas and are from different castes and languages. Their devotion to him is something that one must see in person when the abhishekam is being done. They all have a sense of closeness to Ramanujacharya just out of love for him for bringing them (through their ancestors) to his Darsanam (point of view known as Vaishnava Siddhantham).
About the other accusation on his intellectual prowess, I am always amazed by "Vedartha sangraha" which is a short book bringing out the essence of entire Vedas. No one can give such a short and simple exposition on Vedas bringing out answers for all questions that arise in our minds. Many readers have expressed their appreciation for my dealing with diverse topics on Vedanta. I owe it all to Vedartha sangraha only. Learn this simple and small book; you can handle any question on Vedanta.
This is not the first time Ramanuja's supreme service to Hinduism is questioned. The recovery of the Utsawa murthy of Melkote from a Muslim princess was doubted (unfortunately) by one Mr Sampath Kumaran in his book "History and Ramanuja's biography". His contention or rather discovery (!) was that that Muslims / sultans were not yet established in Delhi at the time Ramanuja lived, nor was there any invasion reported in any chronicles, as far down Melkote.
We must remember that these instances were recorded long ago in Guru parapara Prabhavam which chronicles the life and events of Acharyas. Why should they record something that was not true? Where was the need for them to bring in a "Muslim' identity when Muslims were not reportedly present then? When we come across such notions, we must not dismiss the Guru parampara chronicles as myths. Rather we must look for any gaps in the record of history that we have today.
My understanding is as follows.
Muslims / Sultans had made their presence in India at the time of Ramanujacharya. Invasions were already on. This is historically true. We can not rule out the possibility that the commanders of the Muslim army were stationed in the areas of Muslim occupation. They must have been making raids on temples every now and then. Some small-range commander might have raided Melkote and looted the temple. (The temple is old and had existed in the previous yugas too.) The loot along with the Utsawa murthy must have gone to the palace of the Commander. The daughter of the commander had taken interest in the Murthy.
The raid in Melkote might not have been an isolated incident. They had raided many temples in Karnataka and near Mysore. This notion can be supported by the many instances of recovery of idols (mooolavars and Utsavars ) unearthed in parts around Mysore in the recent past. I was fortunate to take part in the Kalasabhishekam ceremony of Rama in a place called Kembhal near Mysore. The Moolavar deities were found buried and were spotted through Prasna. No one knows the whereabouts of the Utsavar. No one knows when these deities were buried. Similarly I came to know of Lord Ranganatha at another place near Mysore where also the Moolavars were found buried but not the utsavars.
I heard of instances of deities found either hidden in disused wells or buried in many places Karnataka, around Mysore and Mandya- perhaps to evade capture by some invaders. No Hindu invader could have rummaged the temples. The suspicion lies on Muslim invaders only. It is possible to assume that some small, non-documented raids had happened in this part of the country by the army chiefs or even by a bunch of raiders. Our temples were their main targets and our people were not skilled in defending such barbaric raids. Melkote is one place that also must have borne the brunt of such an invasion.
Another gory raid was done by Tippu Sutan that resulted in the slaughter of 1000 Brahmins in Melkote on a Deepavali day. But this raid is not recorded by historians. Till this day, there is no celebration of Deepavali in Melkote.. The people of today are the descendants of the lucky few who were away from the town at the time of raid. The anti-Hindu way of Tippu has been concealed by the 'secularists'. More on this link:
RAMANUJA A REALITY NOT A MYTH
by Sankaranarayanan Srinivasan
(Editor Arsha Vidya News Letter)
This book has been written to defend Acharya Sri Ramanuja the founder of Sri Vaishnava Siddhantham also known as Visistadvaitha philosophy. The introduction gives a jolt ""This book has been written to defend a well known Sri Vaishnava Acharya Sri Ramanuja whose image has been tarnished by an archaeologist Sri.Nagaswamy.His allegations and anti-arguments border on blasphemy. Nagaswamy has underestimated the dangers of this book.
"It has been observed that Indian authors have always borrowed any anti-Hindu thesis from their foreign colleagues, whom they assume to be neutral. In the same manner Foreign authors too grab any anti-Hindu thesis from Indian scholars, whom they assume to be 'neutral'".
Thus anything anti-Hindu and anti - India is lapped up, regurgitated and made into saleable products, with utter disregard to the sensitivities of the Hindu community, who are made into experimental 'subjects'. Hinduism is a living tradition which is anathi and apaurushyeyam and has thrived for thousands of years. Nagaswamy's book "Ramanuja Myth and Reality" (October 2008), has ignored the dangers of quoting a foreign author on a well established Acharya of a Major Hindu Sampradhaya".
Dr.S.Kalyanaraman Ph.D, says in his foreword to the book by Garudaswamy aka A.Krishnamachari:
"The debate joined by 'Garudaswamy' is a serious debate in recent times in post-independent India, when every sacred institution of Hindus is sought to be attacked, tarnished and denigrated in the media and public sphere. Sri Ramanuja has not been spared by none other than Dr. Nagaswamy a doyen among archaeologists in India and who has made contributions to Hindu civilization studies through his Tamil Arts Academy".
"Sri Ramanuja was an institution by himself. Emberumanar (as he is fondly called by Sri Vaishnavas) who just arrived at a juncture when Islamic invasions were in full force attempting to rip apart the Hindu civilization, and posing a great threat to the integrity of Bharat. Sri Ramanuja's contribution must be understood in the broader context of the civilizational challenges, and how he acted as a bulwark against insidious and external threats. Presenting this larger framework with an erudite marshalling of evidence, this book by 'Garudaswamys is an effective rebuttal of the views contained in the book by Dr. Nagaswamy. Nagaswamy's views tantamount to 'Invading The Sacred' to borrow a title of the book published in 2007, by Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio De Nicholos and Aditi Banerjee. (http://www.invadingthesacred.com)."
Dr.Prema Nandakumar in her foreword says: " I was jolted suddenly by Dr. Nagaswamy's brief preface which listed his aim: it was to prove that "Ramanuja was never the Srikaryam of the (Srirangam) temple, was never a party to any administrative reforms nor was interested in any Social reform but was a pure Vedantin and so by jettisoning these concocted stories propagated by the Pauranikas – myth-makers, the true greatness of Ramanuja as an outstanding intellectual would blossom."..."Belonging to the Sri Ramanuja Darsana and brought up in its benign and Ananda-laden atmosphere from childhood by my father-Acharya, K.R Srinivasa Iyengar, this cynical brushing aside of a Presence seemed illogical in the extreme. Dr. Nagaswamy cannot be a loner in this job, if he is taking on a personality like Sri Ramanuja who is revered by millions the world over for his Vedanta, for his administrative acumen, acharya-bhakti, and social consciousness."
The book has received ten forewords apart from the two quoted, above. Other doyens of Sri Vaishnavism who contributed include: Padmanabhan, author, writer and critic. Leading Publisher and editor of "Sri Vaishnava Sudharshanam" S.Krishnaswamy Iyengar MA.B.L.,and Author of several books on Srivaishnavism says Nagaswamy has deliberately misinterpreted his books.
Dr.A.V.Rangachari, Ph.D.,Retd.H.O.D. & Professor of Economics.Annamalai University,Chidambaram.;Sri.D.Rangachari, M.A.,Writer & Critic.Sri A.V.Rangachari ascertains"Ramanuja's respect for the Alwars who belonged to different Castes, the propagation of Saranagathi for all, irrespective of caste or creed, the dissemination of the knowledge of Tirumantra to devouts at Thirukoshtiyur have been very well portrayed to bear testimony to the social reforms and temple reforms of Sri Ramanuja".Dr.V.S.Seshadri, Retd.Professor of History,Government Arts Colleges; Dr.R.Rangarajan, M.A.,Ph.D. Retd. Professor of Tamil- Madura College, Madurai.Sri.G.P.Srinivasan,Managemant consultant,and Journalist has exposed the historical distortion and the big lie and why we must reject the theory of Nagaswamy who quotes one John Carman as an authority on Ramanuja's life .Prof. S.A.R.P.V Chaturvedi,Chennai.has given a brilliant crowning piece foreword.
This book has opened new vistas in epigraphical research on the life and accomplishments of Sri Ramanuja (1017-1137 CE), the founder of Sri Vaishnava Siddhantham also known as Visihtadvaitha philosophy. The author has identified who 'kirumikanda chola' was, when historians and hagiologists were baaffled on his identity. Ramanuja not once but went to Karnataka thrice , as described by hagiologists. The search for the Ramapriyan utsva murthy from Melcote was a historical reality, which Ramanuja recovered from the Muslim invaders camp. Ramanuja was very much involved in the general administration of Sri Rangam temple as 'Azhwar kanmigal 'who were heading the Sri Vaishnava varium and Sri Bandara Varium the administrative bodies of the temple were his disciples. Ramanuja brought out administrative reforms at Thirumala and Melcote. That Kulothunga I was well disposed towards Vishnu temples through out his regnal years has been brought out by inscriptional evidences.
Dr.Kalyanaraman further says : "I deem it a privilege to place on record that this book on Sri Ramanuja is a Historical and Religious treatise, and should be an eye-opener for persons who question the historicity of Sri Ramanuja, and this is an opportunity for other scholars to research further on the topics highlighted by 'Garudaswami'. Perhaps this is the first time, a study on Sri Ramanuja based on Inscriptional evidences, has been successfully accomplished."
On Ramanuja's time:-