Ācārya Rāmānuja’s Preface

We have just completed and understood the preface of Ācārya Śaṅkara. Let us now move on to study the purport in the preface of Ācārya Rāmānuja. 

Evoking whose lotus feet,

Cleansed of all dirt and grime

I became an object,

To such Yāmuna-sage[23] I bow

He is Lakṣmī’s husband, flawless, the singular abode of all auspicious qualities; totally unlike any other object, of form that is blissfully luminous; naturally endowed with infinite ज्ञान(Jñāna – knowledge) – बल(bala – strength) – ऐश्वर्य(aīśvarya – lordship) –  वीर्य(vīrya – valour) – शक्ति(śakti – force) – तेजस्(tējas – resplendence) and an ocean of other countless merit alignments; He Himself is incomparable, beyond the realm of thought, divinely magnificent, indestructible, blemishless, unsurpassable in excellence; a brilliant – fragrant – beautiful – slender – graceful – youthful and so on, form of infinite divine qualities.

He adorns innumerable divine ornaments that suit only Him and are in exclusive designs, unimaginably amazing, imperishable and flawless; He has countless divine weapons that only He can maneuver, these are inestimable in power, indestructible, impeccable and unsurpassable in excellence; He is the favourite of Śrīdēvi[24], the one who is also dear to Him, amenable to Him, who herself is indestructible, flawless, endowed with unique qualities of charm, stature, lordship etc., is of unbounded excellence and has immeasurable matrices of auspicious qualities; as per His wishes are the categories of forms – existence – movements and He is also the root cause of the innumerable enlightened ones who love these as His design, and eulogise Him as the patron of perpetual, pristine limitless knowledge – act – supremacy; His nature or form cannot be fathomed through speech or mind; His abode in the divine space, befitting Him, has an endless array and means of material pleasures, and as the realm of enjoyments, it brims with infinite amazements, vast wealth, endless in sight, eternal, perfect and not measureable, even partly; He player who plays the game of birth-progression – death with this world which is filled with a wide variety of objects of pleasure and pleasure seekers.

He is Parabrahma, Puruśōttama Nārāyaṇa. He, in His true form, is the One who manifested everything, from Caturmukha Brahma to the inanimate world; He is not amenable to the worship of humans as also Brahma and other dēvatas; He is an unlimited ocean of compassion – courteousness – affection – generosity; to each manifestation, He bestowed, an orderly form as applicable and without loss of His innate nature, he incarnated in each world to receive His devotees’ worship; on being worshipped, He grants the fruits of dharma – artha – kama – mokṣa as per the desires of each one; in this manner, he reduces the burden on this earth by granting the fruits, (alleviating worldly sorrows) and to be a benefactor of those like us too, He descends on earth and becomes visible to all humans; to the big ones and small ones alike, He astonishes through his divine sport, the sights and minds of all; He broke-down the pompousness of many like पूतना (pūtana), शकटासुर (śakaṭāsura), the twin मत्ति (matti) trees, अरिष्ट (ariṣṭa), प्रलंब (pralamba), धेनुक (Dhenuka), काळिय (kāḷiya), केशि (keśi), कुवलयापीड (kuvalayāpīḍa), चाणूर (cāṇūra), मुष्टिक (muṣṭika), कोसल (kosala), कंस (kamsa)[25] etc. breaking it down, he showered endless compassion, love and affection through his gaze and speech, to the satisfaction of this world. Through the overwhelming manifestation of good qualities like supreme charm, courteousness etc., he transformed those like Akrūra,- Mālākāra etc., into his ardent devotees; with the ploy of rendering support to the strife of the Pāndavās, He brought to light His bhakti-yōga (yōga of devotion) together with the jñāna (knowledge) and karma (action) yōgas that are described as the instruments for attainment of the goal of supreme puruṣārta namely mokṣa,  in the Vēdāntas.

The war between Pāndavās and Kauravās has commenced. Pārtha has ascended the ratha(chariot). As the whole world could see, Kṛṣṇa stood as the sārathy (driver). This was mere recreation to Bhagavān, the Lord of all lords. In order to help the world, this was an act played by Him. This evidenced His supreme patronage.

It was not that Dhr̥tarāṣṭra was not aware of Arjuna’s eminence. However, he was just as blinded internally as externally, by the delusionary love for his children. A mad craving that propelled him to hear of his son Duryōdhana’s victory, made him seek audience with Saṅjaya.

These thoughts appear in Ācārya Rāmānuja’s preface to the Gītā. His devotion to Kṛṣṇa and his feelings of unconditional surrender, come through with clarity here. Let us delve into Ācārya Madhva’s preface next.


[23] Ācārya stated, ‘यामुनेयं नंमामि.’ This is obeissance to Guru Yamunācārya; it can also be construed as obeissance to the Śrī Hari who played around in the waters of Yamuna.

[24] Godess Lakṣmī

[25] In this list, pralamba and muṣṭika were killed by Balarama. But as Balarama was too an amśa (derivative) of Bhagavan, Ācārya has treated this as ‘killed by Kṛṣṇa himself.’ There is a reference here to another wrestler by name kosala. It is documented as ‘Tosala’ in Ācārya Rāmānuja’s commentary; the true ancient form is however ‘kosala.’   

About Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya