Biography of Sri Yamuna AchArya
Nadhamunigal and Yamunacharya
YAmunAchArya is the grand -Acharya (PrAchAryA ) of Ramanujacharya
(1017 AD to 1137 AD). He established the principles of VisishtAdhvaita as an expansion of the doctrines housed in his
grandfather's treatises and elaborated on those doctrines with authoritative scriptures such as Sruthis, Bhagavadh Gita ,
AzhwAr's pAsurams and Selected SAtvikaPurAnAs.
He is the one who composed the earliest Stotras of Srivaishnava
He wrote the following works great in content and yet lucid.
(2) StOtra Ratnam
(3) Siddhitrayam consisting of (i) AtmaSiddhi. (ii) Samvitsiddhi and (iii)Iswara Siddhi
(5) Maha Purusha Nirnayam
(6) Gitartha Sangraha
(8) Maayaa Vaadha Khandanam
Desikan says in YathirAja Sapthathi:
Vighaahe Yaamunam Theertham Saadhu Brindaavane Stitham |
Sparse Yatra Krishnah Kritaa Dharah ||
Alavandar who learned Vedantha Arthas at the feet of MaNakkaal Nambi
was not only the one residing on the banks of Yamuna (Yamunai Thuraivan) by name but was also like the clear flowing waters
of the river Yamuna. Lord Krishna got rid of the cruel Kaalinga from the river and made its water pure and clear for all to
drink. He was most delighted when he played with the Gopis of Brindavanam in the Yamuna waters. Likewise, Alavandar vanquished
those who misinterpreted the Vedas and established
Vedanta Siddhanta. Just as one can derive supreme pleasure by bathing
in the holy waters of Yamuna, one can enjoy supreme Bhagavad Gunanubhava by immersing in the lucid granthas of Yaamuna
( iii ) The queen is a model of chastity. - oh no! Never can he counter
Once an arrogant vidwAn by name Akkiyalvan was challenging and
humiliating learned men. Yamuna (as a 16 year old boy) accepted the challenge and went to the court to argue with him. The
queen was so impressed with the boy that she told the king and pursuaded him to give away half the kingdom if he won in the
debate and offered herself to be thrown to wild dogs, if the
boy failed. Akkiyalvan asked the boy to state three propositions
positive or negative which he offered to counter. And, if he could not, the boy would be declared the winner.
asked (or stated) three statements. He asked Akkialwan to counter.
( i ) Your mother is not a barren woman- Naturally
he could not counter saying that his mother is a barren woman (he is very much standing in front of Yamunacharya).
ii ) The king is a righteous and powerful ruler - Obviusoly he can not afford to conuter this.
Akkialvan accepted defeat and the King now asked Yamuna to disprove his own statements.
by observing the following:-
( i ) The sacred laws say that an only son is no son at all. So,
was as good as barren in the eyes of the law.
( ii ) The king cannot be called righteous when he entertained such
an arrogant person to be his chaplain and his not dismissing the chaplain showed that the king was indeed powerless.
( iii ) According to the Sruti texts, every woman is wedded first
to Soma, then Gandharva and then Agni before marrying her earthly partner. The queen was no exception and therefore cannot
be deemed a model of chastity.
(This is only to drive home a point that logic can not be the solution
needs to fall back on Saasthras and Sruthi/Smrthis for
The King sent Akkiyalvan out of his kingdom and gave Yamuna half
his kingdom. The queen hailed the boy as "Alavandhaar"- One who came to save me.
Thus, Alavandar has become the king
and could not attend to spiritual pursuits further.
Meanwhile, Rama Misra (maNakkaal nambhi) was trying to catch Yamunacharya's
attention to fulfil his promise to his Guru to install Alavandar as the spiritual successor to Nathamuni.. But, he could not
meet Alavandar, being a king now to discuss the matter. He came out with an idea. He came to know that the king relishes thoodhu
vaLai keerai (kind of spinach). He supplied
that spinach to the royal kitchen daily. After few months, he stopped. The
king asked the cook as to why the spinach is not being served. They replied saying "one brahmin used to supply. He does not
come nowadys." Alavandhar told them that he would like to meet him, if he comes next. Next day, they met each other.
misrar told Alavandhar that his grandfather Sri Nathamuni had passed on the family wealth (kula dhanam) that needs to be handed
over to Sri Alavandhar. Alavandhar said, "in that case, give me that."
"No. It is not here. Come with me.". He took him all the way to Srirangam
Koil. (ArAdha aruLamudham podhintha kOil). He showed Alavandhar, the Divya mangaLa vigraham of Sri Ranganathan. Looking at
the Lord, in such divine splendour, the divine beauty- and looking (with tears rolling down his cheeks) at those "kariyavaagi,
pudai parandhu, miLirndha, sevvariyOdiya, neeNda, ap periya vaaya kaNgaL.." (those dark, well spread, shining, ruddy lined,
long, large eyes)- He bursts out:
I have nothing to give you. None at all.I have no quailifications.
I am not religious. What a Great person my Grand Father was! What am I! I haveno one but You(the embodiment of mercy! Compassion!-
dayA) as my refuge. He performed Saranagathy at the Lotus Feet of Lord Ranganathan.
na dharma nishtOsmi na chaatma vEdi
na bhaktimaan tvaccharaNAravindE
tvat paadamoolam saranam prapadye. (Sthothra Rathnam- 22nd sloka)
Oh you worthy of being sought as refuge!
I am not one established in Dharma, nor am i a knower of the self. I have no fervent devotion to your lotus-feet. Utterly
destitute as I am, and having none else for resort, I take refuge under your feet. (Translation by Swamy Adidevananda)
Misra explained the purpose of his mission and requested Alavandar to take over the reins of spiritual leadership bequeathed
to him by his illustrious grandfather, Nathamuni. Alavandar took to Sannyas and was then known as YAMUNA MUNI.
Alavandhar's naichyAnusanthAnam (feeling lowly nature of oneself- the jIvAthma as compared to the Lord's Greatness, KalyANa
guNAs) is very beautifully reflected in SthOthra Rathnam (total 65 slokas in this work-reported to be an elaborate refelction
of Dwayam). They are more appropriate and applicable to us (and not Sri Alavandhar). He has composed for us only.
agatim saran'aagatam hare!
krpayaa kevalam aatmasaat kuru.
Oh SrI Hari! pray, make me
your own out of sheer grace - me, who has fallen into the depths of the terrible ocean of worldly existence, and who, being
resortless, have sought refuge at your feet.
amaryAdha: Kshudra: chalamadhi: asUyAprasavabhU:
smara paravasO vanchanapara:
nrusamsa: pApishta: kathamahamithO dukkajaladhE :
apArAth uttheerNa: tava paricharEyam
What a soul stirring sloka! One can not but cry reciting this, (imagining himself as the hero:-( of the
AlavandhAr describes himself as:
amaryAdha: - one who has crossed the bounds of established rules
- engaging in trivial /worldly /material/sensual pursuits
chalamadhi:- never steady; (chanchalam), fickle mind
prasava bhU : Place where jealousy is born
kruthagana: Ungrateful one
dhurmAnee:- ill feelings towards fellow human
smara paravasa : Fallen into the gamut of desires and sensual impluses
vanchanapara: skillfully deceiving others
(at cheating others )
nrusamsa: - engaging in violent acts
paapishta: ( Incorrigible sinner - mahA paapi
Desikan says- ahamasmi aparAdha chakravartthi. (also meant for us).
Swamy desikan also writes in Subashithanivi:
bow with mind, speech and body to that great Lord, who is the best among all persons, who approaches others of His own accord
without waiting for them to take the initiative because of His innate goodness and agreeable nature, as also to myself who
is chief among the wicked and who harms others without reason, there being one thing in common to us both, viz.,that the good
or evil done to us once has the effect of wiping off all the good and or evil done before. If what God, in His wisdom, thinks
though not really good, has been done to Him even once by a person, all the wrongs committed by him earlier is
forgiven by Him. Therefore, I bow to Him. In my case, if once what I consider wrong, which may not really be so,is done to
me by someone, all the good done by him to me till then is completely forgotten by me. Fie upon me! Ingratitude-being the
basest of vices, it has been mentioned at the very beginning.
- (Translation by Sri L Srinivasan, New Delhi)
What a naicchiyAnusanthAnam!
Alavandhaar's works are the ones which give us crystal clear jnAnam about our unparalleled unambiguous VisishtAdvaita Srivaishnava
philosophy, the presence of which can never take us to the wrong roads.
After taking so many countless births, We,
(dAsars (servants) of Sri
Alavandhar), who have been blessed to be born (due to the limitless, unconditional grace of the
Lord Sriya: Pathi Sriman Narayanan) as Srivaishnava in this birth, and have realized and taken up the prapatti maargam (due
to the nirhEthuka krupA of the Lord), who are bequeathed with such Great Acharyan ? YamunAchAryan, the learning of whose SrI
sukthis enable us to know the tatvatrayam crystal clear and upAyam and upEyam
(means and goal) perfectly, and keep us reminded
of the same always, will never ever read (hereafter) works of those who belong to other religions. ?
- Says Swamy Desikan in Adhikaara sangraham.
neeLa vandhu inRu
vidhivagaiyaal ninaivonRiya naam/
meeLavandhu innum vinai udambu onRil vizhundhu uzhalaa(dhu)
ALavandhaar ena venRu
aruL thandhu viLangiya seer/
Alavandhaar adiyOm padiyOm ini alvazhakkE.
Alavandhaar ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Emperumaanaar Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
aDiyEn Narayana dAsan madhavakkannan