Sriman Narayana is the first preceptor in our Visishtaadvaita philosophy. The unique lineage of our Sampradaya has continued unbroken till date (and will continue in the future!). There have been many preceptors, viz. Sriman Nathamunigal, Sri Alavandar, Sri Ramanuja, who have enriched our glorious Sampradaya by their works and also numerous other kainkaryams.
Swami Desika, who adorns the lineage down the line, is non-pareil in that, he strode like a colossus in the field of our Sampradaya works be it philosophical, dramatics, commentaries, poems, esoterics, sthothras or Tamil paasurams. He has authored 28 Stotras, 4 kaavyas, an allegorical drama, around 15 Vedanta granthas, 8 commentaries, 32 Rahasya Granthas and 24 Tamil Prabandhams.
Swami Desika was the one who established Sri Ramanuja Darsanam on a firm footing and cleared the misconceptions and controversies through his works. He has presented to us the whole framework of Saranaagathi in a structured way i.e specific answers to what, why, who, where and how. This is the ultimate gift to mankind which cannot be upstaged even by the Lord. It would not be irreverent to say that there has been no preceptor like Swami Desika nor will there ever be, who has defined, explained, illustrated and justified Saranaagathi in such a plausible way.
His magnum-opus, Srimath Rahasyathraya Saaram, is a veritable 'How-to' book on Saranaagathi. Hence, it is a 'must' for every Sri Vaishnava to learn Srimath Rahasyathraya Saaram under the tutelage of an Acharya at least after Saranaagathi if not before.
There are 32 chapters in Srimath Rahasyathraya saaram of which the first 12 talk about the three Tattvas in our philosophy and the method of surrender to the Lord, the pre-requisites, the actual process and so on; the next ten about Life after Saranaagathi; the next four are clarifications on the concept of Saranaagathi; the next three about the Three Manthras; two chapters about the Qualities of Preceptor and Disciple and the final chapter gives a bird's eye view of the whole Grantha.
In each chapter Swami Desika resorts to examples, analogies and upakhyaanams (short stories) to get across the basic concept of the chapter. His mastery in giving apt examples and analogies is something to be marvelled at. The master-piece is studded with anological gems aplenty. Let us study in this series 100 of these which would give a taste of what is in store for us when we learn the Grantha in the traditional way from an Acharya!
S. Padmalatha being felicitated
Next in series: Gems 1 to 5, on August 15, 2008.