Ramanuja Jayanthi is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Ramanujacharya. It is celebrated on Thiruvathirai Nakshatra on Chithirai month. He preached the philosophy known as Vishishtadwaita or qualified non-dualism.
In 2017, it is 1000th birth anniversary of Ramanujacharya and Ramanuja Jayanthi is celebrated on 1st May 2017.
Ramanujacharya is the famous Hindu Philosopher. Ramanujacharya advocated the worship of Lord Vishnu and his consort Mahalakshmi, is the best method to attain Moksha. He advised all his devotes to follow the path of Bhakthi, the highest level of devotion, in order to attain the Divine Lord. Ramanujacharya wrote philosophical texts in Sanskrit like Vedanta Sangraha (commentaries on Vedas), Sri Bhasya (commentaries on Brahma sutras), Bhagavad Gita Bhasya (commentaries on Bhagavad Gita).
Parents of Ramanujacharya
Ramanuja was born as Ilaya Perumal in a Tamil Brahmin Family in the village of Sri Perumbudur village, Tamil Nadu, about twenty-five miles towards the west of Madras. His father was Kesava Samayaji and mother Kantimathi. Both the couples are very devoted and were leading a pious life. They did not have a child for long time.
Story behind the birth of Ramanujacharya
The great acharya called Thirukatchi Nambi visited their house and advised him to perform Yagna to Lord Parthasarathy of Tiruvallikeni to fulfil their desire of having a son. They performed the Yagna with full devotion and sincerity. The Lord was very much pleased and came in their dream and blessed them with a Son. The new born child had many divine marks on his body. He’s considered as the avatar of Lord Lakshmana, brother of Lord Rama.
Ramanujachraya in search of Guru
At the age of 16, he married Thanjammal. Quite Early he lost his Father, and took the responsibilities of the home. He travelled to Kancheepuram along with family (Wife and Mother) to settle in Kancheepuram and to continue his studies on Vedas under a Guru named Yadavaprakasha who preached Advaita philosophy. He was the first thinker who contradicted the teaching of Adi Guru Sri Sankaracharya and provided an alternative Upanishadic scripture. He adapted to his Guru teachings, but found conflict with his teachings. He found mistakes in his teachings and corrected his Guru. This lead to conflict and his guru plotted to kill Ramanujacharya, but he escaped.
Found a New Guru
Ramanuja came to the attention of Guru Yamunacharya, who followed the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita, was in his dying stage. He was searching for the right person to carry out his tradition. He invited Ramanujacharya to Srirangam. The Guru was already dead by the time he arrived. But he noticed that 3 fingers of the Guru were twisted. Ramanujacharya interpreted the message and made three vows – to make people surrender to God, write commentaries on Vedantasuta and to write encyclopedia on Puranas.
Ramanuja Jayanthi is celebrated all over India by his devotees. On this day, traditional holy bath or abhishekam is given to ‘Uthsava Murti’ or status of Ramanuja Acharya. Special prayers are conducted and also his teachings are recited. Cultural celebrations like bhajans, dance are also held at temples.
In southern India, especially in Tamil Nadu, the houses are decorated by drawing rangolis. They prepare sweets and offer to the Lord. Devotees visit the temple and make a round of the temple to seek the blessings of Shri Ramanuja Acharya .