Ramanuja and Non Brahmins


(1) Penitence for Pride— As told by Mukulbhai Kalarthi, Ahmedabad

Ramanujacharya lived in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka between 1017 AD and 1137 AD. He lived for 120 years.

On account of old age the renowned Vaishnava preceptor and propounder of the philosophy of Vishistadwaita (Qualified Monism), Ramanuja had become very weak. Therefore, while going to the river for his daily bath he had to take the help of someone.

Going to the river he would rest his hand on the shoulder of one of his Brahmin disciples. But while returning home, he took the help of a disciple, belonging to the lowest caste Shudra.

The orthodox people were greatly perturbed at this peculiar behaviour of the preceptor. Therefore one day some of them got together and went to Ramanuja and said to him, “Revered teacher, should you desire, you can take the help of the untouchable disciple before your bath. But once after the bath you have made yourself clean, you ought not to touch him”.

The preceptor replied, “Brothers, I place my hand on the shoulder of him, whom you consider an untouchable, after my bath, only to wash away the dirt of pride, which still sticks to me because of my belonging to the so called highest caste. And this dirt cannot be washed away with mere water!”


(2) Story of Kanchipurna (Thiru Kachi Nambi) as told by Swami Sivananda

“One of Ramanuja’s disciples, by name Kanchipurna, was serving in the temple at Kancheepuram. Although a Shudra, Kanchipurna was so very pious and good that the people of the place had great respect and reverence for him. At present, there is a temple at Kancheepuram where Kanchipurna’s image has been installed and where he is worshipped as a saint.

Young Ramanuja came under Kanchipurna’s influence and had such reverence for him that he invited him to dinner in his house. Ramanuja’s intention was to attend on Kanchipurna and personally serve him at dinner and himself take meals afterwards. Unfortunately, Kanchipurna came to dinner when Ramanuja was not at home, and took his meals being served by Ramanuja’s wife. When Ramanuja returned home, he found the house washed and his wife bathing for having served meals to a Shudra. This irritated Ramanuja very much and turned him against his wife who was an orthodox lady of a different social ideal. After a few incidents of this nature, Ramanuja abandoned the life of a householder and became a Sannyasin”— Swami Sivananda of Divine Life Society.

(3) Acme of Compassion –As told by Swami Ramdas of Anandashram

“You must have heard of the three great teachers : Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhwa. They have established their systems of philosophy in India. Ramanuja went to a Master and asked him to initiate him. The Master gave him God’s name and also advised him not to give this NAME to anybody, adding if he did so, he would go to hell. At once Ramanuja went to the top of the local temple (at Sri Perumpudur near Madras) and shouted, “ I am going to give you all a NAME which will save you. My master has given me that Name”. He uttered the name loudly so that everybody could here.


(God’s name he uttered was OM NAMO NARAYANA)

The Master heard about it and asked why he did so in spite of his warning. Ramanuja’s reply was, “I am prepared to go to hell a hundred times if I can save thousands”.

Compiled by swami_48@yahoo.com



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1 Comment

  1. anandhegde17

     /  August 27, 2017

    Is it true that Ramanuja converted non brahmins to brahmins or did he convert them to Srivaishnavas (as far as I know not all srivaishnavas are brahmins) ?

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