Ramanuja Anecdote- ‘Even Sand is Prasad!’ (Post No.5901)






Date: 24 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  14-29 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4945


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Hindus know very well the benefits of travel. They have been doing the longest pilgrimages. It is a wonder of the world that they travel from one of the country to the other. Though we hear about pilgrimages to Mecca, Jerusalem, Lourdes etc for followers of other religions, Hindus started thousands of years before them. Balarama did want to be part of Mahabharata war and so he went on a long journey. Before him,  Rama travelled on foot from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to Sri Lanka in the south sea. The pilgrimage is mentioned in the Tamil epic Silappadikaram as well.


Another unique feature of Hindusim is they have thousands of pilgrimage centres. Every family fas a family deity and they visit the shrine from different parts of the world. Though Kasi/Varanasi/Benares is the holiest shrine for Hindus, they don’t stop there; they visit hundreds of other centres. There are 108 Vishnu shrines, 51 Goddess centres and 12 most famous Shiva shrines venerated by the Hindus for thousands of years.

Five Pandavas, particularly Arjuna travelled to far south and married a Pandya princess (Alli Rani) and he made inter galactic travel in Matari’s shuttle, according to Mahabharata.


From the Vedic days, we come across some statements in support of travel:

Vedas refer to the sea travel and Aswins rescue of Bhuj and others from the middle of the sea. It also mentioned 1000 oars ships.


Adi Shankara who lived 2000 years ago (See Kanchi Paramacharya’s dating) walked through the length and breadth of India several times and established Mutts (Religious Centres)  at five places in five different directions. Guru Nanak, Ramanuja and several saints also walked from one end of the land to the other.


Tamil devotional literature has several stories of kings and poets visiting Kailash in the Himalayas. Even before the foundation of Islam, Mecca has been a centre of pilgrimage to Hindus. Ancient travel records show that they boarded ships from Sri Lanka and Kerala.


Here are some quotations on Travel from the Vedic literature:

When Rohita, son of Harischandra left the forest and went to a village, Indra came to him in human disguise and said to him,

“There is no happiness for him who does not travel, Rohita! thus we have heard. Living in the society of men, the best man often becomes a sinner by seduction, which is best avoided by wandering (travel) to places void of human dwellings; for Indra is surely the friend of the traveller. Therefore , wander”

Rohita thinking, ‘A Brahmin told me to wander’ wandered for a second year in the forest.

Again Indra met Rohita and said, The feet of the wanderer are like the flower, his soul is growing and reaping the fruit; and all his sins are destroyed by his fatigues in wandering. Therefore, wander!

–Aitareya Brahmana 7-3-15

The fortune of him who is sitting sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves. Therefore, wander!


The Kali (Yuga) is lying on the ground; the Dvapara (yuga) is hovering there; the Treta (Yuga) is getting up; but the Krita (yuga) happens to walk. Therefore, wander!


In another translation of the same verse we find,

“ A man who sleeps is like the Kali age ( iron age); a man who awakes is like the Dvapara age (Bronze age); a man who rises is like the Treta age (silver age) and a man who travels is like the Krita age (Golden age).


It is interesting to note that the same terms are used in the throws of gambling dice: Krita- throw of four, being reckoned the best, Treta-  the throw of three, Dvapara – throw of two and Kali- the throw of one, worst of all.

This corresponds to the golden sayings in Tamil Proverbs

It advises Tamils to beyond the seas and bring treasures. Another proverb says If you sit and eat, even a hill of treasure will melt away. Oldest Tamil book says that a person can be separated from his wife for traveling to study, business or war.

Hindu Ascetics are advised to travel without stopping in a place for more than 24 hours. They can stay in a place for Four Months (Chatur Masya Vrata) only during rainy season.

Kalidasa’s Meghaduta is the oldest Travel Guide in the world. It describes each and every place from the centre of India to the Himalayas.

Aitareya Brahmana continues,

“The wanderer finds honey and the sweet Udumbara fruit (fig); behold the beauty of the sun, who is not wearied by his wanderings. Therefore, wander, wander!

–Aitareya Brahmana 7-3-15


Mahabharata on Travel,

The union with brother, mother, father and friend is like that of travellers in an inn

-Vyasa in Mbh. Shanti parva 28(41)


Without travelling to a foreign land, one does not obtain glory, fame, knowledge of accomplishments or anything – Kathakosa

The self-respecting person finds his own worth that he is able, worthy and can attempt and know by journeying in alien lands.

-Vishnusharma, Panchatantra, Book 1.



Very interesting thing about travel is overseas  travel for Brahmins is banned by Manu Smrti and for women by the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiam.


So Brahmins and women should not go abroad (from India)




Sri Ramanuja’s Favourite Tamil Hymn!


Article written by London Swaminathan
Article No.1443; Dated 28th November 2014.

Who is Ramanuja?
Sri Ramanuja was a Hindu philosopher born in a Tamil Brahmin family in1017. Considered a great teacher who spread Vishtadvaita, was born in a Vadama family to Kesava Perumal Somayaji Dikshitar and Kanthimathi Ammal at Sri Perumpudur near Chennai. He lived a long life of 120 years and died in 1137. He was a great social reformer and converted a lot of people from lower castes as Vaishnavite Brahmins.

What is Tiruppavai?
Thirty verses sung by Tamil poetess Andal of seventh century CE in praise of Lord Krishna is known as Tiruppavai.

Sri Ramanuja is called by many names and epithets such as Udayavar, Emperumanar, Yathirajar and Bhasyakarar. But Ramanuja himself preferred another name Tiruppavai Jeeyar. He liked the verse No.18 more than any other verse from the thirty verses of Andal’s Tiruppavai. There is a story behind this. Vaishnavites sing this verse twice in all the reciting events because it was liked by Sri Ramanujacharya.

Ramanuja used to go to the houses of the devotees every day for food collection, singing the glories of Lord. One day he was singing the verse no 18 of Tiruppavai (Tamil, “Undhu Matha Kalitran….) and went round the streets. When he approached the house of his teacher Perianambi, he finished the verse by singing the last line

“Come along, throw open delighted
To clang thy bangles bright
In pinky lotus hand a sight
Listen and consider our damsel”.

Suddenly the door opened and he saw his teacher’s daughter Athulai standing there with the alms. Ramanuja saw her as Nappinnai and prostrated before her. People of divine origin see god everywhere. We have heard such episodes in the lives of several Alvars and Nayanmars. And thus this verse gained added significance. When the Vaishnavites sing this verse they remember their great Acharya Ramanuja and Lord Krishna with his consort Nappinnai.

Dancer Smitha Madhav as Andal (Photo from The Hindu)

Full Verse 18 of Tiruppavai goes like this:–
Oh! Daughter in law of Nandagopala
Who hath a shoulder mighty, never a fleer
A valiant Tusker emitting vigour; atop jasmine arcade
Again and again flock of larks had cooed;
Nappinnai! Thy hair perfume fragrant, door thou open!
Cock come around, have crowed with rigour
Though art asleep, ball agrip, as we sing thy groom;
Come along, throw open delighted
To clang thy bangles bright
In pinkly lotus hand a sight
Listen and consider our damsel – verse 18

Meaning : Andal and her friends request Nappinnai, Krishna’s wife, to open the door. She praises Krishna with a mighty shoulder like an elephant. Beautiful morning time is also described. Nappinnai with her fragrant hair had a ball in her hand which was used for playing with Krishna the previous day.

Source book: Concept’s of Sri Andal’s Tiruppavai by Dr Chenni Padmanabhan

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