Manavala Mamuni

Manavala Mamuni

Hindu Srivaishnava southern sect tradition

wami Manavala Mamuni the most venerated saint

Srirangam in southern India is a celebrated pilgrimage centre. It is the only dhivyakshetram sung by all ten azhwars and Andal. It is called Bhuloka Vaikunta. It is the root of all 108 dhivya kshetras. But over these and several other distinctions, the most outstanding is that the Lord showed here the ideal Acharya in the person of Swamy Manavala Mamuni . Manavala Mamunigal is one of the most well known and significant acharyas of Ramanuja's Sri Vaishnava Tradition-southern sect. Manavala Mamuni was the final acharya of a lineage that begins with the Supreme Being Sriman Narayana, passes through Acharyas such as Yamunacharya, Ramanuja and Pillai Lokacharya, and ends with Manavala Mamuni when Manavala Mamuni was accepted by the Lord of Srirangam, Sri Ranganatha, as His own acharya at Srirangam. Srirangam is the ultimate for Srivaishnavas of this sect , who consider Srirangam superior to Vaikuntam itself.

Time and place

Sri Manavala Mamuni was born in 1370 and lived for about 74 years and left a lasting and vibrant influence in spiritual and ritual practices- especially in securing an all-inclusive congregation and popularising Tamil works of azhwars and elevating them to the level of vedas. He was born in Azhwar Thirunagari in Tirunelveli District , about 650 KM south of Chennai. The major portion of his mission was in Srirangam..

Philosophical Works

Manavala Mamuni is recognized for his tremendous contributions to the Sri vaishnava tradition, and most importantly for re-instituting the system of formal worship introduced by Ramanuja subsequent to destruction of important shrines and disruption of societal functionaing due to marauding muslim invaders, who laid to waste a number of important Sri Vaishnava temples in South India. He is also famous for his insightful commentaries on Pillai Lokacharya's rahasya granthas as well as his exposition on Azhagiya Manavalapperumal Nayanar's Acharya hrudayam, a seminal work that lays bare the essence of outpourings of the philosophy of Azhwars. He has a number of other important works to his credit, including upadesa rattinamalai, tirvaymozhi noorrandhadhi, arthi prabandham and yatiraja vimshathi.

rivaishnavas-various sects

Vaishnavas are Hindus who adore Vishnu, who is described in the vedas, ithihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharatha (which includes the famous Bhagawad Gita) and Puranas like Vishnu Purana and Srimad Bhaghavatha Purana as the Lord, object of love and devotion and ultimate refuge of all beings. Srivaishnavas are distinguished by their contemplation of the Lord as inseparable from Sri or Lakshmi the manifestation of the unbounded and undiscriminating mercy of the Lord.

Srivaishnavas are broadly divided into the northern and southern sects- thenkalai and vadakalai. The two prominent acharyas (teachers) are Swami Desikan for vadakalai and Sri Manavala Mamuni for Thenkalai. Sri Manavala Mamuni was born in 1370 , about 100 years subsequent to Swami Desikan. It is important to remember that Swami Deskan is included in the Thenkalai guruparampara. Sri Manavalamamuni is not included in the vadakali guruparampara, but his srisukthis (auspicious utterances) are often quoted by Vadakali vidwans with great esteem. Both the sects have the same common basic creed , a little difference is on account of abhimana (special attachment ) of some vidwans regarding some finer points.

Various names and titles of Sri Manavala Mamuni

Sri Manavalamamuni is also known as Varavaramuni, Sowmyajamatrumuni, sowmyopayanthrumuni,Sundarajamatrumuni, periya Jeer,etc. He is known as "vichatavak sikhamani"- one endowed with striking precision and depth and clarity in utterances.

Deep and permanent influence over day to day religious observances

Sri Manaval Mamuni's devotional practices towards the Lord, especially the presiding deity of Srirangam, and the lineage of teachers like Ramanuja left an indelible influence on followers numbering several millions throughout India. His influence can be traced to everyday observances till this date. But he was so self-effacive that few recognise his deep influence.

His disciples

His eight famous disciples are known as ashtadhikgajams. Prominent among them are Vanamamalai Jeer, Erumbi Appa, Prativati Bhayankaram Anna, Kovil annan. Prativati Bhayankaram Anna's "Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatham" is widely known. In that work and in the connected prapatti and mangala stotras he says "sowmyopayanthrumunina mama darsithou the...", "Srimat Sundara Jamathru Munimanasa vasine", referring to the Lord of the seven hills as residing in the heart of Sri Manavala Mamuni.

The teacher-disciple tradition has been followed for over six centuries and exists intact today amongst 74 simhasana adhipathis

Srivaishnavas hold 108 sacred temples sung by azhwars as dhivyakshetras. In almost all the divyakshetrams, the prabhandha seva or the chanting of Tamil Vedas start with the invocation to Sri Manavala Mamuni as follows:

Srisailesa dhaya pathram dheebhakthyadhi gunarnavamYatheendra pravanam vandhe Ramyajamataram munim

The above sloka was first recited by none other than Swami Ranganatha of Srirangam after listening to Mamuni's rendering of the Eedu Muppatharayairam, the celebrated commentary of Nampillai on Nammazhvar's thiruvaimozhi. In this reverential verse the Lord describes Mamuni as His preceptor.

This is an auspicious verse showing special love towards Srirangam and Mamuni.

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