(Last Updated on : 14/02/2009)
Ramanuja was a native of the South of India. The legendary stories affirm that Ramanuja was an incarnation of the serpent Sesha, while his chief companions and disciples were the personification of Discus, Mace, Lotus, and other insignia of Vishnu.
Ramanuja is the son of Sri Kesava Acharya and Bhumi Devi. He was born at Perambur and studied at Conjeveram. Here he taught his system of the Vaishnava faith. Later in his life, Ramanuja shifted to Srirangam, worshipping Vishnu as Sri Ranga Natha. Ramanuja composed his principal works here. He then visited various parts of India, disputing with the scholars of different doctrines.
On his return to Srirangam, the disputes between the Vaishnava and Saiva religions became exceedingly violent. The Chola monarch, Kulothunga commanded all the Brahmans in his authority to sing an acknowledgment of the supremacy of Shiva
. Ramanuja was impracticable, and the king sent armed men to imprison him.
Ramanuja escaped from the clutches of the soldiers with the help of his disciples. He ran away and found refuge with the Jain sovereign of Mysore. Bhatti Deva of the Hoysala dynasty was the king of Mysore.
The Raja`s daughter was possessed of some devil and nobody was able to cure her. Ramanuja succeeded in exorcizing the devil and the princess was restored to her former health. The king was very much pleased with Ramanuja and readily became his disciple and he was converted by Ramanuja into a Vaishnavite.
Ramanuja remained several years in Mysore. He constructed a temple at Melkote, and created a strong Vaishnavite community there. Ramanuja continued his philosophy in Mysore for nearly twenty years and his followers numbered to several thousands.
Kulothunga, the Chola King thought Ramanuja to be dead. Ramanuja was informed about this news by his followers and requested Ramanuja to come back.
Ramanuja himself longed to go back to his followers in Srirangam and worship in the temple there. But his new disciples and followers at Melkote and in Mysore would not let him go. Ramanuja constructed a temple for himself, fixed his own image for worship by his disciples and followers, and left the place for Srirangam.
Ramanuja was welcomed by his friends and disciples at Srirangam. The successor to Kulothunga Chola I was a pro-Vaishnavite and Ramanuja was left undisturbed. Ramanuja continued his teachings for thirty more years. He died at the age of one hundred and twenty years.
Thus Ramanuja was the exponent of the Visishtadvaita philosophy