Yatiraja Saptati

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Several true devotees of the Lord with a high degree of acharya-bhakti have given expression to the sentiment that in the several works that go to make up the 4000 Divya Prabandham there is none to equal Ramanuja Nurrandadi sung in praise of Ramanuja, the great Sri Vaishnava acharya. In the same manner one can assert that out of the stotras of Vedanta Desika, Yatiraja Saptati, the stotra in praise of the same great Acharya, stands unrivalled. This is not saying anything derogatory to the other stotras, nahi nindaa-nyaya. Yatiraja Saptati breathes Desika’s bhakti, often an infatuation, towards Ramanuja whom he takes a pleasure in referring to as Yatiraja, King among Sanyasins. According to Desika, sexual thoughts may beset Brahma, Siva and even Narayana, but never a votary of Yatisvara (45). Lord Varadaraja, the black cloud perched on the Elephant Hill (Kari-saila) is able to shower more than the desired benefits on His devotees only because of His having drunk deep from the Ocean of Nectar that is Yatiraja’s Daya (62). Yatiraja is an incarnation of the Lord’s five weapons (12), and/or of Vishvaksena, the commander-in-chief of the Lord’s army in Vaikuntha (32), and/or of the Lord Himself (63). Curiously neither Amudanar in his Ramanuja Nurrandadi, nor Desika in Yatiraja Saptati refers to Ramanuja being Sesha avatara (incarnation of Adisesha) as popularly believed by all.

One may read and re-read Yatiraja Saptati any number of times: he will not be able to make up his mind whether Desika’s fascination is for Yatiraja, the Person, or for his works, or for the siddhanta evolved and postulated in those works. That Vedanta Desika was first drawn towards Yatiraja because of his works is seen from the first sloka in his praise in this work (10). Desika’s eulogy of the works in sloka 33 can be taken as typical of his great esteem and admiration. The reason is that only Ramanuja’s works truly reflect (as in a mirror), Lakshmi-kaanta (Consort of Sri) as He really is, whereas in other systems He is seen distorted, if He is seen at all. Sloka 16 also postulates that the Tattva known as Hari can be seen whole and entire (akshatam) only in Yatiraja’s siddhanta. A study of Ramanuja’s works under a proper acharya will preserve our purity and prevent us from straying in to faulty systems of thought (16).

All the greatness and glory that Desika achieved in his life are attributed to his association with the system promulgated by Yatiraja (73) and to the blessings showered on him by great acharyas immersed in Yatiraja’s yaSas (renown) (71).

वक्ता, श्रोता, वचन-विशयः, प्रीयतां वेङ्कटेशः