Śrī Vedanta Deśika | 1268-1369

Category: 

Śrī Vedanta Deśika | 1268-1369

Name:
Vedanta Deśika
Times:
1268–1370
Religion:
Śrī Vaiṣṇavism
Status:
One of most important Teachers,
especially in Vaḍakalai
or Northern tradition
of Śrī Vaiṣṇavism
Works:
Many written works,
both Philosophic
and Religious Stotras
Works Online:
1. Śrīmad Rāhasyatraya Sāram
Essence of the Three Secrets
2. Śrī Hayagrīva Stotra
3. Śrī Stuti
About Him:
1. Śrī Vedanta Deśika | 1268-1369
Biography

Śrī Vedanta Deśika.

The spread or Vaishnavism in South India after the days of Rāmānuja cannot be adequately dealt with in the short space of an article or two.

The literature that has come down to us since Rāmānuja's days, and which, though not available largely to the general Sanskrit-knowing public, is gradually seeing the light of day in important publications here and there.

On the practical side the characteristics of the tradition, distinguishing it from the rest of the people, became accentuated in course of time, and an amount of exclusiveness and one-sidedness became the symbol of the class, which cannot but be deplored in its own interests.

The spread of Śaivism by the advocacy of erudite Sanskrit scholars was a simultaneous feature of these days which has to be taken into account in estimating the cause of this exclusiveness.

We have also to mention that a schism of an important nature arose among the followers of Rāmānuja in Southern India, a couple of centuries after Rāmānuja's death

which has only more fully developed itself as days have gone by, and has not contributed, as may be expected, either to enhance the true religious or moral progress of the community as a whole, or to secure the increased respect of the communities around towards the dogmas and practices of the Vaishnavas as a class.

It is only necessary to add that we are confining ourselves here to the spread of Vaishnavism in South India, leaving it to a future article to give some account of the prominent features of Vaishnavism as it has developed in Northern India.

The legitimate successor of Rāmānuja in his character as head of the Vaiṣṇavite community is said to be Kurukeśa, a disciple of Rāmānuja, referred to already as the author of a commentary on the Tiruvāymoḷi.

Another of his pupils, Pranatartihara of the Ātreya Gotra, was a beloved nephew of Rāmānuja himself, and a great scholar:

He had the sole charge of the preparation of Rāmānuja’s daily food, a function which, as Rāmānuja was a sannyāsin, could not be discharged by any one indiscriminately.

In course of time this Pranatartihara had a great-grandson Rāmānuja or Appullar by name.

Varada Vishnu Ācārya was another of Rāmānuja’s pupils whose grandson Varadāchārya became a learned scholar. The latter studied under one Viṣṇucitta, a pupil of Kurukeśa, and the author of a learned commentary on the Vishnu Purāṇa, the well-known work of Parāśara, besides other works.

Viṣṇucitta lived about the early part of the 13th century A.D., a fact accidentally corroborated by a statement of his in his Vishnu Purāṇa commentary that at the time of his composition the 44th century of the Kālī yuga was progressing.

Under Varadāchārya whose work Tattva-sāra is now extant, and who was popularly known as Nadadur Ammal, studied the Ātreya Rāmānuja already mentioned.

Many other eminent men studied under him, one of whom may be specially named here. This was Sudarśana Bhaṭṭa, a great- grandson of Kureśa, Rāmānuja’s disciple and friend.

This scholar composed various works that have come down to us:

the Śrutprakasika, a commentary on the Śrī Bhāshya, modestly named a ‘transcript’ of his master's notes, but of considerable learning and polemic ability, a commentary on the Upanishads, another on the Vedārtha Saṅgraha of Rāmānuja, a commentary on the Śrī Bhāgavata called Sukapakshiya and many others.

One day in the lecture-hall of Varadāchārya, Ātreya Rāmānuja made his appearance accompanied by a young and attractive boy, whom he introduced as his nephew. This was the future Vedanta Deśika, then about five years of age, if the story is to be believed.

The boy was called Veṅkaṭanātha, and gave even at that time, evidence of his precocity by reciting, in answer to a doubt, the passage last touched upon in the lecture which had temporarily stopped on the advent of the boy.

Varadāchārya is said to have been impressed by his powers of retention and intelligence, and to have blessed him in a neat and prophetic Sanskrit verse.

The boy as he grew up was duly instructed by his uncle in all the usual learning of the Vaishnava scholars.

He early impressed his contemporaries with his greatness, and a belief grew up, based on the dreams of his parents, that he was an avatar of the God of Tirupati, and that his birth was inspired by the Deity sending out his Ghanta or bell for the purpose.

This belief was rife even during the life of Veṅkaṭanātha, as we see a reference to it in his allegorical drama, the Sankalpa Suryoda, to be subsequently mentioned.

Veṅkaṭanātha, it may be mentioned, was born at Tuppul, a suburb of Conjeevaram about the month of September in the year 1268 A. D. His father was Ananthasuri, and his mother Totaramma, sister of Ātreya Rāmānuja mentioned already.

The boy is said to have been born after a visit of the parents to Tirupati and to have therefore been called by the name of the God of that place.

Duly instructed by Rāmānuja his uncle, the young man became very learned and exemplary in his conduct and was looked upon as the coming leader of the Vaishnava community.

After spending some years at Kāñchī, his native place, Veṅkaṭanātha travelled south and took up his residence at Tiruvahindrapuram, near Cuddalore, for some years.

His great ability in composition and disputation acquired for him the title of Kavi Tārkika Simha, lion of poets and logicians.

His skill in all arts and handicrafts obtained for him the title of Sarva- tantra Svātantrya or expert in all arts, and later on, the title of Vedantāchārya or Vedanta Deśika was bestowed on him in admiration of his wonderful ability and powers of exposition in the Vedanta.

To this day, the site of his house at Tiruvahindrapuram is pointed out as evidence of his stay there, and an old, but well- preserved well still exists which he is said to have built with his own hands to satisfy an importunate artisan who objected to his title of universal expert!

Vedanta Deśika composed many works at Tiruvahindrapuram, chiefly stotras or hymns of praise on the Deities of the place.

A Tamil work of his the Paramata Bhaṅga is an able and exhaustive review of all known philosophies and systems, about 16 in number, somewhat on the plan of Madhavāchārya's Sarva Darśana Saṅgraha, but not, like that work, a mere statement of the doctrines, but a condensed and learned refutation of the tenets of every system other than the Viśiṣṭādvaita.

It is practically a summary in Tamil of the vast learning contained in the author’s Sanskrit works and is useful to those who are not special students of the latter.

The Gopalavimsati is a popular Sanskrit hymn of 20 stanzas, in perhaps the sweetest language that this learned writer ever employed, on Śrī Krishna and his early exploits.

Veṅkaṭanātha now returned to Kāñchī and spent his time there in instruction and composition.

With his usual facility, he composed various hymns on the Deities of that place, the most important of which is the Varadarāja Pañchāśaṭ, on the God at Kāñchī, which is a work of considerable merit. Every stanza, as may be expected, bears the impress of his vast learning and deep piety.

He also composed here Nyasa- dasaka, a short work on Prapatti, the doctrine of surrender, which Vedanta Deśika elaborated in numerous later works.

He further composed various works in Tamil verse and prose, embodying in easy language the substance of his teachings for the edification of those devoid of Sanskrit learning.

Vedanta Deśika now started on his inevitable Northern tour. He first visited Tirupati, where he composed and dedicated to the God the work called Dayasataka, a hundred and odd stanzas, in long and resounding metres of various kinds, rather harsh in style and obscure in the expression of thought, a combination frequently pervading his more elaborate works, especially of the earlier period.

From Tirupati, Vedanta Deśika proceeded northwards and travelled, we are told, through the site of Vijaynāgar.

Vidyaranya, the sannyāsin and future Prime Minister of the Vijaynāgar Kings, had not yet begun his political career:

The two met, we are told, and great scholars as both of them were, though of different schools, must have appreciated each other very fully.

From Vijaynāgar, Deśika proceeded north to Muttra and Vrindāvan, and returning, came to Benares passing through Ayodhyā on his way.

From Benares he turned south-east and followed the usual route of the pilgrims to the eastern coast at Puri or Puruṣottama.

Thence he turned South, via Śrī Kurma, Ahobhila and Tirupati, and reached Kāñchī duly, after a prolonged tour of some years.

While at Kāñchī, we are told, the great Vidyaranya, now a Minister of influence at Vijaynāgar, sent a message to Vedanta Deśika who was reputedly poor, that he could introduce him to Royal patronage, if so desired.

The reply of Vedanta Deśika was short and complete:

He cared not for riches or for the favour of kings. His aims and ideals were quite otherwise. The reply was in the form of 5 stanzas, now preserved, which breathe his independence and utter callousness to the charms of wealth.

Even if the fact of the message is not historical, we have evidence that Vidyaranya was acquainted with the other’s works, as certain verses of Vedanta Deśika extracted in Mādhava’s Sarva Darśana Saṅgraha  conclusively show.

Vijaynāgar was founded about 1335 and Vedanta Deśika may be taken to have been in his fifties during the period of his tour.

Vedanta Deśika had now a call from Śrīraṅgam where the leading scholar, Sudarśana, above mentioned was getting old, and the doctrines of Vaishnavism badly wanted a defender, learned and powerful.

Deśika gladly complied, and proceeding to Śrīraṅgam rich with the holiest associations of the scene of the labours of Rāmānuja and his predecessors, took up his residence there.

He now entered upon a vigorous career of instruction and farther composition, and produced a number of scholarly and philosophical works, expounding the Viśiṣṭādvaita doctrines and combating the view, of other schools.

He is said to have expounded the Śrī Bhāshya 30 times and on the 28th occasion of his lectures, composed a work called Tattva ṭīkā, a lengthy commentary on the Śrī Bhāshya, a part of which only is now available.

He also wrote the Tātparya Chandrika, a simple and extensive commentary on the Gīta Bhāshya

Three controversial works were next composed, namely Satadushani, Tattvamukta Kalapa, and Nyāya Sidhanjana.

The first is a work of a hundred objections to the Advaitic views; the second contains, in over 500 verses of flowing metre, a development of the doctrines of the Viśishṭādvaita system with refutations of the views of others; while the third is a text book of general philosophy in prose from the Viśiṣṭādvaita point of view,

Vedanta Deśika also composed two other important works, one of them the Seśwara Mimāṁsa, being a direct commentary on the Sūtras of Jaimini,

where the author tries to show that Jaimini accepted the existence of the Deity, which he is generally supposed not to have done;

and the other, the Adhikaraṇa -saravali, a series of Sanskrit verses in long metre summarising the discussions on the various topics of the Vedanta Sutras.

The language of this latter work is simple and clear and shows the great facility which the author possessed in metrical composition on philosophical subjects.

The last philosophical work which the author composed is a Tamil Text-book on the Viśiṣṭādvaita system and especially its doctrine of Prapatti named the Rāhasyatraya Sāra.

It must be mentioned that Vedanta Deśika whose works exceed a hundred in number and are in Sanskrit and Tamil on a variety of topics from Geography to the practical arts, was a poet of high order:

He has composed a long and interesting poem, Yādavābhyudaya, in 21 cantos, on the life of Śrī Krishna, Sankalpa Suryodaya, an allegorical drama in 10 Acts where Love and Hate and Discrimination, and Ignorance are the dramatic persons,

a small poem, called Hamsa Sandeśa, in imitation of Kālidāsa’s “Meghaduta,” but sufficiently original in conception and delineation,

a curious poetical work in very simple language on the sandals of God, Pādukā-Sahasra by name, and a didactic work of 144 stanzas in his most difficult style, called the Subhashitanivī.

All the above works and a number of others in Sanskrit and Tamil were composed by him during his residence at Śrīraṅgam where he spent many years of life.

His learning and piety, his absolute unselfishness and meekness of character ensured the love of his followers and the respect even of those who differed from his views.

His early years were perhaps characterised by an aggressive confidence in his own views and a certain distinct vigour in the expression of them.

In later days he became meek and kind to all and avoided disputations where he could not hope to convince.

He created enemies, no doubt, among those Vaiṣṇavites, who followed other teachers and found differences in the views expounded by him. Such people tried to harass him in various ways.

Vedanta Deśika however received their insults with meekness and subservience, and tried to unarm hatred and jealousy as far as he could.

We have reason to state that the schism in views among the followers of Rāmānuja referred to before, commenced about this time

and that the teachers, who advocated other views from those of Vedanta Deśika, differed from him chiefly in their view of the nature and condition of Prapatti or the Secret doctrine of surrender to God.

Piḷḷai Lokāchārya and Peria Acchān Pillai were the leading exponents of these views and they have composed works of great learning and ability, mostly in Sanskritised Tamil, indicating fully their views.

A pupil in the second generation of the former of these was the great Maṇavāḷa Mahāmuni, a sannyāsin of extreme South India, who is the recognised head of the Teṅkalai tradition of the Rāmānujiyas, Śrī Vedanta Deśika is of the Vaḍakalai tradition.

Various differences in practice and doctrines cropped up between these traditions, which have become sharper as time passed, and now divides the community into two factions between whom reconciliation seems to be out of the question.

However, in the days of Maṇavāḷa Mahāmuni the split was yet a narrow one and we are glad to note that Maṇavāḷa Mahāmuni himself appreciated Vedānta Deśika’s merits as he quotes him more than once with approval and usually describes him by the appellation of Abhiyukta which means a respected and reliable author of one’s own school.

The doctrinal differences between the schools are trivial and are not much appreciated; but we must suppose that the innate love of parading differences is a characteristic of degeneracy in all systems founded on the soundest bases and Vaishnavism has not escaped the general fate of religious doctrines dogmatically carried to excessive detail.

It is only a matter of melancholy satisfaction that few practical religions have preserved themselves unsullied by unseemly disputes and schisms as time advances and the inspiration of the original founder ceases to be felt.

We now propose to give some account of our author’s allegorical drama, Sankalpa Suryodaya, mentioned already.

Vedanta Deśika’s purpose is to exhibit dramatically the toils and troubles of the human soul before it obtain an insight into Divine Truth, the difficulties in its path of progress to liberation created by passions like Love and Hate, the saving power of Divine grace at every step of this progress, and the final triumph of the soul over its enemies.

The author writes in a serious style, except in some Acts where there is room for humour, and the language is sublime and generally neither harsh nor obscure.

The reader’s, if not the audience’s, interest is kept up by sufficient variety of sentiments, though the dominating sentiment is maintained by the author to be Śānti Rāsa or Quietism.

The hero is King Viveka or Discrimination, and his Queen is Sumati or Wisdom.

In their purpose to free the Purusha or Soul from the bondage of Karma, these are opposed by the whole set of passions, of which Mahā Moha or Deep Ignorance is the head.

The latter is supported by Kāma (love), Krodha (Anger), Darpa (Pride), Dambha (Vanity), and so on.

In Act I, after the prologue, Kāma and his followers are introduced and some of the finest verses of our author describe his vaunting and threats against the Purusha.

Then Viveka enters, and gives, in reply to the questions of his wife, a statement of purposes and procedure in liberating Purusha.

In Act II, the author depicts a controversy on the stage in which the spiritual adviser of Viveka and a pupil of his, intended to present Śrī Rāmānuja and our author respectively, discuss the situation and are confronted with opponents of various schools whom they dispose of by argumentation  easily enough.

In Acts III and IV, the characters Attachment, Hate, Jealousy, etc., are introduced and their activity among men is detailed.

In Act V, Pride surveys the world ‘from China to Peru’ and finds no spot on earth where he is not in favour.

We have here many humorous passages-at-arms between Pride, Vanity and Deceit, and the poet has succeeded in giving a realistic touch to these abstract notions by the fecundity of his imagination and the felicity of the situations introduced.

Much satirical power is displayed in these Acts in exposing the abuses of various classes of society in Northern and Southern India, and the poet must have ‘laughed in his sleeves’ when he made Darpa (Pride) rebuke Dambha (Vanity) thus:—

“You fool, I simply abstain from kicking you on the head, out of respect for your Brāhminhood. Know you not that the great Tondaimandala is my native country and the famous suburb of Little Kāñchī is my place of residence.

The head of my family is (daily) adored by King Skanda and I am famous for the number of my Śiṣyas (pupils or followers) all over the world.

You despicable old “frog-in-the-well,” you alone are ignorant of my powers of irresistible argument and have probably neither seen nor heard of Me.”

It may be surmised that the “Skanda Bhupala” of this passage refers to some lingering Pallava Chief who continued to live in Kāñchī, after the Pallava power had been crushed by the Cholas; for “Skandavarman” is a frequent name in the dynastic list of that family.

In another place, our author makes Dambha (Vanity) say that he visited the precincts of the residence of Brahma in the Satyaloka, when the Great Creator rushed out of his palace to receive him, and, after washing duly his own hands seven times to remove all possible impurity, procured himself the arghya water, as a mark of deep respect.

The reference to the frequent washing of the hands is a satiric touch that will be evident to most people acquainted with Vaishnavas, who have carried ceremonial purity to the length of a science.

The Act ends with a humorous description of the noon-day sun in words that compare him to a glutton flying from one pleasure to another and are appropriately put in the mouth of a follower of Maha Moha, the counterfoil to King Viveka.

In Act VI, is described an aerial voyage of King Viveka and his charioteer Reason when all India is surveyed and places of interest to the Vaiṣṇavite pilgrim are depicted.

The object of the party was to seek out a quiet place for samādhi or meditation, and the perfectly sane conclusion is reached that, after all, surroundings are secondary, and the real seat of contemplation is one’s own heart, wherever one may live, the seat of one’s moral and religious sense and the abode of the Supreme Self.

In Act VII, Viveka strives to fix the wandering thoughts of his charge, the Purusha, on some definite form of the Deity, to help concentration and secure victory over his enemies.

Act VIII, describes a stage-warfare between the party of Viveka and the opposite party, and concludes with the final victory of the former.

The Purusha now undisturbed by conflict enters on meditation (Act IX) and finally, with the help of Vishnu-bhakti or devotion to Vishnu surrenders himself to God and obtains final liberation (Act X).

Thus King Viveka accomplishes fully the purpose that he set before himself.

The Author concludes in the happiest style of his later days with a prayer that the Great Vāsudeva may accept his work as He is the real author of the play and the Audience for the same.

To return to Vedanta Deśika - after years of simple and retired life spent in instructing his followers, and occasional tours to sacred shrines,

Vedanta Deśika closed his career about 1369 A.D., having lived the full life of a hundred years and a little more with vigour and activity.

He left a son, Varadāchārya by name, who became a great teacher and was the author of various works, and a sannyāsin disciple, Brahma Tantra Svātantrya Jīyar, who became an equally famous man and is considered to be the founder of the Parakala Mutt at Mysore.

Vedanta Deśika’s further descendants are not known to fame, but this able writer and teacher lives in his works and is further worshipped in images in all the principal Vishnu shrines of South India, with an assiduity which will perhaps bear greater fruit if used in the study of his voluminous and edifying works.

An event, of great importance to South India politically, occurred during Vedānta Deśika’s life, which we have purposely refrained from referring to till now, and which requires a brief mention, before we conclude:

About 1310 A. D., Malik Kafur, a General of the Delhi Emperor Alaudin, undertook an invasion into the Deccan with a large army.

He speedily reduced the kingdoms of Warangal and Dwarasamudra, and pushed south up to the extremity of the Peninsula, spreading devastation, and plundering everywhere.

In 1312 or according to some accounts, 1326 A.D., an army of Mohammedans invaded Śrīraṅgam and pillaged the temple and city.

The Vaishnavas of the city anticipated this, however, and removed the copper image of the Deity to Madura, just in time to save it from spoliation.

The conquering army massacred a large number (12,000, according to one account) of Vaishnavas, and left the place in ruins. The inner shrine of the temple had however been blocked up from view, and so, it is said, escaped destruction.

From this time for a period of nearly forty years, the districts of Trichinopoly and Madura, were under the rule of Muhammadan Deputies, subject to the Delhi Emperor.

About 1351 A.D., the Vijaynāgar King Bukka I, having established a stable Hindu kingdom on the banks of the Tungabhadra, commenced to conquer the southern portions of the country recently occupied by Muhammadan Generals.

He succeeded through Kampanna Odayar, his son and General, in conquering the greater part of the southern country and bringing it under Vijaynāgar rule.

Kampanna, who established himself at Madura, was greatly assisted, in his wars by one Gopannarya, a Brahmin and a warrior.

Gopanna was the Governor of Gingee, in North Arcot, which had fallen into the hands of the Vijaynāgar Dynasty.

We have stated above that about 1326 A.D., the idol of the Śrīraṅgam God had to be taken out to Madura to escape the fury of the Muhammadan invaders. The God was gradually taken to Tirupati and worshipped duly there.

When Kampanna completed his conquests in the south, Gopanna, who was no doubt a devout Vaiṣṇavite, thought it a suitable opportunity to restore the idol to Śrīraṅgam:

He brought it out from Tirupati and kept it at Gingee for a time.

He then took it to Śrīraṅgam and restored it to its proper place in the shrine and directed the usual festival (which had ceased) to be commenced in connection with the idol.

This fact is recorded in an inscription on the eastern wall of the temple in the form of two Sanskrit ślokas,  of nearly identical meaning and the verses are preceded by the chronogram  which means “In the Sāka year 1293,” A.D., 1371.

A Tamil work Kovilolugu is responsible for the details of the account, and the same is also mentioned, without dates, in the Tamil Vaḍakalai Guru paramparā, as it is called, a work of about the end of the fifteenth century.

Vedanta Deśika, it would seem, escaped the general massacre, being hidden by a mass of dead bodies, and betook himself with his followers to Mysore.

He spent several years there and then went to Satyamangalam in Coimbatore.

Here, in sore grief at his separation from the precincts of Śrīraṅgam, he composed the hymn Abhiti-Stava or ‘the hymn to expel danger.’

He makes reference in this work to the invasion of Muhammadans and to the cessation of worship at Śrīraṅgam, and lamenting over this great grief of his in his old age when “his head has become fully grey,” prays to God to expel his enemies and return to his seat.

In due time he heard, we are told, of the conquests of Gopanna and the return of the God, and himself hurried to Śrīraṅgam to enjoy the happy turn of the tide in favour of the Hindus.

It is said that the first of the verses inscribed on the wall was composed by him.

The Guru paramparā above-mentioned further narrates that Deśika lived some years after this event, built or repaired the Chidambaram Govindarāja Temple with the help of Gopannarya referred to already,

and, commissioned the Rāhasyatraya Sāra mentioned already, and certain other works, and finally died in the Kārtika month of the year Saumya which corresponds to November, 1369, A. D. The correctness of the last date is vouched for by other accounts, also of a traditional nature, and could not be disputed.

It will be seen that in the above account the date of Sāka year 1293 or 1371 A. D., for the actual restoration of the idol to Śrīraṅgam does not fit in, for if Deśika died in 1369, he could not compose the verse of the inscription in 1371.

This is a discrepancy which has to be got over.

Dr. Hultzsch in the “ Epigraphica Indica " (Vol. vi. p. 323) points out another difficulty:

It is that if Vedanta Deśika lived in 1371, he could not have been born in 1269, in the Śūkla year as stated in the Guru paramparā; for according to him a life of 100 years and more is a great improbability and the date of birth must therefore, he says, be “a pure invention.”

This is perhaps a small matter. We have a reason to think that the age of 100 years and upwards is not necessarily false, as exceptional people in those times, as well as now, lived long.

Their spare diet, pure habits and high intellectuality seem to have prolonged their lives, as otherwise many reliable accounts, some of them almost contemporary, have to be treated as spurious.

But even supposing that Vedanta Deśika was born a couple of decades later, there is a great agreement in all accounts that he lived only up to 1369 A. D., and hence, he could not have lived to see the restoration if it really took place in 1371.

Therefore, we may conclude that the story of his authorship of the verse is apocryphal and must be rejected.

But there is a difficulty:

If the restoration of the God was in the time of Varadāchārya, Vedanta Deśika’s son, there was no special motive, as far as we could see, in anticipating it, as the account does not in any way connect Deśika with the actual achievement of the restoration, except perhaps to show that his prayer had immediate effect.

We would therefore suggest that the actual restoration of the idol was some years before the death of Vedanta Deśika in 1369 A.D., say about 1364 or 1365.

There is nothing improbable in this, as Kampanna's activities by way of conquest commenced in 1361-62, and he is said to have made some repairs at Śrīraṅgam,

so that the inscription may have been engraved on the wall on the date mentioned, the actual restoration and consecration having occurred a few years before.

The inscription barely recording two verses of identical meaning with a date in chronogram prefixed to them does not look as if it was put up under the superintendence of Gopanna or of the authorities of the temple for the purpose of celebrating the restoration.

We miss the full commencement, usual in inscriptions, expressing the cyclic year, month, and day of the event, intended to be recorded;

and the purposeless repetition of the same facts in two successive verses, seems to justify the conclusion that memorial verses already in existence were simply engraved in an unauthorised manner with the date of engraving prefixed by the sculptor.

We are, therefore, probably nearer the truth in conjecturing that Deśika returned to Śrīraṅgam soon after the restoration of the idol, in about 1364 or 1365 A.D., and lived a few more years only, i.e., till November 1369 or the year Saumya, the year of his death as preserved in the Guru Paramparā Prabhava, the work of the third Brahma Tantra Jīyar, probably not much later than the end of the fifteenth century.

In confirmation of an earlier date than 1371 herein suggested for the actual restoration of the icon to Śrīraṅgam, we would also refer to the Yatindra-pravana Vibhavam of Pillai Lokarya Jīyar, where the events stated above are also narrated and the Verse I of the inscription is quoted as composed by an Abhiyukta, evidently referring to Vedanta Deśika.

The writer then states that the restoration was in the Sāka year Bahupriye, which is a chronogram for 1283 Sāka or 1361, A.D.

If this is the correct reading and not Bandhupriye as the inscription has it, the date of the composition of this Verse and that of the restoration must be that year, rather than the later years 1364 or 1365, as suggested in the preceding paragraphs.

As Chronograms, besides serving their purpose, were usually made to mean something appropriate, “Bahupriye”, “beloved of the many” would be a more suitable name for the year in which such an important event took place than “Bandhu priyā” – “loved by relations.


The works of Vedanta Deśika you can read now on this website:

Śrīmad Rāhasyatraya Sāram - "The Essence of the Three Secrets" - The Philosophical treatise on Prapatti and the Meaning of Om Namo Nārāyaṇa and two other most important Mantras of Śrī Vaiṣṇavism

Śrī Stuti | Swāmi Deśikan - Poetic and Philosophic Stotra dedicated to Mother Lakshmi.

Śrī Hayagrīva Stotra | Swami Deśikan - Stotra about the God with Horse's head who restored Vedas to Brahma and gives knowledge to men.