Sripad Ramanujacharya (1017-1137)
Size: 13.7 x 9.6 in (34.8 x 24.4 cm)
Date of printing: 1910s-1920s
Sri Ramanuja is known as the most important philosopher-saint of Sri Vaishnavism. A Hindu theologian and social reformer, he revitalized Indian philosophy and popular religion. He is said to be the incarnation of Laxman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, hence the name Ramanujacharya.
Ramanuja revolted against the discrimination that had crept within the caste system and helped dalits, considered to be untouchables, to get absorbed into the Sri Vaishnava Bhakti Movement.
He preached the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita (qualified nondualism) that affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the universal Brahman.
His fame grew because he was considered the first thinker in centuries that disputed Adi Shankara’s theories, and offered an alternative interpretation of Upanishadic scriptures. His philosophy competes with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvacharya, and Advaita (non-dualism) philosophy of Adi Shankara, making them the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. His life and works show a truly unique personality, combining contemplative insight, logical acumen, charismatic energy, and selfless dedication to God. He received many death threats for his determination to spread the bhakti movement. The mummified body of Ramanuja is preserved at the Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam using sandalwood paste and saffron.