Koorathazhwan

Koorathazhwan, also known as Kuresa and Srivatsanka Mishra, was the chief disciple of the great Vaishnavite acharya Ramanuja. He assisted Ramanuja in all his endeavors.

Koorathazhwan
Personal
Born1010 A.D.
Hamlet of 'Kura' or 'Kooram' near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.
ReligionHinduism
PhilosophyVishishtadvaita
Religious career
GuruRamanuja

Early lifeEdit

Koorathazhwan was born as Kuresan in a small hamlet 'Kooram' near Kanchi, in the year of 1010 A.D (Sowmya year, Thai month, Hastham star),[citation needed] in an affluent family as the son of Sri Kurattazhwar. He belonged to the clan of 'Haritha', who were popular landlords. Koorathazhwan was married at a young age to Andal, a devoted and pious lady. Both of them led a happy and peaceful life. They were deeply devoted to Lord Varadaraja Perumal. The pious couple were very famous in the holy town of Kanchi, for their unstinting philanthropy and kindness.[1] Their children were was Parasara Bhattar and Veda Vyasa Bhattar.

Meeting RamanujaEdit

Kuresan was heavily influenced by the teachings of Sri Ramanujacharya, who was staying in Kanchipuram at that time. It was the time when Ramanuja's teachings were growing popular and His fame was slowly spreading. Kuresan quickly approached Ramanuja and became his disciple. A bond was established between them and under the effective guidance of Ramanuja, Kuresan was initiated into rigorous study of Vedic scriptures and other holy works.

Meanwhile, due to other plans of the Lord, Ramanuja moved to Srirangam and the friendship between Ramanauja and Koorathazhwan came to a temporary end. Later Koorathazhwan continued his earlier philanthropic works.

Divine PlanEdit

Once it happened that Lord Varadaraja Perumal and His Consort Perundevi Piraati heard a heavy sound of a door being closed. The actual reason was that, Kuresan had closed the brass doors of his home, after completing his daily routine of feeding the poor. By the order of the Lord, who appeared in the dream, the chief priest arrived at the door step of Kuresan to bring him to the Lord. On hearing this news, rather than feeling happy, Kuresan was extremely saddened, as he thought that it was a sin on his part to disturb the Lord and His Consort at the night time, by 'announcing' his charity activities. This incident created a turmoil in the mind of Kuresan, which was a turning point in his life. At once he and his wife decided to renounce all their belongings and move to Srirangam, where Ramanuja was staying. On reaching Srirangam, the couple were given a warm welcome and Ramanuja was very happy to have his old friend again. Kuresan became a disciple of Ramanuja and assisted him in all his works such as spiritual study, management of the temple, philosophical compositions and many others. Soon Koorathazhwan became the hand and eye of Sri Ramanujacharya.

Journey to KashmirEdit

One of the main aims of Ramanujacharya was to compose the Sri Bhasya. To compose this work, he wanted to refer Bodhayana's vritti Brahma Sutras, an ancient parchment. This work was available in the royal library of the state of Kashmir. Ramanujacharya and Koorathazhwan, along with certain other disciples undertook the tedious journey to Kashmir and met the king of that state. The king was very much pleased with these men of divine nature and immediately granted them access to the library. But the pundits of that place were not pleased with the 'outsiders' and troubled them a lot. They put forth a condition that the 'vritti' shall not leave the library. So, Ramanujacharya and Koorathazhwan decided to read the 'vritti' within the premises of the library itself. To incur more trouble, the pundits went still further to put a condition that no notes must be taken, by reading the vritti. Then Ramanujacharya decided to return to Srirangam and they started their journey back south. Ramanujachraya was disappointed for not making adequate reading of the vritti. But after reaching Srirangam he realized that he had lost nothing. Koorathazhwan had read the entire text of the vritti and had memorized it completely. He was able to recall the vritti, instantly and accurately word-by-word. With great sense of fulfillment, Ramanujacharya completed the Sri Bashya, which was a commentary on the Brahmasutras.

Completing Sri Bashya was mainly because of the involvement of Koorathazhwan. His works include Sri Vaikunta Stavam, Athimanushastavam, Sundarabahustavam, Varadarajastavam and Sri Stavam. These five works were collectively known as Panchastavee.[2]

Meeting the Chola KingEdit

After a certain period of time, the glory of Sri Ramanujacharya spread far and wide. Since Ramanuja provided ample evidences from authorised scriptures to prove the supreme authority of Narayana (Lord Vishnu) , the then called Chola King - Rajaraja Anabaya Kulothunga chola II (Irandam Kulothangan) also called as Thiruneetru Chola Boopathy or Krimikanta Chola- who was a practitioner of Shaivism, was offended. He had also executed several vaishnavas for not accepting Shaivism, forcefully. The reason for his vengeance towards Vaishnavas is due to the Govindaraja Swamy idol present in Chidambaram.

The history goes like this: The establishment of deities Nataraja, Parvati, and Govindaraja dates back to Puranic times. Once, Lord Shiva and Parvati got into an argument who dances better- Lord Shiva himself or Parvati. Hence they decided to put forth Lord Vishnu (Govindaraja) as a judge to decide the winner of the tournament (on who dances the best). So Lord Shiva takes the form of Nataraja dances in a celestial dance along with Parvati (Lasya). They transformed themselves into an idol and remained in Chidambaram.

Particularly the feet of Govindaraja reclining in the snake Adisesha will be directed towards Lord Nataraja which Kulothunga feels as an insult to his Lord Shiva. At first he makes the footpath for devotees to visit the deity Govindaraja tougher and not renovating. The next time he ordered the temple to be closed indefinitely. An elderly (old) woman who attempted to visit Govindaraja was severely beheaded in front of the public by Kulothunga himself. At last he banished the deity out of the temple devoid of any Vaishnavaite involvement in the temple.


Also Govindaraja deity was immersed by him in the ocean. He was envious of Ramanuja, so, he invited Ramanuja to his "Vidvath Sadhas" to debate his philosophy. Coming to know this, Koorathazhwan immediately rushed back to the ashram in Srirangam and requested Sri Ramanujacharya and the others to move away to some safer place. Though not interested in moving, Sri Ramanujacharya had to oblige to his adamant disciples. When the soldiers came to the ashram, Koorathazhwan adorned the robes of Sanyas of Ramanuja and presented him self to the soldiers as Ramanuja. Accompanied by Mahapurna (Periya Nambi), they reached the king's court. There, the Shaivites debated them but Koorathazhwar (disguised as Ramanuja) and Mahapurna defeated them in the debate. One particular soldier who has seen Ramanuja before complained to the king about the disguise. The king got infuriated and at once ordered them to respect Shiva as a supreme Tattva and accept Shaivism, but Koorathazhwar and Mahapurna strictly refused, to which the king got furious and ordered their eyes to be pulled out. Kuresha said that he himself shall do as the hands of an egoistic king shall never be placed on his body. Koorathazhwan at once pulled his eyes out and threw them at the king. The eyes of Mahapurna were also gorged by the soldiers and they were sent away from the court, already then 105 years old, Mahapurna attained Holy Feet of the Lord (Moksha) on the back way to Srirangam.

Records of temples and royal orders state, Kulothunga Chola II died painfully of throat cancer, and was mocked forever as Krimikanta Chola (Chola with Cancerous throat). The further chola kings were supportive of all faiths as records state.

Some Shaivaites even object this statement, because Kulothunga II ruled for 52 years even beyond Ramanuja's departure from Earth. So the involvement of Kulothunga in Ramanuja's life is highly uncertain, and even ancestors of Kulothunga were very just to Vaishnavaites. But the incident that is certain is, Ramanuja has definitely moved from Srirangam due to some random King.

Sri Ramanujacharya meanwhile had moved to Melkote in Karnataka along with his disciples and established Vaishnavism there with the support of the local king. After the turbulence period of over 12 years had got over, after the so called death of the king who banished him from Srirangam, Ramanuja decided to return to Srirangam to leave Melkote forever. Upon hearing the news of return of Ramanuja, Koorathazhwan became extremely happy. Since he was blind, he used the help of his friends and disciples to meet Sri Ramanuja in his ashram. Ramanuja suggested to divinely request his lost eyes to lord varadaraja of Kanchipuram and that he will definitely bless him with eyes. Koorathazhwan did so, and the lord readily granted his eyes on the kachchi street of Kanchipuram ( Vedanta desikan quotes Lord Varadarajan as "Kachchi thanil Kan kodukkum perumal") Kuresan got back his vision and saluted Ramanuja for his extreme greatness and glory. Koorathazhwan lived for some more years and attained the Holy Feet of the Lord.

Thaniyan on Sri RamanujacharyaEdit

Koorathazhwan composed a thaniyan on Sri Ramanujacharya

yO nityam achyuta pAdAmbuja yugma rukma

vyAmOhatastaditarANi tRuNAya mEnE |
asmad gurOr bhagavatO asya dayaikasindhOh

rAmAnujasya charaNou SaraNam prapadyE ||

yO - who
nityam - always
achyuta pAdAmbuja yukma rukma vyAmOhatah - because of his excessive desire for the lotus Feet of the Lord which he considered as wealth
tat itarANi - every thing else
tRuNAya mEnE - thought as mere nothing
asmat gurOh - our AchArya
bhagavatah - having all auspicious qualities
dayA Eka sindhOh - ocean of mercy alone
asya rAmAnujasya - to such Sri rAmAnuja
charaNou - to his venerable feet
SaraNam - i take them as means
prapadyE - i prostrate

I seek the Holy Feet of Sri Ramanujacharya who considered all the worldly things and pleasures as mere nothing, because of his love towards the Divine Feet of Achyuta. He is our guru since he possesses all the auspicious qualities and therefore the ocean of mercy.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Kooram Adikesava Perumal". Chennai Live news. Chennai, India. 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Rich in description". The Hindu. India. 8 March 2012.