Biography of Yamunacharya by Shri Madhavakkannan



   Yamunacharya is the grand -Acharya (Pracharya ) of Ramanujacharya (1017 AD to 1137 AD). He  established the principles of Visisht Adhvaita as an expansion of the doctrines housed in his grandfather's treatises and elaborated on those doctrines with authoritative scriptures such as Sruthis, Bhagavadh Gita , Azhwar's pasurams and Selected Satvika Puranas.

   Once an arrogant vidwan by name Akkiyalvan was challenging and humiliating learned men. Yamuna (as a 16 year old boy) accepted the challenge and went to the court to argue with him. The queen was so impressed with the boy that she told the king and pursuaded him to give away half the kingdom if he won in the debate and offered herself to be thrown to wild dogs, if the boy failed. Akkiyalvan asked the boy to state three propositions positive or negative which he offered to counter. And, if he could not, the boy would be declared the winner.

Yamuna asked (or stated) three statements. He asked Akkialwan to counter.

   ( i ) Your mother is not a barren woman-Naturally he could not counter saying that his mother is a barren woman (he is very much standing in front of Yamunacharya).

   ( ii ) The king is a righteous and powerful ruler – Obviusoly he can not afford to conuter this. and

   ( iii ) The queen is a model of chastity. – oh no! Never can he counter this.

   Akkialvan accepted defeat and the King now asked Yamuna to disprove his own statements.

Yamuna clarified by observing the following:-

   ( i ) The sacred laws say that an only son is no son at all. So, Akkiyalvan's mother was as good as barren in the eyes of the law.
   ( ii ) The king cannot be called righteous when he entertained such an arrogant person to be his chaplain and his not dismissing the chaplain showed that the king was indeed powerless.

   ( iii ) According to the Shruti texts, every woman is wedded first to Soma, then Gandharva and then Agni before marrying her earthly partner. The queen was no exception and therefore cannot be deemed a model of chastity.

   (This is only to drive home a point that logic can not be the solution fully. One needs to fall back on Saasthras and Shruthi/Smrthis for pramanams.)
   The King sent Akkiyalvan out of his kingdom and gave Yamuna half his kingdom. The queen hailed the boy as "Alavandhaar"- One who came to save me.

   Thus, Alavandar has become the king and could not attend to spiritual pursuits further.

   Meanwhile, Rama Mishra (manakkaal nambhi) was trying to catch Yamunacharya's attention to fulfil his promise to his Guru to install Alavandar as the spiritual successor to Nathamuni.. But, he could not meet Alavandar, being a king now to discuss the matter. He came out with an idea. He came to know that the king relishes thoodhu vaLai keerai (kind of spinach). He supplied that spinach to the royal kitchen daily. After few months, he stopped. The king asked the cook as to why the spinach is not being served. They replied saying "one brahmin used to supply. He does not come nowdays." Alavandhar told them that he would like to meet him, if he comes next. Next day, they met each other.

   Rama Mishrar told Alavandhar that his grandfather Shri Nathamuni had passed on the family wealth (kula dhanam) that needs to be handed over to Shri Alavandhar. Alavandhar said, "in that case, give me that."
   "No. It is not here. Come with me.". He took him all the way to Shrirangam Koil. (Aradha arulamudham podhintha koil). He showed Alavandhar, the Divya mangala vigraham of Shri Ranganathan. Looking at the Lord, in such divine splendour, the divine beauty- and looking (with tears rolling down his cheeks) at those "kariyavaagi, pudai parandhu, miLirndha, sevvariyOdiya, neeNda, ap periya vaaya kaNgaL.." (those dark, well spread, shining, ruddy lined, long, large eyes)-

   He bursts out:

   I have nothing to give you. None at all. I have no quailifications. I am not religious. What a Great person my Grand Father was! What am I! I have no one but You(the embodiment of mercy! Compassion!) as my refuge. He performed Sharanagathy at the Lotus Feet of Lord Ranganathan.

na dharma nishtOsmi na chaatma vedi
na bhaktimaan tvaccharan Aravinde
akinchanoananyagatih saranya!
tvat paadamoolam saranam prapadye

(Sthothra Rathnam- 22nd sloka)

   Oh you worthy of being sought as refuge! I am not one established in Dharma, nor am I a knower of the self. I have no fervent devotion to Your lotus-feet. Utterly destitute as I am, and having none else for resort, I take refuge under Your feet. (Translation by Swamy Adidevananda)

   Rama Mishra explained the purpose of his mission and requested Alavandar to take over the reins of spiritual leadership bequeathed to him by his illustrious grandfather, Nathamuni. Alavandar took to Sannyas and was then known as Yamuna Muni.

    He has composed for us only.

patitam bhiima-bhavaarnav'odare;
agatim saran'aagatam hare!
krpayaa kevalam aatmasaat kuru.

   Oh Shri Hari! pray, make me Your own out of sheer grace – me, who has fallen into the depths of the terrible ocean of worldly existence, and who, being resortless, have sought refuge at your feet.

amaryadha: kshudra: chalamadhi: asuyAprasavabhu
kruthagno dhurmAni smara paravaso vanchanapara
nrusamsa: papishta: kathamahamitho dukkajaladhe
aparath uttheerna: tava parichareyam charanayo

   What a soul stirring slhoka! One can not but cry reciting this, (imagining himself as the hero:-( of the slhoka)

   AlavandhAr describes himself as:

   amaryadha: one who has crossed the bounds of established rules
   kshudra: engaging in trivial /worldly /material/sensual pursuits
   chalamadhi: never steady; (chanchalam), fickle  mind
   asuya prasava bhu : Place where jealousy is born
   kruthagana: Ungrateful one
   dhurmanee: ill feelings towards fellow human beings;
   smara paravasa: Fallen into the gamut of desires and sensual impluses
   vanchanapara: skillfully deceiving others (at cheating others )
   nrusamsa: engaging in violent acts
   paapishta: ( Incorrigible sinner – maha paapi)

   Swamy Desikan says– ahamasmi aparadha chakravartthi. (also meant for us). Swamy desikan also writes in Subashithanivi:

   Source : http://www.saranagathi.org/acharyas/yamuna/index.htm


Oh Shri Hari! pray, make me Your own out of sheer grace - me, who has fallen into the depths of the terrible ocean of worldly existence, and who, being resortless, have sought refuge at your feet. (In the wallpaper: Lord Shri Krishna, ISKCON Chennai).