This Web-Page is dedicated for sharing the biography, special achievements and related issues of one of the great Philosophers of 20th Century, SrI “abhinava dESika” UttamUr Tirumalai “VAtsya” VeerarAghavAchArya from India. During his lifetime (1896-1983 A.D.) ,he was revered as a great authority of especially the Philosophy of NyAya -VaiSEshika (Indian Logic), ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta and Advaita VEdAnta, by all the eminent scholars of different schools of VEdAnta.
He firmly established the Philosophy of ViSishTAdvaita, following the footsteps of the well known premier SrI VaishNava AchAryas like Bhagavad RAmAnuja (1017 – 1137 A.D.),one of the all time great Philosophers and Religious Leaders from India and Bhagavad VEdAnta DESika ( alias VenkatanAtha ,1268-1369 A.D.), a genius and versatile Polymath, adorning a unique place in the history of India as one of the all time great Philosophers cum Poets. After the unparalleled and original contributions by Bhagavad RAmAnuja and SrI VEdAnta DESika, SrI UttamUr SwAmi in his own merit made many new rich contributions to the Philosophy of ViSishT- Advaita and SrI VaishNava Sat SampradAyam. Apart from writing excellent commentaries to some nof the Philosophical works of eminent SrI VaishNava AchAryas like SrI YAmunAchArya (916-1041 A.D.), SrI RAmAnujAchArya, SrI VAtsya Varadaguru alias NadAdUr ammAL (1165-1275 A.D.), he also made insightful commentaries to almost all the works of SrI VEdAnta DESika, further attesting them firmly to be the guiding light for understanding the simple to esoteric meanings enshrined in the holy VEdas and allied authoritative scriptural texts.
Unlike many other great SrI VaishNava scholars, he had the unique and rare distinction of having attained a high and equal authority over both Upanishads in Sanskrit, as well as Divya Prabandhams of the AzhwArs in Tamil, reverred as Dravida VEdas with NammAzhwAr’s ThiruvAimozhi being hailed as DramidOpanishad.He commented upon both of these with equal ease, adding great clarity and profound insights.He is thus revered to be one of the all time great Ubhaya-VEdAnta scholars,which refers to mastery in Twin-VEdAnta comprising the sacred VEdas in Sanskrit and AzhwAr’s Divya Prabandhams.
His lengthy hair splitting Polemic work “ParamArtha BhUshaNam” written in refutation to SrI AnantakrishNanSAstri’s “SatabhUshaNi” a criticism on SrI VEdAnta DESika’s SatadUshaNi, is recognized as his magnum opus. In this work, the soundness of the arguments in SatadUshaNi, in successfully refuting the various tenets of advaita vEdAnta are clearly established. Moreover, all the developments in advaita VEdAnta after the periodof SrI VEdAnta DESika are thoroughly considered. In this work in particular, he has shown his extrordinary mastery of the various intricate issues in both ViSishTAdvaita and advaita VEdAnta, contributed by several scholars spanning many a centuries and has advanced innumerous original arguments with great logical acumen to drive home his point. Soon after the release of this monumental work in 1959, he was honoured to be the very first recipient of the “President Award” in the history of India, for scholarship in Sanskrit,after top-notch scholars of advaita VEdAnta unbiassedly recommeding him to be the befitting scholar to receive that highly prestigious award.
His profound scholarship in VEdAnta was built from his sound mastery of sAmAnya SAstras like NyAya-VaisEshika, Sage Jaimini’s mImAmsa and VyAkaraNa (Sanskrit Grammar esp. as established by Sage PANini ). He was a great authority in both PrAcIna-NyAya (Old NyAya) and Navya-NyAya (Neo-NyAya) and authored some high quality works in this field. His outstanding commentary in a young age, to Udayan – AchArya’s (10th Cent.A.D.) NyAya-KusumAnjali, a very terse text in the style of PrAcIna NyAya won the hearts of innumerous scholars. It is accepted by all that but for this illuminating commentary in the style of Navya-NyAya, the purport and in-depth meanings of this great PrAcIna NyAya Classic establishing God through Inference could not have been understood.It is well known that this commentary is followed by all teachers and students.His commentary to “Tarka San^graha “, a fundamantal manual of Navya-NyAya,is a Philosopher’s delight. It is a very unique commentary presenting the “SAbdabOdham” for the entire original text, thereby revealing his high-end mastery of Navya-NyAya.His incomplete insightful commentary on NyAya-SUtras of Sage Gautama is awaiting publication from the manuscript stage, after the request of several scholars to enrich the understanding of NyAya Philosophy.
His works on VaiSEshika Philosophy like “VaiSEshika RasAyanam”,a brilliant commentary on the Sutras by Sage KaNAda won deep admiration of eminent scholars like late SrI ChandrasEkharEndra Saraswati (SankarAchArya) of Kanchi. SrI Kanchi SankarAchArya has openly acknowledged during public functions to felicitate SrI UttamUr SwAmi that he was an avid reader of various books of SrI UttamUr SwAmi and that he has not seen a scholar of SrI UttamUr SwAmi’s stature in his lifetime.His excellent commentary for “MImAmsa NyAya -PrakASa” in a very young age, was very well appreciated by all scholars of MImAmsa, including “PaNDitarAja” SrI D.T.TAtAchArya, an authority of mImAmsa SAstra. His scholarly commentaries for SrI VEdAnta DESika’s SESwara MImAmsa and MImAmsa PAduka speaks volumes on his mastery of mImAmsa SAstra. His brief work called “Upayukta MImAmsa” is highly celebrated for delineating with clarity on only the essentials of mImAmsa SAstra to be known for the good understanding of SrI BhAshya, the outstanding commentary on Sage VyAsa’s Brahma (VEdAnta) SUtras by Bhagavad RAmAnuja
His detailed commentary on SrI VEdAnta DESika’s “NyAya PariSuddhi” serves as a milestone in the exposition of Epistemology adopted by ViSishTAdvaita. His commenatry and detailed Introduction to SrI VEdAnta DESika’s “NyAya SiddhAnjanam”, and commentary on SrI VEdAnta DESika’s “SarvArtha Siddhi”are cherished by eminent scholars for their lucid and insightful presentation ofsimple to even very advanced aspects of ViSishTAdvaita Metaphysics, Ontology, Epistemology, Cosmology, Eschatology and Theology.
Two of his well celebrated classics in ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta are (i) an elaborate
commentary to SrI BhAshyam, the magnum opus of Bhagavad RAmAnuja and (ii) a very detailed commentary on SrI VEdAnta DESika’s “AdhikaraNa SArAvalI”. In the former, named “SrI BhAshyArtha DarpaNa”, he has packed various brilliant ideas, arguments, new problems with appropriate solutions in a very lucid style. His highly insightful explanations on the logical connectivity between the sutras is a treat for the scholars.
After the advent of SrI SudarSana SUri’s (13th-14th Cent. A.D.) “SrutaprakASika”, a well celebrated exhaustive illuminating commentary on SrI BhAshyam as heard from the discourses of SrI NadAdUr ammAL and SrI RangarAmAnuja Muni’s (16th-17th Cent. A.D.) excellent treatise “BhAvaprakASika”, a commentary upon “SrutaprakASika”, this monumental original contribution from SrI UttamUr SwAmi has taken the exposition of SrIBhAshyam to newdimensions.AdhikaraNa SArAvalI is a gem amongst the Philosophical works of SrI VEdAnta DESika with 562 verses in SragdharA meter expounding the purport of each adhikaraNa of Brahma SUtras with innumerous original special insights not presented in SrI BhAshyam. SrI UttamUr SwAmi’s commentary on this is regarded as a masterpiece by proficient scholars.
His bhUmikas ie.Introductions to his works in general are highly learned in nature.
Special mention must be made on his two outstanding bhUmikAs of very high order
(i) For SrI MEghanAdAri SUri’s NayadyumaNi : This very elaborate bhUmika is a treatise in itself with brilliant summary and expositions of various technical concepts of ViSishTAdvaita in contrast with other Philosophical systems.
(ii) For Bhagavad RAmAnuja’s GIta BhAshya and TAtparya chandrika : This is an excellent comparitive study on the threecommentaries to Bhagavad GIta, viz. by SrI SankarAchArya, SrImRAmAnujAchArya and SrI MadhvAchArya. Soundness of SrI RAmAnuja’s interpretation is also established apart from successfully refuting the criticisms over it.
His majestic scholarly commentary upon SrImad Rahasya Traya SAra, the magnum opus of SrI VEdAnta DESika, makes very evident that he was an authority in the “rahasya” granthas of SrI VaishNava AchAryas expounding the esoteric meanings and significances of the three mantras held in high esteem by SrI VaishNava SatSampradAya. He has also written independent works on Prapatti Or SaraNAgathi and allied “rahasya” works apart from commenting upon various works on this field by previous AchAryas.In addition to his commentaries on works like pAn~carAtra Raksha of SrI VEdAnta DESika, his independent treatises on the authority and teachings of PAn~carAtra and VaikhAnasa Agamas are rich contributions to the Agama Literature. His tamil commentary to the San^kshEpa RAmAyaNa is a wonderful treat for the devotees of Lord SrI RAma.
Like SrI VEdAnta DESika, he was also a great Poet and has composed many stotras, as well as commented upon all the super-excellent kAvyas of SrI VEdAnta DESika viz. YAdavAbhyudaya (MahAkAvya with 24 Cantos on the pastimes of Lord KrishNa, which won the deep admiration of SrI Appaya DIkshita (16th Cent.A.D.), a great exponent of advaita VEdAnta, who even wrote a commentary upon it), PAdukA Sahasra (1008 verses on the PAdukAs ie.Sandals of Lord RanganAtha ) with exposition of intricacies in Sage VAlmIki’s SrImad RamAyaNa and hidden salutations to SrI NammAzhwAr), Hamsa SandESa (A Lyric on Divine Love with Lord RAma sending a Swan messanger to Goddess SIta in separation), SubhAshita NIvI (Didactic poetry on moral and religious instructions) and Sankalpa SUryOdaya (An allegorical Play dramatizing the concepts of ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta and SrI VaishNava sampradAya). Being a master of Poetry, even in his Philosophical works like ParamArtha BhUshaNam, SrI UttamUr SwAmi followed the style of SrI VEdAnta DESika in giving the essence of a chapter etc through verses easy for commitment to memory and to recall all the appropriate philosophical ideas. He was not only a prolific writer in sAmAnya SAstras, ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta and SrI VaishNava SampradAyam, but also an excellent teacher of SAmAnya SAstras and Ubhaya-VEdAnta throughout his lifetime. Innumerous Students both from north and south India were immensly benifited.
He was well appreciated and admired by scholars of all other schools of VEdAnta for his sincere and truthful way of presenting an issue and in advancinghealthy criticisms, without getting into emotional outburst of sarcasm etc upon opponent individuals of other schools. Though he never compromised upon his own principles and Philosophical convictions, his high order intellectual skills with proficiency in various SAstras, combined with his excellent personality of noble qualities made him a very good friend of many scholars of other schools of thought. For instance, it was SrI AnantakrishNa SAstri, a good friend of SrI UttamUr SwAmi, who specially requested him to write the on the refutal for his
SatabhUshaNi, so that he <SrI SAstri> can have a good idea of the merit of his own work. He was invited by invited by advaitins and dwaitins for meeting amongst scholars and honoured him.
After the request of SrI DIkshitAji, the then head of SrI VallabhAchArya sampradAya, SrI KOzhiyalam swAmi instructed his chosen disciple SrI UttamUr SwAmi to write a refutal work on “Advaita AamOda” – a criticizm on SrI BhAshya and thus was born “ParamArtha PrakASika” in 1940, printed by SrI DIkshitAji himself. He wasinvited by Mutts like Gaudiya Muth of Chennai (Madras), who held him in high esteem, to deliver discourses at their premises.
Needless to say, he commanded great reverence and respect from various SrI VaishNava AchAryas and scholars. Special mention must be made about SrImad Mukkoor Azhagiyasingar (44th H.H.Jeeyar of SrI Ahobila Muth) of SrIrangam RAjagOpuram fame, who as an ardent admirer of him has donated large heartedly for some of his Publications, including for that of the magnum opus “ParamArtha BhUshaNam”.During the Vidvat Sadas (meetings of scholars) esp. for ViSishTAdvaita scholars, those who are sitting down in the side of SrI UttamUr SwAmi would sit only few feets back of him as a mark of great respect to his unparalleled scholarship.
In recognition of his outstanding scholarship, SrI UttamUr SwAmi was held in great esteem by eminent ThennAchAryas like SrI PrativAdi Bhayankaram AnnangarAchArya. SrI KArapangAdu VenkatAchArya swAmi was a deep admirer of him and while speaking during felicitation functions, hehas also publicly identified himself as a disciple of SrI UttamUr SwAmi through his invaluable books. SrI VELukkudi VaradAchArya SwAmi studied and got well trained in NyAya SAstra under SrI UttamUr SwAmi, acquiring strong foundations for the study of SrI BhAshya.
He never wasted time in baselessly criticizing opponent’s views, even within SrI VaishNava sampradAyam, just for the sake of criticizm and filling pages only to further intensify animosity between the sects. Propelled by his superior mental maturity, he used to simply ignore those who untiringly perform vain-criticism as their life’s mission to derive immense self-satisfaction. However, in his commentaries and independent works, he would discuss such issues with merit at appropriate context, based on pramANas and logic, in a dispassionate way and establish the view of the siddhAnta.
Having incarnated after Lord VeerarAghava of Thiru-yevvuL DivyaDEsam answered the prayers of their parents in the lineage of NallAn Chakravarti at UttamanallUr, a village near MadhurAntakam,Tamilnadu, during the Tamil month of Thai(Jan-Feb) and SwAti star, he had his SamASrayanam under SrI Tirupati SwAmi of Munitraya AchArya Parampara, and Grantha kAlakshEpam cum Bhara-nyAsam under SrI KOzhiyAlam SwAmi. He became the successor of this lineage and administered SamASrayanam and Bhara-NyAsam for disciples while being in the gruhastAshrama, as per the instructions of his AchArya,
which was to mainly carry out the publications without much problems. From his unparalleled jn~Ana (Knowledge), he had the resultant great devotion to Lord SrIman nArAyaNa. He was an ardent devotee of Lord SrInivAsa of Tirumalai and apart from composing stotras to PerumAL and thAyAr, he has also written an unfinished kAvya on “SrInivAsa KalyANam”. He was a very regular reciter of SrI VEdAnta DESika’s classic “DayA Satakam”, a 108 verse composition on the mercy of Lord SrInivAsa. Even just before he departed to SrI VaikuNTham, he asked his two sons to recite “DayA Satakam” and heard it. His deep bhagavad anubhavams are well brought out in his commentaries to Divya Prapandhams. He was well versed in his anushThAnas following the five fold division of services/duties for each day. He never longed for money and fame, and lead a very simple life with exemplary AchArya bhakti.
SrI UttamUr SwAmi was performing all the activities like washing his cloths daily by himself, buying vegetables etc for the house daily, attending all the marriages, functions etc of the realtives and friends without fail, delivering kAlakshEpams to sishyAs daily, attending Vidvat Sadas regularly etc. After he settled in Madras, he worked day and night for the publications through “Ubhaya VEdAnta GrantamAla” and “ViSishTAdvaita PrachArini Sabha”. He wrote in bits of papers and will by himself give for composing and will by himself proof check everything etc till the book comes out. He was then assisted by some of his learned disciples in Proof reading etc. He even struggled to manage getting papers for writing and printing and at times shortened his commentaries due to the lack of funding. Moved by the hardships undergone by
SrI UttamUr SwAmi, SrI AnantakrishNa SAstri told in a public meeting that, if at all SrI UttamUr SwAmi was an advaitin, himself and his community would have performed “KanakAbishEkam” (shower of Gold Coins) in recognition of his scholarship.
He never showed any sign of slackness and was ever brisk with his publication activities. His dispassionate analysis, well researched writings, originality, lucid explanations of terse original texts and establishment of authentic readings from manuscripts remain as hallmarks of his inavaluable Philosophical works. His total number of known works amounts to 170, discounting his various learned articles in different souvenirs and magazines like
VEdAnta Deepika, SrI Nrusimha PriyA etc.He has immesly taken pains to get to know all the available works of PUrvAchAryas esp. after SrI VEdAnta DESika,through manuscripts and included those in his publications which are necessary to be printed. Few other important commentaries of PUrvAchAryas were independetly published by other scholars. Thus, preservation of vast source of knowledge spanning across various centuries can be easily done by preserving the publications of SrI UttamUr SwAmi, apart from learning his new contributions. Currently, his publications are invariably used in most of the traditional kAlakshEpams and upanyAsams.
He was a walking encyclopedia of various systems of Philosophies and was a leading guiding star of ViSishTAdvaita VEdanta. It was a golden era for SrI VaishNava sampradAya with his invaluable Publications taking the ViSishTAdvaita VEdAnta to new higher and greater heights – A great quantam leap in terms of the Philosophical literature. No wonder that in recognition of his Super-Human activities,SrI UttamUr SwAmi was hailed by one and all -AchAryas to Scholars to Layman as “Abhinava DESika” – A Newer VEdAnta DESika in their midst.
Long Live SrI “abhinava dESika” UttamUr VeerarAghavAchArya SwAmi!
Long Live Invaluable Works of SrI UttamUr SwAmi !
Long Live SrI VaishNava Sat SampradAyam !