By Swami Harshananda
Life of Yāmunācārya
Yāmunācārya lived in A. D. 918-1038. The foundation of the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta philosophy of which Rāmānujācārya was the chief exponent, was laid by a succession of ten ācāryas or teachers before him. Of them Nāthamuni and Yāmuna or Yāmunācārya were the most prominent ones.
Yāmuna, also known as Ālavandār, was born in A. D. 918 as the son of Īśvaramuni, the son of Nāthamuni. Vīranārāyaṇapura in Tamil Nadu, was the place where he lived. At the tender age of twelve he is said to have conquered a great scholar Akki Ālvār in disputation. Consequently an immensely pleased Cola king gave him half the kingdom. He lived as a king enjoying all the luxuries of life. However, at the age of 80 he took Sanyāsa and settled down at Sriraṅgam, the famous place of pilgrimage with its temple of Raṅganātha. He worked hard to make the temple of Sriraṅgam as the central place of Śrīvaiṣṇavism.
Disciples of Yāmunācārya
Though he had a great desire to make Rāmānuja his disciple, to succeed him to the pontifical seat he was occupying, he passed away before he could do so. He had 21 disciples of whom the following five were the chief ones:
Works by Yāmunācārya
Yāmunācārya authored six works:
- Stotraratna - It is a beautiful hymn on Nārāyaṇa.
- Catuśślokl - It is the role of his spouse Lakṣmī in granting liberation to the jīvas.
- Āgamaprāmānya - In this he proves that the Pāñcarātra Āgamas are as authoritative as the Vedas.
- Siddhitraya - It is his chief work on the philosophy of Viśiṣṭhādvaita, wherein he has tried to prove that Brahman and jīva are separate entities, the relation between them being one of śeṣa and śeṣin.
- Gītārthasañgraha - In this work, he has shown that it is Nārāyaṇa-Parabrahma that is attained through the three disciplines of karma, jñāna and bhakti. It is bhakti that is the chief means.
- Mahāpurusanirnaya - In this work he has tried to establish that the God described in the Upaniṣads and the purāṇas is Nārāyaṇa.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore