I have immense pleasure in writing this foreword to the English rendering of Sri Yamunacharya’s Stotraratna done by Dr. M.S. Rajajee, I.A.S. who held many high administrative postion such as the Chief Secretary ship to the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the chairmanship of the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission. Dr. Rajajee is a man of many parts and his passion for philosophy and religion is at once amazing and abysmal Born in a Sri Vaishnava family of great piety and nobility, he, notwithstanding the onerous responsibilities of his high office, has been finding time to study the cardinal works of this tradition and expound the truths contained therein simple but effective English so that the layman who has no access to the original works in Sanskrit can catch their spirit and relive the glorious past in which the authors lived in wrote.
I have had the opportunity of going through his English annotation of Mukundomala of Saint Kulasekhara, which by all means, is the best-written one. The speciality of Dr. Rajajee’s style is its astounding simplicity marked by smoothness of flow and aptness of expression. Even the profoundest idea can be put across by him with commendable ease and dignity. This, in my opinion, is a rare quality to be found in translators. I have also seen a recent publication of the Stasampradaya Parirakshana Sabha, Warangal, which is an English translation by Dr. Rajajee for the Satsampradaya sudha written by one of our most erudite and prolific Srivashnava Acharya, Mahamahopadhyaya, Kavi, Sabdika Kesari, Sri U.Ve. S.N.C.R. Raghunathacharya Swami. Here again we find translation very easy and telling, bringing out the spirit of the original in its best possible way.
The Stotraratna occupies a very high place in the hymnal literature of the Srivaishnava of South India since it is the first hymn to have come from the pen of a great pre-Ramanuja writer who happened to be the grand-teacher of the great Ramanuja and the grandson of Nathamuni, the first Srivaishnava teachers whose the works, the Nyayatattva and the yogahasya have not come down to us. The Stotraratna, along with the Sristuti or the catussloki of the same Acharya are very significant in the srivaishnava tradition. Clothing the philosophical ideas of the School in a poetic garb, they have inspired many later Srivaishnava writers to compose more detailed treatise, hymns and works highlighting the basic tenets of the School such as the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu, the glory of His highest abode called srivaiskuntha, the position of his consort Sri or Lakshmi and the efficacy of the paths of Bhakti and prapatti in effecting salvation. Inspired by these hymns of Yamuna only Sri Ramanuja composed his Gadyatraya.
The present work viz, the Sotraratna has been quite popular with authors of texts on the Alankarasastra also. For instance, Sri Appaya Dikshita in his Kavalayananda cites the verse ’tavaamrita-syandini paada-pankaje...’(no.27) as an illustration for thefigure of speech ‘prativastupama and the verse abhutapurvam mama bhaavi. (No. 25)an an example for the figure of speech called ‘sambhava’.
Recently, I had undertaken a study of Kulasekhara Azhvar's
"Mukunda Mala". I had completed the translation, with notes, in
English. The TTD had published my work. I had seperately translated some scholarly lectures of Mahamahopadhyay Sri
Raghunathacharya Svami varu of Warangal. These were published by the Veda Parirakshana Sabha of Warangal. I was therefore drawn to Vaishnavaite literature and took up a study of the Stotra Ratna, by Sri Yamunacharya. Sri Yamunacharya, as readers know, is pre Bhagavan Ramanuja and had laid the foundation for Visishtadvaita, though, it was not known by that name, at that time. I looked around for English translations, of this scholarly work. I found only two - one is an excellent translation, into English, without any comments, by Svami Adidevananda, of the Ramakrishna Mutt. The other one, an equally good translation, with brief notes, was by Sri S. Satyamurthi, of Gwalior, who has rendered great service to the readers by his many translation works and comments. The translation of Sri Satyamurthi, is based on the scholarly work in Tamil, by Sri Anangarachariar. The most out- standing work is; however that of Prof. Narasirnhacharya, presently Head of the Dept. of Vaishnavism, of the Madras University. His is a scholarly dissertation on the "Contribution of Sri Yamunacharya to Visistadvaita". He presents Yamunacharya, on a much larger canvas. I felt that there was a need for a book, for people like me, who are not scholars, but would like to have a translation of this great work and would like to have detailed notes, about what others have said on the embedded thoughts. Hence, the present work.
I do not claim any scholarship to warrant my venturing to
write such a book. That I should have attempted to do so can only
be attributed to the great mysteries of life and to the divine will.
On a particular day, I felt that I would like to write such a book
and started this work, trusting the Divine Feet of the Lord. His
unseen hand enabled me to complete this work. If it is was the
unseen hand of the Lord that helped me to write the book, it is the seen hand of Prof. Narasimhacharya, which encouraged me at different stages. Prof. Narasimhacharya is very well known and needs no introduction. He is heading the Department of Vaishnavism, Madras University and is widely known in Vaishnavaite, Sanskrit and Telugu literary circles. He has won many accolades for his contributions and has received many national awards. He combines in himself erudition, outstanding scholarship, a thorough understanding of the subject, an unmatched meticulousness and a rare humility. It was he who went through my manuscript and advised me to publish it, when I had doubts about the merit of my work. This does not mean that my work had any great merit; it shows that he has that unusual quality of encouraging fledgling writers. I deem it as a rare honour conferred on me that he went through the manuscript and agreed to write an Introduction.
I have kept Sri Anangarachari's commentary, in Telugu, as
the basis for my work. I have amplified the comments, by quoting from the Srimad Bhagavatam, the Ramayana, the Narayaneeyam, the Stotras of Sri Vedanta Desika and my earlier translation with notes on Mukundamala. I gratefully acknowledge the quotations from the scholarly translation of Desika Stotras by Sri Raghavan, Dr Lakshmi Kumari and Prof Narasimhacharya. I am grateful to Prof Venkatakrishnan, Professor of Vaishnavism, Madras University, for having spared me a photo of an idol of Sri Yamunacharya in a temple, which adorns the cover page of this Book.
The Stotra Ratna is a work of 65 slokas, written by Sri Yamuna
Acharya, also known as Alavandar, It is rated very highly in
vaishanavite literature and hence this Alavandar Stotra is known only as Stotra Ratna - a jewel among the stotras. It is a priceless jewel in the devotional literature and expounds the tenets of Vaishnavism. The later pillars of Vaishnavism, Ramanuja, Parasara Bhatta, Vedanta Desika and others derived their inspiration from his work. It is said that a recital of these slokas by Mahapurna, used to always cast an irresistible spell on Ramanuja. Sloka 11 in the Stotra Ratna used to cast a magic spell on Ramanuja. It is this same sloka which weaned away Ramanuja's cousin Govinda (known as Embar) from Saivism. In turn, Yamuna derived inspiration for his work from the Divya Prabandham and many slokas put across in mellifluous Sanskrit, are what had been stated in the Divya Prabhandham.
Sri Yamuna was born in 953 AD in Viranarayanapuram of
Tamilnadu (not far from Cuddalore). He was the son of Ishwara
Muni and the grandson of Sri Ranganatha Muni (known popularly Nathamuni). It is said that Nathamuni and his family members were going on a pilgrimage in North India. As the conception took place on the banks of the river Yamuna, Sri Nathamuni gave the child the name Yamuna. Sri Ishwara Muni died at a young age.
In the death of his son, Nathamuni renounced the world and became a recluse. The education of young Yamuna was left to
Bhasya Bhattaraka. Yamuna was an excellent student and shone in all branches of studies.
Yamuna's teacher and all the others were under the ruler ship
Of a Pandyan king, The chief preceptor and religious disputant in le court was Vidvajjanakolahala. As his very name indicated, he threw all the learned people into turmoil, as he used to mercilessly vanquish them in scholarly debates. Yamuna's teacher was one among those who had been defeated. He was therefore required to pay a tribute to the king and to the pandit. Yamuna's teacher fell into arrears in the payment. On a particular occasion, the attendants from the court came to forcibly collect the dues. The teacher was away. Yamuna, on behalf of the teacher refused to pay. When the attendants threatened to attach the property, Yamuna raised the issue that he would have to be defeated in a debate. Yamuna was all of twelve years at that time. The attendants duly reported the matter to the king. The king said that Yamuna was free to challenge the chief preceptor and that he was welcome to come to the court. When the attendants came back to inform Yamuna about this, Yamuna said that this was no way to invite him. They should fetch a palanquin and carry him with due honour, as he was, after all challenging the royal preceptor. When this was reported to the king, he was amused that a twelve year old upstart should behave like this. But admiring his pluck, the king agreed.
The palanquin, with a retinue of attendants arrived. Yamuna
boarded the palanquin, with all confidence. He was accompanied by the entire village. When he got down from the palanquin, he made a striking, handsome figure who strode with aplomb. The king and the queen both saw this handsome challenger. They had a wager. The queen said that if the challenger lost, she would embrace Saivism and become the bonded-slave of the king, all her life. The king said that if the challenger won, he (the king) would part with a portion of his kingdom to the challenger.
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