Rāmānuja (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Rāmānuja expounded a theistic interpretation of Vedanta philosophy and led the Śrī Vaisnavas community in its formative period.
The dates of Rāmānuja’s life are somewhat controversial, because the 120-year life span attributed to him by Śrī Vaisnavas tradition seems exceptionally long; it is also possible that he was born some sixty years later than the traditional date. Particularly noteworthy about the time and place of his life, however, is that most of the region of Tamil Nadu in southern India was at this time a single powerful state, the Cōla kingdom. Śrīrangam, which would figure so prominently in Rāmānuja’s life, was at the center of a prosperous, highly organized state, the rulers of which often lavishly supported the various religious traditions within their realm.
Rāmānuja was born into a Brahman family—apparently Smārtas Brahmans—who had inclinations toward Vishnu worship but were not members of the Śrī Vaisnavas sect. Traditionally, males of his family were scholars of the Vedic texts and rituals. Rāmānuja was married early in his life, then went to study with Yādavaprakāśa, a local scholar of the Upanishads and Vedanta. Disagreements with his teacher’s interpretations of the sacred texts, combined with his increasing interest in the devotional practices of the Śrī Vaisnavas sect, finally led to a decisive break with his teacher and...
(The entire section is 2052 words.)
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