This weekend, I had a chance to visit the “Statue of Equality” in Hyderabad, which is the world’s second-largest sitting statue of Shri Ramanuja Charya, 11th Century Reformer, and Saint, who is hailed for bringing the knowledge of Vedas to the common man and most importantly promoting equality between all the castes in the country.
The foundation stone was laid by Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami and inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of Shri Ramanuja’s teaching by building the statue of equality. The status is 216 ft tall and its constituents include Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass and Titanium., and is surrounded by 34 Acres campus
Ramanujacharya was a Hindu Tamil philosopher, theologian, social reformer, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement. Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja’s case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is the unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.
This is the tour of 108 Divyadesams (model temples), built-in stone, surrounding the statue of equality. A Divya Desam or Vaishnava Divya Desam is one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Alvars (mystic Tamil saints). Divya means “divine” and Desam indicates “place of abode” (temple). Of the 108 temples, 105 are in India, one is in Nepal, and the last two are believed to be outside the Earthly realms. In India, they are spread over states of Tamil Nadu (84), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (2), Gujarat (1), Uttar Pradesh (4), and Uttarakhand (3). Muktinath, Saligramam is the only Divya Desam in Nepal.
Very interesting trivia shared by one of the blog readers:
Sri Ramanuja was born at Sriperpudur village about 25 km from Chennai. He worked as a priest at Kancheepuram Varadharaja temple and then Sri Ranganathasamy temple, Srirangam. His Vishishtadvaita philosophy is highly valued. He wrote Bashyas on the Brahma Sutra and Bhagavad Gita. He brought Vedas to Tamil. He traveled all over India and spread Vaishnavam. He lived about 120 years. His body is still kept inside Sri Ranganathasamy temple at Srirangam, Trichy in a sitting posture even though he died in the year. 1137 C.E. In Sriperpudur and at Srirangam temple public Archana is done for Sri Ramanajur only.
Sri Ramanujar was taught ‘Om Namo Narayayana’ a secret mantra by his Guru named Thirukottur Nambi. His acharya was also told that this mantra will give all benefits and you can attain moksha also. This is a very sacred and secret mantra and you should not reveal this mantra to anybody. But Sri Ramanujar against his Guru’s advice climbed up to the Thirukottur temple tower and called all people and he revealed the secret Narayana mantra to all. Ramanuja’s Guru said that Ramanuja will attain hell for not following his advice. Ramanuja said, “By knowing this mantra if every other get benefits and attain moksha, and by revealing this mantra if I am the only person go to Naraka I will not bother about it”. The teacher was astonished by Ramanuja’s reply and he blessed him and called Ramanuja “Em Piran”. Em Piran means ‘Our God’.