Vice President releases a postage stamp to commemorate the 750th birth anniversary of Sri Vedanta Desikan
Our History textbooks must throw light on the life stories of such great cultural icons: Vice President;
Sri Vedanta Desikan was one of the most effulgent luminaries to have graced this land;
Sri Vedanta Desikan was much more than a spiritual teacher, he was a multi-faceted personality;
One of the essential features of Sri Vedanta Desikan’s philosophy was the aspect of inclusion;
Massive public awareness campaigns needed to bring to the fore the luminaries who have shaped our Bharat into a “Jnana Bhoomi”
By PIB Delhi
The Vice President, Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu released a postage stamp to commemorate the 750th birth anniversary of Sri Vedanta Desikan in New Delhi today. He said that our textbooks must throw light on the lives of great saints and spiritual icons such as Sri Vedanta Desikan so that our children internalize and practice the lofty ideals of humanism, peace and compassion propagated by them.
‘Sri Vedanta Desikan is one of the most prominent preceptors in the Srivaishnava tradition and one of the most effulgent luminaries to have graced this land’, the Vice President added. Initiatives like bringing out commerative postage stamps were not only meant to pay tribute to the great contributions of visionaries like Sri Vedanta Desikan but also aimed at inspiring our younger generation to follow in their footsteps.
The Vice President termed Sri Vedanta Desikan’s scholarship as truly outstanding and said that he had authored brilliant poems, prose, drama, epics, commentaries, scientific texts and philosophical treatises in Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakrit and Manipravalam.
Shri Naidu emphasized that Vedanta Desikan was much more than a spiritual teacher and said that he was a multi-faceted personality– a scientist, a logician, a mathematician, a literary genius, a linguist, a military strategist and much more.
Referring to Sri Vedanta Desikan’s humility and non-attachment to worldly honors and his affinity to a life of simplicity and service, the Vice President said Sri Desikan considered the grace of the Lord he worshipped and served as his greatest treasure.
Pointing out that one of the essential features of Sri Vedant Desikan’s philosophy was the aspect of inclusion, Shri. Naidu said that anyone, irrespective of caste and creed could join the Sri Vaishnava fold. ‘This is a truly democratizing movement that obliterated caste distinctions’, he added.
The Vice President condemned the several acts of terror that had shocked the collective consciousness of the world in the recent times and stated unequivocally that terrorism had no religion. Shri Naidu termed terrorism as the greatest enemy of humanity and welcomed the listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council. He called for world peace and said that peace and humanity formed the basis of the spiritual teachings of great saints like Sri Vedanta Desikan
The Vice President expressed hope that organizations like Sri Vedanta Desikan Manipaduka Indraprastha Trust would propagate Sri Vedant Desikan’s timeless message to the younger generation. ‘It is only through such understanding that the true greatness of our illustrious land can be fully appreciated’, he said.
The Vice President also stressed that massive public awareness and education campaigns must be undertaken to bring to the fore luminaries such as Sri Vedant Desikan who have shaped our Bharat into a “Jnana Bhoomi”.
Shri Mohan Parasaran, Former Solicitor General of India, Shri Vishvapavan Pati, Additional Director General, Department of Posts, Shri R. Mukunthan, General Secretary, Delhi Tamil Sangam, Shri R. Sriraman, Founder Trustee, Sri Vedanta Desikan Manipaduka Indraprastha Trust and others were present on the occasion.
The following is the full text of the speech:
It is indeed a great pleasure and privilege to release a postage stamp to commemorate the 750thbirth anniversary of Sri Vedanta Desikann.
Sri Vedanta Desikan is one of the most prominent preceptors in the Srivaishnava tradition, and one of the most effulgent luminaries to have graced this land.
A precocious child, Venkatanatha, who later became Sri Vedanta Desikann, had mastered theVedas, the Vedangas, the 4000 Divya Prabhanda and all the existing schools of Indian philosophy such as Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimamsa, Yoga and Sankhya by the age of 20.
What is so striking about his life is that while he could have easily lived a life of great prosperity due to his unprecedented fame, he and his wife, Thirumangai chose to live a very simple life.
Sri Vedanta Desikann’s scholarship was truly outstanding.
He wrote poems, prose, drama, epics, commentaries, scientific texts and philosophical treatises in Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakrit and Manipravalam.
It is no wonder that he was awarded many titles for his astonishingly vast range of achievements. He was celebrated as ‘sarva-tantra-svatantra’or master of all arts and crafts; awarded the title‘kavi tarkika-kesari’, the lion amongst poets and logicians; and glorified as ‘ramanuja-daya-patram’, the recipient of Ramanuja’s blessings.
His mastery and brilliance brought him fame and distinction. But what is remarkable is his humility and genuine non-attachment to worldly honours. Vedanta Desikan rejected the offer of joining the court of the King of Vijayanagara and considered that the greatest treasure he had was the grace of the Lord.
His magnum opus, the Rahasya Traya Sara, is a masterly treatise on Prapatti or surrendering oneself to the divine.
But Vedanta Desikan was much more than a spiritual teacher. He was a multi-faceted personality– a scientist, a logician, a mathematician, a sculptor, a civil engineer, a poet, a literary genius, a linguist, a geologist, a dietician, a behavioural scientist, a military strategist and much more.
We are truly blessed that we are commemorating today this great legendary icon, an outstanding genius who greatly enriched our cultural and intellectual heritage.
His masterpiece, Paduka Sahasram, reveals his poetic eloquence and his mathematical ingenuity. In two verses in this collection, Sri Vedanta Desikann gave a solution to a mathematical problem that was solved five centuries later by another mathematician, Leonard Euler.
Desikan showed his knowledge of the arts and sciences through other works such as Silpartha-saram, a treatise on sculpture, and Bhugola-nirnayam – a research text on geography.
Taking cues from the Vedic scriptures, Vedanta Desikan authored Aahaara Niyamam that detailed how different food items help in maintaining a healthy mind and a disease-free life.
His ‘Subhashita Neevi’ contains a fund of moral and ethical advice which is relevant and practical.
Desikan’s talent as a military strategist came to the fore during the repeated invasions of the holy city of Srirangam by the forces of the Delhi Sultanate. Before the forces of marauding invaders like Mallik Kafur and Ulugh Khan arrived at Srirangam in 1327, Desikan hid the main Deity of the temple behind a newly built wall, and escaped with rare manuscripts that would otherwise have been destroyed by the invaders. The smaller festival Deities were smuggled out by other devotees and carried to Tirupati, where they were worshipped secretly for many years.
Incidents from Desikan’s life demonstrate many qualities that we should try to imbibe.
Leading a very active life and achieving success in diverse fields, he scaled the greatest spiritual heights as well as other fields of knowledge and human welfare. His versatile intellectual and creative output did not make him vain or pompous. He remained a humble devotee of the Lord he believed in. Humility was his hallmark, simplicity his strength.
The Sri Vaishnava philosophy that Saint Ramanuja initially propounded got a much wider audience with Vedanta Desikann’s writings and preachings. One of the essential features of this philosophy was the aspect of inclusion. Anyone, irrespective of caste and creed could join the Sri Vaishnava fold. This is a truly democratizing movement that obliterated caste distinctions.
As Sri Vaishnavites laud him, he has been an extraordinary individual who has shown us a new path towards human fulfillment and spiritual upliftment. It is as if Lord Srinivasa Himself has appeared as an Acharya to illuminate the paths of devotion and dedication, of selfless love and affection for humanity and a total submergence in divine ambience.
I am glad that the Department of Posts has bought out this postage stamp to commemorate the 750th birth anniversary of this great saint.
I wish this provides an opportunity for all of us to deepen our understanding of Sri Vedanta Desikann’s contribution to the cultural tradition of our great land and hopefully, organizations like Sri Vedanta Desikan Manipaduka Indraprastha Trust will propagate his timeless message to the younger generation.
It is only through such understanding that the true greatness of our illustrious land can be fully appreciated. We need a massive public awareness and education campaign to bring to the fore such luminaries who have shaped our Bharat into a “Jnana Bhoomi”.
Jai Hind !