The 1,000th birth anniversary of Bhagavad Sri Ramanujacharya (Sahasrabdhi), the 11th century social reformer and great devotee of Lord Rama, was celebrated in the Flushing section of Queens. Organized by the community activist — who is a constant presence at different Queens temples — Madhavan Krishnamachari, the half-day event comprised a prayer, worship, bhajan and ‘sankalpam’, apart from discourses.
Held last week at the Saraswati Hall of the Ganesh temple, it concluded with a sumptuous lunch. Dr. M.G. Prasad, a noted professor of religion who was bestowed with the honor ‘Vishwa Hindu Ratna,’ spoke on the life and message of Ramanuja. “Acharya (spiritual guru) is one who understands shastras (scriptures) and its practical importance,” the professor told an attentive audience who filled to the full capacity of the hall. The acharya was born in 1017 and lived for 120 years.
It was the time that houses of worship and religious association were limited only to certain sections of society. The acharya was instrumental in propagation of the theory that the Almighty belongs to everybody. “Ramanuja brought God to the masses,” Prasad noted, adding that he wrote the Sri Bhashya (a commentary on Brahma Sutras), Gadya Trayam (three proses) and other works.
Shiva Haran, president of the Shirdi Saibaba Temple which is situated close to the event venue, described Ramanuja as none other than the brother of Lord Rama. “Lakshmana, who is Adisesha, came to the earth in order to take the devotees to the Vaikunta,” Haran observed and added that he was a real guru (the remover of darkness). Characterizing Ramanuja as a “great social reformer,” Haran pointed out that the acharya was prepared to go to hell for the sake of the entire humanity.
When his guru disclosed the divine secret of a mantra he set a condition. “Don’t reveal this mantra – Om Namo Narayanaya … — to anybody. If you do so, you’re bound to go to hell,” Haran said, citing the guru’s advice to the disciple Ramanuja. Despite the condition, Ramanuja told his guru that he was ready to dwell in the hell after he left the world if that mantra was to help bring salvation to the masses. The two main speakers said Ramanuja’s philosophy is a bridge between “dwaita and advaita.”
The Radhakrishnan group performed the Namavalli Bhajan on Perumal (another name for Lord Vishnu). Lunch/Prasad was prepared in accordance with Vaishnava (Srirangam) sampradaaya. One hundred and eight gold-plated copper coins with Ramanuja on them were kept during the puja. They were released on the occasion and distributed to all the families that attended the event. Similarly 108 books titled “Srimad Ramanuja – An Acharya for All Ages” were also distributed. Several priests, including the noted one Shri Raghava Bhattar along with Shri Keshava Bhattar were present on the occasion performing puja and coordinating the event. Several people were honored.
Ramji Sadagopachari was the event chairman while Saroja Krishnamachari, formerly an arts teacher, was the program director. The services of volunteers, headed by Harvinder, also drew praise. Devotees Hema and V. Subramanian described the event as “delightful” while yoga teacher Sanjay Attada termed it as “excellent.” Participants Vatsala and Sathyan noted the program was organized “wonderfully.” Similarly other participants also appreciated the event and the work that went into its arrangements. Photo credit to Sudama. Special credit to Volunteers Sundar, Sumant and Venkatesh. A special thanks to all who sponsored and the Bhakthas who attended the function. If you need more information on the April 30 event, please contact Madhavan Krishnamachari at firstname.lastname@example.org OR 917-957-7079.