Vedanta Desika Vaibhavam A.Sampath, Sampath press, Madurai(Courtesy: Souvenir 2000, A millennium Release, Sri Parakala Mutt, Dombivili)
VedAnta Desika, the great AchArya-cum-poet-philosopher, is the brightest star in the firmament of Srivaishnavism. He came into the world in 1268 AD.
The countless followers and admirers of this MahApurusha have been praying all these years to him in the words 'May you live for another century'(Innum oru nootrANDu irum).
The life history of the great Saint who is known as "JnAna-vairAghya bhooshaNam" consists of so many admirable incidents and has so many facets that it is impossible to touch upon them in this short note. His works are so varied and prolific- written in four languages- Sanskrit, Tamil, MaNipravALa, and prAkrit and numbering more than a hundred baffle description and analysis.
The dexterity and skill with which sublime philosophy is served like rich repast in the shape of sweet and charming poetry constitute a special feature of Desika's works. "kavi-tArkika-kEsari" as he is, all his poetry is imbibed with philosophy and all his philosophy is sweetened by his poetry.Among the notable achievements in the field of thought is the blending of the Lord and Lakshmi in a concept of divine 'dAmpathyam' and the blending of Sanskrit and Tamil cultures into a "Ubhaya VedAnta".
Where other AchAryas thought in terms of placing the Lord above Lakshmi and vice versa or of placing Sanskrit above Tamil or Tamil above Sanskrit, VedAnta Desika's synthetic genius was able to blend the two pairs together in a harmonious whole in which no concept suffered any detriment.In the field of UpAya or means Desika has given to the world the PrapattimArga which can be availed of by everyone irrespective of caste, creed or sex. Before his catholicity of outlook and large heartedness, even the Lord and other great AachAryas seem to get belittled!
Desika will be ever remembered through the ages for postulating the SaraNAgathisAstra as a scientific system and promulgating it as a direct and immediate means for the attainment of salvation.
With all that, his emphasis is on bliss HERE and not only in the HEREAFTER. He has ennobled life on earth and demonstrated it to be purposeful.Where other philosophers tried to "divinize" man and failed, VedAnta Desika following in the wake of AazhwArs and RamAnuja has successfully 'humanized' God. "DayAsathakam", that wonderful hymn in praise of the Lord?s compassion is a splendid study in the redemption of man by grace well merited by human endeavor.Here is another homogenous blend of human effort and divine grace- sAdhyOpAya and SiddhOpAya.
To us, this grace of Desika is an end in itself. Let us unreservedly throw ourselves on his mercy and repeatedly pray to him- 'May you live for another century'(Innum oru nootrABDu irum).