By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Svayamacaryas, SvayamAcAryas, Svayamaacaaryas
Svayamācāryas literally means ‘self-appointed teachers’.
Ramānuja lived in A. D. 1017-1137. He did not appoint any single person as the next pontiff to succeed him. Instead, he selected 74 pious householder disciples and gave them the power to spread the philosophy of Viśiṣṭādvaita and the religion of Śrīvaiṣṇavism. These 74 came to be known as ‘svayamācāryas’.
Svayamācāryas were not only the great scholars but also great devotees committed to the Śrīvaiṣṇavism sect. They could grant pañcasanskāras and mantropadeśa to the disciples. They were also expected to expound the scriptures according to Rāmānuja’s philosophy.
- Mantropadeśa means giving the famous mantras like the aṣṭākṣarī.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore