Rāmānanda (14th century A. D.)
By Swami Harshananda
Rāmānanda lived in 14th century A. D. He was one of the more well-known saints of the Middle Ages. He might have lived sometime during the period A. D. 1300-1411 or A. D. 1400-1470. He was born at Prayāga, his parents being Puyāsadana and Suśīlā.
Rāmānanda was well-educated in Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures. He received monastic orders from Rāghavānanda, a sanyāsin of the Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition of Rāmānuja. Though devoted to the Rāmānuja tradition and its Viśiṣṭādvaita philosophy, he was much more liberal in his attitude and dealings. He lived mostly in Kāśī. He also spread the cult of Rāmabhakti or devotion to Rāma, in preference to that of Kṛṣṇa, mostly in North India.
According to some versions of his life, he migrated from South India where he lived earlier, to the North. Rāmānuja’s Sribhāsya and a less known work, the Agastyasutīksna-samvāda, were his favorite treatises. He considered Rāma as the Brahman of the Upaniṣads and the repetition of the Rāmamantra as the best means of liberation.
Instead of the well-known Aṣṭākṣarī mantra, Om namo nārāyanāya, he adopted the Rāmamantra perhaps by his guru, rām rāmāya namah as the chief esoteric formula of spiritual life. Tradition states that he accepted his disciples irrespective of their caste and social status. Among them well known ones are:
There are some doubts about them being his students by some scholars. The Granth Sāhib contains one Hindi song which was composed by him, though this song has not been found in the collection of his disciples.
- It is in Allahabad.
- He is a monk.
- He lived in A. D. 1017-1137.
- It is a commentary on the Brahmasutras.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore