By Swami Harshananda
Vedānta Deśika was born at Kāñcīpuram in Tamil Nadu as the only son of Anantasīri and Totāramma by the grace of Lord Veñkateśvara of Tirupati. Hence he was named Veṅkatanātha. He had an excellent education under his uncle, Ātreya Rāmānuja and became an erudite scholar even by the age of twenty one. He was married to Tirumaṅgai who proved to be an ideal wife, fully cooperating with the husband in his spiritual aspirations.
Vedānta Deśika lived in A. D. 1268-1369. Next to Rāmānuja, Vedānta Deśika was the chief architect who established the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta on a firm foundation and shaped the Śrīvaiṣṇava sect into a well-knit movement. Throughout his life Vedānta Deśika worked hard and vigorously to propagate Rāmānuja’s philosophy and religion through discourses, disputations with other schools and writing books. He was a prolific writer, whose writings exceed a hundred treatises and compositions. He toured the country extensively especially visiting the places connected with Vaiṣṇavism. He was the Acārya of the pontifical seat at Kāñcīpuram, one of the 74 established by Rāmānuja. His very goodness and greatness created enemies for him as it has happened in the case of many a great man. However, by the very dint of that greatness he could vanquish them all.
His son Varadanātha proved worthy of the father by his life and scholarship. The Parakāla Maṭha, one of the important monasteries of the Śrīvaiṣṇava school was established by Brahmatantra Svatantra Jiyar a saiṅyāsin disciple of Vedānta Deśika, under his inspiration.
Works of Vedānta Deśika
Apart from his erudition in the scriptures, he was also a great poet and dramatist. He had perfect command over the Tamil language also and had mastered the Prabandham literature of the Ālvārs. The following are a few of his more well-known works:
- He lived in A. D. 1017-1137.
- Here religion referred is Srīvaiṣṇavism.
- He lived in A. D. 1286-1386
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore