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Exploring the Legacy of Ramanujar: A Deep Dive into His Connection with Kanchi


The history of Indian philosophy and spirituality is adorned with the contributions of numerous sages and scholars, among whom Ramanujar holds a prominent place. Born in the 11th century, Ramanujar, also known as Ramanujacharya, was a revered theologian, philosopher, and the most important proponent of the Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism) school of Vedanta. His teachings and life's work had a profound impact on the religious and cultural landscape of India, particularly in the region of Kanchi, also known as Kanchipuram. This blog delves into the fascinating history of Ramanujar and explores his enduring connection to Kanchi.

Early Life of Ramanujar

Ramanujar was born in 1017 CE in the village of Sriperumbudur, near modern-day Chennai, Tamil Nadu. His early life was marked by a strong inclination towards spiritual and philosophical studies. Under the tutelage of his uncle, Sri Shailapurna, Ramanujar was introduced to the sacred texts of Hinduism, particularly the Vedas and the Upanishads.

As a young man, Ramanujar’s intellectual prowess and devotion set him apart. He moved to Kanchi, a significant center of learning and spirituality, where he furthered his studies under the guidance of the renowned scholar Yadava Prakasha. However, ideological differences soon emerged, particularly on the interpretations of the Vedantic texts, leading Ramanujar to part ways and seek his own path.

Ramanujar's Spiritual Journey and Philosophy

Ramanujar's philosophical journey was deeply rooted in the concept of Vishishtadvaita. Unlike the Advaita (non-dualism) philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya, which posits that the individual soul (Atman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman) are one and the same, Vishishtadvaita suggests that the soul and God are distinct yet inseparable. According to Ramanujar, while the soul and God are fundamentally different, the soul is a part of God, much like a spark is part of a fire.

This philosophy emphasized the importance of devotion (bhakti) and surrender to God, particularly Vishnu, as the path to liberation. Ramanujar’s teachings were accessible and inclusive, appealing to a broad spectrum of society, which helped in the spread of the Bhakti movement across South India.

The Connection to Kanchi

Kanchi, one of the seven holy cities in Hinduism, played a crucial role in Ramanujar's life and mission. Known as the "City of a Thousand Temples," Kanchi was not only a spiritual hub but also a center of education and culture. Ramanujar's association with Kanchi began during his early academic years and continued throughout his life.

One of the most significant landmarks in Kanchi related to Ramanujar is the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. It is believed that Ramanujar spent considerable time here, engaging in theological debates and disseminating his teachings. The temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, became a focal point for Ramanujar's activities. His efforts in Kanchi helped revive the Sri Vaishnavism tradition, making the city a stronghold of this faith.

Ramanujar's Reformative Actions

Ramanujar was not only a philosopher but also a social reformer. He advocated for the eradication of caste-based discrimination and worked towards the inclusion of all devotees, regardless of their social status, in temple rituals and spiritual practices. His time in Kanchi saw the implementation of several reforms that aimed at making spiritual knowledge and temple activities more accessible to the common people.

One of his notable reformative actions was the installation of the idol of the deity Thirukachi Nambi in the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. Thirukachi Nambi, a revered devotee of Vishnu, belonged to a lower caste, and by honoring him in such a manner, Ramanujar sent a powerful message about the importance of devotion over caste distinctions.

Literary Contributions

Ramanujar’s contributions were not limited to oral teachings and reforms; he also authored several important texts that laid the foundation for the Vishishtadvaita philosophy. Among his key works are the Sri Bhashya, a detailed commentary on the Brahma Sutras, and the Vedartha Sangraha, which encapsulates his interpretation of the Vedas.

These works were instrumental in systematizing the principles of Vishishtadvaita and provided a robust framework for theological discourse. His writings continue to be studied and revered in various academic and spiritual circles.

Ramanujar's Legacy in Kanchi

The legacy of Ramanujar in Kanchi is immortalized in the numerous temples and institutions that continue to uphold his teachings. The Varadaraja Perumal Temple, with its intricate architecture and spiritual significance, stands as a testament to Ramanujar’s enduring influence. Annual festivals and special ceremonies are held to commemorate his contributions and teachings, drawing devotees from across the country.

In addition to the temples, several educational institutions in Kanchi are dedicated to the study and propagation of Ramanujar’s philosophy. These institutions ensure that his teachings remain relevant and accessible to future generations.


The history of Ramanujar and his connection to Kanchi is a captivating narrative of spiritual dedication, intellectual rigor, and social reform. His life's work not only shaped the religious landscape of South India but also left an indelible mark on the cultural and social fabric of the region. Through his teachings, writings, and reforms, Ramanujar championed a vision of spirituality that was inclusive, compassionate, and deeply rooted in devotion.

As we explore the legacy of Ramanujar, we gain insights into the profound ways in which his life and work continue to inspire and guide countless individuals on their spiritual journeys. Kanchi, with its rich heritage and deep-rooted connection to Ramanujar, remains a beacon of his enduring legacy.

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