srirangarāja charaNāmbuja rājahamsam
srimad parānkusa padāmbuja bhrunga rājam
sri bhattanātha parakāla mukhāpja mitram
sri vatsa cinha sharaNam yatirāja meedē
I adore YATIRAJA, the refuge of Koorathazhwan,
The steadfast Bee on Nammazhwar’s lovely lotus feet,
The majestic Swan reposing in Lord Ranganatha’s lotus feet,
The glorious Sun that blossoms forth lotuses like Periazhwar and
In the preceding sloka, the poet wished to make his head worth its while by bowing unto Ramanuja and now the tongue is sought to fulfill its due purpose by singing the praise of that king of ascetics (Yatiraja). Note the words in bold, i.e., Bee, Swan and Sun. Ramanuja has been referred to in this manner in keeping with the usage in the Divyaprabandham where the Azhwars, unable to stand their separation from their most beloved Lord, employ bees, swans etc, as their emissaries to carry messages to the Lord, which, in essence, would denote only the great Acharyas interceding between the frail humans, at this feeble end and the Superabundant Benefactor at the other end. It is particularly appropriate to refer Ramanuja as:
1. Swan-abiding for ever at the lotus feet of Lord Ranganatha even as the Rajahamsa dwells in the lotus flower; Even as the swan is endowed with the peculiar faculty of separating milk from water, Ramanuja could highlight the salient features of the Sastras(Scriptures), eschewing the bewildering maze of relatively non-essential aspects; Even as the Lord appeared as a swan to disseminate the Vedas, Ramanuja propagated the Sastras among the vast multitude of his disciples; Even as the Swan is terribly averse to staying on marshy land, Ramanuja would not allow himself to be bogged down by the slushy terrain of worldly life (c.f. stanza 100 of Thiruviruttam) and, therefore, became a ‘Paramahamsa’; Even as the swan is said to imitate the elegant gait of the women folk, c.f. Peria Thirumozhi 6-5-5, Ramanuja emulated the Divine Mother, Sri Maha Lakshmi, the unfailing intercessor between the ‘Jiva’ and God, pleading effectively with the former and enticing the latter into admission of the former unto the latter’s protective fold, c.f. Vedanta Desika’s “Ukthe Rangee nijamapipadam desika desakamkshee”, denoting Ramanuja’s part in securing salvation for all his votaries, from Lord Ranganatha. Similar comparisons between swan and Ramanuja could be multiplied.
2. Bee- drawn to the honey-like sweet qualities of Saint Nammazhwar even as the bee hankers after the honey in the lotus flower; like unto the perennial humming of the bees, Ramanuja was always reciting the mellifluous hymns of Thiruvaimozhi.
3. Sun- blossoming forth the lotus flower- here, two Azhwars have been mentioned, in particular, namely Periyazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar, as the lotus flowers being lit up by Ramanuja, the Sun. The former Azhwar established the supremacy of Lord Vishnu over the other Deities and also indulged in disinterested love of God for God’s sake, praying for His well-being instead of his own, while the latter Azhwar built the gigantic temple at Sri Rangam with its colossal towers and turrets, spacious mantaps, etc. By following in their footsteps and perpetuating those very activities, Ramanuja pleased them so much that their flowery faces brightened up like the lotus blooming at the sight of the morning Sun. Such a response to ‘Ramanuja Divakara’ could well be the case with all the other Azhwars and the selective mention of the two Azhwars could be taken as their standing for the entire galaxy of Azhwars, the fountainsource of inspiration for Ramanuja.