The tirade against religious traditions has been in existence for a long time and regretfully some members of the Hindus themselves had taken the lead to deride some of the ancient customs. Spiritual leaders and devotees had tried to combat these onslaughts.
For instance, even 700 years ago, the Ranganatha idol in Srirangam was sought to be stolen by marauders but timely action by an eminent scholar resulted in its being removed to a distant place and re-installed when the thread receded.
Even now few seek to know why when their help was indented for the construction of the temple; they were prevented from entering the sanctum sanctorum. They should be made aware that even from a particular community from which the priests are chosen, all cannot get into this holy place. They too should join only the masses.
The glorious and dazzling image of Ranganatha was rescued by Vedanta Desika whose contribution to Vaishnavism and its philosophy is prolific and phenomenal. In his days, re1igious bigotry was rampant and a ruler even caused the gouging of the eyes of a saintly man as he would not subscribe to his views.
“Desika” is a term applicable to all preceptors but even as Gita refers only to Bhagavad Gita and Sahasranamam indicates the praise on Vishnu, Desika will mean only Vedanta Desika. He has written poems, dramas, stotras, philosophic treatises and Gadyams. A boy prodigy, his precocity was in evidence when he was hardly 5 or 6 by helping scholars to continue the Vedic recitation left unfinished earlier. As a child, he was called Venkatanadha.
Sri R. Aravamudan, in a discourse, said the Divine couple Ranganatha and Ranganayaki admiring his scholastic and other excellencies awarded the titles of Sarva Thanthra Swatantra and Kavitharkika Simham.
During one night, he composed 1000 verses on Lord’s Padukas but even then, out of humility, he said his capacity could be compared to that of a pig’s which yields many litters whereas the erudition of his rivals (though defeated in the contest) was akin to that of the only calf given birth by an elephant. His detachment to worldly activities was such that even when his close associate Vidyaranya, who occupied a coveted post in Vijayanagara kingdom, invited him to receive gifts, he declined stating that he had been left with an enviable legacy in the form of Lord Varadaraja of Kancheepuram.
In one hymn, Vedanta Desika has detailed the nine steps to heaven. He had mastery over Tamil and had written numerous Tamil works proving his proficiency in “Ubhaya Vedanta”.