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Divya Suri Charitham – Book – Biography Of Vaishnava Saints

Divya Suri Charitham is a Sanskrit work having biographies of Vaishnava Saints – Alwars and Acharyas of Tamil Nadu. It was written by Garuda Vahana Pandita. The traditional belief is that the author was a contemporary of Ramanuja (1017-1137 CE). But on the basis of the epigraphical records at Srirangam Temple, it has been suggested that the work can be ascribed to the later 15th or early 16th century. This work is regarded as an important source for the Vaishnava hagiology along with other works such as Guruparampara of Pingalagia Perumal Jiyar.

The author closely follows the style of famous Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa and the work contains 18 sargas (chapters). The first fourteen chapters give a graphic account of the  life and greatness of the twelve Alwars.

The sixteenth chapter describes the life stories of Nathamuni and Yamunacharya (Alavandar). The seventeenth chapter describes in detail the life and achievements of Ramanuja, his birth, early education at Kanchu, his association with preceptors like Kanchipurna, Mahapurna, his renunciation, his initiation into the ascetic order and his move to Srirangam.

The last chapter deals with his discipleship with Srigostipurna, and Srisailapurna. It also deals with his written works – Gita Bhashya and Sribhashyam. The Chola kings’s intolerance and Ramanuja’s sojourn to Sri Narayana Puri (Melkote in Karnataka) and the establishment of the temple there are also dealt with. His visit to Tirupati and the consecration of the image of Govindaraja of Chitrakoot at Chidambaram and his return to Srirangam are also described.

Apart from the biographical details, the work contains descriptions of holy places like Vaikuntha, Kanchipuram, Srirangam, Varsha (rainy season) and vasantam (spring), ritu (season), and sacred rivers like Kaveri. The style is majestic and lucid.