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Stotraratnam – Important Treatise On Visishtadvaita

Stotraratnam is an important treatise on Visishtadvaita and it was composed by Yamunacharya, also called Alavandar. The work deals with the fundamental problems of life and the universe, the existence of God, the relation between man and the Infinite, and the means of spiritual realization, among other things. Hence this is not merely a laudatory composition but one full of philosophical insights. It is considered as a magnum opus by the adherents of the Visishtadvaita School. Along with Divya Prabandha, it was adopted as a guide by Ramanuja.

Stotra Ratnam consists of 65 stanzas. In keeping with Sri Vaishnava tradition, it begins with the expression of a profound sense of gratitude to the predecessors who took up the task of expounding the fundamental truth concerning God. The sixth stanza talks of the Supreme Lord establishing supremacy over all creations. The next two verses deal with the limitations of finite beings in the matter of glorifying him, which as devotee can do to the best of his ability. Verses 10 to 20 expatiate on the infinite glory of the primordial cause, which is nothing but the final refuge for the entire universe. Verse 21 speaks of surrender to that Incomprehensible Reality. The shlokas 22 to 27 deal with incapacity of human faculty to deserve the benevolence of god. Herein emphasis is laid on the need for total surrender. The next two verses deal with the effects of total surrender. The next seven stanzas concentrate on the description of the Supreme Lord.

Goddess Lakshmi, the divine spouse of Bhagavan Vishnu, is described in the next two verses. Adi Sesha, on whose coils Vishnu reposes, is described in 39th and 40th stanzas. Garuda, the vehicle of Bhagavan Vishnu, is described in the 41st verse, and Vishwaksena, commander in chief of Bhagavan, in the forty second. The rest of his retinue is covered in the 43rd stanza. The sport of the divine couple is described in the 44th and 45th stanzas. The next verse talks of a true devotee’s desire to remain in the humble position of an attendant of Bhagavan. The rest of the verses, among other things, emphasize the spirit of dedication required in the service of Bhagavan, disciplining the mind, and the need for faith and trust on him as a savior.

The entire creation is His. Narayana inheres in all beings, and is subject to no mutation. He pervades all planes of existence without differentiating between the living and non-living ones.

Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, bodes forth the grace of Vishnu. Her abode is His chest. It is she who acts as an intercessor on behalf of mankind, which looks up to her for its betterment. Goddess Lakshmi, in turn, depends upon Narayana, who possesses her exclusively. Her form and nature are complementary to Narayana’s.

The path of total surrender cannot be trodden, unless one shelves one’s pride of accomplishment and even of righteous conduct. It can be trodden not by any metaphysical or devotional activity but only by the humble appraisal on one’s own limitations. Though one may be incessantly and inalienably attached to the path of virtue, the very consciousness of leading the spiritual life may hinder the experience of bliss. The work thus lays emphasis on the development of self criticism.

The author of the work records his self condemnation and repentance for his pursuit of royal pleasures during his early years. Having thought of life as a pendulum swaying between knowledge and ignorance, action and inertia, humble devotion and the welfare of humanity, he discovers the road to an experience of this bliss.