The simplest answer would be…. It was the vision of H.H.Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji. If the vision is so magnificent, imagine the personality that inspired the vision….. awe inspiring, to put it mildly. The Statue exudes the persona of Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya ….
- always calm, but ready for action…
- an observer, but a social reformer….
- a spiritual leader, but a revolutionary….
- a constant inspiration, in his lifetime and also across the span of Time.
Born in 1017,at Sriperumbudur, Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya travelled across Bharat, understanding the way of life of all sections, at the same time, focusing on individual needs.
For the welfare and well-being of all, Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya presented the essence of Vedas in the form of 9 scriptures. The purity of his own heart, enabled him to convince his mentors, rulers, bureaucrats, elite and common man to tread the path of Bhakthi, divine love.
Sri Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya, the torch bearer of Vaishnavism, was a preceptor of the Bhakthi movement. He dispelled the Mayavada concept that the world is illusionary and also cleared many misconceptions.
He was the source for all other Bhakthi branches of thought. Having dived into the depths of Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya’s ocean of Vaishnav devotion for Lord Vishnu, Kabir, Meerabai, Annama:cha:rya, Ramda:s, Thya:gara:ja and many others evolved as mystic poets.
Read on to understand why Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya is referred to as an icon of Equality.
Equality Across Religions: The daughter of the then Sultan of Delhi, was intensely attached to the deity of Sampath Kumar Perumal, who had been lifted by Mughal rulers from Melkote and gifted to the Sultan. When the deity chose to return to Melkote with Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya, she missed Him so much that she had to travel to Melkote. On seeing the deity, the thought of separation once again, led to her passing away on the spot. Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya drew an analogy with Goda Devi, who united with Lord Ranganatha in a similar fashion. The muslim Sulthan’s daughter was named ‘Bibi Nachiyar” and her statue was installed and worshipped in the precincts of the temple.
Equality Across Castes: The world identifies Bharat with casteism, not realizing that it began as a division based on vocations. It’s unfortunate that untouchability burst forth as an issue.
In the times of Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya, temples were the centres of administration, under the control of one section of society, one particular caste. Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya, encouraged inclusiveness by allotting 50% of tasks to persons belonging to the rest of the castes. That’s the reason, from then on, there are no restrictions based on caste, to enter temples.
However the relapse of casteism occurred during the foreign rules in Bharath. Caste was used as a ploy to divide and rule.
Over the 75 years of independence, casteism has been made into a cancerous growth in Indian society. The very purpose of The Statue Of Equality is to provide a panacea for it. Let the rulers and society be inspired.
Leaving all that aside, let’s see how Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya ensured equality among all castes:
- He shared the Mantra with everyone – irrespective of the caste. The only qualification he wanted was their being devoted and eager to learn.
- He made sure that people from all castes had a role to play in the upkeep of temples, the sources of inspiration. Note that temples were the hub of knowledge, employment and culture, in those days … they were the universities, shopping centres, meeting points.
Equality Across Social Status: One experiences happiness when a group of like minded people, come together to ‘party’. Well, food is prominent when partying, isn’t it? In short, having food with someone indicates how close you are, and sharing food shows an even closer relationship. And guess what, eating someone else’s leftover food, infers that you treat the other person as an equal. Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya was born in a brahmin family, but he was desirous of having the leftover food of a great devotee from Ka:nchi, called Ka:nchi:pu:rna, though he was from a lower social status. He said, social status is not a barrier when you truly enjoy and cherish the companionship of people with a common goal.
He gave importance, at par with the Vedas, to the songs sung by a:lwars about the glory of the Divya Desams. Some of these a:lwars were of the lower castes, but their songs were made mandatory in the temples.
In his old age, Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya, while going for a bath to River Ka:ve:ri, would take the support of a bramhin scholar Da:saradhi. However, while returning he used to lean on the shoulder of Dhanurda:s, a low caste by birth. This talks volumes about the importance he gave to devotion over physical status by birth.
Equality Across Gender: There was a time, women were not even allowed to pray, chant God’s name!!!! Unimaginable, but true! They were not taught scriptures, rituals , slo:kas . We are talking about 1000+ years ago, the time when scriptures were the primary source of education in Vedic culture. Girls were denied this! Can you believe that males did not learn in front of the females so as to keep the knowledge secret!!! Today, though women have broken through many glass ceilings, we are still talking about gender equality.
Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya showed his concern for women in those tough days and opened learning channels for women . This is 1000+ years ago…… I bet there was no social media to create a commotion… it was a single A:cha:rya who sensed the need to educate all, so that everyone could experience knowledge… irrespective of their gender.
Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya is that gigantic reservoir from which, all present day schools of thought that advocate Equality, have flowed out as creeks, rivulets and tributaries. This is a historical fact.
It’s been over a thousand years that this divine personality sanctified the earth by his presence. The world is advocating his ideology, without giving credit to him. His name remains in the shadows. So, the magical essence is missing and values are disappearing in society.
Invisible, but invincible, walls have been built, dividing society. Equality has become just another name. The need of the hour is the effulgence of Sri Ra:ma:nu:ja’s ideology.
His form and his word can inspire society. What better time to experience this inspiration, than the millennium of his birth!
That is why the Statue Of Equality has emerged. Let the Statue reverberate within you, echoes of Equality. Let these echoes become a yearning for Equality. Let this yearning get translated into actions leading to Equality.