Ramanuja Acharya was a Hindu religious philosopher and thinker. One of the leading exponents of the Shri Vaishnavite Hindu tradition, he was highly influential in the Bhakti tradition.
He was born in 1017 CE to mother Kaanthimath and father Keshav Sommayaji, in a Tamil Brahmin family and in a village named Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. It was the seventh day of the Shukla Paksh in the month of Vaishakh.
Earlier named as Illaya Perumal, he grew up at a time when all the religions thrived together. There were already many philosophies of the Vaishnavite tradition when he became a sage. He made Yadava Prakash his Guru. However, both of them separated soon and then Ramanujacharya saw the divine visions of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. At the same place, where he saw them in the divine vision, he started worshiping both of them.
Later, he became the priest at the Vardraj Temple in Kanchi. Along with propagating the belief that Lord Vishnu is supreme, he also propagated the beliefs of Yamunacharya, one of his predecessors.
Ramanuja's sole aim in life was guiding the mankind to achieve God, through the right path. Right path according to him did not lie in chanting of mantras while sitting alone. Rather, he believed that the Supreme Power is something to be discussed with all and its prowess should be spread in all the directions. So, that not one but all are guided. He believed that worship of Vishnu is required to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
The theory seems much relevant in the modern times that the devotee need not learn the rituals and methods to worship the devotees, but only heart full of devotion will do the needful.
The difference he made in the times was that he brought a contradictory opinion for Shankara's interpretation of the Upanishads. His teachings and philosophies are called philosophies of Vishishta Advaita.
Ramanujacharya reformed Srirangam Ranganath Swami Temple and conducted tours across India, propagating his views about Hinduism and the Hindu philosophy of the Vishsishta Advaita. Vedartha Samgraha, Shri Bhashya, Geeta Bhasya, through these texts he has influenced the Vaishnavite traditions of Hinduism.
Shri Ramanujacharya held the view that the devotees can choose their own method of worship and that attaining Nirvana, that is Moksha, is also possible through this. God needs utter devotion alone, is what he emphasized upon. And is true as well. This is the reason he is also often narrated by the other philosophical thinkers. With this view, he became one of the most influential spiritual leaders.
Near the birthplace of Ramanujacharya, a Vishist Advaita school has been started now.
Ramanuja Jayanti is celebrated in the Ranganath Swami temple every year. At the other Vaishnavite Mathas also, the festival is celebrated with religious fervor. The idol is given a holy bath and his texts are then recited for the devotees to hear and acquire knowledge.