Ancient History Prelims cum Mains

A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja

The news
• The tribute to the Bhakti saint, Ramanujacharya is set to become the world’s second tallest statue of a seated figure.

About the statue
• 2017 marked the 1000th year since Bhagawad Ramanujacharya’s birth.
• To honour his contributions to society and India as a whole, construction of 216 feet tall statue of him was started in 2016, the statue is in place now, while skilled workers are giving the finishing touches to the base, called Bhadravedi, that is itself 54 feet high.
• As planes land and take off from Shamshabad Airport, Hyderabad here, window seat passengers get a glimpse of a giant bronze figure holding a flagstaff on the ground.
• Travellers on Kollapadakal Road also see it from miles away.
• Currently, the Great Buddha of Thailand is the tallest statue, at 302-feet.
• Once the Ramanujacharya statue is unveiled, it will become the second tallest, a distinction now held by the Guanyin figure on Mount Xiqiao in China’s Guangdong region, at 203 feet.
• The inner core is 850 tonnes of steel holding up the 650-tonne statue.
• Just the flagstaff is 135 feet long.
• The flag looks very small but it weighs six tonnes and positioning it took about six weeks as it is 50 feet in the air.
• Each eye is 6.5 feet in length and 3 feet in height and is the key to the statue’s appeal.
• Ramanujacharya’s appearance has been designed based on carved stone images of the saint in Melkote and Srirangam temples.
• This is a ₹1,000 crore project with ₹500 crore spent in phase one. Most of the money is from donations.
• The statue is part of a religious complex with a musical fountain for a sound and light show.
• The base will host a library and a Dark Ride, where we will have information about all the great people in the world who fought for equality, including Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela
• The base of Ramanujacharya’s statue depicts 36 elephants and 27-feet-high lotus petals.


About Ramanujacharya
• Born in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, in 1017 A.D, dedicated His entire life for reformism and left no stone unturned in dispelling darkness from the minds and lives of people.
• He was a saint who propagated universal brotherhood.
• He embraced the untouchables and treated them on par with the elites. Seeing His compassion towards the oppressed, His delighted guru honoured him with the coveted title “ Em-perum- anar” you are ahead of us.
• He was a great philosopher-Saint, theologian, social reformer and chief exponent of the Visishtadvaita School of Vedanta or qualified non-dualism.
• Bhagawad Ramanujacharya made hard journeys in His lifetime, to distant places across the Indian subcontinent and taught that the social order is actually a moral order (rule of conduct) and the crux of all values is man’s desire for the better.
• His ultimate objective was to induce vedic way of life into the society, which met with glorious success.


About Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Non-dualism)
• Its proponent was Rāmānuja.
• The basic theory is that “jīvātman is a part of Brahman, and hence is similar, but not identical.
• Brahman, matter and the individual souls are distinct but mutually inseparable entities”. Vishishtadvaita advocates Bhakti to attain God.
• Vishishtadvaita is one of the most popular schools of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.
• Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas.
• VishishtAdvaita (literally “Advaita with uniqueness; qualifications”) is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy.
• It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity.
• It can be described as qualified monism or qualified non-dualism or attributive monism.
• It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.
• Ramanuja, the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy contends that the Prasthanatrayi (“The three courses”), namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras are to be interpreted in a way that shows this unity in diversity, for any other way would violate their consistency.
• There are three key principles of Vishishtadvaita:
o Tattva: The knowledge of the 3 real entities namely, jiva (living souls; the sentient); ajiva (the nonsentient) and Ishvara (Vishnu-Narayana or Parahbrahman, creator and controller of the world).
o Hita: The means of realization, as through bhakti (devotion) and prapatti (self-surrender).
o Purushartha: The goal to be attained, as moksha or liberation from bondage.

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