Period : Born 953 AD
Alvandar Shri Yamunacharya was a great Vaishnav Saint. The people of Vaishnav sect believe that he was the incarnation of the throne of Lord Vishnu because Shri Vishnu always remained on the throne of his heart. He was born in 953 AD at Virnarayanpur (present day Tamil Nadu) in the Uttarashadha Nakshatra of Ashadh month. His father’s name was Ishwarmuni and grandfather’s name was Naath Muni, who is one of the most respected saints of Vaishnav Sampraday (sect).
Shri Yamuna’s father died when he was ten years old. After the death of his son, Shri Naath became an ascetic. This way, Shri Yamuna lived a troublesome life with his mother and grandmother. But with his super intellect, at the age of only twelve years he possessed half of Pandey kingdom.
King Pandey was greatly devoted to his court Pandit Akkiyalvan. It was Akkiyalvan’s practice that he would charge yearly tax to whoever he would defeat in debate. Akkiyalvan also defeated Shri Yamuna’s guru Shrimad Bhasyacharya in debate and even he was paying the tax but as he had no money to pay, he was not paying the tax since few years.
One day, in presence of his guru and with his permission, when Yamuna had taken the charge of the school, just then Akkiyalvan’s disciple came and started talking bad about Shri Bhasyacharya for not paying the tax. Shri Yamuna could not bear the insult of his guru and he challenged Akkiyalvan for debate. Akkiyalvan started laughing on being challenged by a twelve-year-old boy. He thought that this child was some arrogant disciple of Shri Bhasyacharya. The angry king wanted to punish Shri Yamuna for the insult of the Pandit of his court but without accepting the challenge by Yamuna, he could not be punished and so he invited him for debate. When Yamuna came for debate, the queen said, this child will definitely break Akkiyalvan’s ego. Hearing this, the king was very angry. The king and queen argued on Shri Yamuna. Both of them had a bet over who would win. The queen said that if Yamuna could not defeat Akkiyalvan, she will become the servant of their paid maid servant all her life. The king was shocked to hear this. He said, you have laid out a tough wager but if Yamuna succeeds in defeating Akkiyalvan, I would give away half of my kingdom to him. The queen’s confidence came true. Shri Yamuna defeated Akkiyalvan in debate and as per his promise; king gifted half of his kingdom to Shri Yamuna. This way, at the mere age of twelve years, Shri Yamuna became the king of half of the empire and religiously served his subjects.
When Alvandar was twenty five years old, his father Naath Muni’s disciple Manakkal Nambi (Ram Mishra) with his guru’s permission, stood at the royal gate to meet him but because of the crowd of neighboring kings and general public, he thought that he would not have a chance to talk to Shri Yamuna and so he thought of another way to meet Yamuna. He met the royal cook and giving him a vegetable named Tuduvalai said, “Hey cook, eating this vegetable as it prolongs one’s life and increases intelligence, so you give this vegetable everyday to your king to eat. I will come and give you the vegetable every day”. Pleased, the cook thinking this to be the blessing of the saint gave the vegetable to Yamuna to eat. Shri Yamuna found the vegetable very tasty.
After this, every day the cook made the vegetable for Shri Yamuna. After getting the vegetable continuously for two months, one day, Shri Nambi did not go to give vegetable. On being asked by Shri Yamuna, the cook said that the saint who used to come to give the vegetable had not come that day. Shri Yamuna was shocked to know that a saint was coming every day to give the vegetable. He wanted to meet Shri Nambi. Next day Shri Nambi came, the cook took him to Shri Yamuna and Shri Nambi told Shri Yamuna, “I bring this vegetable every day because I wanted to meet you. I am your father Shri Naath’s disciple and with his orders I have come here to see you. Your father died sometime back but before leaving his physical body he left lot of money for you, which is in my custody now. He had ordered me to reach this money to you and I have come here to see for that only”.
Shri Yamuna immediately wanted to go along with his men to get that money but Shri Nambi told him that he would have to come all alone to get that money. With Shri Nambi’s insistence, Shri Yamuna went alone along with him to the North of Madura. While walking, in the afternoon Shri Yamuna stopped at a place to take some rest and Nambi started reading Gita as this was his daily routine. As soon as Shri Yamuna heard Gita, his eyes opened. It was like his self-realization or awakening. He experienced that he was simply entangled in illusion. A person’s real happiness lies only in reciting god’s name. A feeling of freedom from all worldly desires developed in his heart. He requested Shri Nambi to let him hear the Gita and accept him as his disciple. Shri Nambi recited sampurna Gita to him.
Once again Shri Yamuna requested him to make him his disciple. Shri Nambi replied, O King! Let me first complete my vow because till the time I don’t give away the money that your father had given me to give you I will not be able to free myself from obligation. It is said that Shri Nambi walked along with Yamuna. Walking continuously for four days they reach the banks of river Kaveri, crossing Kaveri both reached Pavitra Bhumi where a huge temple of Shri Rangnath is built.
Shri Nambi entered the Rangnath temple with seven gates and crossing over six gates on reaching seventh gate, looking at the huge idol of Shri Rangnath he told Shri Yamuna, O pious soul, the treasure conferred by your father is lying on the snakebed, please accept it.
O King! This is the treasure for which you have left your kingdom and come here, whose feet are pressed by Lakshmi, who has the universe within himself, who is the symbol of utmost peace, who is the precious gem, your father has given you this treasure, accept your treasure and free me from debt.
Just as Shri Nambi’s last sentence got over, besotted Shri Yamuna entered the temple and falling down at the footstep of Shri Rangnath became unconscious. Tears of love rolled down from his eyes. He caught hold of Shri Rangnath in such a way as if he never wanted to leave him. After this, Shri Yamuna let go his empire and got consecrated by Shri Nambi and decided to spend rest of his life serving Shri Rangnath.
Slowly and gradually Shri Yamuna became famous. The number of his followers went on increasing. Shri Shailpurn was one of his first followers who was also the maternal uncle of Ramanujacharya. Shri Yamunacharya worshipped Shri Rangnath for lifetime and showed people the path of Vishishtadvait (a philosophical theory according to which the soul and matter are not considered quite inseparable).
During the last days of his life, he wrote books like, Stotra Ratnam, Siddhitrayam, Aagam-pramanyam, Gitarth Sangrah, Chathusloki, Maha Purusha Nirnayam, and Mayaa Vaadha Khandanam etc. which are the original books of the Shri Vaishnav sect. There is a detailed description of Vishisht Advait in these. He desired to write more books but his body gradually became weak and so it was difficult for him to write more. But soon his wish took the form of Shri Ramanuj and fulfilled his wish. Shri Ramanuj Alvandar was the extended form of Shri Yamunacharya.