Our sampradaya traces its direct lineage from Brahma Madhva Sampradaya, however we should be respectful and honoured by the influences of the Ramanuj sampradaya.
When Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu appeared there were 4 major sampradayas and Lord Chaitanya wanted to unify all these lineages since His teachings and example were applicable to all. As such He took followers from all the sampradayas.
Thus, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami, one of the six goswamis of Vrindavan was from the Ramanuj line. Click [here] to see post from Gopala Bhatta Goswami's appearance day for more of his glories
Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami wrote significant texts outlining the process of deity worship which today is influential in ISKCON centres around the world.
Ramanujacarya was a Vaishnanva acarya as Srila Prabhupada conveyed in a room conversation.
Prabhupada: The who is acarya except the Vaishnava acarya? All loafer class. All loafer class. They're not acaryas. Except these Vaishnava acaryas, who is acarya? They're not acaryas. Acaryam mam vijaniyan [SB 11.17.27].
Dr. Patel: I read your Bhagavad-gita, and after that, I read Ramanuja's. They more or less the same...
Prabhupada: Same thing. There is no difference between the acaryas. Then how he becomes acarya if there is difference of opinion? They cannot be acarya.
Of course we must take Srila Prabhupada's instructions in context and this conversation does not permit us to jump our lineage and somehow take direct instructions or books from Ramanujacarya as a matter of disciplic principals.
Just as other great acharyas did, Ramanujacarya had great grasp on scriptures and in his vedanta was able to defeat impersonalists (mayavadis). However the more important similarity and reflection of the sankirtan movement is Ramanuj's widespread preaching of bhakti regardless of caste of creed. A great example of this is the following story:
Ramanuj's Guru gave him a Mantra, however he warned him, "Do not disclose the mantra to anyone or you will be damned"
"And what will happen to those who hear the Mantra" asked Ramanuja.
"The power of the Mantra would lead them to liberation" said the guru
Ramanuj said, "It would be better than thousands of people are liberated even if I will be damned," and in this way the great Ramanuja told all that would hear...Come listen to the mantra that will libeate you.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Vani Vaibhava talks about how Sri Ramanujacaya fits in to the overall plan of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
In Navadwipa Dhama Mahatmya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur sheds light on Gaudiya Vaisnavas and their mission, pastimes and assistance with the Mahaprabhu's mission. In this way the book also shows how Ramanuja came to assist in the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu which is illustrated in the below story.
"Once whilst Sripad Ramanuja Acarya was staying in Jagannatha Puri he offered prayers to Lord Jagannatha Who became very pleased.
"Lord Jagannatha appeared before Sri Ramanuja and said, "Ramanuja, go and visit Sri Navadvipa, for very soon I shall appear there in the house of Sri Jagannatha Misra. Sri Navadvipa is My most beloved abode and is a part of the spiritual sky manifest in this world. As My eternal servant and a leader amongst My devotees, you should go there. Let your students stay here, for they are absorbed in 'dasya rasa' and will not understand the advanced devotional mood. Travel there alone. Any living entity who does not go to see Sri Navadvipa has been born uselessly. Just one portion of Sri Navadvipa contains Ranga Kshetra, Venkateshvara and Yadava Acala. Therefore go to Sri Navadvipa and see My form of Gauranga. After gaining blessings, go to Kurma Sthana and rejoin your disciples."
"Folding his hands, Sri Ramanuja humbly requested Lord Jagannatha, "My dear Lord, You have mercifully told me something about Gauranga, but exactly who He is, I don't know."
"The Lord answered, "It is known to you that Lord Sri Krishna, the Lord of Goloka, is the Supreme Absolute Truth. That much is well known to My devotees. That same Supreme Personality of Godhead who resides in Sri Vrindavana is fully manifest as Gauranga, and His beloved abode, Sri Vrindavana, is manifest as holy Navadvipa. Navadvipa is the Supreme spiritual abode and it is transcendental to the influence of the material nature. In that divine land, Lord Gauranga eternally resides. By My mercy that holy abode has come to exist within this universe, but it remains completely unaffected by 'maya'. This is the verdict of the scriptures. If anyone thinks that Sri Navadvipa is only a material location, then whatever devotion he has developed will wither and perish. By My will, My inconceivable energy preserves this transcendental abode within this material world. Simply by studying the scriptures, one will not be able to understand the Absolute Truth. Only by My mercy can My devotees understand."
"Hearing these words of Lord Jagannatha, Sripad Ramanujacarya was filled with love. "My dear Lord," he said, "Your pastimes are truly astounding. The scriptures cannot fully describe Your opulence's. Why is 'Gauranga-lila' not described in the scripture? Upon reflection, I find some hint of 'Gauranga tattwa' in the 'Srutis' and 'puranas'. Now, however, all my doubts are gone and I am ready to execute Your will. If it is Your desire, I will go to Sri Navadvipa and from there, I will set out to preach about Lord Gauranga throughout the three worlds, giving evidence from the scriptures to all converting them to the devotional service of Gauranga. Please instruct me. You have just to give me Your order."
"Lord Jagannatha replied, 'Sripad Ramanuja, do not broadcast in this way. Keep these secrets of Lord Gauranga's pastimes as they are for the present. Only after He has concluded His pastimes will the people in general come to understand them. Preach about Me on the level of 'dasya rasa' as you have always done, but within your heart worship Gauranga constantly.'"
"Following Lord Jagannatha's order, Sripad Ramanujacarya secretly cultivated his attraction for Sri Navadvipa. Being very merciful, Lord Narayana led him to Vaikunthapura and showed him His transcendental form, worshipped by manifestations of His different energies. Sripad Ramanujacarya felt himself most fortunate to see this, but as he watched, the Lord manifested His form as Gauranga, the son of Jagannatha Misra. Sripad Ramanujacarya's mind became stunned by the brilliance of His shining golden form. Lord Gauranga then placed His two lotus feet upon Sripad Ramanujacarya's head, and Ramanujacarya filled with inspiration, began to offer prayers.
"Sripad Ramanujacarya said, "I must see Your pastimes when You appear here in Navadvipa My Lord. I shall never leave this place."
"Lord Gauranga replied, "Your wish will be fulfilled, O son of Keshava. When My Navadvipa 'lila' is revealed, you will again take your birth here."
"Lord Gauranga then disappeared. Greatly satisfied by the Lord's promise, Sripad Ramanujacarya returned to Kurma Sthana, where he joined his disciples. During his life he preached devotional service to the Lord in the mood of dasya rasa or servitorship through out the South of India, whilst internally he was absorbed in meditating on the pastimes of Lord Gauranga.
By Lord Gauranga's mercy, he was born again in Sri Navadvipa as a devotee named Ananta to assist in the Lord's pastimes."
So instead of this day being a one liner on the vaishnava calendar it is nice to be able to read more about Ramanujacarya and in the process of blogging to learn more and share some of these thoughts. In this way we honour not only Ramanujacarya but also Gopala Bhatta Goswami and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His desires for His teachings to be thought to followers of all Sampradayas.