||It has been suggested that Srivaishnava be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since January 2015.|
SriVaishnav Urdhva pundram along with Vishnu's Panchajanya(conch) and Sudarshanchakra(disc like weapon)
|Regions with significant populations|
|India , Nepal|
|Vedas, Upanishads, Naalayira Divya Prabhandham , Bhagavat Gita, Brahma Sutra Vishishtadvaita Bhashya/Sri Bhashya , Pancharatra Agamas , Vaishnava Puranas etc|
|http://www.ramanuja.org/ , (http://vanamamalai.us/) , http://www.chinnajeeyar.org/main/content/ , http://www.andaljeeyar.org , http://www.madhuramangalamjeeyar.org/index.html http://www.shridharacharyaji.com/aboutswamiji.php http://www.sansthanam.com/ , http://www.shrishridhardham.com/ , http://www.ahobilamutt.org/ , http://www.parakalamatham.org/ , http://andavan.org/|
Sri Vaishnav Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava sect within Hinduism, dedicated to the worship of the Vedic Supreme Being Vishnu. Its origin and codification is generally traced back to the goddess Lakshmi (Sri), the consort Vishnu and is the oldest among the four original Vaishnava sampradayas mentioned in the Padma Puran. Around the 10th century a collection of the devotional hymns and songs by Alvars was organized by Nathamuni, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of the sect. Nathamuni wrote Sanskrit works systematizing the Sri Vaishnava theology, largely in debate with the philosophy of Buddhism. He was followed by Yamunacharya, a celebrated grand-teacher of Ramanujacharya. Yamunacharya, like Ramanujacharya, focused both on philosophical debates like dvaita versus advaita and bhakti prayers and the works attributed to him are in Sanskrit although he codified the heritage of the Alvars.
In this tradition, Vishnu is believed to be the Supreme Being and the source of all avatars. The Iyengar Brahmins are followers of Ramanuja sampradaya, and two sects, namely Vadakalai and Thenkalai exist among them. They believe in the philosophy of Visishtadvaita espoused by Ramanujacharya.
- 1 Origin
- 2 Philosophy
- 3 Organization
- 4 Sects
- 5 Later developments
- 6 Texts
- 7 Centres of Pilgrimage - Divya Desams
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
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Sri i.e. Lakshmi is considered to be the original preceptor of this sampradaya and Ramanuja was the most famous saint of this spiritual lineage. Vishnu , according to Padma Purana , had empowered four divine beings to form sects to propagate Vaishnavism and Sri was the foremost among them. Sri is considered inseparable from Vishnu, who carries the mark of sri-vatsa, ineradicably representing Sri, his consort. In later Gaudiya and Nimbarka traditions she is identified with Radha. The prefix Sri is used for this sect because they give special importance to the worship of the Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, who they believe to act as a mediator between God and man. A major portion of Sri Vaishnava theology is based upon this tenet.
The present day Sri Sampradaya is a conflux of three great Vaishnav traditions all of which were rooted in the theology centering around the worship of Vishnu along with Lakshmi, namely, the popular Bhagavata tradition to which the Alvars belonged, the Pancharatra tradition which is essentially an offshoot of the Vedic system of worship that shares its roots with the Vaikhanasa liturgy & most importantly the Vedanta propunded by the Acharyas of this sampradaya starting from Nathamuni and continuing till date. Ramanuja was the first Acharya to systematically elucidate the Vishishtadvaita philosophy inherent in the Vedas and was also the pioneer is bridging the gap and strengthening the bond between these similar Vaishnava traditions.
The origin of this sampradaya's unique sort of devotionalism which is marked by the preponderance of a philosophical notion of surrender and servitude to Vishnu owes its origin to the Alvars and most importantly, to Nammalvar. The four thousand verses of Alvars including Nammalvar's immortal work Thiruvaymozhi are of the greatest importance in this sect. Thenkalais generally tend to emphasize more on the importance of Nalayira Divya Prabandham than the Vadakalais.
From the standpoint of liturgical origin, the Vaikhanasa tradition can be said to be of foremost importance as the Vaikhanasa scripture entitled 'Samurtarchanadhikarana' authored by Rishi Atri mentions that the Pancharatras arose as complementary texts to the Vaikhanasa Bhagavatshastras(liturgical texts). However, later on eminent Acharyas such as Vedanta Desika have mentioned in their works that Sri Vaishnavism arises from Ekayana shakha of Shukla Yajurveda. Usually it is believed that the Kanva Shakha of Shukla Yajurveda is the source of the Pancharatric texts.
The philosophy of Sri Vaishnava sampradaya is Vishishtadvaita i.e. : Qualified Monism. Ramanuja was the first of the Vedantic philosophers who made the identification of a personal God with the brahman, or Absolute Reality, of the Upanishads and the Vedanta-sutras the cornerstone of his system. As a personal God, brahman possesses all the good qualities in a perfect degree, and Ramanuja does not tire of mentioning them. He interprets the relationship between the unitary and infinite brahman and the plural and finite world in a novel way, which has full support in the Upanishads. For him the relation between the infinite and the finite is like that between the soul and the body. Hence nonduality is maintained, while differences can still be stated. Soul and matter are totally dependent on God for their existence, as is the body on the soul. God has two modes of being, as cause and as product. As cause, he is in his essence qualified only by his perfections; as product, he has as his body the souls and the phenomenal world. There is a pulsating rhythm in these periods of creation and absorption. For Ramanuja , release is not a negative separation from transmigration, or series of rebirths, but, rather, the joy of the contemplation of God. This joy is attained by a life of exclusive devotion (bhakti) to God and private worship, and constantly dwelling on his perfections. God will return his grace, which will assist the devotee in gaining release.
Right since the time of Ramanuja the Sri Sampradaya has been led by various monastic establishments and Acharyas appointed by Ramanuja himself or his valid successors. During his lifetime Ramanuja had appointed 74 Acharyas to propagate Sri Vaishnavism, among them a few were distinguished Jeeyars(renunciates) who established important monasteries that exist till date. The Tirumala Jeeyar Swamy Mutt is one such establishment. Another famous Mutt established by Ramanuja himself is the famous Embar Mutt at Puri , Orissa. Other famous Mutts of this era include Yadugiri Yatiraj Mutt of Melukote, Karnataka and Sriranga Narayana Jeeyar Mutt at Srirangam. Various famous Acharyas like Mudaliandan Swamy, Ananthazhwan, Varada Vishnu Acharya , Kidambi Achhan and Parashara Bhatta were also entrusted with the responsibility of initiating people into this sampradaya and propagating Vishishtadvaita. Monastic establishments of the Vadakalai sect have also been quite proactive in the organization of this sampradaya. Starting from the first Vadakalai Jeeyar Adivan Shathakop of the Ahobila Mutt the Vadakalai monastic establishments have preached Sri Vaishnavism far and wide along with functioning as organizational nerve centres of the Sri Sampradaya.
The two main sects into which the Sri Sampradaya is divided are Thenkalai and Vadakalai. These sects arose as a result of philosophical and traditional differences in the post Ramanuja period. Both of the sects uphold Ramanuja as the ultimate preceptor of their sampradaya. The Thenkalai sampradaya hails from the Guru parampara of Swami Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamunigal who is considered to be the reincarnation of Ramanuja by the Thenkalais. The Thenkalais accept the Oran Vazhi (i.e. exalted) Guru parampara and their views are shaped by the philosophical expositions of Parasara Bhattar, Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamunigal. The most prominent Thenkalai Mutts are Vanamamalai Mutt, Tirumala Jeeyar Swamy Mutt, Yadugiri Yatiraj Mutt of Melukote , Emar Matha of Puri, Vadi Kesari Azhagia Manavala Jeeyar Mutt of Kanchipuram etc. The Acharya parampara of Sri Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya Swamiji is considered to be one of the most exalted spiritual lineages of this sect. The Thenkalais have a more liberal standpoint regarding caste. The sudra weavers and artisans of various districts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh received initiation from Thenkalai Acharyas, in the 15th century the movements aimed at social upliftment had gained momentum and Thenkalai sampradaya had gained a fillip by offering a liberal, popular form of Vaishnavism that appealed to the masses. Thus the Thenkalai sect received a wider following and took a flexible stance about caste-barriers. Recitation of the Divya Prabandhams composed by the Alvars is an important practice in this sect.
The Vadakalais, on the other hand, claim ideological descent from Thirukkurugaippiran Pillan, who was a disciple of Ramanuja and consider Vedanta Desika to be the greatest Acharya of the post Ramanuja era. Vadakalai Mutts like Parakala Mutt, Ahobila Mutt & Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam & Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam have been the torchbearers in dissemination of Vadakalai Sri Vaishnavism. The Vadakalais give greater emphasis on the role of Lakshmi i.e. Sri and prefer Sanskrit to vernacular compositions. Vadakalais are usually more strict about Brahminical and Sanskritic norms and they usually tend to retain the Brahminical orthodoxy regarding caste as well as modes of worship, usage of Vedic verses etc. They prefer the Vedic practices that focused on propitiation of Vishnu through fire rituals(yajna and homa) to the worship of icons in temples. Thus, the Vadakalai presence was more concentrated around their traditional & monastic establishments rather than places of public worship.
In the post Ramanuja period various other Acharyas propagated the Sri Vaishnava faith, one of the most noteworthy among the Acharyas of the Thenkalai sect is Manavala Mamunigal who appointed eight exalted scholars of Vishishtadvaita commonly known as 'Ashtadiggajas' , they were :
- Vanamamalai Jeeyar
- Bhattar Piraan Jeeyar
- Tiruvengada Jeeyar
- Koil Kanthaadai annan
- Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya
- Erumbi appa
Vanamamalai Jeeyar established innumerable Mutts throughout India, including the Jeeyar Swamy Mutt at Puri. Other Acharyas like Koil Annan and Prathivadi Bhayankar (PB) Annan of Kanchipuram had acquired innumerable disciples throughout India. In the mid 19th century the famous Ranganathji temple of Vrindavan was built by three wealthy merchants Radhakrishna, Govinda and Lakshmichand Seth from Mathura and it was handed over by them to their spiritual preceptor Sri Rangadeshika Swamiji of Anantacharya's lineage. Sri Rangadeshika Swamiji popularized Sri Vaishnavism throughout North India in the 19th century and it was he whose influence ensured the flourishing of Sri Vaishnavism at very many places that had previously never known it, his spiritual successors still adorn the trustee board of the Ranganathji temple. The Vijayraghav mandir and Asharfi Bhavan of Ayodhya are of his lineage. The Balaram Dharma Sopan of Sodepur in Kolkata is a subsidiary Mutt of the Vijayraghav mandir.
The revered saint Tridandi Swami of Buxar, Bihar was the disciple of a descendant of Prathivadi Bhayankar Annan and his Guru parampara is expanding even now. Jagadguru Swami Vasudevacharya , the Mahant of Koslesh Sadan, Ayodhya is a prominent Acharya hailing from this lineage. Swami Vishnuprapannacharya established the Nagoriya Mutt in Rajasthan in the 17th century, he was a contemporary of Ghanshyamacharya of Ahobila Mutt , the founder of Jhalariya Mutt, which was also established around the same time.
In Nepal the propagation of Sri Vaishnavism has mostly taken place through the initiative of the Vanamamalai Mutt and Sri Prativadibhayankar Swamiji's Guru parampara. The process had initially taken place from Muktinath, which is the most important Vaishnava pilgrimage in Nepal and later on spread to other areas. Yogiraj Swami Kamalnayanacharya's temple at Jhapa is at present an important centre of propagation of Sri Vaishnavism. Several Sri Vaishnava Mutts have grown up around the Muktinath temple and it serves as a rallying point for the Sri Vaishnavas of Nepal.
The Parakala Mutt was founded by the first Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar of Parakala Mutt more than 700 years ago . This Mutt's pontiff has traditionally been the Guru of the Royal house of Mysore and has been receiving their patronage over the ages. Adivan Sathakop, a disciple of the first Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar of Parakala Mutt ,established the Ahobila Mutt about 600 years ago at Ahobilam . As per legends he was initiated into monkhood by Lord Narasimha Himself who is said to have appeared before him in a Brahmin's garb and handed him the renuniciate's robes and tridanda. Sri Ahobila Matam is headed by a monastic holding the title of Srimad Azhagiya Singar. The present Srimad Azhagiya Singar is the 46th Azhagiya Singar of Sri Ahobila Matam, Sri Ranganatha Yatheendra Maha Desikan. All the Azhagiya Singars also hold the title of Srivan and Satakopa at the beginning of their names, and Yathindra Mahadesikan at the end. "Srivan" roughly translates to "majestic". "Satakopa" simply refers to Nammazhvar, the presiding saint for Ahobila Mutt. "Yathindra Mahadesikan" roughly translates to "King among monastics, the great teacher". Each Azhagiya Singar adopts a monastic name at the time of entering monasticism. Thus, the divine name starts with the tile "Srivan Satakopa" at the beginning, the adopted name in the middle, and "Yathindra Mahadesikan" at the end. Further, some Azhagiya Singars also include the phrase "Sri Lakshminrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka" (Servant of the paadukais of Sri Lakshminrisimha). The present Srimad Azhagiya Singar chose this phrase as a prefix. Therefore, "Sri Lakshminrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yathindra Mahadesikan" is the present Azhagiya Singar's full divine title.
The Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam & the Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam were founded by Srinivasa, Ranganatha and Vedanta Ramanuja (not to be confused with Ramanuja ), three disciples of Sri Thirukkudandai Gopala Desika who lived in the early 18th century . Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan (1847-1934) was an outstanding exponent of Hindu scriptures and one of the foremost Vaishnav scholars of his age. In his times a hermitage in sylvan surroundings arose near the Coleroon river bank in the northern edge of Srirangam, which had, since his time, acquired the distinctive name `Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam'. Srimad Sakshat Swamy, also known as Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadeshika Swamy wrote the 24,000 padi(elaborate commentary on Tiru-Arayirappadi), some of his other important works include Poorva Saara Swaadhini, Nyaasa Vidyaa Darpanam, Sri Tattva Siddhaanjanam etc.; he is regarded in the Munitraya lineage as one who possessed the greatness of Ramanuja and Nammalvar . His main disciple was Srimad Thirukkudandai Gopala Desika who remained busy throughout his life in the study of the Sri Sooktis of Vedanta Desika following the latter's footsteps who had spent his entire life studying the Sri Sooktis of Ramanuja. Uttara Saraswadhani, Swami Desika sahasra namam are to name a few among the Sri Sooktis of Srimad Tirukkudandai Desika Swamy. Srimad Srinivasa Mahadesikan Seyyanam, Srimad Sri Ranganatha Mahadesikan Vathirayiruppu and Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan Vazhuthur became the disciples of Srimad Tirukkudandai Gopala Desika. These three munis – collectively called 'munitrayam', expounded and propagated the principles of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and upheld the Vadakalai Sri Vaishnava tradition in a pristine and orthodox form. Periya Andavan Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan took Sanyas at an early age (very closely following his marriage) and lived a life of a lonely hermit on the banks of Cauvery, meditating on astakshara mantra continuously, surviving on temple rice along with Tulsi leaves and finally only fig leaves. He washed the rice in the waters of Cauvery to remove traces of fat – such was his aversion to luxury. While His ashtakshara siddhi kept attracting many disciples he remained rooted in dispassion and maintaining his strict food regimen, he soon came to be known as 'Vattal Swami' – One who resembled a dried fryum. The Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam , Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam, and most of the present-day Vadagalai 'svayam-acharya purusha' families are directly connected to this acharya parampara and follow the worship and ritual patterns outlined by Sri Gopala Desika.
Among the Vadakalais the propagation beyond the original domain of South India took place under the leadership of Srinivasacharya of Ahobila Mutt, through his disciples he established many Mutts at different places in North India, prominent among them were the Mutts at Varanasi , Chitrakoot and Pushkar . Ghanshyamacharya, of this spiritual lineage, established a Mutt in Rajasthan which is now famous as the Jhalariya Mutt. Srinivasacharya's main disciple Narasimhacharya established a temple of Dwarkadhish in Varanasi on the spot where Lord Krishna slew the tyrannical ruler of Poundradesh with His Sudarshanchakra. To this spiritual lineage belonged the great scholarly and eloquent Acharya Swami Madhavacharyaji who soundly defeated the founder of Arya Samaj Dayananda Saraswati in a theological debate. Swami Janardanacharya, a successor of Swami Gopalacharya, was the Guru of Devraha Baba and had initiated the ageless saint into the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya on his request for the same. Through Devraha Baba Sri Vaishnavism further expanded and found innumerable new votaries all over North India. The Sugriv Qila temple at Ayodhya comes under this Guru parampara. In Rajasthan the Jhalariya Mutt is one of the most prominent Mutts and its branches have spread over to the neighbouring regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Sri Swami Balmukundacharyaji was a distinguished scholar and renowned Acharya of this Mutt.
Sri Vaishnavism is primarily premised on the Vedantic exegeses of various Acharyas and the explanatory treatises written on various theological and liturgical canons. The Vedic Kalpasutras, especially those of Shukla Yajurveda, are particularly important in this sampradaya. The latter day Acharyas further elaborated on the earlier works.
Works of Nathamuni
Nathamuni(Ranganathamuni) was one of the earliest proponents of Sri Vaishnavism and the main compiler of the lost works of Nammalvar . He composed three works, namely Nyaya Tattva, Purusha Nirnaya and Yogarahasya, a masterpiece on Ashtanga yoga. Nathamuni’s school of Ashtanga yoga was represented solely by Kurukaikkaavalappan on whose expiry it was said to be lost.
Works of Yamunacharya
- Chathusloki - a popular prayer in praise of Lakshmi
- Stotraratnam - a prayer in praise of Narayana
- Siddhitrayam - consisting of (i) Atmasiddhi. (ii) Samvitsiddhi and (iii) Iswarasiddhi which describe the Vishistadvaita school of thought, describing a relation between the soul, God and the universe
- Agama Pramanya - stating the authority of Pancharatra agama
- Maha Purusha Nirnayam - describing that the ultimate reality is the divine couple Sri i.e. Lakshmi and Narayana
- Gitartha Sangraha - a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
- Nitya Grantha
- Mayavada Khandanam - a treatise on refuting the claims of Advaita Vedanta .
Works of Ramanuja
Ramanuja's works serve as the beacon of self-realization and salvation to all Sri Vaishnavas , Ramanuja's first work was the Vedarthasangraha (Summary of the Meaning of the Vedas). It sets out Ramanuja’s philosophy, which is theistic (it affirms a morally perfect, omniscient and omnipotent God) and realistic (it affirms the existence and reality of a plurality of qualities, persons and objects). This work is referred to several times in Ramanuja's magnum opus, his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, the Sri Bhasya (also known as his Brahma Sutra Bhashya). This is the work that Ramanuja is best known by outside of the Sri Vaishnava tradition. In conjunction to this large commentary on the Brahma Sutra , Ramanuja apparently wrote two more shorter commentaries: Vedantapida, and Vedantasara. Aside from the Vedarthasangraha and Sri Bhasya, Ramanuja's most important philosophic work is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad Gita Bhashya). In addition to these philosophic works, Ramanuja is held by tradition to have written three prose hymns called collectively the Gadya Traya, which include the Sharanagati Gadya, Shriranga Gadya and the Vaikuntha Gadya). The Sharanagati Gadya is a dialogue between Ramanuja and the Hindu deities Shri (Lakshmi) and Narayana (Vishnu) (Who jointly comprise God, or Brahman, for Ramanuja) in which Ramanuja surrenders himself before God and petitions Vishnu , through Lakshmi, for his Grace. Vishnu and Lakshmi , for their part, respond favorably to Ramanuja's act of surrender. The Sriranga Gadya is a prayer of surrender to the feet of Ranganatha (This is Vishnu in his repose on the many headed serpent Adisesa -'ancient servant,' ‘ancient residue,’ or ‘primeval matter'- on the milk ocean.) The Vaikuntha Gadya describes in great detail the eternal realm of Vishnu, called Vaikuntha, on which one should meditate in order to gain liberation. Finally Ramanuja is held to have authored a manual of daily worship called the Nityagrantha.
After Ramanuja several authors composed important theological and exegetical works on Sri Vaishnavism. Such authors include Parsara Bhattar , Pillai Lokacharya , Vedanta Desika , Manavala Mamunigal , Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai(also called Krishnapada Swamy) etc. The differences of opinion between the Acharyas in their works regarding the nature of Sharanagati , the role of Lakshmi and several other philosophical and theological differences gave rise to two distinct sects within Sri Vaishnavism , namely Vadakalai and Thenkalai.
Centres of Pilgrimage - Divya Desams
The works of the Alvars mention the presence of 108 Divya Desams which are of utmost spiritual importance to Sri Vaishnavas. Each of these Divya Desams are centres of pilgrimage and have arisen from the presence of a particular temple dedicated to Lord Narayana that was glorified by one(or more) of the 12 Alvars. 105 Divya Desams are in India, one(Muktinath temple) is in Nepal, while two are beyond the earthly realm. The foremost Divya Desam is Srirangam , the place chosen by Lord Ranganatha( Narayana ) Himself as his earthly abode for the entire Kaliyuga. According to the SriRanga Mahatmyam, as a result of Brahma's tapas, the glittering SriRanga Vimanam sprang from the depths of the Milky ocean (Paarkadal). The expression 'Sriranga Vimanam' is used to denote the turret as well as the oval shaped sanctum beneath it, containing the image of the reclining Ranganatha( Narayana ). The turret, the sanctum and the image form a single whole and are inseparably associated with one another. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam is the largest Vishnu temple in the world.
- S.Rangarajan (Sujatha) and T.S. Sundararajan. "Sri Nathamuni, and the path of twofold scripture". sriranganatha.tripod.com. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Narasimhacharya, Madabhushini (2004-01-01). Sri Ramanuja. p.15 ISBN 81-260-1833-X books.google.ie. ISBN 978-81-260-1833-8. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Matchett, Freda (2000). Krsna, Lord or Avatara? The relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana. Surrey: Routledge. p. 254. ISBN 0-7007-1281-X. p. 4 p. 200
- Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, pg. 53, Ramakrishna Mission
- Pg.25, Rural Society in Southeast India – by Kathleen Gough; Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York; ISBN 978-0-521-23889-2 hardback, ISBN 978-0-521-04019-8 paperback. Google Books. 1 January 1965. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- Pg228, The religion of the Hindus – By Kenneth W. Morgan, Published by "Motilal Banarsidass", ISBN 81-208-0387-6. Google Books. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism (3 ed.). State University of New York Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-7914-7081-4.
There is not even a mention of Sri, the consort of Vishnu in the earlier sources..
- within SriVaishnavism, the Tengalai(southern sub-sect) was responsible for bringing into its fold many of the low Sudra castes
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
- The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual (Univ of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A. 1 January 1994), by Vasudha Narayanan
- Understanding Hinduism, (ISBN 1844832015), by Vasudha Narayanan