Ramanuja is well-known as the great philosopher and acarya of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. However, it should not be misunderstood that he was the founder of the Sri Vaishnavas. Originally started by Laksmidevi Herself, the Sri sampradaya contained many exalted devotees prior to Ramanuja’s appearance to whom he admits his debt in his writings. In their expressions of devotion to the Supreme Lord, all South Indian devotees were influenced by the nine Alvars, who lived several hundred years before the birth of Ramanuja. Despite some minor philosophical differences, it is plain that the themes of devotion and surrender to God, which are essential to Ramanuja’s teachings, are based to a large extent on the writings of the Alvars.
When I was new in “bhakti” path, I used to read Srila Prabhupada’s book–“Life Comes from Life”. I was from science field and specifically I was more in researching various things and trying to understand scientists in depth. So I was very much in synchronization with the way scientists think. I did change my whole direction, by reading the books of Srila Prabhupada, based on a convincing fact that ascending process is faulty and guarantees failure to know the truth and that he was proposing a process that guarantees realizing the truth.
I got quite convinced of the fact that “sastra’s are the way and Krsna is the SUPREME. But I was not very much convinced of some of the arguments that Srila Prabhupada keeps against modern scientists to prove the existence of soul–for instance “because it is given in ‘sastra’s that’s why it is proved” and then he would go on saying that from centuries this process of evidence is followed (quoting from the Vedas) in Vedic India. I used to think “may be because Srila Prabhupada is not a scientist neither does he have much experience in science so he is not properly able to explain to these scientists.
How can we present the Vedas as the proof? It can be said that as there are many other things in the Vedas that are true so it is logical to put faith in the Vedas to understand that soul exists. But how can one say that because it is mentioned in the Vedas “it is proof”? But I had a great regard for Srila Prabhupada and thus did not challenge his way of explanation and felt a little guilty. I then started to honor such statements of Srila Prabhupäda as “arsa vakyas”–the statements from great authorities that might not be clear to us now but are not to be disrespected.