As per the authority of Padma Puran, there are four bonafide sampradayas or the schools of devotional service, adopting any one of them and under the guidance of a completely perfect devotee of Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can become a perfected individual in the science of God consciousness.
Out of the four, Sri Sampradaya is the sampraday which originates from the eternal consort of Narayan, Srimati Lakshmi Devi. The main Acharya or the central guide of this school of devotional service is Sripad Ramanujacharya.
Sripad Ramanujacharya is the founder Acharya of Sri Sampradaya. He appeared in this material world in the year 1017 A.D. in Shriperumbudur. His parents were Asuri Keshava and Kantimati. He appeared in this material world on Panchami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra, four days prior to Rama Navami, the festival of appearance day of Lord Sri Ramachandra. At the small age of 16, he was married.
Just 4 months had passed after his marriage, his father departed from this mortal world, leaving him alone with responsibilities of the family. He moved to the holy city of Kanchi afterwards and lived a simple living in the city of temples and saints.
There, he enrolled himself in the school of Yadava Prakash, a devout follower of Sripad Shankaracharya, the propounder of advaita philosophy, deriving the conclusion that the soul is indifferent from the supreme lord.
This philosophy of advaita was propounded in order to rescue the Vedic literature which was being discarded in huge numbers due to the advent and preaching of atheistic philosophy by Lord Buddha, who specifically came to mislead the people and asking them to reject Vedic literatures. Since people became engaged in sacrificing the animals in Kaliyuga, which is forbidden, Lord Buddha preached the message of so called Jiva daya and asked them to reject Vedic literature.
Since it became a mass movement as Lord Buddha was an incarnation of the supreme lord himself, the Vedic literatures came to a stage of extinction. To preserve them, the lord ordered his devotee Lord Shiva to go on the earth, protect the Vedas and misinterpret them and preach the nonsense philosophy of Advaita. Since then, the philosophy was accepted by masses and after the passing away of Sripad Shankaracharya, his disciples followed his so called footsteps, despite his last instruction, “Bhaja Govindam! Bhaja Govindam! Bhaja Govindam Mudha Mate!” It translates to “O rascals! Worship Lord Govinda! Worship Lord Govinda! Worship Lord Govinda!”
Sripada Ramanujacharya admitted himself to the school and soon became a very sincere student and hence, got special space in the heart of his teacher. One day, after the class, he was giving massage to his teacher, when one of his disciples asked him a question from the Chandogya Upanishad. The teacher gave the explanation that the eyes of the lord resemble butts of a monkey. Hearing this nonsense explanation, hot tears emanated from the eyes of Sri Ramanuja and fell on the thigh of his teacher. When he felt the heat, he asked Ramanuja about the problem to which he humble pleaded that his teacher had given a senseless explanation. Enraged by his wisdom, he asked ramanuja to explain and he very humbly explained, “The two eyes of the Supreme are as lovely as two lotuses that are blossomed by the rays of the sun”.
His teacher scolded him for being impudent and disrespectful towards Shankara’s philosophy and asked him to correct himself. Being extremely humble, he didn’t say anything. Similar events again happened when he refuted the nonsense commentaries of Shankaracharya.
Being completely enraged, his teacher asked him to leave his class and start a school of his own. He very soon did the same and soon, many people became his followers.
Being envious, his teacher made a plan to kill him by taking him on a pilgrimage, which he somehow escaped and came back to Kanchi.
When they came back and saw him living, they became afraid and stopped further plans. One day, a saint visited his temple for alms. He was Sripad Alabandaru Yamunacharya. Sripad Ramanuja, in the course of his discussion, asked him to accept him as his servant. Yamunacharya agreed and blessed him.
Afterwards, he started preaching in a stronger manner and soon turned all the people into cult of Vaishnavism. Even his teacher Yadav became his follower.
He lived at Shri Rangam, serving the Deity of Narayana and imparting enlightenment to whoever came to him until he was 120 years old. One day while worshipping the Deity, he prayed, “dear God, whatever I could do to preserve the essence of the Vedas, to uplift the fallen souls, and to establish the shelter of your lotus feet as the supreme goal in life, I have done. Now my body has grown tired after many years in this world. Kindly allow me to depart from this mortal world and enter your supreme abode.”
With this prayer Ramanuja returned to the assembly of his disciples and announced his desire to depart from this world. Thrown into an ocean of grief, the disciples clasped the feet of their guru and petitioned him to remain with them. It is unbearable for us to conceive of the disappearance of your divine form, which is the supreme purifier, the abode of all that is good, the destroyer of all afflictions, and the fountain of unlimited joy. Out of pity for your children, please stay with us for some time longer.”
Ramanuja remained on Earth for three more days. To appease their afflicted hearts. Ramanuja spoke his last instructions to those who were most near and dear to him: “Always remain in the company of and serve those souls devoted to Godhead just as you would serve your own spiritual preceptor. Have faith in the teachings of the Vedas and in the words of the great saints. Never become the slave of your senses: always strive to conquer the three great enemies of self-realization: lust, anger, and greed. Worship Narayana and take pleasure in uttering the Holy Names of God as your only refuge. Sincerely serve the Devotees of Godhead: by service to the great Devotees, the highest service is done and one quickly gains the supreme mercy. Remembering these things you should live happily in this world for the attainment of the next.” With these departing words, Ramanuja, keeping his head on the lap of Govinda and his mind fixed in spiritual trance, relinquished his mortal body and entered the realm of Vaikuntha.