Ramanuja says that in the age of Kaliyuga, a person can get moksha or salvation from bondage and hence the cycle of rebirth if he/she simply utters the words "Om Namo Narayanan". He also says this can be done with one sitting right in the middle of samsara bandhana (or what we call ties with family life/ society so on).
I will flatly disagree with this theory in its literal sense. Lets take a good life today, a family with wife/hubby and children, a good income, a posh house, great friends without comparison and no rat race to prove self worth. Its happiness all the way, but life will never have it so simple. There will be problems. And problems do not get dealt with without emotion and emotions bring with it unrest in the mind, fear and misery. Therefore is the recital of "Om namo Narayana" good enough to rid one self off that misery.
Ramanuja said this to those people who were illiterate and yes, you and I are largely illiterate in the field of spiritualism today.
These are some of Ramanuja's teachings:
1) You can follow spiritualism while following a life within the social network of your family and society.
My argument: Yes! With nagging parents talking investment in property, a spouse contemplating a brand new swanky car, a crying child going spoilt with added peer pressure, a servant mopping the house with her share of constant jabber, a cribbing sibling with clashing egos (am not referring to guns yet!), and not to forget your noisy neighbor playing Led Zeppelin (old fashioned?) right through Sunday morning while you are trying to concentrate on worship - "Om Namo Narayana" - Wow what peace! This is ignoring the calls to Allah, or Halleluja, or "Kaushalya supraja" blaring through loudspeakers at 5a.m. There is nothing wrong in recital of the mantra; there is every thing wrong with your environment. Where is the peace? Parents, spouse, children… When is this entire saga going to end, where is the silence and tranquility. Is this the life you chose for yourself or have you accepted that there is no escape. Or are there other ways of leading life, this being the most common and safe approach?
2) The second teaching is, after you have done your duty as householders you can retire to the forest and go into seclusion, but can always come to see the family. For e.g. meet your grand daughter on the day of her wedding or see her off to the US. Meaning you don’t entirely cut off from the family. But when you are involved in worship keep the family out of your mind.
My argument: How does this work. If my grand daughter is unwell, where will my mind be? Human bondage brings worry with it as much as it brings happiness. Both add to suffering from two ends of the same spectrum called Maya. If I continue to remain attached to the family I can quite forget my trip to realization for its completely impossible. Human bondage is a vicious cycle that one cannot get out of easily but has to put in complete effort to want to do so. Multi tasking of role-play and finding the self is completely impossible given our minds don’t even rest in one place in today's world.
3) The third teaching says that reciting "Om Namo Narayana" is all that it takes to attain salvation.
My argument: Maybe then, not now. If spiritualism was that simple we would all be saints by now, which of course as we can see is not the case. Happiness starts with the self. To exuberate happiness and goodness to all, the concentration should first be on the self. If I am not happy there is no way I am going to make you feel happy. Hence comfort with the self is far more important before one decides to look beyond his/herself.
My personal opinion on the teachings of Shankaracharya and Ramanuja is that both these saints were right in their approach, but with a difference. We need both approaches to be worldly wise and understand life and live through it. The philosophy of dvaita is required to understand the meaning of bondage, its character and hence its futility since it is Maya and only sucks you into its "Matrix". But it is needed nonetheless for the lack of that knowledge renders you completely ignorant for you will not understand peace if you don’t know what trouble is!
The philosophy of Advaita is needed to be brought in for it renders you compassionate and once all bondage is broken, the mind is set free, there is no pain nor love but pure goodness that flows from within to all creatures, to man, woman, mother, child, ant, cat or cockroach. There is no difference between the person in front of you defined by role-play as "mom/dad" or "daughter/son" or "wife/husband" or "stranger/thief" or "pet dog/cat Tommy”. Each is a life around you and detachment only leads to looking at all of them as one drop of a larger ocean of which you are also a part. Hence finding yourself is most important for the truth you look for lies within.
Love of the Lord brings with it Bhakti which helps along the path of emotional spirituality while you apply human logic while living through life. Love can be for Lord Shiva (who helps you search for yourself) or Lord Vishnu (who helps you understand the world around you). The Mother Goddess...is for stronger willed people, for more potent experiences that might burn you out if you are not careful.
Great teachers have helped us re-look at our lives. Maybe its time now for us to unlearn...