Sri U.Ve. V.S. Karunakaran Swami was born on 1st September, 1947 in Kumbakonam as the seventh child of Sri U.Ve. Villur Nadadoor Sribhashya-Simhansadhipati Asukavi Sarvabhuma Srinidhi Swamy and Srimati Vanjulavallee, youngest sister of the 43rd Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt.
Srinidhi Swamy was the 27th descendent of Sri Nadadoor Azhvan (son of the younger sister of Sri Ramanuja to whom Sri Ramanuja gave his Sribhashyasimhasanam in 1137 A.D. while departing for his heavenly abode as recorded in all the Sri Vaishnava Guruparamparas). The other prominent personalities of Nadadoor lineage include Sri Nadadoor Ammal, grandson of Nadadoor Azhvan ,grand preceptor of Sri Vedanta Desika and Sri Ghatikashatam Ammal, Acharya of Sri Adivan Satkopan, who founded the Ahobila Mutt.
Sri Karunakaran had his early schooling in Ahobila Mutt Oriental School at Kumbakonam and later in Ramakrishna Mission School, T.Nagar, Chennai. He had his Pre-University education in A.M.Jain College Meenambakkam, Chennai. He obtained his B.E degree of Madras University in Mechanical Engineering from Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai in 1968.
After working with J.K.Synthetics, Kota, Dalmia Cements (Bharat) Ltd. Dalmiapuram, Rockweld Electodes Chennai, IDL Chemicals Hyderabad etc; he joined the Geological Survey of India (GSI) Ministry of Steel and Mines GOI in 1972, through the Combined Engineering Services Examinations. Later, he moved on to Ministry of Industry, where he served in various positions in Chennai and New Delhi in an illustrious career spanning over three decades. He retired as Industrial Advisor to Govt. of India in New Delhi in August 2007.
Since his childhood, Sri V.S Karunkaran parrallely learnt Sanskrit & Tamil Vedas, literature and basic tenants of Sri Vaishanava Philosophy under his father Sri U.Ve Srinidhi Swamy. He had his Samsrayanam, Study of the Sri Vaishanava Grantha Chathushtayam (Sribhashya, Geeta Bhashya, Bhagavad Vishya and Rahasya Traya Sara ) and Bharanyasam – all at the feet of his father.
He gave his first public discourse in 1969 as at the age of 21 in Madurai and since then has been giving large number of discourses on various Puranas and Itihasas in various centers of the country. He has been giving series of Kalakshapa style lectures also on Sribhashya, Geeta Bhashya, Bhagavad Vishya and Rahasya Traya Sara and other Sri Vaishanava Granthas. He has participated in numerous Vidwat Sadasas and conferences conducted by Prominent Institutions including Sri Ahobila Mutt, Srimad Andavan Ashramamams of Srirangam and Poundareekapuram, Sri Parakala Mutt and other sadas organized at Navlpakkam, Mannargudi etc. and has been honoured duly.
He had been assisting his father in cum preceptor in organizing the annual Nadadoor Ammal Vidwat Sadas on the eve of the birthday (April- May) of Sri Nadadoor Ammal (1165 A.D.-1275 A.D.) through the Nadadoor Ammal Trust founded by his father. After the departure of his father to the heavenly abode, he has been assisting his elder brother & conducting the Sadas. He is also assisting in organizing Sadas on Shri Bhasyham of Bhagawad Ramanuja at Thirvanatampuram annually in June-July.
He has been awarded many titles, which include “Pravachana Bhushanam”, “Sorkondal” “Desika Darshna Chudamani”etc.
He was conferred with the unique title of “Shastra-Sahiti-Vallabha” by H.H Srirangam Srimad Andvan in 2001, in the inaugural annual investiture ceremony of Srimad Andvan Ashramam along with a galaxy of pre-eminent scholars of Sri Vaishnava Sampradya like Shri U.Ve.N.S.Ramanuja Tatacharya Swamy whowere all honoured with different titles.
Coming in the lineage of Sri Nadadoor Azhwan, nephew of Bhagawad Ramanuja, one of the leading preceptors in the group of Seventy Four Simhasanadhipatees (Apostels) appointed by Ramanuja in 1137 A.D. to spread his message, Shri Karunakaran has been carrying on the tradition of initiating people in Srivashnava Sampradaya by giving them the Sri Vaishnava Deeksha (Pancha Samskara). More than thousand families have been attached to him as disciples.
Sri Karunakaran has been utilizing a major portion of his earnings to complement donations from Rasikas for publishing the works of his father cum preceptor. He published many works of his father under the caption Srinidhi Granthamala and also through Nadadoor Ammal Trust works like Manju Ramayanam. His Grandfather had translated all the 1102 verses of Nammalwar’s Thiruvoimozhi in to chaste Sanskrit verses. Shri Karunakaran has edited, published and made available to the devotees first 552 verses. He is now working hard to publish the balance also.
He is also a prolific writer. He wrote a historic Novel as continuation to “Ponniyin Selvan” of Kalki in his teen age. It was awarded the second Prize in a competition by Kannan, a Tamil Monthly for youth and published as a serial in that magazine in 1967-68.
He has been contributing articles in Tamil, Sanskrit and English to many religious and spirtual magazines like Sri Nrsimha Priya, Sri Ranganatha Paduka, Sri Hayagreeva Priya and VAK – (The Voice of Temples).
His series of English articles titled “Anecdotes on Vishnu Sahasranamam”; appearing in the trilingual monthly VAK published from Hyderabad has been getting tremendous response from the young and the old. In this serial, he brings out the inner meanings and significance of each of the thousand sacred names of Lord Vishnu as interpreted by Sri Parasara Bhattar with simple anecdotes in lucid style.
He took up the project of writing a treatise on Lakshmi Ashtotara in English at the behest of SriVishnu Sahasranama Satsangam, New Delhi In 2005. He had earlier completed the task of explaining the meaning of each of the 108 sacred names of Goddess Lakshmi in nirukti form (succinct explanation in the form of Sanskrit slokas). The treatise in English is a commentary in the form of anecdotes and purports. The first volume of this work containing Sanskrit Nirukti slokas and anecdotes in English, both penned by him, explaining the meaning and significance of the first 36 names of Lakshmi Ashtotara was released in Febraury 2006. The work has been hailed as “a classic work ” in the review that appeared in The Hindu. He has completed the second volume covering up to the 72nd name which is expected to be released on 10th Feb 2007.
His commentary in Tamil on Vedic mantras (hymns) grouped under Swasthivachanam recited on auspicious occasions is being published in Sri Ranganatha Paduka at the command of Srimad Andavan as a serial since 1998 .It is a unique work in the footsteps of the great Commentators like Shri Periavachchan Pillai and others in the Sampradaya of Sri Ramanuja .
He has composed many Sanskrit slokas and authored works like Lakshmee Sahasra Nirukti, Adhikarana Madhavee,(summary in the form of poems on selected topics from Sri Bhashya of Bhagavad Ramanuja),Prabhanjani Prasa satakam (One hundred verses on Hanuman) etc. in Sanskrit.
He has also composed many verses in Tamil in the traditional style. He is thus a Ubhaya Vedanthi in its full form with mastery as a poet in both the Sanskrit and Tamil like the various Acharyas in the tradition of Sri Ramanuja from the time of Sri Nathamuni to Sri Annangaracharya Swamy of the previous generation. Sri Annangaracharyaswamy had a soft corner for Sri Karunakaran and hailed him as an all round Scholar- “ Sarvatomukha Vignana Salee”