On another occasion Ramanuja acharya informed Varadacharya that he would be visiting his house for lunch. However he wasn’t’ at home; his wife Lakshmi instantly panicked for she had no grains. They were a poor couple and struggled to meet their ends. Determined to serve her guru, Lakshmi approached the merchant at the neighbourhood for help. He was a lusty man who eyed her with evil intentions. Seizing the opportunity, he proposed to her to fulfil his desires. In a desperate attempt to assist her husband in his service to their spiritual master, she agreed to visit him that night after she had hosted Ramanuja acharya and his disciples for lunch. The merchant supplied all the ingredients for a huge feast.
Later when Varadacharya returned he was astonished to see the super excellent feast his wife had cooked for the guests. Pleased with her efforts, yet surprised, he enquired how she managed to get the grains. She revealed the promise she made in her desperation to serve. Both of them wondered if they should share this predicament with Ramanuja acharya. After the feast, Ramanuja relaxed and called Varadacharaya and expressed wonder at his super excellent arrangements. The couple cried at their folly. Ramanuja assured them that everything would be all right and asked Lakshmi to carry his remnants of food (maha prasadam) to the merchant and insist that he honour this first.
The merchant waited with anticipation. On receiving the maha prasadam however, his heart suddenly transformed; he repented bitterly at his carnal thoughts and obnoxious intentions. He profusely apologized to Lakshmi, and sent her home honourably. Soon he too became a devotee and student of Ramanuja acharya. The tremendous purity that Ramanuja possessed influenced all those who came in contact with him; even his food remnants transformed the hearts of people.
Ramanuja acharya’s commentary on the Vedanta Sutra was almost complete. He just needed one scripture, Bodhayana Smriti, for his final reference. But the only copy of this book was available up North in Kashmir. Ramanuja and Khuresh travelled the long distance. The Kashmiri Pandits hosted Ramanuja and were happy by his association. When leaving, Ramanuja asked for a copy of the scripture. Immediately they realized Ramanuja acharya would study this book, and then refute the arguments contained in it, and establish his own superior doctrine. They lied that the scripture has been eaten by moths, and they regret they can’t share it with Ramanuja acharya. That night however, Goddess Saraswati, the God of learning, appeared before Ramanuja and offered the book. She smiled at Ramanuja, “This is the only copy available at the temple library. I have brought this for you. Quickly leave this place, for soon the priests here would discover that their book is missing. They would then suspect you have somehow acquired it, and surely would come after you.”
Ramanuja and Khuresh hastily left Kashmir. Soon the Pandits discovered their loss, and began chasing Ramanuja and Khuresh. In a day they caught up with both of them and asked Ramanuja acharya to return the book. He humbly gave back the book, and later regretted that he couldn’t avail of the special facility that Goddess Saraswati had herself created for him. Khuresh smilingly reassured Ramanuja acharya that when Ramanuja took rest that night, he had read the entire book. Since he had a super excellent memory, he could recall all the verses of the book. Delighted, Ramanuja and Khuresh penned down the book from memory and returned back to Srirangam. There Ramanuja composed his commentary and established the Visista Advaita doctrine.
Few years later Ramanuja returned to Kashmir and presented the more refined spiritual understanding and the Visista Advaita philosophy. The Kashmiri scholars were stunned and also angry at what they perceived was their defeat. They tried black magic to destroy Ramanuja. However the attempt backfired and they suffered terrible diseases. Realizing the exalted position of Ramanuja acharya they begged forgiveness. Ramanuja forgave them, and they happily accepted the path of pure devotional service.
To be continued…