Ramanuja’s mother seeing the turn of events, suggested he take shelter of Kanchipurna, a devout lover of Lord Varadraj. She reasoned that Kanchipurna’s association would soothe his heart and nourish his Bhakti sentiments. Ramanuja leapt on this sagacious advice. Ramanuja, although born in a high caste Brahmin family, accepted Kanchipurna, a lower caste devotee as his spiritual master. This was socially unconventional; Brahmins never took lessons from those lower in the social hierarchy. Yet Ramanuja saw devotional substance, and by his actions, declared boldly that all other considerations didn’t matter.
Kanchipurna refused to accept Ramanuja under his tutelage. He cried, “I am a low born shudra, and you are a great devotee of God. I am not qualified to be your teacher.” His humble disposition only intensified Ramanuja’s determination to accept him as his guru. Finally Kanchipurna relented, and engaged the great scholar Ramanuja in the menial service of carrying water for Lord Varadraj. Daily Ramanuja offered various simple services for the Lord and heard and chanted the glories of Lord in the association of his spiritual master, Kanchipurna. Ramanuja’s heart churned with deeper and more intense emotions for Krishna. This happy devotional company brought great displeasure to one person.
Rakshambal, the wife of Ramanuja was conscious of her upper caste status. She scorned at her husband’s fondness for his new guru who she considered was a low born shudra. While Ramanuja saw the exalted qualities of Kanchipurna, his wife refused to share his enthusiasm. She tolerated their friendship for some time. But as Ramanuja spent more time with Kanchipurna, her relationship with her husband turned sour.
Meanwhile Yamunacharya who lived at Srirangam turned old, and physically weak. He learnt that Ramanuja was now under the guidance of the great Kanchipurna. Yamunacharya was delighted; he declared that Ramanuja was now ready to spread the message of Bhakti all over. He sent his trusted disciple Mahapurna to Kanchipuram to fetch Ramanuja. Yamunachary desired to meet Ramanuja, for he felt his departure was now imminent. He wanted to offer some final instructions to him to carry forward the legacy.
Mahapurna arrived at Kanchipuram and met Kanchipurna. He saw Ramanuja carry water for the Lord. Mahapurna was overwhelmed to see the divine beauty of young Ramanuja. Spontaneously he chanted prayers from the Divya Prabandham, a collection of devotional poetry. When Ramanuja heard the sweet voice of Mahapurna, he too swooned in ecstasy and then both chanted and sung the Lord’s praises in great joy. Mahapurna then revealed how the great preceptor Yamunachary is in his last stages, and would like to meet Ramanuja once, before he departs from the world. Both of them rushed to Srirangam.
To be continued…