Ramanuja acharya cleverly dispatched his wife to her parents’ house in the pretext of an important family wedding. She left for a few months; meanwhile Ramanuja took sannyasa, the order of renunciation, and went on to be addressed as Yatiraja– the greatest of sannyasis, or renunciates.
He began his own school (ashram) and two of his initial and leading disciples were Dasharathi, his own nephew, and Kuresh, a prodigious young man who had a photographic memory.
Meanwhile Yadav Prakash, the former guru of Ramanuja was still fuming with envious rage at Ramanuja’s success. Yadav Prakash’s mother was a pious lady, and she fervently desired that her son would accept the shelter of Ramanuja acharya. She pleaded with him to give up his devious mentality, and repent for his wrong doings against the innocent and pure Ramanuja. Yadav Prakash however was unrelenting; he was livid at the proposal; how he, a guru, could bow down to his own former disciple. Never! He was adamant. His mother persisted in her efforts to convince her son, and also fervently prayer for the transformation of his heart.
One night Yadav Prakash saw a wonderful dream: an effulgent personality with a divine voice implored him to rise and surrender to Ramanuja. “Ramanuja acharya is your saviour, take his shelter,” boomed the voice. Yadav Prakash woke with a start; he was restless, and left for the river Kaveri to attend to his morning chores.
From the opposite direction, he saw the attractive Ramanuja acharya arrive with his two disciples. “What is this Ramanuja?” roared Yadav Prakash, “How dare you reject Shankara’s teachings and adorn the Vaishnava robes? You are an upstart!”
Ramanuja acharya chose not to respond directly. Instead he turned to Khuresh, “Can you address his concerns?” The young Khuresh instantly quoted verses from the Rig Veda and other scriptures to establish how his guru’s actions were perfectly in line with scriptural conclusions. Yadav Prakash was stunned by this young boy’s erudition. However he challenged further, “What scriptural basis do you have for the doctrine that you propound so arrogantly?” Again Ramanuja turned to Khuresh who in turn humbly, yet assertively, quoted scriptural evidences to defend his spiritual master.
Yadav Prakash realized a young student of his former student Ramanuja, was so capable that he could easily smash all his arguments to pieces. His vanity crushed, Yadav Prakash fell to the ground, begging forgiveness. He repented dearly and sought shelter of his own former disciple. He got spiritual initiation from Ramanuja and went on to become an intimate associate of Ramanuja acharya, being known all over as Sri Govinda Jiyar.
A truly extraordinary feat- where a spiritual master becomes a disciple of his own student! During his last days Govinda Jiyar, under the order of Ramanuja acharya, wrote a book on the dealings and duties of monks in the renounced order. Even today, thousand years later, the sannyasis in Ramanuja tradition refer to this book as a sacred text.
The news of Yadav Prakash’s transformation and Ramanuja’s fame now spread like wild fire.
Ramanuja then went to Srirangam and studied rigorously under Mahapurna. Finally, for his spiritual initiation, he was sent to Ghostipurna, another renowned saint. However Ghostipurna tested Ramanuja; he refused to give him initiation. Ramanuja however persisted in his pleas. Eighteen times he was refused, and each time Ramanuja, although disappointed, vowed to qualify himself to get his guru’s blessings.
Finally, one day, a remarkbable incident happened that revealed to all, the outstanding character of Ramanuja acharya.
To be continued…