Ghostipurna announced to Ramanuja, “I shall today initiate you on the most powerful, yet a secret mantra. Anyone who chants this mantra will go back to Lord Vishnu’s abode. Yet if you were to share this secret with another person, you’d go to hell.”
Ramanuja acharya thanked his guru as he received the mantra, “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.”
Overwhelmed with gratitude, Ramanuja ran to the centre of the town; climbed the tall pillar, and shouted, “Listen all of you. If you want to go back to the Lord’s abode, gather here and repeat after me this sacred mantra.” Thousands gathered below the pillar and Ramanuja repeated the mantra and implored the entire town to chant after him.
When his guru heard Ramanuja’s breach of confidentiality, he was incensed.
“How dare you disobey my command?” thundered Ghostipurna, “Don’t you know the terrible fate that awaits one who defies the order of his own guru?”
Ramanuja humbly bowed his head, and apologized. “I knew of the consequences, but was helplessly dragged to share the mantra with others because I knew all of them would get delivered. I know I’d suffer eternally, but that’s inconsequential if in exchange of this defiance, all of them could attain the joyful reunion with the Lord.”
Ghostipurna was overjoyed to see Ramanuja’s compassion. “You have done the best thing Ramanuja,” declared the guru, “You are most dear to God for your heart is filled with love and kindness to all living entities. You have done no sin; on the contrary, you have shown us the path to follow, of selflessly serving others, even at the risk of one’s own life.”
News of Ramanuja acharya’s compassion spread far and wide. One proud scholar Yajna Murti challenged Ramanuja for a debate. They discussed for eighteen days on the various scriptures. Finally Yajna Murti surrendered to him, accepting the path of pure devotional service as the highest path of self-realization and welfare of others.
Ramanuja acharya taught the culture of service and respect. Once on reaching a village, he had the choice to visit one of his two householder disciples- the wealthy Yajnesh, or a poor, yet devout man, Varadacharaya. Ramanuja first asked his disciples to inform Yajnesh that he would be visiting his house. When the disciples returned, Ramanuja asked them Yajnesh’s response to this news. They informed how he was excited at this prospect, and rushed to make all arrangements. Ramanuja then asked about Yajnesh’s attitude towards the messengers. “Did he receive all of you well? Did he serve you and take care of you?” The disciples humbly expressed how he hurried to make all the arrangements; he didn’t really have the time to care for them.
Ramanuja then asked them to visit Varadacharaya’s humble dwelling, and inform him about their guru’s desire to visit his house. This time the disciples returned expressing how Varadacharaya, like Yajnesh, was overjoyed. Ramanuja probed on his attitude towards them. The disciples said how he had been extremely courteous and had honoured all of them with warm welcome and respect. Ramanuja acharya smiled, “We will then visit Varadacharya’s house for lunch. He truly knows the etiquette of service. We can’t access Krishna or guru directly. We need to understand the principle of being servant of servant of God.” Through such small incidents, Ramanuja acharya taught and established the devotee lifestyle.
To be continued…