As predicted by Lord Parthasarathy, Bhudevi very soon delivered a boy on a Thursday, which was the fifth day of the waxing moon when ardra asterism was prevailing in the Chittirai month of pingala year, which is believed to be the 4118th year of Kali-yuga (1071 A.D). The baby was very attractive and glowing with spiritual radiance. Bhudevi’s sister Sridevi had also delivered a boy around the same time. Sridevi came along with her husband to see the baby. Srishailapurna also came to see his nephews. Both Bhudevi and Sridevi were very pleased to see their brother after a long time. On seeing Bhudevi’s son Srishailapurna became very happy as many auspicious signs on the child’s body indicated that he was not an ordinary child. Srishailapurna was reminded of the ten hymns from Thirvaymozhi in which saint Nammalwar prophesies the advent of a great acharya.
The fact that the child’s horoscope and birth star matched with that of Lord Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, as described by Sage Valmiki in Ramayana, made the entire family happy. Srishailapurna named Bhudevi’s son as Ramanuja, after Lakshmana, and Sridevi’s son as Govinda. Srishaila returned to Sri Rangam after the naming ceremony to serve his spiritual master, Yamunacharya. Ramanuja’s advent was foretold in the thirty second chapter of Brihat Padma Purana, twenty third chapter of Skanda Purana and Narada Purana. Therefore, the devoted Vaishnavas consider Ramanuja as the incarnation of Lakshmana. Sridevi gave birth to one more baby boy within a short span of time and he was named junior Govinda.
The naming ceremony was quickly followed with rice taking ceremony and sacred thread investiture ceremony and Ramanuja started to pursue his Vedic education. Even as a child, Ramanuja displayed the prodigious powers of his intellect. He could recollect the Vedic stanzas just by listening to them once. Ramanuja was naturally inclined to devotional service and never missed an opportunity to listen to the spiritual discourses and to associate with devotees.
Yamunacharya’s disciple, Kanchipurna was popular as a great devotee of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram and it is widely believed that he used to directly speak to the Lord. Therefore, even the Brahmin devotees used to respect Kanchipurna though he was a shudra by birth.
Kanchipurna used to frequently visit Poonamale, which was his birthplace, to worship the Lord there and also visit Sriperumbadur, which is situated between Kanchipuram and Poonamale, in the process. During one such visit, Ramanuja invited Kanchipurna to his house for dinner. Seeing the auspicious marks on Ramanuja’s body and his countenance, Kanchipurna could not refuse. Ramanuja became very happy to host Kanchipurna. Ramanuja tried to press Kanchipurna’s feet to make him comfortable as he had walked the entire day and also as a mark of respect and devotion to a great devotee, but Kanchipurna did not allow him to do so. Kanchipurna pulled back his feet and said, “How can you touch the feet of your servant. I am supposed to serve you, please don’t humiliate me by touching my feet.”
Ramanuja said, “If you do not allow me to serve you, I would consider myself unfortunate. One will not become a Brahmin just by wearing the sacred thread around him but by becoming a good devotee of the Lord and by serving Him. By making Lokasaranga Muni carry Thirupani Alwar around the streets of Sri Rangam and taking Thirupani Alwar into the sanctum sanctorum, the Lord has established the principle.”
Kanchipurna was very pleased with Ramanuja’s words and regarded him as a very enlightened person. Ramanuja started to consider Kanchipurna as his guide and mentor since then.
Let us know more about Ramanuja in the next post.