Ramanuja could not match the fowler couple’s pace due to his body pain and therefore, they started walking slowly to ensure that Ramanuja did not stray behind. They walked until evening and then decided to rest for the night. The fowler quickly brought some fruits and water and offered them to Ramanuja. Even as Ramanuja started to eat those fruits, the fowler leveled the ground beneath a tree and prepared the bed for Ramanuja. Ramanuja thanked the fowler and went to bed after consuming the fruits. Being exhausted due to the day long tedious trek, Ramanuja went into a deep sleep.
Ramanuja woke up early the following day. At that time, as the fowler’s wife was getting hiccups, he requested Ramanuja to fetch some water for her from the nearby well. Ramanuja, who was grateful to the fowler and his wife for voluntarily offering to guide him to Kanchipuram, brought some water from the well. The fowler’s wife drank it and as it was not sufficient to quench her thirst, Ramanuja had to go to the well for a second time. When he came out of the well, the fowler and his wife had vanished. Ramanuja searched for them in vain.
Being puzzled at the mysterious disappearance of his guides, Ramanuja started to think of various means to get out of the wilderness. The sun began to rise and he heard the sound of the temple bell at a distance. Ramanuja turned his head towards the source of the sound and, to his surprise; he saw a gigantic temple gopuram that seemed familiar. Ramanuja became happy as he had come closer to civilization. He noticed a wayfarer, who had come to the woods and asked him the name of the town that was visible from there. Being startled at Ramanuja’s query, the wayfarer said, “You have come so close to Kanchipuram, which is believed to be one of the most sacred places on this planet, and you don’t know its name?”
Ramanuja was astonished to know that he had returned to Kanchipuram overnight from a distance that had taken many days for him to reach. Very soon he realized that the fowler and his wife, who had offered to guide him back to Kanchipuram, were none other than the Supreme Lord Narayana and His consort, Mahalakshmi. Ramanuja prostrated in the direction of Lord Varadaraja’s temple to express his gratitude and returned home. Ramanuja suppressed the actual reason for his returning halfway from the pilgrimage so that his mother wouldn’t become apprehensive.
Ramanuja’s mother, Bhudevi, who was longing to see her son became very happy to see him and offered her prayers to the Lord by preparing a grand feast. Ramanuja started to study on his own and do some service in Lord Varadaraja’s temple. Ramanuja started to fetch water from the well (from which he had brought water to the fowler’s wife who was in fact mother Lakshmi), very early in the morning for the Lord’s ablutions everyday.
We will reveal more about Ramanuja in the next post.