Immediately after Ramanuja left for the Varadaraja’s temple, an emaciated Brahmana came to his house and begged for some alms. Rakshakambal, who was enraged at her husband’s outbursts, shouted at the Brahmana and chased him out of the house. On his way back, Ramanuja met the Brahmana and, in the process of inquiring about his well-being, Ramanuja asked the Brahmana if he had his food. The Brahmana told Ramanuja that Rakshakambal shouted at him and chased him away when he went to his house to seek alms.  Ramanuja became very sad as feeding the poor is considered a sacred duty in the Vaishnava tradition.

Just a few days before this incident, a Shudra had come to give an oil massage to Ramanuja and Ramanuja asked his wife to serve him some food. Rakshakambal told Ramanuja that there was no food in the house as she was yet to cook and went to take bath. Ramanuja became suspicious and went into the kitchen to see if Rakshakambal’s words were true. Ramanuja was surprised to find one full bowl of cooked rice and gave it to the Shudra. Ramanuja started remembering all the wrongs committed by his wife. Ramanuja was unable to digest Rakshakambal’s conduct with his guru Mahapurna’s wife and he was also reminded of Rakshakambal treating Kanchipurna as a Shudra.

Ramanuja immediately wrote a letter as if it was written by Rakshakambal’s father and addressed it to himself. The letter read, “Son, we have found a suitable match for Rakshakambal’s sister and we are in the process of getting her married. Your mother in law cannot bear the burden of making the preparations for the marriage. Therefore, please come to help me in the marriage preparations at the earliest. If you have some work to attend to, please send Rakshakambal immediately and please come as soon as you finish your work.”

Ramanuja handed over the letter to the Brahmana and asked him to go back to his house and tell Rakshakambal that her father had sent him with a letter. Ramanuja also requested the Brahmana to take Rakshakambal to her father’s house as she would get ready to accompany him after seeing the letter. The Brahmana went to Rakshakambal with the letter and told her that her father had sent him with the letter and handed it over to her. Rakshakambal was overjoyed to see the letter from her father and treated the Brahmana with great respect and served him some good food. After sometime, Ramanuja returned home and Rakshakambal, who had started making preparations to go to her father’s house, said, “My father has sent a letter to you, my sister is getting married and he has invited us for the wedding.”

Ramanuja read the letter and asked Rakshakambal to go her father’s house along with the Brahmana and that he would join her in her father’s house as soon as he finished his work. After sending Rakshakambal to her father’s house Ramanuja went towards Lord Varadaraja’s temple. Ramanuja prostrated before Lord Varadaraja and said, “My Lord today I have completely become yours, please accept me.”

Ramanuja immediately procured some saffron robes and three bamboo staffs. He tied them together to make a Tridanda, which symbolically denotes that he accepts the presence of three realities i.e. Supreme Lord, individual soul and material world. Ramanuja touched the saffron robes and the Tridanda to the Lotus feet of Lord Varadaraja and went to the tank that is situated near the temple taking them along with him. Ramanuja lit the sacrificial fire, took bath in the tank, discarded the white robes that he was wearing and wore the saffron robes. Thus, Ramanuja accepted the renounced order of life to focus on serving the Lord and the society.

Kanchipurna came to the spot as soon as he came to know about Ramanuja’s resolve to take up sannyasa and addressed him as Yatiraja, the king of ascetics or recluses. Since then Ramanuja is fondly called  Yatiraja. Ramanuja was so devoted to Vaishnavism that he did not want to accept the renounced order of life from his guru, Yadava Prakasha, who was also a Sannyasi from Mayavada school of thought. Therefore, he directly took Sannyasa from Lord Varadaraja as there were no qualified Sannyasis to initiate him into the renounced order of life.

We will reveal more about Ramanuja in the next post.

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