Ramanuja’s-unparalleled-compassion

Ghostipurna became furious after he came to know that Ramanuja had breached his promise by revealing the most sacred mantra to everyone in the town.  He summoned Ramanuja to his presence. Ramanuja came to Ghostipurna’s presence with folded hands and offered obeisance to him. Ghostipurna, who was fuming with anger said, “At the time of receiving the mantra from my spiritual master Yamunacharya, I had promised him that I would never reveal it to the undeserving and to those who do not respect the traditions. I have committed a sin by revealing the mantra to you. You had promised not to reveal the mantra to anyone and how did you breach the promise? Do you know the consequences of your actions?”

Ramanuja humbly said, “My dear sir, you have every right to do whatever you want with me. However, many people who heard this mantra would be liberated from this cycle of birth and death. I don’t mind going to hell to liberate these people who do not understand the importance of spiritual lives. If people like us do not enlighten them, they will never understand the greatness of surrendering to the Supreme Lord and they can never overcome this never-ending cycle of birth and death.”

Ghostipurna was moved by Ramanuja’s answer and he immediately lifted Ramanuja who was sitting at his feet, and embraced him tightly out of affection and addressed Ramanuja as “Emberumanare”, which means my Lord! Since then Ramanuja was called Emberumanar and the tradition of revealing the mantra to everyone, irrespective of their caste and other material titles, started. Though Ghostipurna was Ramanuja’s guru, he overcame his ego and was deeply moved by Ramanuja’s concern for other fellow human beings who were bound by the pangs of material nature. Ghostipurna said, “I have been chanting the holy mantra for many years and seriously practicing spiritual life ever since I became the disciple of Yamunacharya. Yet, this sort of thought never occurred to me. Come, I will teach you the meaning and the greatness of the mantra that I taught you as it will enhance your devotion manifold.”

Ghostipurna took Ramanuja into his kuteer and revealed him the esoteric meaning of the Ashtakshari Mantra and the philosophy enshrined in it. Ramanuja asked Ghostipurna if he could reveal the meaning of the mantra to Kuresha and Dasarathi, whom he considered to be his staff and sacred thread. Ghostipurna told Ramanuja not to reveal the meaning of the mantra to anyone who was not willing to follow brahmacharya and without testing anyone for at least one year. Ramanuja promised to follow his instructions this time and left to Sri-Rangam.

Kuresha who was aware of the ephemeral nature of this material world, was eager to know the meaning of the mantra at the earliest possible moment. Kuresha approached Ramanuja with folded hands and said, “Sir, please reveal the meaning of the great Ashtakshari Mantra to this humble servant of yours. I am desperate to know its meaning as that is believed to increase one’s devotion to the Supreme Lord.”

Ramanuja said, “My preceptor, Ghostipurna has asked me not to reveal the meaning to anyone unless I have tested him properly for one year and one is strictly following brahmacharya.”  

Kuresha once again said, “My master, this world is ephemeral and I do not know if I would live for one year. Pray, reveal the meaning to me at the earliest.”

Ramanuja said, “I cannot breach the promise that I have given to my preceptor. If you cannot wait for one year, fast for one month continuously as the scriptures say that fasting for one month is equal to practicing brahmacharya for one year.”

Kuresha abstained from consuming solid food for one entire month and followed all the instructions given by Ramanuja. Eventually, Ramanuja revealed the meaning of the mantra to Kuresha.

Let us know more about Ramanuja in the next post.

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