With a feeling of dejection, after coming to know about the chief priest’s intention to poison him to death, Ramanuja lost his appetite. Instead of going to other households for his alms, Ramanuja walked towards river Cauvery in the hot sun and started to ponder over the reasons that might have prompted the priest to kill him. Ramanuja’s guru, Ghostipurna, on coming to know of the attempt on Ramanuja’s life, hastened to the banks of the Cauvery to see him. Ramanuja saw Ghostipurna coming towards him and prostrated before Ghostipurna to offer his obeisance to his guru. Though the sand dunes were very hot due to the summer heat, Ramanuja did not raise himself from the ground till Ghostipurna lifted him and hugged him. Being aggrieved at the chief priest’s envy towards his disciple, Ghostipurna asked Ramanuja to stop begging from that day and instructed one of the disciples of Ramanuja to cook for their guru. (According to some sources Dasarathi was entrusted the responsibility of taking care of Ramanuja’s needs.)
Ramanuja returned to his monastery and continued to live like before and chose not to reveal the chief priest’s evil designs to anyone. However, the chief priest, being frustrated at his wife’s disobedience, continued to make plans to kill Ramanuja. One day, the chief priest mixed some deadly poison in the thirtham, which is served to the devotees in the temple, and gave it to Ramanuja. Though Ramanuja suspected that the thirtham was poisoned due to its smell and taste, he drank it with devotion. Ramanuja maintained his equipoise and prayed for the welfare of the priest and others who were supporting him. Ramanuja silently walked out of the temple. The chief priest became delighted as he thought that the poisoned thirtham would certainly kill Ramanuja and went home thinking that he would see Ramanuja’s dead body the following day.
The next morning the priest came out of his house expecting to hear the news of Ramanuja’s death. However, he was stunned to see Ramanuja coming in a procession along with many of his disciples, who were singing the pasurams compiled by the alwars. Ramanuja was engrossed in contemplating on the meanings of the pasurams, which were being sung by the accompanying devotees. The captivating mien and child like countenance of Ramanuja brought about a strange sort of transformation in the priest and he could not digest the guilt of having tried to kill Ramanuja twice. The priest ran towards Ramanuja and fell at his feet with tears in his eyes. The priest said, “Sir, please forgive this sinful soul. Without realizing your greatness I tried to kill you by poisoning. I do not deserve your forgiveness. Please throw me to hell. Despite being a priest, I tried to kill a noble soul like you. There cannot be soul who is as sinful as me.”
The priest started to bang his head on the ground in despair and blood started to ooze from his head. As Ramanuja had focused his mind on the glories of the Lord and was in a state of trance he did not notice the priest. The devotees stopped singing as soon as they saw blood on the priest’s head and Ramanuja came back to his consciousness and was shocked to see the priest holding his feet. Ramanuja understood everything and lifted the priest and said, “Sir, we are all human beings and are likely to commit mistakes. We have to frequently retrospect to correct ourselves. One can overcome the sinful reactions through repentance and unconditional surrender to Lord Ranganatha.”
The priest thanked Ramanuja for forgiving him and requested Ramanuja to accept him as a disciple. Thus, the chief priest of Lord Ranganatha’s temple became a disciple of Ramanuja. The chief priest, eventually became a good devotee, and attained liberation after death.
We will reveal more about Ramanuja in the next post.