Overcoming all her inhibitions, Lakshmi went towards the rich man’s house. She entered the house from the back door and told the rich man’s attendants that she had come to meet their master. As there was a huge cotton tree next to Varadacharya’s house, people in Ashtasahasra used to call Varadacharya as Karpasarama. The attendants went and told the rich man that Karpasarama’s wife had come to meet him. The rich man was shocked to hear about Lakshmi’s arrival at his house as she had rejected all his offers and entreaties to come to him. The rich man immediately asked his attendants to bring Lakshmi in his presence. Lakshmi approached the rich man and said, “Sir, my guru who is the personification of goodness and an embodiment of all virtues, has come to our house. It is our duty to host him and gratify him. We do not have enough resources to feed the devotees who are accompanying him. Please make arrangements to help us host our guests and to gratify them. In return, I will agree to satisfy your desire after our guru continues his pilgrimage tonight.”
As Lakshmi had rejected all his offers, the rich man had concluded that his desire would never be fulfilled. He became very happy when Lakshmi volunteered to satisfy him and asked his attendants to give Lakshmi everything that she wanted. Lakshmi returned to her house with enough food grains to feed Ramanuja and his disciples and started to prepare food for them. Varadacharya returned from his begging rounds and was surprised to see so many food grains in his house. He questioned his wife from where she managed to get so many food grains. Lakshmi told her husband about Ramanuja’s arrival and her approaching the rich man to get food grains to host Ramanuja and his disciples. Instead of getting angry at Lakshmi for agreeing to satisfy the rich man’s lust, Varadacharya became very happy and offered his salutations to his wife. Varadacharya said, “I beg to sustain my body so that it helps me serve the Lord but you have sacrificed your body and mind to serve our guru. Your devotion is greater than mine. A wife is supposed to derive spiritual merit due to the good deeds of her husband but, I am blessed to be your husband.”
Varadacharya happily joined Lakshmi in preparing food for their guru and god brothers. After refreshing themselves by taking bath in the tank and performing sandhya rituals, Ramanuja and his disciples returned to Varadacharya’s house and were surprised to see a lot of food that was kept ready for them. They performed their daily worship and relished the feast offered to them by Varadacharya and his wife. After resting for a while, Ramanuja and his disciples continued their pilgrimage to Tirumala.
Immediately after Ramanuja left for Tirumala, Varadacharya accompanied his wife, Lakshmi, to the rich man’s house with some prasadam and thirtham, which was offered to the personal deities of Ramanuja. Lakshmi and Varadacharya thanked the rich man for helping them host their guru and his disciples. Lakshmi said, “Sir, we are grateful to you. You can do whatever you want with me and it is my duty to submit to your desires. But, please consume this thirtham and prasadam that was offered by my guru to his personal deities.”
In his eagerness to attain Lakshmi, the rich man consumed some thirtham and immediately, a sort of transformation started to happen within him. The rich man lost his desire for Lakshmi and realized the sin that he was about to commit. The rich man fell at Lakshmi’s feet and said, “O mother, you are such a virtuous soul. You were not ready to forgo your chastity even when you did not have anything to eat though I was willing to offer everything that I had to attain you. Now, you are ready to offer yourself just because I helped you host your guru. How can a sinful person like me even think of touching an exalted soul like you? You are virtuous enough to sanctify hundreds of sinners like me. Your guru should be a very great man. Please consider me to be your son and take me to your guru.”
Varadacharya and Lakshmi became very happy at the sudden transformation of the rich man. They took him to Ramanuja, who had traveled some distance towards Tirumala. The rich man fell at Ramanuja’s feet and requested Ramanuja to accept him as a disciple after narrating everything. Ramanuja too was surprised to know about everything that had happened. He once again blessed Lakshmi and Varadacharya and continued his pilgrimage.
We will reveal more about Ramanuja and his pastimes in the next post.