Govinda had become very dear to Ramanuja and everyone in the ashram started appreciating his sincerity and devotion. Govinda used to devotedly take care of everything that Ramanuja wanted and was, therefore, appreciated by Ramanuja. Govinda used to love Ramanuja and liked serving him. Once the devotees in the matha appreciated his service and started glorifying him as one of the greatest devotees they had ever seen; instead of denouncing the praise that was being showered on him in accordance with the Vaishnava etiquette, Govinda started to acknowledge the eulogy of his god brothers. The devotees at the ashram started to think that Govinda had become egoistic and started to consider and project himself as a very advanced devotee. As days passed by, Ramanuja got to know about the devotee’s perception of Govinda’s acceptance of the praises that were showered on him. Ramanuja summoned Govinda and said, “You have started accepting the praises that are being showered on you instead of denying it humbly as a Vaishnava should do. Do you really consider yourself to be a great devotee as acknowledged by you?”

Govinda said, “Worshipful sir, I am a fallen soul and had embraced Mayavada due to my ignorance. If you had not reclaimed me through Srishaila Purna due to your causeless mercy I would have been doomed. If there is anything worthy of praise in me it is only due to your causeless mercy. Therefore, whenever I acknowledge the praise showered on me by devotees I think all this belongs to my Guru and if not for his mercy no one would have even recognized me. Therefore, I don’t try to downplay or refute the praise that is showered on me as it belongs to you.”

Everyone present in the ashram was moved by Govinda’s reply and regretted for having misunderstood him.

One fine day Govinda’s mother, Sridevi, came to Ramanuja’s ashram. After exchanging the initial pleasantries, Bhudevi requested Ramanuja to convince Govinda to get married and beget progeny for the continuance of the lineage as it is considered to be one of the duties enjoined in the scriptures. Being requested by his aunt, Ramanuja asked Govinda to get married and he agreed without raising any objections. Bhudevi became very happy and married Govinda to a suitable bride. As Govinda was engrossed in contemplating on the glories of the Lord even after his marriage, Ramanuja asked him to shed his ignorance and spend sometime with his wife to beget children. That night Govinda went to his house and spent the entire night discussing the pastimes and glories of the Lord with his wife. Bhudevi, who was listening to everything, informed Ramanuja about what had happened that night. Ramanuja summoned Govinda and said, “Why are you behaving like this? I had asked you to spend some time with your wife to beget children and help her in fructifying her womanhood. But, you have spent the entire night discussing the glories of the Lord.”

Govinda replied, “You had asked me to shed my ignorance and spend some time with my wife. When I overcame my ignorance, the Lord started to appear in my mental screen and how can I focus on anything else when I see His glorious form?”

Ramanuja understood the exalted position of Govinda and asked him to become a sannyasi by accepting saffron robes as he did not have any inclination to become a householder or attachments towards worldly things. With his mother’s permission, Govinda accepted the renounced order of life from Ramanuja and Ramanuja named him as “Madnatha” which means “My Lord”. When “Madnatha” is translated to Tamil it becomes Emberumanar, which is one of the names of Ramanuja. Therefore, Govinda, who used to adore Ramanuja, did not accept the name. Instead he clubbed the first and last letter of the Tamil translation of the name conferred on him by Ramanuja and started using it as his name. Thus, Govinda became Embar.

We will reveal more about Ramanuja in the next post.

<<Previous                                                                                                    Next>>