King Vishnuvardhana’s mother lost her eyesight due to old age and the king was worried about that. Vishnuvardhana met Ramanujacharya and told him about his mother’s blindness and requested him to tell if her eyesight can be restored. Ramanujacharya asked Vishnuvardhana to take his mother to Kanchipuram and worship Lord Varadaraja devotedly. Lord Varadaraja is believed to be very merciful Therefore, Ramanujacharya told the king that his mother would regain her eyesight with the Lord’s mercy. As Kanchipuram was ruled by Krimikantha Chola, a bigoted Shaivite King who wanted to forcibly convert Ramanujacharya to Shaivism, Vishnuvardhana did not want to take his mother there. Instead, Vishnuvardhana brought sculptors from Kanchipuram and constructed a temple for Lord Varadaraja at Maddur, which also houses the famous deity of Lord Narasimha, with the help of Ramanujacharya. Vishnuvardhana’s mother worshipped Lord Varadaraja as instructed by Ramanujacharya and she regained her eye sight within forty days. Therefore, the deity is worshipped as Kann-Varadarajar since then. People in the region visit Kann Varadarajar’s temple even today to seek good eye sight before undergoing eye operations.
More than fifteen years had elapsed since Ramanujacharya left Sri-Rangam and, yet, Ramanujacharya’s desire to go back to Sri-Rangam had not diminished. He used to always speak about the glories of Sri-Rangam and Lord Ranganatha. He frequently expressed his intense desire to go back to Sri-Rangam. The Chola king, whose original name is Raja Raja Chola, was afflicted by a strange disease. Some strange worms started to eat his throat and he died due to that. As his throat was infested with worms he came to be known as Krimikantha Chola. One of the devotees carried the news of Krimikantha Chola’s death to Melkote and requested Ramanuja to return to Sri-Rangam, which is considered to be one of the most sacred places on this planet by the Vaishnavas. All the devotees in Melkote became very happy to know about the bigoted king’s death and started to celebrate.
During the course of his stay in Melkote, many learned scholars had become Ramanujacharya’s disciples and had embraced his philosophy. Ramanujacharya appointed some very advanced and learned disciples to administer Lord Thirunarayana’s temple and expressed his desire to return to Sri-Rangam. All the devotees in Melkote became sad and began to cry and Ramanuja asked the devotees the reason for their grief. The devotees said that they were much attached to him as he was their guru and it would be difficult to live without him. Ramanuja said, “Don’t worry! Prepare an idol of mine and I will install it by transferring a portion of my spiritual energy into it. I will continue to live with you people in the form of that deity.”
As it was impractical to prevent Ramanujacharya from going to Sri-Rangam, the devotees prepared a stone deity of Ramanujacharya and brought it to him. Ramanujacharya locked himself along with the deity in a small room within the temple and started to meditate by placing his right palm on the head of the stone idol. After sometime Ramanujacharya came out of the room and said, “Now I will live here till this temple exists in this deity form. Allow me to go to Sri Rangam.”
Ramanujacharya got ready to go to Sri Rangam the following day. The devotees started to cry once again and Ramanujacharya asked them the reason for their grief. Some of the devotees mustered courage and said, “Though you have told us that you will be here in the form of the deity we cannot expect the deity to talk to us and guide us like you do.”
Ramanuja said, “If you think that I cannot speak to you in that deity form go and try talking to me in that deity form.”
The devotees were stunned at Ramanujacharya’s reply and some of them volunteered to test Ramanujacharya’s claim. They went to the temple to talk with the Ramanujacharya’s deity.
Let us know what happened when the devotees tried speaking to the deity in the next post.