Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 10

No danger to temple rituals

According to the wishes of Periya PerumAL, Udayavar performed all the temple rituals in an extraordinary manner in which no one else could perform them. He did not allow even a tiny gap or mistake to occur in them. He corrected those who erred in their duties and brought them back to the right track. Some bad souls found an issue with this and went to the extent of wanting to do away with Udayavar. They planned to do this by mixing some poison in the food he was to intake. They befriended a family to whose house YatirAjar went to beg for alms from, everyday. They got the head of the house convinced to carry out this horrendous task. He instructed his wife to carry it out. The wife was very afraid to do something like this and requested her husband to give up the idea since she worried that worst woes would befall upon them on carrying out a sin of this magnitude. But the husband tortured her into carrying out his orders. The wife had no choice but to carry out her husband's orders.

The next day, when YatirAjar came begging to her house for alms, she gathered up the poisoned rice. When she came to serve it to him, she could not control herself. Tears welled up in her eyes, her hands trembled and she dropped the rice in a separate corner of his bowl, away from the food gathered from other houses. She then went back inside after paying respects to him. (It is not customary to fall at the feet of sanyAsIs when they come for bikshai; if someone were to accidentally do so, then the sanyAsI has to throw away all the food collected thus far and fast for the rest of the day). YatirAjar found this behavior to be strange. He wondered why she would do something like this which she had never done before. NOt feeling good about it, he simply took all the food collected for the day and mixed it into the waters of the KAvEri. He dusted his clothes and washed them before sitting under a tree in a pensive mood. While shaking off the clothes, some morsels of poisoned rice had fallen on the ground and a crow who ventured by ate it and died. YatirAjar observed this and kept a strict fast for the next few days.

The love of AachAryAs

Periya Nambi and TirukkOttiyUr Nambi were together when they heard the news of RAmAnujar's assassination attempt. They were distraught and wanted to see him right away and planned a trip to SrI Rangam. On hearing the news of both his AachAryans coming to visit him, RAmAnujar was overjoyed and stepped out to visit them en route before they could make it to his place. While walking alongside the KAvEri river, he caught a glimpse of both of them. He started prostrating and getting up many times on the scorching sands of the river bank all the while walking towards them. There was quite a long distance to be covered and RAmAnujar was suffering from exhaustion. Instead of telling him that he could stop prostrating and be relieved, the AachAryAs let him continue on with the physically grueling ritual. AachAn who was with RAmAnujar at this juncture, could not bear it. Tears welled up in his eyes. "What kind of cruel teacher-stedent test is this? Is it the intent to test him until his death?", he sobbed out as he scooped up RAmAnujar from the scorching sands. Then TirukkOttiyUr Nambi replied, "AachAn, we were doing this o test to see who was truly loyal towards EmperumAnAr. You have proved your loyalty and that you are completely capable of taking care of him. From this day on, it is your duty to see to his physical benefits. I appoint you to cook for him daily and serve him alms". And accordingly, from that day on, KidAmbi AachAn became responsible for cooking and serving RAmAnujar.

AruLALa PerumAL EmperumAnAr

There was an Advaita SanyAsi by the name of YagnamUrti. He was a genius and a well learned scholar. He defeated quite a lot of scholars in debates in KAsi and adopted hundreds of disciples and taught all of them the advaitA philosophy. HE heard about YatirAjar having thousands of disciples in SrI Rangam to whom he was imparting the knowledge of VisishtAdvaitam. He did not want to be surpassed by anyone and decided that he had to take him on in a debate. He grabbed all his literature and proceeded to SrI Rangam. In a few months time, he reached there. He approached RAmAnujar and challenged him to a debate. RAmAnujar gladly accepted and asked him what he would do if he were to lose.

"If I were to lose, I will bear your footwear and also your name. I will renounce advaitam and come and join with you as a disciple after embracing VisishtAdvaitam. What will you do if you lose?", he asked. RAmAnujar said that he woud denounce all his literature were that to happen - he would not read or write books pertaining to the VisishtAdvaita philosophy were he to lose. Both of them agreed to each other's terms and decided to carry on a debate that would span over 18 days. And they went on for the first 16 days. Each one surpassed the other in succeeding arguments and no one had the upper hand, yet. Towards the end of the 17th day, YagnamUrti seemed to have the upper hand. He raised a question that RAmAnujar was supposed to answer. There was only one day left. YatirAjar stood stunned. YagnamUrti saw that and regarded success to be his. He suggested that they come back the following day and continue their arguments.

YatirAjar went back to his matam. He finished up his daily rituals and beseeched his favorite Lord, PEraruLALan who had always helped him in need. With tears flowing from his eyes, he asked the Lord, "This philosophy had been thriving since the beginning of time up until the period of AaLavandAr. What Am I to do if you decide to play a divine game and want this to be defeated in my time? All these days I have been arguing that everything about you is very real. Now you want to establish all that as an illusion by bringing an Advaitan proponent to argue so? What kind of game is this?" So saying he staid in a very pensive mood before the Lord.

That night, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. He said, "Why should you lose heart this way? YagnamUrti is very intelligent, and I have made him your disciple from this point on. Refer to the work of your Guru AaLavandAr, called 'Akanda MAyAvAda Kandanam" and get the points to help you win the argument from that." So saying he disappeared. RAmAnujar woke up the next morning with Hari NAmA on his lips, as usual.He recollected the dream he had the previous night. He picked up the relevant points from AaLavandAr's SrI Sukti. He finished his morning rituals, convinced of his victory. He went to PeraruLALan's sannidi and sought his blessings before leaving.

When YagnamUrti saw the spring in RAmAnujar's step, he was taken aback.
(To be continued ...)

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