Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ramanuja is the positive example of perseverance, Not Gajani Mohammad

Photo by author: Ramanuja’s statue on the top of Gopuram of Tirukoshtiyur, where from he revealed secrets of Tirumantra to all.  The residence of Goshtipurna Acharya is near the temple.

Part III

Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar,

Former Central Information Commissioner &

Dean, School of Law Mahindra University, Hyderabad

Ramanuja is returned by Guru Gosthi Purna, whenever he visited him for knowledge of Tirumantra. Guru used to say, ‘to come again’, ‘next visit’, ‘let us see’. Ramanuja was steady and strong in his endeavor to learn the Jnana from him. Walked 200 miles from Srirangam to Goshthiyur for 18 times and surprised his Guru by not leaving him. Perhaps Guru thought that Ramanuja would not pursue so many times. Every time he was surprised and finally could not refuse to grant the desired knowledge to him. He is a positive example of perseverance. We quote Gajni Mohammad for his continuous attacks on India to loot Somnath, because he went back after every defeat and came back with improved attacking power. Finally succeeded with clever plots and dishonest internal enemies of India. It is a negative example. Ramanuja’s efforts are laudable, positive and powerful acts with will-power and keeping his mind beyond disappointment and frustration.

Also read: Ramanuja who broke the law of secrecy

In Sri Vaishnavism a prostration is called Dandavat Pranaamam, which means falling like a stick. Ramanuja is fallen like that looking at the hut offering his obeisance.  It is believed that Ramanuja did not walk, instead prostrated offering obeisances until he reached the Acharya’s residence. That was the reverence he has shown to that great Acharya.  By doing so he has sent a message to all villagers that amidst them a great saint is living. The villagers then realized his greatness who was not understood because of his simplicity. On hearing his voice, saying he was sent by Swamy Mahapurna, Guru Goshtipurna has invited Ramanuja inside. Ramanuja requested for the knowledge of esoteric truths of Thirumantram and Dwayam (Twin-mantra). Testing his steadfastness, Acharya asked ‘what I have to tell and to whom?’ Without a murmur, he left after prostrating, for Srirangam. When he went another time, Nambee said “No, not this time, Ramanuja, can you go and come again”. Ramanuja never ever imagined a protest or felt irritated but simply reflected on the truth and calmly went back. 

Photo by author: View of Gopuram from ground, Statues of Goshtipurna and Ramanuja can be seen besides Tirunamam.

Few days later, Goshtipurna had to attend the temple festival at Srirangam. It is believed that Lord Ranganatha recommended through the officiating priest, “do reveal all the divine knowledge to Ramanuja, who sought this in all the occult love of faith”.  Then Nambi called Ramanuja to come alone, this time for knowledge. To his surprise, again it was “No”.  Ramanuja should have been the example of perseverance as he attempted 18 times to gain divine knowledge without an iota of adverse feeling when he was turned down by his Acharya. Quoting Ghajni for perseverance is negative, destructive and improper. Repeated attempts with all sincerity and devotion without depression or negativity, for the purpose of enlightenment not for bloody and inhuman expansionism of material benefits, is the great attribute of Ramanuja, which every student or scholar should understand and practice. Initiating into Tirumantra and securing the intricacies and secret inner meanings of Astakshari mantra is worth trying any number of times. One can understand the rich value of the mantra that he could attain after walking from Kancheepuram or Srirangam to Tirukosthipuram 18 times at different times for about a decade. He was not frustrated but felt something was impure in his heart. He always tried once again with more enthusiasm. He went back to Srirangam and was searching for means to secure knowledge from Goshtipurna. Suddenly he found a disciple of Nambi in Srirangam, whom he pursued a lot to know how to convince the Acharya. Though he could not show any way out, he went back to represent the strong devotion of Ramanuja that made Nambi to call Ramanuja with his staff and pennant, symbols of pontiff.  Delighted Ramanuja reached with Dasarathi and Kooresha.

Ramanuja’s statue

As Goshtipurna was surprised by three persons, Ramanuja explained that Dasarathi, (Mudali Andaan) was his staff and Kooresa, the pennant. Pleased with Ramanuja’s exemplary conduct, Acharya took him to a secret chamber of his hut and revealed the extraordinary truths of the Thirumantra. Acharya explained “Ramanuja, this mantra is the granter of every boon, promoter of devotion and dispassion. This is the mantra all sages and saints constantly recite and bestow eternal bliss. He then gave him the inner meanings of Dwaya Mantra in detail. “This is one and only glorious mantra that Lord Visnu alone knows its glory. I consider you worthy to receive this great mantra, because you are pure and firmly fixed in devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord. I find none deserving to get this divine mantra now. Whoever chants this mantra will certainly go to Vaikuntha, abode of the eternal peace and happiness of the Lord after death. Because this mantra is so pure and sacred, it must not be touched by the lips of anyone who has material desires. Therefore, you must not disclose the mantra to any other person.”

After this introduction, Gosthipurna  initiated him into the chanting of the Ashtakshari mantra of eight syllables, also called Tirumantra.  But this initiation was not without a warning. He promised him not to divulge it to all and sundry and cautioned him that a breach of promise would take Ramanuja to hell. Ramanuja was delighted and rejoiced with the acquisition of this great knowledge. His heart filled with ecstasy and he chanted it to experience the wonderful vibration. He began to glow with spiritual effulgence. Thanking Acharya profusely, Ramanuja performed multiple Saashtanga Pranama. What he did is viewed initially as a breach of trust with Acharya, but later became a historic event, which is inspiring people even today.

Also read: PM Modi says Gujarat Bhakti Leader Narsi Mehta’ influenced by Ramanuja 

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.


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