Radhanath Swami: We are reading today from Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 8, Chapter 15 entitled, ‘Bali Maharaj conquers the heavenly planets’, Text 33 and 34.

Bali Serves Brahmanas

In these chapters and those just before what we are reading today, we find Bali Maharaj, the king of the asuras, how after the churning of the ocean of milk they were both sides – the asuras and the devas were extremely eager to get this amrita, this nectar because it had such a powerful effect of making one strong, healthy and long lived. It was so valuable to them because it was so important; whoever was given this supernatural power from this elixir would undoubtedly conquer all directions. So the greatest enemies became allies simply for the purpose of trying to get it and ultimately by the arrangement of the lord, the devas got all the nectar. It was taken right out of the hands of the asuras by Mohini Murti. So the devas conquered all directions then the asuras were very angry with this arrangement. Can you imagine after all that churning which took so much trouble the asuras had all of it – every drop of it. All they had to do is drink it but they started fighting among themselves about who was most qualified to drink it first – its considered a great honour to get it first. So they were fighting amongst each other and at that time Mohini Murti came and took it all away from them. Actually they gave it to her by their own free will and were so enchanted by her. And then Mohini Murti gave all of it to the devas so they gained all the supernatural power beyond what they ever had before.

The asuras were very upset, they attacked and the devas annihilated them. Bali Maharaj was killed. Then Sukracharya who is the descendent of Brghu Muni, a great race of brahmanas – he performed some special rituals and chanted mantras and actually brought Bali Maharaj back to life! Bali Maharaj was so grateful, he felt so indebted that he served Sukracharya with so much humility and so much devotion and he also served all of the brahmanas of the Brghu dynasty. In this way he pleased them exceedingly and they blessed him. They blessed him in such a way that he became more powerful than ever before, he was radiant, effulgent.


Indra Warned

He gathered his armies together to march on Indra’s kingdom. They surrounded it. Indra looked out and just by seeing the effulgence of Bali and Bali’s incredible enthusiasm to do whatever it took to get Indraloka, Indra didn’t know what to do. He approached his guru, Brhaspati and said, “Look at Bali and his people they look like they can swallow the whole universe, see his enthusiasm, see the strength he has, what’s happening? what are we supposed to do?” And Brhaspati, he was a mystic, he could see past, present and future. He said that, “Bali Maharaj has served his guru very faithfully and pleased him and he has also served the great brahmanas, the great souls – they have blessed him. There’s nothing you can do”. This is very interesting – more powerful than even then nectar, more empowering than this nectar that they fought over so much was the blessings of great souls. That as long as he has the blessings of these great souls, he has the power way, way, way beyond his own. You see what the nectar can do is it can increase your own power but Bali has accessed something much greater by getting the heartfelt blessings due to his humble, loving service to great souls. Hes now empowered by God, its not about him anymore because the guru and the great saints are carrying the power of God and they have bestowed that power upon him, hes unstoppable. “Its not just Bali, you are dealing with brahma-tejas, the supreme power of the brahmanas, the great saints. Indra, don’t even try fighting him, the nectar or nothing else is going to help you now. I advise you to disguise yourself, run away and hide”. This is quite a big instruction for a kshyatriya like Indra and all the devas. And thats all they could do, they disguised themselves and by their mystic powers they can really disguise themselves, they can change their forms. So the asuras could not recognize any of them and they just slipped away and went into hiding places and waited. Brhaspati said, “Just wait, be patient. Time is not on your side but at a certain time in the future I can foresee that Bali Maharaj is going to displease his guru and the brahamana race and when that happens he’s going to lose all this potency and you will get everything back”.


Sukracharya Warns Bali

Of course in the future chapters we read how Aditi, the mother of Indra and the devas was very pained at heart to see her children living like fugitives, just running away being hunted for by the asuras. And they had nothing, absolutely nothing – they had no service, they had no property, they were just running and hiding. As a mother this was very difficult so with the guidance of Kashyapa Muni, her husband she performed this payovrata by which the supreme lord would be her son. And when the lord appears, He does so in a way to teach so many lessons. He could have taken everything away in a moment but he wanted to do it in such a way that was instructive because Bali Maharaj then gained his power by pleasing his guru, Sukracharya who was a descend of Brghu. So Vamanadeva was going to orchestrate his lila in such a way that he would put Bali in a situation wherein to make the right choice he would have to displease his guru and get cursed. So we know this story – Vamanadeva took 3 steps of land. He wanted 3 steps of land, he appeared as a dwarf and Sukracharya told Bali who is performing one of these yagnas that we are reading about today. Sukracharya said, “Don’t give it to him. This little dwarf is actually Visnu in disguise. I can see the future too – with His first step He is going to cover half the universe, with the second step the other half and for the third you will have nothing to give and He will arrest you. Don’t give him anything. You may have already promised but according to sastra in emergency situations, you’re allowed to break your promise and this is an emergency situation. I am personally declaring it an emergency”. And Sukracharya ordered him. Bali Maharaj very honestly said to his guru, “This is a brahamana too! This Vamana has appeared as a brahamana, I can’t lie to Him, I can’t tell a lie. I’ve given my word of honour and if He’s Visnu then my grandfather, Prahlad Maharaj was a great devotee of Visnu”. Great grandfather wasn’t but grandfather was. He was willing to surrender everything. Now please understand Bali Maharaj was not- maybe this may happen, maybe that, he knew for sure that if his guru cursed him it would be, from a material perspective, a disaster. But to please the supreme lord he was willing to do that because after all a guru is supposed to teach you to surrender to the supreme lord, not reject the supreme lord. Sukryacharya was so angry, so angry, so displeased he cursed Bali, “You will lose everything”


Why Bali is a Mahajan?

Thats all that was required. He gave him the power, he took his power away. Now this was a big step. Actually Bali Maharaj making this decision was a bigger step than any of Vamanadeva’s step. Because Bali was dead and Sukracharya brought him back to life he owed him everything. Not only did he bring him back to life but he gave him all his powers, all of his opulence, everything. And to please the supreme personality of godhead he was willing to renounce that, that connection. This is why Bali Maharaj is a mahajan; its not that he just gave everything to Vamanadeva.

What he renounced is inconceivable but what he got back is even more inconceivable. You see if you please Krsna ultimately everything is adjusted. In the end Vamanadeva gave him Sutala, a planet which was much, much more wonderful than Indra’s in every particular way – in opulence, in beauty, in pleasure – its also a spiritual place, very highly devotional. Indra is always getting attacked, Sutala will never be attacked. Much better. And Vamanadeva Himself became the doorkeeper, He became the servant so that Bali Maharaj could have the darshan of the lord personally, walking around every day. And then at a certain time he would become Indra and at the same time at the end of the story Sukracharya was exceedingly happy with Bali Maharaj and bestowed more blessings than he ever did before. He understood that he was wrong, his disciple was right and Sukracharya said, “Bali Maharaj made no mistake, everything was absolutely perfect”. So because he took this risk of pleasing Krsna, what was the result? His guru gave him more blessings than ever before. He became eternally famous as a mahajan. He attained the ultimate perfection of unalloyed loving service to the lord, Krsna Prema. He got everything and plus he got a better place than Indra.

So sometimes the act of surrender appears to risk our particular situation. Krsna says in Gita, “kaunteya pratijänéhi na me bhaktaù praëaçyati” that declare boldly Arjuna, “My devotee will never perish because he actually surrendered”. He surrendered to the inner will of the supreme guru or Krsna and all the brahamanas and Sukracharya and everyone ultimately profusely blessed him. Srila Prabhupada explains yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädo yasyäprasädän na gatiù kuto ‘pi. This is the power of pleasing the guru, this is the power that Bali Maharaj had. This was his greatness – more than any other material consideration how we are pleasing Krsna, guru and Vaisnavas.


Glories Of Ramanujacharya

In this regard, today is the appearance of Sripad Ramanujacharya. I’d like to speak just a few incidents in his glorious pastimes that illustrate this principle – of the power and the grace that comes when we please the guru and great souls. Its very interesting Ramanujacharya was born at Sripuranbodar (?) not too far from Kancipuram and was living in Kancipuram and just by the arrangements of destiny he was the student of one Yadava Prakasa. Now Yadava Prakasa was a scholar but he was a Mayavadi and he was very antagonistic towards devotees and towards bhakti. And Ramanujacharya had this natural devotion in his heart and Ramanujacharya used to hear about Yamunacharya, his beautiful prayers, his songs, his teaching and they affected him although he never met him at that time. So Ramanujacharya was never moved away from the path of pure love even though Yadava Prakasa was so antagonistic about it. Sometimes it was just so unbearable to hear what this Yadava Prakasa was saying but Ramanujacharya was so respectful. One time he was massaging him and Yadava Prakasa recited a verse explaining that the supreme lord’s eyes were pink like the rear end of a monkey and as he was massaging his guru, hearing that he started to cry. His teacher, not exactly his guru, felt the tears and said, “Why are you crying?” He couldn’t lie, he said, “I don’t like this example you gave”. “This is what the scripture says. What is your understanding?” And Ramanujacharya very humbly said, “It can be translated in a very different way. It means His eyes are pink like the beautiful lotus flowers that are blooming in the transparent lakes of fresh water” and his teacher became very angry because hes better than me, this is not right. So various incidents like this happened and please know that Ramanujacharya was always respectful. When after receiving permission, he would clarify the mistakes of his teacher and his teacher was very obsessed so much so that the teacher created a conspiracy to murder his student because he was thinking this person is so intelligent and so bright, he is going to make everyone lovers of god and this is completely what I am against. Now Ramanuja understood this and with the help of others he escaped but he forgave his teacher and continued studying under him. He had his own master plan .


Ramanujacharya taking association of Kanchipurna:

One time Yamunacharya ,who was the Acharya of all of SriRangam and Sri Sampradaya,he came from SriRangam to Kanchipuram, it was during some festival and Yamunacharya from a distant saw Ramanujacharya and he saw this boy, he had such a pure heart , he had such good qualities, he has so much love for the Lord, he could just see this by just looking at Ramanuja and he also heard about his good qualities and he asked some one “Is he still studying under Yadavprakash?” ,they said “yes he is still studying under Yadavprakash” and Yamunajacharya was praying to Lord Vishnu “Please free this young boy from this bad influence .” Eventually after some time Yadavprakash got so frustrated with Ramanujacharya’s brilliance for a different philosophy that he rejected him. He couldn’t kill him so he rejected him .So one day Ramanujacharya ,he approached Kanchipurna to be his teacher .Kanchipurna, he was a very simple man of shudra birth .But every day he had such enthusiasm to serve the Deity in the temple Varadraj , he would spend practically in the hot season fanning Varadraj. He would take a fan and dip it in water to make it real cool and fan ,just sing songs. And he would go out and would collect the best possible fruits and the best possible flowers ,he would offer them to Deities , he would fan them and sing songs.That’s all he did. He was’t teaching people .He was just doing the humblest, simplest type of seva that actually any one can do. But he did it with so much devotion, he had so much love for God and all living beings ,some times he just walked down the road and looked in the sky and smile .The people of Kanchipur ,most of the people loved him because he was totally non envious .He was the well wisher of every one ,because he loved every one and naturally people loved him and they saw his devotion. Just brought so much life, but there were other people that hated him. They were spreading rumors that he was insane, that he was an imposter, a fake, fraud that he had no real devotion. And one of the main proponets of the blashphamy was Yadava Prakash. So Ramanuja invited Kanchipurna to his home, and gave him a special seat and Ramanuja washed his feet. And with folded hand s he said to Kanchipurna, “I want you to be my teacher. Beg you. Please be my teacher.” Kanchipurna was so embaraased by this and said, “How could this be? You are a Brahmana and I am a Sudra! You are a scholar and I don’t really know much of anything. How can I be your Guru, how can I teach you anything.” Ramanujacarya with such sincere devotion, with folded hands said, “ You love Vishnu and that’s all I want. If being a scholar of scriptures makes one proud, and not able to understand a great person like you and all your simplicity, then I say what is the use of knowing the scriptures. The whole purpose of knowing the scriptures is to be a humble servant of the servant of the servant of a great soul like you who loves God. You have understood the essence. Please give me instruction. Brahmana, Sudra all these things are external, the eternal reality of the soul is that we love Krsna, we are part of Krsna and you have achieved that liberation. Please instruct me.”

Hearing Ramanujacarya’s understanding of the very essence of all religion, Kanchipurna was very happy. It wasn t that he could instruct him in the fine subtleties of philosophy of Vedanta. He gave him an instruction according to his own personal realization. He said, “Every day you should bring a jar of water to the temple and offer I to Varadaraj. That’s all!” And Sripad Ramanujacarya took this instruction as his life and soul. That was his first priority in life. Every morning he would go to a well. It a very special historical well, with very pure water and he would fill up a big and would personally carry I on his shoulder from the well all he way o the temple and give it to the pujari by placing it before the deities. In this way this was his seva everyday. Now Kanchiprna due to simple purity of his devotion, it is well known among intelligent people at that time that varadaraj, the Lord from the temple reveal His will through kanchipurna. He will talk, not everyone hear deity talk. But He will talk to kanchipurna to reveal His desires to rest of congregation. And he was so satisfied seeing ramanuja carrying this pot of water.


Yamunacharya’s desire to see Ramanuja

Meanwhile the news came to yamunacharya. At that time he was very old and his health was declining. And he was praying so deeply to rescue Ramanuja from this yadavaprakash. He was always thinking about him. So oneday, he asked his devotees about ramanuja. They said he is no longer taking lessons from yadava prakash, he was taking lessons from kanchipoorna. And kanchipoorna is disciple of yamunacharya and so he was so happy. Now he is in association of greatest vaishnava. It appeared yamunacharya was going to leave the world and all of his disciple were gathered together crying and praying for his health and suddenly it appeared he got better and he turned to Mahapoorna, one of his dearmost disciples, and said “please go from srirangam to kanchipuram and ask Ramanuja to come. I want his association, I want to see him. “ So Mahapoorna took leave and it is four-five day walk. There was not trains, buses or cars, planes in those days. He was just walking. Mahapoorna went all the way kanchipuram. And there he met kanchipoorna in the temple. They were happy to meet eachother, two Godbrothers Mahapurna and Kanchipurna. He said where is Ramanuja. He said there he is. He is coming with pot of water just now. There, ramanuja is coming with pot of water and offered it as seva to deities. Mahapurna said “I have come as messenger of yamunacharya. He is requesting you to come, he wants to see you. Ramanuja said, “Let me just put the water in right place and then I will go immediately. “ He put the water down and offered it some mantras and Mahapoorna said what about your family and everything else? He said , `When guru calls we must go”. So they left immediately. Four days it took them to reach srirangam. All the way they together . Ramanuja was inquiring submissively from Mahapoorna about different stories of the Lord and different philosophical understandings. They crossed the kaveri river and planning directly to go to ashram of sripad yamunacharya. But they saw large crowds and these crowds are all weeping and crying. They asked what happened? Why are these crowds gathered? Someone said “you do not know the whole world is now cast into darkness because yamunacharya has left this world. The day that yamunacharya left , he called out his household grihastha disciples to give them his last instructions. You should always go to the temple worship the Lord, keep His name in your heart, keep His form in your mind, never practice duplicity, be honest and always keep your devotion as priority of your life . And then with great humility he begged them please provide for and maintain all my brahmacaris and sannyasi disciples as long as you live. All the devotees performed kirtan, chanting God’s holy names, offering prayers all around his bed as he left the world. When mahapoorna and ramanujacharya heard this , Ramanujacharya immediately fell unconsciousness , it was unbearable that his guru has left the world. Mahapoorna was swaying in distress and somehow he had to pacify ramanujacharya and he sprinkled him with water and said we should understand that everything is happening by the will of Lord Narayan.


Ramanuja Reveals his Guru’s Desire

Then they proceeded towards the place where Yamunacharya’s body was lying down and all the disciples in town were gathered around it. Ramanujarya asked the question to all those around “Three of Guru’s fingers are cleansed very tightly and did he usually keep his fingers like this? They said “No, he always kept his fingers straight.” Ramanujarya closed his eyes in very prayerful state and then he spoke “I vow that I will spread the glories of Lord Vishnu and pure unalloyed love for Vishnu through bhakti throughout the entire land” And when he said that, one of the three fingers opened and straight. Ramanujarya then said “ I vow that in order to philosophically establish the principles of pure unalloyed devotion as highest of all spiritual truths and I will write a commentary of Vedanta sutra called Sribhasya.” Then second finger opened and stretched. Then he said “ In the honour of speaker of Vishnu Purana, Parasar Muni , I will name a great vaishnava “ Parasara” Then third finger opened. To Ramanujacharya and others, it was clear to them that these were three desires of Yamunacharya which were not fulfilled in his life. And Ramanujacharya knew his heart and vowed to fulfill those three unfulfilled desires. People were astonished and they understood very deep and high connection between guru and disciple.

Sripad Ramanujacharya went back to Kanchipurnam. After sometime in Sri Rangam, for the devotees there, it was impossible to live due to loss of Yamunacharya. Because he was so empowered, so illustrious in his compassion , knowledge, wisdom and his everything. They were so accustomed to live with him that how it is possible us to continue. We have to have a leader. And they all unanimously decided that the successor of Yamunacharya must be Ramanujacharya. He knew our Guru’s heart, best of everyone and he proved that on that day. Just see how non envious they were and non comparative. They were all grihastas, sannyasis, scholars who are extremely empowered. They were not fighting over who is going to be the next Acharya. They were just thinking “What is our Guru want ? who could best perform that service?” Ramanujacharya was not fighting for it. He was somemore else. He didn’t even think about it. But they all accepted because he is most qualified and he should be the acharya.


Ramanuja Gets Initiated

Something else is very interesting. We don’t find that Ramanujacharya ever had any personal association of Yamunacharya. Hardly there any record he had ever talked to him. Yamunacharya just saw him from little distance. Ramanujacharya honoured him and loved him. But there was really practically no physical association. Ramanujacharya just by hearing the teachings of Yamunacharya and hearing the beautiful stotras, he gave his life and soul to him. And Ramanujacharya was never initiated and in Sri Sampradaya, initiations are very serious thing. He was uninitiated and practically he had practically no association at all and here are other sannyasis and great personalities who are living with him ,initiated by him and his senior most people and they are calling “ Ramanujacharya should be the leader” So they asked Mahapurna “ Please go and meet Ramanujacharya. Give him initiation and bring him back” So Mahapurna went to kanchipurnam and when he went to Kanchinpurnam, Ramanujacharya immediately met him and begged him “ please instruct me” And Mahapurna began explaining him holy scriptures. Ramanujacharya asked for the initiation. So Mahapurna , right on the bank of river set up yajna and gave him full initiation. So Ramanajucharya was disciple of Yamunacharya from the perspective of physical ceremony because he had taken the mercy, blessing of Yamunacharya deeply to his heart. How he was honoured and then for many days, Mahapurna instructed Ramanujacharya in the path of bhakti in the holy scripture. Ramanujacharya served his guru so faithfully and devotedly and they went back to SriRangam. Upon seeing on skipping the lot of the life of Ramanujacharya , because , I am trying to focus on guru and disciple relationship.

By this time, Ramanujacharya was a sannyasi and he was studying under Mahapurna. And it is explained that everyone in Srirangam was so deeply impressed to see the humility and love in which Ramanujacharya served his Guru. One day, Mahapurna said “It will be very helpful for you to receive vedic mantra. Initiation into vedic mantra.” And there was no one qualified to give you these mantra and explain the meaning of the mantra than Gostipurna who is living in village not to far away. Here is another beautiful example : Mahapurna is guru and telling other person is more qualified than me to give you mantra. There was no envy , no competition and they were working all together for the higher purpose of Yamunajacharya’s mission. So Ramanujacharya walked. From that what I understand something 100 KMs to this village, walked all the way there. Out of the feet, prostrated himself at the feet of Gostipurna and begged him “ Please , Mahapurna,my guru has sent me to receive the mantra from you.” Gostipurna was not inclined to give this mantra to anyone. Because the rule was that mantra couln’t be given to anyone that had even the slightest stress of material desires in their minds. Mahapurna ordered him. So Gostipurna said to Ramanujacharya “Come back another day” Ramanjucharya was quiet dejected and walked away back. Somedays later, he came again. Gostipurna told him to come another day. Ramanujacharya walked back and forth 18 times. This is was how enthusiastic he was. How he patient he was ? And everytime he sent away. After 18 times, Ramanujacharya was feeling that I am so unqulifed , so sinful that I don’t deserve this mantra. And my guru’s order is to get this mantra. I am so sinful that I am not fit to receive it. He began to cry. This news came to Gostipurna. …….. Next time Ramanujacharya came 19th times. Gostipurna said “ I will give this mantra but please hear this very carefully. This mantra must never be heard by anyone else. I don’t see any person in the entire world fit to receive this mantra except you. By your determination, by your enthusiasm, by your purity of heart, you are the only one I see that is fit to receive this mantra. Anyone who hear this mantra will be liberated of all the suffering of material existence and will attain the spiritual world. But it can be never be touched by the lips of person who has any material desires. So you must not ever give it to anyone. This is confidential.” Then he spoke the mantra. Eight syllable mantra to Ramanujacharya. He was in ectasy hearing this mantra. Then his Guru explained to him some of things about this mantra and he offered his obeisance to his gurudev and took his leave to return to Srirangam.   As he was walking, he began to mediate on the words of Gostipurna that anyone who hears this mantra will go back to Godhead, vaikuntha. So he got this inspiration and as he was passing through the town, he called out “I have the most precious wealth and I am please spread the word, all over the town, everyone should come to the temple courtyard and I will give everyone the the most precious jewel. The word spreads. Hundreds, thousands people because everyone likes free jewel ( Laughter : hahaha…) Thousands of people gathered. So Ramanujacharya even could not even see them also, he had to climb to the tower of the temple so he could see everybody and everybody could see him. And they were all very very eager. Sripad Ramanujacharya cried out in very very loud voice. I have most precious wealth, please spread a word all over the town everyone should come to the temple courtyard and I will give everyone a most precious jewel. The words spread, hundreds, thousands of people, because everyone likes free jewels.


Sripad Ramanujacharya’s compassion for conditioned souls

Thousands of people gathered and there was so many that Ramanujacharya couldn’t even see them also and he had to climb to the tower of the temple so that he could see everyone and everyone could see him and they were all very eager. Sripad Ramanujacharya cried out in a very loud voice, you are all dearer to me than my very life. Today I am going to give you a mantra by which you will be liberated from all sufferings and return to Vaikunta. Now everybody listen carefully and repeat after me and then Ramanujacharya with all of his strength cried out this mantra and all the 1000’s and 1000’s of people after hearing the mantra they felt so spiritually energised and purified that as loud as they could they all chanted the mantra. Ramanujacharya chanted again and they did it again for three times. As all those 1000’s of people chanted that secret mantra, it was so tumultuous it was filling the whole area and Ghosti Purna just minutes after he gives the secret mantra to Ramanujacharya with a condition that nobody should ever hear it, he is hearing the tumultuous sound of 1000’s people crying out the mantra. People were so in much happy, they were all bowing down and giving their hearts thinking we came to you for the broken glass of some mundane jewel but you have given us the supreme jewel, you have given us the mantra to love Vishnu and they were so happy and so grateful.


Sripad Ramanujacharya’s Guru becomes his disciple

So Ramanujacharya decided to go and offer his respectful obeisances to his guru Ghosti Purna before leaving. Ghosti Purna was boiling with anger and he couldn’t believe what just happened and then Ramanujacharya has the nerve to come back and say good bye to him after totally disobeying the most important instruction he ever gave anybody. As soon as Ramanujacharya came into his room, Ramanujacharya bowed down and Ghosti Purna was trembling and his eyes were red. He said, Get out from here. I never ever want to see your sinful face again, get out from here. Today I have made the greatest offense by giving this mantra to such an unworthy despicable wretch like you. Get out. Because of this offense you have to perpetually suffer in hell. Get out. Ramanujacharya stood there with folded palms with tears in his eyes he said my dear worshipable beloved Gurudev; I know very well that for my offense I will have to suffer hellish conditions. But please understand my heart You said that anyone who hears this mantra will go back to the spiritual world. Now all these 1000’s and 1000’s of people are going to go back to the spiritual world and if all of them are go back to enjoy the eternal life with the Lord then it’s a very small insignificant price that one insignificant fallen soul like Ramanujacharya to go to hell. A little person like me going to hell to bring 1000’s and 1000’s of people to Vaikunta it’s very small thing and I am willing to do so. When he said that Ghosti Purna began to cry and stood up and embraced Ramanujacharya and he said, you are better than me. I have never seen such compassion, magnanimous devotion, today I accept you as my guru, and please I beg forgiveness for my offenses to you. Ramanujacharya fell at his guru’s feet and no not like that, I am your servant, I am your disciple. It’s only because of your potency of giving the mantra, it’s your love, compassion and devotion giving the mantra that all these 1000’s and 1000’s of people will return to the spiritual world. I am just an instrument of your mercy. These are some of the beautiful lessons of Ramanujacharya.

In one sense this story is little like Bali Maharaja and Sukracharya. Even though they both displeased their guru and their guru became ferocious that they even cursed, because it was for a higher principle in both cases the guru recognised the glory of their devotion, the glory of their devotion. Then Ramanujacharya went back to Sri Rangam and during that incident he brought two of his main followers, Dasarathi and Kuresh. They saw Ramanujacharya willingness to even suffer hell and all sorts of consequences to show compassion to others. In fact after Ramanujacharya gave the mantra to all people, he embraced his two followers and they saw Ghosti Purna’s anger and also Ghosti Purna melt in ecstasy.


Kuresh – the glorious disciple of Sripad Ramanujacharya

One of those disciples who was a witness to Ramanujacharya compassion, Kuresh and we all know the story of him, we don’t have time now to tell it, he was also willing to give his life when the king of the Chola dynasty had sent soldiers to arrest Ramanujacharya and force him to either surrender to his theology or die, Kuresh went to his guru Ramanujacharya. You change clothes with me. I am a grhastha and you take my clothes and I will put on the saffron clothes because the King doesn’t know how you look like. Ramanujacharya was very resistant, why in the world he wants to do this to his disciple. But his disciple, from the hearts of his heart had only this desire and it was not an austerity for him it was an honor and Ramanujacharya could see the heart of Kuresh. By allowing him to do that he was fulfilling his highest desire and it would also make Kuresh not only famous throughout all of time but will make an example for millions and millions of millions people about pure devotion.


Kuresh becomes blind

Kuresh went, in summary, he defeated all the scholars in the King’s court and ultimately the king was so angry that with red hot iron rods had both Kuresh and Maha Purna’s eyes burned out. After beating them and burning their eyes out, Kuresh looked at the executioners, somewhere in the jungle, with folded palms, he thanked them; I am eternally indebted to you. You have allowed me to render such an intimate service to my Gurudev, I thank you and he was so serious that the executioners hearts melted. They realised this man is truly saying it. He is not only forgiving us for what we have done after brutally beating him and burning out his eyes he is not only forgiving us, he is thanking us. Kuresh is feeling you have facilitated me giving up my very eyes in the service of my guru. What a great honor? And this is how he was feeling. He spent many years, the rest of his life, Ramanujacharya felt so deeply indebted to Kuresh for his love.

When Ramanujacharya found out about it, Kuresh sent him message, please don’t feel any pain. I am not in pain. I am happy. I could be happier because you allowed me to serve you in such an intimate way. In Melkote, when Ramanujacharya heard about this, it was unbearable to him. In his exile he prayed to the Lord Narasimha on the hill, it’s too much for this King to trouble the Vaishnavas, Please do something and the Lord Narasimha Dev did something.


Kuresh’s mood of devotion

Even when Ramanujacharya requested Kuresh please go to the Lord in the temple and ask for your eyes back, he sang all day and Vishnu said I will fulfil any of the desires you have, Kuresh said my only desire in life is, please forgive the King and elevate him to Vaikunta. So the king who was so hateful, who had his eyes burnt up, the king was already dead but he was elevated to Vaikunta eternally. Ramanujacharya said ask for your eyes back. So Kuresh went back to the temple and he again prayed and sang beautiful songs and the Lord appeared to him and spoke. Lord said I will fulfil any of your desire, what would you like? He said Chaturgram, my disciple who rejected me and became totally envious, he is the one who convinced the king to try to kill my guru and because of him my eyes were burnt out, please forgive him and give him an eternal place in Vaikunta. The Lord said both of these people were already suffering hellish consequences but I promised you to fulfil your desires, so he is in Vaikunta now, in the spiritual world.

Ramanujacharya sent him back again. One version of the story that he said, My Gurudev I lost two things that belong to you please restore them so he got his eyes back. But according to most Sri Vaishnava Scholars it happened in another way. The Lord said why you don’t ask your eyes back, that’s what your guru wants you to ask for. He said if you want to fulfil my desire I don’t want my eyes back. What do I want to see in this material world anymore? Give me this benediction that the only thing I see within my heart is You and my Guru Dev Ramanujacharya.


Sripad Ramanujacharya’s Humility

When Sripad Ramanujacharya heard about this, he went on the altar and asked Kuresh what Vishnu is wearing today. He told him everthing, explained every flower in his body, what color cloth, what type of crown, what type of backdrop. Ramanujacharya asked what you see in me. He told him exactly every one of his features even though he was totally blind, ghastly blind. So it’s true that he was always seeing the Lord and his Guru and Kuresh asked the Lord, Please let me return to the Spiritual world and give the benediction that anyone who is close to me will also attain the Spiritual world. Vishnu granted this blessing. All the devotees were crying that he was going to leave us. They told Ramanujacharya and he picked up his Chadar and threw it in the air and started dancing in ecstasy. Everyone asked, why are you so happy, he is going to die, didn’t you hear? Ramanujacharya told he has got a benediction that anyone who is close to him will attain the spiritual world and I am his guru; I am also close to him that means I also will get to go. This is the humility of Ramanujacharya. On this day, let us offer our sincerest prayers at the Lotus feet of this greatest Acharya and pray for his blessings. Srila Prabhupada ki jay! Thank you very much.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.