Swamy Ramanuja went to meet Acharyar Peria Nambi . With all humility he prostrated himself and apologised for any offence committed in falling short of having the darshan of His Holiness Acharyar Swamy Yamunacharyar.
Ramanuja expressed his misfortune in not being able to serve the legendary Acharyar Swamy Yamunacharyar and missing his elderly counsel in a whisper .
Gurudeva ! said Ramanuja I need that knowledge !!
With great delight the Acharyar replied My child , The essence of our Holy faith is embedded in the Dwayam Mantra !! The power and the purifying meritorious essence is absolute healing .. My dear child ! Remember !! There is but One God and He is All merciful and is therefore is our only way . He is all knowing and All mighty and is there for our sake .
The souls destination and aim is therefore uplifting ourselves in the living service at his lotus feet forever . My child , I wish you personally meet the great Acharyar Thirugoshtiyur Nambee for knowing the eternal meaning of the Dwayam mantram along with the significance of the great Eight syllabled Thirumantra . May all auspiciousness be with you . Ramanuja was overwhelmed with his Acharya’s advise . He decided to immediately leave to Thirugoshtiyur to have Acharyar Tirukkottiyur Nambi’s lessons .
Thirukoshtiyur can be reached from Srirangam about two hours by a vehicle . But in those days one had to walk about 150 miles distance to reach the holy place. Thirukoshtiyur is worshipped as the srivaishnava divya desam of Lord Sowmya Narayana Perumal . The place name is derived from its nativity Thiru-kotiyur. (Repeatedly attacked by the demon Hiranyakashipu during Kritha yuga the devatas , Saptharishis along with Brahma and Paramashivan met at one place to discuss about the future and submitting to Lord SrimanNarayana .
All unanimously chose Thirukotiyur as the meeting place ) As all of them met at this place name came to be glorified as Thirukoshtiyur, koshti means in group or as a team. Since this was the place where the Lord decided to appear , Peria Azhwar sings in his very first pasuram of 4000 Divyaprabhandam that this was the holy place of Lord Krishna appeared …… and hence becomes the very first Srivaishnava Divyadesam as Azhwar begins glorifying the Lord from Thirukoshtiyur Divya desam.
The magnificent temple revered as the southern Badrinath has a Lord Santhana Krishnan deity in the main sanctum sanctorum .
The deities can be worshipped in all three postures -standing, sitting and relaxing . In Ground floor Lord Krishna graces us in dancing posture –depicting Bhoolokam.
In the next level LORD is in Sayana Thirukolam a posture resting on Adhisesha – depicting Devalogam. Directly above this the Lord is in Iruntha Kolam – depicting Indralogam. And top most level in standing posture as Sri Sowmya Narayana Perumal – depicting Sri Vaikuntam”. Swamy Thirukoshtiyur Nambi lived at this holy place serving Lord Sowmya Narayana Perumal.
Ramanuja reached Thirukoshtiyur. The village was vibrating with a serene atmosphere with peace everywhere . He offered his obesiances to the temple gopuram………
and finding few passer-by’s around he asked them , I am Ramanuja from Srirangam , please guide me to the place where the revered Acharyar Thirukoshtiyur Nambee lives . The villagers were surprised to hear this name . They said , Acharyar Thirukoshtiyur Nambee ! for some time they were pondering .Suddenly one said ! Oh yeah the learned one . yes !. There he lives in that small poor hut.
Swamy Ramanuja immediately falls like an uprooted tree looking at the hut offering his obesiances . It is told by our elders , swamy ramanuja did not walk , instead prostrated offering obesiances ( dandaavats) until he reached the acharyans residence . The villagers were surprised to note that they were living amongst a great personality and never knew his opulence for his mere simplicity .
Eager to meet the Acharyar , Swamy Ramanuja waits for His permission at the entrance of the hut . There is silence . Ramanuja calls , Acharya !! Acharya !! Swamy Mahapurnar sent me here …. Acharyar Nambi walks to find out who the person was as he had referred Swamy Mahapurnars name… He gets a reply …… who is that ???
Ramanuja offers obesiances and says Acharya ! I am Ramanuja . My Acharyar Mahapurnar has sent me to learn the esoteric truths of Dwayam and Thirumantram . Nambi looks at Ramanuja and in order to test the strength of Ramanuja’s steadfastness tells him in a different tone.. Swamin ! What I have to tell and to whom ? and thus gave no countenance . Ramanuja never spoke another word either way .He just prostrated Acharyar and returned to Srirangam .
Few days later , Thirukoshtiyur Nambi had to attend the temple festival at Srirangam . He came to Srirangam and paid obeisance’s to the Lord and was honoured by the temple priests .
Lord Ranganathar commanded through the officiating priest ” Do reveal all the divine knowledge to Ramanuja who seeks it in all the occult love of faith . Thirukoshtiyur Nambi with all humility submits Oh Lord ! It is your divine instructions to share the transcendental knowledge only to the deserving and am just carrying your instructions . I am just waiting to test Ramanuja for his dedication and absolute surrender to your lotus feet .
Not so in his case my dear Nambi , commanded Lord Ranganatha as he is fully qualified according to the requirement of the text by body and mind .
Come to my place Thirukoshtiyur Nambi tells Ramanuja , who was serving the Lordships and left Srirangam with due honours .
Ramanuja thanking the Lordships once again leaves to Tirukoshtiyur … ………………But ………he is for a surprise ……
No !! Not this time Ramanuja ,
Can you go and come again . Thirukoshtiyur Nambi replies ……………….
Ramanuja never ever imagined of a protest or felt irritated but simply reflected on the truth and calmly went back .
This happened for almost 18 visits . Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was testing Ramanuja’s faith and the zeal in a ordeal of probation to see if his spirit was strong and capable of overcoming the turbulent mind .
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi felt that the occult truths are for the deserving and not for the ones who are waylaid by the material instincts . Ramanuja returned for the 18th time now he had tears at the futility of his repeated efforts and was found deeply revolving in his mind as what was stopping Acharyar to reveal the knowledge .
He was inside the temple in the mood of surrender for Lord to somehow grace him in seeking the revered Acharyars Thirukoshtiyur Nambi’s blessings . All of a sudden he found a disciple of Thirukoshtiyur Nambi had come to Srirangam to attend the temple festival .
Ramanuja enquired about Acharyara Thirukoshtiyur Nambis welfare and requested the disciple to reveal the eligibility to seek Acharyar’s good will and audience . The disciple was calm . He prayed Lord for Ramanuja’s prayer to be answered as he saw in close quarters Ramanujas sincerity . The disciple left to Tirokoshtiyur and explained Acharyar about Ramanuja’s steadfastness to seek the esoteric truths .
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was pleased . Oh !! Has he such keen appetite !! Then I must feed him immediately . He instructed his disciple to immediately leave to Srirangam and inform Ramanuja to appear along with his staff and pennant . Ramanuja was delighted . He along with Dasarathi and Kooresa swiftly left to Thirukoshtiyur . All the three fell at the lotus feet of Thirukoshtiyur Nambi Nambi was surprised to see Dasarathi and Kooresa along with Ramanuja. Ramanuja understood . He said ! Holy Sire ! Am just following your commands .”Staff and Penant was your order” . Dasarathi ( MudaliAndaan ) is my staff and Kooresa is my pennant . I am never without them.
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was pleased with Ramanuja’s exemplary conduct . The Acharya said , the one who has the direct blessings of Lord Ranga himself revealed in his dream is bound to be given the sacred truths now . He took Ramanuja to a secret chamber of his hut and revealed the truths of the Thirumantra .
He said 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 bestower of eternal bliss . He then gave him the inner meanings of Dwayam Mantra in detail . Ramanuja was reverently receiving the divine teaching for which he had made 18 visits .
Ramanuja could not contain the truths to himself though it was imparted under the pledge of secrecy . He pondered Why these truths are so secret and guarded ?
If LORD is not for sinners ! who will uplift them ? and how can they be uplifted without knowing the method .
He was concerned about his fellow jivas . How and when will all of them reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead . Compassion and love for them burned in his heart . He was under a fix . What If this transcendental knowledge is shared to so many jivas . Will all of them not be uplifted ?
Will LORD not be pleased to see so many jivas uplifted .. There were also few doubts ! what will Acharyar feel ?
Will I not be punished for overlooking the secrecy .
He recollected Azhwar’s soothing verse
” Kulam Tharum Selvam Thanthidum
Adiyar Padu Thuyar Ayinavellam
Nilam taram seyyum Neel Visumbhu arulum
Arulodu Perunilam alikkum
Valam Tharum Marrum Thanthidum
Petra Thayinum Ayina Seyyum
Nalam Tharum Sollai Naan Kandukondein
NARAYANA ennum Namam“
Ramanuja finally decided he will go with his heart .
The next day he entered a big hall and invited all the interested people to assemble near the temple . Glad to see the people his heart flowed to them in turbulence revealing the transcendental nectar for their souls to nourish which was soothing .
He discussed the truths for the spirit to get uplifted following the guided procedures tuning the mind , body for the souls emancipation . The celebration of revealing and uplifting them made Ramanuja in bliss praying all the Acharyas and Lordships to uplift every jiva in this material world .
The news reached Thirukoshtiyur Nambi’s chamber .Upset , he commanded Ramanuja to immediately report to him and asked in tone of anger Why did he overstep his instructions in revealing the noble truths of religion to the undeserved .
Ramanuja obediently replied
Holy Sire ! I confess I am guilty of disobedience ! But I revealed the truths to glorify your authority and the transcendental teachings . Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was not satisfied . He angrily said Do you know the punishment for disobedience ? Ramanuja replied Disobedience surely deserves me Hell . I must be sent , No doubt at all……….. But Master !! May I submit that it is a little sacrifice for one sinner to make in as much as it brings salvation to many . It was compassion for the mankind that made me blind ! I seek forgiveness ! Please do whatever you wish I deserve . Am here just before with remorse ..I surrender to your lotus feet now …
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was dumbstruck . His heart moved looking at Ramanuja’s concern for the humankind .His face said it all . This thought never came to my crippled heart he thought .He could now understand why Ramanuja was the favourite child of Lord .
My heart never thought of this he said . I never felt that all love is for mankind. Thus vehemently forth new and strange emotions he rushed towards Ramanuja and embraced him . You are EMBERUMANAR !! truly my Yatiraja !!!! my child !!!! He had tears watching his magnanimity for the love for the fellow beings . My child !! Henceforth these teachings will be glorified as ” Emberumanar teachings” .
Ramanuja replied , Master! I am not to lay down low of you .. Had I in the least thought that there were yet other secrets , I would have restrained but somehow the compassion for the human mankind gave me into this pious act . I hold my peace .It is for your holiness to decide what more I deserve to be taught .
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi continued with emotion My child let that be deferred now !! Come again Sure !! But Mind it !! Come alone . Ramanuja fell at Nambis feet like an uprooted tree seeking forgivance and mercy repeatedly and proceeded to Srirangam .
Some time later Ramanuja came back to meet Thirukoshtiyur Nambi and humbled himself before the holy sire . Nambi clasping Ramanuja’s hands lovingly took him to a sequestered spot and adopting every precaution that no one may disturb them said ….
Listen …….My dear Arjuna !! the secret of secrets I say it is good for you and as my dear friend and devotee It is the last word of the spiritual science
Give up entirely all other ways
Choose ME alone as the way
Thee from all sins I will absolve
No more than shalt thou mourn
My child !! Reveal not these holy truths to the undeserving , un serving , haters of Lord .Nambi continued, Ramanuja If you value these truths then let not atheists and heretics hear them .Guard them against such . These noble truths are to be shared only with the qualified and the deserving .
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi summed up the full meaning of the eight syllable mantra and the other noble truths hidden in the other Rahasya mantras .The short meaningful sentences offered by Nambi are very useful commandments for all srivaishnavas. The gist of the teachings are the pre requisites to be qualified to be eligible for the Thirumantra and Dwayam teachings . A true Vaishnava is one who develops detachment being amongst the family . Its similar to a worm which lives in the dirty filth but not attached to the surroundings .
Wisdom engulfs the realised who knows this . Over indulgence and developing attachment to the body and people related through this body defeats the purpose of self awakening . Feeling depressed when others are seen happy takes us to a futile decision . Surrender all the evil qualities ..Dont develop Ego , Attachment , Craving , Arrogance , Pride etc the qualities which will shatter your purpose of life . Avoid sensual pleasures that ruins your self. Kill that I in you .
The I which identifies the world around you by calling I , Mine etc .. pulls you to bottomless pit of miseries slowly and invisibly . My name , My caste , My wealth My love all goes on well till your body exists . Realise always , you are not this body but the self . The name remains only with the body . We are a component of the divine spark always remaining in bliss . There are No likes or dislikes …. Taking birth as a brahmin doesn’t qualify one’s birthright to become srivaishnava . One needs to aspire to become a Srivaishnava who sees LORD in all the beings .
A Srivaishnava is not identified with his appearance with his Tilak ( Thiruman) nor the tulasimala . He just lives for helping others . Sri Vaishnavam is not a caste, a group or association, with which one has to associate to reach HIM. It is open to one and all independent of caste, creed, gender and scholarship of the individual. Our Sri Vaishnava siddhantam is as old as Veda itself. All the vedas, upanishads, ithihasa puraanas and the Pancharatra and Vaikanasa Vaishnava agamas undoubtedly establish the supremacy of Lord Sriman Narayana, who is worshipped through the Ashtakshari Mantra .
The moment you identify that you are a srivaishnava you get satvaguna by default . Azhwars have always preached the glory of Namasankeertana and seva. Once you are in this mood , You reach the satwic state both by words and actions . Slowly out of respect to Poorvacharyas and Azhwars you become humble , follow dharma and become a srivaishnava in all aspects .You will slowly have attraction to the Holy name and turn to devotion by absolute surrender.
You will slowly realise being a devotee means you must follow the dharmic principles , and due to that you start loving the devotees . You will seek them , love them and be amongst them always . The only job will be to discuss , recite and celebrate Lords glories and remain in this blissfull state always .Nothing becomes important except HIS service and HIS devotees service .
Once you start developing these spiritual means in your daily life , Lord descends to be with you . Lord out of his causeless mercy lives with you in every moment As the devotee has attained this blissful state , he prays LORD that this state remains forever .
Thus he is always in the devotees association . With this , the devotee decides to remain a servant to the LORD in all aspects just serving HIM with sheer love and depend on HIM for even the breath he inhales .. The devotee slowly identifies his purpose of life and gradually lives seeking it by total surrender .
Once you reach this state, the esoteric truths learnt will become clear and the mantra works in your favour and then the emancipation happens automatically .
Ramanuja felt to himself that as Lord Krishna preached eighteen chapters to Arjuna before revealing the final word , in order to test Arjuna’s mind the eighteen trips imposed upon me by Acharyar was to condition my spirit in seeking the nectar of instructions .
Swamy Ramanuja’s is glorified at various holy places by the following names
SriRangam Koil Udayavar
ThiruAllikeni Lakshmana Muni
Melkote Pesum Yathirajar
Madhurantakam Thiruppavai Jeeyar
Sriperambadoor Bhuthapuri Elayaazhwar
Thirukostiyoor Goshtipuram Emperumanar
Thiruvaali Thirunagari Godagrajar
Srivalliputhur Koil Annan
Azhwar Thirunagari Bhavishyad Acharyar
Thondanoor ( Karnataka) Sri Ramanujar Sheshavataram
Video credits : The Healthy 2010, Hariprasad , RamyaGiri , Ammaskrishna
Pictures : Google images uploaded by several advanced devotees /
Thanks to Sri Varavara muni/Geethacharyan
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan