Friday, November 2, 2007

Ramanuja Vaibhavam Chapter - 008

Guru’s Conspiracy

In the ‘Taittriya’ Upanishad, there is a famous text which declares ‘Satyam, JnAnam, Anantam Brahma…’ While explaining this passage, YAdavaprakAsa committed the fallacy of making the claim that these three terms denote the very essence of Brahman. ElaiAzhwar was not able to accept this explanation and explained that existence, knowledge and infinity are verily attributes of the ParaBrahman, and not its essential nature as claimed by the teacher. He went on articulate his views using the grammatical concept of SamAnAdhikaraNyam. This incident aroused strong fears in the teacher and these fears were like oblations to the fire of enmity raging in his bosom.

Another incident occurred, which made things worse. Once ElaiAzhwAr was applying oil on the body of his master. On this occasion YAdavaprakAsa mangled a word from the ‘ChAndogya Upanishad’ which refers to the eyes of the Supreme Person. His contention was that the word ‘kapyasam’ could only be read as ‘Kapi + Asam’ which would then imply that “NArAyaNA’s eyes were like the nates of a monkey”. On hearing the same, IlaiyaPerumAL’s cheeks were rendered moist and warm by an uncontrollable torrent of tears. When asked to give a reason for his grief, ElaiAzhwAr fearlessly explained that that meaning was incorrect. Much to his teacher’s consternation, he also added that he hadn’t expected such an interpretation from so learned a scholar.

YAdavaprakAsa challenged him to supply a better meaning, and RAmAnujA, whose only intention was to do justice to the statements of the Shruthi, did so without hesitation. His masterful exposition on the etymology of the word ‘Kapyasam’ as ‘Kam+ Pibathi + Aasam’, ( which gives he meaning of the passage as ‘ the eyes of the Parama Purusha , Sriman NArAyaNA are like the choicest of lotuses which blossom In response to the life-giving rays of the sun’).shocked the teacher out of his earlier attitude of indifference.

After this display of superior knowledge on the part of the young LakshmaNan, YAdavA was gripped by fears for the safety of his own philosophical views. He decided to get rid of ElaiAzhwar once and for all and induced some of his favorite disciples to become party to a chilling conspiracy according to which the class would go on a trip to Kashi (a holy city on the banks of the Ganges) and the teacher would get rid of RAmAnujA while bathing in the holy river. YAdavaprakAsA believed that he could do this ghastly thing and make it look like an unfortunate accident.

Accordingly he announced that a trip was to be taken up by all the students and sent them to obtain permission from their parents. RAmAnujA, whose mind was always turned towards the ever-auspicious Lord of SrI, did not suspect a thing and promptly obtained his mother’s assent.

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