The Hunter Couple
Sleep gave way to wakefulness and ElaiAzhwAr sat upright, without a clue as to what he was going to do about his predicament. As he commended himself to the care of Sriman nArAyaNA, he heard the sound of someone moving towards him. A hunter and his wife approached him, stepping out of the darkness. With parental concern evident in every syllable, they asked the young rAmAnujA, “dear Son! What are you doing in this dark jungle which is home to many dangerous animals? Where are you going?”
LakshmaNan wiped his eyes with his knuckles, and realizing that it was not a dream, spoke to them in a clear, but tired voice. ‘I was en route to KAnchi. I seem to have lost my way.’ The Hunter smiled at him and said, “We are coming from Uttar Pradesh and are heading towards Sethu Samudram via KAnchi. If you are happy to walk with us, we will accompany you.” ElaiAzhwar was more than happy to accept their gracious offer. The couple gave the famished lad, nuts and fruits to appease his hunger, and he rejoiced in Their kindness.
The incarnation of AdiseShA reprised his role as a companion to the divine couple (for indeed, the Hunter was Hari, and His wife, HariNi). This time, however, it was an unconscious gesture on the part of the young rAmAnujA.
ElaiAzhwar told the hunter that he felt a strange kinship with LakshmaNan who had accompanied RAmA and SitA to the jungle, during the TretA YugA. The bemused hunter, asked the sincere child to narrate the story to him, as they made their way to the holy city.
ElaiAzhwar with much enthusiasm took it upon himself to narrate the Ramayana to the hunter and his wife. Daylight was replaced by the darkness of night, and the threesome decided to remain in a safe place until daybreak. The Hunter woman complained of an irresistible thirst and asked for water. The Hunter informed her that there was a well near their temporary camping spot and asked her to bear with her thirst until daybreak.
On hearing this exchange, ElaiAzhwar decided to help them and went in search of the well. He found it soon enough and returned with water that was as pristine as it was sweet. On tasting the water which was very sweet, the hunter woman asked for more. When he returned with water a second time, the hunter and his wife were not to be found. In the meantime the day had already begun. Seeing the sun brightening the horizon, ElaiAzhwar went in search of human settlements. He found a few people coming out on the streets. He stopped them and asked them the name of the place. The reply surprised him. One of the bystanders pointed in the direction of the PuNyakoti VimAnam, and said ‘of course this is the holy city of kAnchi. Perhaps you are a stranger to these parts.’ rAmAnujA was assaulted by a bewildering array of emotions.
He was surprised to know that he had come to kAnchi overnight. He was sad that he had not been able to thank the Hunter Couple for their kindness. He was happy to have reached home. When these emotions subsided, his mind was illumined by the light of divine insight. The hunter and his wife were none other than the Divine Couple. Perundevi and PaeraruLALan the pride of kAnchi. He hastened home, and narrated his experiences to his mother and wife who listened with great interest and concern. The Lord had announced, in one single gesture, His Will that rAmAnujA should live to spearhead the revival of VaishNava dharmA.