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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Ramanujacharya > The Life Of Ramanujacarya > CHAPTER ONE > THE CHALLENGE



When he was five years old, Yamunacarya went to study at the school of Bhasyacarya and quickly won his teacher's affection, both for his sweet nature and his ability to learn quickly. He studied hard, and by the time he was twelve  years old he was Bhasyacarya's best student.In those days in India, great scholars used to challenge one another to see who was the more learned in Vedic scriptures and more skilled in the science of logic. While Yamunacarya  was studying at the school of Bhasyacarya, there was a great scholar who lived at the court of the Pandya king. His name was Kolahala, and he was a great favorite of the king because he could defeat any other scholar in a debate.  In fact, the king had passed a law decreeing that every scholar who had been defeated by Kolahala must pay a tax to him every year, if anyone refused he would be put to death.Now Yamunacarya's teacher, Bhasyacarya, had also  been defeated by Kolahala, and so he too was obliged to pay this tax. However, because he was a very poor man, he had not been able to pay for the past two years. One day, when Bhasyacarya was away on business and all the  other students had gone home, Yamunacarya was left alone in the school. At that time one of Kolahala's disciples came there to collect the overdue tax from Bhasyacarya."Where is your teacher?" he demanded in imperious  tones when he saw that Yamunacarya was alone in the school.


"Might I know, sir, who has sent you here?" replied Yamunacarya in a very gentle voice, anxious not to give any offense."What!" exclaimed the disciple, "do you not know that I am a disciple of the greatest and most erudite scholar  in all of India? Kolahala is the terror of all other scholars, and even the great Pandya king is his obedient servant. All those scholars defeated by the great Kolahala must pay a yearly tax or else forfeit their lives. Has your teacher  become insane that he dares to withold payment for two years? Or is it that he intends to challenge my master again, just as a moth rushes into a blazing fire.Yamunacarya was by nature very kindhearted, and he hardly ever  quarreled with his fellow students. However, he also had great love and respect for his teacher. Therefore, when he heard Bhasyacarya being spoken of in that contemptuous manner, he felt such pain at heart that he could not  restrain himself and replied very strongly to Kolahala's messenger. "How foolish you are and how foolish your teacher is as well, for who but the greatest fool would train his disciple to possess such monumental pride, instead of  removing such qualities from his heart. Why should my noble teacher waste his time debating with such a man? Go and tell your master that the lowest disciple of the great Bhasyacarya challenges him to a debate. If he dares to  face me, let him send his reply at once.