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DELIVERANCE OF GOVINDA
A short time after his coming to SrT Rahgam, Ramanuja began to consider the position of his dear cousin, Govinda, who years before had saved him from Yadavaprakasa's murderous plot. He recalled Govinda's simplicity and affection and how he had always been a dear friend to all living entities. While thinking of these things, a desire arose in Ramanuja's heart to bring Govinda to the shelter of Lord Visnu's lotus feet.As we have heard, ever since the fateful pilgrimage to Varanasi, Govinda had been a devout follower of Lord Siva, residing at the holy place known as Kalahasti, which is a place of pilgrimage for all Saivites. Ramanuja's uncle,Sailapurna, a disciple of Yamunacarya, was now living at SffSaila, just a short distance from Kalahasti. Therefore, Yatiraja decided to write him a letter, requesting him to somehow or other make Govinda into a devotee of Lord Visnu. When he received this letter, Sailapurna went to Kalahasti with his disciples and made his camp near a large lake there.Every morning Govinda would come to that lake to bathe and gather flowers for his worship. When he came one morning and found a venerable Vaisnava dcarya seated nearby discussing the scriptures with his disciples, he was intrigued. Being desirous of hearing all that was said, Govinda climbed up a nearby patali tree to pick some flowers. As he listened to Sailapuma's words of devotion, Govinda's mind became more and more attracted to that saintly Vaisnava.When the discourse was completed and Govinda was walking away to take his bath, Sailapurna called out to him, "0 holy man, may I know for whose worship you have picked those flowers." On being told that they were an offering for Lord Siva, he went on, "But how could flowers such as these be desirable for one who has earned the name VibhutiBhusana by smearing himself with the ashes of material desires, which he has burned up knowing them to be the causes of material miseries. Lord Siva dances in the crematorium, being mad for the mercy of Lord Narayana. These flowers should properly be offered to the Supreme Lord Visnu, who is the reservoir of all auspicious qualities and from whom all this universe has come into being. I am surprised to find an intelligent person such as yourself gathering flowers for the worship of Lord Siva."Revered sir," replied Govinda, "in one sense I can see that your words are true, for no offering to the Lord ever benefits that Supreme Person, who is already the possessor of all things. What can I do for the great Lord Sahkara, who is so powerful that he saved the entire universe by drinking an ocean of poison?
Yet still there is some purpose in making such offerings, for by so doing we are able to express our devotion to the Lord. It is the devotion that the Lord appreciates, beyond the meager of¬fering itself."0 Mahatma," said Sailapurna, "I am pleased by your devotion and humility. What you have said is true. What can we offer except self surrender to that Personality, who in the form of a dwarfbrahmana took away all the possessions of the mighty demon king? This complete surrender is the highest form of worship, and by the strength of such surrender Bali Maharaja was able to captivate Lord Vamanadeva. Just try to understand something of the sweetness of the Lord's loving dealings with His devotees, of which you are depriving yourself by abandoning His worship for the sake of Lord Siva."But why are you making a distinction between Visnu and Siva?" said Govinda. "Are they not both Govinda fell down like a rod in front of Sailapurna.aspects of the one Godhead?" When Sailapurna heard this statement of Govinda's, he realized that the young man was not only engaging in demigod worship, but was also influenced by the philosophy of the impersonalists.Every morning Govinda and Sailapurna would meet by the lake and exchange words in a similar vein. Gradually, by hearing the pure theistic phi¬losophy from such a great saint as Sailapurna, Govinda's heart began to change and the desire arose within him to take shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Narayana. One morning he fell down like a rod in front of Sailapurna and begged him for initiation. So it was that Govinda gave up his worship of Lord Siva and took to the path of undeviating devotion to the Supreme Lord, Sri Visnu.After the initiation was performed, Sailapurna instructed Govinda to go to SrT Rahgam to reside with his renowned cousin, Ramanujacarya. However, Govinda's devotion to his guru was so great that he was unable to tolerate the feelings of separation that he was undergoing. Therefore, he soon returned to the city of Sri Saila to render personal service to his spiritual master.