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INITIATION FROM GOSTHIPURNA
After coming to Sri Rahgam, Ramanuja was very pleased to resume his role as the disciple of Mahapurna; through this relationship he felt relief from the sadness that had afflicted him since the disap pearance of Yamunacarya. By his behavior toward Mahapurna, he set the example for all disciples to follow in rendering service to their spiritual master. Under the expert guidance of Mahapurna, he resumed his study of the revealed scriptures. Mahapurna was so impressed by the incomparable genius and Vaisnava qualities of his disciple that he gave his son, PundarTkaksa, to be the disciple of Ramanuja.One evening, when they had completed their studies for the day, Mahapurna said to Ramanuja, "Not far from here is a prosperous town known as Tirukkotiyur. Living there is a great scholar and devotee, Gosthipurna by name, who was born in the Pandya country. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no other Vaisnava like him in this part of the country. If you desire to fully learn the meanŽing and significance of the Vedic mantras, then there is none but he who is qualified to teach you. I advise you to go to Tirukkotiyur without delay and receive the mantra from Gosthipurna.Having received this instruction from his guru, Ramanuja went to Tirukkotiyur a few days later to see Gosthipurna. In the presence of that famous devotee, he offered his prostrated obeisances and begged for the Vaisnava mantra to be bestowed upon him. Gosthipurna, however, was very relucŽtant to impart the secret of the mantra and replied, "You may come here some other day, and I will consider your request." Ramanuja felt very de jected at this reply, and with a heavy heart he returned to sri Rahgam.A few days later a big festival was held in honor of Lord Rahganatha, and Gosthipurna came there to take part in the worship. At that time one of the priests in the temple was inspired by Lord Rahganatha, and he spoke as follows to Gosthipurna, "You should bestow the mantra on My devotee, RaŽmanuja, who is most worthy to receive it.Realizing that the Lord was speaking to him through His servant, Gosthipurna replied, "But my Lord, is it not true that the mantra may only be given to one who has completely purified his mind by long austerities? How can the mantra, which is nondifferent from Yourself, reside in the mind of one who is not pure?To this the priest replied.
You do not understand the purity of this devotee. He is able to deliver all of humanity.After this incident, Gosthipurna began to consider the matter deeply, but still he was unwilling to give the mantra to any other person. Time and again Ramanuja approached him, but repeatedly Gosthipurna refused his request. When his appeals had been denied on eighteen separate occasions, Ramanuja began to feel that there must be some great impurity in his heart and that it was for this reason that Gosthipurna would not bestow his mercy upon him. In this state of dejection, Ramanuja began to shed tears of despair.When some people informed Gosthipurna ofRamanuja's condition, he was moved by pity for the young devotee. Therefore, when Ramanuja came before him again, he spoke to him in a kind way. "Only Lord Visnu Himself is aware of the glories of this mantra. Now I know that you are worthy to receive it, for you are pure and firmly fixed in devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord. At the present time I can find no one but yourself who is fit to receive the mantra, for whoever chants it is certain to go to Vaikuntha at the time of death. Because this manŽtra is so pure and sacred, it must not be touched by the lips of anyone who has material desires. Therefore, you must not disclose the mantra to any other person.Having thus instructed Ramanuja, Gosthipurna initiated him into the chanting of the mantra of eight syllables. Ramanuja was filled with ecstasy to chant this wonderful vibration, and his face began to glow with spiritual effulgence. He considered himself the most blessed of all beings and bowed again and again at the feet of his guru.