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MEETING WITH THE HUNTER
When Ramanuja heard from Govinda of the plot that was threatening his life, he was at first stunned and completely bewildered. It was just half an hour before nightfall; he was a young man of only eightŽeen years, alone and friendless in a land far from his home. Then suddenly he felt great strength and courage enter his body. "Why should I be afraid?" he considered, "Is Lord Narayana not the protector of His devotees? Therefore what have I to fear from the darkness of the forest?" Thinking like this, he turned his face resolutely towards the south and began walking quickly through the forest. Sometimes he thought he could hear faint voices calling him in the distance, but he never hesitated and continued on his course.He travelled for most of the night, until eventually, exhausted by hunger and fatigue, he rested beneath a large tree. He awoke the following day, refreshed and vigorous once more. Already it was afternoon, and so he prepared to continue on his journey. While he was considering which direction he should take, he saw a fowler couple approaching him. The hunter's wife said to him, "Is it because you have lost your way that you are sitting here alone in the forest? You look like the son of a brahmana. Where is your home?"My home is far from here," replied Ramanuja, "way to the south. Have you heard of a place called KahcTpuram?"
"How is it that you are so bold as to journey alone through this dense forest, which is infested with robbers and wild animals?" asked the hunter. "I know KancTpuram very well, and, as it happens, we are also going in that direction."
Ramanuja was very surprised to hear this, and so he asked, "Where are you from and for what reaŽson are you going to KancT?We are forest dwellers," came the reply, "and live in a small village near the Vindhya Mountains. Because we have made our livelihood by catching birds, we are now going on pilgrimage to Ramesvaram and KancTpuram to free ourselves from the reactions to so many sinful activities. It seems that the Supreme Lord, who gives shelter to everyone, has brought you to us for protection.At first Ramanuja was a little afraid of the tall, darkskinned stranger, but there was something about the affection in his face and the sweetness of his words that quickly dispelled all the misgivings from the young brahmanas mind. As it was by now almost evening time, the fowler said, "Let us go quickly through this forest region, and then we can camp for the night near an underground river that is not too far from here.They set off at once and about an hour later came to the banks of the river. The fowler collected some pieces of wood and lit a fire. Then he prepared a camp site, so that they could spend the night there. Just before he fell asleep,Ramanuja heard the fowler's wife say to her husband, "My dear, I am feeling very thirsty. Can you look for some water for me?Now the night has come," said the fowler, "and it would be foolish to leave the shelter of the firelight. Tomorrow you will be able to quench your Three times he brought water to her, but still her thi was not satisfied.thirst with the cool waters of a well that is just near here.