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THE FIRST CONFRONTATION
One day when the other students had gone home to take lunch, Yadavaprakasa asked Ramanuja to massage his body with oil. At that time one of the other students returned to the school to discuss with his teacher a passage from the Chandogya Upanisad they had been studying that morning. In particular he inquired about the word kapydsam,hich occurs in the first chapter, part six, verse even. Therein it is stated,apydsam pundankam evam akslni.Following Sahkaracarya's interpretation, Yadavaprakasa began to explain that kapi'dsam referred to the rearend of a monkey and that the whole passage meant that the Supreme Lord had eyes like lotuses as red as a monkey's rearend.
On hearing this horrible explanation of the appearance of his beloved Lord, Ramanuja, who was still massaging his guru, was filled with such intense grief that hot tears immediately began to pour from his eyes. When Yadavaprakasa felt the touch of these tears, he looked up in surprise. Seeing Ramanuja's distress, he asked what was causing him such pain. To this inquiry Ramanuja replied, "0 master, it causes me such suffering to hear this terrible explanation from a great soul like yourself. How sinful it is to compare the beautiful lotus eyes of the Lord to the posterior of a monkey. I never expected to hear such a thing from my teacher.Yadavaprakasa was angered by this challenge from one of his own students, and he replied sharply, "I also am very aggrieved. Impudent words from an inferior are never praiseworthy. If you have become so proud that you think yourself a better teacher than me, then let us hear your explanation of the passage."By your mercy everything is possible," replied Ramanuja.Yadavaprakasa smiled derisively. "Now we are going to see this boy outdo the great Sankara carya," he said.Ramanuja remained peaceful, and when he spoke it was in a very humble way. "Instead of understanding the posterior of a monkey from the word kapydsam," he said, "another meaning is possible. Kd'pi can be taken as kam jalam pibati, that which drinks up the water, or, in other words, the sun. The word dsam also means to blossom, so the whole word kapi'dsam can be understood as that which blossoms under the sun, or, in other words, the lotus flower. Thus we can understand the man' tra of the Upanisad to mean that the Lord has eyes as beautiful as the lotus flower.Yadavaprakasa was very surprised to hear such a clever explanation from one of his own students and he realized that Ramanuja was a staunch adherent of the devotional philosophy of dualism. The devotees understand that the perfection of life is to worship Lord Visnu without any personal desire, and so they never aspire for oneness as the mdyd' vddxs do. This philosophy was directly opposed to the teachings of Yadavaprakasa and after this incident his affection for Ramanuja began to wane.