The Magnanimity of our A:cha:ryas (Anecdote from the life of Sri Para:sara Bhattar)

It is common for people to surrender in front of the Divine by openly admitting their limitations and shortcomings. The Wise advice that one should let go of the wrong notion and belief that, if we pray with the attitude, “I am intelligent, cultured and disciplined” God will protect us. Rather, they suggest we should realise and admit our shortcomings while offering our prayers. This is the quality that helps one to transform, believed our elders. They had the habit of rising early in the morning, complete morning chores, visualise the divine form in the mind, and chant His Glory through Slokas and Stotras.

Similarly Sri Para:sara Bhattar once went to the temple of Sri:rangana:ttha and started chanting Sri: Ya:muna:cha:rya:’s sloka from sto:traratnam.

amarya:daha kshudraha chalamathihi
asu:ya:prasavabhu:hu !
krutaghno: durma:ni: smaraparavasaha
vanchanaparaha !!
nrusamsaha pa:pishtaha latthamahamitho:
dukhajaladhe: !
apa:ra:duthi:rnaha tava parichare:yam
charanayo:h !!

He was conveying his inability in front of Lord Rangana:tha, “Filled with all the short comings as mentioned in the above slo:ka, how am I going to come out of this world of sorrows, reach your Divine feet and serve You?”

At that juncture, a person who was jealous of Para:sara Bhattar’s glory and popularity reached the place and started demeaning him in front of all. “This Bhattar, as mentioned in the above slo:ka, doesn’t know his limitations and boundaries, fickle minded, jealous, non-courteous, ungrateful, egotistic, cheat, cruel, etc., In short he is one who has done the worst five sins as described in the scriptures. This is the Truth! Truth! Truth!”, he affirmed. Onlookers were taken aback by his sudden outburst. Meanwhile Bhattar completed his prayers, approached the Vaishnava who was demeaning him gave him the gold ring with an imprint of Sudharshana chakra and also decorated him with the Kashmir shawl he had adorned. Now it was the Vaishnava’s turn to be taken aback and was dumbfounded. Onlookers surprise also knew no boundaries. Some among them commented, Bhattar honoured the Vaishnava out of fear for him.

Comforting all those around Bhattar explained thus, “I did not honour him out of fear. By shouting aloud my shortcomings, which I was also not aware of, in front of the Lord he helped me in my prayers. He helped me in surrendering to the Lord by completely admitting my shortcomings and misgivings. I honoured him out of gratitude for the help rendered. I honoured him with Gold, the one which he loves, rather than with something else, that I love. It is natural for one to honour someone with what they would appreciate, rather than with what the honouring person values. I also followed the same practice.”

It may be surprising to many, that Bhattar instead of punishing the person for his demeaning behaviour forgave and also honoured him wholeheartedly. Taken aback by such unexpected and unprecedented action, it is natural for the Vaishnava to transform. This story is narrated in the commentary written by our a:cha:rya, Thiruna:ra:yana Purathuai on Sri:vachana Bhu:shanamu

As it is said, our acha:rya:s had this uniquevirtue of forgiving even those whom they could easily punish. They lived according to the adage, “Shaktha:na:m Bhu:shanam Kshama:” Forgiving is the crown of all strengths.

When it comes to forgiveness, Ra:ma’s action in forgiving the crow, ka:ka:sura who hurt Si:ta and giving protection to Vibhi:shana, coming from the opponent’s camp, come to our mind. Our a:cha:rya:’s actions were exemplary on the same line and a
direction for us to lead our lives.

– By Balaji Gorantla, Chennai