Purging the mind of ego: Ramanujacharya Jayanti

Purging the mind of ego: Ramanujacharya Jayanti
Highlights

A great saint and a social reformer, Ramanujacharya was the one to preach among the masses the way of Bhakti[Devotional cult] in 12th century. Once, during his early phase of Sanyasa ashram [life of austerity], as he came back after taking bath from the nearby river and entered his temple, he encountered a valmiki-woman [sweeper] sweeping the path leading to the temple.

A great saint and a social reformer, Ramanujacharya was the one to preach among the masses the way of Bhakti[Devotional cult] in 12th century. Once, during his early phase of Sanyasa ashram [life of austerity], as he came back after taking bath from the nearby river and entered his temple, he encountered a valmiki-woman [sweeper] sweeping the path leading to the temple.

“Move-move away!” Ramanujacharya lashed out at her scornfully; “defile not the environment around here”
“Your holiness! The environment is all-pervasively sacred; you please tell me where to move so that it may not be defiled because of my presence,” the woman pleaded, standing with folded hands, hinting him[Ramanuja] the advaita[monism] philosophy of oneness of Brahma and everything Universe composed of .
Deeply stunned by her reply, Ramanujacharya fell flat on her feet, saying, “Devi [goddess- like woman]! You taught me today what the supreme truth of all- pervading Brahma is. You will ever dwell in my life as a Guru henceforth.”
And, thus, the teaching he gained from his Guru, the valmiki-woman, got to be very embodiment of his conduct throughout his life. He had the habit of taking bath in the river. In the old age when the physical weakness rendered him unable to walk on his own, he used to take the support of Brahmins while reaching the river; and, that of so-called low-castes while returning from there. People around there were surprised to see this quaint behavior of Ramanujacharya.
“Your holiness”one of them ultimately outpoured his sentiments before him one day, “what is the use of taking such bath, when you get to be defiled by the contact of low-castes”
“Bathing purifies my physical body, but not mind”, Acharya answered, grinning. ‘The complex of being superior to the others is all what is called ego, which is a greatest obstacle in the path of the progress of the man. After cleaning the dirt of physical body by bathing, I purge the mind of ego by coming into contact with the low-castes. I am not superior to anybody, nor anybody is inferior to me this feeling makes me one with divine bliss.’
By Er Rajesh Pathak
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