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15. Hastamalakiya


Sriveli was the home of nearly two thousand Brahmin families. The Brahmins of the place were all very devoted to the faith they held and they preserved, according to tradition and rule, the sacred fire ever aflame in their homes and were highly proficient in the performance of Vedic rituals. They accorded the Acharya a right royal welcome befitting a deity and received him with all honors. Right in the middle of Sriveli was situated a fascinatingly beautiful temple of Hara Parvati. After offering worship to the parents of the universe, the Acharya lodged at a convenient place. Crowds of people came to his abode for the pleasure of a sight of his holy being. His exposition of the Advaita philosophy charmed the hearts of all the hearers.

Prabhakara was a Brahmin resident of Sriveli. He was earnest in the performance of his religious duties and was well versed in the scriptures. However, his only son, who was then thirteen years old, was totally dumb. The parents were naturally disconsolate. Hearing of the glories of the Acharya, Prabhakara led his son to the holy presence of the Acharya along with pious offerings of fruits and sweets. His only desire was to redeem his son from his dumbness by making him the recipient of the Acharya's grace.

The deficient boy no sooner saw the Acharya than he fell at his feet. Prabhakara prostrated at his feet with deep devotion and told him, "Lord, kindly explain to me, for what reason this boy is mute. With great I got his Upanayana ceremony performed. But the boy speaks not a word. Till now he has not even learnt the alphabets and there is no question at all of his reading the Vedas and other sacred scriptures. Never once has he called out to his father or mother. Never does he express his feeling of hunger and thirst. You are an ocean of compassion. Please bestow your grace on him and make him normal".

Acharya was quick to act. No sooner had Prabhakara made his request than the Acharya accosted the boy with a verse of queries.

"Dear child, Who art Thou? Whose art Thou? Where to art Thou going? What is Thy name? Whence hast you come? Do Thou satisfy me by telling me of all these things in a clear manner. Thy sight has kindled extreme delight in me".

The boy looked straight into the Acharya's shining eyes and spoke out immediately a reply in a very sweet voice and also in a verse:

"I am not a human being, nor God nor Yaksha. Neither Brahmin nor Kshatriya nor Vysya nor Sudra am I. A Brahmachari nor a householder nor a forest-dweller nor a mendicant I am. I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As the sun is the impeller of all human efforts, likewise, He who is the impellent of the working of mind and eyes and of all the sense faculties, who is without adjunct and vast as the sky, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

Like the warmth of the Fire whose Eternal nature is that of consciousness, who is immovable and without a Second, holding on to Him do the inert objects-sense faculties- like mind and eyes and others engage themselves in their several activities, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As the reflected image in the mirror which is not a different entity from the object, like unto that the reflected image of the Self in the mirror of mind, the apparent appearance of consciousness, termed as living being, He who is inseperate from the Brahman, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As when the mirror is removed the image disappears and the inconceivable only True face remains, likewise when the faculties of the mind are checked, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As even when bereft of sense faculties like the mind, eyes etc He who shines behind the mind of the minds, eye of the eyes, and still who is beyond the reach of the sense organs of mind-eye-and others, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As the sun, who at the same time gives light to many eyes and makes visible the different objects, likewise, the one and the only reflector of all the faculties of the mind, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As by reflecting the sunlight the eyes are able to see things, likewise, the Sun becomes manifest by the effulgence of Him and imparts visibility to the eyes, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As the one Sun reflected appears in several forms according to whether the surface of the water is calm or ruffled, likewise, He who though being one appears as different in different shapes to minds calm or ruffled, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As the most ignorant of minds think the Sun to be clouded and non- luminous, likewise, the ignorant minded take it as a bound one, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity.

As he alone who, in all living beings and different objects, exists, still whom none of them can touch, he who is like the sky ever pure and serene, I am that Ever Self-aware Entity".

That a boy who had been dumb right from birth should answer the Acharya's questions by means of a verse revelatory of the nature of the Self was something which astounded everyone there. The Acharya told the disciples, “This boy is surely a knower of Brahman. Were he not, he could not have given such a profound description of the nature of the Self in a manner, so full of the nature of the knowledge of the reality. Like a Myrobalan fruit -Amalaka, in the hand, is the knowledge of Brahman within easy reach and in the palm of this boy. This hymn sung out by him will go down famous as the Hastamalaka hymn".

Acharya heartily blessed the boy and then spoke to his father Prabhakara, “Oh son, your home is not the place for this boy. As a results of meritorious deeds of a very high deed in his last birth, and by virtue of a hard penance, this boy is established in the knowledge of the Brahman. This explains his dumbness. He is hence so reluctant to exchange words with anyone. He tarries on in this body just to live out the momentum of his previous births. He has not consciousness of the ego of his body. What awareness and recognition of worldly relations and of father and mother can you expect of him? All that he is the Being which is knowledge Absolute. Leave this boy with me forever".

Prabhakara was not prepared for this proposal. He remained stunned. Till then, he had, at least, a mute boy to claim as his son, but now along with the joy of seeing his muteness cured came the shock of having to lose him altogether. Heaving a deep sigh he said, " Lord, all that you say may be true. But how indeed can I live on without my only son with me? I simply cannot think of it. Besides, his mother has all her life centered around him. I shall acquaint her with the happenings and let you know".

Prabhakara went to the Acharya next morning with his wife and son. The mother literally bathed the Acharya's feet in tears and prayed on to him weeping, " O God-like Acharya, may you shower your grace on me and restore my son to normalcy. Anything is possible to you if you but will it. Even the dead comes back to life if you just give a call. Deprived of my son, how can I live my life? Cure him of his present malady but leave him to remain with me".

The mother's wailing filled the Acharya's heart with pity. But he saw what she did not, and he, deigned to enlighten her. In his sweet and comforting voice, he told her, " Mother, calm yourself. Grieve not for your son vainly. A Siddha Yogi is now inhabiting your son's body. Therefore you can never succeed in making your son take an interest in the ordinary worldly life".

This information came as a surprise to the parents. Not knowing what to say or do, they gazed at the Acharya. Acharya then desired to rouse their memory of a past incident and spoke to the woman saying, “Perhaps you remember that when your son was two, you left the child in a hut on the banks of river Yamuna and went to the river for a dip. The boy was playing about and fell into the river and was drowned. You recovered the dead body and came to a Yogi, who was engrossed in Samadhi on the banks of the Yamuna nearby. Your cries melted the Yogi's heart and by means of his Yogic power, he entered the child's body. And your son rose back to life and activity. It is that perfected soul that inhabits your body. That is how your son is a man of perfect wisdom. And so, you can never make him lead a worldly life. I have had to narrate all this divine happenings only to convince you".

The words of the Acharya helped the parents to recall the incident of the past. The son too, for the first time spoke to the woman saying, “Mother, you are now acquainted with my identity. Why do you strive to bind me to a life of worldliness? Do please grant me your permission cheerfully to stay with the great Acharya. I pray that you may become the mother of a worthy and good son, and my prayer shall not go in vain".

They parents were wondering if they were having a dream, so quick and sudden had the march of incidents been. They concluded that it was all the dispensation of the providence. The Acharya too advised them to bow to the inevitable and wisely, let the ordained course of events have its way. The bereaved Brahmin couple saw wisdom in Acharya's words and returned home in a pensive mood.

The Acharya initiated the boy into the discipline of Sanyasa according to the sanctioned mode of the scriptures. He was named Hastamalaka Acharya. No longer was the boy dull and no longer was he mute. His countenance was aglow with the brilliance of the knowledge of the Brahman. Out of his mouth now flowed words of Supreme Truth. He became one of the foremost disciples of the Acharya.

Having accomplished his task in Sriveli, the Acharya now proceeded towards Sringeri. For the fulfillment of the divine task, he was going like a mountain stream torrentially crossing all obstacles and dangers, making out a path for himself by throwing out rocks as it were that came in front, establishing new columns of glory in the inward march of Sanatana Vedic Dharma.

The Acharya brought the sweet nectar of comfort for the suffering hearts of those, who were born out with pain and obstruction, troubled with doubts and disbelief, overcome with desire and pride, he went on proclaiming the message of hope and joy, showing the path to the all-pervading bliss in the Supreme Parabrahman.