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Descent of God's grace

CHENNAI OCT.8. The turning point in the life of a spiritual aspirant is when he receives the grace of his spiritual preceptor. It is God who appears as the preceptor at the appropriate time to redeem His devotee from the quagmire of worldly bondage. In some exceptional cases the Lord singles them out for a greater role. The life of Sage Valmiki who became the chosen one to compose the Ramayana is a case in point. Before he came under the grace of Sage Narada he was a hunter who killed for his livelihood. But the Divine name wrought such a transformation in him that a hunter became a sage of great renown. His life and work continue to inspire aspirants on the spiritual path.

Another instance of divine grace has been documented in the life and spiritual ministry of the founding preceptor of the Ahobila Math, Adivan Sathakopa Jeeyar. Hailing from the sacred place of Melkote graced by Ramanuja, Srinivasa as he was known before he renounced the world, was directed to the dense forest of Bhavanasini (Ahobila) where there are nine abodes of the Lord in the man-lion form, Narasimha, when he was a youth of 20 years. An elderly Sannyasin (monk) appeared before him and told him to take to spiritual life totally. He also initiated him and ordained him by giving him the name Sathakopa Yati. Even before he could grasp what was unfolding the Sannyasin disappeared and it dawned on him that God had appeared in person to take charge of his life.

In his discourse, Sri M.V. Ananthapadmanabhachariar said just as the image of the Lord of Melkote followed Ramanuja when he endearingly addressed Him as "Selvapillai", Malola among the nine Narasimha deities in Ahobila came to Sathakopa Yati when he prayed to Him. His mission became clear to him and he established the religious order, the Ahobila Math, in the lineage of Ramanuja, which has been graced by 45 Jeeyars till now. It is also a temple as one of the deities of the Ahobila Divyakshetra is its presiding deity. The association of this Math with Azhwar Tirunagari is traced right from Sathakopa Yati who consecrated the idol of Nammazhwar there after reclaiming it from a riverbed at the instance of the Azhwar himself. He received the title "Van" from the Azhwar and "Adi" from the Lord there. He served Lord Srinivasa by constructing a pathway to Tirumala and was blessed with His vision. Annamacharya was his disciple and he has composed songs on the Lord of Ahobila.

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