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The Life of Kuresan-7

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 22:34:07 PST

Dear friends,

After a few more polite inquiries about the affairs of
Lord Ranganatha's temple, and after a long, pregnant
pause Ramanuja asked the Vaishnava visitor from
Srirangam,"And how is my disciple Kuresan?".

It was then that the visitor, in a voice choked with
pent emotion, narrated to Ramanuja details of the grim
fate that had befallen Kuresan at the hands of the
Chola tyrant, Krimikanta Chozhan.

This is what the gentleman related to Ramanuja who
began listening with rapt attention:

"Sire, after your departure from Sri Rangam,
Sri.Kuresan and Sri.Mahapurna were summoned to the
royal court at Gangai-konda-sozha-puram.

At the court the King thrust a written declaration in
their faces which read:"Nothing higher than Siva
exists", and commanded them both to affix their
signatures to it without protest.

Kuresan refused. He launched into a long and
magnificent recital of authoritative texts and sources
from the Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis and Puranas that
proved that Narayana was the Supreme Principle and
none was  higher than He and hence He was the only
object fit for worship and contemplation.

The Chola King was incensed. Thrusting a writing-quill
into Kuresan's hands he commanded Kuresan again to
forthwith sign the declaration swearing allegiance to
Siva. "If you refuse we shall have your eyes pulled
out here and now!".

On hearing this Kuresan flew into a greater rage.

He grabbed the quill from the King's hands and
said,"But let me save you the trouble, you tyrant, for
I shall pluck out my eyes by my own hand! These eyes
that have set sights on a sinner such as thee have no
further use for me!".

So saying Kuresan plunged the sharp writing-quill into
his own eyes,and extracting ball from socket threw his
eyes on the floor at the King's feet!

The sudden and violent act of martyrdom of Kuresan
struck terror into the hearts of all assembled there!

The cruel King remained unfazed! He turned next to
Mahapurna and commanded him to sign the declaration of
apostasy. The elderly Sire too flatly refused, upon
which the vengeful King ordered his courtiers to
overpower Mahapurna and gouge out the old 'AchAryA's'
eyes without further ado! 

And so was it done without much ado!

Blood streamed out of the eyeless cavities of
Mahapurna and the poignant agony caused may be better
imagined than described.

Kuresa being younger compared to Mahapurna, and of
stronger will, somehow took hold of Mahapurna and both
managed to totter out of the palace with blood and
gore trailing them.

Bearing their pain with a superhuman effort they
trudged some distance to the outskirts of Gangai-konda
-chozha-puram where they were met by Mahapurna's
daughter, the poor girl, AttulAzhAy-piratti. The girl
had come all the way from Srirangam looking for them.
When she saw her father thus, his face now eyeless and
disfigured beyond recognition, she screamed her heart
out in shock. 

Mahapurna being in his declining years, and on meeting
his daughter, now collapsed by the roadside. He could
proceed no further on the road from the Chola capital
to the city of SriRangam. The pain became unendurable.

He lay down with his head resting on Kuresan's lap and
his feet resting on his daugter's and told them that
his mortal end was nearing.

Kuresan's heart broke and he began to wail aloud,"O
Sire, what cruel fate has befallen us and you
especially! Your birthplace is Srirangam and your God
is Ranga and your disciple is the great Ramanuja
himself! And yet to think that your death should be
ordained in a wayside field on the outskirts of
Gangai-konda-chozha-puram! Does this cause you

The old Mahapurna then told Kuresan,"My dear Kuresa,
my beloved AtullAzhAy! Have you not heard that
wherever a Vaishnavan may chance to die, there God is
present with him, even as Rama was present while
Jatayu passed away from this world in the wilderness
of a jungle? 

"And have you not heard, O Kuresa, that the best place
to die is on a SriVaishnavan's lap or house? Am I not
blessed therefore, O Kuresa, to have you cradle me in
your lap as I now breathe my last? Do not gireve!

"Also if not dying on the soil of Srirangam is a cause
of grief, all posterity would think that death in
SriRangam is the only thing in life worthy of
attainment! How ridiculous! No! Our rule is that a
good soul which has surrendered or performed
"prappati" to God may meet its death anywhere and yet
be sure of God beside it!

"And besides, where am I dying here now? Is this not
the land where my great gurus like Nathamuni and
Kurugai-kaval-appan also died? So should I not
consider myself fortunate that I die like them? Grieve
not!", said the venerable Mahapurna. 

He then expired, O Sire, with his thoughts firmly
fixed on his guru Yamunacharya.

Sire, just then a band of SriVaishnavas happened to
pass by. They lent Kuresan a hand and together they
solemnly performed for Mahapurna the special last
rites, the "brahma-mEdha" for the great soul."

********  ************ ************

When Ramanuja heard the above account of the visitor
from Srirangam he sobbed uncontrollably. His sadness
knew no bounds. 

Ramanuja remembered that he owed so much to his mentor
Mahapurna. It was for Ramanuja's own sake that the old
Master had to give his life! Alas, Ramanuja could not
be at his side at the time of his death to perform
obsequies like the son Mahapurna never had!

"In death, as in life, O my dearest Master Mahapurna",
thought Ramanuja silently, " I remain eternally in
debt to you, Sire! How shall I ever repay thee?".
Ramanuja wept like a child.

In sadness there was however a tinge of happiness too
for Ramanuja. "At least my Master did not die
abandoned!", thought Ramanuja, "At least, he was
tended to  in his last moments by none other than my
own dearest disciple,Kuresan!".

   *********         ***********        ************

Thus did Kuresa perform one more poignant deed of
"kainkaryam": Kuresa performed the 'antima-samskAram'
for his guru's guru!



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