Bhadarva Sud 2, Wednesday 23 Aug 2017

The Ungrateful (Sevakram)

Nilkantvarni left Manasputtan to continue his journey south and came to a town called Venkatodri, now known as Venkatachal and also as Tirumalai, which lies at the foot of a range of seven mountains. Nilkantvarni climbed the seventh mountain where there is a Shreenivas Temple known as Tirupati Balaji. Nilkantvarni did darshan and stayed for a few days, then recommenced His walk southwards towards Shetubandh Rameshwar to complete the pilgrimage of the south.

Along His travels, He met a knowledgeable sadhu called Sevakram who was also on his way to Shetubandh Rameshwar. Sevakram suffered from a disease called Dysentery and while travelling, Sevakram grew very weak. Nilkantvarni witnessed this and said, "Worry not, I will look after you during your illness." On the outskirts of a nearby town there was a banana tree and it was at this point that Sevakram became so weak that he could walk no further. Nilkantvarni collected the large banana leaves and made a soft bed for Sevakram. Nilkantvarni served Sevakram until he regained his strength, Nilkantvarni would bathe him, feed him and obtain whatever Sevakram would request.

Sevakram was a wealthy person and would give Nilkantvarni money to buy food, but did not share this food with Nilkantvarni. Instead after serving Sevakram, Nilkantvarni would have to go back to the nearby town to beg for food. There were many times when Nilkantvarni received little or nothing from Biksha hence He often went hungry for long periods. This continued for a period of about two months, then Sevakram started to recover and regain his strength. Together, they walked towards Shetubandh. Sevakram had a lot of heavy baggage (some books weighed as much as 40kg) which he made Nilkantvarni carry, while he carried only his mala. Sevakram was now fit enough to eat half a kilo of pure ghee, yet he still made Nilkantvarni carry his belongings. Having looked after and attended to Sevakram in this manner, Sevakram did not once show his gratitude to Nilkantvarni. Not once did Sevakram offered to buy food for Nilkantvarni or ask Nilkantvarni to eat with him. Considering him to be an ungrateful person, Nilkantvarni abandoned Sevakrams company and walked alone to Shetubandh.[One must serve a person in need and not expect anything in return. However, one must part company of those ungrateful as they are sinners.] (Shikshapatri Verse 26.)

On his path Nilkantvarni came to place called Shivkanchi, here Parvati Devi (Lord Shiva's wife, the mother of Lord Ganesh) performed Tapasya to please Lord Shiva. Nilkantvarni moved on after doing darshan of Lord Shiva and came to place called Shreerang Shetra. River Kaveri flowed through Shreerang Shetra. Here Nilkantvarni took a bath. On the eastside of the river there was a beautiful garden full of fruit trees and flowers. Nilkantvarni stayed at this garden for two months preaching the people of Shreerang Shetra. He preached that Lord of Laxmi, Vishnu, can be realised by practising devotion. The people were pleased and started to consider Nilkantvarni to be the incarnation of Laxmi Narayan. Nilkantvarni recommenced his journey towards Shetubandh Rameshwar.

Arriving in Shetubandh Rameshwar, Nilkantvarni bathed in the sea and did darshan of Rameshwar Mahadev. This is one of the twelve holy places where you will find a Joyotiling also known as Shivling. The Shivling found in Rameshwar was installed and worshipped by Ramchandraji, Lord Rama [Lord Rama stayed here while building a bridge across the sea to Lanka, with the help of Hanumanji, to conquer the evil demon Ravan - King of Lanka]. Nilkantvarni stayed here for two months, preaching the path of devotion and worship - the principle teaching of Ramanujacharya. Nilkantvarni continued walking and soon came to Sunderaj Shetra (Algar Perumal) near Madhurai.