Varadaraja was the cook of the brilliant Vaishnavacommentator Peria Vachan Pillai. One day Varadaraja
happened to hear some scholars engaged in a discussion and asked them what they were discussing. The scholars held the cook in contempt, because he was not educated. So they replied, “Musalakisalayam.”
There was no such work in existence, said AkkarakkaniSrinidhi in a discourse. And what was more, it was a mocking
reference to Varadaraja’s lack of education for,
Musalakisalayam referred to the pounding stone used to
pound grains. In other words, they were referring to
Varadaraja as one who had the same level of intelligence as a stone!
Peria Vachan Pillai then explained to Varadaraja that therewas no work titled Musalakisalayam and that the word had
been used by the scholars to mock him. Varadaraja requested Peria Vachan Pillai to start teaching him from that day onwards, so that he would no longer be laughed at. In course of time, Varadaraja not only mastered what he was taught, but also became such a scholar that he was himself able to write scholarly treatises.
One of his works was titled Musalakisalayam, the veryword with which he had been mocked. He also wrote a word
by word meaning of all the verses of Tiruvaimozhi, the
magnum opus of Nammazhvar. He acquired the title of
‘Vaadhi Kesari,’ the lion among debaters. He became a
sanyasi and was known as Vaadhi Kesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeer.
His story is an example of how we should not bedisheartened by criticism and mockery.