The disciple wanted to know how to identify a srivaishnava ? Swamy sent his new disciple from Srirangam to Tirumala to ascertain from the great devotee Ananthazhwan as what was the quality of a srivaishnava . The disciple though bit amused with his Gurus instructions proceeded to Tirumala which took him almost a week to reach the holy place .
Being too hungry he reached the ashram of Sri Anatazhwan and expected some good hospitality from the intimates there . The Ashram was full of bhagavathas who were having the prasadam ( Thadiaaradhanai ) . He did not have a proper place to sit along with the guests in honouring the prasadam. He had to wait until everyone finished their prasad which almost took a long time as there were a good number of piligrims who had come to honour the prasadam.
After some time , Ananthazhwan noticed the new person standing far away . On enquiring from his disciples , he understood he did not have prasad . He felt sorry that he had not partaken the prasad though he was coming from a very long distance .Ananthazhwan went near him and enquired about his coming from Srirangam . The disciple promptly replied that his Acharyar had sent him to ascertain the qualities of a srivaishnava from his holiness and he was waiting for his audience . Ananthazhwan briefly replied that asrivaishnava must be likea crane , like a hen , like salt and finally like a disciple like him .
The disciple honoured the prasad and politely went into the chambers of Swamys Ashram . He pleaded to know the inner meanings of the statement
Swamy Ananthazhwan out of compassion answers the following .
A crane lives on the aquatic creatures near a lake . Though the river has plenty of aquatic creatures , the crane picks up only that which fits its mouth and leaves that which doesn’t suit her . Similarly a srivaishnava must behave in the same manner . There can be several truths in our great works that are intended for our deliverance . A srivaishnava will concentrate only on those truths which belongs to his faith and those which can be adopted and followed by him .
The Hen while moving around heaps of food will pick up the food which is needed , which is the essence and rejects the ones which is not worth .Similarly a srivaishnava will pick up that is essential truths that takes him to Atmagynam and upliftment from this samsara.
Salt retains the same taste both externally and internally . Similarly a srivaishnava is connected with the LORD both internally and externally . Hence must have qualities of a pure devotee .The external signs alone for a vaishnava that decieves the people are dangerous to ones own upliftment and unfit to be srivaishnava . Tilak , kantmala and attire may project a person as a srivaishnava but if it lacks devotion it will doom him . A true Vaishnava would be self effacing while imparting flavor to the lives of others.
The last quality was like the disciple himself , which means the vaishnava who had come from Srirangam did not show any disrespect to the bhagavathaas or publizise his personnel closeness to Bhattar and demanded his authority etc .Instead he was patiently waiting for his turn for prasad and exhibited humility .This is a special quality a srivaishnava that keeps his ego out of reach.
The entire incident reveals that one must reflect on philosophical truths followed by our revered Acharyas and always remain devoted to the LORD.