Once, a grand Brahmotsava festival was being celebrated at Sri-Rangam and the Lord was taken out in a procession on Garuda as part of the festival. A lot of devotees had come from different places to witness the festival and Sri-Rangam was fully crowded. As the festival was about to conclude, most of the devotees were planning to return and were busy buying prasadam to start their return journey. After taking part in the festivities and receiving the prasadam from the chief priest of Lord Ranganatha’s temple, Ramanuja was returning to his ashram along with his disciples. Ramanuja was walking with his hands on the shoulders of Dasarathi and was narrating the glories of taking part in the Garuda Seva of Lord Ranganatha. All of a sudden his attention was drawn towards a well built young man who was walking backwards with his eyes and attention focused on the bewitching eyes of a young damsel who was walking along with him. The young man was so engrossed in enjoying the beauty of the lady’s eyes that he was oblivious of his surroundings and was shamelessly admiring her beauty.
Ramanuja was too shocked to see the shamelessness of the young man. He asked one of his disciples to bring the young man to him. One of the disciples went to the young man and stood close to him. The young man noticed Ramanuja’s disciple and, with folded hands, said, “Sir, what brings you here? A learned Brahmana like you are worthy of respect. Please tell me if I can do anything for you.”
Ramanuja’s disciple said, “I am one of the disciples of the great Yatiraja. I was going with my master and his graceful glance fell on you due to your good fortune. Yatiraja has asked me to bring you to his presence out of his causeless mercy.”
Though the young man was reluctant to go, he could not say no to the Brahmin after hearing the name of Yatiraja as he was very popular and widely respected. The young man went to Ramanuja’s presence and offered his obeisance to Ramanuja and stood by the side of one of the disciples with folded hands.
Ramanuja said, “Where do you come from? What brings you here? Why are you shamelessly looking into the eyes of that young lady in full public view? How can you be so enamored by an ordinary female and shamelessly adore her like that?”
The young man said, “I am, Danurdasa, a wrestler from Nichulapuram and I had come here to witness the Garuda Seva of the Lord. She is Hemamba and I am madly in love with her. The beauty of her eyes is such I cannot take my eyes off her and it can captivate anyone. Though I am not married to her I have resolved to marry her and not look at anyone else.”
Ramanuja was stunned at the reply given by Danurdasa and started to admire the amazing power of prakriti (material nature), its ability to influence the minds of people and to keep them in its grip. Ramanuja said, “What will you do if I show you a pair of eyes that are many times more beautiful and captivating than the eyes of your lady love?”
Danurdasa said, “I have not come across the eyes that are more beautiful than that of Hemamba. If you can show me the pair of eyes that are more beautiful than hers I will became a slave to those eyes and spend the rest of my life in their service.”
Out of his causeless mercy, Ramanuja had decided to reform Danurdasa and, in accordance with his plan, Ramanuja asked Danurdasa to meet him near the main gate of the temple that evening before leaving for his ashram. Danurdasa decided to come back along with Hemamba that evening to find out if he could see a pair of eyes that were more beautiful than Hemamba’s.
We will reveal more about Ramanuja in the next post.