Quality 5: Considering Everything as Guru’s Property: Dhanurdaasa and Ponnachi
Dhanurdaasa was one of Swami Ramanujar’s dearest disciples so much so that the Guru would lean on him as he came out of the Kaveri river after finishing his bath. Some of the other disciples resented this because Dhanurdaasa who was a wrestler was not a Brahmin by birth. The Swami understood this and wanted to teach them what are the true merits that adorn a shishya and render him, dear, to the Guru.
Swami Ramanujar arranged for the clothes of these disciples to go missing from the clothesline during the night. The next morning, the shishyas were furious and soon got around to blaming one another for the robbery. The Guru called them and told them to go that night to the home of Dhanurdaasa and steal the jewelry worn by his wife Ponnachi to have the means to procure new clothes.
Swami Ramanujar summoned Dhanurdaasa and engaged him in a deep discussion through the night.
Image courtesy: https://www.tamilibrary.com/ramanuja-comic/
The disciples carefully removed the ornaments on one side of her body. Suddenly Ponnachi moved in her sleep, turning over to the other side. Not wanting to be caught red-handed, the ‘robbers’ ran away from that house and back to the matham. Learning of their arrival, Swami Ramanujar then dismissed Dhanurdaasa for the night. He called the disciples and told them to follow him and watch the proceedings at Dhanurdaasa’s house.
Dhanurdaasa’s wife received him when he reached home.
“What is this strange way of dressing? Why do you have ornaments on only one side of your body? Where are the other side ornaments?” he asked.
“Oh, when I was fast asleep, some poor Srivaishnavaas came in and began removing my ornaments. I became awake but lay still and let them take the jewels because I thought that they must be in grave financial distress to do something like this. Then I thought that I should make it easy for them to take the jewels from the other side of my body too, so I turned, but they ran away.”
Dhanurdaasa was furious.
“Foolish woman! You lost a great opportunity to serve the Srivaishnavaas! Why did you have to move? If you had lain still, they would have found a way to remove the other ornaments, too!”
“But, I was only trying to help them take the rest of my jewels too!” cried Ponnachi.
“What a sense of ego you have! You thought the jewels were your’s! Isn’t everything we have belongs to the Guru? Did you forget that all things we have don’t belong to us, but have only been entrusted to us to take care of them as the Guru’s property?”
In tears, the couple ran to the matham of Swami Ramanujar and threw themselves upon his feet, begging forgiveness. The other disciples were stunned at the sight. The Guru lovingly raised Dhanurdaasa and his wife and asked them to explain what the problem was.
“Acharya! We both have committed a great sin! We are unfit to be your disciples! When you sent your disciples to take your things from our house, Ponnachi should have let them take whatever they wanted, without interfering in the process. But we have failed to do so. Please pronounce a curse on us for this grave offence!!”
Swami Ramanujar turned to the other disciples.
|Image courtesy: https://www.tamilibrary.com/ramanuja-comic/|
“Do you now understand why I lean on this man after my morning bath in the river? Even River Kaveri cannot purify me as completely as the touch of this pure man Dhanurdaasa!”
Points to ponder
How complete was the surrender of Dhanurdaasa and Ponnachi that they had absolutely no attachment to their belongings! All they focused on was the desire to serve even those who resented them. Can we aspire to develop such a vairagya (detachment) and seva (service) that can accelerate our spiritual progress?
Let us pray for divine grace to develop such a spirit like Dhanurdaasa and Ponnachi!
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