Pillai Uranga Villidasan was a powerful wrestler. Not just any ordinary wrestler but one of very high standing. Almost all the wrestlers in the Chola Kingdom used to pay him a ‘protection fee’.
A Famous Wrestler was majestic in his looks and a terror to his rivals naturally There was a beautiful lady in the village Ponnachi. (Pon in Tamil means gold.) Every one who saw her swore that she richly deserved her name. Her complexion, came closest to the yellow metal. Her dance-like walk, her height and her dimpled cheeks made her the much-acclaimed beauty in her village. But the most prominent feature of her face was her eyes , very large, round and from which you cannot take your eyes off.
Ponnachi’s beauty was at least as well known as Villi’dasan s prowess. Villidasan was a very good man and had never abused his strength or position. And yes, he was the most eligible, most sought after bachelor in his town. As it would happen in love stories, he heard of Ponnachi’s beauty and set out to see her, more out of curiousity than anything else. Once he saw her eyes, he could not think of anything else. As if possessed he sought her hand in marriage, something which Ponnachi was only too eager to give. Villidasan was virtually consumed by his love for the damsel.
He was just thinking of nothing else other than his lady love. Villidasan and Ponnachi got married on an auspicious day. Their married life was most blissful in karmic world , which never ended. They had been married for years. Still to Villidasan Ponnachi was the most beautiful woman in the world with the most beautiful eyes. It was spring time. Festival time at Capital town of Srivaishnavisim , Srirangam. ( Vasanthotsavam).
Ponnachi wanted to see the festival. To Villidasan her slightest whim was a Royal Command.
He made elaborate arrangements to ensure a comfortable travel for Ponnachi. She was borne in a palanquin till the main street of Srirangam where she had to get down and walk. Ponnachi got down from the palanquin.
Villidasan who was standing nearby was stunned by her beauty. She was dressed up in an exquisite silk saree. What captivated his attention even after years of marriage was her eyes. Villidasan could not take his eyes away from hers. As she started to walk towards the temple, Villidasan did the unthinkable. He was walking backwards facing her, unable to see anything else but her large eyes.
Those who saw this amusing sight giggled. Some even laughed out aloud. Villidasan gave a damn to what others thought. Ponnachi was half consumed by shyness and half by pride. She too loved her husband so much that she did not have the mind to object to his act, though she knew that it made people laugh behind their backs.
This strange procession – Ponnachi walking forward, Villidasan walking backwards, and the palanquin bearers and the retinue following Ponnachi – was nearing the temple gate. On the other side of the street, a very great saint was walking away from the temple followed by 1000 of his disciples.
The name of the great saint was Swamy Ramanujacharya. Swamy Ramanujacharya was amused by the strange sight – Ponnachi walking towards the temple followed by her retinue and Villidasan walking backwards unable to take off his eyes from those of his beautiful wife! The great saint was moved on seeing this wonderful sight. He inquired about the couple and then sent word to Villidasan asking him to come and meet him in his Ashram alone.Swamy Ramanuja had decided to do something about that. Now why should Swamy Ramanuja do something about Villi’dasans love? As a spiritual Master of people he instinctively knew that Villi’s love was quite unique.
If only Swamy Ramanujacharya could make people love something as intensely as Villidasan did, yes, he would have made a difference in their lives.At the same time if he showed Villi’s love as an example to be followed,then ignorant people might mistakenly think that they also should love Ponnachi. In other words at the present level Villidasan’s love is not a copyable, replicable model. So Swamy Ramanuja wanted to first shift Villi’dasans love to something else and then make people understand the greatness of love. And in order to make so many people understand the meaning of love, there is no harm in shifting one person’s object of love.
So Villidasan was excited .He came running to see Acharya in his Ashram as soon as he got his call.It was late in the night. The Srirangam temple would be closed for the day in another half an hour. Swamy Ramanuja wanted to accomplish his mission within that time.
He asked Villidasan in a sarcastic tone,“Aren’t you shy , Villidasan ! to be seeing your wife’s eyes, when Lord’s festival is on?” Villidasans ’s reply was a correct blend of humility and the force of truth.
Acharya … But ……“Is there anything more beautiful than my wife’s eyes?” Swamy Ramanujacharya was waiting for this question.
“What …..will you do if I show something more beautiful than that?”
Now Villi knew for sure that there was nothing like that and so his words came with confidence.
Then …… “Then I will fall in love with those eyes.
Ponnachi and I will be your slaves for the rest of our lives.”
“Deal. Come with me.”
Swamy Ramanujar took Villidasan to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
The Lord of Love, Sri Ranganathar, Thiruvarangan, was sleeping in his comfortable snake-bed .
Then the great Acharya took hold of Villidasan’s hands. The Acharya’s touch sent waves of electric shock in his body. Swamy Ramanujar closed his eyes and prayed to the Lord.
“Oh, Lord, here’s is an example of perfect love. And the whole world is steeped in misery unaware of this kind of love. I want the people to know that there is something like this love and that every one of us is capable of it. For that you need to give these two people to me.
“I know that these two people are as precious to you as your Devis and are holier than the holiest scriptures ever written on you.
I promise you my Lord, I’ll give them the reverence they deserve.
Now please, LORD Ranganatha show the beauty of your eyes to this man of love.”
A selfless prayer!
Two loving souls standing before Him!
Lord Ranganathar was helpless!
He had to grant the Acharya’s wish. And the great Lord, whose eyes are not to be seen even by the highest of Devas and the wisest of Rishis, whose Feet cannot even be touched by Vedas and all the knowledge in the world, opened his most beautiful eyes for Villidasan to see.
Villidasan was awe-struck; no he was love-struck. The sight lasted for a fraction of a second. Villidasan instantly fell in love with those large, beautiful eyes, for which nothing in the world is even a pale comparison.
Villi prostrated at Sri Ramanujar’s feet proclaiming his slavery to the saint.
Swamy Ramanuja lifted him as a loving father would lift his loving son.
Swamy Ramanujar’s eyes were so full with tears, his heart so full with love that for a few seconds he could not talk.
Villidasan continued to be in a state of ecstasy. If God decides to show His eyes even for a nanosecond, the effect will last for centuries, extending into millions of life –times, for ever, for eternity and even thereafter. When he went back to Ponnachi that night and told about his experience, she was also transformed. She did not whine that her husband had found out another object of love.
She was ecstatic because she was the loving wife of a man to whom even the Great God had shown His eyes. The next morning Pillai Uranga Villidasan gives awayall his possessions, erects a small hut near Swamy Ramanuja’s Ashram and starts living there along with Ponnachi serving Swamy Ramanuja the entire life ….
Today is the appearance day of this great devotee .Let us seek our Acharyar to bestow devotion to Lord always ..
Another divine pastime is appended in the below link ..
Sri.Pillai Uranga Villidasar thiruvadigale sharanam.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures : Courtesy Google Images shared by several devotees
Thanks to Shri V. Rengasamy for the inspiration given from the book Oh My God ..