One day when the monks woke in the morning, they found their loin-cloths and towels misplaced. Frantically they searched everywhere and even accused each other of negligence and incompetence. Ramanuja acharya entered the ashram premises, and smiled at them; they had been exposed! Immediately they realized they too had material attachments- petty towels and loin cloths had engulfed their consciousness so much that they squabbled and indicted the other ashram members. Humbled, they begged forgiveness from their guru.
Ramanuja acharya then asked his disciples that it’s time he exposes his householder disciple couple, Dhanurdas and his wife. The monks were delighted to hear that their guru didn’t actually think highly of Dhanurdas. Ramanuja then revealed a plan.
The monks quietly sneaked into the house when Dhanurdas was out. His wife was resting, and the monks, as ordered by Ramanuja, stole valuables from the house. She then turned aside in her bed, and that created a noise. Alarmed, the monks rushed out of the house with whatever valuables they had stolen.
Ramanuja acharya then asked his disciples to stand outside the windows and door of Dhanurdas’s house, and wait for him to return. Then the conversation between the husband and wife which the monks would hear would reveal their material attachments. Soon Dhanurdas arrived, and his wife explained what had happened.
“I think our gurudev and his disciples are in need of money”, said the lady. “They came to pick up what they want, and I wished to give them everything. I quietly turned over so that they would look at my precious earrings and steal them also. However, seeing my movement, they panicked and left. I wish I could have given them more, but if I did so, they’d have got embarrassed.”
“You foolish woman,” exclaimed Dhanurdas, “why did you move and cause fear in their hearts? There surely is some serious need of money and they came quietly to get it. And this was our golden chance to serve them. Your careless behaviour caused this loss to us. How I wish they had taken all our wealth.”
The monks stood stunned in disbelief! The detachment and devotion of this couple was in stark contrast to their own attachments to trivial things. Ramanuja acharya smiled again. His disciples had learnt a significant lesson. As they returned the jewels to Dhanurdas, they begged forgiveness and revealed how their spiritual master had opened their eyes to the exalted position of Dhanurdas and his wife. Ramanuja acharya revealed that his householder disciples were as renounced and sincere as his sannyasi disciples. He also established that one’s external status doesn’t affect one’s devotional mood and service to Krishna.
To be continued…