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Story of Dhanurdasa and Sri Ramanujacharya – Fascination for Physical Beauty

The story of Dhanurdasa and Sri Ramanujacharya is associated with the famous Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. The story narrates about the futility of the fascination of physical beauty.

It was the Brahmotsavam festival at Srirangam Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple. Hundreds of men and women had gathered to see Sri Ranganatha go on a procession seated on the shoulders of Garuda, his ratha.

The Lord came out led by priests chanting the mantras, devotees singing His glories and musicians creating a wonderful melody. In the vast gathering, everyone had their eyes focused on the Lord and His consort Mother Lakshmi.

But amidst them walked a handsome, strong man holding a big umbrella over the head of a beautiful, large-eyed young lady, Hemamba. Sri Ramanujacharya noticed the young man who had eyes for nothing but the beauty of his woman.

The Acharya sent for him and asked what he saw in the woman that made him forget the world and walk happily without shame or fear of public censure.

Dhanurdasa, the young man, replied that of all the beautiful things on earth, his lover’s bright eyes were the most bewitching and he could not take his sight away from her eyes.

Taking pity on Dhanurdasa, Sri Ramanujacharya asked if he would give up his fascination for physical beauty if he showed someone who had more beautiful eyes. Dhanurdasa agreed.

That evening Sri Ramanuja took him to the shrine of Sri Ranganatha. As the priest waved the camphor flame in front of the Lord, His two large lotus eyes dazzled the assembled devotees. Standing beside the Acharya, Dhaurdasa shed tears of joy and experienced great love for the Lord.

The divine vision, received by the grace of the Acharya, awakened Dhaurdasa from his slavery to the senses and he surrendered at the Acharya’s feet. His lover Hemamba too followed him. Overcoming worldly longings, they both matured into great devotees of the Lord.