Dhanurdas was a wealthy businessman and a good wrestler living in Srirangam. He got acquainted with the temple dancer, Hemamba who was extremely beautiful. Her eyes especially were most captivating and Dhanurdas was lost in admiration for them! He was seen very often carrying an umbrella over her head shielding her from the scorching sun.
Once she wished to participate in the annual temple procession of Lord Sri Ranganatha, the presiding deity of Srirangam. And both of them went.
Sri Ramanujacharya, the greatest saint philosophers (born in the year 1017AD) was also there along with his devotees to witness the beautiful procession of Lord Ranganatha. The mangala vadya was playing, the hymns were being chanted and everybody’s eyes were in the direction in which the Lord’s procession was about to enter the street. Sri Ramanujacharya’s eyes suddenly fell on this couple. The Acharya saw the young man, Dhanurdas turned completely in the opposite direction, gazing intensely at Hemamba. Fascinated with her beauty and especially her eyes, he kept looking at her and covering her head with an umbrella to protect her eyes from the sun’s rays! Dhanurdas did not even bother to turn around and look at the Lord’s procession.
Seeing such a public display of enslavement to physical beauty, Sri Ramanujacharya was filled with compassion for this mortal soul. He summoned Dhanurdas and asked him as to what made him turn away from the Lord, when everyone present there were craving for a glimpse of the Lord. Without batting an eyelid, he said, “Her beautiful and enchanting eyes! I have not seen a pair of eyes more beautiful than these!!” The Acharya challenged him saying what if he showed a more beautiful pair of eyes – most beautiful in all the whole world. Dhanurdas said that it was impossible. Sri Ramanujacharya insisted. Dhanurdas accepted the challenge and said if that be true, he would from then onwards follow that person if he found the eyes more enchanting and captivating than Hemamba’a eyes.
Sri Ramanujacharya asked Dhanurdas to follow him and they entered Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple. The Acharya went inside the inner sanctum and invoked the Lord: “O! Lord, Most Compassionate One! Here is a lost soul who can be reclaimed and redeemed if you but cast one loving glance at him”. The doors were opened to have darshan of the Lord. The Lord’s divine, beautiful, and captivating eyes moved! The Lord’s grace descended on Dhanurdas. Witnessing the never before seen Lord’s resplendent divine form and eyes, Dhanurdas broke down and surrendered himself completely to the Lord. Dhanurdas subsequently became one of the greatest disciples of Sri Ramanujacharya. He became one of the greatest Bhagavathottama, whose devotion to Lord Ranganatha was considered to be on par with that of Azhwars.
[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]