CASTE VERSUS VIRTUE …. Swamy Ramanuja’s lesson to disciples…


Pillai Uranga Villidasan  was  a favourite disciple to Swamy Ramanuja .

He became very close to his Master so rare that was his piety  though belonged to a lower caste he had privileges conferred upon him .


Very often Swamy Ramanuja was seen returning from Kaveri leaning on the shoulders of Swamy MudaliAndaan and Villidasan  .

A brahmana is unclean before bath and clean after a bath and the disciples watching were curious with their Masters way why they had not changed places while accompanying Swamy Ramanuja .


They took courage to question their Master for an explanation.

Swamy condescended to them saying  , my children  ! Have you not heard that learning , riches and high birth swell a fool with pride , but adorn the wiseman ?  

This  man our villidasan  is utterly destitute of this three fold vice but we are not .


Hence he is fit enough to be touched by me  .On hearing the golden words the disciples bent their head in shame and dared make any further  protest , but all the same malice kindled their minds against the favourite disciple Villidasan who was  a sudra and  more close to their master  than a Brahmin disciple could be  .

They could not digest a sudra should stand so high to their masters estimation , as their own prestige as Brahmins was being jeopardised.

Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Kovil
Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Kovil

Swamy  Ramanuja was aware of the disciples  grudge towards the advanced devotee who was a gem among  all of them . 



As a true Master  he wanted to  convince the error  which is making them spiritually fatal .


He devised a plan  and hence called a close disciple in private  and ordered him to secrete  all the clothes of the  disciples  in the night  when they were fast asleep. ( these were the clothes which are washed  and hanged high to be dried up ) .

The task was accomplished .


The next day all the disciples were aghast with the missing of their daily wear . Each one was accusing the other and the entire scene turned into chaos.

 They were calling names  against each other .

Swamy Ramanuja walked into the chambers hearing the unusual noise . All the disciples vented their anguish about the missing clothes .

.facebook_1514796866081.jpg-1011764242.jpgSwamy Ramanuja  calmed them and advised them to accept the same as Lords providence . Alternate arrangements were made .


Days passed , Villidasan who was living near to the Ashram  was serving Acharyar with utmost devotion . One day it got delayed  as Villidasar  was entrusted some jobs for some festival .


Swamy Ramanuja walked into the disciples chamber and told them that they all must go to Villidasars house located few  meters away and make an attempt to rob the precious jewellery and other ornaments from Ponnachee his wife  when she is asleep. 


All of them knew Villidasar was a rich person and had gifted many golden jewellary to his wife Ponnachee  in the past on several occasions and she was always bedecked with the ornaments .


 It was decided that they need to rob the jewels when Villidasar was serving Swamy Ramanuja  in the ashram .


The disciples were very happy . All of them marched hurriedly to Villidasars house .They could see Ponnachee fast asleep .

Ponnachi was sleeping on the floor of the hut using her hand as a pillow.  She was bedecked with wonderful gold jewelry The moment one of the disciples bent down to unhook her ear-ring, she woke up.


Without any inhibitions they waited  , collected all the jewellery from the chest  and attempted to  remove the jewellery worn by her during her sleep  once again . But , Ponnachee  recognised the disciples and did not want to startle him.


 She thought ,when  Swamy Ramanuja’s disciple committed such an act of theft it must have a divine sanction .


She then laid still and allowed them remove the ear-rings, bangles and the nose-ring she was wearing on the left side of her body.  

 She felt they were taking away their own property  for whatever effects she owned in this world were not really hers but entrusted to her for their sake .


This is how Property is to be spiritually viewed . She gently rolled over for them to strip the other side of the jewellery she was wearing . 

She was anxious that the vaishnavas should complete their work and not go away with half work done . But her  movement however created a fright  and put the disciples  on their toes to leave the place .


The vaishnavas returned to the ashrama  .Pillai dasar after completing all the works assigned  to him submits his humble  prayers to Acharya and takes leave .  


Meanwhile , the disciples  entered the ashram  and explain the happenings at Villidasars house in detail to Acharyar. Swamy Ramanujar  orders  them to follow Villidasar immediately  up to his house and watch all that might take place in the house . The disciples quickly left the jewellery  in Ashram and followed him in the dark .


In the house Ponnachee was eagerly waiting for her husband  as done daily.

When she heard the footsteps  of Villidasar , she hurriedly went to the entrance and  welcomed him  .She washed his feet with all affection  .


Villidasar  looked at her very strangely as she had decked jewellery one sided only.  

He said , What is this lady ??  taken aback with her strange dress sense .  

Nothing My Lord she replied  soothingly  .I shall explain you in detail .


Please honour the prasada quickly as it is already too late  .

She continued   about the incident  that happened few minutes back .


She pleasingly said that the  vaishnavas who are our gurus had come to our house just now   my dear …..while I was lying asleep.  


May be they were in need of their jewels .

I could hear them whisper that I was asleep and It was the right time to  take the jewellery .

Lying down hearing their whisper , I pretended to be fast asleep so that they could complete their task .  

They  laid hands on me and took all the jewels from my right side as the left  side was visible .

hare krishna

Our effects are theirs  as you know  , so to let them have all , I quietly turned around my right  side  with all my care doing so  to make them believe that I was really fast asleep, but my bad luck it some how gave them a alarm and to my utter regret  they left without completing the job they had come for . 


On hearing this Pillai urangi got upset and was angry with her .

He said ..Hey Foolish woman !!!    you have spoiled the great opportunity to serve the vaishnavas .

You must have laid motionless till their work is completed ….


……If the jewels were theirs Its their wish to take them as they like . I am really very upset with your behaviour……

 He said half the jewels  have been best invested , the remaining are vanity  .


 The vaishnavas were observing the conversation behind the doors . They hurriedly left back to Ashrama  and gave a full report of the conversation .

Swamy Ramanuja the Acharyar  now spoke to his disciples and  asked them to remain awake. He then instructed them to wake up all the other disciples.


All of them should clean themselves and assemble before the Acharya for an important lesson. Eager to hear new lessons from the Acharya, they all gathered around him in no time.


Suddenly from no where  Villidasan ran into the mutt with his wife .

He fell down at the Acharya’s feet like an uprooted tree.


He and his wife  Ponnachee were with tears  .  

The other disciples were stunned at the unusual sight.

They had never seen Villidasan crying so much.


“We have committed a grace sin  Acharya. We have together  sinned. We are no longer fit to be your disciples. Condemn us to the worst of hells; even then the retribution will not be
adequate.” cried Villidasan


“What happened, my child? Why are you crying? Why is your wife crying?”
Swamy Ramanuja  asked the devotee disciple ..


Acharya   “Some of your learned disciples had come into our hut today to take my wife’s jewels.

She was sleeping.

Your disciples took the trouble of removing the jewels from her person themselves.

Ponnachi did not want to startle them by waking up all of a sudden.



When she turned the other side so that they can remove those jewels also, they just ran away.

 “Acharya, I am not even fit to be a dust in the feet of those learned disciples. Aren’t you called the Udaiyavar?


Doesn’t that mean that all of us,all our belongings, properties and everything belong to you?


When you sent your men to take your things,   Ponnachi should have welcomed them and should have given them whatever she had.

She has sinned, My Lord. “And I have sinned too.


Please  curse us  a punishment .

My wife has decided not to wear jewels on the one side of her body for the rest of her life.” for the grave sin committed ….


You  showed LORD  to me. And I could not even give some worthless piece of yellow metal to you, when you needed it! What a sinner I am! There is no hope for me, there is no salvation for me!”he was uncontrollable ….

Swamy Ramanuja turned to his other disciples.

Please tell me whose wisdom is  better , great yours or his ?


Please know that caste is of no importance..

It is the virtue that is most important and prized .

This is why I say ….

 Even River Cauvery cannot clean me completely. But this man’s touch can purify me. That’s why I lean on him when I return from the river.


Villi,  my child ….. please teach these people how to love.”


The disciple who first complained to Ramanuja about Villidasan  prostrated  to him  and Ponnachi’s feet begging their pardon.


Swamy Ramanuja then returned the jewels to Ponnachi and commanded her to wear them then and there. And also ordered that she should never be without those jewels. The silence that reigned  in the Ashram was pregnant with many lessons, many teachings  and many leanings….


It is told that Villidasan was called as Mahamati  (  a human wiser than wisdom ) the wisdom blinded by love for Lord .

He was love blind as to fear any danger for one who is above all dangers .


Mahamati  used to walk   with his sword drawn in front of the Lord so that he may stop anyone who dared to do any act in the least offensive to the Lord of Lords….




More details about this great disciple can be read in this post linked below :

True !!!   

Bhaagavatha apachAram is worse than BhagavathapachAram

Sri.Pillai Uranga Villidasar thiru adigale sharanam.


Adiyen Ramanuja dasan


Pics  Courtesy : Google images , anudinam