I WAS ENORMOUSLY GLAD TO FIND A STORY OF SHREE RAMANUJA-ACHARYA AND WRESTLER IN ONE OF "SAPTAGIRI" ISSUES. THIS IS A CLASSIC STORY FROM THE BIOGRAPHY OF SHREE RAMANUJA-ACHARYA, BUT IT IS NOT ALWAYS MENTIONED IN ENGLISH EDITIONS.
"Story of Urangavilli-dasan", Cited from "Ephemeral and Eternal" article by L.P. Sampath
Sri Ramanuja came to Srirangam after embracing asceticism to which order he had to induct himself while at Kancheepuram due to certain inevitable circumstances that served as a ruse for him to resort to such a course. This change in Sri Ramanuja's life was as it should be, as it was decreed by both Lord Ranganatha and Lord Varadaraja in unison.
During this period there lived in Karambanur (a Village near Srirangam) a wrestler whowas an archer and a gymnast as well, by name Urangavilli who taught these arts to the king named Agalanganattuazhwan, having Uraiyur as his capital.
The wrestler had the doughtiness and physical, prowess, but possessed weakness of enjoying beauty of his wife called Ponnachi from head to foot with the greatest admiration for her broad voluptuous eyes.
The couple were inseparable and so much so she accompanied her husband wherever he went and vice versa.
Urangavilli would never allow Ponnachi to walk barefoot lest her soles should develop blisters and would spread his upper cloth on the sands of the Cauvery for her to tread upon.
He would also watch her face to ensure that the perspiration did not spoil her appearance. The peculiar behaviour on the part of the wrestler towards his sweetheart was not out of infatuation but was due to his extreme affection and admiration of her unique beauty according to his standard.
The great Pontiff (Shree Ramanuja Acharya) as usual went to the Cauvery for the midday dip in the Holy river and to perform ablution. Sri Ramanuja and his disciples were attracted towards an exceptional behaviour of a man towards his wife as aforesaid and sent for them.
When the couple came near, Ramanuja enquired about his strange deportment and conduct. The man introduced himself as Urangavilli and replied reverentially that he cannot put up with his wife‘s charming eyes being subject to the exposure of the scorching sun resulting in the trickling of beads of sweat down her chubby rosy cheeks.
Immediately the, Great Seer revealed an overt suggestion to Urangavilli by asking, "How will you react if you are shown such eyes that have incomparable radiance and beauty entirely superior to what you have been admiring all these years and evincing keen interest in protecting them?"
Urangavilli became very curious and developed a longing in knowing about it and agreed to the suggestion.
Both Urangavilli and Ponnachi were beckoned to come the next day to the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ranganatha reclining on the soft bed of Adisesha at Srirangam.
Sri Ramanuja invoked the Lord of Srirangam who is already a sublime beauty incarnate to appear still handsome in order to make the stranger to draw his conclusions between the Lotus eyed Lord and evanescent eyes of his mortal wife to whom he is attracted due to mundane attachment.
Accordingly the couple came to the temple led by Sri Ramanuja and his followers and had the full view of the Lord and enjoyed every inch of His beauty.
They were carried away by the incomparable glittering broad lotus like eyes that created enchantment to Azhwars to sing in praise in a state of ecstasy and from which flowed unsurpassed compassion.
The Pontiff withdrew slowly from the Holy Premises alongwith his disciples whereas the couple stood stupefied without knowing where they were.
After coming out of the trance Urangavilli and Ponnachi regretted that they had hitherto wasted their precious life in not enjoying the celestial beauty and failed to realise "Sri RangaRaja" is "Supreme" as referred to in Vedas.
They decided that their "Acharya" could none else but be Sri Ramanuja, who opened their inner eyes.
The Great Pontiff was convinced about their sincere "Acharya Bhakthi" and admitted them as his disciples.
Thus, Urangavilli became "Urangavilli-dasan". Here it is relevant to mention that the new disciple did not belong to the Brahmanical order. Sri Ramanuja having been convinced about the fidelity of 'Dasan', wanted him to accompany him while proceeding to Cauvery and also demonstrated special predilection towards him.
Cited from "Saptagiri", 1996 August
"Ephemeral and Eternal" article by L.P. Sampath
OCR by Vishnudut1926, May 2017