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THE BRAHMANAS LEARN A LESSON
That evening Ramanuja called several of his dis¬ciples to him and said, "I am sure all of you have observed how my disciple Dhanurdasa is leading the life of an attached householder, while posing as a great devotee. This evening, as usual, he will come to talk with me. While I detain him here, dis¬cussing the scriptures, you should go to his house and steal the ornaments with which he is so fond of decorating his wife. Then we will see the extent of his attachments fully manifested.The disciples happily agreed to this proposal and set off to do their gurus bidding as soon as Dhanur¬dasa arrived at the dsrama. When they reached his house, they saw Hemamba sleeping within. As the door was not locked, they were able to gain en¬trance without difficulty. Then very quietly and as gently as possible, they began to remove the golden ornaments from the wife of Dhanurdasa. In fact Hemamba was not sleeping and was fully aware of everything that was happening, but she pretended to be in deep slumber, so as not to cause any disturbance to the brdhmanas.When all the ornaments had been removed from one side of her body, Hemamba pretended to turn in her sleep so that the brdhmanas could take those from the other side as well. However, at that mo¬ment the brdhmanas became alarmed, fearing that she was about to wake up. They left the house im¬mediately and returned to the dsrama. There they reported everything that had happened to Ramanuja, who then called for Dhanurdasa and told him that he should return home now as it was growing late.When the wrestler had departed, Ramanuja in¬structed his disciples, "Go now and follow Dhanur¬dasa back to his house so that you may observe his reaction to the great loss he and his wife have suffered.The young men followed their guru's order, and when Dhanurdasa entered his house, they were all watching and listening from a secluded place nearby. On entering the house Dhanurdasa at once noticed his wife's unusual appearance and in¬quired, "How is it that you are wearing jewels only on one side? Where are the others?"Some brdhmanas came here while you were gone," Hemamba replied. "Due, no doubt, to their extreme poverty, they have been forced to take up the ways of thieves. At that time I was lying awake, repeating the names of the Lord in my mind, but they must have thought that I was sleeping, for they entered the room and took all the ornaments from one side. When they had done this, I turned over so that they could take the rest of my jewels, but unfortunately they were frightened by my move¬ment and fled from the house.
"This was your mistake," exclaimed Dhanurdasa. "You are still not completely free from illusion, for you were thinking, These are my ornaments. I will give them away.' When will you give up this idea and realize that everything is the property of Lord Narayana. If you had remained still then you would have been able to give everything to the brahmanas.Hemamba recognized her fault and begged her husband, "Please bless me, so that one day I may become free from this illusion.Having witnessed everything, the young hrdh¬manas returned to the asrama and told Ramanuja all about the behavior of that devoted couple. As it was by that time late at night, he told them to go and rest, but the next day he discussed the matter fully when they assembled before him to study the scriptures. "You are all learned scholars," he said, "and very proud of your position as hrdhmanas. So tell me, whose behavior was more befitting a brdhmana—yours, yesterday morning when you found your cloth a little shorter, or that of Dhanur-dasa and his wife when the jewels were stolen?The disciples could do nothing but hang their heads in shame and say, "Master, it was Dhanur-dasa whose behavior was worthy of a brdhmana; ours was abominable.Therefore," Yatiraja continued, "you must un¬derstand that birth and caste are unimportant. It is a man's qualities and actions that show who is fallen, regardless of social position. Now, giving up all pride in your birth as hrdhmanas, endeavor to serve Lord Narayana with a pure heart. That alone is the way of perfection.