Ramanujacharya was amused by the strange sight – Ponnachi walking towards the temple followed by her retinue and Villidasan walking backwards unable to take off his eyes from those of his beautiful wife! Love melts, whatever may be the form, the medium in which it is expressed, and whatever may be the object of love. A mother’s love for her child, a devotee’s love for God, a teacher’s love for his disciple, love expressed in the form of poetry, in words, or in action – which in the present instance was much more poetical than poetry itself – can move mountains. The great saint was moved on seeing this wonderful sight. He enquired about the couple and then sent word to Villidasan asking him to come and meet him in his Asram alone. Ramanuja had decided to something about that. We have to pause here lest the great Acharya should be misunderstood. Why did he want to do something about Villidasan’s love for his beautiful wife, Ponnachi? One theory is that he wanted to ‘properly channelise’ the love. Instead of flowing towards his wife Ponnachi, if this lover were to flow towards God! That would be great, right? But to me nothing could be more absurd than that. The channels of love do not sanctify it! On the other hand love sanctifies the channels through which it flows! Love towards God, may be Vishnu, Shiva, Jesus, Allah or the Buddha, is in no way superior to the love Villidasan had for his wife, Ponnachi. I will go one step further. If you love your pup then that is much, much better than your sitting in the Puja room mindlessly repeating some God-names. Love for your pup or even a street mongrel is no less than the love you can have for the Infinite, All powerful, God. The quality of love is not dependent on the object of love. Another theory is far worse. It says that Ramanuja wanted such a powerful force for his Vaishnavite Movement. When I heard this theory I silently prayed to the great saint, “Forgive them, Acharya, they know not what they are talking about!” Ramanuja’s movement is not like that of the Congress or the BJP. It was not a political movement where you need all the power you can gather. It was a movement of love. Ramanuja was a saint, a spiritual leader. Not a politican or statesman. Don’t ever think on those lines. Now why should Ramanuja do something about Villi’s love? As a spiritual leader of people he instinctively knew that Villi’s love was quite unique. If only Ramanuja could make people love something as intensely as Villi did, yes, he would have made a difference in their lives. At the same time if he showed Villi’s love as an example to be followed, then ignorant people might mistakenly think that they also should love Ponnachi. In other words at the present level Villidasan’s love is not a copiable, replicable model. So Ramanuja wanted to first shift Villi’s love to something else and then make people understand the greatness of love. Was he not doing a disservice to Ponnachi? May be. But then he also showed that great object of love to Ponnachi. And in order to make so many people understand the meaning of love, there is no harm in shifting one person’s object of love. As a saint and a spiritual leader Ramanuja had the moral authority to do that. Now back to the story.