Sunday, May 23, 2010
Sri Rangam or Koyil
The first and foremost among 108 Divya Desams is Srirangam. It is located on an island formed by the rivers Cauvery and Kolledam in Tiruchanapalli dist. of Tamilnadu. This temple is enormous in size and is the largest temple complex with 156 acres in extent, surrounded by seven concentric walls (the outermost wall having a perimeter of over 3 kilometers) and 21 gopurams. It has seven Prakarams or Tiru Vedees running around the sanctum. The total length of these seven walls is 32,592 feet, approximately around 9 Kms. There are magnificent towers in all Prakaras and the latest addition is the 236 feet high thirteen tiered Rajagopuram built at the southern rampart by the late 44th Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt. The preceding deity at Srirangam is Lord Ranganathar in a reclining posture on Adeshesha. Lord Ranganathur Idol is not carved but appeared on its own. It is said that the deity faces south, instead of the traditional east, so as to face Vibhishana in Sri Lanka, to grace him and his kingdom. The sanctum (altar) faces south and the main entrance is also from the south (normally it is from the east). The consort of Lord ranganathar is Ranganayaki thayar. Ranganayaki Thayar has a sepearate shrine. The physical body of Ramanujar, who lived nearly 120 years, is still being preserved in a sitting posture in the sannidhi dedicated to him.
Shrines for all the Azhwars and Acharyas are also found within the temple precincts. There is a separate shrine for all the 10 avatars of Vishnu, making it first and oldest dasavathara temple. There also shrines for Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Chakrathalvar, Guruda, Andal and Nachiyar. The Tank at the temple is known as Chandra pushkarani and the vimana is known as Pranavaakriti vimana. Above the main altar is the Sriranga-vimana (golden tower). On the four sides of the Ranga vimana are carvings of four forms of Lord Vishnu. On the south side is Para-Vasudeva, on the west is Acyuta, on the north Ananda, and on the east Govinda.
There is an interesting story attached to this temple. The glittering tower (vimana) sprung as a result of great penance by lord Brama who meditated in the depths of the Milky Ocean. Garuda carried this vimana while Adishesha spread his hood over it. Bramha found lord vishnu resting on Adeshesha, and he was informed by the lord himself that he has come on his own as an idol (swaymvyakta). He also informs that he will appear in similar way in 7 others places on earth. These 7 places are are Srimushnam, Venkatadri, Saligram, Naimisaranya, Thotadri, Pushkar and Badri. Brama took this idol and installed it at the banks of Viraja in styaloka. He appointed Lord Sun to perform daily pooja. This viman was later handed over to the king of Ayodhya who came from Iskwaku race or Surya Vamsha, as Brama was pleased by the king. The king took then took it to Ayodhya. People of Ayodhya and iswaku descendants worshiped this idol including Sri Rama. Sri Rama was himself an incarnation of lord vishnu hence to distinguish between these two incarnation of vishnu Lord Ranganathar Idol was known as ''Perya Perusal''.
As Vibeeshana had helped Lord Rama in finding Sita, to show his gratitude lord Rama gave away Lord Ranganathar's idol to vibheeshana for worship during lord Rama's coronation. When Vibeeshana set out for SRi Lankha He placed the idol on the Cauvery banks to perform his daily pooja. he placed the vimana at a place known as ''Shesha Peetam'' near Chandra-Pushkarani. After finishing his daily pooja, Vibeesha tried to lift the idol from the ground. He simply could not lift it. Vibeeshana was struck with great sorrow, however lord vishnu showed up and consoled Vibeeshana and informed that he loves this place very much. Vibeeshana could come and worship him daily said the lord. Even today, Vibeeshana worships the lord daily at midnight. For any Vishnavaite ''KOYIL'' means Srirangam Temple only. Also, Ramanujar looked after the administration in this temple and saw to it that great care was exercised in the matter of control of the temple affairs. Sri Ramanujacarya made the Srirangam Temple his headquarters. His samadhi (tomb) is within the premises of the Srirangam Temple When Ramanuja finished speaking, his disciples asked him that they would not be deprived of the sight of his transcendental form. Ramanuja accepted their request and ordered that expert sculptors be brought there to carve deity in his likeness. After three days the work was finished. Then the deity was bathed with water from the Kaveri river and installed upon newly constructed altar. Yatiraja then came slowly up to the deity and filled it with his potency by breathing into the crown of the head... All Azhwars except for Madura Kavi Azhwar have composed pastramis in praise of the lord Ranganathur. Vedanta Desk composed Paddock Sahasram (1008 slouches) in different metres. Array Sevai one of the ancient arts of rendering and expressing Naalaayira Divya prabhandam, in a dance form originated at this kshetram under the auspices of Nadamuni. This is one of the beautiful temple.