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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, and Bhogamandabam. In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only. The temple is enormous in size. The temple complex is 156 acres in extent. It has 7 prakaras or enclosures. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. This temple lies on an islet formed by the Twin Rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.

The temple of Srirangam is situated at 10 degrees 52’N and 78 degrees 42’ E towards the southern tip of India on an Island formed by two arms of the River Cauvery. The temple covers a vast area of about 6, 31,000 Sqm. (156 Acres). The temple consists of seven Concentric rectangular enclosures round the sanctum sanctorum. The temple of Srirangam is the only one in India with seven enclosures, a sacred symbolic number which for present day Vaishnava believers represents either the seven centers of Yoga, or a reference to the seven elements making up the human body, in the center of which dwells the soul.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

7 Prakarams denoting the 7 Lokam (worlds)
There are 7 prakarams (the only Divya Desam to have so) at this temple that relate to the 7 lokams (7 worlds) each of which is said to be a step in leading us to Vaikuntam.

Seventh enclosure (Bhoo Lokam)
The gopuras of the seventh enclosure are unfinished. They are called Rayagopuram. The impressive dimensions of their bases prove that when finished, they would have risen to a height of at least 50.m. This is also called the Chitra Street now has a row of shops and offices.

Sixth enclosure (Bhoovar lokam)
The sixth enclosure has four gopuras; the eastern gopura is the most impressive of all on account of its size the inscriptions in Thirteenth Century characters. The processional chariots are kept in this enclosure. This also has a market called Uthara Street.

Fifth enclosure (Swar Lokam)
This Prakaram has ChakkarathAzhvaar and Andal Sannidhi on the West and Thaayar Sannidhi on the Southern side. The Sesha Raya Mandapam, on the Eastern side has several battle field sculptures that reminds one of the great times of Vijayanagara rulers. Opposite this is the 1000 pillar mandapam where the Vaikunta Ekadesi festivities and the recital of Naalaayira Divya Prabandham (4000 songs composed by Azhvaars) as well as the Araiyar Sevai take place. This prakaram has some beautiful sculptures, possibly built by the Hoysala somewhere around 1200AD. Some of the sculptures depict girls playing the veena and ladies holding beautiful parrots. This prakaram has the famous White Gopuram at the Eastern Entrance to the temple.

Kamban Ramaayana and Srirangam Temple
The Great Tamil poet Kamban had in his composition of the Raamaayana written about the Lord destroying Hiranya, the mention of which did not find universal acceptance. Kamban retorted stating that if the Lord accepted his version, then the world could not dispute it. He stood outside the Thaayar Sannidhi of this temple and recited his version. Lord Azhagiya Singar, who heard this composition, accepted this version. In memory of this, there is an Azhagiya Singar Sannidhi in the 5th Prakaram of the temple. Recognising the importance of this event, there is a separate Kamban Mandapam opposite the Thaayar Sannidhi.

Fourth enclosure (Mahar Lokam)
The walls of the 4th prakaram were built by ThiruMangai Azhvaar. This prakaram houses one of the biggest mandapams for Garuda among the 108 Divya Desams. This has over 200 pillars and is also possibly the most beautiful mandapam in the temple. On the southern side of this prakaram, one finds the Paramapada vaasal, also called Swarga Vaasal (the Gateway to Heaven), that opens only once a year during Vaikunta Ekadesi. Among the 108 Divya Desams, this is the only temple to have a Sannidhi for Dhanvantri, the medicinal God, which is located in this Prakaram, opposite the tank.

Ramanuja and Srirangam
Srirangam cannot be discussed without mentioning the great Vaishnavite scholar of Ramanujacharya who attained divinity here. His "Swayam Thirumeni" (the symbolic body) is preserved and offered prayers even today after 8 centuries. His Shrine is found in the fourth "prakara" of the temple and his "Thirumeni" is preserved in the temple in a seated position, by applying saffron and camphor every six months in a ritualistic style. All the devotees are said to wash their feet when going into the Sannadhi of Sri Ranganathar, because the artistic works on Sri Ramanujar are found in the floors here.

Third enclosure (Jano Lokam)
One can enter the 3rd prakaram only through the Arya Bhattal Tower. This houses several mandapams. While this is a dark area, one finds a special peace when inside this prakaram.

Second enclosure (Thapo Lokam)
The 2nd prakaram, which one enters through the NaazhiKetaan Entrance is called the Raja Mahendran street in memory of the Chozha king who built it. This prakaram also has the Kili (Parrot) Mandapam and the big Glass mirror, through which one can see the Lord when he comes out on procession.

First enclosure (Sathiya Lokam)
The first Prakaram was built by Chozha King Dharma Varma. There are 24 pillars inside this prakaram where(sanctum sanctorum) one finds Lord Ranganatha in his sleeping posture facing South(Lanka). These 24 pillars, it is said, denote the 24 letters of the Gayantri Mantra.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
SRI LORD RANGANATHA PERUMAL in reclining posture (Bhujanga Sayanam), on AadhiSeshan faces South and gives Dharshan to the devotees.

NamPerumaal, Azhagiya ManavaalanThaayaar: Sri Ranga Nachiarii, in separate Sannidhi

Prathyasham (Physically gave Dharshan to):
Dharma varma, Ravi dharman, Chandhran and Vibeeshanan.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
Pranavaakruthi. It took almost 7 and half years to build this huge vimanam (Gopuram). It is also called as "Raja Gopuram". This Raja Gopuram is 236 feet high with 13 Nilais (Partition) and 12 Kalasams at its top.

Sthala Puranam:
Once on the base of Himalaya, River Ganga, Cauvery, Yamuna and Saraswathi are playing in the sky one ghandharvan (person who belong to Deva lokam) saw these rivers playing and worshipped them. Seeing this, all the 4 river women started saying themselves that he worshipped them only. They started arguing on whom actually he worshipped. The argument continued but didn’t stop. Yamuna and Saraswathi stopped their quarrel. But to Ganga and Cauvery it continued. Finally, they both went to Sriman Narayanan.

River Ganga told to Narayanan since she was originated from the feet of Narayanan, she is bigger and mightier than Cauvery. Sriman Narayanan accepted it. But, Cauvery doesn’t accept it and she did tapas on Sriman Narayanan. Finally, Narayanan gave seva to her and told him that he will sleep on the bank of Cauvery and at that time, river Cauvery will be the garland (Maalai) in his chest, which will the better position than Ganga, who is found in his feet. This is the sthalapuranam said here.

It is a traditional belief that Adi Sankara installed at Srirangam, a Yantra called Janakarshana Yantra (to attract pilgrims) to this sacred temple, just as at Tirupati he installed the Dhanakarshana Yantra (to attract wealth). Sankara infused immense power to this Yantra, which has proved by its action perfectly true to its name. Tirupati is the richest temple in the South, may be in whole of India, and Srirangam is the most visited temple in the South.

Though it is primarily a Vaishnavite temples, believers in different tenets of faith do pay their homage at the temple of Ranganatha, the Adi Purusha in blissful slumber, floating on the Banyan leaf during cosmic deluge. The Adi Purusha in his eternal happiness remained afloat on the Milky Ocean, for how long nobody can say. He wanted to create the Universe. Lord Vishnu appeared before Brahma in the form of a swan. Brahma questioned its identity, to which the swan replied with two monosyllables 'OM' and 'THAP' and disappeared.

Brahma construed this bewildering reply as a direction to start penance uttering the word 'OM'. After long years of penance, the four Vedas appeared. After years of further penance, Bhoomi (land, the earth) appeared then the fire, the sky and Devaloka, the heaven where angels stay, and human beings, animals, etc., gradually appeared. At that time, a demon, by name Madhu Kaitabha, appeared from the ear of Brahma and snatched the Vedas from him and disappeared into the ocean. This incident annoyed Brahma, who also plunged into the ocean to search for the miscreant.

Vishnu took the form of a horse (Hayagriva) and annihilated the ace of Madhu Kaitabha and recovered the Vedas and taught the same to Brahma. After the initiation by Lord Vishnu himself, Brahma started creating the Universe, which is made of the five elements, Prithvi (earth), Jal (water), Vayu (air), Tejas (fire), Vyoma (ether) and sixteen spheres of the Universe and gave a start to the natural law of the Universe.Creation only being his main port folio, when he set the natural law in motion, his work was completed and the Universe would go on in the cycle of Karma, i.e., and action done by the created beings. As one's karma becomes the decisive factor for the continuance of the universe under the influence of natural law, Brahma realized in his observation that a time might come when his own action will be put to judgement.

He felt the necessity of getting advice from Narayana. To invoke him, he started penance in the Milky Ocean. After long years of penance, Lord Narayana appeared before him on Garuda and asked him what he wanted. Brahma requested Narayana to show him his real form.

Lord Narayana replied that nobody has seen his real Jyothi (effulgent) Swarupam. He said further: "It is I who appeared before you as a swan. It is I who brought you the Vedas. It is I who took the form of Hayagriva and annihilated the demon. And now I have come on my Garuda. I have taken up the responsibility of protecting the Universe and if you want to visualize my real form, you will have to utter the Ashtakshara Mantra in deep veneration.

At this, Brahma started the penance. Like this a thousand years elapsed, and at the end, Lord Vishnu appeared in a Ranga Vimanam from the Milky Ocean. Ranga Vimanam is the name given to a special chariot-like conveyance carried by Veda Murtis on their head, having Lord Vishnu inside the Vimanam (vehicle). Nagaraja was holding the white umbrella in attendance. Senapati Vishwaksena was holding a cane and chamaram (fan). Narada with Tumburu, uttering the hymns in praise, along with Devas, Angels, Kinnarasi (heavenly beings) were in prayerful attention. Sages Sanat kumara and others, the usual mythological attendants of Vishnu, were following the chariot.

In deep veneration Brahma went round the chariot four times chanting the four Vedas with his four mouths and stood before Lord Vishnu in prayerful pose representatives of all the worlds of the Universe, including Durga, Saraswati, Sapta Rishis, Navagrahas, constellations of stars and the Ashta Palakas (eight doorkeepers) and others were also in attendance.

Being pleased with the penance of Brahma, for the first time the real Swarupam of Vishnu in Ranga Vimanam with his attendants was shown to him as desired. Since that day the Ranga Vimanam became most famous, as the real seat of the Universal God. Brahma wanted to worship Lord Vishnu in the Vimanam forever. Lord Vishnu agreed to his request and Brahma took him to his abode in Satyaloka.

Brahma was happy to worship the Vimanam. News spread in course of time to Manu, the son of Sun God Surya, who was attracted and desired to have the darshan, for which he performed a penance and fulfilled his desire by a visit to Satyaloka and, paying homage’s to the Ranga Vimanam, then in the custody of Brahma, he attained liberation. Manu's son Ikshwaku cherished the desire of possessing the Ranga Vimanam for the benefit of the people on earth. He consulted his family preceptor, Vasishtha (priest of the Surya vamsha), who advised him to start penance uttering the sacred Ashtakshara Mantra. Accordingly, Ikshwaku started a severe penance which puzzled even the devas, foreboding evil days for them. They attempted to spoil the penance by deputing Maninatha and the celestial nymphs to distract his attention. Indra took the lead in this affair and did not even hesitate to send the Vajraayudha (lightning weapon) to foil the penance. But all failed in their attempts. In disappointment, they prayed to Brahma, to save them from the baffling catastrophe. Brahma on his part approached Ranganatha for advice.

Ranganatha consoled Brahma by expressing his desire to go to Ayodhya where he would be worshipped by the descendant of the Solar dynasty for four Yugas, and at the end of the fourth Yuga he would go to the kingdom of the Cholas in the South, on the banks of the Kaveri, where he would stay for 700 years. At the end, of this period he would return to Brahmaloka. Brahma was directed to part with the Ranga Vimanam to Ikshwaku. From Ikshwaku to Lord Rama time, this Vimaan was worshipped and belonged to Ayodhya Kings.

Sri Ramar who took the avathaar as an ordinary human being, worshipped Sri Ranganathan, the god is also named as "Periya Perumal". After his pattabishekham (crowned as king), he gave the Thiru Aranga Vimaanam to King Vibeeshan, which belongs to Ayodhya Kings and their followers.
Coming along with the Thiruvaranga temple vimaanam, the Chola king and the Rishis present requested Vibhishana to perform the Adi Brahmotsava there itself instead of in Lankha. Vibhishana agreed to this request. So he kept the vimaanam in the midst of Cauvery river to worship it. During the worship, Chozhan Dharmavarman and lots of Rishis also joined. In commemoration of this incident, the Brahmotsava is performed on the day of the full moon in the month of Panguni, Uttaram day. After finishing all the poojas, tried to take the vimaanam along with him to Lanka, he was unable to take it and he could not even move.

This must have caused almost heartbreak to Vibhishana who went on praying to Lord Ranganatha to save him from the situation. At that time, Sri Aranganathan told since he had given varam (promise) to River Cauvery and since he has to purify her, he has to be all along the Cauvery River. And told that he will not be in a position to move from there. But on hearing this, King Vibeeshan became sad, for which Sri Aranganathan says that inspite of not coming to Lanka, but he will be facing the south direction of Lanka. This is the history explaination of Sri Rangam.

There's another similar story that says that Vibeeshan was to carry the Deity back to Lankha but had to stop for taking bathe, and that Lord Rama had addressed stating that He in the form of Sri Ranganathan would allow Himself to be carried back to Lankha by Vibeeshan and then placed down He would not move. Vibeeshan understanding that, needed someone to hold the Deity while he relieved himself and bathed and returned. He found nearby one Brahmin boy and entrusted the task of holding the Deity of Raganath to him to which he agreed. And NOT to put the Deity down..... Anyway when Vibeeshan returned, he found the boy gone and the Deity firmly fixed to the spot facing the south. Vibeeshan's rakshasa nature came out and he became so angry at the boy taking out his sword he cased him. Vibhishana ran after him. Lord Ganesha climbed up to the top of a large nearby cliff. But, there, Vibhishana caught him and struck him on the forehead. At that moment, Ganesha revealed his true form to Vibhishana, who immediately apologized2, asked for his blessings and continued on his way to Lanka. The enormous rock Lord Ganesha climbed upon now forms the Uchi Pillayar Temple, only a few kilometers from Sri Rangam.

The desire of Dharma Varma, the Chola prince, was fulfilled in this miraculous way. He started constructing a gigantic structure for installing the Ranga Vimanam. Dharma Varma worshipped the Ranga Vimanam for a long time and attained salvation. Years passed and once an unprecedented flood came in River Kaveri, which brought an enormous quantity of silt and sand and flooded the entire country. It is said that the flood was so devastating that even the peak of the gopuram of the temple was submerged under sand and looked like a sand dune.

The entire city surrounding it was utterly devastated. The Chola king shifted the capital from Tri (Uraiyur) to Tanjore. The Ranga Vimanam temple was left uncared for, submerged under sand, which gradually gave rise to other growth of vegetation, which at last became a wasteland. Then it so happened that once Chola prince went out for a pleasure hunt. He rested for some time under a tree in this forest.

A parrot living on the tree suggested to king that down below be lying submerged the sacred Ranga Vimanam. (The prince thereafter came to be known as Kilikanda Chola, who saw the parrot). The Chola king had heard about the Ranga Vimanam and found its location in the forest from the parrot.

The information was also corroborated by a dream seen by the prince. Upon validation, the king started excavation work and unearthed the temple walls and prakarams. He also developed it further and made additions and alterations to the temple particularly the addition of a mandapam in the name of the parrot, still known as Kili Mandapam. He re-established the religious rite rituals in the temple as before. He became an ardent devotee of Ranganatha and attained liberation later.

The other major vicissitude in the history occurred during the reign of Raja Mahendra Chola, when a sudden spring sprouted up emitting a huge quantity of water during the flood in which it blocked the passage of the entrance to the temple and threatened to engulf the temple base. The King had the passage blocked and gopuram constructed over it, making a second prakaram like the wall of defence. For this beneficial work done by him he too attained liberation.

During the period of invasion by Malik Kafur and his forces in 1310–1311, Namperumal was stolen and taken to Delhi. In a daring exploit, devotees of Srirangam ventured to Delhi and enthralled the king with their histrionics. Moved by their talent, the King was pleased to gift them the presiding deity of Srirangam, which was requested by the performers. Things took a drastic turn immediately. Surathani, his daughter fell in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She prostrated to the God in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum and is believed to have attained the Heavenly Abode immediately. Even today, a painting of "Surathani" (known as "Thulukha Nachiyar" in Tamil) can be seen in the Arjuna Mandap adjacent to the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Position of Lord Ranganathar:
The position which Sri Ranganathar is found in this Sthalam is one of the great thing that has to be explained.

In this sthalam, Aranganathan is found inside the Aranga Vimaanam, Keeping 5 headed Aadhi seshan as the bed, his legs stretched along the direction of the sun's upcoming side (East) direction from where the moon in the evening rises and Lord Yaman, who is the demon king and cool breeze and wind which are said to be found from the South direction are seen by Aranganathan and he sees Lanka. Behind him, is Kuberan (North Direction) and Selva Magal (Sri Lakshmi) are found. His right hand is kept under his head as a "Pillow" and the left hand is on his lap and it is pointed to his feet. This position explains to the world that all the Jeevathmas are finally getting terminated only in his feet.

IT IS BELIEVED - The darshan of Lord Sri Ranganatha is graced (achieved) only to those who had taken birth in Srirangam in their earlier lives. Only such sacred souls that CRAVE for the Lord get the darshan of Lord Ranga. There was a king of TRAVANCORE (Kerala) who was craving for Darshan of Ranga and composed - Ranga yatra diney diney - meaning every day he wanted to go Srirangam but was retained by his ministers. These kings believed that entire kingdom is of Lord and they only do duty fulfilling the Lord's will. This king is none other than KULA SEKHARA ALWAR. There is another composition –


•Veli Aandal
•Kanna Peruman
•Manavala Mamunigal
•Thiruvaranga Perumalarayar
•Amirtha kalasa Garudan
•Thondaradipodi Alwar
•ThiruPaan Alwar
•Sriranga Naachiyaar
•Ul Aandal
•Metty Azhagiyasinger
•Vedantha Desikar
•Periya Garudan

•Chandira Pushkarani

Temple Address & Contact Details
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple,
Tiruchy - 620 006.
Tamilnadu, India.
Tel: + 91- 0431 - 2432246
Fax: + 91- 0431 - 2436666

You can view the Virtual Tour of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple here at


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