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Jayathu Sri RanaganAtha: Jayathu Sri RanganAyaki !--Part 6

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Apr 12 1998 - 06:35:05 PDT

Dear Sri RanganAtha PrEmis :

In this posting , I will cover the history of 
the temple of Srirangam and the Moolavar , Uthsavar 
and other deities at this ancient temple. The reason for
focus in this area is to indicate how the planned Pomona 
temple for the Lord is going to be a prototype in many ways 
to the Lord's temple at Srirangam . With the constrcution
of the Pomona Temple for the Divya dampathis of Srirangam ,
we are going to link up with the ancient history of the
temple of Srirangam .I invite all the BhakthAs of
Sri RanganAthA to become part of this ancient history ,
which forms the doundation stone of Sri VaishNava SampradhAyam .  

Postings on Srirangam

Our Sri Rengarajan has writeen extensively about the festivals
of Srirangam , the city of Srirangam and sthala purANam 
earlier . I refer the readers to his postings on 
the Bhakthi archives . Other members have written about
special festivals such as Sri Vaikunta EkAdasi festival .

The objectives of this posting on Srirangam

This posting will assemble complimentary information ,
which will help to gain a perspective on the magnificient
effort underway to create a temple at Pomona , NY for
Sri RanganAyaki SamEtha Sri RanganAyakan 
incorporating most of the significant sannidhis at 
Srirangam . That is why your support for the 
" Bricks of the Temple " project assumes a
very special significance .Please help support
this " Brick Collection " kaimkaryam .I can 
vouch that nothing but MangaLam will result from 
your and your family's association with this 
kaimkaryam .As BhakthAs walk over the bricks 
of the PrAkaarams to reach the Sannidhi of 
the Divya Dampathis and AchAryAs , they will 
chase away  the obstacles that cloud our vision of 
experiencing the Divya Dampathis of Srirangam .

The two Home Pages for Srirangam & Pomona Temples

The extraordnarily beautiful home page created for  
Srirangam in the context of the 108 Divya Desam 
CD ROM project and the Pomona temple home page are
getting ready ; I had the benefit of a "sneak preview" 
We can not hold it back from you too long .
The content of these home pages will map the verisimilitude of 
the ArchA mUrthys  and other deities and sannidhis
at both the temples  just as Sri Sreyas Sarangan 
and Sri Govindarajan of Canada did for the divya desams 
of Oppiliappan Koil and ThiruveLLarai last year .
Our  Special thanks this time to our
Sri P.Dileepan for the creation of these two 
beautiful Sri RanganAthA home pages with a wealth of 
pictorial Images . We are hurrying up for you to
see thm and pass it on to friends and relatives
to encourage them to take part in this MahA Kaimkaryam .
We are not kings and Queens and we do not have the tapas 
of the great MahAn , His holiness the 44th Jeeyar , who
completed the south Gopuram for Sri RanganathA wiht its
thirteen nilais ( towers ) . We can however be blessed 
to join in this kaimkaryam here and now. 

When you would have the opportunity of darsana
sowbhaagyam of the ArchA mUrthys at both the temples ,
you will come to the conclusion that the Pomona 
temple is like a lamp that has been lit 
from the akanta dheepam at Srirangam garbhagraham and 
brought over here for our spiritual well being .It is
indeed a dheepa-pradheepam .The PaancharAthra Agama
worship at the Pomona temple is identical to the 
rules laid out by AchArya RaamAnuja Muni for the 
Srirangam temple .With great care , thought and 
blessings of our AchAryAs , we have come this far 
and the rest of the effort has to come to fruition  
with the blessings of the divya dampathis of Srirangam .     

History of the Srirangam Temple

The history of the temple is very ancient one .
One can split the history into the pre-historical
and the historical period .

Pre-historic period

Under the pre-histroic period come the avathAram 
of Sri RanganAthA under the Revathi constellation 
in response to BrahmA's tapas as Svayam vyaktha 
mUrthy . King IshvAku , the son of Vaivaswatha Manu 
performed an austere penance towards BrahmA and 
as a result , he was blessed to have the Sriranga
Vimanam housing Sri Ranganaathan move to a new home
in AyOddhi , his capital . This became the family
asset ( Kula dhanam ) of all of the Soorya Kula kings
that followed  IshvAku down to Sri RamachandrA .

After His coronation , Sri Ramachandran gave 
SriranganAthan with the Sriranga vimAnam as 
a gift to King VibheeshaNA and commanded latter
to perform ArAdhanam to Sri Ranganathan . On the way 
to LankhA , the Lord changed His mind about settling
down in LankhA and decided to stay forever in 
the verdant island of Srirangam formed by 
the rivers CauvEri and KoLLidam .

The hand gestures of the Lord of Srirangam

Here at the puNya bhUmi of Srirangam , He rests on
the five-headed AdhisEshan facing south towards LankhA .
He is giving Darsanam to His votary, VibheeshaNA 
and is looking southwards at SrivilliputthUr , the place of
birth of his dear consort , ANDAL .

In His reclining position , His right hand points to His
crown to indicate that He is the Emperor and the origin
of all chEthanAs and AchEthanAs . His left hand points 
to His charaNa kamalams ( lotus feet ) with the Divya MaNi
PaadhukhAs saluted by Swami Desikan . He seems to suggest
that His ThiruvadigaLs are the only refuge for those ,
who wish to cross the fearsome ocean of SamsAram .

Historical period of Temple Constrcution

The ChOLA king , Dharma Varman built the temple and
Mantapam around the vimAnam left behind by VibhishaNA .
After his time , the sands from the floods of Cauveri
buried the VimAnam and PerumAL for quite some time.
Another ChOLA king known as KiLLi ChOzhan was travelling
by the banks of CauvEri and was wonder struck to hear
the incessant warbling of two hymns on Sriman NaarAyaNA
by a parrot perched on a tree near by .He dug the place 
and to his great surprise found the Sriranga VimAnam and 
BhagavAn resting on AdhisEshA under the sands . 
He carried out many renovations and maintained 
the worship of the Lord at His temple .

Raja Mahendra and Nanda ChOlA kings

The devout bhakthA of Sri RanganAthan by the name
of Raja MahEndra ChOlan followed and added many features to
the temple including a PrAhAram named after him . That 
prAhAram stands even today .

Next , Nanda ChOLan , a descendant of Dharma Varman 
ruling over NisuLApuri ( WorayUr )prayed to the Lord
to bless him with progeny . The Lord answered his prayer 
and the king found a baby girl on the top of a giant 
lotus in the lotus pond . He named the child Kamlavalli 
and raised her as his own child .When Kamalavalli reached 
the age of marriage , she desired to marry only 
Sri Ranganathan . The Lord of Srirangam married her
and she became WorayUr nAcchiyAr . The king became 
the father-in-law of the Lord and ceded his wealth 
to his son-in-law and built many mantapams and
nandavanams .

KulasEkara PerumAL of KollinAdu

He ruled over the chEra , chOLa and PaandyA
kingdoms and was a great bhakthA of the Lord of 
Srirangam . Like Nanda ChoLA , KulasEkhara PerumAL
married his daughter , Charakula Valli to Sri RanganAthan 
and spent his last days at the feet of the Lord .

Fifth Centruy A.D

A king from Bengal came to visit Sri RanganAthA
and brought with him  enormous wealth to cede
to the Lord for His ArAdhanam . The jealous 
administrators of the temple refused to accept 
the offered wealth . The king left the wealth
that he brought with him at the threshold 
of one of the gates and posted some of his soldiers 
and Brahmins to protect it and returned home . 
The Lord was very pleased with the king's Bhakthi 
and instructed His temple adhikAris to accept 
the offered wealth .That gate , where the wealth of 
the king rested is known today as "Aryapadal Vaasal " .

Thirumangai mannan and his contributions to Temple expansion

In the 9th century A.D , Thirumangai mannan 
built the ramparts around the temple , raised 
the height of the temple , created DasAvathAra Sannidhi 
and developed many nandavanams. Our Sri Sampath Rengarajan 
will be writing about Thirumangai Mannan's
kaimkaryams soon . 

The Kaimkaryam of the CHOLA and PaandyA Kings

ChOLENdra Simman , Gangai ThEvan Singan ,
ThANda Naicker , AgaLangan alias Vikrama chOLan ,
Sundara Paandyan alias ponn vEynhta PerumAL , 
KulOthunga ChOLA were the next generation kings 
who presente dthe Lord with many AabharaNams , 
Golden pUjA Vessels and the gold covered 
dhvaja sthambham . Dr.A. Gopinath of Bishop Heber
College , ThiruchirapaLLI has written a very 
informative article on the temple construction
at Srirangam over the centuries .

Sultan of Delhi & his daughter ( Tulukka NaacchiyAr)

After the time of the above kings , the Delhi Sultan
plundered the Srirangam temple and took with him 
the archA mUrthy , Sri RanganAthA . His daughter 
fell in love with the beauty of the Lord and kept
the Lord in her bed chambers and adored Him . 
A group of scholars from Srirangam came to the sultan's
court and appealed to the sultan to give them
permission to take Sri RanganAthA back to Srirangam .
The Sultan agred and the visitors to the court rushed 
back before the sultAni became aware of her loss .

The next morning , the sultAni found about 
the travel of her beloved Lord back to Srirangam and 
she left Delhi immediately to join her Lord . She arrived
at Srirangam with her father and could not find 
her beloved Lord . She died there heart broken .
Her devotion has earned her a sannidhi for her .
She is saluted as Tulukka NaacchiyAr .Her sannidhi 
is now at the King Raja MahEndran veethi ( N.E.Thirunadai
palace ) . 

The sultan was very unhappy . He tried to locate 
the site , where the temple authorities had hidden
Sri RanganAthan and finally gave up his search and 
returned to his capital . Three kodavars guarded 
the image of the Lord at the foot of a waterfall 
in Thirumalai .

For nearly 60 years , the Lord stayed at Thirumalai
and finally  the word leaked that the Lord is
kept at Thirumalai . GoppaNNa UdayAr , the minister
of the VijayanagarA king HarihararAyar and Chenchi 
ruler came to Thirumalai and carried Sri RenganAtha
and Sri RenganAyaki back to Srirangam . The year 
was 1293 AD ( Tamil year ParithApi ) . In that Year ,
on May 17th , the two kings performed consecration 
ceremonies at Srirangam and installed Sri RanganAthA  
and Sri RanganAyaki in their ancient home .

A King's doubt and the banishmnet of that doubt
There was some doubts in the mind of the then king 
Rajendra ChOLA whether the returned ArchA mUrthy 
was indeed the original Azhagiya MaNavALan . 
A dhObhi used to doing laundry kaimkaryam for 
the Lord partook the Thirumanjana jalam wrung from 
the wet vasthram of the Lord and identified 
the authenticity of the returned Lord as 
the original Sri RanganAthan .

The Lord was pleased with the King's sevai 
and appeared in his dream and blessed him .
He is the king, who created a sannidhi for
SuratthAni ( Tulukka NaacchiyAr ) , the daughter
of the Delhi Sultan . This king also left 
endowments for offering bread , sweet dhAl ,
Kicchadi and milk to Saanthu nAcchiyAr .

We will cover the period from Sri RaamAnujA's time 
at Srirangam to that of the present time in 
the next posting .

Sri RanganAyaki SamEtha Sri RangarAja ParabrahmaNE Nama :
Daasan , Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan