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Sri Ranga's diverse abodes.

From: Tirumanjanam Sundara Rajan (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2001 - 05:58:29 PDT

Friends of 'bhakti list',

I had missed the 'sAmpradAya' reference for the name <Hema Rangan of
Thirukkudanthia>.   I wd be grateful if someone cd supply it.

"hEma-rangan", for me, is from stanza 35 of irAmAnuSa-nooRRantAdi which
refers to emperumAnAr as the one who goes into a trance at the mere
thought of Sriranga who is all of gold 
("A-praNakhAt suvarNam", as chhAndOgyam has it) ~~ 
"ponnaranGam ennil mayalE perukum irAmAnuSan".   
This stanza which describes the spell-binding nature of ponn-arangan's
name on Sri Ramanuja must have been inspired by koorat-t-Azhvan's like
description of the golden-lotus feet of Achyuta:  our Guru, Ramanuja,
was ever under their spell and held everything else ('tad-itarANi trNAya
mEnE') as trifle.
<5. The fifth one is between Srirangam and Thirukkudanthai.
I can not trecall this dhivya desam quickly. Other BhakthAs might be
able to add this information.>

The reference is perhaps to the divya-dESam 'tiru-p-pEr nagar' where the
Lord reclines on ananta-couch.  The divya-dESam has acquired two
colloquial names, 'appa-k-kuDattAn' and 'kOyil-aDi', and is situated at
the northern end of the ancient dam 'kal-aNai' across kAvEri, and about
45 minutes to the east of Srirangam.
"pinnai-maNALanai pEril kiDantAnai" of periyAzhvAr is but one of the
several divya-prabandham hymns dedicated to this renowned 'kshEtram'.
'Shivana Samudram' is (or was, way back in 1991 when I visited) 
an utterly tranquil islet in river Kaveri, situated in the 
dense verdure of Malavalli taluq in district Mandya, Karnataka.  
[Malavalli nestles close to Kollegal, the haunt of private operators
'promoting' the fragrant wood!]

The name 'Shivana Samudram', as one can see, is utterly inappropriate
for the exclusive site of a Vaishnava temple,
and must have been foisted during the rule of the later Hoysala rabid
king, BallaaLa-III  who was responsible for converting the Vishnu shrine
into Saivam at the place which to-day bears the non-name of
tiru-vaNNA-malai. (What a fall, from the ancestor biTTi-deva /
vishNu-vardhana who sheltered Sri Ramanuja, and who, at the desire of
Sri Ramanuja, got Sri mudali-ANDAn to supervise the construction of five
magnificent Vishnu temples!)  

The shrine at 'Samudram' of Malavalli is dedicated to a very cute
ananta-nArAyaNa, evidently an early Hoysala crafting, about five
feet in all.    You could hear the gurgle of the river's flow in the
pervasive tranquility.  [This place was so deserted that some insurgents
had taken shelter there.] Each and every Sri Vaishnava shrine anywhere
in has come under such subversive and, now raucous, assault: how fragile
is beauty, how feeble peace !
It is really not possible to list out all the diverse abodes of Sri
Ranganatha.   It is as well as to remember that 'ranga-nAtha' is the
common iconographic identification of Sriman Narayana reclining on the
serpent-couch of 'ananta' (meaning 'time infinity'). I have a Tibetan
buddhist work of the 15th century which gives the name, Ranganatha, to
yathOkta-kAri perumAL
of the Kanchi divya-dESam, tiru-ve~h-kA.   

It is this manifestation of the Lord reclining on the ananta-couch which
is held most precious in our exegetic ('vyAkhyAna') tradition;  hence
the primacy of Lord Sriranga among all such manifestations.  It is this
manifestation which has earned the foremost mention in the first Rk of
the mahA-nArAyaN-Opanishad 
which describes the 'panchAvasthA' of the Lord ~~ param, vyUham,
vibhavam, archA and antaryAmitvam: ('ambhas-yapArE', the One who rests
across the shoreless waters ~~ a description which is echoed in the
Bible book of Genesis 1:2 as "the Spirit of God that moved upon the face
of the Waters").   And this is how the Lord is 
in Srirangam.

The 'Adi- madhya- antya-' Rangam identification rests more in popular
fancy and understanding of the sacred sites ("ukandu-aruLina nilankaL")
than in 'vyAkhyAna-paramparA'.   Considered in time coordinates,
Srirangam happens to be the most ancient seat of the Lord and hence
stands as THE Adi-rangam.  Nevertheless, one may assign the ordinals,
first, middle
and the terminal, according to the geographic situation of the
'kshEtram' down the course of the river.   It is a pleasurable exercise
to chart down the course of our dear river Kaveri and to stick
colour-pins to mark the sites of temples dedicated to Sriranga !  

"ARRu-vari" or the lay of the river, is the very delicate poetry in the
Tamil classic 'Silap-p-adhikAram' devoted to Kaveri, it reminds one so
much of Edmund Spenser's lines dedicated to river Thames: "Sweet Thames,
run softly till I end my song."

The ananta-SAyee one can worship to-day at the farthest north of our
sub-continent is about 10 km to the east of Nepal's capital city of
kATh-mandu.  The 15-ft image is truly a masterpiece of sculpting (not in
freize but rounded), and is in a tank built around it. This is
manifestly identified by the Sankham, chakram and gadA, and the given
name is 'buDhA neelA-kAnta' (the Ancient One, Lord of neelA),
mispronounced as 'buddha neel-kanTha'. 
ILLITERACY and/or through deliberate intention, THE VERY IDENTITY OF A
RELIGIOUS SITE or of the object of worship CAN BE ALTERED ! 

In a  'nAm-ghar' shrine in Gauhati-Assam of  (vaishNav-advaiti
sampradAya of) mahApurusha Sri Sankara-dEvA,  I have noticed the
'ananta-SAyee' image placed in the nAm-keertan hall, despite that the
object of worship in this cult is only the book of Srimad Bhagavatam
together with the teachings of the Guru.    
Bhilwara in the State of Rajasthan, which is to-day a commercial
name, was the Padma Puranam site of 'bila-dvAram' where ananta-SAyee was
The famed Ellora caves have large niches for ananta-SAyee and narasimha. 
There is an ananta-SAyee temple on the coastal strip connecting
Simhachalam (Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh) with Srikakulam/
We would terminate the great ananta-Sayee trek 
at tiru-vATTaru of Adi-kESava or 
at Trivandrum of ananta-padma-nAbha-svAmi.

And the most miraculous of ananta-SAyee images are to be seen in the
culturally rich and economically impoverished State of
Orissa, known as Ut-kalA. 
The two colossal and majestic (50 ft long) rock carvings of
ananta-Sayanam are:

(i) one on the eastern bank of river brAhmaNee at the site 'sArang' in
district Angul, Orissa.  
[The sacred feet of the Lord extend to the water-rim, 
and this beatific locale reminds you of 
kula-SEkhara AzhvAr's lines on Sriranga ~~
"tiruvaranga-p-peru nagaruL teN-Neer-p-ponni
tirai-k-kaiyAl aDi-varuDa-p-paLLi koLLum", and 
Sri Parasara bhattar's translation ~~
"kAvEree laharee-karaih vidadhati paryEti sAsEvyatAm"]

This is totally neglected, being exposed to weathering.

(ii) the other discovered about twenty feet below existing ground level
at the NTPC project site at Talcher, district Angul.   Hardly 30 minutes
from the first one.  
This is well taken care of by NTPC.

I would gladly risk comparison of these two majestic images 
(in which the Lord bears his Sankham and chakram and the gadA) 
to the the Abu Simbel colossi of Ramases-Nefertiti in Egypt and
(the recently vandalised) Afghanistan-Bhamian colossal Buddha. 

Thus is the sweep of Sriranga over our religious cartography !

aDiyEn rAmanuja-dAsan
Sundara Rajan.


Sadagopan wrote Wed, 22 Aug 2001 20:10:57 -0400 (EDT):

I was not aware of an Aadhi Rangan at Shivana Samudram.
It was my understanding that the Sriranga PattaNam RanganAthan 
was the Adhi Rangan.
There are 5 RanganAthans on the bank of Cauvery ( Not always in the
middle of Islands) for us.    These are:
1.Adhi Rangan 2.KasthUri Rangan of Srirangam 3.Hema Rangan of
Thirukkudanthia 4.ParimaLa Rangan of Thiru Indhalur,  where Cauvery
reaches its Sangamam with Samudhra Raajan 
5. The fifth one is between Srirangam and Thirukkudanthai.
I can not trecall this dhivya desam quickly. 
Other BhakthAs might be able to add this information.

Sri RanganAtha ParabrahmaNE Nama: V.Sadagopan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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