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Article on Srirangam from the Hindu.

From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (
Date: Fri Dec 05 1997 - 09:49:21 PST


Idol worship, an easy way to reach God 

Date: 05-12-1997 :: Pg: 24 :: Col: c 

Cl: Religion 

CHENNAI, Dec. 5. 

God has provided devotees with several methods to reach Him. Though
scriptures are the principal means of knowing the Supreme, one of the
easy ways is through worship of idols installed in temples. These idols
have been duly sanctified and the incantations chanted during the time
of consecrating them, give them life and hence, they are believed to

Temples are centres for spiritual practices and with the sword of
devotion, the thorn of evil effects emanating from past actions can be
overcome. Puranas narrate about the way in which society's calamities,
which were destined to occur, have been averted or their impact
mitigated, by pleasing the deities in temples. During the visits, a
devotee should not tell God about his problems but thank Him for what
all benefits He had granted him. The Lord need not be told about one's

Though India abounds in temples of different types, yet God has Himself
``sculpted'' images in eight major pilgrim centres. The dates of their
origin cannot be fixed because they have ``sprung'' of their own accord
and by divine grace. Srirangam is prominent among these holy places.
There are many legends surrounding its development over centuries. Lord
Rama is said to have worshipped Ranganatha's idol. Religious history
tells us how many of the temples have come under attack by marauders.
One such incident occurred at the Srirangam temple during the early 18th

According to Sri N. Vadirajachar in his lecture, a sorcerer who had
acquired certain occult powers was camping in Srirangam. He had learnt a
``Vanishing trick''. By smearing a cream around his eyes, he will vanish
from public gaze and he used to hide himself in the sanctum sanctorum.
Evil-minded as he was, the magician then proceeded to bring down the
lustre in the deity's (Ranganatha) face and limbs by reciting some
mantras. Devotees started feeling the lack of spiritual power in the
idol, in a gradual manner. One of the Madhwa saints, Sri Sumatheendra
Thirtha (1692-1725), who once camped at Srirangam, came to know about
this strange phenomenon and could guess who was behind this act. He
noticed that the hiding magician remained within the shrine, eating the
food left on a podium. The saint then asked the temple cooks to mix
large quantities of pepper with the rice. Tasting the offering which was
so hot, the culprit started shedding copious tears and wiping them,
resulting in the cream he had applied, to melt away, thereby exposing
him to the public. To prevent such further occurrences, Sri Sumatheendra
Thirtha installed an Anjaneya idol in the temple complex.