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Sri Ranganatha Temple Construction: Sri Ranganatha Mahima :Part 1

From: Sadagopan (sgopan_at_computer.net)
Date: Sun Mar 29 1998 - 19:56:55 PST

DHYAANA SLOKAM OF SRI RANGANATHA 
*********************************

MukhE mandahAsam nakhE chandrabhAsam 
karE chAru chakram surEsApivandhyam I

bhujangE sayAnam bhajE RanganAtham 
Hareranyadaivam na manyE na manyE II

Dear BhakthAs of Sri RanganAthA :

There are already number of posts from Sri Sampath 
Rengarajan , Thirumanjanam Sri Sundararajan , 
Sri M.K. Sudarsan , Sri N.Krishnamachari , myself 
and others on Srirangam Festivals and Sri Ranganatha 
SthOthrams . You can refer to them in the Bhakthi Archives 
and SaraNAgathi archives .

AzhwAr aruLiccheyalgaL
***********************

I will focus here on the 245 paasurams on Sri RanganAthA 
by the eleven AzhwArs . The individual AzhwAr's paasurams
are as follows :

1. Poygai  :      Mudal ThiruvandhAthi -1
2. BhUtham :      Second ThiruvandhAthi-4
3. PEy     :      Third ThiruvandhAthi-1

4. Thirumazhisai :Naanmukan ThiruvandhAthi-4
                 :Thirucchanda Viruttham --10
5. NammAzhwAr    :Thiruviruttham -1
                 :Thiruvaimozhi--11

6. PeriyAzhwAr : Periya Thirumozhi --35
7. ANDAL :       NaacchiyAr Thirumozhi--10
8. ThiruppANar : AmalanAdhi pirAn --10
9. Kulasekarar : PerumAL Thirumozhi-31
10.Tondardipodi: ThirumAlai-45
               : ThirupaLLIyezucchi-10
11.Thirumangai : Periya Thirumozhi-58
               : ThirunedumthAndakam -8
               : ThirukkurumthAndakam -4
               : Siriya Thirumadal-1
               : Periya Thirumadal-1

Thirumangai leads in the count of Pasurams with 
72 to his credit followed by the Ranganatha 
Pathivrathai ( Thondaradipodi ) with 55 paasurams .
PeriyAzhwAr and Kulasekarar take the third and fourth
place in the count with 35 and 31 paasurams respectively .
Rest of the seven AzhwArs share 52 paasurams between them .
Each of the 245 paasurams brim however 
with beauty and deep devotion . 

BhUlOka Vaikuntam and Azhagiya MaNavALan 
*****************************************

The object of the eulogy of the AzhwArs is the handsome
bridegroom ( Azhagiya maNavALan ) or NamperumAL .
He rests in the verdant island of Srirangam formed
by the two branches of Cauveri river . He rests on 
the timeless ( Ananthan ) AdisEshan under the shade of 
the Vedasrunga VimAnam with the shape of PraNavam . He is 
the ParavAsudEvan sung by the DevAs and worshipped 
by our AchAryAs for a very , very long time . He is 
AnAthi .He descended on this earth in response to
the prayers and penance of IshvAku dynasty kings ; He 
is the kula dhanam of Surya Kulam of Sri Ramachandran ; 
infact has been worshipped at AyOdhyA by Sri Ramachandran
Himself with His consort SitA Devi . 

After Sri Rama PattAbhishEkam , He was given as a present 
to VibhishaNan by Sri RamachandrA for permanent residence
in Sri LankhA . During transit , Sri RanganathA looked
over the verdant island of Srirangam and decided to stay
right there permanently to the disappointment of 
VibhishaNan . Since , Lord RanganAthA prefers Srirangam as
a place of residence over Sri Vaikuntam and the milky
ocean , Srirangam is celebrated as His BhOga mandalam .

AchAryAs who resided at Srirangam 
**********************************

Srirangam is one of the 8 svayamvyaktha (self-manifested )
KshEthrams and is one of the most important among the 
108 divya desams celebrated by the 12 AzhwArs . Naatha Muni .
ALavandAr , Periya nampi , RaamAnujA , EmbAr , KurEsar ,
AmudanAr , Garuda Vaahana Pandithar , 
Parasara Bhattar , Namjeeyar , PiLLai LokAcchAr ,
Vadakku Thiruveethi piLLai , Vedantha Desikan , 
MaNavALa Maamuni , Adi VaNN SatakOpa Yatheendhra 
MahA Desikan and his Acharya paramparai , The two
branches of Andavans and a great many SvayamAchArya 
PurushAs ( TaatAchArs et al )have spent 
a significant portion or all of
their lives at Srirangam . 

Granthams that were born here 
******************************
Here were born the immortal SaraNAgathi and 
the other two Gadhyams of Sri RaamnujA , 
Sri Sthvam of KurEsA , RangarAja Sthavam of ParAsara Bhattar
and a host of other sacred granthams of Swami Desikan 
such as Sri PaadhukhA sahasram , Sri Bhagavdh DhyAna
sOpAnam , Sri Abheethi Sthavam , DasAvathAra sthOthram ,
Tattva Muktha KalApam , SarvArtha Siddhi , NyAya Parisuddhi ,
NyAya Sidhanjanam , NyAsa Tilakam , Satha DhUshaNi ,
Tattva Deekai ,Sankalpa SUryOdhayam , YaadhavAbhudayam ,
and Hamsa SandEsam  . That is why , Srirangam is known 
and revered as Periya Koil and the EmperumAn is known as 
Periya PerumAL .He inspired and blessed them all .

SthAna VisEsha AdhikAram of Srirangam 
**************************************

In our Sri VaishNavite SampradhAyam , Koil ,
Thirumalai and PerumAL Koil are known for their
highest sthAna VisEsha adhikArams ( reputation 
and reverence as the highest among divya desams ) .
These three fit well with the three rahasya manthrAs
dear to Sri VaishNavAs . Swami Desikan has therefore 
prayed for uninterrupted ArAdhanam for Sriman NaarAyaNA 
at these three special divya desams :

Sriranga dviratha VrushAdhri pUrvakEshu
sthAnEshu sthira vibhavA bhavath saparyA I
aakalpam Varadha ! vidhUtha vairi pakshaa
bhUsyA bhavathanukampayaiva bhUyAth II

Swami Desikan prays for the aarAdhanam and service
( saparyA ) from kalpam to kalpam without let at 
these three special divya desams . 

In sthAna visEsha adhikAram , Srirangam is connected
to AshtAksharam , Kanchipuram to Dhvayam and Thirumalai
to Charama slOkam .Therefore , Swami Desikan prays 
for UttarOtthara aarAdhanam without interruptions .

Here on the beautiful banks of Cauveri river , Lord 
RanganAthA rests in one of His panchAkruthis as
KasthUri Rangan . The other four are CauvEri Rangan ,
KalyANa Rangan , Hema Rangan at Thirukkudanthai and 
ParimaLa Rangan at Thiru IndaLUr , where Cauveri 
joins her Lord , Samudra Raajan .Soon, He will take up
residence in North America as Bhaktha Vaathsalya Rangan 
on the banks of the majestic Hudson river . 

Sri RaamAnujA's recognition of the SthAna VisEsham
***************************************************

Sri RaamAnujA , who was born close to Kanchi VaradarAjan's
temple got instructions in Thirumalai from his uncle and 
spent most of his time until the end of his last moment on
this earth at Srirangam . His physical body rests 
inside the temple of Srirangam even today as per the 
wish of Sri RanganathA ( athraiva SukhamAsva ). 

Sri BhashyakArar changed the ArAdhana protocols from 
VaikAnasam to PaancharAthram . He conducted KaalakshEpam 
at the great temple of Srirangam .On a Panguni Uttaram
day , he composed his three Gadhyams ( Sriranga , SaraNAgathi
and Sri Vaikunta Gadhyams) here and performed his saraNAgathi
at the feet of the divya dampathis on their annual day of being 
together on Ekapeetam . The extremely pleased divya dampathis
broke their ArchAvathAra mounam and spoke to Sri RamAnujA 
and accepted his saraNAgathi . They instructed Sri RamAnujA
to stay right there at Srirangam until he shuffles his 
mortal coils ( Yaavacch.sareerapaatham , athraiva SrirangE
sukamAsva ) . They asked Sri RamAnujA to perform kaimkaryam
for them and stay right next to them until 
his last moments and thereafter too ! 
That is the glory of Sriranga KshEthram .

The elated RaamAnujA thanked the Divya dampathis 
for their krupA and was immersed in an ocean of 
bliss .Out poured the incomparable eulogy of our
AchAryA to the Lord in his Sriranga Gadhyam :

" apAra KaruNAMbhudhE ! anAlochitha visEsha asEsha 
lOka SaraNya ! PraNathArthihara ! aasritha vAthsalya 
yeka mahOdadhE ! anavaratha vidhitha nikila bhUtha 
jAtha yAthAthmya ! Satya kaama ! Sathya sankalpa! 
Aapathsakha ! Kaakustha! Sriman NaarAyaNa ! 
PurushOtthama! SRI RANGANAATHA !  Mama Naatha! 
thE nama: asthu ! ".

AchArya RaamAnujA performed SaraNAgathi directly
in SaraNAgathi Gadhyam and thanked the Lord for
accepting his SaraNAgathi in Sriranga Gadhyam .
After that , he wanted to remind people that it
is SRI VAIKUNTANAATHAN Himself , who is present at Srirangam .
For that purpose , he composed Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam .
With his JN~Ana dhrishti ( soul's eye) , he witnessed 
the unparalled beauty and the sacredness
of Sri Vaikuntam . He received the bhAgyam of having
the Lord's holy feet on his siras ( head) and was immersed 
in the ocean of aanandham .Thereafter , he returned to
BhUlOkam ( Srirangam , the BhOga mandalam ) and was 
blessed to perform nithya kaimkaryam to the divya
Dampathis of Srirangam .Such is the sacredness of
Srirangam , where AchArya RaamAnujA's feet travelled .

Other AchAryAs who followed Sri RaamAnujA fertilized 
and maintained the vitality of the tree of VisishTadvaitham
planted by him and made it yield abundant fruits .

Sri RanganAthA recognized the contributions of 
one such AchAryA and gave him ( Swami Desikan ),
the title of VedAnthAcchAryar . His consort 
was so proud of Her child's( Swami Desikan's )
accomplishments in many fields and recognized 
Her son proudly  as " Sarva Tantra Svatantrar " .

Sri RanganaathA attended the kaalakshEpam of another
achArya and recognized the outstanding services of 
this AchArya ( MaNavALa MaamunigaL ) and composed 
a Taniyan for him ( Sri SailEsa DayApaathram--) . 
Such is the sacrednes of Sriranga KshEthram .

Sri RanganaathA had special affection for the elder
son of KurEsA , the precocious ParAsara Bhattar , His 
PurOhithA . He conversed with him and had a wonderful
realtionship to him .  

ParAsara Bhatar and his Unique relationship to the Lord 
********************************************************
ParAsara Bhattar was born out of divine intervention 
of Sri RanganAthA as the son of KuratthAzhwAn and 
his wife ANDAL , an extraordinary woman .He was the elder 
of the twins born to KurEsA and his wife .AchArya RaamAnujA
himself gave the name of ParAsarA to the elder child 
and Veda VyAsA to the younger twin .Parasara Bhattar did not
live long , but his immortal contributions to Sri VaishNavism
are profound and could have happened only because of
the special blessings of Sri RanganAtha and His divine
consort , Sri RanganAyaki . The spiritual authority
invested in him by AchArya RaamAnujA is a direct 
consequence of the Srirangam Divya Dampathi's wishes .

ParAsara Bhattar and AshtaslOki
********************************

Parasara Bhattar in his own way paid tribute to 
the sthAnavisEshAdhikaarams of Srirangam , Kaanchi
and Thirumalai in his illustrious work :
AshtaslOki . The first four verses deal with 
Srirangam ( assoicated with AshtAksharam ) ,
the next two deal with dhvayam ( Kaanchi ) 
and the last two cover Charama slOkam ( Thirumalai ) .
The three rahasyAs and their associations 
with the three sthAnams of the Lord are thus
dealt with . 

Bhattar and Sri BhagavadguNadarpaNa
*************************************

At Srirangam was born this scholarly commentary on
the thousand names of the Lord immortalized in
Sri VishNu Sahasra Naamam .He celebrated the 
Tattva -Hitha -PurushArthams according to the 
VaishNavite darsanam . His commentary is a celebration
of the SaguNA aspects of the Brahman that rests
in the state of YoganidrA at Srirangam . 

Bhattar and Sri GuNarathna Kosam 
*********************************
Through the 61 verses of this devotional poem ,
Bhattar pays exquisite tribute to Sri RanganAyaki 
and salutes the special relationship She has to erring
jeevans from the intercession /mediacy ( purushakAra)
point of view as one of the SaraNya dampathis . 

Bhattar relates Sri RanganAyaki to SitA pirAtti
and visualizes Her as an adolescent girl somewhere 
between the throes of childhood and brimming
youthhood . The Lord has been celebrated as
ILamkumaran or Nithya YuvA by AzhwArs ( ThiruviNNagar
Paasurams ). Here , Bhattar salutes Sri RanganAyaki 
as Nithya Yuvathi .

Bhattar had a special claim to Sri RanganAthA ,
the MaapiLLai ( Azhagiya MaNavALan ) , who married
Sri RanganAyaki . He used to tell Sri RanganAthA 
that he is Sri dhanam that came with His divine bride .
He used to describe his special claim as " NaacchiyArkku
nallavar yenru yennai ThiruvuLLam paRRavum " . This was
his clever appeal to the beautiful son-in-law of Srirangam 
( Sundara JaamAthrA /Azhagiya MaNavALan ) . 

Bhattar's tribute in absentia from ThirukkOttiyUr
**************************************************

Bhattar according to hagiography had to exile 
himself from the sweet proximity of the Divya 
dampathis of Srirangam due to a disagreement 
with the then ChOLA ruler . He spent that voluntary
exile at ThirukkOttiyUr dear to Sri RaamAnujA .
>From there , he pined for the daranam of 
the divya dampathi and the daily life amidst 
Sri VaishNavAs at Srirangam and the holy 
waters of CauvEri . The eight verses composed
in a state of longing to be near his 
Ishta Daivam are moving . Such is the haunting
glory of the sacred city of the Lord to His
bhakthAs and BhagavathAs .The eight slOkams of
" Sri RanganAtha SthOthram " are among 
the treasured kula Dhanams of Sri VishNavAs 
far from the home of Srirangam . 

Sri RaamAnujA's anguish ,when he was away from 
his beloved Srirangam and Swami Desikan's sorrow
during his own exile during the troubled times at 
Srirangam  come to our mind when we read Bhattar's 
Sri RangarAja SthOthram .

Bhattar and SrirangarAja Sthavam
*********************************

In this magnum opus containing 232 slOkams 
on His Ishta Daivam and the defense of Sri VaishNava
darsanam over the others , Bhattar follows the  path
of his father , who composed the five Sthavams 
(athimAnusha , SundarabAhu , VaradarAja ,
Vaikunta and Sri SthavAs ) . Extraordinarily brilliant
poetry in celebration of his Ishta Daivam , 
the Chakravarthy of Srirangam , is used to 
crtically establish the soundeness of 
Sri VisishtAdvaitham as the great darsanam
that it is following the tradition of Sri RaamAnujA 
and his predecessors . 

There are two SlOkAs of Sri Ranga Raaja Sthvam that 
I would like to include here to illustrate the deep 
devotion of Bhattar to Sri RanganAthA .

1. paathu praNatha rakshAyAm vilampamahasanniva I
   sadhA panchAyudheem bibradhta na: SriranganAyaka : II

( Meaning ) : May the Lord RanganAyakA , who always 
stands quite ready with five weapons on His person 
come to our rescue and grant us protection . He carries
these panchAyudhams since He can not bear to have any
delay in responding to the cries for help from His BhakthAs 
( Bhaktha Vaatsalya Rangan ).

2. svam samskrutha drAvida vedasUkthai:
   bhAntham madhukthairmalineekarOthi I
   Srirangakrama : kalabham ka yEva
   snAthvApi dhULirasikam nishEddhA II

( Meaning ) : The beautiful Lord of Srirangam was well
adorned by the Sanskrit Veda Manthrams and the Tamizh
paasurams of AzhwArs. When He is eulogized by the two
VedAs ( Tamizh and Sanskrit ) , he revels as one , who 
just had his Thirumanjanam . If that is so , why would He 
like to tarnish His clean image by my praise ? By the way ,
who can succeed in preventing the free-willed elephant
from pouring dirt and mud over its clean body
after a fresh and cleansing bath in the river ?

( Even today ,The Lord of Srirangam hears PurushasUktham 
first during His thirumanjanam ,then PeriyAzhwAr's 
neerAtta paasurams next and finally the Bhattar's 
28 Thirumanjana verses in Tamil , which is a most interesting 
dialog between Jivan and Parabhramam , where the
latter is seeking the help of a referre to settle
their argument in His favor ) . The family of Parasara
Bhattar still recite these Thirumanjana kavis ,
which have been blessed with a MaNipravALa commentary
by Bhattar himself .

Such is the greatness of Srirangam , where Parasara 
Bhattar's sacred feet hurried to the side of 
Sri RanganAthA daily to do his assigned PurOhitam 
( going ahead of the YajamAnA to assure hitham ) .

Sri RanganAthA , the Bhaktha DaakshiNyan is going 
to settle on the banks of Hudson river in North
America at Pomona , New York in few months and I
invite your participation in the construction of
the temple for Him to be worshipped in the authentic
PaancharAthrA way established by AchArya RaamAnujA .

The Thiruvaimozhi ( entire 1,000 plus verses ) 
are considered by one pUrvAcchAryAr ( NampiLLai) 
to be dedicated to Sri RanganAtha alone. The individual
tens( paattus) for ThiruvenkatamudayAn and other ArchA mUrthys
of other divya dEsams are considered as measured distributions by 
Periya PerumAl ( namperumAL )Himself to His fellow ArchA mUrthys .
What a sweet anubhavam by NampiLLai !

Sri RanganAyikA samEtha Sri RanganAyaka 
ParabhramaNE Nama : 

ParAnkusa Daasan ,
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan