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Sri Ranganathar Temple construction : Part 2

From: Sadagopan (sgopan_at_computer.net)
Date: Mon Mar 30 1998 - 19:06:23 PST

Dear BhakthAs of Sri RanganAthA :

The thoughts about Sri RangEsa PurOhithA ,
Sri ParAsara Bhattar are still swirling my head .
I will dwell some more on this extaordinary 
devotee of Sri RangarAjA .

According to one anecdote , during the last moments of 
his life on earth at Srirangam , Bhattar was asked by 
one of his grief-stricken shishyAs , whether he would 
indeed like to go to Sri Vaikuntam . The great devotee
of Sri RanganAthA replied with feeling : " Yes , I will
first travel to Sri Vaikuntam and have the darsanam of
Sri VaikuntanAthan there to satisfy my curiosity whether 
he is as enthralling and captivating as our RanganAthA .
If Sri VaikuntanAthan does not match up , I will return 
right back to this bhUlOkam and continue to serve 
our Rangan .I do not really pay much attention to 
the SaasthrAs declaring that there is no return to 
this earth  for one , who reaches Sri Vaikuntam " . 
That speaks volumes about the devotion of Bhattar 
for Sri RanganAthA .

In a similar spirit  , ThiruppANa AzhwAr
declared that " yenn amudhanaik kanda kaNNgaL 
maRRonrinaik kANAvE " in one of his ten paasurams .
AzhwAr declared here that his eyes will not care to see
any one or anything after soaking in the nectar of
the beauty of Sri RanganAthAn .

It is pertinent to point out that Swami Desikan chose 
the title of Sri Bhagavadh DhyAna sOpAnam for
a sthOthram he composed in honor of Sri RanganAthA .
He did not name it , " Sri RanganAtha DhyAna sOpAnam "
because he wanted to emphasize the nature of RanganAthA
as the supreme BhagavAn with the six auspicious attributes .

Coming back to Parasara Bhattar's enjoyment of
Azhagiya MaNavALan , the whole pUrva sathaka of 
Sri RangarAja sthavam of Bhattar instructs us 
about the blessings and grandeur of worshipping
Sri RanganAthA at Srirangam. The kramam (sequence ) 
is as follows :taking a sacred bath in Cauvery , 
entering the grand temple ,taking another 
purificatory bath in chandra pushkariNi ,
worshipping the AzhwArs , offering salutation to 
Sri Ranga VimAnam , and then standing next to the 
special pillar inside the garbha graham known as 
KalyANa sthambham ( maNat thUNN ) and being lost 
in the bliss arising from the darsanam of 
the Sesha sAyee with His divine consorts . 

Worshipping the AzhwArs and particularly NammAzhwAr 
through the recitation of his paasurams on Sri RanganAthA
( Thiruvaimozhi 7.2) was very important to ParAsara Bhattar.
In these paasurams , NammAzhwAr describes his pathetic 
state of existence resulting from his seperation 
( vislEsham ) from his Lord . He cries out in viraha
tApam as ParAnkusa Naayaki . According to traditional
accounts , Bhattar was overcome by the depth of feelings
of NammAzhwAr for "her" nAyakan in these paasurams 
and used to say :

" We are not fit to appreciate the AzhwAr's intensity of 
love nor can we fathom his yearning and desire for 
the union with the Lord .We are simply reciting these 
paasurams without understanding even an iota of 
the AzhwAr's true feelings " . 

Sri RanganAtha eulogized by eleven AzhwArs
( pathinmar paaDiya PerumAL ) resides in 
" the aarAtha aruLamudham pothintha Koil " 
according to Swami Desikan's description in 
AdhikAra Sangraham . He listens to the thousand
verses dedicated to Him by NammAzhwAr ( vaan 
thihazhum solai mathiLarangar vaNN puhazh 
mEl aanRa Tamizh maRaigaL aayiram ) and allocates
that naivEdhyam to the ArchA mUrthys of other 
divya dEsams .The adopted child of Sri RanganAthan ,
Parasara Bhattar refers to this allocation of 
Thiruvaimozhi paasurms by Sri Rangapureesan .

Parasara Bhattar's nirvAhams(intrepretations )
of Thiruvaimozhi are famous . He was fond of 
quoting Thiruvaimozhi Paasuram relating to 
the Lord reclining on AdhisEshA :

" pAmpaNayAn seer kalantha soll ninainthu 
pOkkArEl , soozh vinayin aazh thuyarai yenn
ninainthu pOkkuvar ippOthu ? " 

( Meaning ) : How are they (people )going to banish 
the sorrows of their samsAric afflictions , if not 
by reflecting on the words glorifying the anantha 
kalyANa guNAs of the Lord reclining on his serpent
bed at Srirangam now ? " .

That is why the AzhwAr/AchAryA's divya sUkthis are 
important for us to recite instead of saying something
on our own .The power of their anubhavam lasts
even today and will last forever. The Lord relates to
it , when we recite them . 

One such divya sUkthi is the Sri RanganAtha SthOthram 
of Parasara Bhattar consisting of 6 main slOkAs and 
two more stray verses . As a result of his displeasure 
over the BhAgavadhApacharam committed by the ruling king 
( Veera Sundara Bhramma rAyan )of Srirangam , Bhattar 
reluctantly left Srirangam and settled at GOshtipuram
( ThirukkOttiyUr ) for a short time . There , he missed 
the sevai of Sri RanganAthan and the nithyOthsavams at 
Srirangam . He pined for the darsanam of Sri RanganAthan 
and mentally invoked the Lord reclining on the five-headed
Adhi sEshan in the middle of Cauveri and KoLLidam in 
the first slOkam of his Sri RanganAtha sthOthram in an
evocative manner :

saptha prAkAra madhyE sarasija-
mukuLodhbhAsamAnE vimAnE 
KaavEri madhya dEsE mridhutara-
paNirAt bhOgya paryanka bhAgE I
nidhrA mudhrAbhirAmam katina-
katisira: pArsva vinyastha hastham
PadmAdhAthree karAbhyAm parichitha-
charaNam RANGARAAJAM bhajEham II

( Meaning ) : In the center of Ubhya KaauvEri and 
in the middle of the seven ramparts ( prAkArams ) 
and under the Sriranga vimAnam resembling a giant
lotus bud rests our beautiful Lord RanganAthA on 
His beautiful bed of Adhi SeshA in the state of 
Yoga NidhrA with His right hand close to His crown and 
the left hand on the left side pointing to His 
sacred feet . I pay my obesiance to that SaraNyan ,
Sri RangarAjan .

Now , Bhattar is overcome with sorrow over the thought 
of being separated from his Lord and pines for the darsana
soubhAghyam of Sri RanganAthan in his second verse : 

kasthUree kalithOrdhva punDra-
tilakam karNAnthalOlEkshaNam 
mugdha smEra manOharAdharadalam
mukthA kireetOjjvalam I
pasyan maanasa pasyathOhara-
rucha:paryAyapankEruham 
SrirangAdhipathE : kadhA nu 
vadhanam sEvEya bhUyOpyaham II

( Meaning ) : When am I going to have the blessings
of enjoying the beautiful face of the mind-stealer 
(chitthApahAri), Sri RanganAthA adorned by the fragrant
urdhva punDra tilakam made up of kasthUri parimaLam ,
possessing the steady eyes that extend up to His ears , 
having the lips enriched by the most natural captivating 
smile, the shining pearl crown and the face 
resembling in softness and beauty of 
a just-blossoming lotus ?

In the third slOkam , Bhattar laments about his
durbhAgyam and asks the Lord , when he ( Bhattar )
is going to stand next to Him and sing about His names :

kadhAham kAuvEreetaDa parisarE RanganagarE 
sayAnam BhOgeendrE satha maNi syAmaLa ruchim I
upAseena: krOsan Madhumathana! NaarAyaNa ! HarE !
MurArE ! govindEthyanisam apanEshyAmi divasAn II

( Meaning ) : When am I going to have the bhAgyam of 
standing next to that Lord with the hue of Indra neela
gem resting on Adhi SeshA and have his darsanam and 
sing raptourously His names , " Madhumathana ! 
NaarAyaNa ! HarE ! MurArE ! Govindha ! " and
spend the days of my life this way ? 

Such longings continue and in the next slOkam ,
Bhattar longs for the day of return to Srirangam
and taking his purificatory bath in the sacred 
waters of KaavEri river :

kadhAham kAvEri vimala salilE veetha kaalEshu
bhavEyam tattheerE sramamushi vasEyam ganavanE I
kadhA vaa tam puNyE mahathi pulinE mangala guNam
bhajEyam RangEsam kamala nayanam sEsha sayanam II

( Meaning ) : When am I going to have the blessings
of sevaa bhAgyam of the lotus-eyed Lord , Sri RangEsan ,
resting on His soft and comfortable serpent bed ? 
When am I going to be blessed to take my snAnam
in the cool and sacred waters of KaavEri river 
and become sinless? When am I going to gain 
the boon of living in the verdant groves on 
the bank of this sacred river and worship my
Bewitching Rangan ? 

In the subsequent slOkam , Bhattar is deeply 
worried about his good fortune that would permit him
to return to the kshEthram of his beloved Lord
and he laments :

pUgee kaNDa dhvayasa sarasasnighdha neerOpakantAm
aavirmOdhasthimitha sakunAnudhitha bhramaghOshAm I
maargE maargE pathika nivahai: unchyamAnApavargAm
pasyEyam thaam punarapi pureem Srimatheem RangadhAmna : II

( Meaning ) : Will I ever have the soubhAgayam 
to return to the sacred Srirangam , where the waters
of KaavEri flow up to the neck of the arecanut ( kamuhu) 
trees with its sweet and plesant waters ? will I 
ever have the darsana soubhAgyam of the happy birds
( SaarikA birds ) , which repeat the Veda manthrams 
in their state of Joy as residents of Srirangam 
and where the throngs of the bhAgyasAlis 
gather together the assembly of 
wealth ( sampath Samriddhi ) known as Moksham 
as a result of their visits ? Will I ever have
the good fotune to visit that KshEthram of
Sri RanganAthA ? 

Like Kulasekara AzhwAr begged Sri VenkatEsA 
of Thirumalai to be born as anything on the sacred 
hills, Bhattar asks in the next slOkam to be born
even as  a lowly dog in Srirangam . Here is his prayer:

na jAthu peethAmrutha mUrchithAnAm
nAkoukasAm nandhavADikAsu I'
RangEsvara! tvath puram aasrithAnAm
rathyAsunAm anyatamO bhavEyam II

( Meaning ) : Oh , RanganAthA ! I will never want 
to be one of the devAs , who drink nectar in
the gardens of IndrA and feel inebriated with
joy from that kind of experience . May I be blessed
instead to be born as a dog in the streets of 
Your Sriranga KshEthram ( to be near You and
have Your darsanam as you go around the streets
of Your rajadhAni during Your Uthsavams ) .

With the above slOkam , the Sri RanganAtha 
SthOthram is over . There are however two more 
stray verses( Mudhagams) , which are always recited . 
These two might have been composed at another time by 
Bhattar . The first of the two has connections 
to the wish to be born as a lowly dog in Srirangam .

One morning , Bhattar was rushing to the temple 
to execute his duties as SrirangEsa PurOhithar .
A devotee came out of the temple and told the passing
Bhattar that a dog strayed into the Sannidhi and 
therefore a group of people were conducting Saanthi Homam 
and puNyAhavAchanam to purify the inner precincts .
This devotte was somewaht skeptical about the motives
of those performing the homam and mentioned that 
the group was doing the homam for their own personal
benefit .On hearing that , the amused Bhattar composed
this slOkam and placed it at the feet of His Lord :

asannikrushtasya nikrushtajanthO-
mithyApavAdhEna karOshi sAnthim I
tathO nikrushtE mayi sannikrushtE 
kaam nishkruthim RangapathE karOshi ? II

( Meaning ) : Oh , RanganAthA ! You are having
the saanthi homam performed under the pretext 
of a dog that entered Your sannidhi . That event
however did not happen .What are You going to do now ,
when the lowliest of the lowliest , myself has 
arrived at Your side ? What kind of santhi homam
are you going to get done to sanctify Your sannidhi ?

This is the context of the origin of Bhattar's 
seventh slOkam that we recite . 

In the concluding slOkam , Bhattar lists a number of 
Divya desams like Srirangam dear to AchAryA RaamAnujA's
heart :

Srirangam karisailam anjanagirim 
thArkshyAdhri Simhaachalou  
Sri kUrmam PurushOtthamam cha 
BhadareenArAyanam naimisam I
Srimadh DwAravathee PrayAga-
MadhurA AyOdhyA GayA: Pushkaram
SaaLagrAma girim nishEvya 
ramathE RaamAnujOyam muni: II

( Meaning ) : Our great AchArya RaamAnuja 
had stayed with affection ( uhandhu yezhuntharuLinAr)
at Srirangam , Hasthigiri ( Kaanchi ) , Thiru Venkatam ,
AhObilam , SimhAchalam , SreekUrmam , PurushOtthamam
( pUri Jagannatham ), BhadrikAsramam , NaimisAraNyam ,
Srimadh DwArakai ,PrayAg , Vada Madhurai , AyOddhi ,
Gaya , Pushkaram and SaalagrAmama giri .

The greatness of the mukthi kshEhtrams
is saluted here with Srirangam at the 
front end . 

Such Srirangam and its KshEthranAthan is
going to take His residence at Pomona , New York
in few months . May I appeal to you to help 
generously to complete the temple fit for His
residence and be there to receive Him with
Poorna Kumbham on the day of His arrival soon ?

Please contact me or Dr.Venakat Kanumalla 
( kanumalla@hotmail.com ) for information on 
how you can accelerate this Kaimkaryam towards
its finish line .

The birthdays of the divya dampathis 
of Srirangam ( Revathi for Sri RanganAthan and
Uttaram for Sri RanganAyaki  ) are fast approaching .
Sri Rama Navami is coming close . The new Tamil , 
Telegu and kannadA new Year is about to be born. 
During the occasion of these auspicious events ,
May I appeal to you all to help in every way
you can with this kaimkaryam ?

In the next posting on Sri RanganAthA , I will
cover the salutations of Saint ThyagarAja 
( Sriranga Pancha Rathnam ) and Sri Mutthuswami 
Dikshithar's tribute to Sri RanganivAsan in raagams
BrindhAvana SaarangA and others .

Sri RangEsa CharaNou SaraNam PrapadhyE 
ParAnkusa Daasan ,
Oppiliappan Sannidhi VardAchAri SadagOpan