Devi's Corner - Temples in Tamilnadu - Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, Trichy
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Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, Trichy

     The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu India is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu. It is the first and foremost among the 108 Divya Desams, the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu.

     The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (6,31,000 square meter) with a perimeter of 1,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India. Srirangam temple can be easily termed as the biggest functioning Hindu temple in the world (it's termed as biggest "functioning" because Angkor Wat is the biggest but non-functioning Hindu temple in the world).

     The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls and the total length of these seven walls is 32,592 feet or over six miles. There are total of 21 gopurams in this temple. The weight of the Gopuram is 24,880 tons and the entrance is 11 3/4 width and height is 24 3/4. The 7 walls are referred to as the 7 worlds. The 7th wall is the outer wall which can be seen and it is 3072 feet in length and 2521 feet in breadth. For 7 prakaarams, 7 thiruveedhi (streets) are found. 7th thiruveedhi is called "Chitthirai Thiruveedhi" where bigh houses and bunglows are found. Sixth Veedhi, which is found in Sixth prakaaram is called "Thiru vikraman thiruveedhi" fifth veedhi om 5th prakaram is Agalangan Thiru veedhi". Fourth veedhi in 4th prakaram is "Aalinaadan Thiruveedhi". Third veedhi in 3rd prakaram is "Kulasekaran Thiruveedhi". Second veedhi in 2nd prakaram is "Raja Mahendran". And in the first prakaram, Emperumaan Sri Ranganathan in Kidantha Kolam gives seva and this is called "Dharma Varman Thiru chuttru (circle). Among the marvels of the temple is a "hall of 1000 pillars" (actually 953).

     The Gopuram of Sri Rangam is popularly called as "Raja Gopuram" and it is the biggest gopuram in the Asian Sub - Continent. The height of the Gopuram is 236 feet high with 13 Nilays. 12 Kalasams are kept on the top of the Gopuram. It took almost 7 years to complete the Gopuram. The Rajagopuram did not reach its current height of 73 m. until 1987, when the 44th Jeer of Ahobila Mutt initiated the process with the help of philanthropists and others.

     There are in total eight Svayam Vyakta Ksetras ("self-manifested shrines"), of Lord Vishnu, according to Sri Vaisnava philosophy namely, Srirangam, Srimushnam, Venkatadri, Saligramam, Naimisaranyam, Totadri, Pushakara and Badrinath. Of these, Srirangam is the first and of foremost importance. The temple is situated in an island - enclosed by Kaveri river and Kollidam river.

     Sriranga Mahathmiyam is the compilation of the mythological and religious account of the temple. According to it, Lord Brahma, the Lord of Creation in Hindu Mythology was once in a state of deep meditation and in His supreme trance got the gift of the Lord Vishnu's idol, "Ranga Vimana" and was told by the Supreme Lord that there would seven other appearance of such idols on earth - Srirangam, Srimushnam, Venkatadri, Saligram, Naimisaranya, Totadri, Pushkara and Badri. The idol was then passed over by Brahma to Viraja, Vaiswatha, Manu, Ishwaku and then finally descended to Rama. Lord Rama, himself an avatar of Vishnu worshipped the idol for a long time, and when he returned victoriously from Sri Lanka destroying Ravana, he gifted it to King Vibhishana as a token of appreciation for his support for Rama against his own brother, Ravana. When Vibhishana was going via Trichy enroute to Sri Lanka, he was tricked by Lord Vinayaka. Though Vibhishana supported Rama, he was basically an Asura, and hence the Devas wanted to stop this idea of an Asura taking Lord's supreme form to his Kingdom. They requested the help of the God of Happiness, Lord Vinayaka and the Lord accepted the plan. Vibhishana, while on the way back to his Kingdom, passed through Trichy, and wanted to take his bath in the river Kaveri and do his daily rituals. However, he was perplexed as the idol once placed in land, could never be removed and had to be in that place forever. As a solution, Vibhishana tried to find someone to hold the idol while he was taking bath and found under the disguise of a cowherd boy. As per the plan, when Vibhishana was fully into water, kept the idol firmly on the sand in the banks of Kaveri. On seeing this, the angry Vibhishana chased the boy to punish him, but the boy kept running and climbed over the rock near the Kaveri bank. Finally caught the boy and hit him on the fore-head, who then revealed himself to be Lord Vinayaka. Vibhishana immediately apologized and the Lord gave him his blessings after which Vibhishana continued on his way to Lanka.

     The place on which the Ranganathan idol was kept was later covered in deep forests due to disuse. It is discovered when a Chola king chasing a parrot finds the idol accidentally. He then establishes the Ranganathaswamy temple as one of the largest temple complexes in the world. The rock to which Vinayaka for escaping, now forms the famous temple of Uchi Pillayar Kovil.

     Most dynasties that ruled the South (Dravidian land)- Cholas, Pandiyas, Hoysalas, Nayakkas - assisted renovation and assisted in the observance of the traditional customs. The temple finds mention in Tamil works of literature of the Sangam Era, including Silapadikaram, though archaeological inscriptions are available only from the 10th century AD.

     During the period of invasion by Malik Kafur and his forces in 1310-1311, Namperumal was stolen and taken to Delhi. In a daring exploit, devotees of Srirangam ventured to Delhi and enthralled the king with their histrionics. Moved by their talent, the King was pleased to gift them the presiding deity of Srirangam, which was requested by the performers. Things took a drastic turn immediately. Surathani, his daughter fell in love with the deity and followed him to Srirangam. She prostrated to the God in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum and is believed to have attained the Heavenly Abode immediately. Even today, a painting of "Surathani" (known as "Thulukha Nachiyar" in Tamil) can be seen in the Arjuna Mandap adjacent to the Sanctum Sanctorum for whom, "chappathis" are made daily.

     Assuming that the magical power of the deity had killed his daughter, there was a second invasion to Srirangam in 1323 A.D. This time it was more severe that the presiding deity, was taken away, before the Islamic invaders reached Srirangam, by the group led by the Vaishnavite Acharaya, Pillai Lokacharyar, who died en-route to Thirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. The Goddess "Renganayaki" was taken in another separate procession. Swami Vedanta Desika, instrumental in planning the operations during the siege of the temple, closed the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple with bricks, after the processions of the presiding deities had left - thereby protected the temple for generations to come. 13000 Sri Vaishnavas - people of Srirangam - laid down their lives in the fierce battle ensuring that the instution was protected. In the end, "Devadasis", the danseuse of Srirangam, seduced the Army Chief, to save the temple. Almost after six decades, the presiding deity returned to Srirangam and the same Swami Vedanta Desika, who built a brick wall in front of the sanctum sanctorum broke it open. We learn that the deity of Srirangam lived in the hills of Tirumala Tirupati for quite a long period of time.

     The great Vaishnavite scholar Ramanujacharya attained divinity here and his "Swayam Thirumeni" (the symbolic body) is preserved and offered prayers even today after 8 centuries. His Shrine is found in the fourth "prakara" of the temple and his "Thirumeni" is preserved in the temple in a seated position, by applying saffron and camphor every six months in a ritualistic style.

Literary Works:
The following were exclusively composed in Srirangam.
Sri Bhashyam - Sri Ramanuja
Sriranga Gadhyam - Sri Ramanuja
Sri Renganathashtakam - Adi Shankaracharya
Paduka Sahasram - Swami Vedantha Desika
Rengaraja Stavam & Gunaratnakosham - Sri Parasar bhattar
Rengaraja Sthothram - Kurathazhwar
Bhagavaddhyana Sopnam & Abheethi Stavam - Swami Vedanta Desikan

     Thondariadi Podi Alwar and Thirupaan Alwar, sang exclusively on Renganatha. Andal attained Sri Renganatha on completion of her (Thiruppavai - a composition of 30 verses) in Srirangam.

     Except Mathirakavi Alwar, all the other eleven Alwars have done Mangalasasanam here.

Periyalwar - 31 Paasurams
Sri Andal - 10 Paasurams
Kulasekara Alwar - 31 Paasurams
Thirumazhisai Alwar - 14 Paasurams
Thondaradipodi Alwar - 55 Paasurams
Thirupaan Alwar - 10 Paasurams
Thirumangai Alwar - 72 Paasurams
Poigai Alwar - 1 Paasuram
Boothathalwar - 4 Paasurams
Pei Alwar - 2 Paasurams
Nammalwar - 11 Paasurams
Total - 246 Paasurams.

     In toto there were 246 hymns of the 4000 Paurams (Nallayira Divyaprabandham) composed here.

     This temple is rightly called the "Bhoologa Vaikuntam" (heaven on earth).

Sri Ranganathar sannathi
Viswaroobam seva : 06.15 to 07.30
Pooja time - No seva : 07.30 to 08.45
Seva : 08.45 to 13.00
Pooja time - No seva : 13.00 to 14.00
Seva : 14.00 to 18.00
Pooja time - No seva : 18.00 to 18.45
Seva : 18.45 to 21.00
Free seva : 20.00 to 21.00
No seva after : 21.00
Viswarooba seva : Rs.50/- per head
General Entrance : Free in all Seva time
Special Entrance : Rs.20/- per head

Sri Ranganachiar sannathi:
Viswaroobam Paid seva : 06.30 to 07.15
Viswaroobam Free seva : 07.15 to 08.00
Pooja time - No seva : 08.00 to 08.45
Paid seva : 08.45 to 12.00
Free seva : 12.00 to 13.00
Pooja time - No seva : 13.00 to 15.00
Free seva : 15.00 to 16.00
Paid seva : 16.00 to 18.00
Pooja time - No seva : 18.00 to 18.45
Paid seva : 18.45 to 20.00
Free seva : 20.00 to 21.00
No seva after 21.00

Address :
Joint Commissioner / Executive Officer,
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Trichy - 620 006.
Phone : +91-431-2432246
Fax : +91-431-2436666

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