Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple Overview:
· Sri Ranganthaswamy temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu in the form of Sri Ranganatha, a reclining position.
· This second largest temple in the world of Sri Ranganatha is situated in Tiruchirapalli (Tirchy), Tamil Nadu, India
· Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (SwayamVyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu.
· It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams).
· This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam.
Temple Architecture and Area details
· The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²) with a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India
· There are 21 gopurams (tower gateways), among which the towering 236-feet Rajagopuram (shrine of the main gateway) is the second tallest temple tower in Asia. The 73m high 13- tiered rajagopuram was built in 1987 by Ahobila Mutt and dominates the landscape for miles around, while the remaining 20 gopurams were built between the 14th and 17th centuries
· Sriranganatha swamy at Srirangam temple, sriranganathar is called Anatha Sayana Perumal (seen in lying position in the five headed snake) and blesses with his three wives namely Sridevi, Boodevi and Renganachiyar in the first enclosure of temple Srirangam.
· Srirangam temple is covered by 7 enclosures namely:
Thiruvikraman Enclosure (Utra Street, in Tamil uthra veedhi)
Kalugaraman Enclosure (Chitra Street, in Tamil chithirai veedi).
Thiruvikraman Enclosure (Utra Street, in Tamil uthra veedhi)
Kalugaraman Enclosure (Chitra Street, in Tamil chithirai veedi).
· Srirangam Temple constitutes of 24 Acres including the 5th enclosure and a total of 156 Acres including the 6th and 7th enclosures. Towards the South direction of the Srirangam temple stands the Rajagopuram (The Royal Tower) which had been started to get constructed by the Nayakar Kings 400 years ago and it was completed in part. The Rajagopuram is with 236 feet height, 13 tires and 13 Copper buds (kalasam) and carried out the kumbabishekam in year 1987.
· Srirangam has attained the status of Asia's first biggest tower.
· Srirangam Temple keeps following Sukla yajure vedha inner division Vagineye Ganva for its daily worshipping practice.
· In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only. The temple is enormous in size. The seven prakaras or enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum.
· The 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. This temple lies on an islet formed by the Twin Rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.
· The huge number of beautiful statues speak volumes of the excellent sculptural skills of Tamilnadu having many halls, tanks and shrines.
· This is one of the biggest temples in India. The procession deity is Namperumal, Azhagia Manavalan, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. There are 8 holy springs including Chandrapushkarani and Suryapushkarani.
· Srirangam temple Sri Raganatha swami is blessing in three different islands of the holy river Cauvery.
· It flows from Karnataka to Tamilnadu. The first island is Sriranga Patinam and it is called Aathirnagam (Origin of Rangam), located in Mysore (125 km distance from Bangalore to Mysore route). The second island is Sivanasha Samuthiram and it is called Mathiyarnagam (Middle of Rangam), situated 70 km distance from Srirangapatinam. The third island is Thiru navalantheevu and it is called Srirangam and also called Antharngam (last part of Rangam - meaning of heaven) is situated in Tamilandu, Trichirappalli district, India.
· Geographical Location: Sriranagm temple is 7 km away from the Trichirappalli Junction (in the south 321 km from Chennai and in the north east 200 km from Madurai approximately). Srirangam can be reached by bus and train (International airport is also available in Trichy).
· This prehistoric architectural temple welcomes all pilgrims and tourists with open arms
Belief of the prayers in the temple
· The purpose of human birth, according to our scriptures, is to seek total emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths and to get merged with the Lord. So is the purpose of worship in the temple. Besides this lofty aim, people also pray for boons of wedding, child, education, wisdom, progress in professions, family prosperity, and growth in agricultural yields etc. and for a life free from material worries.
· Lord Ranganatha graces in a reclining form as He did on the Milk Ocean. Lord Brahma is not in the naval chord. It is believed that Lord Brahma worships the Lord just before sunrise each day.
· Chandra Theertham that cleanses the devotees of His/her sins is within the temple.
· Lord grants the Muthangi Sevai darshan to devotees for six days after the Vaikunda Ekadasi festival. This is a very famous event in the temple.
· It is believed that a priest of the temple threw a stone on Tiruppanazhwar (one of the 12 Vaishnavite saints) Perumal had it on His forehead bleeding and granted salvation to Azhwar in this temple.
· The temple is believed to have come into being from the milk ocean. This is one of the Swayambu Kshetras with Lord facing south. The vimana of the Lord is covered with gold.
· Except Madhura Kavi Azhwar, all Vaishnavite saints had sung the glory of the Lord of the temple.
· Of the 108 Divya desams, Sri Rangam the first and Tiruchirupuliyur the 11th are the only ones facing south.
Sri Motcha Ramanujar Shrine:
· Vaishnava Acharya Sri Ramanuja stayed here rendering his services to the Lord and also attained salvation here. His disciples interned the Acharya in a sitting form. After some time, Acharya came alive resurrected in the same form.
· Tirumanjanam is not performed. There is a separate shrine for Sri Ramanuja. On the Arudra star day in Chithirai month (April-May), a blend of kumkum and other items are applied on the Acharya.
· Motcha (attaining the status of no re-birth by residing at the feet of Lord) Ramanujar lived and worshipped Srirangam Perumal at Srirangam temple very long time. After the end of his life he got Motcham. Then his student did mummification of his body in the position of padmasanam using ayurvedaha Muligai (herbal plants). But mythology explains that his corpse arose out of the earth with no human intervention.
· Aacharya Ramanuja is blessing in a separate sannadhi (temple) in the srirangam temple of 3rd enclosure. No abishekam is conducted for his body. The holy ceremony of applying saffron with Cinnamomum camphora on the divine corpse of Aacharya Ramanuja is celebrated twice in a year at an appropriate interval, in order to preserve the holy body of Sriramanuja, which is fully immersed in the thoughts of Sri Narayana than nothing else.
Prayers and Rituals followed in the temple
· On the Kaisika Ekadasi falling on the full moon fortnight in the month of Karthikai (November-December) an event of covering the Lord with 365 blankets is celebrated throughout the night. This is said to make up for the errors committed in the day-to-day clothing of the Lord during the other days of the year.
· As November-December happens to be winter, it is also said that the event is followed as a token of the love of devotees to comfort the Lord from the cold weather.
· Aani Jeshtabishek is performed to Lord (abishek with perfumed oil) with Sandal water. Same day, abishek is performed to Namperumal the procession deity after removing the gold coverings. Abishek to Namperumal is performed with 22 pots of Cauvery water. It is said Mother Cauvery Herself performs the abishek to Lord Namperumal. Abishek on other days are performed without removing the golden coverings.
· Aadi Perukku Utsav is celebrated on the 48th day of the Jeshtabishek to Lord on the Aani Jeshta star day. This is celebrated on Aadi 18 or 28 in some years.
· Lord Graces from the Amma Mandap and offers gifts to Mother Cauvery with silk sari, bangles, betels etc. This is taken on an elephant and dropped in the flowing river.
Lord Narasimha Temple
· The mandap where Ramayana Arangettram took place is opposite the Mother’s shrine. Lord Narasimha is holding only the conch. No discus.
· While staging the Kamba Ramayana in the temple, some objected to the mention of Lord Sri Narasimha in the Ramavatar story. Kambar said that he would withdraw this part of the epic, if Lord Himself so demanded. Lord Sri Narasimha emerged from a pillar and approved Kambar’s writing as true. Lord Narasimha in the temple graces from a separate shrine in the name of Mettazhagia Singar near the Mother’s shrine.
· Three Brahmmotsavams are celebrated in the temple during Chithirai (April-May), Thai (January-February) and Panguni (March-April).
· Lord Brahmma celebrated the Brahmmotsava for Lord Ranganatha in Panguni in His Satyaloka which is called the Aadhi (first or original) Brahmmotsava.
· Uthiram star falls during this festival when the Lord graces darshan with Mother Ranganayaki. The Thai Brahmmotsava relates to the one celebrated by Lord Sri Rama in Ayodhya. As Rama is considered Lord of Earth, this festival is also called Bhoopathi Festival. It is considered that Lord Rama Himself is still celebrating this festival.
Shrine of Amutha Kalasa Garudalvar
· There is a shrine for Sri Garudazhwar (eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu) holding the nectar pot and also the Vedas handed over to him by Perumal after recovering them from the demons. The idol is made of Salagrama. Devotees offer dal, jaggery and sweet pudding balls as nivedhana to Sri Garuda. Special pujas are performed to Him on Garuda Panchami day.
· 30 metre dhoti to Sri Garuda: 25 feet tall Sri Garuda graces His Vishwarupa darshan opposite the Lord Ranganatha shrine. He appears in such a majestic form ready to take off with the Lord wearing Ashta Nagabaranam (a jewel of 8 serpents). The dhoti vastra of Sri Garuda is 30 meter long. Abishek is not performed to Sri Garuda. Kozhukkattai the sweet pudding balls are offered as nivedhana on Thursdays. Sugriva and Angatha are the dwarapalakas – securities in the shrine. A festival for him is celebrated on the Margazhi Tiruvadirai star day.
· Srirangam Temple Amutha Kalasa Garudalvar is assigned to keep the Vedas preserved. In order to execute the order of Lord Vishnu, Garudalvaar preserves Vedas in Kalasam (small pot) on his hand. His statue is made up of Salak wood. Here special pooja is made for Garudalvar with jasmine and turmeric. Garudalvaar relieves those who are suffering from nightmares and hallucinations. Those who are affected by the radiations and the transitions of the planets Uranus and Neptune will be safeguarded by Garudalvaar. Garudalvaar open His wings (whose width and height are immeasurable), covers His devotees and preserves them from all sorts of harmful causes.
Shrine of Dhanyalakshmi ( Goddess of food) and Anna Perumal (Lord of Food)
· Dhanyalakshmi: A separate shrine is dedicated to Mother Dhanyalakshmi in the prakara of Anna Perumal temple. Mother Dhanyalakshmi graces with Lord Krishna on the right and Lord Narasimha on the left. Those afflicted with adverse aspect of planet Venus (Shukra) worship Mother with white silk sari, garland of white flowers and offer white pulse as nivedhana. During the Brahmmotsava, Lord Ranganatha visits this shrine and enjoys the paddy measuring event.
· Lord Anna Perumal (Lord of Food) has His shrine in the second prakara, holding a staff, pot and a ball of rice. It is believed that worshipping Perumal in the shrine would keep the devotees free from hunger.
Shrine for Danwanthiri (Lord of Medicines)
· The temple also has a shrine for Danwanthiri, Lord of medicines, with Mother Mahalakshmi on His chest. He holds conch and discus in His hands and also a leech. Those suffering from prolonged diseases light lamps with castor oil. Offer curd rice as nivedhana. On Fridays, a perfume paste called Punugu is applied on Lord Ranganatha. Along with nivedhanas, a medicine made of dry ginger and jaggery is also offered to the Lord for digestion. It is believed that Lord Danwanthiri Himself offers this medicinal preparation. Also a medicinal preparation is used for the abishek of Lord on the seventh day of Brahmmotsavam festival.
Three mothers in the shrine:
· While traditionally Perumal is seen in Vishnu temples with Mothers Sridevi and Bhoodevi, Mother Ranganayaki Thayar in the temple is a procession deity with Sridevi and Bhoodevi behind Her in the same shrine. During arati to Mother, drum instruments are also played.
· Daughter of a king of Delhi was too devoted to the Lord. To remember her, Lord is dressed with Lungi the Muslim dhoti. Roti is offered as nivedhana on Ekadasi and new moon days and people worship calling her "Thulukka Nachiyar".
Cauvery water Abishegam:
· In the Tamil month of Aani (month of July) on the day of the star "Keytayam" Srirangam temple Swami Ranganathar will be coated with "herbal fragrance oil"(Thailabisegam), and on the same day 22 pots of Holy Cauvery water (Abisegam) will be spilled out on Him. On this day only His golden costumes will be unrobed.
Srirangam Temple Adiperukku festival
· Sriranganathar at Srirangam temple swami will be getting Jostabisegam from the 48th day of Adiperukku urchavam. People celebrate the festival on Aadi 28th or Aadi 18th (in the end of July) at Srirangam Amma mandpam. On that day Swami Ranganathar will give blessing to his devotees and people give saris, kungumam (vermillion powder - a holy thing of Hinduism), Katholai, Karugamani (Palm tree leaf ring for years and black coloured artificial Pearl) as a present to mother Cauvery. These gifts are taken from the temple by the temple elephant called Aandal and then left float on the river Cauvery.
After many years of waiting, Lord Ranganatha graced us by letting us visit his abode of peace on 24 May 2015, and we were blessed with a beautiful darshan and amazing vibrations that enriched our experience of visiting Srirangam. It was after the visit, I felt the need to understand the temple and various dimensions, rituals and architecture details, and thats when I was able to gather the above information for the benefit of others. The temple renovation is currently in progress and I am sure once the same is completed, the temple will be looking much more beautiful and amazing. As such, it is such divine experience visiting this temple.