The Glory of Srirangam!

Lord Brahma worshipping Lord Ranganatha in Satya Loka

Lord Brahma, the Creator before beginning his work of creation, performed severe penance to invoke the grace and blessings of Sri Narayana. Pleased by his tapas, the Lord manifested Himself in archa-moorthi (idol) form as Sri Ranganatha inside a Pranavakara (OM) Vimana. The Lord and the Vimana were borne by the celestial Garuda, with Adisesha’s hood as the canopy over Him. Vishvaksena (Ganapati) was leading from front. The Sun and Moon were fanning the Lord on either side. Narada and Tumburu were singing the glories of the Lord. Rudra and other devatas were chanting sacred hymns and Apsaras were dancing in ecstasy. There was a shower of flowers from above. The Lord told Brahma to install Him in Satyaloka on the banks of the heavenly river Viraja and worship Him strictly according to the Agamas. Lord Sun was chosen as the priest for the daily worship of the Lord.

Lord Rama gifting the moorthi of Lord Ranganatha to Vibhishana

Years passed. When King Ikshvaku of the Solar dynasty performed rigid tapas, Brahma was pleased with him and asked what he wanted. He asked for the moorthi of Sri Ranganatha and Brahma bestowed upon him the divine gift.  He brought the moorthi of the Lord and installed it in his palace in Ayodhya on the banks of the sacred river Sarayu. From that day onwards, Lord Ranganatha who was every day worshipped by none other than Lord Sun himself became the family deity of the Kings of the Solar dynasty. And when Lord Narayana was born as Sri Rama, he also daily worshipped the royal family deity. 

After Lord Rama went to the forest in exile, killed Ravana and came back, He was crowned as the King of Ayodhya. After the Pattabhishekam ceremony, Rama personally gave away gifts to everyone and especially to those who had helped him in the war with Ravana. When it was Vibhishana’s turn, the Lord gifted the moorthi of Sri Ranganatha along with the Pranavakara Vimana to Vibhishana. Vibhishana was overwhelmed and received with great joy the idol of Ranganatha and was carrying it from Ayodhya to Lanka.

Vibhishana placing Lord Ranganatha on the banks of river Kaveri

It was dusk time – sandhyavandana time. Vibhishana looked down and saw river Kaveri flowing down below. He immediately descended down to the holy place called as Chandra Pushkarini where Ananta Sesha was worshipped. He placed the idol on a sesha-peetam there and went to the river for sandhyavandana. After he finished the rituals, when he tried to lift the idol of the Lord, he could not. The idol had found its permanent place for installation. Vibhishana was very unhappy and prayed to the Lord. Lord Ranganatha consoled him saying that He had promised His devotee, King Dharma Varma that he would come to his kingdom in the South and take up His abode there on the banks of the holy river Kaveri. As a consolation to Vibhishana, Sri Ranganatha told him that though His abode will be Srirangam, He would face South sending His divine grace and blessings constantly to Vibhishana. Not only is the Lord facing South, but the Sanctum as well as the main entrance of the temple are facing South in Srirangam – a very unique feature! The Lord also told Vibhishana that everyday at midnight he can come and worship Him at Srirangam. 

“My body melts in sheer devotion seeing your divine crown towards the West, your lotus feet towards the East, your back towards the North and your smiling face towards Lanka (South), O Divinely Beautiful Blue-hued One!” ~ Thondaradippodi Azhwar on Lord Sri Ranganatha

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