Sri Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana were almost nearing the end of the fourteen years of exile in the forest. There was just one more year remaining. At that juncture, Ravana came and abducted Seeta and took her away with him to Lanka, his kingdom. Rama and Lakshmana came down South searching for her and met the Vanaras in Kishkindha. Hanuman, the son of the wind-God crossed the ocean, found Seeta in Asokavana and consoled and assured her of coming back with Rama and the Vanara army. He came back, reported everything to Lord Rama, and then they all proceeded to the tip of Bharat. A bridge had to be built across the ocean for them to move ahead.
At this point of time, Sage Agasthya came and suggested that Rama should worship and invoke the blessings of Lord Sankara before the construction of the bridge across the ocean. Agasthya Muni remembered that Lord Sankara had promised that He would come to the South when Sri Rama invokes Him. The auspicious muhurtha (time) was fixed for the pooja. Rama summoned Hanuman to his side and asked him to go to the Himalayas and bring the Shiva linga from none other than Lord Sankara Himself. Hanuman immediately started off. However he got delayed enroute. The auspicious time was almost approaching. To prevent further delay, Rama made a Shivalinga with his own hands from the sand available near the ocean. The Shivalinga was duly consecrated there.
Sage Agasthya officiated as the priest and the pooja was conducted precisely in the time chosen. By then Hanuman came back with the Shivalinga from Kailash. The pooja was already over. Hanuman was very disappointed that the Linga he had brought was not consecrated and wanted the same to be installed instead of the one made of sand. Rama agreed to this provided Hanuman can remove the Shivalinga which he had made. Hanuman immediately came forward, coiled his tail around the sand Shivalinga and tried to remove it, but it would not move. He tried again and again and finally fell down on the ground.
Hanuman then realized that it was His Lord, Sri Rama Himself who had with His own hands very lovingly made the sand Shivalinga. How can any might and strength disrupt it? Completely and totally humbled, Hanuman prostrated at the Lord’s feet and begged for His forgiveness for trying to move the Shivalinga which had been worshipped by the Lord Himself.
Lord Rama consoled Hanuman and told him that his efforts would be rewarded. He said that alongside the sand Shivalinga that He had made, the Linga that Hanuman had brought would also be consecrated. The Linga that Rama had made would be called as Ramanatha, and the Linga that Hanuman had brought would be known as Vishwa Linga or Vishwanatha. This holy place would be known as Ramanathapuram – the Kashi of South – “Dakshina Kashi”. And for the full benefit of the worship and pilgrimage undertaken, the devotees and pilgrims must FIRST have darshan of Vishwa Linga brought by Hanuman and only then offer worship at the altar of Ramanatha. And also a pilgrimage to Kashi is incomplete without Ramanathaswamy darshan!
Lord Rama says: “No one else is so dear to Me as Shiva. They who behold Lord Rameswara will, on quitting the body go directly to My abode. And anyone who performs abhishekam to Lord Ramanatha with the sacred waters of Ganga will attain liberation and merge totally with Me. Whoever adores Lord Ramanatha with intense faith and total devotion will be blessed by Sankara Himself with Rama-bhakti. And he who has a glimpse of the bridge (Setu) built by Me across the ocean will surely cross the ocean of worldly existence without any difficulty” ~ Sri Ramacharitmanas by Goswami Tulasidasji
[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]
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