Tag Archives: Ranganatha

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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The Story of Andal

Andal

Vishnuchittar also known as Periyaazhwar (9th Century) was the first among the twelve prominent Vaishnava Saints of Tamil Nadu born in Srivilliputhur near Madurai. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and has contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. His major contributions include Thirupallandu and Periya Azhwar Thirumozhi.

Vishnuchittar was childless and that worried him. He prayed to God to bless him with a child. One day, when he was walking in his garden, he found a baby girl lying near a Tulasi plant. It is said that Mother Earth (Bhoomi Devi) herself had appeared as a child in answer to his prayers. He brought the child home, named her “Kothai” and brought her up as his own daughter. He would teach her songs and tell stories about Lord Vishnu and His glories. Hence, the little girl grew up in a divine atmosphere of Bhakti. As she grew up, her devotion and love for Sri Hari also grew to such an extent that, she decided she would only get married to the Lord. As the days progressed, her resolve to marry the Lord only strengthened.

Vishnuchittar used to make beautiful flower garlands, take them to the temple and offer them to Lord Ranganatha daily. This was his devoted nitya seva to the Lord. Kothai who considered herself the bride-to-be of the Lord used to take the garland, wear it and admire herself in the mirror and then remove it and place it in the basket to be taken to the temple. Vishnuchittar was unaware of this and used to take the same used garland and offer it to the Lord. Hence for days, the garland worn by Kodhai was being offered to the Lord.

One day, Vishnuchittar saw his daughter wearing the garland made for the Lord and was shocked. How could anyone wear what was meant for the Lord? He was extremely upset and scolded her and told her never to repeat this again. That day there was no garland for the Lord. That night, the Lord came in Periyaazhwar’s dream and told him that he liked the garlands worn by Kothai and henceforth He would only accept garlands worn by her. From then onwards, Kodhai came to be known as “Andal” – one who ruled over the Lord.

Andal’s yearning for the Lord increased day by day and her devotional outpourings are called Thiruppavai and Nacchiaar Thirumozhi. When Vishnuchittar was searching for a suitable groom for “Andal”, she expressed her keen desire to get married to the Lord. He told her that there are 108 Divya Kshetras of Lord Vishnu and she asked him to narrate the glory of the Deity of each Kshetra. She was thrilled to hear about the Lord of Mathura, smiled when she heard about the Lord of Tirumala, happy to hear about Lord of Azhagar Temple (Madurai), but was ecstatic when she heard about the Lord of Srirangam! She choose Lord Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam as her husband.

The father was worried as to how he should proceed. The Lord then appeared in his dream and asked him to bring her to the temple. Simultaneously, the Lord appeared in the dream of the temple priest and asked him to bring Vishnuchittar’s daughter as His bride from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam. The Lord also told the Pandyan king, Vallabhadevan to make arrangements for the wedding. Accordingly, Andal in bridal attire was brought in a pearl palanquin. She reached the temple of Srirangam. As every one around was seeing, she walked into the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ranganatha and merged with Him.

Bhoomi Devi who came as Andal is worshiped in Srivilliputhur. Even to this day for Tirupati Brahmotsavam, garlands worn by Andal in Srivilliputhur temple are sent to Lord Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati. These traditional garlands are made of tulasi, sevanthi and sampangi flowers. These garlands are worn by Lord Venkateshwara during the Garuda seva procession.

When emotion of devotion increases, the devotee's personality and the Infinite nature of the Lord of his heart become one-----and this is the Essence of the Experience-Supreme - Swami Chinmayananda

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]