Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple

Vedic World, Jan 2018
Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple
Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple is the biggest temple in Trichy, covering an area of 156 acres. It is primarily among the 108 divyadeshams of Vishnu and here, the Lord Ranganatha (Vishnu) is in a reclining pose on Aadisesha. The massive idol of the main deity is beautiful. The Utsavar is fondly called as Nam – Perumal meaning “Our Lord” in Tamil, AzhagiyaManavalan “the handsome groom” while his consort Ranganayaki is known as Thayar meaning “Mother”.

Sri Rangam is an island surrounded by river Kaveri. There are 21 towers for this temple and the temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls with a length of 6 miles. Within these towers situates the whole town. The town cannot be separated from the temple. The temple is one of the biggest functioning Hindu temples in India and is about 2000 years old.

TEMPLE PLAN

The temple has an imposing tower over the entrance gate (gopura) and two large concentric rectangular enclosures (prakara) around its perimeter. The entrance to the inner sanctum (garbhagriha) is through multiple columned halls (mantapa). A vestibule (sukhanasi), hall (navaranga or just mantapa) and a front hall (mukhamantapa) are the other main structures in the temple.

Sri Rangam is an island surrounded by river Kaveri. There are 21 towers for this temple and the temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls with a length of 6 miles. Within these towers situates the whole town. The town cannot be separated from the temple.

The outer most tower on the South side is the tallest, called as Rajagopuram with 13 tiers and as you walk towards the main sannidhi, you cross 6 more towers. The temple is an architectural marvel and also houses a 1000 pillared mandapam. The 4th tower is the one which leads us inside the temple and here one gets an opportunity to get on to the terrace of the temple for a panoramic view of the whole temple complex. Non- Hindus can go up to the 6th tower and not beyond, near the Lord Ranganatha’s Gold plated sanctum.

The Garudalwar facing the Ranganathar is a massive form around 15 feet in height, in a sitting posture facing the main sannidhi. Photography is banned here. Vaikunda Ekadashi festival is very famous and pilgrims throng the temple to have a darshan of Lord Ranganatha during this 21 day festival.

Temple Layout
The roof of the mukhamantapa is decorated with a “garland” (“hara”) of miniature decorative towers (called “kudu” and “sala” shikharas) whose niches contain stucco images of the god Vishnu.

In the sanctum, the image of Vishnu reclines on the coils of the snake Adisesha, under a canopy formed by the snake’s seven hoods, with his consort Lakshmi at his feet. Flanking Vishnu are other deities from the Hindu pantheon; Sridevi, Bhudevi (goddess of earth) and Brahma (the creator). There are other smaller shrines within the complex dedicated to Narasimha (an avatar of Vishnu), Gopalakrishna, Srinivasa (manifestation of Vishnu), Hanuman, Garuda and the Alwar saints.

In ancient times, kings used to collaborate with Gods. They loved the established relationship with almighty. Brahmins were respected for their advisory role and were also provided with lands for their livelihood, also known as Agraharam. Knowledge centers, wealth centers, and places of learning is what a temple was all about.
We don’t know how it was to live in a kingdom; neither have the remnants of the constructions survived; however, their contributions towards their loved Gods, Lord Vishnu expresses what they wanted to communicate with future generations.

INSCRIPTIONS

The Ranganathaswamy Temple town has over 800 inscriptions, of which nearly 640 are on temple walls and monuments. Many of these relate to gifts and grants by rulers or the elite, while others relate to the temple’s management, scholars, dedication and general operation. The inscriptions have been a source of information about South Indian history, culture, economy and social role. These range from the late 9th century to the rule of Aditya Chola I, to the last historical ones from the 16th century. Others are from the times of Cholas, Nayakas, Pandyas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara era.

The historic inscriptions at the Ranganathaswamy Temple are in six major Indian languages: Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and Odiya. Further they are in several scripts including Tamil and Grantha. This diversity and the spread of inscription dates suggests that the temple has been an important pilgrimage center to both Tamil and non-Tamil Hindus.

Some of the mandapam and corridors of the Temple complex have frescoes, of which some have faded. These narrate Hindu legends and mythologies, or scenes relating to Vaishnava scholars.

VAASTU EYE
In ancient times, kings used to collaborate with Gods. They loved the established relationship with almighty. Brahmins were respected for their advisory role and were also provided with lands for their livelihood, also known as Agraharam. Knowledge centers, wealth centers, and places of learning is what a temple was all about.

We don’t know how it was to live in a kingdom; neither have the remnants of the constructions survived; however, their contributions towards their loved Gods, Lord Vishnu expresses what they wanted to communicate with future generations.

One should visit the place to experience the positive vibrations of Vaastu instead of just merely reading the experiences of other people. Vaastu is a science that one must experience. People who are stuck somewhere in their life should understand why they should go to a temple. It is all about exchanging energy of Vaastu with the almighty and seek blessings to live a better life.

GLORY OF LORD SHRI RANGANATHA

Many people take holy bath in River Kaveri to get rid themselves of the sins have committed. Even Ganges would come and rid the sins of people she had absorbed. Kaveri became overburdened with all these sins. The only refuge she had was Lord Vishnu. She performed austerities at Srirangapatna which is at the confluence of the three channels of Kaveri, to please Lord Vishnu. The Lord was pleased by her austerities and awarded her three benedictions:

1) The River Kaveri would have greater sanctity than the River Ganges.
2) Srirangapatna would become a place of pilgrimage.
3) Lord Vishnu would manifest himself here as Lord Ranganatha to bless devotees and fulfill their desires.

After being awarded these benedictions, Kaveri worshipped the Lord. The Lord then manifested himself as a very beautiful Deity, resting on the serpent Adisesha. Hearing this, Lakshmi, who is the consort of Lord Vishnu came to have darshan of the Lord, along with Kaveri. She, then bathe in the sacred river, and after worshipping the Lord, manifested Herself as a Deity on the South-east side of the Lord.

After their Lordships manifested themselves as Deities, Lord Brahma built temples for them. Devatas then worshiped Lord Ranganatha at Srirangapatna. Lord Ranganatha then was worshiped by the Cauvery and he took the form of an idol resting on shreeadishesha. Sri Lakshmi visited the scared idol of Lord along with Cauvery and realized the greatness of the Great Lord. She then took bath in the scared river and after worshiping the Lord took the form of an idol on the South East side of the Lord. Realizing the spiritual sacredness of the place God Brahma, Rudra and others came there and worshiped Lord. Lord Bramha built temples for the God and the Goddess. All the devas worshiped the Lord Brahma preached the Pancharatna method of worship to Narada to worship Lord Ranganatha.


Lord Ranganatha here is called Adi Ranga – the first among the Ranganathas, since there are more such abodes of his, downstream. The temple here is an ancient one, first built by a Ganga chieftain, Tirumalaraya, in 894 AD. The temple was later expanded by the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara kings, the Wodeyars, and finally, Hyder Ali. The Hoysala and Vijayanagara influences are clearly evident, especially in the pillars and columns.

The entry to the sanctum is through a mandapa, which is decorated with various forms of Vishnu. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the temple, and the outside was under renovation when we visited, so I do not have many photos to show you.

The main sanctum has a massive idol depicting Lord Vishnu reclining on the seven hooded Adishesha, his consort, Lakshmi at his feet, and other deities flanking him. This is said to be the biggest Ranganatha idol in Karnataka.

FESTIVALS

The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu. There are three trustees and a chairman for the board of trustees. Annadhanam scheme, which provides free food to devotees, is implemented in the temple by the Board. Under the scheme, free food is offered to two hundred devotees every day in the temple and the expenditure is fully funded by the contributions from devotees. The temple celebrates numerous festivals around the year including processions. These are called Utsavam (celebrations).


This is a researched article and borrows heavily from printed and electronic encyclopedias as well as material provided by our panel of research scholars, astrologers, and academics and pundits.