Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Religious Significance

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Religious Significance
The term Kovil is generally used in Tamil to signify any temple, for many Vaishnavas the term Kovil exclusively refers to this temple, indicating its extreme importance for them (for Saivas and all other Tamil people the term Kovil refers to Thillai Natarajar Golden Shrine (Chidambaram Temple)). The presiding deity Ranganathar is praised in many names by his devotees, including Nam Perumal (our god in Tamil), Azhagiya Manavaalan (beautiful groom in Tamil).
The temple is considered in the Alwar traditions as one of the eight Swayambu Kshetrams of Vishnu where presiding deity is believed to have manifested on its own.
Seven other temples in the line are Bhu Varaha Swamy templeTirumala Venkateswara Temple, and Vanamamalai Perumal Temple in South India and SaligramaNaimisaranyaPushkar and Badrinath Temple in North India.
Ramanuja was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete. He is seen by Srivaishnavas as the third and most important teacher (Acharya) of their tradition (after Nathamuni and Yamunacharya), and by Hindus in general as the leading expounder of Vishishtadvaita, one of the classical interpretations of the dominant Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.
Ramanuja renounced his family life and went to Srirangam to occupy the pontificate – Srirangam became the stronghold of him and his disciples. The doctrine of Vishishtadvaita philosophy, Sri Bhashyam was written and later compiled by him over a period of time. During his stay in Srirangam, he is said of have written "Gadhya Thrayam", which is recited in the temple during the ninth day (Panguni Uttaram) of the festival of Adi Brahmotsavam.
The temple is the center for the Vishishtadvaita school where Sanskrit Vedas and Tamil works are preached and taught with great reverence. He attained divinity in Srirangam. His Thaan-ana Thirumeni (the symbolic body) is preserved and offered prayers even today after eight centuries. The disciples of Ramanuja got his permission to install three metallic images, one each at Sriperumpudur, Melkote and the third, at Srirangam.
The shrine is found in the fourth prakaram (outer courtyard) of the temple and the idol is preserved in the temple by applying saffron and camphor every six months in a ritualistic style. He is found seated in the Padmasana (yogic sitting posture), depicting the Gnyana-Mudrai (symbol of knowledge) with his right palm.
"Kovil Ozhugu" is a codification of all temple practices, religious and administrative, shaped and institutionalized by Sri Ramanuja after receiving the due rights from Sri Thiruvarangathamudanar. A stone inscription to this effect is installed in the Arya patal vasal (main gate before the first precinct).
Pancharanga Kshetrams (also called Pancharangams, meaning the "five Rangams or Ranganathas") is a group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the god Vishnu, on the banks of the Kaveri River.
The five Pancharanga Kshetrams in the order of their successive locations, on the banks of the Kaveri River are:
The Srirangapatnam called the Adi Ranga, the first temple on the banks of the Kaveri River from the upstream side; the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam known as Adya Ranga (the last temple), Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiurppernagar in Tamil Nadu, Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple or Mayuram at Indalur, Mayiladuthurai and Vatarangam at Sirkazhi. The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam is mentioned in place of Vatarangam in some references.
Cultural Significance:
The Sri Ranganatha Swami Temple has immense cultural significance, owing to the fact that the temple and the lifestyle of the people are very much intertwined with each other. It is also widely believed that Sriman Narayana dwells in this temple instead of his abode in Vaikuntham. The Sri Ranganatha Swami Temple has the unique distinction of being praised by all the Alwars and has 247 Pasurams or hymns dedicated to it.