Friday, April 22, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Ranganayaki Shrine (Thaayar Sannidhi)

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Ranganayaki Shrine (Thaayar Sannidhi)
Ranganayaki shrine is in the second precinct of the temple. The common reference to the goddess is Padi Thaanda Pathini, meaning lady who doesn't cross the boundaries of ethics. Literally, the festival deity of Ranganayaki also does not come out of the shrine and it is Ranganathar who visits Ranganayaki. There are three images of Ranganayaki within the sanctum.

Ranganayaki Thayar idol is beautiful and she is in a sitting posture and has the Panchaloha idol in front. There is also a Gold plated mandapam here to conduct special poojas for the deity. There is a small gallery in front of the Thayar Sannidhi and there are some fabulous paintings of Narasimha Moorthy.
The shrine of Ranga Nayaki, the Goddess, looks like a separate temple. It has its own prakara and a huge mandapa with paintings on the ceiling. The holy tank and the sub-shrine of Lakshmi Narayana are located adjacent to the Thaayar (Goddess) shrine. Ranga Nayaki is found in the sitting posture. The old idol is still found behind the current idol. The Utsava idol is also found in the same shrine.

Sri Ranganayaki Thayar is the Utsava vigraha with Sridevi and Bhudevi behind her in the same sanctum sanctorum. After Lord Ranganatha declared Thulukka Nachiyar as his wife and ordered the priests to worship her like other Nachiyars of the temple, Lakshmi Devi became angry. Hence she came out of the temple and settled in a different temple. Lord tried to pacify her; however she did not agree to return. She is also known by the name of ‘Padi Thanda Pathini’ meaning one who does not cross her limits or the doorstep. She is the quintessence of all the feminine qualities.

Ranganayaki is the presiding Goddess of Ranganatha Swamy temple at Srirangam. Affectionately called Thayar ("Holy Mother" in Tamil), she is the consort of Lord Ranganatha, the male deity of Srirangam. She is regarded as the manifestation of Lakshmi. She is also called Ranga Nachiyar.
Ranganayaki is held in high reverence by the people of Srirangam and by Vaishnavites. Acharyas that sang the grace of Ranganatha venerate her. She is the feminine aspect of the universe and certain Vaishnavite traditions regard her co-equal to Ranganatha himself; she is both the means and the end of worship to them.
Other traditions of Vaishnavism hold her only as the means - the end is Narayana alone. Despite these philosophical differences, all Vaishnavites revere her as Thaayar.
As with Hindu tradition, the shrine has both a Moolavar and a Utsavar (presiding deity). Unlike other temples, the Utsavar of Thaayar never leaves her Sannathi. It is a temple custom that the goddess of the temple takes her place beside the god of the temple during processions. In Srirangam, however, Thaayar never leaves her shrine. All others, including Ranganatha himself, come to see her.
Once a year, in the month of Panguni Uthiram, the day in the Tamil month of Panguni when the star Uthiram is in ascension, Dhivyadhampathigal, the divine couple (Lord Azhagiya Manavaalan and Thaayar), come together for a day. (This day is not fixed, but falls sometime in the Western months of March or April). This Darshan is called "Serthi Sevai." In Tamil, Serthi is alongside/together and Sevai is Darshan.
Unlike many temples, Srirangam does not have a Thirukalyana Uthsavam, The Marriage Festival, between Namperumal and Thaayar. They are regarded as Dhivyadhampathigal (divine couple), existing beyond mortal confines or limitations.

There are many Shlokas composed about the goddess Mahalakshmi but the "Sri Gunaratna Kosam," a Sanskrit Sloka composed by Parasara Bhattar, is exclusive to Sri Ranganayaki. However the traditional Lakshmi Astothiram is recited in the temple during rituals. Apart from this, Sree Sthuthi composed by Vedanta Desika and Kanakadhara Sthothram given by Adi Shankaracharya are chanted by devotees of the temple.
All Acharyas of Hindu tradition, irrespective of their philosophical positions, have visited and continue to visit the Srirangam to pay their homage to Ranganatha and Thaayar.