Sri Rangam — Ramanuja Acarya — Shri Sampradaya — Ranganatha — Tiruchirapalli — Tamil Nadu


MadhvaSri RangamSri Rangam
2 km from Tiruchirapalli, Srirangam is the most important temple in Sri Vaisnavism. The Deity here is Lord Ranganatha reclining on Ananta Sesa. It is also the biggest temple in India covering 155 acres and is surrounded by the Rivers Kaveri and Kolladam. The dome (vimana) over the Deity is covered in gold and is known as the Paravasudeva Ranga-Vimana.

The Deity of Ranganatha was first worshipped by Lord Brahma, then later given to Maharaja Iksvaku of the Raghu Dynasty, who brought the Deity to his capital of Ayodhya. Later, the Deity was worshipped by Lord Ramacandra. When Vibhisana visited Ayodhya he requested Ramacandra to give him the Deity so that he could worship Him at his capital in Lanka. Ramacandra agreed provided Vibhisana did not place the Deity on the ground on his return to Lanka – if he did so, the Deity would stay in that spot. Somehow or other, Vibhisana placed Lord Ranganatha down at Srirangam and that is where he has stayed ever since. However, unlike most Deities which face east, Ranganatha faces south towards Lanka to bless Vibhisana and his kingdom. It is said that Vibhisana returns every 12 years to perform worship of Lord Ranganatha.

This temple has a very interesting history. It was the headquarters of Ramanujacarya for many years and it is here that he entered Samadhi at the age of 120. His samadhi shrine is situated here where one can see the actual body of Ramanuja. In 1326 Srirangam was attacked by the Muslims led by Malik Kafur who killed about 1200 Sri Vaisnavas and tried to destroy the Deity. The main Deity was hidden behind a wall and a false Deity was made as a substitute. When the Muslims entered the sanctum-sanctorum, they smashed the ‘Deity’ and left. The utsava-murti of Ranganatha was moved by Vedanta Desika and Lokacarya to Tirupati. He was later returned in 1371.

RanganathaSri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also stayed here for during caturmasa in the year 1510. There is a temple in Srirangam which has Deities of Jagannatha, Baldeva and Subhadra which were made by Sri Caitanyadeva Himself. When Mahaprabhu stayed here, He resided in the house of Vyenkata Bhatta whose son Gopala became famous as one of the intimate associates of Mahaprabhu, Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

There are other Deities in the temple enclosure including Laksmi, Sudarsana and Narasingha.