Srirangam - Heaven on Earth

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Item Code: NAX412
Author: Chithra Madhavan
Publisher: Universal Publishing, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9788193263907
Pages: 168 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details 12.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 970 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
I am delighted to write a foreword to this carefully researched and pictorially vivid book on Srirangam, the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines or Swayam Vyatka Kshetras of Lord Vishnu and the first and the most important of the io8 main Vishnu temples or Divyadesams. The temple, which is situated on an islet formed by two rivers, the Cauvery and the Celeron, spanning 156 acres with 21 magnificent towers and 7 enclosures or prakaras with enormous rampart walls that surround the sanctum sanctorum, is an architectural marvel that defies easy definition. To me, the temple of Sri Ranganatha Swamy at Srirangam has always been a powerfully energized and spiritually regenerative space that bears testimony to both the spiritual moorings and architectural prowess of great kingdoms in Southern India and to civilization roots that traverse thousands of years. I have had the great privilege, as a dasa of the Lord, to serve this temple for several years and I warmly welcome this publication that aims to capture and share its magnificence.

Compiled by historian Dr Chithra Madhavan, the book traces the origin and history of this great shrine, its architectural splendour and wealth of mural, sculptural and inscriptional detail, spread across its vast expanse. There are brief but engrossing sections on the twelve Azhvars, including Andal and their mystic relationship to Srirangam. Of particular interest is the section on Sri Ramanujacharya, the great preceptor who is revered for his dedicated service, learned treatises and far-reaching reforms. The main image in the Udaiyavar sanctum in Srirangam is called Thanana Thirumani which is a very special one, held in great reverence by Srivaishnavas.

Also of interest are articles related to the grand sweep of musical compositions by a galaxy of great composers, often extempore outpourings at the sight of the temple and the Lord, after hours of arduous travel and of the plethora of pujas and festivals at the temple, with the presiding deities, bejewelled and resplendently attired during the various seasons and the lively festivals that take place all through the year.

The direct and comprehensive text by Dr Prema Nadakumar, Dr Chithra Madhavan, Dr Vijayalakshmi Subramanian and Dr Asha Krishn kumar is complemented by lucid photographs that capture the mighty sweep of this temple, the essence of its sanctified precincts as well as the depth of its antiquity. Text and image together empathetically and respectfully present the unrivalled beauty of this temple.

From within the stillness of the photographs and the accompanying text, the pulsating energy of this sacred shrine emanates, inviting the viewer to enter and partake of the hoary history in which it is steeped. I am delighted that this book aims to bring this symbol of our glorious past into the present, to our hearths and into our hearts, reminding us of just how timeless such places continue to be, within our collective consciousness.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr P Jayaraman, Joint Commissioner for his tireless service to this temple and for commissioning this book, to the staff of Srirangam for their unstinted dedication and to the team of researchers, photographers, illustrators and designers for what is indeed a timely publication?

The temple of Sri Ranganathaswami at Srirangam is known as Bhooloka Vaikuntam, meaning 1 'Heaven on Earth. The main deity, Sri Ranganathaswami is seen majestically reclining on the five-hooded serpent, Adisesha, facing South, under the Pranavakara Vimana. This temple on the emerald-green island lies between two rivers - Cauvery (Kaveri) and Celeron (Kollidam) that appear to form a garland around it.

Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyatka Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first and most important of the 108 Divya Desams or sacred places praised in the Tamil hymns of the Azhvars (great devotees of Vishnu). It is the only Vishnu temple to have received the encomiums of the maximum number of Azhvars since eleven of the total number of twelve Azhvars has sung the glory of Ranganathaswami.

The traditional story (Sthala-Purana) of this temple records the origin of this shrine. When Vibhishana carried the Ranga Vimanam given to him by Sri Rama all the way from Ayodhya enrooted to Lanka, he wanted to rest on the banks of River Cauvery in Srirangam. When he started to resume his journey, he found that the Ranga Vimanam had become fixed to the ground as Ranganatha wanted to make Srirangam his home. For the sake of Vibhishana, the Lord faces the southern direction towards Lanka.

The huge temple-complex, covering 156 acres, constructed over many hundreds of years, is an exquisite storehouse of architecture and iconography. The present temple premises has been modified and reconstructed over the centuries of its existence. With twenty-one gopurams, seven prakarams, more than sixty shrines and numerous mandapams, it is the largest living Hindu temple in the world. Many emperors, kings, queens, other members of royalty, officials, army-commanders, religious leaders and people from all walks of life have contributed to this temple. Over the centuries, the Srirangam temple has maintained its pre-eminent position amongst the Vishnu temples of the Tamil country. In fact, for the Tamil Vaishnavites, the Tamil word for temple, 7covir denotes only the Srirangam Ranganathaswami temple. This temple has a unique record of chronicles written in Tamil. It has withstood the onslaughts by invaders during the 14th century The processional image (Utsava-Murti) of this temple worshipped as Azhagiya Manavalan was taken out of the temple for forty-eight long years during this turbulent period when He travelled to various places in South India, including Thirumala, the abode of Sri Venkateshwara.

Great preceptors (Acharyas) like Ramanujacharya have rendered yeoman services to this temple and have also composed poems and other works in praise of Sri Ranganatha. Ramanujacharya developed the rules of temple management, festivals, rituals and worship. The temple worship till date in the Srirangam temple follows these codes set by this great Acharya.

Numerous festivals celebrated all around the year are a most important aspect of Srirangam. An important ritual is the Araiyar Sevai, which was once performed in many Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu and is now restricted to only a few -Srirangam being one of the important centres of this hoary tradition today.

The Srirangam temple is special not only for the religious-minded, but for historians, archaeologists, connoisseurs of art, and in general for all those who respect and cherish the heritage and culture of South India.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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