It is a cherished belief that the Lord does all at the bidding of his devotees and for their universal well-being
As a land of divinity, India abounds with numerous spiritual spots that vie with one another in sanctity, antiquity, and popularity. Among them the hallowed Srirangam nestled amid the Cauvery and the Coleroon water courses occupies a unique slot. Apart from being the foremost Vaishnavite shrine on earth, the sacred sands of Srirangam are as much sanctified by the grace of Lord Ranganatha as by the sacrifice of His thousands of devotees over the ages. The saga of Srirangam continues to evoke a million memories in every individual who has savoured the benign refinement the deity, the shrine, the waters and the inhabitants, past and present, offer.
In Srirangam, people do not simply revere Lord Ranganatha as a deity in some “godforsaken sky’’ far removed from the life of the laity. Instead, the residents adore His esteem, admire His grace, marvel at His gait, love His name, respect His devotees and only finally worship Him as a God.
Not for nothing that the mandapams and pillars of Srirangam temple are raised on the sacrifices of His devotees who gave their all, just for Him even as they remain stuck on His multifarious allurements of name and form. That holds good for azhwars and common folk alike as they relished the nectar of charm that is the fountainhead of the Lord.
While the saints and commoners savoured the spirit of Lord Ranganatha, the royals showered Him with bountiful gold and precious gems that make a never ending inventory of jewels and articles. It is reckoned that the Kodiettru Mandapam, Dwjasthambam, and the Pranavakara Divya Vimanam were all gold plated even during the 12th century, according to scholar and researcher Sri Vaishnava Sri Krishnamachari Swami who has dug deep into Srirangam temple and it hoary traditions.
A zealous devotee Pandya King Sadayavarman Sundara Pandiyan I, who reigned between 1250 and 1284 AD, executed the task with aplomb. Legend has it that the Pandya King even conducted a gaja thulabaram, balancing mound of gold against the weight of his royal elephant with him seated atop on the waters of the Cauvery using two barges, only to donate all the precious articles to Lord Ranganatha.
That apart there were two life-size golden statues of Serakulavalli Thayar and Woriyurvalli Thayar besides another life-size statue of Sundara Pandiyan himself that he sought to put up at the temple as a mark of respect to the Lord.
But opposition to the installation of a royal statue, however big the donor was, forced him to name the statue Hemachandanaraja Hari and obtain the permission of priests and administrators to allow the installation. The presence of the statue is recorded in the temple inscriptions AR No. 45 of 1891, observes Sri Krishnamachari Swami. While the grace of the Lord drew flocks of devotees to Srirangam, the bounty of gold enticed the plunderers who marauded the temple and the town.
While Malik Kafur looted Srirangam in 1311, Ulugh Khan alias Mohammed bin Tughlaq ravaged the temple over the mutilated bodies of more than 12,000 unarmed residents who sought to protect their cherished deity unarmed. In 1327 Khurz Khan ransacked the shrines, preyed on the leftovers and helped himself to a mound of gold.
Historians and researchers assure that despite all the pillage there remains a plethora of priceless jewellery and articles in hidden caverns inside the temple premises to make Ranganatha the lord of sacred treasures. The jewels and ornaments that adorn the processional deity Namperumal these days are just a part of the safeguarded articles , they aver.
Since the triumphant return of Namperumal from His exile (1323 to 1371 AD) many rituals and festivals have been flourishing at the temple.
They are celebrated to provide the devout with a sumptuous feast of spirituality and divinity. It is a cherished belief that the Lord here does all at the bidding of His devotees and for their universal well-being.
Going by the burgeoning number of devotees thronging the temple with every passing day, the temple is assuming an ever greater place in the comity of shrines. Never has there been a dull moment in the history of Srirangam and that holds good till date.