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The Divine Connection

Ayodhya Shri Ram & Srirangam Shri Ranganatha

Introduction

Srimad Ramayana, the sacred ithihas given to us by Shri Valmiki Maharishi presents many learnings around the Avatara Vishesh of Prabhu Shri Ram. Bhagavan Shri Ram blessed the entire route from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka by placing his divine feet through walking with Maa Sita and Lakshmana. We learn from Srimad Ramayana about the places, the interesting events; we meet important people like Jatayu, Vaali, Sugreev, Hanuman ji, and Vibhishana amongst many others.

Sharanagathi

Sharanagathi or surrender to Bhagavan is an act that is constantly highlighted across many ithihasas & puranas. The various avatars of Sriman Narayana will emphasise about the importance of Sharanagathi. Many learned pundits have established that if one must take just one important message from Srimad Ramayana, then it is Sharanagathi. Prabhu Shri Ram’s divine feet is for all of us to surrender. In 18th chapter 66th sloka in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Bhagvan Sri Krishna says “maam ekam sharanam vraja” - surrender to me fully - and I will help you relieve of your sins and help attain moksha. Bhagavan Shri Krishna said about what HE already did as Bhagavan Shri Ram.

On reading the Srimad Ramayana we can take note of many surrenders. Notable amongst them is Sugreev’s surrender; Hanuman ji’s surrender; the surrender of raakshashis at the divine feet of Maa Sita and Vibheeshan’s surrender at the divine feet of Prabhu Shri Ram. Vibheeshan Sharanagathi is one of the paramount instances in Srimad Ramayana.

Vibhishan Sharanagathi

Vibhishan, the younger brother of Ravan, tries his best to reason out to Ravan on his folly of forcefully bringing in Maa Sita to Sri Lanka. Instead of considering sane advice Ravan banishes Vibhishan, who in turn reaches out to Bhagvan Shri Ram. Sugreev has a different opinion in accepting Vibhishan as he is Ravan’s brother.

Bhagavan Shri Ram firmly says that HE will accept anyone who surrenders to HIM. Swami Shri Vedanta Desikan in his Paramartha Stuthi mentions this as follows:

saranagataraksanavrati mam na vihatum ranapungavarhasi tvam viditam bhuvane vibhisanova yadi va ravana ityudiritam te

Swami Shri Vedanta Desikan establishes here that Bhagavan Shri Ram says, “I will accept not just Vibhishan’s surrender, inspite of all the sins committed, even if Ravan surrenders to me, I will accept”. Such is the importance of Sharanagathi.

divine connection

Shri ranganatha - Bhagavan Shri Ram’s Gift to Vibhishan

As Bhagavan Shri Ram vanquishes Ravan and returns to Ayodhya a raajya-abhishek (accession) ceremony is conducted, where Bhagavan Shri Ram ascends the throne in Ayodhya. Vibhishan goes to Bhagavan Shri Ram with folded hands to take leave. Bhagavan Shri Ram says “Vibhshan, what can I do for your help?! Here I am handing over Shri Ranganatha the Bhagavan the Ishvaku lineage has been worshiping for many generations”.

Shri Ranganatha - Travels with Vibhishan

Vibhishan carries the murthy of Shri Ranganatha with care and devotion. On his way to Sri Lanka, as he reaches Srirangam, Vibhishan decides to park Shri Ranganatha on the banks of river kaveri and continue the journey next day. The next day, Lord Shri Ranganatha stays firm in Srirangam and orders Vibhishan to proceed to Sri Lanka and says “I will bless everyone in Sri Lanka from here”. It is important to note that Bhagavan Shri Ranganatha is in reclining position facing south in the mandir in Srirangam.

The Five States of Sriman Mahavishnu

In the Vedas it is established, there are 5 states in which Bhagavan Shri MahaVishnu blesses us. These are:

  1. Para form at Sri Vaikuntam
  2. Vyuha form at Ksheeraabdhi (milky way)
  3. Vibhava form – the avatars HE takes like Shri Varaha, Shri Narasimha, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna
  4. Antaryami form – where as Paramatma Shri MahaVishnu resides inside everyone of us
  5. Archa form – as murthis in various mandirs, where we can have darshan and be blessed.

Mandirs and Divya Desams

There are many Vishnu mandirs across Bharath – right from Badrinath all the way to Kanyakumari. Of these Vishnu mandirs there are many mandirs for Bhagavan Shri Ram. In Thirupathi Balaji mandir in the main sanctum you will find Bhagavan Shri Ram in front of the main deity Thirupathi Balaji.

In Bharath, appeared 12 mystic saints who were immersed in the bhakthi and love of Bhagavan Shri Mahavishnu. These 12 mystic saints are worshiped as Azhwars. These 12 Azhwars together presented 4,000 divine hymns in Tamil respectfully called “the 4,000 Divya Prabhandham”. In these collective efforts there are 108 Vishnu Mandirs mentioned and these 108 Mandirs have unique place and are referred as “Divya Desams – sacred locations”.

Srirangam – Most Important Divya Desam

Srirangam, located 325 kilometres south of Chennai, is paramount among the 108 Divya Desams. The mandir’s main deity is Bhagavan Shri Ranganatha – the murthy worshipped by Bhagavan Shri Ram and gifted to Vibhishan. In the mandirs, particularly in Southern India, there is main deity – fixed mostly in stone form, called the “Moolavar” and a deity to be taken on procession, called the “Utsavar”. In Srirangam the “utsavar” has the name “Perumal” and is a representation of Bhagavan Shri Ram. Srirangam gets the maximum mention in the 4,000 Divya Prabhandham - mentioned 247 times.

Srirangam – The Bhuloka Vaikuntam

Sri Ranganathaswamy Mandir in Srirangam is massive 156 acres – the largest functioning mandir today, topped by the majestic 239.5 feet Rajagopuram (Main Tower) in the south. Srirangam is formed in 7 prakarams with massive walls and has overall 21 colourful gopurams (Gopurams = consecrated gateway towers), 50 shrines, gilded vimana (main dome) besides massive kitchen and store-room facilities. Various Acharyas have established that Srirangam is replica of Bhagavan Shri Maha Vishnu’s Vaikuntam and hence Srirangam is referred to as Bhuloka Vaikuntam.

Srirangam - The Ayodhya Connection

The Ishvaku lineage worshipped Shri Ranganatha as their family deity for millions of years and even had Bhagavan Shri Ram worshipping Shri Ranganatha. Maharishi Valmiki pictures this brilliantly through Maa Sita’s eyes where a ‘wide eyed Maa Sita admires Bhagavan Shri Ram worshipping Shri Ranganatha / Himself”. It is established that Shri Ranganatha is the Archa form that is being worshipped by Bhagavan Shri Ram who is Vibhava form of Bhagavan Shri Mahavishnu.

Ayodhya – Bhagavan Shri Ram Mandir Prana Prathishta

On the auspicious occasion of Maryada Purushotham Bhagavan Shri Ram’s prana prathishta in Ayodhya it is a great opportunity to share the divine connection of Bhagavan Shri Ram across Bharath.