The glories of Sri Ranga Kshetra are far too numerous to mention. Sri Rangam is the foremost of the eight svayam vyakta kshetras or self-manifest sacred sites (the other seven being Tirupati, Srimushnam, Vaanamaamalai, Salagrama, Badrikashrama, Naimisharanya, and Pushkara). This sacred abode is the first of the Sri Vaishnava’s 108 sacred abodes of Vishnu called divya desams.
When Lord Krsna manifests His deity of His own will, the deity is said to be particularly merciful. Most temple have deities carved by human sculptors according to the shilpa shastras, and Krsna’s divine presence is invoked by qualified priests with appropriate rituals.
The mercy of self-manifest deities is akin to the Christian theology of the incarnation- God descends to the material plane, is perceived by ordinary eyes, and dwells amongst us. The deity accepts service from the priests, as well as the devotions of laity, all the while tolerating imperfections in the worship that is conducted.
Sri Ranganatha with consorts, Sri & Bhu devis
The following is an excerpt from Srila Prabhupada’s purport to CC Madhya 9.79:
“Sri Ranga-kshetra (Sri Rangam) is a very famous place. It lies in the district of Tiruchchirapalli, about ten miles west of Kumbhakonam and near the city of Tiruchchirapalli, on an island in the Kaveri River. The Sri Rangam temple is the largest in India, and there are seven walls surrounding it. There are also seven roads leading to Sri Rangam. The ancient names of these roads are the road of Dharma, the road of Rajamahendra, the road of Kulasekhara, the road of Alinadana, the road of Tiruvikrama, the Tirubidi road of Madamadi-gaisa, and the road of Ada-iyavala-indana. The temple was founded before the reign of Dharmavarma, who reigned before Rajamahendra. Many celebrated kings like Kulasekhara and Yamunacarya (Alabandaru) resided in the temple of Sri Rangam. Yamunacarya, Sri Ramanuja, Sudarsanacarya and others also supervised this temple.”
“The incarnation of the goddess of fortune known as Godadevi or Sri Andal was one of the twelve Alvars, liberated persons known as divya-suris. She was married to the Deity of Lord Sri Ranganatha, and later she entered into the body of the Lord.”
Goddess Andal & Lord Ranganatha, Srivilliputhur (Sri Andal’s birthplace)
“An incarnation of Karmuka named Tirumanga (also one of the Alvars) acquired some money by stealing and built the fourth boundary wall of Sri Rangam. It is said that in the year 289 of the Age of Kali, the Alvar of the name Tondaradippadi was born. While engaged in devotional service he fell victim to a prostitute, and Sri Ranganatha, seeing His devotee so degraded, sent one of His servants with a golden plate to that prostitute. When the golden plate was discovered missing from the temple, there was a search, and it was found in the prostitute’s house. When the devotee saw Ranganatha’s mercy upon this prostitute, his mistake was rectified. He then prepared the third boundary wall of the Ranganatha temple and cultivated a tulasi garden there.”
Sri Tondaradipodi Alwar at Thirumandangudi (his birthplace)
“There was also a celebrated disciple of Ramanujacarya’s known as Kuresa. Sri Ramapillai was the son of Kuresa, and his son was Vagvijaya Bhatta, whose son was Vedavyasa Bhatta, or Sri Sudarsanacarya.”
“When Sudarsanacarya was an old man, the Muslims attacked the temple of Ranganatha and killed about twelve hundred Sri Vaishnavas. At that time the Deity of Ranganatha was transferred to the temple of Tirupati, in the kingdom of Vijaya-nagara. The governor of Gingee, Goppanarya, brought Sri Ranganatha from the temple of Tirupati to a place known as Simha-brahma, where the Lord was situated for three years. In the year 1293 Saka (A.D. 1371) the Deity was reinstalled in the Ranganatha temple. On the eastern wall of the Ranganatha temple is an inscription written by Vedanta-desika relating how Ranganatha was returned to the temple.”
Sri Ranga! Sri Ranga! Sri Ranga!