Episode 96 – Why did Rama particularly incarnate at Ayodhya? A brief history of the present day shrine at Srirangam!!

rama-sita

In the previous episode, we witnessed that the city of Ayodhya is all delighted and eager to witness the coronation ceremony of their beloved Rama. Preparations were afoot for the function to commence. Sage Vasishtaachaarya, along with the other important sages at King Dasharata’s courtroom get together and fix up the auspicious day and time for the event to take place. It was decided that the very next day was auspicious in the month of “Chaithra” (Around April-May, of the current calendar), during the season of spring wherein all the trees blossom beautifully and the nature is in it’s full attractiveness!

“Dheerga bhaahum mahaa sathvam mattha maathanga gaavinam!

Chandra kaanthaananam raamam atheeva priya darshanam!!”

Thus, Valmiki Maharishi explains here that Rama – The prince of Ayodhya who was so handsome and attractive to people both by his external as well as internal beauty, was getting ready for the grand event which was about to commence.

Finally, it is early morning of the day of the event, and Sage Vasishtaachaarya enters into the palace to start the auspicious rituals. As per the tradition, he first asks Rama and Sita to start with a prayer to the shrine of Lord Narayana, which was in the Ayodhya palace for numerous generations. In one of the earlier episodes, I had put forth an unanswered question: Why did Lord Rama take birth particularly in this “Ikshvaaku” family in Ayodhya and not anywhere else? Of course, the main purpose of Bhagawan’s incarnation as a normal human being, (as we all know) is to kill Ravana, however, Bhagawan could have accomplished this mission by being born anywhere in the world! But why did he particularly choose King Dasharata as his father and Ayodhya as his dwelling place? Let us see the reason in today’s episode and this is very important:

The main reason as to why Bhagawan chose Ayodhya and the Ikshvaaku clan for his incarnation is to worship this particular deity of Lord NarayanaThis particular deity of Lord Narayana is none other than the presiding deity of one of the greatest and the most significant Shri-Vaishnava temple of Srirangam, in the town of Tiruchirapalli, in the south-Indian state of Tamil Nadu, India. Thus, the presiding Shri Ranganaatha Swamy of Srirangam was initially present at the “Paarkadal” (The ocean of milk). From there, Lord Brahma took it to his Sathya Lokha and was worshipping the idol for a very long time. It was after so many years that King Ikshvaaku, one of the ancestors of Rama and King Dasharata, during his visit to Brahma’s Sathya Lokha saw this beautiful idol and requested Lord Brahma that he take it to the “Manushya Lokha” (Earth) and worship it from there! Accordingly, Lord Brahma was happy with King Ikshvaaku’s request and sends the idol with King Ikshvaaku. Thus, King Ikshvaaku brings it down to the earth and installs it in his palace in AyodhyaThe same palace where Lord Rama is at present now! Thus, this idol was there at Ayodhya for innumerable number of years across so many kings of Ayodhya and Ikshvaaku Dynasty. Thus, all the kings of Ayodhya were worshipping this idol of Lord Vishnu, until King Dasharata at the moment!

However, Lord Vishnu was thinking to himself that all the kings worship him and perform all the rituals as per the “Shaastras”, but he was still not satisfied with all that! He had a feeling that none of the kings were performing the rituals and puja as per the liking of Bhagawan! Thus, Bhagawan was disappointed! He was thinking as to how to solve this problem – Finally he himself came to the conclusion that if there should be someone who should do the rituals in the way that he should be satisfied, it is he himself who should do it! 🙂 He cannot expect anyone else to do it according to his satisfaction! Thus, we can see here that, the person who has to be worshipped should be Lord Vishnu, and also the person who will do the worshipping should be Lord Vishnu as well!! It is for this main reason that Bhagwan incarnated in Ayodhya – In order to be the worshipper of this idol of Lord Vishnu! Of course, as I had mentioned before, Bhagwan would have killed Ravana had he been born anywhere else, however He wouldn’t be able to worship this particular Lord Vishnu’s idol had he been born somewhere else!

It is this same Lord Vishnu’s idol that Lord Rama gifts Vibhishana (Ravana’s brother) after the war and after his coronation in Ayodhya. Lord Rama had immense love for Vibhishana and says to him “Oh my dearest Vibbishana! You can take this great idol of Lord Vishnu to Sri Lanka and keep it with you!” Thus, Vibhishana takes this idol with him and proceeds towards Sri Lanka. It is when he crosses over the river Cauvery and this beautiful place between the two rivers of Cauvery and Colleroon (Kollidam), Lord Vishnu himself says to Vibhishana that he would like to be here for the rest of the years! Vibhishana was sad that he would miss Rama’s gift very badly and prays to Lord Vishnu that He comes along with him to Sri Lanka. However, Lord Vishnu replies, Oh Vibhishana! I’m touched by your immense devotion! However, I feel that I should be only at this place and I cannot come with you to Sri Lanka. But please do not worry! I shall do something special for you – Normally, I reside in an east-westerly direction, but at this place I will reside towards the southern direction, facing Sri Lanka! Thus in this way my blessings would be coming to you continuously and uninterrupted!” It is only because of this reason we see even today that Lord Ranganatha Swamy of Srirangam, is facing the southern direction! The idol is almost 16 foot long! Thus, as the famous “paasuram” of Aalwar in Tamil says,

“Kuda disai mudiyai vaithu kuda disai paadham neeti vada disai pinbu kaati then disai ilankai nokki…”

Thus, as per the Aalwar’s paasuram, Sri Ranganaatha Swamy is lying down towards the southern direction even today, to bless Sri Lanka and Vibhishana who is ruling it! Thus, this very idol of Lord Vishnu was once at “Paarkadal”, then transcended to Lord Brahma’s Sathya Lokha and then came to Ayodhya and now to Srirangam!

It is this deity that Sage Vasishtaachaarya asks Rama and Sita to worship now! Accordingly Rama goes inside the room where this idol was placed, taking Sita long with him. What did Rama pray to Lord Vishnu’s idol? What did he ask to him? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂

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