Alwaar:The term literally means one who is "immersed" in the depths of enjoyment of God, the omnipresent mysterious one. The Alwaars were vaishnava saints who were born in present day Tamil Nadu. There were a total of twelve Alwaars, historians have placed their dates between 200 AD to 800 AD while according to orthodox tradition they were born at the start of Kaliyuga. The outpourings from their love for the divine came out in the form of 4000 hymns in tamil. The collection of these verses is known as the divya-prabandha(divine hymns). These sacred hymns are inspired from the philosophy and stories of Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Puranas and the Upanishads. The divya-prabandams are also known as dravida veda as they are considered to be the equivalent of sanskrit vedas in terms of their philosophical contents.
is the King of birds, and is the Vimana(carrier) of Lord Krishna. Garuda
is the son of Kashyap, a great sage, and Daksha's daughter Vinata.
is famous for Sri Ranganathaswamy temple which is the largest temple in
India. In this temple the main deity Sri MahaVishnu is present in
reclining posture on the serpent king Sheshnaag. It is the foremost of
the eight svayam-vyakta kshetras(self-manifested shrines) of Lord
Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important
of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). Sri Ranganathaswamy temple
is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil (The great temple),
Bhooloka Vaikuntha (earthly Vaikunth), Bhogamandapam. Sri Rangam is
bounded by the Kaveri river on one side, and the Kaveri tributary
Kollidam (Coleroon) on the other.
Gopuram: Its a prominent feature of the
South Indian temple architecture. Its in the form of a rising tower at
the entrance of a temple. Gopurams are exquisitely decorated with
sculpture and carvings and painted with a variety of themes derived from
the hindu religion, particularly those associated with the presiding
deity of the temple.
Pushkarni: It is the sacred pond of the
temple. The water from the pond is used for Lords abhishekam and
for preparation of Lord's prasad. On the day of Shravani
Poornamasi(Raksha Bandhan), Gajendra-Moksha leela is held here. This day
is marked to celebrate the liberation of Gajendra, King of elephants
from the clutches of a demon crocodile. Hearing the pleas of his bhakta,
Lord Vishnu came out on his mount Garuda and rescued the elephant by
killing the crocodile with his Sudarshana Chakra. On this day a
procession of Sri Goda-Rangamannar on Sri Garudaji is taken out before
enacting of the leela on the banks of Pushkarani. During the month of
August the three day Nauka Utsav (boat festival) is also held here. In
this festival Lord Sri Goda-Rangamannar enjoys a boat ride in the waters
Vahana: They are the divine mounts which
are used for carrying the Lord. The vahana accompanies, pulls the
chariot of, or serves as the seat or mount of his god. The vahana is
also used on banners and emblems to identify the god or the cult
affiliation of the devotee. Eg. Garuda of Lord Vishnu, Bull of Shiva etc
Barahdwari: Its a twelve gated
(Barah-Dwar) platform which exists just outside the temple. This is used
as a resting place for pilgrims and certain utsavs are also celebrated
Vaikunth Dwar: Vaikunth means a
place where Lord Sri Narayan resides and dwar means door. Vaikunth dwar
means door which leads to Lord Narayan's abode. This door opens once in
a year on the day of Vaikunth Ekadashi. Passing through this door on
this day allows the devotees to attain Vaikunth.
YagyaShala: Yagya means offering
obligations in the holy fire. The wider meaning of Yagya is to dedicate
one's capacity and insight for making others life fragrant. Yagyas in
the temple are performed for makings offerings to the gods which would
result in the welfare of the society. Shala is a sanskrit word meaning a
holy space or a school so Yagya-Shala is a place to conduct yagyas which
would bring peace, happiness and prosperity in the society.
means "purification" and "utsava" means fesitival.
Pavitrotsava is a ceremony of purification which is performed annually
in Vaishnava temples. According to the Agama Shastras, this religious
function is performed to maintain a very high level of purity in the
temple environment so that the Lord's divine power (sannidhyam) is fully
manifested. The Pavitrotsavam is also a "Prayascitta" or
penance for any inadvertent omissions or shortcomings that might have
occurred in the rituals and festivals over the past year.
Utsav-Vigraha: The Utsav Vigraha is
the procession-image of the Lord which is taken out during festival
processions. In His love for His devotees Lord comes out of the temple
to meet those devotees who because of some reasons are not able to come
to the temple themselves. The utsav-vigraha is also used for the
abhishek of the Lord.
Mool-Vigraha: The mool-vigraha is
the installed-image of the Lord. These are never taken out and always
remain fixed at the sanctum sanctorum.They are normally bigger in size
than utsav vigraha.
Jaya Vijaya: They are the gatekeepers
at Vaikuntha;the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu. Wanting to spend some
undisturbed moments with his wife Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu instructed Jay
and Vijay not to allow any visitors. It so happened that the four
Sanakas dropped in to meet Lord Vishnu. Jay and Vijay refused to let
them in, angered by this they promptly let loose a curse on the
gatekeepers. They were cursed that they will take birth three times as
evil demons and Vishnu would himself appear on earth and liberate them
by killing them. Jay and Vijay first took birth as twin demon brothers,
Hirnyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Jay and Vijay then took second birth as
Ravana, the evil king of Lanka, and Kumbhakaran, his younger brother.
Finally, Jay and Vijay took birth as Shishupal and Dantavakra during
Vishnu's incarnation as Sri Krishna.
Vaikunth Ekadashi: There are
24 Ekadashi's observed by Hindus during the year, one each during each
half of every hindu month on the hindu date of eleventh. Vaikunth
Ekadashi is observed in December/January. This festival marks the famous
event narrated in the Bhagavatham when Lord Vishnu incarnated as the
Tortoise for facilitating the churning of the ocean of milk by the gods
and the demons, to obtain the nectar of immortality. On this day the
gates of Vaikunth are kept open for spiritual aspirants to enter.
Brahmotsav:It commemorates the first
utsav of Lord Vishnu which was conceived by Brahma - hence the name
Brahmotsav. This is the biggest festival of the temple and is held in
the month of March/April. The festival is celebrated in strict
accordance with the shastras. For ten days, the utsav vigraha of Lord is
taken out on different vahanas both in the morning and in the evening.
Each vahana has it own religious significance attached to it. Of
particular importance is the darshan on Sri Garudaji which is on the
morning of the third day and Ratha (Chariot) on the eighth morning. The
Ratha of the Sri-Goda-Rangamannar is 50 feet high and made of wood and
is pulled by thousands of devotees. Other major attractions during
Brahmotsav are Holi in which Sri Goda-Rangamannar plays holi with His
devotees, firework display, Yamuna Snan(Sri Goda-Rangamannar goes to
Yamunaji for a bath with devotees), Mohini Avatar Leela.
Vahan Ghar: It houses the divine
mounts of the Lord. During festivals procession of Lord is taken out on
SampradayaThis is a school of Vaishnavism which considers Sri
Devi or Goddess Lakshmi as its founder who in turn was initiated by Lord
Himself. It treats Sri or Lakshmi along with Lord Vishnu as the
principal reality. The Alwaars of the ancient times were the followers
of this school of thought and then in the later times the bhakti
movement of Kabir, Tulsidas and Meerabai was also strongly influenced by
Vishistadvaita: This is the
philosophical doctrine which forms the basis for Sri Vaishnavism. The
great acharyas starting from Sri Nathmuni had started the work of
formalising Sri Vaishnavism and it was Sri Ramanujacharya who
culiminated the process. The term Vishishtadvait signifies monism of the
qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterised by
multiplicity. It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all
diversity subsuming to an underlying unity. SriRamanuja, the main
proponent of Visishtadvaita philosophy contends that the Prasthana Traya
i.e. the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and The Brahma Sutras are to be
interpreted in way that shows this unity in diversity, for any other way
would violate their consistency. Visishtadvaita provided the
philosophical basis for the establishment of Sri Vaishnavism and gave
Vedantic backing to the brimming devotion of the Alwaar saints and their
composition of wonderful poetry and devotional songs in praise of Lord
He is the greatest exponent of Visistadvaita philosophy. He was born in
1017 A.D in a pious brahmana family. He became the foremost Acarya in
the Sri Sampradaya and is reputed to be the incarnation of Sri SeshNaga.
He provided an intellectual basis for the practice of bhakti in major
commentaries on the Vedas, the Brahma-sutras, and the Bhagavadgita.
Ksheeranna: It is a dessert made of
sweet milk mixed with rice offered to the Lord at the temple.
Dwajha Stambha: It is the flag
tower of the Lord and it also marks the place where sacrificial ritual
is performed. In Vaishnava temples instead of animals, rice is used as
Sri Goverdhan Peeth: This is
one of oldest seat of SriVaishanva sect. When Sri Nathmuni Swamiji had
toured North India he was so much enchanted by the beauty of the
Goverdhan region that he settled down here and established this seat. He
was later succeeded by his son Sri Ishwarmuni Swamiji. The lineage was
broken for sometime after that but was again started during the 16