Announcing Site Seminar at Srirangam (24 to 27 January)
  • *Tamil Heritage Trust*

    *Site** Seminar 2013: Srirangam*

    Dear friends

    For the last three years, we have been running a site seminar every year,
    to intensely study one heritage location. In 2010, it was Mamallapuram. In
    2011, it was Ajanta and Ellora. In 2012, it was Pudukkottai. Now, for 2013,
    *Srirangam* is identified as the heritage site for the site seminar.

    *Why Srirangam?*

    Srirangam is more than just a temple. This temple town was where Sri
    Ramanujacharya (11th century CE), one of the three important teachers of
    Vedantic philosophies spent much of his life, building a new philosophy and
    a new religion. The Visistaidvata philosophy and the Sri Vaishnava religion
    both evolved here in the streets within the temple.

    The temple for Vishnu as Anantasayana in Srirangam must be one of the
    oldest in the Tamil country. Its mention in various old Tamil literature
    attest to this. The current physical structure has been built and modified
    over time. Chola, Pandya, Hoysala, Vijaya Nagara and Nayak rulers have
    built portions of the temple and have contributed substantial donations to
    the temple.

    14th century was probably the toughest time for this temple, when more than
    once Islamic invaders attacked the temple. However, some of the best known
    Vaishnava Acharyas such as Pillai Lokacharya and Vedanta Desika lived in
    Srirangam in this century and contributed immensely to the philosophy of

    Later on, during the Carnatic Wars (1743-1763 CE), Srirangam Temple faced
    trouble from the armies of English, French and the Nawab Chanda Sahib.
    Fortunately, the loss was only monetary. The buildings have remained intact.

    Over the centuries, the Srirangam temple has maintained its pre-eminent
    position amongst the Vaishnavas of the Tamil country. The devotional poets
    known as Aazhvars venerated Srirangam and it is the one temple sung by most
    of the Aazhvars. In fact, for the Tamil Vaishnavas, the Tamil word for
    temple, 'koil' denotes only the Srirangam Ranganathar temple.

    It is the only temple in India that has a unique record of temple
    chronicles written in Tamil known as 'Koil Ozhugu'. Though portions of it
    are considered hagiographic and exaggerated, it has enormous historical
    significance, especially when corroborated by literary and epigraphical

    Ramanujacharya won over the control of this temple and set about developing
    the rules of temple management, festivals, rituals and worship. This has
    largely been followed to this day, an unbroken tradition of nearly a
    thousand years. Not only that, this has provided the basis for temple
    worship in all the Vishnu temples across Tamil Nadu. When processions are
    taken out, what verses are sung during the procession, whether they should
    be in Sanskrit or Tamil, who goes in front and who goes behind the bronze
    image of the god (utsavar) in procession, which months of the year and
    which dates, what festival is conducted - all of these were codified during
    the time of Ramanuja. Even the food offered to Ranganatha, how it should be
    cooked and the ingredients that go into it were determined during that
    time, and followed largely to this day.

    And of course, the complex has a lot to offer in terms of temple
    architecture, sculpture, paintings and much more.

    *Visits in the vicinity*

    While in Srirangam, it was also thought to make visits to some of the
    important heritage sites in the vicinity. Thus we may spend a day in
    visiting the Tiruvanaikka Temple of Srirangam, the two cave shrine on the
    Rockfort and also the Korangantha Temple in Srinivasanallur, a beautiful
    early Chola temple.

    *Duration: 4 days, 24-27 Jan 2013*

    *Pre-visit Seminars*

    It is proposed to conduct a series of pre-visit seminars covering the
    following aspects:

    1. Why Srirangam is important?
    2. History of Srirangam temple
    3. Layout of the temple, sannidhis, temple architecture
    4. Epigraphs in Srirangam
    5. Introduction to Aazhvars and what they have said about Srirangam
    Sri Vaishna Acharyas
    7. Political history of Srirangam
    8. Festivals in Srirangam
    9. Koranganatha Temple at Srinivasanallur
    10. Cave Temples of Rock Fort, Tiruchirappalli

    It is hoped that these pre-visit seminars will be conducted in October and
    November 2012 and January 2013. Resource persons for these talks are being

    You may also offer suggestions on the pre-visit seminar topics and resource

    *The site seminar, proposed program*

    Day 1: Layout of the temple. A tour of the temple, visiting every Sannidhi

    Day 2: Architecture of the temple, Epigraphy, History of Aazhvar

    Day 3: A trip to Srinivasa Nallur, Rock Fort, Thiruvanaikkaval, and, if
    time permits, ASI Museum in Trichirappalli

    Day 4: Festivals of Srirangam, History of Acharys and an Introduction to
    Sri Vaishnavam (pravachanam), Pancaratram and worship rituals


    Badri will be facilitating the technical part of the seminar, while Major
    Narayanan (; 91500-00615) will look after the
    logistics. Soon you will be hearing from Narayanan.

    You are requested to register the younger family members also.

    I am hoping that this will be another enjoyable, enlightening seminar, like
    the previous ones were.

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