The devotees went to the temple, offered their obeisance to Ramanujacharya’s deity and said, “adiyen dasan”, which means I, your humble servant, am at your service.
Ramanujacharya’s deity reciprocated to the devotees call by saying “ha”.
The devotees rushed back to Ramanujacharya’s presence and narrated whatever had happened to the devotees who had gathered around Ramanuja. Ramanujacharya said, “The scriptures glorify this holy place as Vedadri, Narayanadri, Yadavadri, Dakshina Badrikachalam and Yathisailam. As this is one of the most sacred places on the face of this planet one can attain spiritual perfection and liberation just by staying and serving Lord Thirunarayana and Lord Sampath Kumara. This place will continue to live in my thoughts and please don’t think that I have deserted you. Their Lordships will always guide you and lead you to perfection. Let this tradition established by the alwars, Natha Muni, Yamunacharya and other worshipful acharyas flourish and spread from here.”
Ramanuja started his return journey along with Govinda, Dasarathi, Andhra Purna and other disciples who were always with him. During his stay in Melkote, Ramanuja had renovated and established many temples with the help of his disciple king, Vishnuvardhana. Important among these temples are Thirunarayana Temple at Melkote, Adi-Narayana Temple at Tondanur, Sowmya-Narayana temple at Nagamangala, Veera-Narayana temple at Gadag and Narayana Temple at Talakadu. These five temples are referred to as Pancha Narayana Kshetras. Though Melkote is not included among the 108 divya deshams it is regarded as Acharya Abhimana Divya Desham as it was very dear to Ramanujacharya and is considered to be as sacred as a divya desham. The following verse composed by Ramanujacharya reveals his fondness for Melkote.
Sriranga mangala manim karunanivasam
Srivenkatadri shikharalaya kalamegham
Srihastishaila shikharojwala parijatam
Srisham namami sri yadushaila deepam
Meaning: O Lord Ranganatha you are an all sanctifying crystal and the abode of compassion personified! O Lord whose abode is situated on the most auspicious Sri Venkatadri and whose bodily complexion resembles that of the dark clouds, O Lord who spreads auspicious fragrance like Parijatha from the resplendent towers of Sri-Hastishaila (Kanchipuram), I offer my respectful salutations to you O leading light of Yadushaila (Melkote).
The Vaishnavas consider Sri-Rangam, Tirumala Tirupati and Kanchipuram to be the most sacred among the 108 divya deshams. By referring to Lord Thirunarayana as Yadushaila deepam in the verse, Ramanujacharya is saying that Melkote is as sacred as Sri-Rangam, Tirumala and Kanchipuram and Lord Thirunarayana and Lord Sampath Kumara are as merciful as the most worshiped deities in these places.
Ramanujacharya and his disciples reached the outskirts of Sri-Rangam and the entire town came to receive him. Ramanujacharya offered his obeisance to Sri-Rangam before entering it. After having briefly visited Mother Ranganayaki’s temple, Ramanujacharya directly went to Lord Ranganatha’s temple and spent a few hours there. After gazing on the most beautiful form of Lord Ranganatha to his heart’s content, Ramanuja visited the other shrines within the temple complex. After having visited all the important temples in Sri-Rangam and met many disciples on the way, Ramanuja finally reached his monastery, which was filled with many devotees who had come to have a glimpse of their guru and were aspiring to receive his merciful glance. After having spent some time with the devotees Ramanuja retired for the day.
We will reveal more about Ramanujacharya in the next post.