Thiru Naarayanna Puram..

Swami Ramanujar dedicated Nammazhvar’s Thiruvaymozhi pasuram “oru nAyagam” (4.1) to this kshetram.

presiding Deity:

Sri Yoga Narasimha (hill top), Sri ThiruNarayana (Main Deity), Sri Yadugiri Nayika (Divine Consort), Sampath Kumaran (Processional Deity) and Sri Ramanujacharya – (The image approved by Himself-Thaan vuhantha thiru meni )

ThiruNarayanapuram is also called Yadavadri, Yadushaila, and Melukote. It is located in the present Mysore/Karnataka district.  This small town’s hub of activity is its temple. Although this holy place had been mentioned in the Puranas at various instances, it really came to formal existence with the coming of our great acharya Swamy Sri Ramanuja.  This town was the place where Sri Ramanuja resided for 12 years after he and his disciples left Sri Rangam due to the local fanatical chieftains at that time.

Of all of the places where Sri Ramanuja resided, Melukote was particularly dear to his heart; so much so, that he stated that he would place his very spirit in the processional image that bears an exact likeness to him, and instructed all of his disciples to make an effort to reside here.  In His last message before leaving this earth, he instructed his devotees to live in Melukote for some period of time in their lives, even if it were to be in a small little house.

Melukote is a place where people glorify Sri Ramanuja as the King of Ascetics, the King of Philosophers, the King the Vedas awaited, and the Father of the divine child Sampath Kumaran (Chelva Pillai-the dear darling child).  Despite its appearance as a sleepy little town, the temple and town is home for many learned Vedic Scholars.

Sri Vaishnava tradition with Sri Ramanuja as its central focus and most important acharya, explains the important relationship of this Great Soul with his beloved child, Sri Sampath Kumaran.  It is understood that Sriman Narayana is the Only Being in this Universe that is Truly Independent, i.e., His Actions and His Will is not limited by the bounds of karma, as it is with every other soul.  But, since His Very Nature is Love and Compassion, He is under the sway of those who love him, and to Great Souls like Sri Ramanuja, He becomes like their own child, much in the same way in which He allowed Himself to become Nandagopa’s and Yashoda’s Beloved Son, Krishna.  Sri Ramanuja is the father to Sampath Kumaran, caring for Him, nurturing Him, as well as instructing Him on the merciful attitude He should maintain when He is approached by all souls.

In 1098-99 Sri Ramanuja reached this town at the age of 82 and uncovered Sri Tirunarayana who was hidden/buried in the Yadavadri Hills. This auspicious day of Punarvasu (star) in the solar month of Makara (late January) is celebrated with much enthusiasm here. A temple was built and the Lord worshipped by the pAncharAtra tradition.  The Lord also showed Sri Ramanuja through a vision, the place where the holy white (tiru-maN) soil (which his devotees could use for the holy emblems on their fore heads) could be excavated.  This soil is being used by millions of devotees even today.

As Sri Ramanuja was in search for a processional deity for the temple festivities, He was instructed by the Lord to go north (Delhi) and bring Him back from the Delhi Sultan’s daughter Bibi. This marked a special occasion in his life.  Sampath Kumaran is said to have walked and jumped on his lap when he called out to Him.

The people who helped Sri Ramanuja carry Sampath Kumaran from Delhi by foot were the local tribes from the forest areas.  Sri Ramanuja gave them a special place in the temple activities, and named them Tiru-kulattars (the people who belong to the family of Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi).  Even to this date these people have special previlages in the temple festivities.

Melukote was the temple where Sri Ramanuja began his strong administrative reform.  This included assignment of different temple duties to different people/families.  He then used this format at all other temples. All the temple festivities to this date are carried out by the local dwellers in the same manner as Sri Ramanuja established more than 900 years ago.

During his stay at Melukote Sri Ramanuja paid much attention to the social aspect of the human community.  He laid great emphasis on bringing quality and happiness to human life.  He made the temple the central focus of all activity.  He included people irrespective of caste/gender/background/economical status, etc in temple activities.  Local people were given specific tasks with income that was accountable.  He set up neighborhoods in and around the temple for all.  He also made arrangements to provide water and other resources for them.  Small-scale industries that served the local people and temples were set up to make families economically sound.  Elaborate festivals were organized and he strongly encouraged the participation of the entire community.

Many scholars and people from different faiths surrendered to Sri Ramanuja under the Hoysala reign of King Vishnuvardhana. Although their spoken language was the Sansrit-based Kannada, equal importance was given to the Dravida Vedas, the 4000 Divine outpourings of the AzhvArs, as the Sanskrit Vedas.

In accordance with the Sri Vaishnava tradition where the Acharya is given equal or more importance than the Lord, the people of this special town give extraordinary importance to Sri Ramanuja and His Darling Child.  The daily worship is done first at the shrine of Sri Ramanuja and subsequently to the main presiding deities.

Although there are no alwar poems sung in direct reference to Melkote, Sri Ramanuja dedicated the 4.1.1 verse of Sri NammazhvAr’s TiruvAImozhi to ThiruNarayana.

The two main festivals in addition to the traditional Sri Vaishnava festivals, held at this sacred place are the famous Vairamudi festival (The Festival of the Diamond Crown) and Sri Ramanuja Tirunakshatram (Sri Ramanuja’s Appearance Day) festival. The former is held in the Solar month Panguni (late March) on the star Pushyam where Sampath Kumaran majestically adorns the sparkling, resplendent diamond-studded crown.  The latter is held during the solar month of Chittirai (late April), on the star TiruvAdirai (Ardra).  Both these are 10-day-long festivals where the town sees tens of thousands of devotees to enjoy the Divine Form of the Lord Sampath Kumaran and His Father, Sri Ramanuja.

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