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Ranganathaswamy Temple In Srirangam: Ramanujacharya’s 1000-Year-Old Embalmed Body

Ramanuja or Ramanujacharya was an Indian philosopher, the founder of Vaishnavism and the forerunner of the Vishishtadwaita Parampara or tradition. He believed in the concept of spiritual realism and advocated Bhakti to be the easiest but spiritually very advanced path that would lead to God and liberation.

Since, the yogic, ritualistic and philosophic methods were too difficult to practice for everyone, he espoused the cause of bhakti marga.

All it required from a follower of Vaishnavism was the selfless and devoted surrender to God as nothing else mattered. According to him, the ritualistic practices or extended hours of meditation could not match a moment of absolute surrender and true faith and devotion to him. He propounded a set of ethical practices for Shrivaishnavites, which also included two mantras of Narayana. One of the mantras was the Ashtakshari mantra "Om Namo Narayanaya", which his guru Yamunacharya had initiated him into in absolute confidence. But Ramanujacharya wanted to bring the benefits of this Ashtakshari mantra closer to the ordinary people so that they too would achieve liberation from worldly bondage and hence proclaimed this mantra from the rooftop of the temple. It created a stir among Vedic Brahmins of that time.

He also taught the most important and closely guarded mantras that originally belonged to Brahmins, to people from the lowest strata of society. The other two primordial mantras were called Dwayam or set of two mantras., Dwayamantram were as follows: 'Sriman Narayana Charanou Sharanam Prapadye' and 'rimathe Narayanaya Namaha'. He was the symbol of the unity of religions as he was the only acharya who allowed the lower community and tribes to enter into the temple for darshan of the Lord and bath in the Kalyani Pond which was reserved for upper caste Hindus so far in Melkote. Ramanujacharya added the element of humanity to the concept of Dharma which lent a sense of completion to its concept.

The surprising fact is that Ramanujacharya's body has been embalmed and preserved even today since 1137 AD inside the premises of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli. It is considered a prominent Hindu pilgrimage centre today.

How Is Ramanujacharya's Body Mummified?

Ramanuja is enshrined inside the temple of Sri Ranganathaswamy in Tiruchirappalli, where you can see his mummified body brilliantly preserved for centuries. No chemical ingredients are used. It is just sandalwood paste and saffron that are applied to his body to protect it from decay. A coating of Pachai Karpooram (camphor) and Kumkum is applied two times a year which is why the body has an orange tint. This has continued for more than 878 years up to the present times. You could see Egyptian mummies in a sleeping position, well wrapped with layers of chemical applications But Ramanujacharya is in a seated position and preserved with natural herbs and ingredients.

Ranganathaswamy Temple: The Legend Of Ramanuja's Shrine

Ramanujacharya's body is placed in the southwest corner on the fifth round within the Srirangam Temple, which is according to the divine instructions by Lord Ranganatha. As per the local legends, when it was time for him to leave the earthly coil, his distraught disciples begged him to stay on for a few more days on earth to which he agreed and assured them that he would stay on three more days. Even this was not agreeable to them. He then suggested to them to build a deity and when it was completely made, he hugged it to transfer all his powers into it. He took his last breath, reclining on the lap of Embar, and feet on the lap of VadugaNambi, as he listened to the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, focusing his gaze on the padukas of Yamunacharya, his guru.

You can sense the lifelike presence in his body even now. His nails are real, and his eyes do not exude coldness. One can clearly witness the eyes in the Ramanujacharya's body, and on a closer look, his nails are also visible. Read to know more.

Ramanuja's Life Events

Ramanuja was born in the year 1017 A.D. in the village of Perumbudur, located twenty-five miles to the west of Chennai. His father, Kesava Somayaji passed away when Ramanuja was still an infant, and his mother Kantimati Devi and raised him singlehandedly. Ramanuja pursued his Vedic studies in Kanchipuram under Yadavaprakasha, a guru of Advaita philosophy.

He was a reformer saint who created a sect that worshipped Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi alone. Ramanujacharya relinquished the world and left his family and his wife to accept priesthood in the Kanchipuram Varadaraja temple. He lived for 120 years, and interestingly he was born and died in the year Pingala. He completed two complete Tamil year cycles and .was the chief priest of the temple for twenty-five years.

Sri Ramanujarcharya's Teachings And Philosophies

Ramanuja was a spiritual reformer who revolted against caste discrimination. He had a soft corner towards the downtrodden and untouchables and put them on the spiritual path. He wanted the lower strata to be a part of the mainstream and get involved in Vishnu worship.

He changed many rigid rituals that were being practised in the Srirangam temple. His views were opposed by many orthodox groups and attempts were made on his life. Due to his divine powers and devotion to the Lord, he survived all those attempts and continued contributing to the sea of humanity. Shaivite King Kulottunga Chola had thrown the idol of Govindaraja into the sea. Ramanuja reinstated the idol of Govindaraja Perumal back in Tirupati and was popularly called by the title that he was accorded-" Odeyavar". He finally attained the lotus feet of the lord inside the temple whose body is mummified and preserved.

Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky does not confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons

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