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Thirukolur peNpiLLai put forth her next question, “Did I fling my arms onto both sides of Sri RAmAnujA’s neck, like the Murthi of Sri SelvapiLLai, O SwAmi?

There was a dark period in the history of Srirangam PerumaaL.

Sri RAmAnujA had to leave Srirangam and exchange his saffron robe for white. He had to be away from his beloved Sri Ranganathan, not for one or two years, but as long as TWELVE years. With his Sishyas, he travelled on foot through forest and hilly terrains. Along the way, they passed through Kongunaadu, and visited Kongu Piraatti.

After that, Sri RAmAnujA and his Sishyas travelled to Karnataka and camped near a lake at a place known as Thondanoor. In front of their camp, there was a beautiful hill called YADUGIRI. The area was ruled by Vittaladevan, a Hoysala King. His daughter was mentally ill and was said to be possessed by spirits. She did not recover despite the best efforts of all the doctors in the kingdom. Having heard about Sri RAmAnujA's glories, the King approached Sri RAmAnujA and prayed to him. Sri RAmAnujA went to the Palace, exorcised and rescued the Princess from the clutches of the spirits. The King was extremely happy. He became a VaishNavan and a disciple of Sri RAmAnujA. He adopted the Daasa Naamam VishNuvardhan.

At this juncture, Sri RAmAnujA found that there was no stock of ThirumaN, which he used to apply on his forehead. When he was at a loss, PerumaaL appeared in his dream and advised him as under :

"There is a *PushkaraNi (sacred pond) on top of the Yadugiri hill. If you dig at that spot, you will get as much ThirumaN as you want."*

When Sri RAmAnujA informed this to the King, the King with his entire retinue proceeded to the hill. There they all found not only the beautiful PushkaraNi, but also a ThuLasi Vanam. They dug there and found a large quantity of ThirumaN, as desired by Sri RAmAnujA.

Besides this, a surprise was awaiting Sri RAmAnujA. They also found a beautiful Vigraham! The Vigraham was washed with milk and glowed as if Sriman NarayaNan Himself came in person. Sri RAmAnujA was overjoyed and named the Vigraham Sri ThirunArAyaNan. Raja VishNuvardhan built a beautiful temple and Sri ThirunArAyaNa PerumAL was installed in the temple. ThiruvArAdhanam (worship) was performed for three days. The VaishNavAs were asked to perform daily Poojas as per pAncharAthra Agamam procedures.

Thus, there was now a beautiful temple with an enchanting Moolavar PerumaaL exuding Benevolence to all.

The local populace then became concerned about the temple festivals (Uthsavams). "If we want to celebrate Uthsavams, then we should have an Uthsava Murthy (Deity taken out in procession). Where can we find an Uthsava Murthy?" In response to their fervent prayers, PerumAL appeared in Sri RAmAnujA’s dream and revealed:

"During the Muslim invasion, the Archakas (Poojaris) dug a big pit, placed Me inside the pit, closed the pit and thus protected me from the invaders. You reclaimed Me from the pit and installed Me in the temple. But My Uthsava Murthy, Sri RAmapriyan, was taken by them to Delhi and if you go to Delhi, you can bring Him back."

Hearing the above message from PerumAL, Sri RAmAnujA set out for Delhi immediately. On reaching Delhi, he went directly to the Badshah and told him that the deity of PerumAL was in his possession. He asked the Badshah to give PerumAL back.

Awed by the effulgence and majesty of Sri RAmAnujA, the Badshah told Sri RAmAnujA that there were a lot of statues in his palace and that he (Sri RAmAnujA) could take the deity that he was looking for.

True to the Badshah’s words, there were many statues, but the Murthy of Sri RAmapriyan was nowhere to be found.

Sri RAmAnujA, dejected, implored PerumAL to guide him.

PerumAL told him that the Badshah's daughter had Sri RAmapriyan with her in the harem¶¶.

¶¶Harem = Living quarters reserved for the female relatives in a Muslim household - known in India as an Anthahpuram.

Sri RAmAnujA went to the Badshah immediately and told him that the Vigraham with the princess was his (Sri RAmAnujA's) Sri RAmapriyan and asked the Badshah to get it for him.

The Badshah, in a derisive manner, asked Sri RAmAnujA to invite the RAmapriyan deity to go with him and that he could take RAmapriyan with him if he agreed to come.

Sri RAmAnujA went to the Anthahpuram and found the little princess playing with Sri Ramapriyan, her favourite doll.

Sri RAmAnujA prayed with folded hands in supplication¶¶ and pleaded to his beloved Uthsava Murthy as under :

"Oh, come here my Beloved Child!"

¶¶(Supplication = The act of communicating with a deity, especially as a prayer or petition in adoration or thanksgiving)

Sri RAmapriyan descended from the cot with a flourish. With a spring in his step, he hopped, skipped and jumped in jubilation to Sri RAmAnujA with flamboyant dancing movements!

Sri RAmapriyan descended from the cot with a flourish. With a spring in his step, he hopped, skipped and jumped in jubilation to Sri RAmAnujA with flamboyant dancing movements!

Sri Ramapriyan latched onto the lap of Sri RAmAnujA and embraced Sri RAmAnujA's neck firmly with utmost affection.

Sri RAmAnujA, ecstatic with boundless joy, embraced Sri Ramapriyan and addressed him lovingly, “O Sampath KumArA!”

On witnessing this divine scene, those who thought Sri RAmapriyan to be a mere statue, themselves stood like statues, stupefied and motionless.

Sri RAmAnujA then took leave from the Muslim king.

He placed Sri RAmapriyan on a palanquin¶¶ and carried Him to ThirunArAyaNapuram.

¶¶*(Palanquin or pallakku in Tamil - a form of conveyance / transport used in earlier times - usually for carrying one or two persons - having a structure or box, containing a seat or bed enclosed by curtains and carried on men's shoulders or by animals such as horses or elephants).

Sri RAmAnujA was very happy.

But the Badshah's daughter was unhappy. She declared that she could not live without Sri RAmapriyan either, and she also needed HIM. Expressing her sorrow, she began to run in pursuit of Sri RAmapriyan. She joined Sri RAmAnujA and pleaded with him to take her also, since she could not live without Sri RAmapriyan.

Sri RAmAnujA asked her to sit in the Palanquin along with Sri RAmapriyar.

The procession proceeded towards ThirunArAyaNapuram.

The party neared ThirunArAyaNapuram. Suddenly, the Palanquin bearers, in great surprise, exclaimed to Sri RAmAnujA that the weight in the Palanquin was much less than before.

Wondering at this development, Sri RAmAnujA looked inside the Palanquin.

To his amazement, he found that the Badshah's daughter (Beevi) had merged with Sri RAmapriyan, a miracle beyond human comprehension!

Even today at ThirunArayaNapuram, we can witness Beevi NAchiyAr giving darshan at the Divine Lotus Feet of Lord Sampath Kumara.

Thirukolur peN piLLai told Sri RAmAnujA as under :

"Did I have the great fortune and honour of PerumAL Himself embracing my neck with both His hands, like Sri RAmAnujA had? Then what right do I have to remain in this place (ThirukoLur) ?"

Sri RAmAnujA replied that in the TrethA Yugam, Sri Rama returned with Sri Sita Mata after vanquishing (destroying RAvaNa) in the war. At AyodhyA, Sri Rama was anointed and consecrated with the throne of the kingdom in a beautiful ceremony. At that time, Sri Rama gave Sri Ranganatha, the treasure of Ikshvaku dynasty, to VibhishaNa. Sri Rama wanted to have a Vigraham for Himself and so asked Sri Brahma to give Him a Vigraham for Aaraadhanam.

Ceding to His request, Sri Brahma gave Lord Rama his own worship able deity, which Sri Brahma had been worshipping for a long time.

This Vigraham was extremely dear to Sri Rama, and came to be known as Sri RAmapriyan. Sri Rama was performing Pooja to Sri RAmapriyan.

After Sri Rama, Lava-Kusha performed Pooja to Sri RAmapriyan.

After them, when the daughter of Kusha got married into the Yadava clan, Sri RAmapriyan Vigraham was given to the daughter as the bride's Sthreedhanam (gift from the bride's family).

In the Yadava lineage, Sri Ramapriyan was worshipped by Sri BalarAmA and Sri Krishna.

Now, in Kali Yuga, Sri Ramanuja retrieved Sri Ramapriyan and installed him as the Uthsava Murthy to ThirunArAyaNa PerumAL, as per the Lord’s wish .

Then Sri RAmAnujAr asked Thirukolur peN piLLai, "Whose story are you going to tell next, O Child?"

Thirukolur peN replied, "Was I asked to remain with Lord Ranganatha in Srirangam eternally by Lord Sri Ranganatha himself, like IDayAthUr Nambi?"


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