Expressed in “Nachiyar Tirumozhi”, Andal’s wish of living in Vrindavan was fulfilled by Shri Rangadeshik Swamiji in the form of Rangji Mandir where Shri Goda-Rangmannar resides as divya dampati forever.
Kartik Braj Darshan with Vrindavan Today (Day 25): Rangji Mandir
Vrindavan, 2020-11-21 (VT): Shri Rangji temple is one of the largest temples in the North India. It is one of the very few temples in India where regular festivals are celebrated and all the traditions and rituals are performed according to the prescribed Vedic norms.
In Shri Rangji temple one finds a unique mixture of both south and north Indian traditions. In addition to celebrating all the festivals which are part of South Indian Shri Vaishnava temple tradition, several festivals which are part of the North Indian tradition are also celebrated here. For example it’s only at Shri Rangji temple where devotees can enjoy the pleasure of playing Holi with the Shri Krishna during Shri Brahmotsava.
Shri Rang Mandir is dedicated to Bhagwan Shri Goda – Rangamannar. Goda or Andal as she is popularly known in South India was a famous 8th century Vaishnava saint who composed “Tiruppuvai” which centres around her love for her beloved Shri Krishna and His Leela bhoomi, Vrindavan. She pined for him, fasted for him, sang the songs in His praise and wanted to attain Krishna by marrying him. Shri Ranganatha who is none other than Krishna answered Her prayers by becoming Her bridegroom. In Shri Rangji Mandir, Bhagwan Shri Krishna is present as the bridegroom with a walking stick in his hand as is the custom in traditional South Indian marriage. To his right is Andal and to his left Garuda, the vahana (carrier) of Shri Vishnu.
Andal had expressed three wishes in “Nachiyar Tirumozhi” (143 verses composed by her in praise of Krishna). Her first wish was to spend her life at the feet of Krishna in Vrindavan. Her second wish that He accept her as His bride came true when she married Him, and the third one that Bhagwan Ranganatha be offered “Ksheeranna” (dessert made of rice and milk) in a hundred pots was fulfilled by the eleventh century vaishnava saint Shri Ramanujacharya.
Her first wish which had not been fulfilled by any of the previous Vaishnavas and acharayas was fulfilled by Shri Rangadeshik Swamiji by constructing this temple where Shri Goda Rangmannar resides as divya dampati (Divine Couple) in Vrindavan.
Shri Rangji Mandir, was built in the year 1851 by the efforts of Shri Rangadeshik Swamiji. According to the Hindu calendar, Rangadeshi Swamiji was born on the Karthik Krishna saptami in Punarvasu nakshatra in the year 1809 at “Angram” village of Tamil Nadu.
He was introduced to study of Vedic scriptures under the guidance of learned scholars. In a short period of time he had mastered all that was taught to him and wanted to learn further. One night in a dream he was chased by a mad bull. The bull chased him in every direction, but when he turned towards North, it stopped. Taking this as a divine sign, he joined Swami Shri Anantacharya of Kanchipuram who was going to North on a pilgrimage. When they reached Shri Govardhan ji, he met Swami Shrinivasacharya ji, the head of Govardhan Peeth of Shri Vaishnava sampradaya. Shri Rangadeshik Swamiji became his disciple and very soon established himself as a brilliant scholar. Finding him suitable to carry forward the torch of Shri Vaishnavism, Swami Shrinivashacharya ji asked Shri Rangadeshik Swamiji to take over the reins of Govardhan Peeth.
Soon Swamiji’s name and reputation as a great Vaishnava scholar had spread all over India. Inspired by his knowledge and devotion the brothers Seth Radha Krishna and Govinda Das ji of Mathura approached Swamiji for discipleship and offered all their wealth at his feet. Once while Swami ji was explaining about the greatness of the South Indian temples, the brothers expressed their wish for establishing Shri Goda Rangmannar at Vrindavan.
Swami ji had always thought about the unfulfilled wish of Andal where she expresses her desire to spend her life in Vrindavan. Taking the wish of the brothers as divine indication, he immediately went to Shri Rangam and expressed this desire to the divine couple Shri Goda Rangmannar and sought their permission for starting the construction of the temple. Skilled labourers were hired from Shri Rangam and brought to Vrindavan. Construction of the temple commenced in the year 1845. The brothers contributed whole heartedly and with their effort and Shri Goda Rangamannar’s grace the temple was completed in the year 1851 A.D. The total expenditure incurred was to the tune of Rs. 45 lakh. In the year 1867 AD, Swamiji formed Shri Rangji Trust to take care of the functioning of the temple. Since then it has been five generations of Shri Rangdeshi Swamiji’s serving Shri Goda-Rangamannar. The present head of Shri Govardhan Peeth is Govardhan Rangacharya ji Maharaj, who is also known as Balak Swami ji.
Inside the Temple
The structure of the temple is based on the famous Shri Ranganatha Swami Temple of Shri Rangam. Keeping in mind the local craftsmanship; some changes were made in the architecture. Shri Rangji Mandir is built in \traditional South Indian style with five concentric rectangular enclosures around the sanctum sanctorum and two beautiful stone gates carved in Jaipur style on the eastern and the western side.
On the western side of the temple just outside the gate is present a 50 feet high wooden chariot which is taken out only once in a year during the Brahmotsava. Entering through the stone carved western gate one sees a lofty gate tower or gopuram covered with a profusion of coarse sculpture. To its left and right are electrically operated leelas of Bhagwan Rama and Krishna.
On the eastern side there is another huge gopuram of almost the same height. Between the two gopurams in the outer concentric enclosure there is a big Pushkarini (Sarovar). Symmetrical in position to the pond on the other side is a small garden where Andal is taken out on every Friday evening. The garden has beautiful stone fountains which operate on special occasions. In between the garden and the pond straight in front of the eastern gopuram is ‘barahdwari’ and a small temple of Shri Hanumanji. Adjacent to the garden as one move along the periphery, is located the seat of the Govardhan Peeth residence of Shri Govardhan Rangacharya ji Maharaj who is the current Govardhan peethadheesh and the head of Shri Rangji Mandir Trust Board and the residential quarters of other priests and employees in a row.
Entry into the temple can be made from both the gates; however, the eastern gate is called the main gate. Inside, in a clockwise direction is located the temple kitchen, the temples of Shri Raghunath (Lord Ram) and Shri Paudanath ji (Lord Ranganath), Vaikunth Dwar (it opens once in a year on Vaikunth Ekadashi), the “Vahan Ghar” (where all the divine mounts are kept, which are taken out during temple festivals), the store, and the clock tower.
Crossing the clock tower through another gate is the 60-feet-high gold plated “Dhwaja Stambha”, locally known as ‘Sone ka khamba’.
Moving in the clockwise direction is the Shri Sheesh Mahal (during Jhoola Utsav Lord Goda Rangamannar reside here) and then the following sannidhis: 1. Shri Sudarshan ji 2. Shri Narsimha ji 3. Lord Venkateshwara (Tirupati Balaji) 4. Shri Venu Gopal ji 5. Shri Alwar Ssannidhis 6. Shri Ramanujacharya Swami ji with Shri Nammalwar (Shri Shatkop Swamiji), Shri Nathmuni Swami ji, Shri Madhurkavi Alwaar. 7. Shri Rangadeshi Swamiji (Temple Founder), Shri Yamunacharya Swamiji (Alwandar), Shri Kanchipurna Swamiji
At the end to the left of the Dhwaja Stambha is the Yagyashala where “Pavitrostava” is held in the month of August / September. In the centre of the temple is located the sannidhi of the main deity Shri Goda – Rangamannar. Shri Jaya Vijaya guard the divine abode where Shri Goda Rangamannar is present as the “mool Vigraha” with Goda Devi to His right and Shri Garuda to the left. Seated in the front is the “utsav-vigraha” of Shri Goda Rangamannar with Shri Sudarshan ji, Shri Garudaji, Shri Nitya Gopal ji (Shri Laddu Gopal ji), Bhog Moorti and the Shayan Moorti.
Every Friday morning, a grand dugdha abhisheik is performed for the Deities.