Lord vishnu with a Muslim consort?


Much as the guardian of religious purity may squirm at the depiction, this is indeed a tradition Preserved to date in the leading vaishnav temple of Tamil Nadu, the Srirangam temple in Trichurapalli (0r) Trichy In this huge temple complex, the largest in Tamil Nadu, Lord Vishnu is known as Sri Ranganathaswamy and is depicted as reclining on the thousand-headed serpent of eternity, sesha. And one of the main consorts Is sri Tuluka Nachiar, which means ‘respected Muslim lady’ in Tamil. The most important Temple ceremony famous across southern India is the Vaikunda Ekadasi, which falls in the Tamil month of Marhazhi (December -January )and lasts for 20 days, During the First 10 days of the festival called Pagal pathu, Lord Vishnu is taken to Sri Tuluka Nachiar in a ceremonial professional .He is Supposed to serve her for these 10 days.

Lord vishnu with a Muslim consort?

As Tuluka Nachiar was a Muslim, no idol depicts her. There is, instead, a 400 year old Tanjore painting of a woman who represents her. Who was Tuluka Nachiar ? Legend has it that she was the daughter of a Muslim sultan who fell in love with Lord Vishnu. To please her, the sultan organised to have the statue stolen from the temple. Devout worshippers, however, stolen it back and returned the statue to srirangam. The Sultan’s daughter then came to the temple Weeping for darshan of her Lord. As she Was not allowed in,she died weeping at the gates of the temple There is little historical proof to back to back this legend about a sultan’s daughter. All the same, the legend ends with Lord Vishnu accepting Tuluka Nachiar as his consort. And as she died of a broken heart serving her Lord,it is now Lord Vishnu’s turn to serve her during Vaikunda Ekadasi festival As there is no historical evidence backing this legend, how then did the Brahmin guardians Of Lord Vishnu admit a Muslim figure into the Temple? No one has cared to study this tradition and provide a satisfactory explanation. Some academics in Tamil Nadu Speculated that the traditional must have begun when the Arcot of Nawabs were the dominant power in the region during the 18th and 19th centuries. These Muslim rulers were never despoiled of temples; On the contrary, there is historical evidence that they have made generous grants to many temples in the south, most notably the powerful Tirupathi shrine and Srirangam Temple. Trichy, in particular,was an Important military base for the Nawabs, and the town, therefore of their largesse.

The guardians of powerful Temples, such as the Srirangam, must have found it necessary to strike some sort of Compromise with the Nawabs, who in time also became their befactors. So just as the Muslim Nawabs found it necessary to Patronise the powerful temple of the region, the Brahmins too, reciprocated by nominally Incorporating Muslim figures into the Various myths surrounding their major deity.

It is likely that this tradition was introduced at the time of Muslim rule. Many of the daily rituals at the temple also have shades Muslim influence. For instance, there are six daily pujas before Lord Vishnu. During the First morning puja when the Deity is bathed, he is made to wear a checked lungi, which is generally identified with Muslim in the region. Furthermore, during the second puja at 8.45 am, Lord Vishnu is made an offering of roti, dal and ghee -all Foods identified with Muslim in this rice – eating belt The Srirangam complex is not merely a Temple, it is a temple town of many a fabulous gopuram and numerous shrines Depicting the various avatars of Lord vishnu With their consorts. It represents a tradition of unbroken religious activity for over thousand years. It was from here that the Brahmin Sri Ramanuja taught his concept of Bhakti Yoga in the latter half of the 11th century, Which transformed Vaishnav philosophy throughout the country and produced School of thought Today, the Srirangam temple is a bustling hive of tourists and pilgrims. But while all are admitted into the complex, non-Hindus Cannot enter the golden dome enclosure Housing the principal deity. Ironically, it is Inside this very enclosure that Tuluka Nachiar, ‘our respected Muslim lady’ is housed. This particular Muslim has obviously transcended boundaries between Islam and Hinduism, which other mortals are not allowed to cross.

Srirangam Temple

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