The Ranganthaswamy Temple – usually referred to as “Sri Ranganathaswamy” – is dedicated to Ranganatha, a manifestation of Vishnu. It is one of the five important pilgrimage sites along the river Kaveri for devotees of Ranganatha. These five sacred sites are together known as Pancharanga Kshetrams in Southern India. Since Srirangapatna is the first temple starting from upstream, the deity is known as Adi Ranga (lit; “first Ranga”), and the town of Srirangapatna, which derives its name from the temple, is on an island in the river Kaveri.
The water of Cauvery is similar to the water of the scared viraj river which is found in Vykunta. the temple of Lord Ranganatha is Vykunta, itself Lord Ranganatha is none other than Sri Vasudeva. God Ranganatha has manifiested himself in three places in the east at Srirangam, in the south at Ananthashaynam and in the west at Sriangapatna. At these three Places the idols are swamy Vyakt tha Moorthies i.e. they are not been made by man but have been formed by themselves. The scared Place of Lord Ranganatha of the west is Considered to be very holy palce by the Devas including Bramha Rudra and by the Nithyasuris such as Sanaka and by the Rishis such as Kapila.
Once Cauvery performed thapas with prayer to Lord Ranganatha. Resting on Sri Adishesha at the Junciton of three river flows of Cauvery at Srirangapatna. the Lord was Pleased with her penance and gave her three benedictions, Viz
(1) the river would have greater sacredness than the Ganges.
(2)The place Srirangapatna would became a Kshetra a place of pilgrimage and
(3)That he Ranganatha would settle himself here alone bestowing on his devotees their desires.
Lord Ranganatha then was worshiped by the Cauvery and he took the form of an idol resting on shree adishesha. Sri Lakshmi visited the scared idol of Lord along with Cauvery and realized the greatness of the Great Lord. She then took bath in the scared river and after worshiping the Lord took the form of an idol on the South East side of the Lord. Realizing the Spiritual Sacredness of the place God Brahma, Rudra And others came there and worshiped Lord. Lord Bramha built temples for r the God and the Goddess.All the devas worshiped the Lord Bramha preached the Pancharathna method of worship to Narada in order to worship Lord Ranganatha.
The words of Bramha to Narada on the sacredness of this place are notable. No other place in the whole universe is sequal in sacredness to this place.this as the most scared among all the Kshetras. A place equal ti this palce was never found in the past, will never be found in the future. Once there was a terrible famine in the country and the Rishis found it very difficult to get water for bathing etc., they went in search of a suitable place for their ablution etc. On their way they came back to the hermitage of Sri Gowthama. On the bank of the river Godavari, Gowthama felt greatly pleased on the arrival of the rushis and welcoming them requested them to remain in his ashrama for some time more. they did so, on his way to river Godavri Gowthama sowed the paddy seeds in the fields with the help of his disciples. He returned from the river after his ablution by his disciples brought the corn, which had already grown and after removing the husk of the corn got a delicious meal prepared for them and served them with it.
On seeing such a good feat served to them some of the Rushis became Jealous of him. Thought of driving away Gowthama from the hermitage so that they might settle themselves there the next day, they created a cow and by the power of their tapas and made her graze the corn in the field. Gowthama on his returning to the hermitage from the river saw the .cow and asked his disciples to drive it away, the disciples did so., The cow ran to Gowthama and fell dead at his feet. The Rushis now loudly cried out that Gowthama killed the cow. Gowthama realized that this was the work of the rushis and pronounced a curse on them that they would become very evil and cruel people not following the vedic path.
After this incident he went on a pilgrimage. On his way he reached Sri Rangam meditated on Sri Ranganatha of that place the Lord appeared visible before him and said that there at Sri Rangam he was being served by Vibhishana and that Gowthama night go to that sacred place, where Adiranga had established him self. Accordingly Gowhtamma went in search of this place told him by Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam. On his way he had darshan of the River Thamaraparni, the Mahendra mountain, the SahYadri hills and the birth place of Cauvery. Then being accompanied by a number of Rushis he came to the place told him by the Lord of Srirangam.
There once when he was narrating to the rushis abount the glory and greatness of Lord Ranganatha by accident a group of rishis such as Bodhayana. Atri, Yagnyavalkya, Kanva, Shuka, Parashara etc came there, Gowthama became very happy on their arrival and welcomed them all. Now all the rushis with the leadership of Gowthama performed a sacrifice worshipping, Ranganatha pleased by the sacrifice appeared visible before them and blessed them. He told gowthama that he was in the form of an idol in ant hill in the near by grove to thulasi..
Accordingly Gowthama enteread in to the Thulasi grove and evoked the Gods Brahma, Rudra, Indra etc and the sacred heavenly cow Kamadhenu. All rushis and the gods saw the bigant hill in the thulasi grove and prostrated before it. The ant hill drenched and removed by the milk of Kamadhenu and all the devotees had a darshan of the Lord in a very auspicious moment as stated in the following sentences. They had a darshan of Lord Ranganatha in the month Mesha, Shukla paksha Spthami Saturday. After adoring the Gods Vishwaksena, Garuda, Chakra etc. had a darshan of the Goddess Ranganayaki in the south east (Vayuvya) part. Then making a Pradakshina of the place then came the Garbhagriha of the temple and had a darshan of the Great Lord.
Lord Ranganatha being rested on Adhishesh, with his right arm carry his Head, his left arm being stretched having Goddess Lakshmi in this chest and his feet being adored by the Goddess Cauvery. His face shone with great splendor, Gowthama and the Gods,Brahma, Rudra etc praised the Lord. The Lord was pleased with this praise and told Gowthama that the place would be called after him as Gowthama Kshetra and the temple called asBrahmananda Vimana. Later Gowthama learnt from narada the Pancharathna method of worship and worshiped the Lord. The day on which Gowthama first worshiped the Lord is even now being celebrated every Year as the Sri Ranga jayanthi. On the day the celebrations begin with Abhishekha in the early morning and then the Vairagi Seva which is a feast for the eyes. Gowthama puja, Mahamangalarathi will be done . In the night there will be a grand procession of the Lord bearing splendorous Sri Rangamudi.
From the next day Gowthama with the other rushis commenced the Sri Ranga Sapthaha which lasted for a week on the last day the lord being mounted on garuda appeared before them. Even today this day is being celebrated by having garudothsavam which is a grand feast for the eyes. The rushis who had accompanied Gowthama to this place decided to stay here alone being fascinated by the sacredness of the place. The month of thula commenced. During this month the Ganges is supposed to exist in the Cauvery to purify herself of the sins got from persons.
They intended to give a hollowness to the place during the Thula month and prayed to God for that purpose. The Lord consented to the request of the rushis and graced them by saying that a bath in the Ashtathirtha on the Dasami day on the Thula month gives the devotees their desires as well as moksha. A three day stay on the banks of the river Ganges, a Five days stay on the banks of the river Yamuna or a more dip in the Cauvery removes the evils of a person. Persons living in places where the wind of the Cauvery blows attain moksha. The darshan of the river is sacred and removes the evils. So it is doubtless that a bath in the charity in the Gowthama kshethra give ever Cauvery lasting results.