|Muslim princess (surathani) with Sriranganathar idol.kshetrapuranas.blogspot.com|
Except people associated with that massive Hindu temple dedicated to Sri Rangnatha Swamy at Srirangam, the first among the 108 Divya Desam shrines and people, following Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, most of the Hindus may not be aware that the presiding deity there has a Muslim
woman as his divine consort. The fortunate woman happened to be a princess of Delhi Sultanate - Alauddin Khailji. The paradoxical, but interesting story was a combination of legend, history and tradition. The divine Muslim consort is adored and offered regular worship at the temple here. Does it not sound strange that the Lord of the universe, being in a far off place such as Srirangam, a vast island between rivers Cauvery and Kollidam, in Tamil Nadu gracefully took a rich royal Muslim woman from Delhi as his divine consort? Not that many people are aware of the unpredictable events that gradually unfolded, leading to such a divine union in the wake of a fanatical plundering of Madurai and Srirangam temples by Military Commander Malik Kafur and his powerful army in 1311.
After the death of great King Jatavarman Sundara Pandian I (1250–1268), his irresponsible son prince Sundara Pandian III, after losing the throne to his brother Veera Pandian, in a rage, made a grave blunder that changed the entire history of South India. Subsequently, they lost the kingdom that was taken over by Madurai Sultanate. In haste, Sundara Pandyan sought the help of Alauddin Khilji, the most treacherous of Muslim rulers of Delhi Sultanate and a religious bigot. Only upon Sultan's instructions, Malik Kafur moved into Tamil Nadu from Devagiri in Andhra. His target was Madurai and he led the military expedition through the present day Karnataka to Madurai in 1311 CE. He plundered all the places for taking away any kind of valuable wealth along the way
On his way to Madurai, Malik Kafur and his army plundered the vast Srirangam temple. Because of prior information received far ahead of time, the priests and others covered the main garbha graha (sanctum santorum) with brick wall. The Delhi Army took away every valuable thing they could lay their hands on, including the most important idol-Utchava moorthy (A small idol made of five metals including gold, used for temple procession). The priests did not find enough time to hide the idol safely before the army's arrival. Back in Delhi upon taking a look at the enormous loot taken from Tamil Nadu and other places, the Sultan's daughter fell in love with the lord's idol from Srirangam and kept it herself closely all the time. Literally the young princess was attracted by the lord's aura and charm. Otherwise this idol along with others would have been melted and converted into jewellery.
Thulukka Naachiyaar, kshetrapuranas.blogspot.com
The princess of Delhi Sultanate, unable to bear the pangs of love she had for the lord, became distressed. She s came all the way to Srirangam temple to be with the lord. Unable to find the idol that she loved dearly, she died before the lord's feet unexpectedly and attained divinity.
|Lord Ranganatha Swamy,Srirangam.www.stephen-knapp.com|
Lord Ranganatha Swamy appeared in the chief priest' dreams and pronounced that he had now taken Surathani (derived from Sultani) to be his wife and she too had to be given all the temple honors and worship that were given to the other Nachiyars (Nachiyar is a term used in Tamil Vaishnava
theology for the divine consort of the presiding deity)/consorts. The Bhattar then conveyed this dream to the temple authorities and, accordingly, a shrine was built for the Muslim consort of Lord Ranganatha.
The Muslim princess not only had gained divinity through her deep devotion but also the status of Lord's consort. Idol worship in Islam is a taboo, so, she was worshipped in the form of a painting, richly decorated with gems and gold and still regular pujas and other rituals are held to day. The daily naivaidhyam (divine food) will include chappathis, butter, etc, traditional North Indian food.
Terribly upset over Lord accepting the Muslim woman as his consort, Ranganayaki Thayyar (goddess), Lords consort moved away from him in anger and rage. Hence, there is a separate shrine for Thayyar. In the recent Samprokshanam held at Srirangam temple on the 18th of November, 2015, a separate Yagasala and Agni Kundams were arranged on the premises of Thayyar Sannidhi (shrine) as she is ''Padi Thaanda Pathini.'' Tradition has it that Goddess Ranganayaki has never come out of the shrine after Lord's acceptance of Surathani. Lord made several vein attempts to make a compromise with Thayyar but it never worked out.
There are some rituals associated with the lord cajoling his consort during Navaratri festival. In Tamil, Muslim consort is referred to as ''Thulukka Nachiyar.'' Tulukkar in Tamil means a Muslim, a word derived from "Turukiyar" or Turks.
The same tradition is being observed at the Thiru Narayana temple at Melukote in Karnataka where the Muslim princess is known as ''Bivi Nachiyar.'' In the popular annual Chithirai festival in Madurai,Tamil nadu, Kallazagar, (a form of Vishnu), travels to Madurai to attend the wedding of his sister Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar, the presiding deities in the famous temple there. After crossing the nearby Vaigai river, tradition has it that he spends a night with Thulukka Nachiyar before going to Madurai to conduct the divine wedding.