Srirangam, the largest functional temple in the world at 156 acres is the seat of the Sri Vaisnava sampradaya and the first and most important of the Sri Vaisnava 108 Divya desams. The Deity of Ranganatha Swami and the Vimaana on the temple are Svayambhu (self-manifested) having come directly from the milk ocean where Ksirodakshayi Visnu reclines on Ananta Sesa. Sri Ramanujacarya the acarya of the Si Vaisnava sampradaya resided here for many years and his actual transcendental form is still kept embalmed in a Samadhi in the southeastern part of the temple complex.
This is also the place where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu spent the most time after Navadvipa and Jagannatha Puri. Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana came from Srirangam; it was in his house that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu resided in during the four months of caturmasya that He stayed here. Gopal Bhatta Goswami’s descendants are still present there.
This year’s annual Srirangam Sravana Kirtan Camp (Tamil Nadu) was conducted from 26th – 28th January opposite the entrance to the Yatri Nivas Guesthouse complex, on the bank of the river Kollidam approximately 1.5Km from the North Gate of the Srirangam temple complex.
The accommodation was provided at Yatri Nivas Guesthouse which is a serene spacious complex designed and modeled with a Sri Vaisnava devotional theme, managed by the Srirangam Temple authorities.
Sravana Kirtana camps are now conducted all over the world. The concept of the Sravana Kirtana Camp was devised by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami as a way of facilitating increased hearing and chanting in the association of devotees thus enlivening their Krsna consciousness. The Srirangam SK Camp was also a solution to the increased number of invitations Maharaja was getting in Tamil Nadu that were practically possible to reciprocate with. Thus this camp was primarily meant for devotees in Tamil Nadu for getting an opportunity to hear from Maharaja. Since then it has grown with more speakers and devotees from other locations also attending to take advantage of hearing Krsna Katha in the spiritual ambiance of Srirangam, the Vrindavana of the South.
The speakers at the camp were H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami, H.H. Krsna Ksetra Swami, and H.G. Mukunda Datta Prabhu. There was an approximate thirty percent increase in attendees from the previous year with a total of about 800 attendees this year mostly from Tamil Nadu but also from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Mumbai, Assam and even as far afield as America, Croatia, Czech Republic and Russia.
Many devotees arrived up to two days early to visit the divine forms of Sri Ranganayaki Thayyar and Ranganatha Swami and other deities and also to take a dip in the holy Kaveri River. By the time of the first day of the camp, the number of devotees had swelled to several hundred. The morning Srimad Bhagavatam class was given by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami for the three days and the second and third classes of the day by the guest speakers; H.H. Krsna Ksetra Swami and H.G. Mukunda Datta Prabhu. There was also a presentation done by ISKCON Salem on the construction of the first full stone temple in ISKCON built according to Vastu Shastra, and an announcement of the release of a DVD featuring all of Srila Prabhupada’s lectures translated into Tamil (along with the original voice of Srila Prabhupada) translated and recorded by H.G. Krsna Das Prabhu
On Saturday residents of Srirangam and visitors were astounded to see hundreds of devotees jumping, dancing with upraised hands and uproariously chanting the maha mantra
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
This was accompanied by mrdangas, kartals and jhampas along with the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books. The Nagar Sankirtan began at the Prasadam stall at Srirangam Temple and went on through the Raja Gopuram (near the South gate entrance), Sri Caitanya Pada Pitha, ISKCON Srirangam, and all the way till Ammamandapam on the banks of the Kaveri where the devotees and Maharajas took their bath in the holy river.
The final day of the camp was witness to an initiation ceremony preceded by Srimad Bhagavatam class given by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami, followed by an initiation lecture given by H.G. Sankirtan Prabhu (Czech) and a lecture on the ten offenses by H.G. Divya Prabandha Prabhu (Croatia).
The camp was a memorable event that left the attendees feeling spiritually surcharged and fortunate to have heard Krsna Katha from such exalted disciples of Srila Prabhupada. It was also significant for the many new devotees who got an opportunity to experience the transcendental bliss of hearing, chanting, dancing and honoring sumptuous prasadam with so many other devotees in such a holy place. We pray for the association of the devotees in the next Srirangam Sravana Kirtana camp of 2019.
Lectures given at the camp by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami can be found on the YouTube BVKS Media Ministry page.
Some pictures of the SK camp and a video are shown below:
https://youtu.be/pSIFbUoTW3c [Video – 32 secs]