Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Brief History of Sri Ranganatha Temple, Pomona, NY, USA

Sri Ranganatha Temple was started at the direct command of the great Mahatma, HH the 44th Jeer of Sri Ahobila Mutt, Srimate Srivan SathagOpa Sri VedAnta Desika YatIndra MahAdesika, to propogate the Vedic concept of Absolute Surrender ( SaraNAgati / Prapatti / Bhara SamarpaNam ) at the lotus feet of Lord Sriman NArAyaNa,  as the sure means of Moksha-prApti
( salvation ), at the end of this birth itself, for anyone and everyone.

The basic idea of having an exclusive place of worship for Lord Sriman NArAyaNa had taken shape in New York, USA, when a group of devotees met on the Birthday celebrations of HH the 44th Jeer  in August 1985.  This proposal was submitted at the lotus feet of H.H. the 44th Azhagiyasingar in 1986, for having a dedicated shrine for the Supreme Lord Sriman NArAyaNa in USA,  and HH the 44th Azhagiyasingar ( Founder Acharya ) commanded His disciple Venkat Kanumalla (VK) of New York, USA; to build an exclusive Temple for Lord Sri RanganAtha, and to propogate the concept of SaranAgati .  This idea was well supported by a group of devotees headed by Sri Ranganathan Kuppuswamy of Srirangam, India ( then working at New York, USA).

Subsequently, the not-for-profit organisation Sri RanganAtha Seva Samithi was registered in the State of New York on Oct 8, 1987, and the necessary tax-exemption status was obtained on Dec 6, 1988.

In the Early days, there were  a lot of Satsangs and poojas, to commemorate the birthdays of Azhwars and our Sri-Vaishnava-Acharyas, and also important religious festivals were observed, in various devotees' houses.  The first Archa Murty was a small 2 inches panchaloha Vigraha of Sriman NnArAyana, compared to the currently installed Sri RanganAtha Moola Vigraha of 10 feet long and 10 metric Tons in weight.

Subsequently,  a devotee (Mrs.Hemlata Srivatsan) sponsored in part, the Utsava Vigrahas of Sri Ranganatha, Sri Devi, Bhu Devi, Sri MahA-Lakshmi and Andal and all these five Vigrahas were air-lifted to New York in 1988, after due PrANa-Pratishta at the DasAvatAra Sannithi, in Srirangam, by the officiating ArAdhaka Sriman Vaduvur Swamy of Sri Ahobila Mutt, in the Divine presence of HH the 44th Jeer.
 
The Utasava Vigrahas of Sri RAma, Sri Sitha Devi, Lakshmana Swamy and Sri HanumAn were sponsored by a devotee (Dr.Ayyala Murthy) and were personally brought to USA by VK; after due PrAna Pratishta at  Sri Ahobila Mutt in India, in the Divine Presence of HH the 44th Srimad Azhagiyasingar.  Later, the Utsava Vigrahas of Sri Venu-Gopala Krishna, Sri VenkatEswara with Sree Devi and Bhu Devi, Sri Sudarsana with Yoga Nrusimha, Bhagavat  Sri RAmanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika were air-lifted to New York (after due Prana Pratishta at Srirangam Srimad Andavan Aashramam in October 1993 ) .

All these 16 Divya Mangala Vigrahas are having Their daily  Aradhana, weekly abhishekams, kalyana utsavams, Sudarsana Homas etc..  for the next 12 years at the residence of  VK.

 Finally, Sri Lakshmi Hayagriva,  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha, all the 12 Azhwars', Bhagavad Sri ramanuja, Sri NigamAnta Maha Desika, Srimad Adivan Sathagopa Yateendra Maha Desika and  the 44th Jeer Utsava Vigrahas arrived in New York in 2001.

As the idea of building a Temple for Lord Sri RanganAtha got well established in the devotees' minds after many years of talking ONLY about Saranagati,
it was agreed by the Board of Trustees to request Mrs.Radhika Nagubandi, Esq, to go ahead and purchase  about  5 acres of land in Pomona, in Rockland County, New York, USA.  The Temple construction plans were drawn by Sri Siva Prakasam Sthapati of Srirangam at the order of HH the 44th Jeer.   The Moola Vigrahas of Sri RanganAtha, the two dwAra-pAlakas, Sri Rama-Sita-lakshmana and Hanuman, Sri Srinivasa and Sri Garuda were sculptured at  Srirangam and the Moola Vigrahas of  Sri Maha Lakshmi, Andal, Sri Lakshmi-Nrusimha and Sri Krishna were sculptured at Thiruvonmoyur, Chennai, India and finally arrived at our Temple in New York during 2000.

There was a long struggle for 6 years to get the necessary permits to build the Temple, overcoming all the objections of local residents of Rockland county and finally, in 1997, the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of this great Sri-Vaishnava shrine was held.

 During the construction, we were  blessed with the MangalAsAsanams by H.H. Tridandi Sriman NArAyana Chinna Jeer Swamy during His visit to New York and also by HH the Pejavar Mutt Swamy of the Madhwa-sAmpradAyam. 

Sri RanganAtha Seva Samithi was re-registered as Sri RranganAtha Temple, as a Religious Incorporation on Sept 28, 1998, in the State of New York to propogate the concept of Saranagati, as proposed by Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja, as elaborated by Sri Nigamanta Maha Desika and as currently practiced by the Jeer Swamys of Sri Ahobila Mutt.

After the Temple outer shell was built by local American contractors, it was time to get ten Sthapatis, headed by Mr.Babu from India to do all the architectural work for the Garbha Gruhas and VimAnam / Gopuram work, under the supervision of Dr.Ram Nagubandi.  These ten Sthapatis  were accomodated in the house of VK, for 24 months from May 1999 until they went back to India  after the completion of all Inner Prakaram and Gopuram art-work in April 2001. 

A total of 1.2 Million Dollars was raised as donations in the first 12 years, through donations, sponsorships and performance of more than  100 Sri Sudarsana Homas,   more than 100 Sri Srinivasa Kalyana Utsavas and around 400 Sri Satyanarayana poojas by VK in so many devotees’ homes.  About 300 devotees became Life-members (donating $1,116= each), about 20 members became Benefactors (donating $5,000= each) and about 20 members became Donors  ( donating $10,000= each ) during this 12 year period.  And  it was time to get additional funds to complete the Temple project.  About 30 devotees came forward and gave loans ranging from a minimum of $2,000= to  $300,000= to a total of 1.8 Million Dollars, either taking a second mortgage on their houses or borrowing from their retirement funds or personal savings. 

Special Thanks to the following devotees, each of whom gave a loan of at least $100,000= to $300,000= : Dr.Murty Ayyala, Dr.Venkat Kanumalla, Sri Raghunathan Kuppuswamy, Sri Rajaji Raghavan, Mrs.Nagu Satyan and Dr.Chandra Sekar,  for the completion of the Temple construction, IN ADDITION TO their generous donation of more than $10,000= each.

The Temple had the Utsava Vigraha pratishtApana on July 12, 2000,  and the Certificate of Occupancy for public worship was finally obtained on Feb 14, 2001.  This Great Temple, one and only one Temple, outside India,  dedicated to the Sri VishishtAdvaita sidhAnta of Bhagavad RamAnuja-Sri NigamAnta Maha Desika-Sri Ahobila Mutt sAmpradAyam ( as on now ), was made possible by the goodwill, support, donations and unimaginable sacrifices of thousands of devotees from all over USA, India and other countries and no amount of THANKS to  all of them, either personally or individually will ever be adequate.

Finally, the Maha Samprokshanam was held on  May 27, 2001, with PrAna Pratishta for all the Moola Vigrahas (Sri Ranganatha, Sri Mahalakshmi, Sri Andal, Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha, Sri Rama Parivar ( Sita, RAma, Lakshmana, HanumAn), Sri Venu GopAla Krishna, Sri Srinivasa, Sri Garuda and the 12 Azhwars ( Utsava Murtys ) was performed according to the PAncharAtra Agamas, spread over 5 days, followed by the mandalAbhishekam  to all the Dieties for 48 days.

During the First Anniversary ceremonies in May 2002, the AchArya Pratishtha was done with Moola Vigrahas and Utsava Vighrahas for Bhagavd Sri RAmanuja, Sri Vedanta Desika, HH Sri Adivan Sathagopa and HH the 44th Azhagiyasingar of Sri Ahobila Muth.

The Nitya kainkaryam to the Divya Dampatis is going on for the past 8 years and the thousands of devotees visiting the Temple are receiving regular teertham and prasadas besides the blessings from the Divya Dampatis.

To perpetuate our sacred  Acharya Parampara, the Silver Vigraha of the present 45th Srimad Azhagiyasingar is installed ( with donations from Srimad Azhagiyasingar Sishyas for the 65 Kilograms of Silver needed ) at our Temple in 2004, after due Jeeva-Prana-Pratishtha on Nov 22, 2004 at Hyderabad by Sri Vaduvur Swamy in the presence of HH the 45th Srimad Azhagiyasingar on His  78th Tirunakshatram day.

A wonderful Silver-Kavacham, of total weight of nearly 500 Kilograms, is offered to all the Moola-Vigrahas ( Lord  Sri Ranganatha with Adi-sesha,  Sri Maha-Lakshmi, Sri Andal, Sri Lakshmi-Nrusimha, Sri Rama-Sita-Lakshmana-Hanuman, Sri Krishna, Sri Venkateswara and Sri Garuda ) in a wonderful ceremony, after due Pratishtha,  on July 3, 2005.  The Dhwaja-Stambham Copper-cladding had the Pratishtha done on May 28, 2006, in a proper Vedic Ceremony.  During the year 2006, 108 Sri Sudarsana Homas were performed on all Saturdays, Sundays and Special Holidays, for the welfare of all the devotees.

The Temple Construction Loan of 1.8 Million Dollars was cleared On Jan 12, 2007, thanks to an unexpected anonymous donation of $251,000= and from Jan 13, 2007, Sri Ranganatha Temple is operating on a wonderful and NOBLE principle of BhagavAn Sri Krishna  – “ .. yadruchhA lAbha santushtah …” – WHATEVER IS OBTAINED BY THE Free-Will of Lord Sriman Narayana.  And money should NOT be an obstacle to serve our Divine Parents Sri Maha-Lakshmi and Lord Sriman Narayana, is followed.  Devotees may donate whatever they can or they like,
-  YathA-Sakthi -
for any & all Scheduled Poojas given below:
1: ARCHANA any number of times, on ALL days, at any number of Sannithis;
2: all scxheduled ABHISHEKAMs,
( examples: at 10 AM on Rohini for Sri Krishna, on Punarvasu for Sri
 RAma, on SravaNam for Sri Venkateswara, on Arudra for Bhagavad
 RAmAnujAchArya,  etc…);
3: Sri Srinivasa KALYANA-UTSAVAM, (on ALL Saturdays & Sundays at 11am);
4: Sri SATYA-NARAYANA POOJA ( on all Full-Moon days at 6 PM ).
5: Unlimited amount of Prasadam (Sweet-Rice, Ven-Pongal, Lemon-rice, Yogurt-rice etc.., ) to enjoy at Temple, for breakfast, lunch and dinner,  during Temple Hours.

Devotees MAY DONATE / OFFER   YATHA-SAKTHI:
Whatever they want  to DONATE or they can afford to OFFER IS WELCOME,

anything they like: 1 cent, $1=, $5=, $11=, $21=, $51=, $101= or any amount they want to offer voluntarily & whole-heratedly.
( There is NO ticket system for any and all scheduled poojas given above ).

The FIRST Brahmotsavam was conducted under the able guidance of the Present Chief Priest Sri Paravastu Raghavan Swamy, in July 2007. 

The Utsava Murthy of Sri Natha Muni was brought and had Prana-Pratishtha in 2008.

Based on the great response from the Devotees during the First Brahmotsavam, the SECOND  Brahmotsavam was celebrated on  a very grand scale, in August 2008, with Four Silver Clad vAhanams – Garuda, Hanumanta, Sesha and Kalpa-Vruksha vAhanams and was celebrated with all the blessings of  many MathAdhipatis and a wonderful Sovenir was also released.

A 2 bed-room Apartment was purchased for $251,000= in 2007 and an adjascent building to our Temple was purchased in 2008 for $400,000= and were given to our Priests as living quarters.

The THIRD Brahmotsavam was celebrated in July 2009, with all the blessings of so many AchAryAs,and a great Chariot Festival ( RathOtsavam ) was the highlight, as a single devotee donated $100,000= for the Chariot.

A Sahasra-Kalasa Abhishekam was performed in September 2009, with 112 Silver Kalasams and 896 Copper Kalasams to Lord Sri RanganAtha. 

Regular Utsavams at this Temple are: PavitrOtsavam, BrahmOtsavam and AdhyayanOtsavam.  Regelar Celebrations at this Temple are: Panguni Uttiram ( Sri Maha Lakshmi Birthday), Panguni Revati ( Sri ranganatha’s Birthday), Sri Rama-Navami, Sri Lakshmi-Nrusimha Jayanti, Adi-Puram( Sri AndAl Birthday), Sri Krishna Jayanti, Purattasi Sravanam ( Sri Srinivasa Birthday), Deepaavali, Sri Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Sri Nammazhwar Moksham,  besides all Azhwars and Acharyas’ Tirunakshatrams like – Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja Jayanti, Desika, Adivan Sathagopa, 44th Srimad Azhagiyasingar and 45th Srimad Azhagiyasingar Tirunakshatrams.

Gold Sataris were obtained for Sri RanganAtha, Sri Maha-Lakshmi, Sri Andal, Sri Srinivasa and Sri Krishna, Sri Lakshmi-Narasimha and Sri Rama.  Real Belgium-Diamond-Studded Thirumans were brought for All Moolavars.

Anna-Danam is going on, right from day one and all devotees are given wonderful prasadam at all times the Temple is open.  On weekends, various prasadams like Ven-Pongal, Sweet-Rice, Yogurt-Rice, Kolambu-sAdam, PuliOdarai etc.., ( and on Special days and Utsavams - pAyasam, vada and laddu etc.., ) are served,  non-stop, from 9 AM to 9 PM.

With the success of “ Yatha-Sakti “  program inside the Temple, another innovative system is introduced with 4 NEW programs from January 2010 :
1: No Ticket " Yatha-sakthi " donation for Sri Sita-Rama Kalyanam at devotees' homes on ALL Saturdays & Sundays from 4 to 7 PM, within a 200 miles radius,
2: No Ticket " Yatha-sakthi " for Sri Satya-Narayana-Pooja at devotees' homes on ALL Saturdays & Sundays from 4 to 7 PM, within a 200 miles radius,
3: Vada-maala Pooja (108 Vadas) to Sri Hanumaan on All Saturdays at 10 AM,
4: Anga-PradakshiNam with wet-clothes to Lord Sri RanganAtha, on any day, 30 minutes before the Temple Opens.
5: Sri Santana-Gopala-Krishna Gold-Vigraha Pooja on All Sundays at 10 AM.

Special Poojas to Sri Maha-Lakshmi are going on for the past 4 years, every Friday, at 8 PM, with the Chanting of 100 times Sri Maha-Lakshmi Astottara-sata-nama-strotram.

The FIFTH  Brahmotsavam was celebrated in 2011, with all the blessings of so many AchAryAs, and a NEW, Very BIG Gaja-Vahana-Seva  was the highlight, as a single devotee donated $42,000= for the Gaja-Vahanam.

May all the devotees take the message to their heart and Surrender at the Lotus Feet of our Divine Parents and attain Sri Vaikuntham at the end of this life itself.

Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu,   Samasta sanmangalani santu.

For more details, the undersigned may be contacted at 845-405-1293 or
At 845-364-9790 at Temple or e-mail to  venkat.kanumalla@gmail.com

Srimad Azhagiyasingar Thiruvadigale SaraNam.
Adiyen, rAmAnuja dhAsAnudhAsan,
Venkat Kanumalla,
Founder Trustee and Chairman of Board of Trustees,
Sri RanganAtha Temple, 8-Ladentown Road, Pomona, NY-10970, USA.
Phone: 845-364-9790, Web-Site: www.ranganatha.org


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