Sethu Madhava Temple Rameswaram

Discover the fascinating story behind why Lord Vishnu is known as Sethu Madhava in Rameswaram

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Spirituality is a triangle made up of bhakti, jnana, and karma. Among these, bhakti is longer than the other two, hence more powerful and significant. However, all three sides are necessary for spirituality.

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Quiz

Why did Gandhiji choose the path of ahimsa ?

Lord Vishnu at Rameswaram is called Sethu Madhava. Do you want to know why he is called so? The Pandya and Chola dynasties of South India have seen many righteous, pious and efficient rulers. They used to look after their subjects like their own children. For the subjects also their king was not less than a visible God. Madurai was the capital of the Pandyas. One of the kings of Pandiya Vamsha was Punyanidhi. He led a simple life of high morals. There was peace all around him: he was peaceful, his family was peaceful, his kingdom ....

Lord Vishnu at Rameswaram is called Sethu Madhava.
Do you want to know why he is called so?

The Pandya and Chola dynasties of South India have seen many righteous, pious and efficient rulers.
They used to look after their subjects like their own children.
For the subjects also their king was not less than a visible God.
Madurai was the capital of the Pandyas.
One of the kings of Pandiya Vamsha was Punyanidhi.
He led a simple life of high morals.
There was peace all around him: he was peaceful, his family was peaceful, his kingdom and subjects were peaceful.
He didn't have to enforce rules.
People obeyed rules and lived up to their duties voluntarily.
He had an army, only to protect his people, not for attacking others.
He regularly undertook pilgrimages, performed yajnas and did charity.
He gave to the poor and needy not to gain name or fame.
He gave out of compassion.
He worshiped God not to get something, but to make God happy.
He had no desires, no worldly desires, not even desire for Swarga.
He ruled his kingdom as if he was a servant of God and just obeying HIS orders.

Once, Punyanidhi went to Rameswaran with a plan to stay there for some time.
He handed over the administration to his son and went with his wife and retinue.
He stayed at Rameswaram for a long time.
Not for getting anything.
He would visit placed connected to the legend of Lord Rama,
He would sit at those places and remember what took place at that place.
Hw found great joy doing that.
During that trip, Punyanidhi performed a yajna there.
At the end of the yajna, he went to Dhanushkoti to take bath.
On his way back, he saw a very pretty young girl.
He instantly felt fatherly affection towards her.
Punyanidhi asked her who she was, who her parents were.
She said that she was an orphan.
She said that she wanted to go and live with him as his daughter.
But on one condition - if anyone touches her or grabs her hand against her wish, the king should promise that he would punish such person.
Punyanidhi did not realize what was happening.
It was Lakshmi Devi.
It was a leela of Bhagawan.
To test Punyanidhi and fine tune him even better, the divine couple acted as if they had a fight between them and here Lakshmi Devi was standing in front of the king taking the form of a girl.
Punyanidhi was grateful to the Lord for the opportunity he was given to serve an orphan girl.
He said, 'Come with me.'
'I only have a son.'
'Be my daughter.'
'When you grow up and be of marriageable age, you can do whatever you wish.'
Punyanidhi's wife was also happy to get a daughter for them.

Some time went by.
The king and his retinue were still in Rameswaram.
One day, the girl was playing in the garden with some friends.
A man came there carrying a pot full of water on his shoulder.
He was wearing bhasma and there was a rudraksha mala in his hand.
As soon as the girl saw this man, she realized who it was.
It was Bhagawan in disguise who had come looking for her.
He took hold of the girl's hand and she started crying loudly.
Her friends also joined her.
Punyanidhi came running to the garden.
'What happened? What happened, Why are you crying?'
'That man who is standing under the tree forcefully took hold of my hand.'
King thought - as per my promise, I should punish him.
But he never knew it was his dear Lord who had come to test him.
He told the soldiers to chain him and leave him inside Ramanatha temple complex.

That night, in his sleep, in a dream, the king saw that the man was Bhagawan himself and the girl was Lakshmi Devi herself.
He woke up and went to the girl.
The girl's form had changed.
He offered sashtanga pranama in front of her.
He then went to the temple to see the man.
He looked like how he saw Bhagawan in the dream.
'I have imprisoned the Lord of the whole universe.'
'What grave sin have I done.'
He almost fainted.
But then he remembered - who can bind him?
Mata Yashoda had tried once, but then see what happened.
This must be just a leela.
He fell at the feet of Bhagawan.
'I have done a big mistake.'
'Please pardon me.'
'If you don't pardon me, then nobody can save me.'

Bhagawan said, 'Don't feel bad about chaining me.'
'I am always a prisoner at the hands of my devotees.'
'They bind me with their love and devotion.'
'They can control me whichever way they want.'
'I am not bound by these chains, I am bound by your love.'
'You got it right, the girl who is with you is Lakshmi.'
'We wanted to test you.'
'We wanted to see how you would take care of an orphan child.'
'You served me by serving her.'
'You have not done anything wrong by chaining me; you just fulfilled your promise to her.'

Lakshmi Devi said - 'You looked after me very well.'
'I am very happy with you.'
'You will attain all the riches in the world.'
'You will never commit any sin and reap the consequences of that.'
'At the end of your life on earth, you will merge into us.'

Bhagawan said - 'I don't want to forget that I was bound by a devotee here.'
'I will stay here forever and will be known as Sethumadhava.'
Rameswaram is famous for Ram-Setu.
What is the meaning of Setu?
सिनोति बध्नाति जलमिति सेतुः
Setu binds water.
In the same way, I was also bound by my devotee here.
Hence, I want to be called Setumadhava.

Saying this, Bhagawan and Lakshmi Devi disappeared.
This is the story behind Sethumadhava of Rameswaram.

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