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Lokasaranga Muni – Story of Temple Priest Who Carried Untouchable on Shoulders to Srirangam Temple

Tirupannazhvar is the 12th among the 12 Azhwars and Lokasaranga Muni who was the temple priest of Srirangam Temple had insulted the Azhwar but later repented and carried Tirupannazhvar on shoulders to Srirangam Temple. The story reiterates that untouchability is practiced by the ignorant people and not by Lord.

Tirupannazhvar was considered untouchable by society but his devotion for Lord Vishnu residing at Srirangam was unparalleled. He was denied entry into the Srirangam Temple but he sang sons of Lord Ranganatha on his veena standing on the banks of the Kaveri River in Srirangam. 

He used to sing for hours standing on the opposite bank of Kaveri River facing Lord Ranganatha and used to remain immersed in bhakti as if he has lost consciousness.

One day Tirupannazhvar was so immersed in Lord Ranganatha that he fell unconscious and remained there as though in deep sleep.

Lokasaranga Muni, the temple priest of Srirangam, came to fetch water from the river for the morning abhishekam of Lord Ranganatha.

Lokasaranga Muni first shouted at the man blocking his way to move out. When Tirupannazhvar did not move, the priest asked his assistant to throw a stone at the person.

Tirupannazhvar came back to consciousness when the stone hit and he asked for pardon and ran away.

Lokasaranga Muni collected water and proceeded to the temple. But he was surprised to see the temple locked. He first thought other priests were inside and he asked them to open the gates. But when there was no response Lokasaranga Muni realized that he had committed some sin and asked Lord Ranganatha for forgiveness.

Lokasaranga Muni then heard a voice which said that he had hit Lord Ranganatha with stone and therefore he is not allowed to come near him.

Lokasaranga Muni then remembered the incidents that happened when he went to collect water from Cauvery River.

The voice then told Lokasaranga Muni that the temple doors will be open for puja only if he carried Tirupannazhvar on his shoulders around the temple.

Lokasaranga Muni then ran to Tiruppanalvar and communicated the directions of Lord Ranganatha.

But Tiruppanalvar protested saying that how could a man of such low caste enter the temple that too on the shoulders of the chief priest.

Lokasaranga Muni did not wait to hear the protests of Tirupannazhvar.

Without waiting for his consent, Lokasaranga Muni carried the saint on his shoulders and first ran around the temple.

Soon, the gates of the temple opened and Lokasaranga Muni carried the saint inside the temple and placed him before Lord Ranganatha.

Alvar was blessed with a vision of Lord Ranganatha, a vision for which he had been hankering for all these years.

Lokasaranga Muni was made an instrument for feasting the eyes of Tiruppanalvar with the transcendental beauty of the Lord.

This episode of his being carried on the shoulders of Lokasaranga Muni and granting final beatitude through the grace of the Lord is token of the grand reception that is said to await the mukta. 

Henceforth, Tirupannazhvar was called Munivahana, as he was taken on the shoulders of Lokasaranga Muni.