19:31 LAVANYA J 8 comments
TIRUMALA - THE ABODE OF LORD VENKATESWARA
Venkatadri samam sthanam brahmande nasti kinchana
Venkatesa samo devo na bhuto na bhavishyati.
Picturesquely situated on the top of the hills, Tirumala -the abode of Lord Venkateswara, is reputed as the most ancient temple in India, Sastras, Puranas, Sthala Mahatmyarns, and Alwar hymns, unequivo cally declare that in the Kali Yuga one can attain mukti only through worshipping this Venkata Nayaka or Lord Venkateswara.
To illustrate that Venkatadri is unique in its sacredness it is enough to point out that Sri Ramanuja, the great Sri Vaishnava Acharya, ascended Tirumala on his knees as he thought it sacrilegious to climb on foot the Hills on which the Lord rested.
Ample epigraphic testimony about the antiquity of the temple is available and has been collected and published by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) The temple itself is believed to have I existed from very ancient times and it is said that Sri Venkateswara is referred to even inthe Rigveda.
‘Sri Venkatachala Mahatrnyam’ contains Puranic lores from the twelve Mahapuranas. The puranic legends say that after the Pralaya kalpa preceding the great Deluge, the Supreme Being Maha Vishnu, revealed Himself in the form of a White Boar, Sweta Varaha, rescued the earth and recreated it and having re-established the universe, He decided to stay on the earth for some time to protect the good and destroy the evil. Thus God Vishnu revealed Himself earlier. in the previous incarnation as Varahaswami on the bank of the Varaha Tirumala i.e. northern portion of Pushkarini at Tirumala. This manifestation as the White Boar is enshrined in the Adi Varahaswami temple on the north western bank ofthe Pushkarini at Tirumala_ This temple is believed to be older than the temple of Lord Venkateswara and claims precedence in worship and Nivedana.
There are many more legends about the Venkatachala Hill and Lord Ven kateswara in the Varaha and Bhavishyottara Puranas. The meritorious benefits acquired by a pilgrimage to Venkatachala are mention in the Puranas and Sri Venkateswara is described as the great giver of boons.
All the great dynasties of the southern peninsula had paid their tribute to this ancient shrine. The Pailavas of Kancheepuram (9th century A.D,), Cholas, Pandyas and the kings, chiefs of \/iiayanagar (14th - 15th Century) were ardent ‘devotees of Lord \/enkateswara and they vied with each other in endowing the temple with rich offerings and benefactions, lt was during the Viayanagar period the glory of Tirumala reached its pinnacle. The statues of Sri Krishna Devaraya, the illustrious king ofthe Vijayanagara empire and his consorts were installed in the temple at the portals, in his own life-time and they can be seen even today. There are also statues of Achyuta Raya and Venltatapati Raya, Sri Krishna Deva Raya visited the sacred shrine seven times with his consorts during his reign.
Even after the decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty, inspite of the cholas and anarchy that prevailed in the region, the nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued paying their homage and gifts to the temple. The Maratta general, Raghoji Bhonsle, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the temple, He also presented valuable jewels to the Deity, including the great emerald which is still preserved in a box named after him. Among the later rulers who have endowed large benefactions are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
After the fall of the Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and the Britishers stepped into their shoes and many of the temples including the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati came under their supervisory and protective control.
ln 1843 when the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of non-Christian places of worship and of native religious institutions, the administration of the shrine of Sri Venkateswara with a number of estates was entrusted to Sri Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicharanakarta and for nearly a century, till 1933 the temple was under the administrative charge of the mahants.
ln 1933 by a special Act passed by the Madras Legislature, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Committee was invested with the powers of administration and control through a Commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras. This committee was assisted by a Religious Advisory Council in regard to religious matters and a Ryots Advisory Council in regard to the management of the estates of the TTD.
Today, T.T.Devasthanams which maintains so many temples and their sub-shrines is a conglomerate of temples brought under the first schedule 2 of the Act 20 of 1987 enacted by Andhra Pradesh Government. lt is managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the state government. The Executive Officer is the Chief Executive of the administration. He is assisted by two Joint Executive Officers, Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer, Deputy Executive Officers, Chief Vigilance and Security Officer, Conservator of Forests and Chief Engineer in various spheres of activity. Besides, there are other officials like Law Officer, Welfare Officer, Public Relations Officer. Marketing Officer, Educational Officer and others to look after several wings of administration.
The Other idols in the Garbha Griha of the Tirumla Temple
Bhoga Srinivasa-The Kautuka Bera:
This idol is made of silver and was consecrated by the donor; the Pallava queen, Samavai in 966 AD. The donor‘s consecration is recorded in an epigraph on the northern wall of the temple prakaram which is perhaps the earliest inscription in the temple, This mentions that Queen Samavai also called as Kadavan-Perundevi and queen of Sakti-Vitankan arranged in the 14th regnal year of her lord and king Koppatra-Mahendra-Panmar for a daily offering of 4 nali of tiruvamudu, (cooked rice) and a perpetual lamp, (nandavilakku) for tirumanjanam on the two ayana-sankrantis and the two Vishu sariltrantis, and for celebrating the purattasi festival commencing from the two days before the main festival and to conduct the festival for nine days and also installed in the Tiruvilankoyil (by which name the garbha griha of the temple was then known), this idol after performing special worship of the God of the sacred Venkata Hill. She also presented gold ornaments worth 47 kalanjus. Lands were also endowed to the new Kautuka Bhera, named Manavalapperumal and the managers of the temple (called as madapatyan) were enjoined to conduct the services and the sabhaiyar were ordered to protect the endowed lands from being taxed.
This idol is a true copy of the Dhruva Bera except that the Sanka and Chakra are permanently fixed in the case of Bhoga Srinivasa. On the pitham and below the feet of the Kautuka Bera, is an Yantra, as if two equilateral triangles are symmetrically interplaced one being an invert of the other. It is possible that such an Yantram might have existed originally in the idol of the Lord also. Nammalvar gives in one of his verses (3-4-4) a beautiful description of the feet of the Dhruva Bera which states that the feet of Tiruvengadamudayan has a figure representing radiating arms. This might possibly represent the Shadgunya Yantra Nammalvar’s song was composed about two centuries earlier than the installation of the Vanavalapperumal. The yantra of this type would perhaps represent the six gunas of para and vyuha which are recognized by the Vaikhanasa Agama also.
The Bhoga Srinivasa gets abhisheka every morning, accompanied by mantras, unlike the Dhruva Bera to which abhishekam is performed only on Fridays.At night this Deity is put to bed in paryankasana. During the daily Ekanta seva this idol is placed in a silver cradle in the Sayana mandapa and milk, etc., are offered to this Lord to the accompaniment of music and songs composed by the Tallapaka poets. Sandalwood paste is also applied to Him every night. One peculiarity of this service in this temple is that the Ekanta Seva is performed to the i,dol of Manavalapperumal for all months of the year, except one, viz., the Dhanurmasa, when the Ekanta Seva is done for the Krishna idol.
This idol was intimately connected with the main idol of the Dhruva Murti by means of a silk cord at the time of installation. A gold link and a silk cord is still attached to this idol when he is brought outside the Sanctum Sanctorum for deputizing the Dhruva Murti on festive occasions.
ii. Ugra Srinivasa or Snapana Murti :
This idol was once originally called as Venkatatturaivar and stands for the anger aspect of the Lord since he is also called Ugra Srinivasa. Apart from the Dhruva Sera, this is perhaps the earliest idol of the temple and in all probability this was used as the processional idol in the very early days. This is about 18" high and stands on a-pedestal of about?" height. The chakra of this image is in a slightly titled condition and could perhaps be called the prayoga chakra. Sridevi and Shudevi both as standing figures are also seen. The Tamil synonym Venkatatturaivar shows that He was the deity of the temple before Shoga Srinivasa was consecrated. There are now three occasions of which Ugra Srinivasa alone figures viz., Uttana Ekadasi, Mukkoti Dvadasl and Dvadasaradhana. Legends have it that the rays of the sun should not touch this idol, and if they do, it would bring incalculable harm to the world.
iii. Koluvu Srinivasa or Bali Sera:
Every day after the morning Tomalaseva, a darbar called Koluvu is held in the Tirumamani mantapam when the Deity is brought and is seated in a silver chair with a gold umbrella above him. This idol officiates for the main idol during this function. Hence his name is Koluvu Srinivasa. He is akin to the guardian deity and supervises the temple household, and keeps himself posted with all the affairs and revenues of the te01ple. The panchangam or the calendar of the day is also read out before him every day. It is also here that the matradanam of rice, the customary share of the archakas, is made. Though He is known as Bali Sera, he has never been known to have been taken out and offered Bali after the daily puja is over.
iv, Sri Malayappan or Utsava Murti
The first mention of this Deity under the name Ma1ai Kuniya Ninra Perumal is found in an epigraph about the year 1339 A.D. The idol is in a standing pose and is a replica of the Dhruva Bera. The two upper arms hold the Sankha and Chakra, the lower right arm is in the Varada Hasta pose and the left arm in Katyavalambita poss. This image has a very rich treasury of precious gems and jewels made of platinum and gold.
There is a legend that on one occasion during the Brahmotsava, a procession was going round the streets, when a fire broke out in the village which destroyed the houses, "The archakas and the devotees did not know how this disaster happened. When sincere prayers we offered, God spoke through a man, and stated that the times have changed, and that the old, lJgra Srinivasa who was the then Utsava murti should no longer be used as processional deity, and that in the glades of the mountain another Murti Would be found, and only he should be used for this purpose. It is because of this anger, that the old Murti is perhaps known as Ugramurti. Tradition is that the new Murti with his consorts, was found at a place where the hill bowed very low, and hence he was called as 'Malai Kuniya Ninra Perumal.' This long name got shortened into Malayappan in course of time. The glade where he is said to have been found is still known as Malayyappan Konai.
In the order of preference the idols that represents the Druva Bera are Bhoga Srinivasa, Malayappa and his two consorts, Ugra Srinivasa and Koluvu Srinivasa. In the agamic terminology they would stand for Kautuka, Utsava, Snapana and Bali Sera. According to the agamic rules, the Kautuka Sera should be consecrated direct from the Druvabera and the Utsava Bera from Kautuka and similarity in that order, the Snapana and Bali Berams. The inscriptions in the temple, however do not mention Malayappa as Utsava Bera, nor the Bhoga Srinivasa as Kautuka Bera.
The idol of Lord Malayappa is about three feet height and stands on a lotus pedestal on a platform about '14" height. To right is the idol of Sri devi about 30" height, her pedestal being about 4". This is a pancha-Ioha idol. Her left hand is in the Kataka hasta pose, the right hand hanging loosely and the fingers held in the Gajakarna pose. Bhudevi is in standing pose, The only difference between her and Sridevi is that it is her right hand that is in the Kataka hasta pose and left in the Gajakarna mudra.
In one inscription found in the north wall of the Varadarajaswamy Temple, there is a reference to the 19th regnal year of Tribhuvana Chakravari Sriranganatha Yadavaraya in which mention is made of Malai Kuniyaninra Perumal and his Nachchimar. Hence the earliest epigraphical reference about this is of 1339 AD.
v. Sri Krishna idol:
In the Garbha griha there is a very beautiful idol of Lord Krishna in the navanitha nritya pose along with his consort Rukmini. The Lord is shown as a dancing child on his left foot on a lotus pedestal, the leg gracefully bent at the knee and not resting on tile pedestal. The right hand holds butter while the left is stretched out gracefully in a dancing pose.
The earliest inscriptional reference to this idol is of 1100 A.D. Other inscriptions refer to offerings made to Krishna on Sri Jayanti Day and also during the several Brahmotsavams. It is this idol that receives Ekanta Seva at night in the temple during the Dhanurmasa.
Neither the idol of Sri Krishna nor of Sri Rama (called as Raghunatha) enjoy daily puja. They only share in the nityarchana of Sri Venkateswara, Even the naivedyam intended for Sri Rama or Sri Krishna are first offered to Lord Venkateswara only. But in asthanas and processions etc., outside the Garbha griha this particular idol gets offerings direct. This procedure is distinctly mentioned in the epigraphs as in a Vijayanagara I nscription dated 12-8-1486 (142-G.T.)
Vi Idols of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Sugreeva :
Four copper idols of Sri Rama (known as Sri Raghunatha), Sita, Sugriva and Lakshmana find place in the Sanctum Sanctorum. These idols. are not referred to in any inscriptions before 1476A.D. Most probably when the present Ramarmedai was converted into a room by about 1245 A. D., these Idiol s must have been placed there from which fact this.Place derives its name of Ramarmedai. One school of thought in that Ramanuja might have installed these in the temple.
The idol of Sri Ram is in the madhyama tala and tribhanga pose, the left arm raised to hold the bow and the right gracefully sloping downwards as if to hold the arrow. The idol is a standing or stanaka one, and has a kiritam or crown on it. Goddess Sita is to the right of Sri Rama in a standing pose, her right hand gracefully extended downwards, the left holding a lotus bud. The idol of L.akshmana is a similar replica of the idol Sri Rama.
The figure of Sugriva is in the standing pose and the hands folded in an attitude of prayer. This has already been referred to earlier.
There are also beautiful copper idols of Angada and Hanuman exhibited separately in the Ramar Medai platform outside the shrine in the Antarala Mantapam. Opposite to these beautiful copper idols of Vishvaksena, Ananta and Garuda are found.
(vii) The Chakrattalvar or Sudarshana :
This deity always precedes the Utsava Murti in processions. He however figures in separate procession on the ankurarpanam and on the tirthavari day of the Bramhostavam on the Pushkarini bund in front of the Venkateswara swamy temple.
GENERAL FACILITIES AT TIRUMALA
Free Meals: Wholesome free meals will be provided to the devotees in the TTDs Annadanam Complex from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. continuously .
Free Medical Aid: Pilgrims are given free medicine aid at Aswini Hospital and Vaikuntam 'Q' complex I & II. In case of emergency, the patients will be rushed to the Ruia Hospital, SVIMS or BIRRD for treatment.
Free Bus: Free buses are operated at Tirumala for the benefit of pilgrims. It covers cottages, choultries, temple and other places.
Free Tonsure: Pilgrims can fulfil their vow of tonsure at Kalyanakatta, PAC I and II at free of cost.
Sale of Publications: All religious publications and Video and Audio CDs and Cassettes brought out by the TTDs are sold through TTD bookstall near H.T. shopping complex (near Rambaghicha Guest house located near Varahaswami Temple.
Canteens: TTDs Sri Venkateswara Guest House canteen offers wholesome meals and Tiffin at moderate rates. Full meal is Rs. 10/- only. There are many canteens run by private hoteliers.
Automobile Clinic: A mobile van with mechanics and spares is available to attend to the repairs of the vehicles stranded on the ghat roads. For help they may contact toll gate either at Tirupati or Tirumala.