Srinivasa Govinda Sri Venkatesa Govinda - Sri Govinda Maahathmayam
Updated: Jul 29
To facilitate the Devas from heaven to descend and the mortals to elevate and worship Him, with the kindness of a thousand mothers Lord Balaji with his consort Sri Lakshmi in His heart resides on top of a Hill. The glories of the Lord of Seven Hills is immense and endless. His temple contains so much wonder and so much power that simply put is beyond the understanding of us humans. What we see and understand and appreciate are the innumerable festivals throughout the year and the daily rituals and Sevas that happen for our benefit. 'Temple, Tirumalai, Perumal Templa, Thirunarayanapuram are four sacred places for Vaishnava devotees. Here Temple means Sri Ranaganathar temple in Srirangam, Tirumalai is Sri Srinivasar abode on Tirupathi, Perumal temple is Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram and Thirunarayanapuram is Melkottai Selvanarayana Perumal Temple. The slokha which says this is as stated by Bhashyakarar Sri Ramanujar is
srIranga mangaLa maNim (nidhim) karuNA nivAsam
srI vEnkatAdhri sikarAlaya kALa mEkam
srI hasthisaila sikarOjvala pArijAtham
srIsam namAmi sirasA yadhusaila dhIpam
Meaning: I bow unto the the abode of mercy, the auspicious jewel of Srirangam Sri RanganAthA. I bow unto the dark rain-laden cloud of DayA on the top of the Hill known as VenkatAdhri revered as Sri VenkatEsA . I bow unto the wish granting Parijaathaa tree shining on the top of the Hasthi sailam-Elephant-like hillock used by Brahma to perform the Yaj~nam which preceded BhagavAn's incarnation as VaradarAjA. I bow with bent head ThirunArAyanan of Melkote who illumines the world as the lamp on the top of Yathusailam
Thirumalai stands next in importance to Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam. When we visit the temple we get a glimpse of the Lord only for a few seconds, a minute if you are lucky due to huge crowd of dveotees streaming in everyday. One has to drink the nectar of His beauty within those short seconds and place Him in our heart. He stands with his right hand pointing to His feet indicating Maamekam charanam vraja, and His left hand in Kadi Hastham telling us if you surrender to me I will dry the ocean of samsara that you are in upto your knee and save you from the never ending cycle of birth and death.
He untiringly gives us dharshan for almost 23 hours in a day. He takes rest probably half an hour or one hour in the wee hours between 3.30-4am. In the Garbha graham or the sanctum sanctorium is Lord Srinivasa in Sila form. Sri Mahalakshmi resides in His heart. There are others too whom we never notice because of the short time we spend in front of Him. (if you are a VIP that is a different matter altogether). There resides Sri Bhoga Srinivasar who accepts all ritual worships offered by the priests. Then there is Sri Koluvu Srinivasar. He presides on the Darbar. The king of the court before whom the financial report of the temple is submitted periodically. He adorns the court hence koluvu Srinivasar. Then we have Sri Ugra Srinivasar. He only comes out of the sanctum sanctorium once or twice a year, and that too very early in the morning and returns before sunrise. The daily festivities like Kalyana Uthsavam - holy marriage of Srinivasar, oonjal seva - swing seva, and all the uthsavam like Brahmothsavam are done to Maliyappa Swami. He with His consorts Sridevi and Boodevi we would have seen very often either in person when He graces through the roads of Tirumalai or on pictures and videos. Then there is Sri Chakarathaazhvar, Sri Krishna and Sri Rama too. Sri Krishna is in a dancing pose along with Rukmini Devi and Sri Rama is with Seetha and Lakshmana.
We call Lord Srinivasa in various names, Ezhumalaiyan, Thiruvengatamudaiyan, Venkatanathan, Venkatesan, Venkatajalapathi, Balaji, but He has a special name Verunkai Venkatevan which is the name in all old Tamil literature which means He has nothing in his hands. Every deity in Hindu religion has one weapon at least to protect the devotees. But This lord does not have any. Hence the name. In Tholkapiyam Tirumalai has been referred to as vadavengatan thenkumariyaayitai thamizh koorum nallulakam, In the famous literary treasure Silapadhikaram it is stated as 'nediyon kundram'. In Vaishnava sampradhaya Thirumalai stands next to Srirangam. Tirumalai is spoken in ten Puranas. Ten of the twelve Azhwars have sung songs in praise of Thirumalai and its Lord. It has been hailed as Kaliyuga Vaikundam by the Azhwars.
Thirumazhisai azhvar's pasuram says
VenkatamE viNNOr thozhuvathum meymaiyaal
VenkatamE meyvinai nOy theerpathuvum --venkatamE
thaanvarai veezha thaanaazhi patai thottu
vaanavarai kaappaan malai.
Meaning: Nithyasuris worship the Tirumalai with true devotion. Venkatam cleanses our sins and cures diseases that afflict the body. Venkatam is the mountain that guards the Devas.
Sri Andal fell in love with and wanted to marry Sri Ranganatha. Even so she has sung only 10 pasurams speaking of Sri Ranganatha's glory whereas she has sung more in praise of Lord Srinivasa. In the 27,28,29 pasurams of Thiruppavai she hails Govinda Govinda Govinda! The Lord of the Seven Hills alone stands there teaching us the way to Moksha. Our foremost Azhwar Nammazhwar, when it comes to sharanagati - total surrender he does it to Srinivasa instead of to Sri Ranganathar.
akalakillEn iRaiyum endru alarmEl mangai uRai maarbaa
nigaril pugazhaay ulagam moondrudaiyaay ennai aaLvaanE
nigaril amarar munik kaNangaL virumbum ThiruvEngatathaanE
pugal ondrillaa adiyen un adikkeezh amarnthu pukunthEnE
Meaning: Telling that She, AlarmEl manghai, will NOT be away from You even for a fraction of a second and stays in Your Chest always (Nityaanapaayinee), Oh SrI nivaasaa! The One who is unparalleled and unbounded famous Lord! The One who has all the three worlds to His possession! My Ruler! The peerless devas and rishis worship You, pay obeisance to You, and desire You at Tirumala, always, ThiruvenkadatthaanE! I,- THE ONE WHO HAS NO OTHER MEANS AND NO ONE ELSE FOR MY REDEMTION EXCEPT YOU AND ONLY YOU- YOUR ETERNAL SEVANT AND ONLY YOURS- HEREBY SURRENDER AT YOUR LOTUS FEET. YOU SHOULD BLESS ME AND TAKE ME TO BE AT YOUR FEET FOR EVER.
He has written the only pasuram on Sharanagati on Lord Srinivasa, such is His glory!
#TheHistoryofTirumala Tirupati is located in the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, in the Chittoor District of Seemandhra. The Ezhumalayan Temple is located on the Thiruvenkada hill adjacent to the city. Perumal is named 'Ezhumalayan' as he is the lord of the seven hills, Seshadri, Neelatri, Karutadri, Anjanatri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The hill range is named Seshachalam as it refers to the seven heads of Adiseshan. Thirumal incarnated as Varaha and after rescuing Bhumadevi from the underworld, He chose Thirumalai as his abode and settled there. Hence this hill has the name Varaha Shethram. This period is Shweta Varaha Kalpam! His boar appearance was scary. Lord Varaha agreed to take the beautiful form adhering to the prayers of Devas and sages. He agreed to stay on earth with Sridevi and Bhudevi.
After stabilizing the earth, Mahavishnu (Boovarahar) summoned Garuda and made Vishwaksena to bring Kreetachala and the Devas from Vaikuntha. Kreetachala was full of gold, diamonds, and vitriol. The mountain range was filled with tall tress and fragrant flowers. It was in everyway a befitting abode for Sri Hari to reside. Sri Varahamurthy instructed Garuda to place the hill at a sacred place. The long mountain was in accord with the Adiseshan. The sages and rishis in Naimicharanyam once asked the Suta Maharishi which place was most dear to Lord Vishnu. To that he pointed to Tirumala. He said that the mountain has the power to give what is asked and the power to give all the riches to the worshipers.
By the grace of Hari it became a place of Moksham-salvation for devotees. Swami Pushkarani, the sacred pool emerged on the side. To the south of this Srinivasa Perumal would later get permission from Adi Varahar and will be staying with his wife. Since Adi Varahar was the first to live in Thirumalai, it is said that we should visit the Tirumalai temple and other shrines up there only after visiting Sri Adhi Varahar and hetting His blessings.
A group of sages once performed a yajna together on the banks of the river Ganga. Sri Naradar who came there raised the question to which god they were going to offer that sacrifice to. The sages who had not thought about it till then handed over the decision making responsibility to Sage Sri Brighu. He first went to Sathyaloka and visited Brahma. He was talking to Saraswathi and did not notice him. Next he went to Kailash. Even there he was not noticed as Lord Siva was in unision with Godess Shakthi. Then he went to Vaikundam. It was the same story over there. Maha Vishnu was happy with Mahalakshmi. Angered, sage Brighu kicked Maha Vishnu in the chest. Immediately Maha Vishnu got up and took sage Brughu's leg and said your feet must hurt because of kicking me and offered to press his feet. Mahalakshmi was angry that Sage Brighu kicked Perumal in the chest where she resided and wanted him to punish the sage but Maha Vishnu refused. So angered she left Vaikunda and went to earth and started doing tapas in Kolahpur.
Perumal wandered around the world in search of Sri Lakshmi and came to Venkatamalai and sat with eyes folded on an ant hill. He was hungry. Naradhar told Lakshmi about this, who was in meditation. Hearing this Lakshmi became sad and upset. Naradhar also told her the way to get rid of Perumal's hunger. Accordingly, Brahma and Shiva became cow and calf, and Mahalakshmi pretended to be their mistress and sold them to the king who then ruled the area. When the cow bought by the king went to pasture, he went to the ant hill where Perumal was meditating and showered the milk. The cowherd who was herding the cow went behind the cow and saw her pouring her milk on the ant hill. He got angry and tried to hit the cow with an ax. The ax flew and instead hit the ant hill. Blood spilled from Perumal's head from inside the ant hill. Seeing this, the milkman gave up his life on the spot. The cow went down and brought the king to the mountain. The king became very upset. Seeing the king worried Srinivasar said, later Akasaraja will give his daughter Padmavati in marriage to me and then he will present me a crown. I will wear it every Friday. I will not feel the pain then he said. Then Perumal went in search of herbs to nurse his wound and found an ashram. It was the ashram of Sri Varaha Murthy. Vakuladevi (who was Lord Krishna's mother Yasotha) who was there, fell in love with her child Thirumal when she saw his face. Thirumal also affectionately called Vaguladevi "Mother". Vakuladevi named her child Srinivasan (wealthy man). She also medicated his wounds and gave Him fruits to assuage His hunger.
During this period Akasarajan was ruling Chandrigiri. Akasarajan is the brother of Thondaiman, of Chandra dynasty. Since he was without an offspring on the advice of his patriarch Sukamamuni to bless them with a child they decided to perform Puthra kamesht Yagam. While tidying up the sacrificial area, a baby girl was found lying in a lotus in a box buried in the ground. The lotus has the name Padmam. So he named the baby Padmavathi, in Tamil she is called Alarmelmangai which has the same meaning. During Ramavatar, a devotee named Vedavati did penance to get Rama as her groom. Sri Rama promised her that he would marry her later. Accordingly Vedavati was born as Padmavati. Born and raised as the daughter of Akasha Rajan. Later Akasharaja had a son named Vasudeva.
Once Srinivasar went hunting in the forest. He traveled far chasing an elephant and reached a Nandavanam. There Akasarajan's daughter was playing with her friends. When Srinivasae saw Padmavati, he fell in love with her and told her that He wanted to marry her. He introduced himself as Krishna, the son of Vasudeva. But they chased him away. He came to the anthill with great sadness and sat down. Vakula Devi, who was taking care of him, saw his grief and decided to go and talk to the king himself. Before that Srinivasar disguised himself as a gypsy and met Akasarajan's queen Dharani and persuaded her to give her daughter in marriage to him. At that time, Vakula Devi in order to help her son Srinivasar also went there and finalized the wedding. The marriage of Srinivasa and Padmavathi was consummated in the presence of all the heavenly gods. In Thirumalaivasan's wedding invitation, it is mentioned 'Sri Narasimhar' in the place of Kuladeyvam - family diety. Venkatesa Mahatmiyam mentions that after the marriage of Srinivasa and Padmavathi Devi, they worshiped Sri Narasimha in Ahobilam as is the custom of the newly weds to visit their Kula Deyvam after marriage. Srinivasar had no wealth as Lakshmi Devi was not with him, for the expenses of the marriage. So he borrowed from Kubera to marry Padmavathi. He also agreed to pay interest on the loan he received until the end of Kali Yuga. Accordingly, it is believed that all the offerings of the devotees at the temple are paid as interest on the debt that Srinivasar borrowed. Despite being the richest god in the world, Kubera is still said to be an interest-receiiving creditor to Srinivasar.
Thondaiman founded the present temple. Chola king Thondaiman built a temple for Perumal with the help of the divine sculptor Vishwakarma. Srinivasa Perumal appears in sila rupam in Thirumalai to bless the devotees till the end of Kaliyugam. Srinivasar lives contentedly in this beautiful temple. Sri Padmavathi is ruling with Her grace from Sri Alamelumangapuram at the foothills of Thirumalai, Thiruchanur. It is said that Srinivasa Perumal visits Thiruchanur every night and returns to Thirumalai in the morning. Before we visit Tirupati Thirumalai Ezhumalayan, we must first visit Padmavathi Thayar in Thiruchanur. After visiting Padmavathi go to Thirumalai and visit Perumal to get all special benefits.
Thirumalai has many auspicious qualities. Like the Viraja River in Vaikuntam, this sacred mountain is the source of the Ganga which has the power to wash away sins. Though it looks like an ordinary mountain, the devotion of the devotees is sanctified on this mountain. The power of devotion is multiplied many times over to achieve the gift of getting our prayers answered. In the same way, sins are removed by bathing in the sacred temple tank Swami Pushkarani. The highest income earning temple in India is Balaji Temple. A place that earns 100 crores a year through hair donations alone! Tirupati Laddu is world famous. The Purattasi Saturday fast is observed before the festival Purattasi Brahmotsavam. Most people in India observe this fast. Garuda Seva will be held on the fifth day of Purattasi Brahmotsavam. It is said that the Moolavar Himself comes out during Swami Bhavani on that day. Due to this, the temple will be closed until the Lord finishes the street visit (Veedhi ula) and reenters the temple. Currently the crowd is so large that the sanctum sanctorum is closed only nominally five minutes long. More than five lakh devotees gather during the festival. Generally, we have seen Perumal as a cowherd during the festival times, in Thirumala we can see Him in a shepherd alangaram during the Swing Seva.
The structure of the temple is amazing. Perumal is blessing facing east in standing posture under the Ananda Vimanam. The royal tower is designed in a rectangular pattern. The tower dates back to the 13th century and to the Chola period. There are sculptures of deities including Sri Anjaneyar and Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar. This tower is also called Padikavali Maha Dwaram. There are three corridors in the temple. One is called Sampangi Pirathakshanam. This corridor is closed for devotees. Here there are several Mandapams- Halls. Prathimai Hall, Ranga Hall, Thirumalai Raya Hall, Chaluva Narasimhar Hall, Jana Hall, and Dwajasthamba Hall.
Krishna Deva Raya Mandapam (hall)
The hall we enter after passing the gate tower is called Krishna Devaraya Mandapam or Pratimai Mandapam. We can see theTulabaram to our left as we enter. Those who have vowed to give thulabaram, that is some offering equal to their weight will do their offering by sitting in the big scale here. The hall houses the Vijayanagara Emperor Krishna Devarayar and his consorts Thirumala Devi (left) and Chinnaa Devi (right). To the south of this hall is a statue of King Venkatapathy Rayar. In 1570 he ruled the Chandragiri region. King Achutha Raya, who ruled Vijayanagara after Krishnadeva Raya, is seen with his wife Varathaji Amma. The hall was built in the early 16th century. In this hall, scenes of Sri Rama breaking the bow, Sri Rama Pattabhishekam and Sri Krishna Leela are carved.
The Ranga Mandapam is located in the Sampangi Pradakshana Prakaram (corridor). During the Islamic invasion led by Malik Kafur in the 14th century, the statue of Lord Thiruvarangar in Srirangam was brought to Tirupati and preserved for 60 years. The Ranga Mandapam is the hall where the idol was kept safely. The hall was built in the Vijayanagara style during the reign of Sriranganathaya, who ruled the region from 1320-1360.
Thirumalai Raya Mandapam
Thirumalai Rayar Hall is located on the western side of the Ranga Mandapam. In this hall, Utsavar Malayappa Swami sits once a year and enquires about the accounts of the temple. The pillars here have idols of Mohana Devi and Pita Bibi.
To the north of the Thirumalai Raya Mandapam is the Aina Mahal which has two sections. It is a hall with 36 pillars in six rows at a rate of six pillars per row. In the middle of the room is the sacred swing on which Malayappa Swami will sit on and perform the spring festival.
The Dhuvajasthamba (flagpole) hall is built according to the rules of Vaikanasa Agama This hall has a speciality. Festivities cannot be performed in all climatic conditions in the flagpole halls of other temples. But in this hall you can hold festivities no matter what the whether condition is.
The inner tower of the temple has this unique name. Next to the flagpole is this tower gate. The tower doors are fully silver plated. These tower doors are smaller than the outer entrance tower doors. It is believed that Standing near these doors and praying, any prayer will be fulfilled immediately. The name for these doors is Ventivakili. On the wall adjoining these doors are the courtesy details of donations given to the temple by Jada Varman Sundarapandian in 1251
The hall was built by Mallanna, who ruled the Chandragiri region in the 15th century. The hall has 16 pillars and is divided into three parts. Koluvu Srinivasamurthy will sit in this hall and do Seva. There are 2 bells in this hall called Thirumani and Thirumakamani. These bells will be rung at noon during Prasadham offering to the Lord. That is the reason this hall has got the name Thirumamani. This is also referred as Muka Mandapam. To the east of this hall is Sri Garudar's sanctum and to the south is the Hundi hall.
Bangaru Vakili Passing the Thirumamani Mandapam, we go to see Perumal through the golden entrance called Bangaru Vagili. At the entrance are the gate keepers-Dwarapalakars called Jayan and Vijayan. The interior doors of this gate are gold plated. Dasavatara sculptures are engraved on those plates. Upon entering this area Subrapadham will always be heard by us.
There will be a square room before we can go to have the dharshan of the Lord Venkatachalapathy in the sanctum sanctorum. This is called the Snapana Mandapam. The rectangular room next to this is called the Rama stage(medai). It houses the idols of SriRama, Sita and Lakshman and the uthsava idols of Vishwaksena and Garuda. Sayana Mandapam is located adjacent to the steps of Kulasekara Alwar. This is also called the Artha Mandapam. After the sanctum sanctorum is closed in the night Bhoga Srinivasar is taken to sayana mandapam and allowed to rest, then in half an hour he will wake up for the Subrapadha seva and will be taken back to Moolavar Sannidhi. Throughout the month of Margazhi instaed of Bhogha Srinivasar, Sri Krishna will get this honour. Again, whole of Margazhi instead of Suprabhatham Thiruppavai will be chanted to Lord Krishna in the sayana Mandapam. This is the honour given to Andal Nachiyar.
Then comes the Sanctum Sanctorum where Venkatachalathi is standing six feet tall! Before we see Him unknowingly we put our foot on Sri Kulasekara padi-Step. Immediately we think of the great Azhwar Sri Kulasekarar and his beautiful song
chediyaaya valvinaigal theerkkum thirumaalae
nediyaanae! vaenkatavaa! ninkoyilin vaasal
adiyaarum vaanavarum arambaiyarum kidanthiyangum
padiyaaiyk kidanthun pavaLavaay kaaNbaenae
Meaning: He says he would love to be the step in His premises just to have the bliss of seeing Him all the time.
Ananda Nilaya Vimana Venkateswarar
On the way around the temple, we can see a Venkateswarar on the north of the Ananda Nilayam plane. Together is Paramapadha Nadhar. His Dharshan can be had 365 days a year, which will give us the same amount of blessing as getting Lord Venakteswars's blessings on Vaikunda Ekadasi.
Paramapathanathar on the Ananda Nilaya plane is in the Mahavishnu kolam as in Vaikuntha. There Paramapathanathar resides on Adhisesha folding the upper right leg and the left foot touching the earth. This is marked with a white arrow. The dharshan of Paramapathanathar is not available even to Brahma and other celestials. The Ananda Nilayam (Golden Tower above the sanctum sanctorum) will have a silver statue of Venkateswara in a silver thoran facing north on the plane. It will be marked with a red arrow. Even if we could not get a proper dharshan of Perumal inside and could not offer our requests and prayers properly inside we can do it in front of Vimana Venkatesa and be blessed and granted boons as if we prayed inside. Lord is kind to give us this benefit.
A very large brass container called Kavalam is wrapped by a cloth and kept in a cart, the cart being kept out of sight. When it is full the cart will be moved and another cart will be inserted inside. Some people remove their jewelry standing in front of the Hundi and offer it in. Daily collection from the Hundi comes to a few crores.When the container becomes full the full cart will be taken to the bill counting hall and counted. Some devotees will also attend this service. Those who go inside should not carry any valuables, otherwise those will also belong to Perumal. The devotees also count the Hundi money along with the employees of the temple and are given free Seva for their service.
Thirumalai Tirupathi Amirtha (nectar) Kalasam Prasadham
Every Sunday, an offering called Amirthakalasam is made to Perumal at Tirumalai Tirupati. It is an offering made with rice flour, pepper, jaggery and ghee. The offerings will be distributed to the devotees after offering to Perumal and then offering to Garudazhwar. Couples who eat this nectar are confident that they will be blessed with a baby soon. The Agama Shastra also says that the couple will have a special child born to those who took the Amirthakalasam offering. Such is the potency of this prasadham. This special offering is only on Sundays.
The temple kitchen #madaippaLLi here is very large. Laddu, Pongal, Yogurt rice, tamarind rice, Wada, Murukku, Jilepi, Adhirasam, boli, Appam, Payasam, Dosa, Rawakesari, Almond Kesari, Cashew Kesari are prepared daily here. Laddu tops the list. Everyday food is offered to Lord Balaji in a new pot. Other then Curd rice no other food item crosses the Kulasekaran step to be offered to God. This mud pot Curd rice as prasadham if one is able to get in his lifetime he is indeed truly blessed.
Thirumalai Tirupathi Swami Pushkarani
Swami Pushkarani is said to be the holiest theertham in the world and on Vaikunda Dwatasi the power from all the holy rivers and holy theerthams from all over the earth comes into this Swami Pushkarani, and that day Chakrasnanam happens. It is also called Pushkarani Theertha Mukkotti. The Sudarsana Chakra, the divine weapon of Maha Vishnu, is brought out of the sanctum sanctorum and anointed at the most sacred Swami Pushkarni on the north-eastern side of the temple. It is a fact stated in the scriptures that during this chakra snanam, the devotees who bathe in Swami Pushkarani will get rid of all the sins of many generations and converge with the immense spiritual blessings and receive the grace of Swami. Swami Pushkarani is very sacred. The holy theertham (water) that can destroy sins just by looking at it, or while sprinkling that theertham. This is a very special opportunity for the devotees to bathe in the holy Pushkarani called Darsana, Parsana, Matrena and bathe in Swami Pushkarani during the Chakrasnana and get the blessings by absolving the sins by the grace of the Swami.
It is said that there are six crore theerthams in the mountain range where the Thirumalai temple is located. Only some of the most important of these 60 million theerthams are accessible to human beings. Of those the most important are Akasha Ganga, papavinasanam, Jabali Theertham, Gokarpa Theertham, Thumburu Theertham, Ramakrishna Theertham, Kumaradhara Theertham, Sesha Theertham, Sanakasanandana Theertham, Chakra Theertham etc. The pilgrims have go into the forest region to get a glimpse of these sacred water bodies. The Theertham is brought daily for the worship of Thiruvenkadamudaiyan is from the Akasaganga Theertham. Beyond that is the Papavinasana Theertham. Gokarpa Theertham is also known as Pandava Theertham. It is said in the Skanda Purana that Swami Subramania would be in permanent meditation in the sacred Tirtha called Kumaradhara Theertham and would visit the Swami daily in the sanctum sanctorum. In the same way, the elders have said that in the Thumbura Tirtham, the Devarishis, Naradhar and Thumbuurar will come and sing hymns, and that on every full moon day, Siddhars, Rishis and Yogis would come and bathe and visit the Swami. Many elders have even seen the foot prints of the Rishis in that region. Such sacred theerthams abound on the hill. Other than these there are a lot of divine theerthams that, unfortunately, are invisible to the common people. These are visible only to the Siddhas and Devas. It is said in the Puranas that they bathe in it, visit the Lord and receive blessings. About 1 km from Tirupati temple are some rare rocks called 'Sila Thoranam'. Researchers estimate that these rocks, found only here in the world, are about 250 billion years old. The Lord of the Seven Hills Srinvasa Murthy and these rocks are the same.
The anointing of the Moolavar idol will take place on Friday at 4 am at the Thiruvenkadamudaiyaan temple. This statue is about nine and a half feet tall and is made of Salagramam. It is a Swayambu murthy - who came by Himself not sculptured by anyone. This is the original image of Mahavishnu Archavatara from Vaikuntam. Before the anointing, the ritual begins with the removal of the silk scarves worn by the Swami, the silk veshti and He wears just a kowbeenam (loin cloth). Punagu thailam or a special herbal oil will be applied all over the Lords body and then anointing takes place with clean water and then with cow's milk, while the Veda Pandits recite the important verses from the Vedas.
In the past, Periya Thirumalai Nambi used to bring water from Akasa Ganga for the sacred anointing. Now his family after several generations are still given the honour to pour water collected from Akasa Ganga from a golden conch on the head of Emperuman with devotion, "Hari !! Hari !!" chanting of Purusha Sukthum will start simultaneously. Since the Lord is made up of Salagramam only cow's milk is used for Abhishekam and not curd, tender coconut water, honey etc like used in Abhishekam for other deities. After the cows milk abhishekam suthodhaka Snanam is done to remove the viscosity of milk in Thirumeni. He is anointed with a perfume called Parimalam, a perfume containing sandalwood, saffron, turmeric, etc.,Thirumalai is a cold region at an altitude of 3000 feet. However, even when anointed with cold water at 4.30am, Perumal will still be sweating. That sweat will be absorbed by His dhothi- Pitambaram.
At the same time, when Thiruvenkadamudaiyaan is getting the abhishekam, very special and powerful Mahalakshmi on the right side of His chest of Perumal called Vyugalakshmi is taken separately and given abhishekam with turmeric and scented water. The theertham of this perfumery is distributed as a blessing to the devotees. During the anointing, as Lakshmi is taken from the chest of Perumal - Sri Ramanujar observing this felt very sad. The consort of Sriman Narayanan, Sri Lakshmi will never ever leave Him but during the abhishekam She has to be taken away and so Sri Ramanujar made the priests sing Sri Andal Nachiyar's 143 poems of Nachiyar Thirumozhi during the time. This procedure continues till date. As how Andal managed Her separation from Kannan by singing the Nachiyar Thirumozhi Sri Ramanujar wished Sri Lakshmi also would do the same during this time. What a beautiful tradition!
At the end of the anointing, the Swami is adorned in solitude. The wetness on Perumal is dried gently by using a special cloth. He is then draped in a new 24yard length silk dhothi and 12 yard silk upper cloth. A small cloth is kept on top of the head and His forehead adorned with Thiruman Kappu and He is ready to give his devotees Nija Padha Dharshan (The vision of real the feet of the Lord). At this time in Thiruvenkadamudaiyan Thirumeni there will have Nagaparanam, Ottiyanam, Srivatsam and Kaustupam which are the ornaments belonging to Lord Vishnu which are adorned on the chest of the Swami. This is the real vision of the feet of the Lord. The real feet are at other times covered with golden shields and basil (Thulasi) leaves. After Nija Padha Darshan the Lord will be fully decorated. In addition camphor (pachai karpooram)will be placed on the jaw of Perumal. There is a reason for this.
Sri Ramanujar was sad that flower decoration in Thirumalai was not on par with how it was offered to Sri Ranganathar in Srirangam. Seeing his sadness his good disciple Sri Ananthazhwan decided to go to Thirumala and do Pushpa Kaingaryam. This showed his deep respect and love for his Acharyan Sri Ramanujar as in those days there was no proper path to climb up the hills and wild animals like lions and tigers roamed the forest region. He lived there and constructed a garden, made and offered flower garlands to Srinivasr. Perumal in the guise of a young boy went to offer His help to Ananthazhwan. He drove him away since he had vowed to serve the Lord in this matter all by himself, of course with the help of his wife. Since the boy persisted he threw the crowbar at Him to drive him away. The young boy disappeared but at the same time in the sanctum sanctorum blood was oozing from the Lord's chin where the boy got hurt. The priest tried wiping it away but the bleeding would not stop. So he took some camphor and pressed it in the place of bleeding and it immediately stopped. So to this day Srinivasar has Camphor placed in His chin. Even today when you visit the temple you can see the crowbar at the entrance ceiling. It is preserved till today. The garden created by Ananthalwan still exists today. There he has risen as a tree, a double tree in fact. Once a year, on the day of Aadi Pooram, Perumal graces this garden and blesses the tree with sadari. He will also bless the tree with the garland from His Thiruvadi . He also graces this place one more time during the Brahmothsavam.
Sri Periya Thirumalai Nambi, Sri Ramanujar and Sri Ananthazhvan are three important contributors to Thirumalai. Periya Thirumalai Nambi was the maternal uncle of Sri Ramanujar. He lived in Thirumalai and did kaingaryam- service for Thirumalaiyappan. From the Akasha Ganga, he brought water daily for the Thirumanjanam of the Lord and performed the Tirtha Kaingarya. He taught Sri Ramanujar about Ramayanam. In fact he was the one who gave Sri Ramanujar to the world. There is a separate sannidhi for Periya Thirumalai Nambikal. He is also celebrated as the grandfather of Brahma. Let's see how so. It was Perumal who created Brahma. But Perumal once took the form of a small child and when Periya Tirumala Nambi came to collect the theertham, He called him as father and asked him for a drink of water. So he is grandfather to Brahma himself is it not? But Nambi refused water to the child saying he was carrying it to the Lord Himself. But Bhagawan playfully threw a stone at the pot made a hole in it and drank to his content and let the rest of the water go to waste. The family of Periya Thirumalai Nambi still live there and are continuing the Theertha Kaingaryam, that is fetching water for the Lord's abhishekam.
The rituals of the temple were formalized by Sri Ramanujar in the eleventh century. Sri Ramanujar established the Thirumalai Mutt for the administration of the temple and appointed Jiyar swami. Sri Ramanujar presented the seal ring of Bedi Hanuman, who is in front of the Thirumalai temple, and ordained Periya Kelvi Appan Jiyar Swamigal in charge of maintaining the temple. The Mutt is 900 years old. The fact of the establishment of the Mutt is mentioned in the book 'Thirumalai Ozhugu'. It is also mentioned in detail in the Sanskrit book 'Srivenkatachala Itihasamala' by Ananthazhwan, disciple of Sri Ramanuja. The date of its establishment is very clearly stated in the book. Kali 4220th year, Salivahana Sahabtham, 1041 by English calendar, the year Vikaari, month of thai, Sukla Paksham, Friday is the day of inauguration. So it seems like 23-1-1120 is the date of inception of the Mutt.
Later when Sri Manavala Mamuni (celebrated as the reincarnation of Ramanujar) came to Thirumalai. though he stayed for a short period only he was the Jeeyar of the Mutt established by Ramanujar and as a great zealot established another mutt with another jeeyar so that no ritual be stopped in the Thirumalai temple at any point of time. This was Chiriya Kelvai Appan Raamanuja Jeeyar Swamigal. This was done in the years 1420-30. When the senior jeeyar attained Acharyan Thiruvadi, immediately the Chinna Jeeyar will take his place and then a Chinna Jeeyar will be found and ordained. So it continues till today without a break. Thus Thirumalai Jeyyar Mutt has the fame of having both Sri Ramanujar and Sri Manavala Mamunigal as their Jeeyars. The jeeyars here are affectionately and reverently called by the people as Jeeyangar, Periya Jeeyar Swami and Chinna Jeeayr Swamy to this day.
It was Sri Ramanujar who also established the daily services of the temple. The day starts with Subrapada Seva. Subrapadam, composed by Hastigiri Swami, is chanted outside the golden door called Bangaru Vagili. Perumal listens from inside. The descendants of Sri Annamacharya Swami will then sing some of his compositions. Bhoga Srinivasar will arise from the resting place and go inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. Those from The Maharaja of Mysore Samasthanam will offer butter to the Lord. Navaneetham as Neyvedyam or offering. Next is Arjitha Seva. Early in the morning Brahma comes with the Devas and performs Thiruvarathana. There is a well called Bangaru Bavi. This well is located near the Vagulamalika Thayar Sannidhi. That is where the theertham for anointing is now taken from. There is a well called Poona Bhavi. In Thirumalai, no one is given flower offerings and garlands as Prasdham. After removing the garlands worn by the Lord, these are deposited in the place called Poona Bhavi. Whatever flowers that are removed will go to that well.
Then there is Thomala Seva. Thol Maalai in Tamil means garlands on shoulder- this has become Thomala. This is the seva when old flowers are removed from Perumal and fresh flowers are adorned by the priests. Periya Jeeyar will carry the flower basket to be offered to God and the Archakas will take it from him and decorate the Lord. This Thomala Seva is there both in the morning and evening. Every Thursday there is Poolangi Seva. Lord Srinivasa loves flowers being offered to Him. That is why Thirumala is also called Pushpa Mandapam or Hall of Flowers. SriRangam is called Bhoga Mandapam or Hall of enjoyment, Kanchipuram is Thiyaga Mandapam or Hall of sacrifice and Melkottai Njana Mandapam or Hall of Knowledge.
At one time in history Sivacharyars considered Lord Srinivasar as Lord Siva. Sri Ramanujar
considered Him as Sriman Narayana. An event happened to clear the doubt not just for the two of them, but for everyone in the world to understand. One night the weapons of Maha Vishnu, conch and Wheel and Siva's weapon like trident were kept in the sanctum Sanctorum just before closing the temple in the presence of a few Sivacharyas and Sri Ramanujar. When the temple was opened the next moening The Lord of Seven Hills gave Dharshan having His Conch and Wheel.(Shanku Chakra) So it is Sri Ramanujar who is responsible for the vision of Srinivasa that we see and worship Him today. He is the one who gave the Thiruman kaapu to Venkatavan and the conch and Wheel. He is the one who established the rules to be followed by the temple. No one can keep flowers in their head, should not travel by vehicle and none other than the temple employees can stay un Thirumalai are the rules set up by him. Since he gave changu chakram to the Lord he is Acharyan to Perumal and hence he is in Chin mudhra Kolam in his shrine.
There are plenty of festivals in this temple. It was Sri Ramanujar who regularized all these. All Vaishnava festivals are celebrated in a special way. 450 festivals and festivities are held through 365 days a year. No other temple boasts of this many festivals. That is why Tirupati is known as 'Buloga Vaikundam'. Thirty-three crore gods gather here to witness the festivals. Brahma sought permission to conduct a huge festival and Thirumal granted his wish. Since then started Thirumalai's Brahmotsavam. This festival goes on for ten days and is very special.
On the seventh day of the Brahmotsavam Malaiyapp Swamy sits on Garuda and gives Dharshan. On that day the garland worn by Sri Andal of Srivilliputhur is sent from Srivilliputhur and it is offered to Him. In order to attain the Lord as her husband, she fasted in the month of Margazhi and worshiped the Lord by creating and singing hymns on Him. She prayed to Sri Kallazhagar of Madurai and Venkatavan that Sri Ranganathar should accept her. Since her wish was fulfilled to fulfil her prayer promise, the garland worn by her is sent to Sri Kallazhagar for Chiththirai full moon festival and in the month of Purattasi to Sri Venkatavan during Brahmotsavam with utmost reverence and respect and offered. This garland is specially tied with different kind of flowers and sent to Thirumala. This is a practice that has been going on for 500 years. Vettivar (a scented root) garland was sent earlier because they take several days to reach Tirupati from Srivilliputhur, so Vettivar garland was sent as the flowers would wither. Now that there is a fast transportation facility, Perumal is enjoying the most beautiful garland worn by Sri Andal. It is a tradition to perform the Subrabhata service at the Thirumalai temple every morning. But, throughout the Markazi, they are singing the hymns of Thiruppavai. The hymns will be sung by the Bhattacharyas along with the Periya jiyar swamis of Thirumalai. So much honour and glory for Tamil and Azhwar's 4000 Divya Prabhandham!
We think that the utter devotion which Andal had is not possible today. But if you read about Venkamamba you will realise how it is possible even a hew centuries ago. Venkamamba was born in the year 1730 in the village of Tarikonda in Andhra Pradesh to Krishnaiah and Mangamamba. From an early age, she was extremely devoted to Thirumalai Venkatavan and lived in her mind with Thirumalai Venkatavan as her husband. But as was the custom in those days she was married of a child to one person named Venkatachalapathi and he died soon after. Thosugh she became a widow in the eyes of the world since she believed she was married to Lord Srinivasa she did not remove the auspicious symbols from her self till the end of her life. This was indeed a great revolution in those days. She learnt Yoga from a Guru Subramanyudu and lived in Thirumalai and wrote many books. once Thiruvenkatavan's jewelry went missing, and the blame fell on her as she used to sing in front of Venkatavan every day. So she was barred from entering the temple. Later her devotion was known to all through Thiruvenkatavan and she was allowed to enter the temple again and the custom of her singing before the last aarathi before the temple closed became a practice. This ritual is still followed today in the solitary service -Ekaantha sevai i.e. in the night before the temple is closed the camphor aarti which is finally done is called "Vengamamba aarti" in her honour. Her Brindavan is nearThirumala Mada Veethi.
After the ten-day festival of Sri Ramanujar in Chittirai, the three-day spring festival ends on the full moon day. Then in the Vasantha Mandapam, Duvapara Yuga Kannan and Treta Yuga Rama give dharshan together along with Venkatavan, the deity of Kaliyuga. We are blessed indeed to see this beautiful event.
The five-day full moon festival of Thepothsavam or float festival in the month of February (masi month) is very special. In Swami Pushkarani, Rama Sita with Lakshmanar and Anjaneyar will come floating on the boat, then Krishna with Rukmini-Satyabhama and then on the third day Sri Malayappa Swami Sridevi Bhudevi will give dharshan in the boat festival. Gangamma Chatra, which is celebrated only here, is grandly celebrated. Devotees make Pongal and animal sacrifices to Gangama. Gangamma is the elder sister of Srinivasa Perumal.
The three main sacrificial offerings for Perumal are head shaving, performing anga pradhakshanam or rolling around the Prakara or corridor of Srinivasa's sanctum sanctorum and climbing the hills by walking. All three of these are actions that destroy our pride and make us humble.
The temple was maintained by the Pallavas in the 4th century, the Cholas from the 5th to the 10th century and the Vijayanagara Empire in the 17th century. Krishna Devarayar, the greatest king of the Vijayanagara Empire, donated gold and other precious ornaments to the temple. He has built many temples adjacent to this temple. Sri Vyasarajar, the great Hanuman devotee, was the Rajguru of the Vijayanagara kings. As the Thiruvenkatavan temple had been closed for 12 years during the Islamic invasion, he came to Thirumalai and sat down looking at the Vimana Venkateshwara and mentally performed poojas and worships and realized that the sanctity of Thiruvenkatavan in the sanctum sanctorum was fully recovered and spreading. He organized the temple and resumed the pujas. Devotees gathered again at the shrine of Perumal. The temple became as famous as ever. Vyasarayar stayed there for twelve years. He sang many songs on Perumal. By singing the hymns on Hari he became famous as Hari Dasar. Various disciples from many places received enlightenment (njana upadhesam) from him! He stayed in Thirumalai till the age of 92 (1498) and worshiped Thiruvenkadamudaiyan. Thiruvenkadamudaiyan is the Kula deyvam - the clan deity of the Haridasars . Vyasarajar has composed many songs about Srinivasar Kalyanam and the temple's glories.
Those who come to Tirumala where the Moon worshiped Srinivasa Perumal are sure to get rid of the defects and strengthen auspicious forces caused by the Moon in their horoscope and get good fortune. It will be more fruitful to come and visit on Mondays and during the period between new moon and full moon days (vaLar piRai). Tirupati is the place where the impact of the moon is greatest in India. Since the moon is a powerful in this temple, it gives peace of mind to devotees after their visit. The 7 mountains are also associated with the subtle planets. As we ascend and descend each mountain the respective planetary sins will be removed. Tirupati Venkatachalapathy and Maha Lakshmi will bring abundance in life and Padmavathi Thayar will give all the comforts in life. That is why the saying of the devotees is 'If you go to Tirupati, the turn for the better is certain'.
Countless devotees, such as those who go to work and earn money, or those who do business on a large scale or small scale, visit the Seven Hills and contribute a certain amount of their earnings as a tribute or thanks giving to the Lord by putting the amount in the Hundi. Many business folks offer a certain percentage of their profits or income every time they visit the temple. The belief is that Venkatavan, who is indebted to Kubera, knows very well how painful and humiliating debt can be, and that is why his devotees, if they get into trouble with debt and shed tears of grief, He will not stand by watching them suffer. He therefor gives good jobs to those who do not have good jobs, brings boom in the industry, makes business thrive, gives the blessing of marriage who seek to be married. That is why the devotees who go to Tirupati, take with them the money which they had tied in a yellow cloth praying to the Lord in their homes when they encountered a problem, to solve that or when starting a new venture or a new beginning of sorts. They then offer it in the Hundi.
To climb up Thirumalai, there are two ways to walk from the foothills of Tirupati. Alipri- This route near Lower Tirupati has been in use for a long time. Sri Adivan Sadagopa Yatindra Mahadesikan, one of the first Jiyar Swamis of the Ahobila Mutt, was the first Jiyar Swami to erect the steps to Thirumalai.
Going to Tirupati will improve our lives. It is also the belief and practice of the devotees that all financial problems such as debt will be solved. It is also stated that there is no rebirth for those who read and listen to His history. So be it!
Sarvam Sri Krishnarpanam