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Dr. V.S.Jayaram
SUPREME SAVIOUR OF SEVEN HILLS
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There is no hill in the entire universe so sacred as Venkatadri, that \s Tirumala; there could no manifestationof God like Venkates-wara either in the past or in the future,declare the scriptures.
The awe and wonder that the complex cosmos invokes, the still more mysterious space, the milky way, countless galaxies and stars, which are again surrounded by innumerable planets inspire us all and lead us to a belief in the existence of an intelligent creator.
Everyday people all over the world offer their prayers to the Almighty, because they believe that there is a higher force, an intelligent creator, controlling their action and destiny in this universe. Prayer inculcates discipline, purifies one's thoughts, words and deeds. Prayer is power, many things could be achieved by prayer, which is beyond human comprehension. Praying deflects negative energy and it releases new hope.
Every day countless number of devotees cutting across barriers of caste, creed, religion, region or affluence throng at Tirumala the abode of Lord Venkateswara yearning to behold him and to offer their obeisance because of the seekers' eternal quest for Govinda and his infinite grace. The Lord's benign looks of love, magnetic personality, impressive might and power confirm the aspirant's faith in him as the only saviour. A mere glance of the deity for a second engulfs one with a mysterious feeling of elation, bliss and a sense of spiritual fulfillment that elevates the individual to a realm above his or her usual worldly routine.

Antiquity of Tirumala and the Temple

The Lord of Tirumala is regarded as the tutelary deity for millions from time Immemorial. Tirumala temple is the oldest religious institution in the world. The Veda which is acknowledged to have no beginning speaks of this hill as a holy abode of Sri Maha Vishnu. The most ancient of the Vedas, the Rig Veda, extols the sanctity of the hill.
'Araayi kaane vikate girim gachacha sadaane sirimbithasya sathvabhihi tebhishtvachatayamasi'
(RigVeda VIII Adhyaya, 8th anuvaaka vachana 13)
The Lord fulfills the desires of those devotees who are accompanied by other devotees (Bhagavatas) approach him at Venkata hills and pray to him.
References in the earliest Tamil literature going back to centuries before the Christian era are cited as evidence for the hoary antiquity of the Venkata hills and Lord Vishnu's temple thereon. The earliest mention of this shrine is made in the ancient Tamil grammar "Tolkappiyam" by Parambiranar a great saint of second century B.C. Vengadam was the original name of the hill. Mamulanar the author of another early Tamil literature of Sangam era (said to be betweeen 6th century BC and 4th century AD) gives the same name to the hill. Mamulanar also mentions that Vengadam was prosperous because of the festivals on 'he hill, obviously the temple of Tirumala. Another Tamil classic " Silappadikaram" the one among the five epics in Tamil literature gives a description of the deity on the hill as "Tiruvengadamudaiyan".
The epigraphical testimony reveals that uninterrupted religious worship is in progress in this hill temple from the past 300 years. This shrine has rendered asylum to many Vaishnavite idols during the second half of the 14th century, the period when desecration of Hindu idols and Temples were in full swing by Muslim invaders of the south specially Malik Kafoor. But Tirumala temple enjoyed total immunity from such invasions. Sri Ranganathaswamy from Srirangam was secretly brought to Tirumala and kept in safe custody for nearly forty years.

The picturesque seven hills hold many wonders

The Lord of seven hills has inspired many a devout, its geological features are no less inspiring. The sanctity, glory and the natural beauty of the hoary Tirumala hills is awe inspiring. The Tirumala hill forms the southern end of the eastern ghats. Its sweeping curves with intermediate ranges and ridges bear resemblance to the primeval divine serpent Adisesha. The seven Peaks represent its seven hoods. The peaks have distinctive names, viz. Seshadri, Vedadri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The summit opens into a spacious charming valley. The sacred shrine of the Lord is located on the Seventh peak "Venkatadri". Vem denotes amritha, beejakshara 'kata ha' denotes fortune and adrl means a hill. Sri Venkateswara suprabatham refers to these ranges: 'Srisesasaila garudacala venkatadri narayanadri vrsabhadri vrsadri mukhyan, akhyan tvadiya vasater anisam vadanti, Sri Venkatachalapate tava suprabhatam".
The Tirumala hills, in course of time, came to be known as Tirumala, while the town at the foot of the hills is known as Tirupati, the latter is encircled by the hills. The hills rise to a maximum height of 1104 metres above the sea level, and cover an area of about 250 square kilometers. The hills, which are now denuded of vegetation were Formerly densely afforested. The most stupendous part of the hill is the scarps facing the Tirupati town. This scarp has a top layer of sandstone, 1500 million years old resting on a granite 2000 million years old. These dark coloured rocks called basalt dykes, appear as dark vertical stripes or bands with shades of buff or pale orange in otherwise white granite. The principal lines of scarp face the south.
The "Silathoranam" of Tirumala hills one of the rare natural geological arches is an astounding wonder which has withstood the fury of nature since its formation by natural process. Only two such arch bridges are known in the world. One is the 'Rainbow1 arch bridge of Utah in USA, and another at Dalradian quartz of UK. The arch bridge at Tirumala is declared as a national monument.

Tirthas of Tirumala hills

The sacred hills abound in waterfalls, lakes and springs of religious significance. The principal tirthas are: Swami Pushkarini, Papavinasanam, Vaikunta, Gogarbpha, Jabali, Pandava, Chakra, Kumaradhara, Palguni, Sanakasananda,Tumburu, Sesha and Sitamma. These water bodies are very sacred and possess mysterious healing powers as they are said to be sanctified by the celestials. They are capable of conferring merits and ensure emancipation of the bather. To be effective the dip in the holy waters should be taken at certain prescribed auspicious time (divasa, thithi, vara and nakshtra)

Swami Pushkarini

This holy tank adjacent to Sri Vari shrine, has a stepped gallery on four sides with a mandapam in the centre. This tank is said to be the sacred holy waters of the Ganges itself. This sacred tirtha acquired special powers due to 'Avabhrita snana' of the Lord soon after the first Brahmotsavam. Even now on the last day of Brahmotsavam Sudarshana Chakram of the Lord gets a bath in this tirtha, which is known as 'Avabritham1 or Chakra snana. Immediately after this event all the assembled pilgrims take a kip in this tirtha. Theppotsavam of Sri Malayappa swami with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi takes place in this tank. Prior to entering the Shrine of the Lord, devotees take a dip in this tirtha. A bath in this tank is said to absolve one of all their sins.

Papavinasanam

This wellknown waterfall and pool is about 4 km from the shrine. This tirtha is capable of redeeming the sins of the bathers accrued in several million previous births, provided the bathing time and the day prescribed are scrupulously followed. A bath here under the falls will be a very pleasant experience.

Akasaganga

This waterfall has a hoary past, as it was associated with Anjana Devi the mother of Ramabhakta Hanuman. This tirtha is said to rid one of all their sins if the dip takes place on a Chaitra pournaml during Chitra nakshatra. Tirumala Nambi one of the Alwars used to fetch water from Papavinasanam for the daily tirumanjanam (abhisekam) to the Lord. One day the Lord appeared in the guise of a hunter, struck an arrow, created this tirtha and directed Nambi to fetch water from this nearby source. At present water for daily ritual and worship is brought from Akasaganga. Tradition connects both Akasaganga and Papavinasanam. Pilgrims invariably visit both these places for snana and pana.

Kapilatirtha

Kapilatirtha also known as Alwar tirtham is situated at the base of the hills. Siva and Parvathi appeared here in the archa form to enable the devotees to worship them as per the desire of sage Kapila in whose memory it is called Kapila tirtham. A dip in this tank willl make one's ascent to the hills easy. There are picturesque waterfalls and a pool provided with dressed stone steps and a temple dedicated to Lord Siva. This is the only shrine dedicated to Lord Siva in Tirupati.

Lord Venkateswara and the Puranas

The puranic concept on the origin of the holy shrine is shrouded in a mist of legends. Lengthy account of the sthalamahatyam is contained in as many as ten out of eighteen puranas. Sri Venkatachala Mahatyam figures in Sri Varaha, Padma, Garuda, Brahma, Markandeya, Vamana, Brahmanda, Skanda, Aditya and Bhavishyottara puranas.
When Dwapura yuga ended and Kaliyuga began Lord Maha Vishnu manifested in the form of Lord Venkateswara on the Vengadam hills. The Lord revealed in the Archavatara i.e. in the finite human idol form.
According to Bhavishyottara purana during the reign of emperor Tondaiman, certain cowherds noticed that a cow belonging to the royal goshala, while grazing on the hill, used to go upto a mound, emptied its udder at a particular anthill and returned home with an empty udder, the strange happening was reported to the king.
Later, the particular anthill under a tamarind tree, on the banks of Swami Pushkarini was opened up. They were amazed, when they discovered the Lord's swayam vyakta murti. A mandapam perhaps one room temple was built thereon. Sun and moon illumined the deity as there was no roof. However, the present temple made up of cutstone with garbhalaya and ardhamandapam can be dated to 8th or 9th century A.D.

The origin of the Murti Swarupam

The Lord i.e. the Mulaberam atop the hill in the form of an icon is swayam vyakta meaning a selfincarnate one. It was neither made by human hand nor consecrated by mortals, as the Murti swarupam is not according to the specifications envisaged in the Agama samhitas. Obviously the Mulaberam belongs to an earlier age than that of the Agamas.
The Lord revealed in the form of an Archavatara meaning in the finite human idol form for the benefit of lay men to enable them to concentrate and meditate on the supreme, which will eventually release them from the vicious cycle of birth and death. Archavatara has a direct link with those of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, hence the presence of utsava processional images of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna in the garbagriha from the ancient days.
One should recall the first sloka of Sri Venkateswara suprabhatam viz. Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravartate, this equates Sri Venkateswara as incarnation of Sri Rama. This very first verse is from Valmiki Ramayana wherein sage Viswamitra awakens young Rama.
Further the Mulaberam at Tirumala has marks on both the shoulders running from the ends of collarbones in the direction of armpits resembling scars ascribed to constant wearing of bow and pack of arrows. This clearly connects Lord Venkateswara with the avatar of Sri Rama. The arrow of Jara ended Lord Krishna's avatar in Dwapura yuga, the hunter being Vali the elder brother of Sugriva.
Sri Krishna, returned to this earth as Srinivasa in Kaliyuga. Soon after his birth Sri Krishna appeared before His father Vasudeva in his real form "Tarn adbhutam balakam, ambujekshanam", His four hands holding sanku, chakram and other auydhams. This connects the Mulaberam with Sri Krishna. The images of Sri Krishna and Rukmani are installed in the sanctum. Sri Krishna acts as a sayana beram instead of Bhoga Srinivasa during the month of Margali (Dec-Jan.)
The Mulaberam is in the sthanaka (standing) pose on a lotus pedestal in the garbagriha beneath the Ananandanilaya vimanam. The manifestation of the Lord is in saligrama sila, but black in colour due to constant application of civet or punugu. Lord's forehead bears thick double patch of namam drawn with refined camphor, which screens His eyes and kasturi tilakam, holy mark of musk in between the white patches.
His chin is pressed with refined camphor. Ears are bedecked with crocodile shaped makara kundalams. The face is beaming with joy and smile is discernible. He has flowing locks of hair, some of these locks of curly hair rest on his shoulders. The upper right arm holds the Sudarshana chakra, the upper left arm holds the panchajanya (conch). The conch and chakram are not the integral parts of the main idol.
The lower right palm is in varada while the lower left hand is in the Katyavalambika pose, actually the fingers of the left hand rest on the left thigh. Sridevi is on the breast as an integral part of the Mulaberam and not one subsequently invested or detachable.
Our view of the Lord in his cosmic form and celestial glory will be during Friday abishekam, as the Lord will be bereft of all the jewels and other paraphernalia. It is at this time that we can see the eyes of the Lord, as the namam is made rather thin on Thursday and is entirely removed before abishekam. The eyes neither, lookup nor down, but straight into the devotee's eye "sama dristi" showering divine grace on all assembled for his darshan. Viewing the Lord provides a communion with God and gives solace to the seeker. There is an intense urge anddesire to seek darshan of the Lore as many times as possible.

Sacrosanct feet of the Lord

The Lotus feet of the Lord are a sure saviour and succour for all to free themselves from the mundane existence by saranagati or the whole hearted surrender to the divine feet. The feet of the Lord is of paramount importance for darshana and worship by every devotee visiting Srivari shrine, which is often overlooked than observed. While viewing or describing the Lord the dictum is feet first and then to look up towards the crown, expressed as tiruvadi to tirumudi or padadi kesa darshanam,
As alluded the lower right palm of the Lord is directed downwards (varada hasta) pointing towards his feet, instead of the usual abhayahasta, that is palm pointing upwards. By this gesture, the Lord proclaims that by surrendering to his feet, ensures total salvation to the devotee. The Lord's left arm is on his knee testifying that the ocean of birth and death are only knee-deep.
The scriptures declare the significance of the Lotus feet. The Rigveda says "tad Vishnoh paramam padam sadaa pasyanti surayah', meaning, the wise one's always behold that exalted feet, the abode of the Lord. Invocation to the Lord in the Dvayamantra states, Sriman Narayana charanam saranam prapadye, Srimathe Narayana Namaha indicating that our salvation lies in resorting to the feet of Lord Narayana.
Further, the significance of the Lotus feet has been amply emphasised in the Sri Venkateswara prapathi (supplication section 3 of Sri Venkateswara suprabatham)
"Vishno pade parama ithyuditaprasamsau
yau madhva utsa iti bhogyatayapy upattau
bhuyas ta eti tava panitala-pradistau
srivenkatesa caranau saranam prapadye"
(sloka 10).
The scriptures affirm that your feet are the most supreme, that nectar that can be relished exudes from them. Again your downward palm indicates that it is indeed so, directing us to your feet, Sri Venkatesa I fall at your feet.
The benedictory hymn (Sri Venkatesa mangalasasanam) states "prayah svacaranau pumsam, saranyatvena panina, krpaya disate srimad venkatesaya mangalam",
Amog the Alwars of Sri Vishnu sampradaya except Madhura Kavi and Thondaradipadi, all the others including Goddess Andal have sung soul stirring pasurams, in praise of Lord Srinivasa. Nammalwar surrendered at the holy feet of the Lord. The devotional outpourings of the saint composer Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya, the sankirtana-carya in Telugu who rapturously praised the glories of Lord Srinivasa declared that those who seek refuge at the Lotus feet of the Lord, will be rewarded with innumerable merits. Sri Ramanuja's prapatti marg, i.e. suppliction or surrender is the simplest way for getting salvation and absolute surrender at the holy feet of the Lord.

The complimentary idols within the garbha griha

Though the temple at Tirumala is an Eka murthy alayam smaller metallic image of four other different manifestations and forms of the Lord, make up the pantheon.
1) Sri Malayappa swamy: The present processional (utsava) deity, three feet high is a replica of moolavar, made of panchaloha with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi flank him on the right and left. This image is mentioned in an inscription of 1339 A.D. as "Malai kuniya ninra perumal" meaning one who stood on the hill, which bowed very low. Arjita sevas such as Kalyanotsavam, Brahmotsavam and Theppotsavam are performed to Malaya ppan.
2) Sri Bhoga Srinivasa : Also known as Sri Manavala Perumal. Pallava queen Samavai gifted this silver replica of moolavar along with considerable amounts of jewellery and lands in 966 A.D. The deity gets daily abhisheka, and is put to sleep in sayana mantapa during ekanta seva in a silver cushioned cradle every night for eleven months in a year, signifying that the Lord is the immortal child of creation. This image is always kept in the garbha griha and a gold link and a silk cord connect this idol with moola vigraha.
3) Sri Koluvu Srinivasa : Also known as Ball beram. This silver icon is a miniature replica of the Lord, said to possess all the attributes and the power of Lord Venkateswara and officiates for Moolavar during koluvu or Durbar. He holds court everyday at Tirumamani mantapam.
4) Sri Ugra Srinivasa or Snapana beram : This one and half feet idol represents fierce aspect of the Lord. This Murti is taken out in procession before sunrise on three occasions every year. Once during procession of this deity after dawn, a huge fire broke out. The sunrays should not fall on this image.
5) Sri Krishna : Depicted as a dancing child with a bail of butter in one hand and the other stretched out during "navaneetha nritya" along with his consort Rukmani, an incarnation of Lakshmi. During Dhanurmasa (Dec-Jan) this idol receives the honour of Ekantha seva instead of Bhoga Srinivasa.
6) Sri Rama with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. These copper icons also find a place in the sanctum, installed by Sri Ramanuja during 12th century AD.
7) Chakrathalwar : This deity always precedes the utsava murthi in processions.
All these icons share the worship offered to Sri Venkateswara swami varu. Separate puja is not offered to them. It has been the custom from the earliest times that even on the days of Sri Rama navami or Sri Jayanthi, special food offerings are made to Sri Venkateswara and not to the concerned deity.

The Layout of Srivari Shrine

Devotees visiting the shrine should become familiar with the topography of the temple to facilitate their movements within the temple complex.
Tirumala temple is an eloquent testimony to the Dravidian architectural splendour. The temple received the patronage of the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and Yadavarayas. However the Vijayanagar rulers were the most munificent donors, who made several structural additions to the temple. This enthralling edifice of cut stone structure faces east, covers an area of about two acres and is rectangular in shape. The shrine stands amidst tall verdant hills rising on all sides like the galleries of open air theatre.
The temple consists of three prakaras or enclosures, forming two big courtyards, the outer and the inner. The walls of the outer prakara measure 414 ft east west and 263 ft north south. Each prakara has only one entrance, tall gopururas adore the two entrances. The Mahadwara gopuram or the outer one is the lofty five storied structure; sculptured scenes from Ramayana and Bhagavata are carved on it. At the entrance of the inner gopuram there is Vendi vakili (silver entrance) which is near dwajasthamba. There are two bas reliefs on the walls. One of these depicts the Lord's devotee Hathiram playing dice with the Lord, in another Sri Rama holding courts.
The space enclosed between the two prakaras is known as pradakshina. The outer one is known as Sampangi pradakshinam now virtually closed. The middle one named as Vimana pradakshinam, presently the pilgrims circumambulate in this.
The innermost is called Mukkoti pradakshinam, opened only once in a year, on the occasion of Vaikunta ekadasi.The structures in the outer courtyard are a small mantapam with two wings, one on each side, and a pathway in the centre. It has Rangamandapa, Tirumalarayamandapa, Aina mahal, Dwajasthambam covered with gold plates (flag-staff) in front of the inner gopuram, bali peetam, padi potu where paniyarams (fried and baked sweets and savouries) are made and Yamunathurai where fresh flower garlands are made to exact size.
In the north western corner of Sampangi Pradakshinam is the sacred spring known as Virajanadi. The structures within the inner courtyard are the main shrine of the Lord, smaller shrines of Vakulamalika, Varadaraja, Ramanuja, Senadhipathi or Sri Senai Mudaliar, Yoga Narasimha and Garuda, Potu (kitchen where the Lord's annaprasadam is cooked), Kalyanamandapam, Yogasala, vahana mandapam and Bhangara bhavi (golden well).

The Main Shrine of Lord Venkateswara

The innermost shrine consists of five interconnected apartments. They are : 1) Tirumamani mandapam 2) Snapana mandapam 3) Ramar medai 4) Sayana mandapam (Antarala) and 5) Garbha Griham.

1) Tirumamani mandapam
Tirumamani mandapam is a sixteen pillared closed enclosure with gratings all round. The pillars are carved with bas relief. This mukha mandapam houses a small shrine for Garuda (Periya Thiruvadi) and Hundi, where the pilgrims deposit their devotional offerings. There are two huge bells.
After entering the inner gopuram, the devotee will be stepping into the vimana Pradakshanam. This is the outer wall of the Garuda shrine, which is also the front wall of this mandapam.
Suprabhata seva and durbar of Sri Koluvu Srinivasa are held here. Bangaru vakili, the golden door is at the westernmost end of this mandapam. The sculptured images of the divine door keepers Jaya and Vijaya adorn either side of the golden door. At this point one gets the electrifying glimpse of the Lord's face, namam and crown. After crossing the golden door, we step into

2) The Snapana mandapam or Thiruvilan Koyil
This is a semi lighted mandapam with pillars, which bear a few excellent bas reliefs of Maha Vishnu in a sitting posture with his consorts, Bala Krishna in the Kaliya mardana pose and also the divine serpent Adisesha. Iron safes are kept here and is used as a strong room. This room leads to

3) The Ramar medai
This is a narrow passage with platforms on either side, on which the idols of Sri Rama with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are kept. After passing through this passage the devotee will enter

4) Sayana mandapam
The mandapam is adjacent to the Garbha Griha. It's here that the devotee will be directly in front of the Supreme deity. This is the place where Sri Bhoga Srinivasa is put to sleep during the Ekanta seva at night.
5) Garbha Griham or the Sanctum Sanctorum
Garbha Griham is a twelve feet, square shaped mandapam housing the Supreme deity, located at the westernmost part, facing the sayana mandapam, both of which are double walled structures. The stone step between the sanctum and sayana mandapam is called the 'Kulashekhara padi", named after Kulashekara Alwar. Devotees are not allowed to step on this. The food offerings to the Lord are made outside this step. But only four nalis of rice along with fruits, flowers, milk and butter is offered inside the sanctum. Akhanda or perpetual lamp, a heavy silver lamp kept on the right side, burn day and night.
The vimanam on the sanctum sanctorum known as Ananda Nilaya Vimanam, is a three - tier tower with a pinnacle, gilded with 150 kg of gold. Ananda means bliss nilaya is the house, Vimana or tower is the top that surmounts the sanctum of the Lord. The famous Vimana Venkateswara is on the northern face of the vimana.
At the approach of the inner gopuram, the ecstatic chanting of Lord's unending chain of names becomes louder-Govinda, Govinda, Srinivasa, Balaji, Yedu Kondalavada, Vaddi Kasulu vada, Venkataramana, Ananda Rakshaka, Aapatbaandhava will be repeatedly heard. Entering the inner gopuram, the devotee steps into the Vimana pradakshanam. Excessive surge of the pilgrims starts here.
At the Bangaru vakili we get the electrifying glimpse of the Lord's face and crown. After crossing the golden door the devotee will be stepping into the snapana mandapam. It's here that the devotees are subjected to non-stop pushing and pulling by the TTD volunteers and personnel. Pilgrims are exhorted to move! Jaragu! Jaragu! Jaragandi! one should become immune to this, but should have consideration other devotees. Next, we pass through Ramar medai that leads to sayana mandapam. The most Inspiring and thrilling sight awaits the devotee here as one will be directly in front of the Main Deity or Moola Virat. The darshan infuses a sense of mystery, awe and a deep sense of devotion to the Lord.
As one gets only a few seconds for viewing the Supreme Lord, quickly focus on the holy Lotus feet first, "Sri Venkatesa caranam saranam prapadye". Next the eyes have to move upwards, in quick succession right palm, bosom of the Lord, with Padmavathi and Mahalakshmi then Shanka and Sudarshanachakra and finally the lovely face and eyes of Moola Virat. Though the eyes of the Lord will be in "sama drishti", Apanga Vikshana of the left eye of the Lord is the most precious. It is for this reason the devotees are admitted from the left side of the Lord and then come out from his right side, so that God's left eye's Karuna Kataksha Viksana falls first on the devotees.

The daily routine at Tirumala

Starting with Suprabhatam, a series of poojas and elaborate rituals of worship take place daily till the concluding Ekanta seva at night. Vaikhanasa Agama system of worship as reformed by the great Vaishnava theologian Sri Ramanujacharya is observed even to this day.

1} Suprabhatam
The day starts with the invocatory hymn. Priests awaken the Lord by singing the Sanskrit slokas in front of the Bangaru vakili. Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan composed this devotional hymn and is recited since 1430 A.D. These slokas glorify the attributes of the Lord, and invoke his blessings. Soon after this, the doors of the sanctum are opened, the cowherd, priests and jeeyangar enter the sanctum. Sripada chandana applied to the Lotus feet of the Lord on the previous night is covered with the pada kavacham. Sri Bhoga Srinivasa is shifted from his bed in sayana mandapam to the sanctum. Cow's milk, butter and sugar are offered as naivedyam. After Navanita harathi is presented, assembled devotees are allowed to have darshan of the Lord and the milk prasadam distributed.

2) Viswaroopa darsana
This darshana of the Lord is soon after Suprabhata seva, considered to be highly sacred because of its association with the worship of Lord Venkateswara by Brahma. Overnight in the garbagriham large gold cups filled with Akasaganga water are kept for worship by the celestials. Devotees attending this • darshpana get this tirtham. One can also have darshan of the Lord's feet.

3) Suddhi
Cleaning and removal of the previous nights' decoration. The flowers removed are deposited in the step-well situated in the Sampangi pradakshanam.

4) Thomala seva
Decorating the Lord with flower garlands in very quick succession and in a spectacular manner. Recitation of Tamil prabandhams along with Veda parayanam. This is an Arjita (paid) seva.

5) Koluvu
A daily durbar of Sri Koluvu Srinivasa. The previous day's revenue and almanac are read before the deity, inside the Bangaru vakili. (Panchanga sravanam).

6) First Archana
Recitation of one thousand names of the Lord, "Srinivasa sahasranama archana". This is an arjita seva.

7) Naivedyam
First bell and bali. After archana, sayana mandapam is cleaned, cooked food is offered to the Lord as naivedyam. The Bangaru vakili doors are closed, and the bells in the Tirumamani mandapam are rung. Only archakas will be in the sanctum.

8) Sathumurai
Recitation of portions of Tamil prabandhams of the Alwars, beginning with "Patram" and ending with "Vali Tirunamam". Priests perform archana with Tulsi leaves to the Lotus feet of the Lord. Only Srivaishnavas led by jeeyangar will be present.

9) Dharma darsanam: or sarva darsanam
Dharma darsanam: or sarva darsanam, pilgrims are allowed for darsan of the Lord at the specified timings during the day.

10) Second Archana
This is madhyahna pooja, consisting of recitation of Lord's Astothara sathanamams i.e. 108 names of the Lord extracted from Varahapuranam. After archana, there is again suddhi and food offerings made to the Lord.
While sarvadarsana contnues uninterruptedly, arjita sevas such as Kalyanotsvam, arjita Brahmotsava, vahana sevas and unjal seva will be in progress in other mandapams.

11) Pavalimpu seva and Ardhajama puja
This is performed before the Lord is put to bed. Sweets are offered to the Lord.

12) Ekantha seva
After sealing the hundi, suddhi is done. Sripada chandana, sweets, milk and fruits are kept inside the sanctum. Priests enter and close the doors.
A velvet bed is spread on a swing in the sayana mandapam, the idol of Sri Bhoga Srinivasa is put in a recumbent posture. After naivedyam is offered, the doors are opened. Devotees are not allowed to go beyond the first hall of golden threshold. Muthyala harathi is offered to the Lord. A descendent of Tallapaka poet sings kirtans of Tallapaka Annamacharya. After this seva the temple doors are closed and sealed.

Other daily sevas

1) Kalyanotsvam
The marriage of Sri Malayappa swamy with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi is performed according to Vedic rites with Mangalasutra dharana, homa and chanting of hymns. This seva is after the second bell. Laddu, Vadai, Dosai, Appam and cooked rice are offered to the Lord. In this paid seva grihastas perform sankalpa.

2) Tiruppavada
Huge quantities of cooked rice and condiments are heaped upon the floor of Tirumamani mandapam. The offerings are made to Sri Bhoga Srinivasa.

Weekly Sevas

1) Abhishekam or Tirumanjanam
This is the most sanctifying ritual in the Agamas, performed on Friday morning. Abhisheka is done first with milk, then with water, Sandal paste, Turmeric, Kasturi, Civet and Gambir or pachchai karpura, to the accompaniment of Vedic hymns and mantras. Devotees can have darsan of the Lord in all his splendour as the Mulaberam is divested of all ornaments and clothes except Alarmelmangai plaque. This is the most thrilling darsan of the Lord in his "nija swarupa' or 'holy nirvana'. Devotees of this paid seva carry silver vessel containing perfumed articles in procession around the sanctum as a mark of honour and hand over the same inside the sanctum.

2) Poolangi seva
Performed on Thursday. All the ornaments of the Lord are removed, then draped with dhoti and upper garment. The namam which covers the forehead and eyes are thinned out. The deity is decorated profusely with flower garlands from head to foot. This is an arjita seva. The devotees can have darsan of the Lord's eyes clearly.

3) Sahasra Kalasa abhishekam
1008 silver kalasas are arranged in front of Sri Bhoga Srinivasa, a silk cord connects this deity with Moola Beram. Abhishekam is performed with chanting of hymns.

Annual Festivals

1) Brahmotsvam
The festival of celestial grandeur celebrated for nine days usually during Navaratri. However it is performed twice during an intercalary, year during Bhadrapada and again during Navaratri. Ankurarpanam, sowing of navadhanya seeds symbolizes the beginning. Next day is celestial flag hoisting (Garuda Dwaja).
Sri Malayappa Swamy flanked by his two consorts, or sometimes alone is taken in procession in well decorated vahanams, such as Sesha, Garuda, Hanumantha, Gaja, Suryaprabha, Chandraprabha and many more, around the four Mada streets. A small wooden chariot known as Brahmaratham always leads the procession, as a symbolic gesture for the presence of Lord Brahma who is said to supervise the festivities.
Decorated horses and elephants follow the vahanas, amidst the chanting of Veda mantra. On the fifth day to commemorate the Lord's incarnation as Mohini, Mohiniavatarotsavam is celebrated. The car festival takes place on the eighth day. On the last day, abhishekam to the Lord and his consorts at the shrine of Sri Varahaswami takes place. The Sudarshana chakram of the Lord gets a bath at Swami Pushkarini, known as Chakrasnanam.

2) Rathasapthami
Celebrated on the sapthami day during Magha month (Jan-Feb). The deity will be taken in procession in Suryaprabha vahana at the time of sunrise, thereafter in six other vahanams one after another. The festival lasts the whole day.

3) Adhyayanotsavam
Conducted for 25 days before and after Vaikunta Ekadasi. The Vedas and Tamil prabandams by Nammalvar are recited.

4) Vasanthotsavam
Spring festival, celebrated for four days during the month of Phalguni. After naivedyam procession is taken out on a silver chariot through four Mada streets.

5) Float festival (Theppotsavam)
Celebrated during Phalguni (March) for five days. Lord Krishna on the firstday, Sri Rama on the second day, and Sri Malayappaswamy with his consorts for the last three days are decorated and taken in procession on a "Teppa" in the Swami Pushkarini.

6) Koil AlwarTirumanjanam
This Seva pertains to suddhi or sacred sanitation. Prior to Brahmotsavam, a mixture of Turmeric, Sandalwood and camphor in paste form with saffron powder is applied to the walls of the sanctum sanctorum, and then washed completely.

7) Asthanams
This festival is held on the following days: Telugu New year's day, last day of Tamil month Ani, Anivara asthanam, on the first day of Karkataka (middle of July) and on Deepavali. After archana Sri Malayappaswamy with his consorts are taken to the golden threshold seated in a silver Bhoopala vahanam. The Lord holds durbar in Tirumamani mandapam. Vishvaksena or Sri Senai Mudaliar, who is the divine commander-in chief of the Lord also participates.

8) Pavitrotsavam
Pavitrotsavam
: is Deformed for four days starting from Sravana suddha dasami, to sanctify and to ward off the evil effects of omissions and commissions in the daily temple ritual.

Down the memory lane

Reminiscence of my first visit to Tirupati, during December 1942, as a young lad accompanied by my beloved parents, grandmother, siblings and dad's trusted attendant Venkatappa still lingers in my mind. This visit brought to me, the first awareness of spiritual angst that led to the development of deep devotion to the Supreme Saviour. During the days of yore, pilgrimage to Tirupati was considered as a life time event and an achievement, with a firm belief that performing Kainkarya to Lord Venkateswara as the ultimate goal in one's life. The rituals before the pilgrimage were elaborate. On Saturday prior to departure, offerings of naivedya 'taligaes1 to Perumal-with 'Dasari', along with his paraphernalia, Garudagumbha, cymbals and long trumpets was a must. Railway was the only mode of transport available then. The journey was tedious and took twelve hours. That too, Madras express was the only train for the onward journey. Then to alight at Katpadi, to board the metregauge passenger to Tirupati east.
We were received at the Tirupati railway station by the temple officials as father was serving the then Government of Mysore as Surgeon to the Dewan of Mysore and were accommodated at the Mysore choultry.
During early forties, Tirupati, was a small, sleepy town with a few shops around Sri Govindaraja swamy temple. Tirupati was known as lower Tirupati and Tirumala as upper Tirupati. Pilgrims were lodged in choultries and for local transportation used jutkas (horse drawn carriage). Stay at lower Tirupati invariably lasted for a couple of days.
After visit and worship at temples of Govindarajapatnam, Tiruchanur and Kapileswara tirtham, our ascent to the holy upper Tirupati began on the third day. First visited Sri Pada mandapam at foothills to pay obeisance to the holy feet of the Lord, then the flight of steps or Sopana margam. The youngsters preferred climbing, whereas the older members preceded us in different types of dholies, such as Double dholy, burkha dholi and tarn jans.
The dholy bearers were adept in rapid ascent with heavy loads. The steps of sopana margam wind up and down, with steep and slippery ascents and descents of seven hills. Climbing the steep ascent upto the lofty Galigopuram was extremely arduous. The pilgrim pathway was clustered with mendicants and monkeys, the latter to a menacing and frightening extent. Then, the hills were densely afforested, full of greenery and the landscape was fascinating.
After crossing the Galigopuram, we were fortunate to witness the laying of the first ghat road. Blasting and digging were in brisk progress, hundreds of workers toiling incessantly. Our joy knew no bounds when we reached the plateau at the top. There were no cottages or any tall buildings on the hills then. Only a few small buildings were discernible around the mada streets. We were lodged at the Mysore choultry behind the temple. As there was no electricity, petromax lights were used during nights.
Then, pilgrims could enter the sacred shrine through the Mahadwaram directly like the present day WIP. There were no queues and queue complexes were unknown. The number of pilgrims were very much limited. We attended the early morning puja, Abhishekam and Ekantha seva at night. I distinctly remember priests in the sanctum exhorting us, particularly grandmother, to specially view and worship the holy feet of the Supreme Lord.
Lastly, I record the occurrence of a miraculous incident. Soon after our descent and return from the pilgrimage, our beloved mother who was hale and hearty, suddenly developed massive swellings of her legs. Investigations by dad, a doctor, revealed a serious heart ailment along with very high blood pressure, both these conditions were undetected earlier.
Before the pilgrimage to Tirupati another unexpected episode happened. Parents being ardent votaries of Lord Venkateswara, were deeply plunged in devotion and service to the Lord, had set up and scrupulously maintained a hundi for the Lord, since their wedding in 1917. By forties this hundi was full with several hundreds of Victorian one Rupee silver coins. Unfortunately, the Victorian coins were not legial tender at the time of our pilgrimage in 1942. In good faith.the Victorian coins were replaced with an equal number of King George VI coins (legal tender during 1942).
Perturbed by the sudden and serious developemtns, it was decided to replace the entire amount of withdrawn Victorian coins back into the handi, also arrangements made to redeem them into the Lord's hundi at upper Tirupati (Tirumala).

From darkness of despair to bliss of bright light and hope

Astonishingly, mother recuperated and resumed her usual daily chore with the then available medication. She survived for more than a decade after this incident and was active till her sad demise in early 1955.
Mysterious are the ways of the divine Grace, one has to realize. That there is a Supreme Saviour who shapes and decides our destiny, the divine dispensation of life, birth and death.

Balaji Namam