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.
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
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.
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.
kaane vikate girim gachacha sadaane sirimbithasya sathvabhihi tebhishtvachatayamasi'
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".
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.
picturesque seven hills hold many wonders|
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
pade parama ithyuditaprasamsau
yau madhva utsa iti bhogyatayapy upattau
ta eti tava panitala-pradistau
srivenkatesa caranau saranam prapadye"
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
The benedictory hymn (Sri Venkatesa mangalasasanam) states "prayah
svacaranau pumsam, saranyatvena panina, krpaya disate srimad venkatesaya mangalam",
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.
complimentary idols within the garbha griha|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chakrathalwar : This deity always precedes the utsava murthi in processions.
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.
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.
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
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).
Main Shrine of Lord Venkateswara|
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Cleaning and removal of the previous nights' decoration.
The flowers removed are deposited in the step-well situated in the Sampangi pradakshanam.
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.
A daily durbar of Sri Koluvu Srinivasa. The previous day's
revenue and almanac are read before the deity, inside the Bangaru vakili. (Panchanga
Recitation of one thousand names of the Lord, "Srinivasa
sahasranama archana". This is an arjita seva.
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.
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.
Dharma darsanam: or sarva darsanam
Dharma darsanam: or sarva darsanam,
pilgrims are allowed for darsan of the Lord at the specified timings during the
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.
sarvadarsana contnues uninterruptedly, arjita sevas such as Kalyanotsvam, arjita
Brahmotsava, vahana sevas and unjal seva will be in progress in other mandapams.
Pavalimpu seva and Ardhajama puja
This is performed before the
Lord is put to bed. Sweets are offered to the Lord.
After sealing the hundi, suddhi is done. Sripada chandana,
sweets, milk and fruits are kept inside the sanctum. Priests enter and close the
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.
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.
Huge quantities of cooked rice and condiments are heaped
upon the floor of Tirumamani mandapam. The offerings are made to Sri Bhoga Srinivasa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conducted for 25 days before and after Vaikunta
Ekadasi. The Vedas and Tamil prabandams by Nammalvar are recited.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
darkness of despair to bliss of bright light and hope|
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.