SAPTHAGIRI - October 2002
Previous Contents  

SRIVARI BRAHMOTSAVAM

7-10-2002 – 15-10-2002

Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala is famous for festivals like daily Kalyanotsavam and annual Brahrnotsavam from the earliest times to the present day. Brahmotsavam is connected with the divine and miraculous incident, i.e. Avatara of Sri Maha Vishnu on Tirumala as Srinivasa/Venkateswara. At the beginning of the Kaliyuga, Sri Maha Vishnu had descended on Venkatadri on the day of Sravana nakshatram in the solar month of Kanya to grace and grant the prayers of the devotees. As the Lord of the mountain Venkat He is called/Venkatesa or Venkateswara. As Sridevi is on his right chest he is known as Srinivasa. And Sravana nakshatram considered the birth star (Avatara nakshatra) of Sri Venkateswara.

To commemorate the divine incident, Brahma, the creator celebrated a Mohotsavam at Tirumala beginning from Dhvaja-arohanam on the day of chitta nakshatra and ending with Avabrutham on the day of Sravanam and Pushpayagam. Brahma celebrated the mahotsava of Srinivasa in Kanyamasa according to Vedic rites, hence the utsavam is known as `Brahmotsavam'.

One of the epithets of the ashtottara sata namavali or Sri Venkateswara reads as' om Brahma kluptotsavaya Sri Venkesaya namah' (49). It indicates the Sri Venkateswara is pleased much by the mahotsavam celebrated for Him by Brahma. This confirms the inauguration of this festival by Brahma, the creator. To signify the special nature of Brahmotsavam, a well decorated, small and empty chariot called `Brahma ratham' leads every vahanam procession of Sri Malayappa swami, the utsavamurti of Sri Venkateswwara. This indicates even today the festival is conducted under the guidance and supervision of Brahma. Thus this festival has a significant name, i.e., Brahmotsavam.

Brahmotsavam is the greatest sacrifice (ut-sava) due to the concluding item of the festival i.e. Avabrutha snanam (sacred bath). Brahmotsavam is an obligatory festival which is enjoined by the sastras and Agamas to be celebrated at specified times. Non-observance of the festival is considered a serious omission. It can be restored only by special purificatory rites.

Generally, annual Brahmotsavam is being conducted at Tirumala only in the month of Kanya as per soura mana or Asvayuja as per chandra mana as initiated, by Brahmadeva. And an additional festival once in three years is celebrated when there is an adhika masa or intercalary month in the year as per lunar calendar. Andhras follow luni-solar calendar which adjusts the lunar months to the solar year by the system of intercalary month. The discrepancy between the lunar year (354 days) and the solar year (365 days) is resolved by intercalation of an extra month (adhika masa) for every 30 months. A lunar month in which surya-sankramanam does not occur is known as adhika masa. The additional Brahmotsavam at Tirumala which coincides with {\it sarannavaratri} (Dasara) festival days is known as Navaratri Brahmotsavam. In this festival there is no Dhvaja-arohanam ceremony in the first day and Dhvaja-avarohanam in the last day, and silver chariot is used instead of wooden chariot during Rathotsavam. The latter practice commenced with the advent of Saluva Narasimha and the Vijayanagara kings to give satisfaction to those who observe the Saura-chandra mana Panchangam.

As per inscriptions prior to 966 A.D. only one Brahmotsavam in Kanya masa was conducted at Tirumala. In 966 A.D., the Pallava Queen Samavai installed a silver image cast in the likeness of Sri Venkateswara (Mula murthy) known as `Bhoga-Srinivasa or Manavalapperumal' and consecrated in Tirumala temple on Friday with Sravana nakshatram, Jyestha bahula Tadiya of akshaya year i.e. June 8, 966 A.D. This Kautuka beram called Bhoga Srinivas was actually used as utsava murti for the Brahmotsavam and was taken out in street processions also on all the nine days in 10th century AD. There was no utsava beram then. Malayappa Swami-present Utsavamurti-comes to light only about 1339 A.D. She also instituted a Brahmotsavam during the mukkoti dvadasi period in Dhanur masam (Margali). Thus two Brahmotsavams, one in Kanya and another in Dhanur masa i.e. in Tamil months of Purattasi and Margali have been celebrated from the 10th century A.D.

Panguni Brahmotsavam was instituted by Viranarasinga Yadavaraya in the year 1230 AD. Chittrai Brahmotsavam was instituted by Meludaiyar, one of the accountants of Tirumala Temple in 1250 AD. Adi Brahmotsavam was started by Tiruvenkatanatha Yadavaraya in 1300 AD. Bukkaraya Maharaya of Vijayanagaram instituted Kartiki Brahmotsavam in 1350 AD. Harihara II of Vijayanagaram Jeer. To meet the expenses of the festival Harihara endowed Pungodu village to the temple. Alpisi Brahrnotsavam was instituted by Devaraya Maharaya in 1429 A.D. Thai Brahmotsavam was initiated by Srikrishnadevaraya of Vijayanagaram in the year 1516 A.D. The Tiruninra -ur-Udiyar -Tirumala temple accountants-initiated Avani Brahmotsavam in 1530 AD. Aani Brahmotsavam Which takes place for thirteen days including Ankurarpanam and Pushpayagam was initiated by Tallapaka peda Tirumalacharyulu, son of Annamacharyulu in the year 1539 AD. through the endowment of 2000 varahas to the Srivari Bhandaram. One more Brahmotsavam was instituted by Ramaraja Chinna Timmaraja in the same month of Aani in the year 1542 A.D. An inscription dated July 8, 1551 gives a list of Brahmotsavams current in the temple at that time. The same inscription narrates that Rayasam Venkatadri, a chieftain, arranged special food offerings to Malayappa swami in all Brahmotsavams celebrated in the year. Thus in 16th century A.D. there were as many as eleven Brahmotsavams distributed among the ten months of the year. But later on all the other festivals were stopped and one Brahmotsavam in the month of Kanya was celebrated at Tirumala Temple.

The Brahmotsavam of this year will be celebrated for nine days from October 7 to 15, 2002. The important days of the festival are Dhvaja-arohanam cermony in the evening of October 7, Garuda seva in the night of October 11, Suvarnaratha ranga dolotsavam or golden chariot in the evening of October 12, Rathotsavam in the morning of October 14, and Chakrasnanam in the morning and Dhvaja-avarohanam in the night of October 15, 2002.

Pada kavita pitamaha, Tallapaka Annamacharya, (1408-1503) court poet and musician of Sri Venkateswara rose to a legend by his vast samkirtana literature and prodigious devotion. He gave a vivid description of various vahanams used in the processions of Brahmotsavam celebrated at Tirumala in the 15th century A.D. In a samkirtana which reads as "Tiruvidhula merasi devadevudu, garimala minchina singaramula todanu" (13-192). Annamayya describes that gorgeously bejewelled Lord Venkateswara passed through the four mada streets with His consorts and on various vahanams. On the first day the Lord Venkateswara was carried in a Tirudandelu (pallaki) .On the second day He was conveyed on sesha vahanam. Muthyala pandiri (canopy of pearls) was the vahanam on the third day. On the fourth day puvvu govila (flowering shrub) was the vahanam. On the fifth day Malayappa swami (utsavamurti of Sri Venkateswara) adorned His favourite vahanam-Garuda. On the sixth day the Lord was mounted on an elephant. The brilliant-hued surya was the vahanam of the seventh day. On the eighth day morning Lord Venkateswara went on procession on beautifully decorated Ratham and in the night the Lord rode on the Horse. On the ninth day He went on golden palanquin. On the tenth day accompanied by Alamelmanga He was taken in procession in pendli-pallaki.

Sresthaluri Venkatarya, a Telugu poet of the early 17th century and a contemporary ofTenali Ramakrishnakavi wrote a dvipada kavya entitled 'Srinivasa vilasa sevadhi' which describes Sri Venkateswara mahatmyam. He explained the significance of various vahanams used in processions of Brahmotsavam as follows:- (ibid 6-1101 -1134 lines)

1) Sesha vahanam for the sake of Bhaktas, 2) Hamsa vahanam to indicate Lord's esoteric instruction to Brahma whose vahanam is also a Hamsa, 3) Simha vahanam showing his destruction of Hiranya kasipa, father of Prahlada, 4) Pushpaka vahanam representing that Venkateswara and Padmavati (mahisuta) travelled in to the spot, 5) Garuda vahnam to denote the episode of Gajendra moksha, 6) Hanumanta vahanam indicating the bhakti of Hanuman who carried the Lord on his shoulders in Rama Ravana yuddha; 7) Gaja vahanam to denote His royalty riding on an elephant called Satrunjaya and ruled over Ayodhya as Sri Rama, 8) Surya prabha vahanam to show his residence in the middle of the orb of the sun, the eye of the world; 9) Ratha vahanam to show Lord's victorious charioteering to Arjuna in the Mahabharata war, 10) Asva vahanam foreshadowing his intended destruction of Mlecchas (wicked people) in the Kaliyuga, and II ) Sibika (pallaki) vahanam indicating Sri Venkateswara's determination to protect His devotees.

Preparation for Brahmotsavam starts with a suddhi Karyakramam on the preceding Tuesday. The garbha gruha and other shrines are cleaned with a paste of sandal wood, camphor, saffron and other spices, a ritual known as kovil alwar Thirumanjanam. The day prior to Dhvaja-arobanam Vishvakesena, Vishnu's commander, in the company of Ananta, Garuda and Sudarsana, was taken to the Vasanta mandapam, wherein a little quantity of earth was collected with Bhusuktam etc, mantras and brought on an elephant to the temple and with it the Ankurarpana rite was done by sowing navadhanya seeds for germination in decorated palikas (earthen plates). In this procession Vishvaksena inspects the correctness of all the arrangements made for the festival. After the procession Vishvaksena is honoured by an Asthanam in Tirumala-raya mandapam. Then he goes to Ankurarpana mandapam with Ananta, Garuda and Sudarsana and they stay there during Brahmotsavam period.

The Brahmosavam actually commences on the next day after ankurarpanam with the Dwaja-rohanam ceremony. The Tamil devotees called the Brahmotsavam 'Tirukkodi Tirunal' signifying the Dhvaja-arohanam event. For this purpose Sri Malayappa swamy, the utsava murti of Sri Venkateswara and His consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, are brought in a golden pallaki beautifully decorated with ornaments and garlands, to the Tirumalaraya mandapam. At the appointed muhurtam with the chanting of Vedic mantras and mangala vadyas, the Garuda flag is hoisted on the Dhvaja-stambham. After this event, Asta dikpalakas (the deities of the eight cardinal points) are invoked and enjoined to see that the utsavam is conducted propertly. Thus, the Brahmotsavam goes on for nine days with grand processions on various vahanams both in day and night. Each Vahanam has a reference to memorable events in puranas and connected with avataras of Vishnu. They are sixteen in number.

On' the first night, the Lord and His consorts were taken in procession round the temple on pedda sesha vahanam (the big seven-hooded serpent). On the morning of the second day the Lord alone went in a procession on Chinnasesha vahanam (five hooded serpent) ,to show His association with Adisesha. It is mentioned as 'Bala sesha vahanam' in an article published in the Asiatic journal , Calcutta, May-August, 1831 A.D., Probably, this is the first article on Tirumala Temple published in an English journal. On the second night, the Lord decorated as ,veena-pani was taken in procession on Hamsa vahanam. Simha and Mutyala pandiri or a pavilion decorated with springs of pearls form the processional vahanams of the Third day of the festival. On the fourth day morning the Lord with His consorts went in procession on kalpa-vrksha (mythical tree) vahanam which is capable of giving whatever is desired. It shows the Lord's determination to save and bless the devotees. On the night of the fourth day Sri Venkateswara and His consorts go in a procession on an attractive gold-covered vimanam known as Sarva bhupala vahanam'. Here the Lord appears as the ruler of the universe. This vahanam is very pleasant and is about seven feet high, fully covered over with gold sheets. Thus the night procession of this vahanam which dazzles in numerous brilliant lights with richly decorated deities seated in the same, simply baffles the devotees.

The fifth day is the most important day of Brahmotsavam. In the morning Sri Malayappa swami is decorated as a lady-Mohini-who captivated the hearts of Rakshasas in distributing event of the divine amrutha. This Mohini wears a gold brocade as a saree and costly harams and a diamond kiritam with stone-set chandra and surya jewels and karna patras and above all She wears a diamond bulaki on her nose. Mohini wears two golden lotus blooms sprout out from Her two rear hands in the place of the usual sankha and chakra. She is taken in procession along with Sri Krishna in an ivory pallaki. This is the only occasion when the utsavamurti is given a different posture. On this day Sri Malayappa swami is decorated as a seated image. His right hand which is in varada pose is changed to Abhaya mudra with which she blesses all devotees. The Mohini alankaram captivates the hearts of the devotees. The fifth day night utsavam-Garuda seva-is the highlight of the Brahmotsavam. In this utsavam Malayappa swami alone is taken in procession on the golden Garuda vahanam. The consorts of the lord are not seated by His side on the Garuda. On this sacred night, the utsava murti of Lord Venkateswara arrives majestically, adorned with rare jewels like Lakshmi-hara, makara-kanthi and sahastra nama haram etc of Moola murti on his most favourite vahana, the Garuda. On behalf of the government of Andhra Pradesh, the chief minister personally presents special silk clothes to Sri Venkateswara in the evening of Garuda seva. Special garlands adorned and abandoned by Godadevi, befitting the occasion of Garudotsavam of Sri Venkateswara, are sent by the officials of Godadevi temple at Srivilli puttur, Tamilnadu. Special and new umbrellas for this occasion are brought every year all the way from Chennai to Tirumala on foot and offered to Sri Venkateswara for Garuda seva by pious devotees of Chennai; The darsan of the Lord Venkateswara on the Garuda vahanam is enthralling and the fervent devotion that surges within one self at this sight has to be enjoyed and experienced.

On the sixth day morning, the utsavamurti goes on a procession on Hanumantha vahanam. The decorations are simple and yet impressive. In the afternoon, Sri Malayappa swami and His consorts proceed to the vasanta mandapam in west mada street. There He enjoys vasantham a refreshing abhishekam-with His consorts. After an Asthanam He returns to the temple. In the evening the utsava murti of Sri Venkateswara along with Sridevi and Bhudevi were taken in procession round the four mada streets of TirumaJa on a gracefully decorated golden chariot. This procession of the golden chariot which dazzles in the evening golden sun rays, simply baffles the devotees. That night the Lord's procession is on Gaja (elephant) vahanam.

On the seventh morning, the Lord goes in procession on surya prabha vahanam to signify that He resides in the orb of the sun. Sri Malayappa swami decked with vajra kavacham and a stone-set kiritam on head, seated in the centre of the golden arc of the sun is worth seeing. The devotees remember the prayer "Namah Savithre Jagadeka Chakshushe. .." (Pranams to Narayana who resides in the orb of the sun and is the eye of the world). The devotees rejoice to see the Lord on Chandra Prabha vahanam on the night of seventh day.

Rathotsavam takes place on the early morning of the eighth day. It attracts largest crowds during Brahmotsavam. Sri Malayappa swami and His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi were taken in procession with floral wreaths, flags and festoons, on a richly decorated wooden chariot round the temple. The wooden chariot is pulled on through the four streets of Tirumala by the devotees with fervour. The lord remains in the chariot till the evening giving darsan to the numerous devotees. That night the Lord's procession is on Asva (horse) vahana.

On the last day of Brahmotsavam combined with sravana nakshatram the utsava murti and his consorts go around the temple in a gaily decorated pallaki. After churnabhishekam the Lord with His consorts again goes on a procession to Sri Varahaswami temple, on the west bank of Swami Pushkarini. There Sri Malayappa swami and Sridevi and Bhudevi enjoy a refreshing abhishekam. Then the Sudarsana chakram of the Lord gets a bath in the sacred waters of Swami pushkarini which is known as 'Avabrutham' or 'chakra snamam' to mark the conclusion of Brahmotsavam. At the same time the devotees of the Lord also plunge into pushkarini. A bath in this occasion in Swami pushkarini is considered to be very holy and merit giving. Ardent devotees do not take food till this function is over. Then the Utsavamurtis return to the temple. The 'Sarva darsanam' of the Mula virat for this day commences only after Avabrutham event and the return of Utsavamurtis to the temple. On the night of the ninth day, Sri Malayappa swami, Sridevi and Bhudevi go on a procession around the temple in a pallaki. The procession returns to the Dhvaja stambham in the temple. Puja and naivedyam are offered to Garuda as on the first day in the presence of the Lord and then the Garuda dhvajam is brought down. With this dhvaja-avarohanam function, Brahmotsavam comes to an end.

In these festival days utsavamurti Sri Malayappaswami alone is taken in procession on Chinnasesha, Hamsa, Simha, Garuda, Hanuman, Gaja, Suryaprabha, Chandra prabha, Asva vahanams and pallaki as Mohini. His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi are not seated by his side on above vahanams. Sri Malayappawami along with Sridevi and Bhudevi were taken in procession round the four mada streets of Tirumala on pedda sesha, Mutyala pandiri, Kalpavaksha, sarvabhupala, suvarna Ratha, daru Ratha and Tirucchi vahanams.

Brahmotsavam of Sri Venkateswara is conducted according to Vaikhanasa Agama. As a part of the festival ritualistic practices of Homa and Havana are conducted every day in Yagasala. Lord Venkateswara has usual paraphernalia during all processions of this fetival such as chhatra, chamara, bulls, horses and elephants,mangala vadyas, bhajans, kolatams and recital of Vedas and divya Prabandhas. Uyyala seva is performed every evening in unjal mandapam outside the temple. Every day after procession Sri Malayappa swami with His consorts is taken away into the temple and installed in Ranganayakula Mandapam and an Asthanam is conducted in which special naivedyam and haratis are offered.

The present day procedure of Brahmotsavam is in concurrence with the system originated by Brahmadeva. He performed the 'Pushpayagam' on tenth day by placing various kinds of flowers covering Lord's body from foot to head with chanting Veda mantras and praising His exaltation. It ceased to be in vogue long ago. It was renewed in 1980 but not on the specified day.

Brahmotsavam thus conducted at TirumaJa is indeed a unique festival. The celebration of Brahmotsavam is stated to bring peace, prosperity, rain, health, progress and strength to the people and to the country. After attending Brahmotsavam the devotees leave Tirumala with a mute appeal to Sri Venkateswara--

    "0 Lord, be not satisfied with this abode on the hill,
    Make an abode in the cave of my heart"
    .

Dr. K.V. Raghavacharya


IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS

TIRUMALA
P.B.X. 08574-77777
Executive Officer 77261
Joint Executive Officer 77218
Deputy E.O. (Temple) 77199
Vigilance 77395
Arjitha Sevas 79277
Accommodation 77777
Extn. 3626
Aswani Hospital 77477,77375
Srivari Seva 79693
Dial you E.O. 77261
(Every Friday 8-30 - 9 a.m.)

TIRUPATI
P.B.X. 08574-31777
Executive Officer 30977
Chief Security Officer 31702
Chief Engineer 30660
Public Relations Officer 32813
Extn. 31777 4271
Annamacharya Project 87106
D.P.P. 30893
Annadanam 30004
Vanabhivriddhi Scheme 30138
BIRRD 87484
General Fax 30358

Website : WWW.tirumala.org & WWW.tirupati.org
Email : Webmaster @ tirumala.org

Previous Contents  

Online version of Sapthagiri designed and maintained by Chakkilam Infotech Ltd., Hyderabad, India.