Saturday, January 15, 2011
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, a famous Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Venkateswara located in the hill town Tirumala, near Tirupati
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is a famous Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Venkateswara located in the hill town Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located 580 kilometres (360 mi) south of state capital, Hyderabad , about 200 kilometers from Bangalore and 157 kilometres (98 mi) north west of Chennai. The temple is situated on Venkatadri, one of the seven hills of Tirumala, and hence is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills . The presiding deity of the temple, Lord Venkateswara, is also known by other names - Balaji, Vishnu, Govinda and Srinivasa.
The temple is reportedly the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (3 to 4 crore people annually on an average), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most visited holy place in the world.
According to legend, the temple has a murti (deity) of Lord Venkateswara, believed to have resided there for the entire Kali Yuga. In Sri Vaishnava tradition, the temple is considered one of the 108 Divya Desams.
Thondaiman, ruler of the Thondaimandalam (present day Kanchipuram) is believed to have first built the temple after visualizing Lord Vishnu in a dream. "Tiru" or "Thiru" in Tamil language means "Shree" or Shri".The original name of Tirupati was "Thiruvengadam" in Tamil language . The inscriptions mentioned in the stones of the temple are of Telugu and Tamil letters.
Discovery of the Venkateswara deity is described as an act of divine providence: There was a huge anthill at Tirupati, and one day a local farmer heard a voice from the heavens asking him to feed the ants. By chance the local king heard the voice and began supplying milk for the ants himself. His compassion resulted in the liquid uncovering the magnificent idol of Venkateswara hidden within the anthill.
Srivaishnavite tradition opines that the Rig Veda verse X.155.1 makes an indirect reference to the temple. One such translation goes as:
“ The person, devoid of wealth and vision, is implored to go to the hill which burns up all evil (vikata for Venkata) and drives away all obstacles to peace and prosperity. The call of the rishi Sirimbitha has obviously not gone in vain. ”
Thondaiman, ruler of Thondaimandalam in the ancient Tamil nadu (present day Kanchipuram and the sourroundings), is believed to have first built the temple after visualizing Lord Vishnu in his dream. He built the Gopuram and the Prakhara, and arranged for regular prayers to be conducted in the temple. Later on, the Chola dynasty vastly improved the temple and gave rich endowments. To date, the various Tamil Grantha scripts are still seen inscribed upon the temple prakara walls. The Sangam literature of Tamil such as that of Silapadikaram and Satanar Manimekalai, dated between 500BC and 300AD, mentions Thiruvengadam (now named Tirupati) by the appellation "Nediyon Kunram" as the northernmost frontier of the Tamil kingdoms. In fact, a fairly detailed description of the deity is given in lines 41 to 51 of Book 11 of the Silapadikaram. Again, the appellation "Nediyon" for the deity occurs in the following verses:
“ High on Vengadam's towering crest, with flowing streams in flood,
Betwixt the effulgent glory, of shining Sun and Moon,
Like unto a blue cloud in lightning dresst In all the brilliance of rainbow dight, The Red-eyed great One, majestic stands
In dress of flowery brilliance with garland bright,
One lotus hand with fearsome disc adorned, and milk white conch (the other held).”
Puranic literature which was composed roughly around the post-Mauryan and early-Gupta era also mentions Tirupati as the Aadhi Varaha Kshetra. The Puranas associate the site with Lord Varaha, a Dashavatara of Lord Vishnu. The Varaha shrine holds great importance in Tirupati and is said to be older than the main sanctum of Venkateswara. There is also the Ranga Mandapam, which is to the left side of the temple as one enters. This is where the main deity, Sri Ranganatha Swamy of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Trichy), was protected for a period of almost 60 years during attacks by Malik Kafur in the 14th century.
Lord Kubera credited money to the GOD Venkateshwara (a form of the god Vishnu) for his marriage with Padmavati. In remembrance of this, the reason devotees go to Tirupati to donate money in Venkateshwara's Hundi ("Donation pot"), is so that he can pay it back to Kubera.
It was under the regime of the Vijayanagara emperors that the temple attained the majority of its current wealth and size, with the donation diamonds and gold. The coronation ceremonies of the emperors were also held at Tirupati. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels, enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. The Maratha general Raghoji Bhonsle visited the temple and set up a permanent administration for the conduct of worship in the temple. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefactions were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
In 1843, with the coming of the East-India Company, the administration of the Sri Venkateswara Temple and a number of shrines was entrusted to Seva Dossji of the Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala as Vicaranakarta for nearly a century until 1932, when Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) was established as a result of the TTD Act, 1932.
TTD is operated by a Board of Trustees and has increased in size through adoption of various Acts from five (1951) to fifteen (1987). The daily operation and management of TTD is the responsibility of an Executive Officer (EO) who is appointed by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
The temple attracts approximately 75,000 pilgrims every day. The popularity of the temple can be judged by its annual budget, estimated at Rs 10 billion in 2008, mostly from donations. Devotees give donations which runs into the millions. TTD, the organisation running the welfare of the temple, runs various charitable trusts whose funds are derived from the budget and donations from the devotees. and also this was built in the pandya dynasty.
Venkateshwara's abode is in the Venkatadri hills near Tirupathi. Thus, the main temple of Venkateshwara is the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Tirumala temple is believed to be the richest temple in the world. The temple is located in Andhra Pradesh (southern India) in Chittoor district. It is around 500 km (310 mi) from Hyderabad , 150 km (93 mi) away from Chennai and 250 km (160 mi) away from Bangalore.
The Tirumala Hill is 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level, and is about 10.33 square miles (27 km2) in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven hoods of Adisesha, thus earning the name, Seshachalam. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri (Venkata Hill), and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini. The temple complex comprises a smaller traditional temple building along with a number of modern queue and pilgrim lodging sites. There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord in Tirumala.
The varied names ascribed to the main deity are Balaji, Srinivasa, Venkateswara and Venkatachalapathy. The goddess Sri or Lakshmi (Vishnu's consort) resides on the chest of Venkateswara, and thus he is also known by the epithet Srinivasa (the one in whom Sri resides). Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Padmavathi reside on his either chests. The deity is considered the Kali yuga varada, that is 'the boon-granting Lord of Kali yuga' (the fourth and final age of the Hindu cycle of ages). The temple is held in particular reverence by the Vaishnava sect of southern India, known as the Sri Vaishnava.
For worshippers, the deity Venkateswara symbolises goodness. When people travel to Tirupati, they chant "Yedu Kondala Vada Venkataramana Govinda Govindaa" (in Telugu).
With His conch, He creates the cosmic sound from which the creation has manifested. And with His disc, He destroys ignorance and ego in the beings, thus liberating them. Lord Venkateswara is believed by followers to be a very merciful deity form of Vishnu, being the fulfilled of every wish made to him by the devotees.
The Holy mantra chanted is Om Namo Venkateshaya. "The Venkateswara Suprabhatam", the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is written by Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan of Kanchipuram and sung by famous singer M.S.subbulakshmi. Several composers composed beautiful kirtanas about Lord Venkateswara, the most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya, who composed mostly in Telugu. Annamacharya or Annamayya is a legendary devotee of Lord Venkateswara and composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.