A reader has requested me to give some information on Tirupati and Lord Venkateswara or shall we call Him Balaji as most devotees lovingly call Him?
Let me start by giving you an interesting account on Tirumala Hills where Tirupati is situated.
I myself have walked up the hills, to Tirupati twice. It took me many hours but I enjoyed every minute of the climb. As I stood at the foot of the hill I wondered how I would do it. I requested the priest of a temple to accompany me. He courteously carried my water bottle for me. Soon a young boy joined me who I thought was a relative of the priest. (He was not, as I learned much later) They both were wonderful and I thought to myself, that I had a Guru (priest) and Krishna with me, to guide me. I asked the priest his name. He told me. I enquired of him, how I should contact him if I needed him to guide me again. He said: “Ask for me in the temple, everyone knows me” When I went next, to make my climb through the hills, I asked for the priest. No one knew who I was talking about!
Tirupati is 90 miles away from Madras (Chennai). How to describe to you its beauty? Let the hills narrate you their own story. You see Balaji with the eyes of your soul and watch your dreams come true. So shall we start?
A CONCISE ACCOUNT COMPILED FROM BRAHMANDA, VARAHA, VAMANA AND PADHMA PURANAS
Once the Lord asked Sage Narada for a suitable place on Earth where He could abide during the difficult period of kaliyuga (The Iron Age, when people of Earth would forget Spiritual values) Sage Narada suggested a place, south of Bharat (India), by the banks of River Svarnamukhi. The Lord was pleased. Since the Lord was about to settle on Earth for the period that Kalyuga was to last, a part of Heaven was to be brought down. Hence Adhisesha decided to take the form of one of the 7 hills of Tirumala.
The White Boar Incarnation of the Lord had saved the Earth from the clutches of the demon Hiranyaaksha. Mother Earth was pleased with Her Lord and begged Him to live with Her. The Lord then asked Garuda, to bring down from Heaven a beautiful Hill. This Hill is called Garuraadri. It is believed that the Lord Varaha lives upon Tirumala upon the Western bank of Swami Pushkaarini till today. It is called Varaaha Pushkaarini.
There was a demon called Vrishabaasura, who had a very strange way of doing penance. He would offer his head along with a flower to the Lord. By God’s Grace the severed head would join the body after every day’s ritual. When Vrishabha died he requested the Lord that a hill be called by his name in remembrance of the fact that he had lived and attained salvation on that hill. The Lord granted his wish and the hill is known as Vrishabaadri.
Kesari was an Asura King. He did penance for many years to obtain a son who would be immortal. Lord Shiva appeared before him, and said: “You are not fortunate enough to have an immortal son, but your wish will be fulfilled through your daughter“. Kesari’s daughter Anjani did penance for many years and was blessed with Hanuman as a son. Hanuman is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Hanuman received the boon of immortality from Mother Mahalakshmi Herself. Brahma named the hill after Anjani as Anjanaadri.
The hill Seshaadri is the formation of Adhisesha himself. Adhisesha is the cobra on which Lord Vishnu reclines. There was an ego tussle for supremacy by Adhisesha and ‘Vayu’ (Wind). Vayu felt that he was as omnipresent as the Lord. As they both fought, Narada played some melodious notes. Adhisesha raised one of his hoods. Vayu seized the opportunity, and blew with such a force that Adhisesha fell like a meteor upon the earth. Now Vayu was not elated about his victory. He was in fact remorseful as he had deprived the Lord of His couch. Vayu asked Adhisesha to forgive him and to return to Heaven. The latter refused saying that whatever transpires is the will of the Lord. The Lord agreed. He said that Adhisesha would take the form of a hill, which would be called Sheshaachala or Sheshaadri, in a place where He (The Lord) was to reside till the end of the Age of kali (Kalyug).
The hill Venkatadri got its name form ‘Ven’ which in Sanskrit means ‘sin’. And ‘Kata’ which means that which burns. So Venkatadri means a place which will burn all sins. Madhava, a sinner suffering from leprosy was cured as he joined pilgrims going to Tirumala on a pilgrimage.
The pilgrims were singing ‘Govinda Govinda!’ as they moved on their way. These words were like magic to Madhava’s soul. He felt a burning sensation and he realised that the dreaded disease had left him.
Brahma, the Creator appeared before Madhava and said: “You are the cause for the people to know that whoever steps upon this hill with devotion, it will burn away all sins and imperfections! henceforth this hill will be called Venkataadri in your honour!“
This hill is called Narayanaadri in honour of Narayanarishi.
Many names were given to these hills by various devotees. Thus it may be called ‘Gnanaadri’ because it gives divine knowledge or/and Chitaamani because it fulfills devotees’ desires.
Next week I shall tell you about how the Lord came to live upon Tirumala Hills. In the meantime may Lord Venkateswara fulfill your fondest desires and call you to visit Him soon…to Tirupati, I mean!