A Little tour of Tirupati and the temples and history of the place Tirupati Yatra
Sri Venkata-ksetra Compiled by Stephen Knapp ( Sri Nandanandana dasa )
Posted by: Srinandan@aol.com Edited and Republished for WORD.COM for
Rodpush – ISKCON at <https://rodpush.wordpress.com >
by bhakta Roger Rodpush of Brisbane, Australia.
Lord Sri Venkateswara Balaji at Tirumala, Tirupati
Tirupati is the place of Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy, who is the all-pervading Lord of the Universe also known as the Lord of the Seven Hills. Tirupati is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage where Lord is worshiped in the mood of awe and reverence. Tirupati is the home to the worlds richest temple, where thousands of pilgrims visit daily to take darshan of Sri Venkateswara Swamy, also popularly known as Balaji. The magnificent temple of Lord Venkateswara Swamy is located on the 7th peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of Tirumala. It is by the Lords presidency over Venkatachala, that He has received the appellation, Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill).
‘Vena’ means sins, and ‘kata’ means to remove, to wash away, or to cut. ‘Venkat’, means he who cuts away, or removes all sins. ‘Venkateswara’ means that Lord, who removes all sins from the hearts of His devotees. It is these sinful propensities that stand between us and our ecstatic relationship with the Supreme Lord. When we approach the Supreme Lord, our prayers must be, “Venkateswara, O Lord, please cleanse away our propensity to enjoy separate from You, from within our heart. Remove this tendency for sense gratification and egoism that causes all these sins. And let me be Your unmotivated servant.” Lord is eager to give us, eternal wealth of the spiritual world. He is eager to give us pure bhakti. That treasure will bring about real happiness in our life.
This ancient and sacred temple is mentioned in the Rig Veda and Asthadasa Puranas, most notably the Varaha Purana and Bhavishyottara Purana, which describe Sri Venkateswara as a great bestower of boons. Lord Venkateswara resides in His sanctum sanctorum, which is situated in the main temple of an extensive complex at Tirumala. He is also known here as Balaji, Srinivasa, and Venkatachalapathy.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited Tirupati during His South India tour in 1510 as stated in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Madha-lila 1.107: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Tirupati and Tirumala, where He saw a four-handed Deity. Then He proceeded toward Venkata Hill. Purport: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has actually described the chronological order of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s visit. The Tirupati temple is sometimes called Tirupatura. It is a famous holy place of pilgrimage. In pursuance of His name, Venkatesvara, the four-handed Lord Visnu, the Deity of Balaji, with His potencies named Sri and Bhu, is located on Venkata Hill, about 8 miles from Tirupati. This Venkatesvara Deity is in the form of Lord Visnu, and the place where He is situated is known as Venkata-ksetra. There are many temples in southern India, but this Balaji temple is especially opulent. A great fair is held there in the month of Asvina (Sep-Oct). Nimna-tirupati is located in the valley of Venkata Hill. There are several temples there also, among which are those of Govindaraja and Lord Ramacandra.
In 1974 the government of Andhra Pradesh invited ISKCON Founder-acarya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as a special guest to visit Tirupati. During his stay at Tirumala, Srila Prabhupada was extremely pleased to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara. The efficient management of the temple impressed Srila Prabhupada. But his heart contemplated a much grander plan to please the Lord by spreading His message. During a discussion with the state endowments minister, Srila Prabhupada said that T.T.D should take steps for propagating and reviving the message of Bhagavad-Gita, immediately on a large scale, as it is the only way to bring peace and harmony throughout the world. Since T.T.D has the basic infrastructure it should take the assistance of the devotees of the ISKCON to conduct vigorous preaching for the benefit of all. For his followers Srila Prabhupada had another message: Build attractive temples like Balajiâ’s, with excellent arrangements for hosting pilgrims. By the mercy of Lord Venkateswara Swamy, prayers by Srila Prabhupada, assistance of T.T.D. and relentless humble devotional services by the devotees, now there is a magnificent Hare Krishna (ISKCON) Temple in Tirupati. Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Govinda Ji and Asta-sakhis are the presiding deities. This temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims daily, and has several facilities including Guest House, famous Govindas restaurant, Gift shops, Goshala, Auditorium and Prasadam stalls in the temple premises.
There are a number of important and ancient Temples in and around Tirupati.
Important Temples in and around Tirupati:
On Tirumala Hills:
- Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vari Temple
- Sri Adi Varaha Swamy Temple
- Sri Swamy Pushkarini (Sacred Tank)
- Srivari Padalu (Lotus Feet of Lord Venkateswara Swamy)
- Sri Venu Gopala Swamy Temple and Hathiram Baba Samadhi
- Akasha Ganga Tirtham
- Papavinasam Tirtham
- Silathoranam (bridge)
- ISKCON Tirupati (Hare Krishna) – Sri Sri Radha Govinda Temple
- Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple at Tiruchanoor
- Sri Govinadaraja Swamy Temple
- Sri Kodandarama Swamy Temple
- Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Srinivasa Mangapuram
- Sri Kapileswara Swamy Temple
- Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Narayanavanam
- Sri Veda Narayana Swamy Temple at Nagalapuram
- Sri Kariya Manikya Swamy Temple at Nagari (Gajendra Moksha)
- Sri Venu Gopala Swamy Temple at Karvetinagaram
- Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Appalayagunta
- Sri Kalahasti – Panchabuta Vayu kshetra
History behind Tirumala Hills and Sesadri Mountains
[Ref. His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharajâ’s Tirupati Yatra in 1999 and 2005]
Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that during Satya yuga, Hiranyaksha, due to his exploitative activities created a situation where the earth was drowned to the bottom of the Garbhodaka ocean. At that time, the demigods approached Lord Brahma who prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu then appeared from the nose of Brahma in the form of Sri Varahadev. He killed Hiryanaksha and lifted the earth, Bhudeviâ with His tusks, and brought her to a safe position on top of the Garbhodaka ocean.
Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth, being an expansion of Goddess Laxmi was very much pleased to be reunited with Her Lord, Her eternal consort in the form of Sri Varahadev. In Vaikuntha Bhu-Varahaâ resides eternally, so Bhudevi, who is the goddess of this earth, pleaded Lord Varahadev to remain with Her on this earth planet. Sri Varahadev decided to satisfy her desire and called for Garuda to fly to Vaikuntha and bring one of His favourite mountains down to the earth, so that He and Bhudevi could reside here together on that mountain. That mountain was brought down, and it is today called Tirumala. It is the mountain that was imported from Vaikuntha by Garuda himself.
There is also a story of Sesa, the divine expansion of the Lord who sometimes appears as His couch, sometimes as His bed, and sometimes as His slippers, the same Adisesa incarnated on this earth as the seven hills in which Tirumala is situated. Therefore the seven hills are called Seshadari. Knowing that the Supreme Lord would come to live on these hills, Sesa wanted to be there to support His divine pastimes.
Bhrgu Muni sets to find out the Supreme amongst the trinity
As the narration continues, Narada Muni once approached great sages who performed yajna. Narada Muni enquired from them, To whom are you offering the fruits of yajna? Of all the devatas or demigods, who is the greatest Some rishis considered Brahma to be the greatest of the gods, some considered Vishnu, and some considered Siva to be the greatest. In an intriguing dialogue that followed amongst them, to decide who is the greatest, they all concluded that the greatest of the persons must be one, who is completely transcendental to the modes of material nature. Thus they all unanimously elected Bhrgu Muni to test these guna avatars, to see the greatest of the three.
Bhrgu rishi first went to the abode of Brahma. Brahma, the father was very happy to see his son, Bhrgu Muni. But Bhrgu Muni did not say anything to honour his father. In fact he outright ignored him. When Brahma understood that his son was completely breaching all etiquettes and basic human manners, he became very angry. Still, somehow or other he contained his anger and didn’t say anything. But Bhrgu Muni noticed that his father was very angry, and he left the place. Lord Brahma had failed the test, being come under the influence of anger.
Then Bhrgu Muni went to mount Kailash where Lord Siva sat with Mother Paravati. When Siva, Bhrgu Muni’s elder brother, saw his younger brother, he came up saying, Oh, Bhrgu, I am so happy to see you. Welcome to Kailash. He came to embrace Bhrgu Muni but Bhrgu Muni stopped him saying, Get away from me. Don’t touch me. You smell terrible. You have ashes from dead bodies smeared all over your body. You wear skulls as garlands. You associate with ghosts and untouchables. If you were to touch me, I would have to immediately take bath in the Ganges, just to purify myself from the intense contamination.
Lord Siva, upon hearing Bhrgu’s insulting words became very angry. He picked up his trident and was about to punish Bhrgu when Paravati intervened and said, No, my Lord, he is your brother. Lord Siva then cooled himself down and Bhrgu Muni left the place. Even Lord Siva had failed the test.
Bhrgu Muni then went to Svetadvipa, the Vaikuntha planet within this universe where Vishnu resides. Lord Vishnu lay on His bed, being served by Laxmidevi the goddess of fortune. While the Lord was lying down, Bhrgu Muni charged in and kicked Him right onto the chest. Lord Vishnu very compassionately, with folded hands said, Oh, Bhrgu Muni please forgive me, please forgive me, that you came in and I didn’t even get up to honor you, to welcome you to my home. My chest is so hard, and your lotus feet are so soft, I am afraid; I must have caused some pain to your feet. Please let me massage your feet.
Speaking thus, Vishnu began to very gently massage the lotus feet of Bhrgu Muni, who being so treated began to weep, and tears flowed from his eyes as he spoke You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are completely transcendental to the modes of material nature. You are all merciful, all compassionate even to an offender like me, please forgive me. According to Sri Caitanya Bhagvat, after begging forgiveness, Bhrgu Muni seeing the qualities of Lord Vishnu, began to dance in ecstasy. He danced and wept and cried as his hairs stood on end and he went on loudly chanting the holy names Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Bhrgu Muni then blissfully returned to all the sages and narrated his report. Everyone from that day onwards consistently worshipped Lord Vishnu by constantly hearing His glories and chanting His Holy Names. Everything was blissful, but Laxmidevi felt very depressed and angry. Although Lord Vishnu had tolerated the offence committed by Bhrgu Muni with a very gracious heart, Laxmidevi being a chaste and faithful wife, could not tolerate the offence that was done to her husband. She said to Lord Narayana, You may forgive this person for that is your nature. But I have seen this Brahmana whimsically kicking You right in the chest. And because I have seen this abominable act, I have incurred a very heavy unforgivable sin and the sin of witnessing You accepting this offence is so great that I cannot live here any longer. I must go away from here. I must perform severe penances in order to wash away the sin that was incurred by my seeing this offence to You.
Lessons from the incident:
Laxmidevi considered herself to have incurred such a sin, because she witnessed an offence to the Lord. We know that an offence to the devotee of the Lord is even greater than the offence to the Lord Himself. Thus Laxmidevi thought of herself to have incurred a great sin just by seeing Bhrgu Muni kick the Lord at His chest, with his foot.
Our Vaishnava acarya’s explain that if we speak offensive about the Lord, great sin comes upon us. But even if we see an offence being committed or hear someone offending the devotees, we become sinful. This should make us meditate how careful we should be. Sometimes devotees talk and even blaspheme others, and we happen to be there. Even if we don’t agree with them, the fact that we heard it, makes the sins to have come upon us.
And sometimes so many devotees in so many places have so many difficulties and they wonder why? This is all philosophy. It is not just the minor detail of the philosophy. We are reminded of it everywhere, throughout the scriptures. And in Kaliyuga we take things very lightly. We think offences are such normal occurrences. We don’t think that they are very serious. Anybody can speak anything about anyone at any time. However the fact is, if there is an offence, to the Lord or His devotees, it is a sin.
Did Bhrgu Muni Offend Lord Vishnu? Actually Bhrgu Muni did not commit any offence. According to Sri Caitanya Bhagavat the Lord, entered into his body to specifically do that act, just because he wanted to establish the Lordâ€™s supreme position in the world forever. Bhrgu Muni was actually doing it to glorify the Lord.
Lessons from the incident:
Delicacy of Vaishnava Etiquette: If we commit an offence to Bhrgu Muni for his act of kicking the Lord in the chest, it’s sinful for two reasons, first, because he is a Vaishnava. And second, not only is he a Vaishnava, but he was doing a very specialized, incomprehensible service. In our Vaishnava literatures, it is also explained that even Brahma and Siva were not angry at Bhrgu Muni at all but they pretended to be angry. Why? Because they wanted all of their followers and the entire creation to know that Vishnu is the supreme. They acted as if being very angry just to fail the test, so that Vishnu would win. It was their way of glorifying Lord Krishna.
Lakshmi devi and Lord Vishnu’s Descent upon Earth – Their Pastimes Thereafter
Laxmidevi then left Vaikuntha, and came to the holy place called Kolhapur and performed very severe tapasya. Kolhapur is the place to do penance for sins. Meanwhile in Vaikuntha, Lord Vishnu, in separation from Laxmidevi thought, â€˜What is this beautiful land of Vaikuntha without Laxmi? All the kalpavraksha trees, all the celestial lakes and rivers, all the beautiful people with four arms, they cannot give Me any pleasure without Laxmidevi. I have no reason to live without Laxmidevi.â€™ Thinking such, the Lord also decided to leave Vaikuntha, to come down to the earth to perform tapasya, to appease Laxmidevi. The Lord then descended to Earth and started to walk. He walked approximately half of the earth, until He came to the place, the mountain range called Seshadari, where Adisesha waited for Him with great devotion.
The Lord then found an anthill and entered into the hole at the top of the anthill, and went under the ground of the anthill, to perform meditation. The Lord performed meditation for a long time without eating, drinking or sleeping. When the demigods saw this, it brought great grief to their heart. Lord Brahma approached Lord Siva and said, Our Lord has not taken any food for so many days. We should go down and serve Him.
They made a plan. Lord Brahma took the form of a cow; Lord Siva took the form of a little calf and they approached Laxmidevi with their idea. Laxmidevi in order to serve the Lord agreed to temporarily accept the role of a cowherd girl.
There was a king and he was approached by this beautiful cowherd girl, along with the cow and calf. She said to the king, I am selling this cow, would you like to buy? The king asked, How much does it cost? She replied, One thousand gold coins. The king was outrageously shocked, One thousand gold coins, for a cow! The king later also thought, Oh! One thousand coins, this must be a very valuable cow. I will buy it. The king then bought the cow, and gave the cow to his cowherd man, and told him to take her out on the pastures, and bring him the milk every day. Every day the cowherd man would come to the Seshadari Mountains, with a herd of cows and after bringing them to a nice place, with green grasses, he would find a tree and go to sleep. As he slept, this cow who was actually Lord Brahma, would immediately run away from the herd, go right to the anthill, place her udder right over the hole of the anthill and pour down all her milk. The Lord would hold his head up and open His mouth, and drink the milk. This happened every day.
One day the queen decided to supervise the milking of the cows. She watched over all the cows being milked. She also saw that very beautiful expensive cow being milked but no milk came out.
The Queen asked the cowherd man, Why is there no milk? Did you secretly milk this cow, and keep all the milk for yourself? The cowherd man replied, No! Of course not! I didn’t. I didn’t. For some reason this cow never gives any milk. Queen: No! I do not believe you. She has a calf. I have seen her calf. She must be giving milk. Are you stealing the milk? If tomorrow this cow does not give milk, I will cut off your head. The cowherd man then decided to find out the reason why the cow never gave milk. Next day, he brought the cows to the pastures. He saw a nice tree and lay down, pretending to be asleep, but with his eyes slightly opened, he watched over the cow. Then he started pretending to snore. Like always, the cow ran away towards the anthill. The cowherd secretly ran behind the cow. He chased behind the cow, who came to the anthill, and profusely started offering all her milk into the hole of the anthill.
The cowherd man was so angry. He thought, What is this cow doing? She will be the very cause of my death, due to this whimsical behavior. Thinking such he lost control of his mind and senses. He picked up an axe to attack the cow and threw it towards the cow to kill her. But just at that very moment, the Supreme Personality of Godhead jumped out from the hole in the anthill and placed His head out on the axe. The axe hit Him right in the center of the forehead.
Lessons from the incident:
This wonderful incident illustrates how the Lord protects His devotees.
namo brahmana devaya go brahmana hitayacha,
jagat hitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah
The Lord is always very much concerned with the welfare of the brahmanas and the cows. Why? For every living being the purpose of this life is self-realization. And the cow is the very emblem of religious principles. The barometer of the spirituality of any society is – how we take care of the cows. She feeds us milk like our mother. She supplies ghee for sacrifice, ghee to make wonderful preparations to offer to the Lord. And the brahmanas, they teach us the path of perfection. So the Lord, even though being merciful to every living being wants to protect mostly those who are doing the most compassionate service, to the whole of society. The Lord is always eager to protect all His devotees. In this case, even at the cost of His own well-being.
Srinivas, the incarnation of the Lord, was thus in so much pain. He sat, holding His head. At that time Brhaspati appeared and asked Him what had happened and the Lord explained. Brihaspati also told Lord of a certain herb in the forests which is very medicinal. If one places the herb on the forehead, making a paste out of it, it will relieve the pain, will heel it. The Lord while in great pain searching for this herb came upon a kunda. It is called the Swamy Puskarani tirtha. It is also a lake from Vaikuntha which Garuda had brought down for Lord Varahadev’s pleasure. While He was there, Lord Srinivas met Lord Varahadev. It was a very pleasant and loving reunion between these two Supreme Personalities. Lord Varahadev asked of Srinivas’s condition on earth and was told the whole story by the latter.
In the temple of Lord Venkateswara, the Lord is always decorated with this type of a â€˜tilakâ€™ covering most of His eyes and the center of His forehead. The Lord upon thousands of years has decided to be decorated like this, just to show the world how much He loves His devotees and just to give us the confidence that Lord Krishna will always protect His devotees.
Then Lord Srinivas told Varahadev, I understand that actually You are the proprietor of this tract of land. In fact, You saved the earth, therefore You are really the proprietor of the earth, and especially this place where You are living. I therefore request You to kindly give Me some place where I can stay, on rent. The Lord continued, But because the goddess Laxmi has left Me, I don’t have any money. I do not know what will I give You in rent. Lord Varahadev replied, I know in the future many hundreds, thousands and millions of people will come to have Your darshan here. Give me this as rent, that whoever comes to see You before worshipping You, will first come to see Me. The Lord agreed, Yes, all of My devotees before they come to worship Me, will first offer their prayers and worship You, in Your Varahadev form.
Note: It is the tradition to this very day in Tirupati, that the proper way that we approach Sri Venkateswara is by first offering our prayers and worships the Varaha form.
Varahadev then declared that the area of the anthill area would now belong to Lord Venkateswara and He also told Him of a very loving motherly devotee, who personally served Him, whom, He would like to offer for the service of Sri Venkateswara. He said, She can cook for You, she could make this herbal paste for Your wounded head, she will do everything for You; she is Your mother. Her name is Bakula Mallika, also called Bakula devi.
Bakula devi was previously Yashoda in Lord Krishna’s lila. She is a partial expansion of mother Yashoda. And it is said that Lord Krishna left Vrindavana when He was only about ten and a half years old. And it is natural for a mother to see her children married. Devaki was involved in so many marriages of Krishna, 16,108. But Yashoda never got any opportunity to do this. So Lord Krishna knowing her heart, He promised her, In my next incarnation you will be there to arrange for My marriage.
Then Bakuladevi treated Lord Srinivas just as a mother treats her own child. She would go and collect nice fruits and vegetables. She used to prepare delicious prasad for Him several times a day. She would go and get the herbs and make the proper paste, and apply to His head. She would offer Him such sweet words. She loved Him with such motherly love that Srinivas was so much satisfied, living on this Venkatadari mountain (other names: Seshadari, Narayanadri).
Appearance of Padmavati
There was a king named Akaash Raj, and his wife’s name was Dharini devi. They were very great devotees. However they had no children even after many attempts. They approached the great sages and rishis and asked what could be done. If the king and the queen do not have a child they actually fail all purpose, because unless they train someone to inherit the Kingdom, then they are not doing proper service to the subjects. And besides that the duty of the king is to raise a child, make him a king so that he can go to the forest and become self-realized.
The great sages explained that previously Maharaja Dasarath as well as Maharaja Janaka, performed a particular yajna, a royal yajna for the purpose of having a child. Thus all the arrangements were being made. It was explained to the king to plough the field at the area where the yajna was to be performed and the king himself had to be the ploughman. They took the bullocks and the plough and the king went about circumambulating the field of the yajna, ploughing the field. At one particular place the hook of the plough, when it was deep in the ground, latched on to a golden box. The golden box was pulled out of the ground. It opened automatically. Within that box was a big beautiful lotus flower and upon that lotus flower was the most charming golden colored girl, smiling and waving at King Akaash Raj.
The king was very much pleased. He brought the little child to his wife Dharini, and they accepted her as their own daughter. They performed the yajna and soon, the queen was pregnant. Later, she gave birth to a son named Vasudham.
History of Padmavati’s appearance
The history of the girl child is very interesting. When she appeared, there was a voice in the sky, explaining that she was the goddess Laxmi Herself who had appeared in the form of the girl child. The brahmanas when they saw that She was born on a lotus flower named her Padmavati.
Many aspects of the previous life of Padmavati are explained in the Ramayana and in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was traveling to South India, He met a brahmana who consistently lamented, upon reading that Sita was stolen by Ravana. So much so that he didn’t even eat. Even though the actual incident happened many millions of years ago, the brahmana couldn’t get over this terrible piece of information which he read in the scriptures. He invited Lord Caitanya for prasad. It was noon, and he didn’t even start cooking. It was 3 O clock, and he still didn’t cook. Lord Caitanya asked Are you going to cook? The Brahmana replied, How could I cook, when Sita has been stolen by Ravana? I should enter into fire. How can I live when my worshipable goddess has been stolen by this rakshasa?
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained, Ravana could not even touch Sita. This was a false illusory Sita. So you eat, please believe Me. The brahmana then took a plate, to please Lord Caitanya and took prasad. Later on, Lord Caitanya continued His travel. He went to Madurai, and then He went to Rameshwaram. He found within a scripture the Kurma Purana, the story of the chaste woman. There it was explained that before Ravana stole Sita, Agni, the fire god, took the real Sita, and replaced Her with an illusory Sita which was stolen by Ravana. Later on when Ravana was killed and Lord Ramacandra conquered Lanka, He wanted to test Sita’s chastity, so She entered into fire, and this time, Agni dev brought the original Sita back.
Further detail to this particular Puranic narration –
There was a great sage named Khushadvaj and he was performing a yajna. From his chanting of Vedic hymns a beautiful young girl was born. She was a partial expansion of Laxmidevi. He named her Vedhavati. Her father understood that she was a very special person and that no one was fit to marry her except Lord Vishnu Himself. He told Vedhavati that you should go to the jungles of the Himalayas, and perform tapasya with your mind fixed on getting only Vishnu as your husband.
She was so beautiful and her charm was so glorious that many of the greatest kings and princesses were coming before her, begging to marry. But she would tell them all, My mind is fixed on the lotus feet of Lord Narayana, I will accept no one else. She performed tapasya for many years. One day Ravana happened to be flying overhead in his airplane. When he saw the beauty of Vedhavati he was infatuated. He landed his plane, came before Vedhavati and said, You are so beautiful and I am so great. I am begging you, marry me now. I cannot live without you. I am the king of Lanka, I have conquered Indra, all the demigods tremble in fear of me, I will make you the prominent queen of my entire kingdom, and I will give you all riches and opulence’s. Come with me, and be my wife. Vedhavati very respectfully told him, I am sorry Sir, but it’s not possible. I have fixed my mind on Lord Vishnu and will accept no one else as my husband. If He does not accept me, then I will give up my body.
Ravana then asked, Who are you? She replied, My name is Vedhavati and my father is the great brahmana sage named Khusadhvaja. Ravana told her, Then, it would be a good match. Because my father is Vishrava, my mother is Keshini, and my grandfather is Pulatsya Muni, who is the son of Brahma. Pulatsya Muni is a very great brahmana, so there is no incompatibility. Ravana continued, Besides that if you do not agree to marry me then I will take you by force. She explained to him, My life is for Vishnu and Vishnu alone.
Lessons from the incident:
This is very much instructive also. Ravana will come to us with so many temptations in our life, but as devotees we should be faithful and chaste as the property of the Lord. Whichever way Ravana tempts us, however Maya intimidates us, challenges us, threatens us, we must remain faithful even at the cost of our lives, to our service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ravana decided that he would rape Vedhavati by force. As he came to embrace her, Vedavati very intensely meditated on Agni dev the fire god, who immediately appeared in the form of blazes of fire. Right before entering into that fire she cursed Ravana, If ever you try to forcibly violate a woman’s chastity again, you will die. And a chaste woman like me will be the cause of the destruction of your entire dynasty.
Then she entered the fire and disappeared. When she entered the fire, Agni dev personally brought her, in to his own care, in his own planet.
Later on Ravana with the help of Maricha, tried to kidnap Sita, in Panchavati. Maricha took the form of a golden deer and Ravana who was already completed addicted to the idea of Sita, just by hearing about her beauty from Sharupnakha, had his plan where Rama and Laxmana were forced to go away from Sita in the forest by Maricha the deer. Then Ravana disguised himself as a sadhu to beg alms from Sita, knowing that Sita is always charitable to those who are in distress.
Just before Ravana stole Sita away, Rama knowing that this danger would come He invoked Agni dev. Sita then entered to the fire of Agni and Agni replaced her with Vedhavati, who looked identical to the real Sita. So practically for one year Vedhavati was terribly, tortured, assaulted and abused by Ravana, but she remained completely faithful and chaste to Lord Rama. At the end of the battle of Lanka, when Sita was tested for her chastity by being put into fire, again Agni dev brought the real Sita and replaced Vedhavati. At that time both Agni dev and Sita appealed to Lord Ramacandra regarding Vedhavati, For the kind of service she has offered you. You should accept her as your wife. She has done so much penance to receive your mercy. Take her as your wife.
Sita begged Rama to take Vedhavati as her co-wife. But Lord Rama said, No! In this life I have vowed to accept only one wife. But in my next incarnation I promise that I will marry Vedhavati.
The meeting of Padmavati and Srinivas – Their Marriage
The same Vedhavati was born as Padmavati. She was brought up by her parents. She became the very reservoir of all attractive qualities. Soon the time was ripe for her marriage. In those days when the girl was about 14 years old and still unmarried, the parents would consider themselves to be failures. Dharini devi and Akaash Raj were thus looking all around for a wonderful husband. They sent many messengers to different kingdoms of the world. But they could find no one who could match her. They didn’t know what to do.
At that time Narada Muni came to the kingdom disguised as an old brahmana and upon looking at the palm of Padmavati, he told her, You are the goddess of fortune Laxmi and very soon you would be married to Lord Vishnu. She really did not take it very seriously. The name of her kingdom was Narayanpur.
One day she was playing in a very pleasing garden with her friends. On the same day Lord Srinivas told His mother Bakuladevi that He desired to go to the wild forest to scare away the wild animals, on a hunt. Bakuladevi tried to dissuade him saying that it would be very dangerous but He convinced his mother of no danger for Him. She made nice prasad and then He very happily went into the forest. While He was in the forest, He saw a wild elephant and began to chase after the wild elephant. The wild elephant ran straight into the garden where Padmavati and her friends played. The wild elephant caused great fear to them. Srinivas immediately chased the elephant away. And then He saw Padmavati. The natural love between the Supreme lord and His consort was awakened. They looked upon each other. Srinivas then approached her, introduced Himself and said, I want to marry you. I think that you must have descended from heaven. While Srinivas and Padmavati were talking, the maidservants of the princesses happened to notice and they thought it to be improper. They criticized, But You are a hunter. What right does a hunter have to propose marriage to the princesses?
Saying thus, they asked Him to leave the place and even began to throw stones at Him. Being harassed by the stones, He got on His horse and went away.
When He reached home, Bakula saw that He was very depressed, and he had sores all over His body. She asked Him to tell her what had happened? He explained that He had seen a beautiful young princess, and that He wanted to marry her. But as He spoke to her, all her maidservants threw stones at him. He requested his mother to help him marry the princess. Bakuladevi told him that she would go and will try to make a proposal to girl’s parents. It was during that conversation the Supreme Lord explained to Bakuladevi who He was. He explained that He was Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the girl was Vedhavati in past life and He had appeared just to marry her. Bakuladevi then promised Him that she would make a proposal to her parents.
On her way to meet the parents of Padmavati, Bakuladevi came to a temple, where she found the maidservants of Padmavati worshipping and intensely praying to Lord Siva. Bakuladevi enquired of the reason for their intense prayers. They told her that they were praying because their princess, Padmavati was sick. Nobody knew how to cure her. She had not eaten, and not even drunk anything. She has even not been able to sleep, ever since she saw a hunter in the forest. Her parents brought the best doctors and they gave all types of medications but nothing seems to help. Many rishis and sages have also been consulted but nobody could cure her. They all consider it to be some mental anxiety. After hearing of the condition of Padmavati, Bakuladevi said that even she would pray along with them. Meanwhile Lord Srinivas thought of ways to help Bakuladevi make this arrangement. He disguised Himself as a gypsy fortuneteller woman and came to the town of Narayanpur and started calling out, I am a gypsy fortune-teller woman and I can tell the future to anyone who wants to know.
The people of the town told the queen, that maybe this gypsy woman could tell about what will happen to Padmavati. The queen immediately called for the gypsy fortune teller.
Srinivas in the disguise of a gypsy woman came into the palace. She demanded the queen for all types of articles for puja, to be brought to her along with Padmavati. When Padmavati sat before the gypsy woman, she immediately felt attracted to the gypsy woman and in the hearts of hearts she understood that the gypsy woman was but Her Lord.
The gypsy woman then went into a trance and started speaking, Padmavati is actually the goddess of fortune Laxmi. Some time ago, while she was playing in a garden along with her friends, she was attacked by a wild elephant and she became very afraid. Just then a noble hunter came and saved her. That hunter is the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and Padmavati has found the love of that hunter. But Padmavati thinks that the hunter has gone forever. She does not know that the hunter is crying and lamenting in separation from Padmavati. And she will only feel happiness when both of them are united again in marriage, and I think that marriage will take place very soon. In fact the mother of the Lord is about to come to propose the marriage. As she listened to the gypsy woman, the queen was bewildered. Immediately after the gypsy woman had left, Bakuladevi arrived. She was very beautiful and stately woman, so the queen honored her, brought in her palace as a guest.
Bakuladevi then spoke to the queen saying, I come with a proposal. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna has descended in this world and is living on the banks of Venkatadri Mountains. He is living in an anthill. But even though He is living in the anthill and doesn’t have anything, He is the proprietor of the entire universe. He desires to have your daughter Padmavati’s hand in marriage. Please accept this proposal. Dharini devi replied, Please let me discuss this with my husband, the king. Later the queen asked the King, Does it make sense to you that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is living in these Seshadari Mountains? We never heard about that.
The King then asked his ministers and they advised him to enquire from a great sage named Suka Maharishi. The king went to Suka Maharishi and enquired of the descend of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Suka Maharishi said Srinivas is the Lord of Vaikuntha. He has descended into this world. He is living in an anthill. You should immediately arrange for the marriage of your daughter to Him. The king Akaash Raj, his wife Dharini devi and everybody rejoiced that Padmavati had finally found the proper match in marriage. Suka himself gave a palm leaf to Srinivas with the king’s written desire that He marry his daughter. Suka first brought the letter to Bakula, and then the two of them went to the anthill. They called Srinivas out of the anthill. When He came out, Suka read the letter. Immediately upon hearing the letter, Bakuladevi started beaming with transcendental happiness. It was the fulfilment of her incarnation.
Srinivas then wrote a letter back, accepting the proposal. Lord Srinivas called Garuda and Ananta Sesa and asked them to invite all the demigods and rishis all over the universe. They all came to this hill to decide how to help the Lord in this marriage ceremony. As they were dividing up the responsibilities very nicely, Lord Brahma saw, Lord Srinivas sitting on the side of the anthill looking very unhappy. Brahma asked What is the problem? Srinivas said, I have no wealth. How am I supposed to feed millions of people who are going to come? What to speak of offering them garlands and nice arrangements and things like that. Brahma then suggested that He could take a loan from Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods who was also present.
Lord Brahma then called for Kuvera, and asked him to give Lord Srinivas a loan. Kubera replied, He is the Lord of my life, He is the proprietor of everything. On this very day I will take all the riches of heaven and send them to your feet my Lord, please accept it.
Lord Srinivas said, No, I have entrusted all this wealth to you, it is not mine. And while living in this world I must live according to the customs of this world. So kindly give Me a loan and I promise to pay it back to you, with suitable interest. Until the end of Kaliyuga, I will pay you the interest of this loan and the balance of the principle as well. Lord Brahma then drew out the contract, Srinivas signed it and several witnesses also signed it.
Note: One of the reasons why this temple is so wealthy is, it is understood that the Lord requests all devotees to come for His darshan to help Him to repay this loan to Kuvera by putting their wealth in the Hundi. So people give a lot of money to the hundi. And every day at a certain time there is a hall that is where they count all the collections of the day. There are piles and piles and mountains of jewels, rings, and big piles of money and they count it publicly. That is one of the traditions of the temple.
Finally it was all arranged. After all these arrangements were made Lord Brahma noticed that Srinivas appeared unhappy as before so he again asked Him, What is the problem? Why do you look so unhappy?
Srinivas replied, I have a very heavy heart, due to separation from Laxmi, who is at Kolhapur performing tapasya.
Lord Brahma said, Why don’t you bring her here? The Lord then decided that the only way she would come is, if He devises a plan. He sent a messenger to Kolhapur with a message for Laxmidevi, Your Lord is living at the Seshadari Mountains and is very ill, his health is very bad. He wants to see you immediately.
Upon receiving the message, Laxmidevi immediately asked the messanger to bring her to Lord Srinivas. When Laxmi came there, and she saw, thousands and thousands millions of demigods, sages and rishis who were all preparing for the marriage, she thought that they were all there because her Lord was sick. She felt guilt at the thought that the Lord was sick and everyone else had come and it was her who took so long to come to help him.
Lord Srinivas who was pretending to be sick, asked two of the demigods to carry Him. He leaned on them and they helped Him walk towards Laxmidevi. She said, My Lord what happened to you? I am very sorry I have taken so long to come. How can I help you? The Lord replied that He was not sick and nothing was wrong. Observing so many people there, she then understood the reason why the Lord had called for her.
Laxmidevi then spoke, I have understood that You have finally come to fulfil your promise to Vedhavati. All these people are here for Your marriage, and You will soon marry Vedhavati, who has incarnated as Padmavati, and I am very happy to see this, because she has done so much sacrifice, she has worked in such a way just to please you, when I was in my form as Sita. I give you all encouragement to marry her. I will happily become just like her sister. In fact I will help you perform the ceremonial bath for this marriage ceremony.
All the guests and great sages then rejoiced seeing that Laxmidevi was very much co-operative and in a happy mood. Laxmi and Paravati then performed the bathing ceremony for Srinivas. When He came out from His bathing ceremony he was decorated with beautiful jewels, garments.
Meanwhile the head cooks, Agni and Varun prepared a huge feast for millions of people and Vayu was appointed in-charge of serving. When the Lord saw all the bhoga which way prepared He said that the bhoga has to be offered. Brahma asked, Whom are you going to offer it to? Lord Srinivas then replied that, It should be offered to Lord Nrsimhadeva. It is said that it was offered to Ahobilam Narasimha in Ahobilam.
Note: There is special connection between Ahobilam and Tirupati. In fact every year on the day of celebrating the marriage of Srinivas and Padmavati, the Balaji temple or the Venkateswara temple sends a large donation to the Ahobilam Narasimha temple, just to show their appreciation for accepting the offerings on His marriage day.
Lord Nrsimhadeva after accepting the bhoga made it all maha-prasada for all the millions of people to honor. There were lines of devotees covering the entire seven hills and Vayudev had it all served it out very nicely and very expertly.
Then they proceeded to Narayanpur. Akaash raj, Vasudham and the brother of Akaash Raj, Thondaman greeted Srinivas and His party. Then Dharini devi brought out Padmavati. There was exchange of garlands, and the wonderful wedding took place. The festivities lasted for 11 days.
Bakuladevi told the Lord that it was time to return to their place. But since the Lord was living in an anthill and it was not a nice place to bring Padmavati, they decided to live at the hermitage of Agatsya Muni, which was also on the hills, near Tirumala.
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