Caption = Venkateshwara, Shiva Vishnu temple,
Name = Venkateswara
Sanskrit_Transliteration = वेंकटेश्वर
Affiliation = Form of
Teluguవెంకటేశ్వరుడు , వెంకన్న, Sanskrit: _sa. वेंकटेश्वर), also known as Venkatachalapathy, Srinivasa and Balaji, is a form of the Hindu god Vishnuin India. Venkateshwara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people. According the Hindu scriptures, Vishnu, out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateshwara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yugaand is considered the supreme form of Vishnu in this age.Fact|date=April 2008
Etymology and other names
The name "Venkateshwara" can be split into multiple parts in Sanskrit: "Ven" (sins), "kata" (destroyer), and "ishwara" (Supreme Lord). Using this etymology, Venkateshwara refers to the Supreme Lord who destroys sins.
The ancient Vishnu kautuvam describes him as
Souryarayan, the one who destroys the evil and who comforts us. He is also known as Maal, ThiruMaal, Manivannan, Balaji (though this is a more recent name),Venkateshwer, Srinivasa, Venkatesha, Venkatanatha, Venkatachalapathi, Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan, Tiruvengadattaan Tirupati Thimmappa, and by many other names. He is also worshipped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva-worshipping communities. The presence of seven hills in the area influenced alternate names for the deity: such as Edukondalavadu in Telugu and as Ezhumalaiyan in Tamil both of which mean "Lord of the Seven Hills". Lord Venkateswara is also known as "Maha Ketarie" and "Maha Parmasree".
According to the scripture Sthala
Purana, the legend of Venkateshwara's Avatara ( incarnation) is believed to be as follows:
Sage Bhrugu, who according to
Vedasis believed to have an extra eye in the sole of his foot, once visited Vishnu. At that time, Vishnu was in a private meeting with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage. The sage felt humiliated and angry, and kicked Vishnu in the chest. Vishnu did not react and remained silent. Vishnu's chest is believed to be the abode of Lakshmi. The goddess felt highly insulted at the sage's misdemeanour and Vishnu's silence at the act. She left Vaikunta, the heavenly abode of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. During this act, he squished the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu's foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage's
egotism. The sage then realised his grave mistake and apologized to Vishnu. Vishnu had then incarnated Himself as Venkateshwara and came to earth in search of Lakshmi, who had taken birth as princess Alamelu(Padmavati) in the household of Akasa Rajan. The princess's father agreed to give his daughter's hand in marriage to Venkateshwara if he provided proof of his wealth. Towards the end, Venkateshwara obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, the Hindu treasurer god of the virtuous wealth in the Universe. Princess Padmavati and Lord Venkateshwara were then wed.
Vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, and his consort are believed to have enshrined themselves at Tirumala Tirupati for the benefit of mankind. This phenomenon is called
swayambhuloosely translated to mean "self-existent and established on earth of one's own accord, without any external cause".
Venkateshwara's temple is at the top of the seven hills in the place called Tirumala. The temple of Lakshmi, in the form of Padmavati, is located at the foot of the seven hills at Tirupati, in a town called Tiruchanur, also known as Alamelumangapuram.
A tale associated with the temple goes thus: a helper boy called Bala was once wrongly accused of being a thief. He ran for his life when chased by people. He was hit on the head by the mob and his head started bleeding profusely. He ran to the Tirupati temple of Lord Vishnu and ran to the main door of the temple. When the people entered the temple, they couldn't find the boy but saw the head of god's idol bleeding. It was considered that the boy was sheltered and protected by Vishnu himself, and the priests put cloth on the idol's head to stop the bleeding.
Location of main shrine
Venkateshwara's abode is in the Venkatam hills (the hills are more often referred to as ThiruVenkatam) near Tirupathi. Thus, the main temple of Venkateshwara is the
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Tirumala temple is believed to be the richest of all the temples in the world. The temple is located in Andhra Pradesh(southern India) in Chittoor district. It is around 120 km away from Chennai.
Many saints have visited the shrine and worshipped Venkateswara. Notable among them is
Adi Sankaracharya, who came to Tirumala and placed the Sri Chakraat the feet of Venkateshwara and sang the song " Bhaja Govindam". Ramanujacharyainstalled chakra and conchon the deity after a dispute. Fact|date=April 2008
The Venkateswara Suprabhatam, being the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is believed to have been written and sung by one of Ramanujacharya's disciples who visited the temple with his
Guru. Sri Vadiraja Thirtha, most prominent Fact|date=April 2008 among the Madhvasaints, is believed to have climbed the Tirumala hill on his knees, and is said to have given a garland of shaligramto the Lord.
There is a Govindaraya
Vishnutemple in the Tirupati town down below the hills that has Vishnu in Yoga Nidrawith Srideviand Bhoodevinext to him. Traditionally, Kurubasis said to have built the temples on top of the mountains for the worship of Vishnu.
Several composers composed beautiful kirtanas about Venkateshwara, most notable amongst them being
Tyagarajaand Annamacharya. Annamacharya, a devotee of Venkateswara, composed songs almost exclusively about the deity.
In iconographic depictions, Lord Venkateswara's eyes are covered, because it is said, that his gaze is so intense, it would scorch the universe. [Lonely Planet India p. 1044 ISBN 0-86442-687-9]
Other sources cite that the covering of the eyes is to hide the original identity of Venkateswara, as sources have cited that Venkateswara is a standing Alokitesvara Buddha.Fact|date=September 2008 To back their claims, Shravana is regarded as a Buddhist tradition, as is hair tonsure. In addition, this is the only temple of Vishnu where the deity's eyes are covered. Regardless, Venkateswara is and will always be a central deity in the Sri Vaishnava tradition.
Notable Venkateswara temples outside of India
There are many famous temples dedicated primarily to Lord Venkateswara that are outside of India. These include those in:
Melbourne( Carrum Downs)
Pittsburgh( Penn Hills), Pennsylvania
Calabasas) ( Malibu Hindu Temple)
Birmingham( Tividale), United Kingdom
MauritiusThis list is not exhaustive, and there are many temples that have statues of Lord Venkateswara. However, these are the major ones outside of India. Based on the pact that Venkateswara agreed upon with Lord Kubera, monetary donations know no limit at temples where a statue of Venkateswara can be found.
List of Hindu deities
Mehandipur Balaji Temple
* [http://www.tirumala.org/ Official Tirumala Homepage]
* [http://www.srimannarayana.com/ Information about Venkateswara Swamy]
* [http://www.gururaghavendra1.org/articles/vadiraj.pdf] An article on Sri Vadiraja Thirtha
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