Sri Ramanujacharya, the great exponent of Vishishtadvaita Philosophy entrusted Anantalwar, one of his disciples, with “pushpa kainkaryam” – offering of flowers as a seva daily to Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala. Anantalwar happily accepted and settled down in Tirumala along with his wife. Every day he would collect various types of flowers, make a beautiful garland and offer it to the Lord. Since it was not an easy task collecting the flowers in the hilly area, he decided to cultivate a flower garden. He first decided to dig a well as water-resource for the garden. Considering this as his seva to the Lord, Anantalwar took a vow that he and his wife alone would engage themselves in this task, and would not take the help of any other person.
Anantalwar started digging the soil, loosening it and filling it into a basket. His wife carried the basket of soil a little distance downhill to empty it. She was pregnant and walking downhill and uphill was not easy for her. Nevertheless, she cheerfully participated in the seva. One day, as Anantalwar was digging the soil, a boy of about twelve years of age came along and offered his help. Alwar politely refused, but the boy insisted. Angrily, Anantalwar asked him to go away and not disturb him.
The boy went away from there but approached Anantalwar’s wife. He offered his help to her. Not knowing her husband’s vow, she readily agreed. The boy made sure that Anantalwar did not see him helping the lady. After some time, strangely, Anantalwar noticed that his wife was coming back faster to collect the soil! Was she walking too fast? That was not possible. Was someone helping her? He decided to check. As she carried the basket of soil, Anantalwar followed her unnoticed. To his utter dismay, he saw the boy whom he had sent away helping his wife in carrying and disposing the soil.
Anantalwar was furious. This adamant boy had disrupted his tapas. Seeing the angry Anantalwar, the boy started running away. He kept turning back to see if Anantalwar was following him. Sure, Anantalwar ran behind him, but could not catch him. In a fit of rage, he hurled the crowbar which was in his hand at the boy. It struck the boy’s chin. Anantalwar tried to catch him, but he disappeared.
Next day, when Anantalwar went to the temple, the priests pointed out the Lord’s idol to him. Anantalwar saw the chin of the Lord badly bruised and bleeding. He was shocked. He now realised that the boy who had come to help him and his wife was none other than the Lord himself. The bleeding had to be checked. He looked around and saw “pacha karpura” (edible camphor) in the sanctum. He took a handful of the karpura and applied it to the Lord’s chin. Miracle of miracles! The bleeding stopped. Anantalwar was overwhelmed at the Lord’s grace and compassion and prayed to Lord Venkateswara for forgiveness. The Lord appeared before him. Acknowledging the devotee’s love, the Lord declared that in future, every day, as a part of his alankara, His chin should be adorned with karpura and without it, His alankara would be incomplete!
Since then, Lord Venkateswara’s chin is daily adorned with karpura to remind everyone of His great devotee, Anantalwar. The karpura is later distributed as “prasad”. The crowbar which Anantalwar used can be seen displayed on the wall on the right side as one enters the main entrance of Lord Venkateswara’s temple at Tirumala.
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