Tag Archives: Lord venkateshwara

Akasha Ganga of Tirumala!

Tirumala Nambi was a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara. He was also known as Sri Sailapurna. He was highly learned in all the scriptures and was one of the Gurus of Sri Ramanujacharya, apart from being his maternal uncle. It was he who introduced the Ramayana and elaborated the concept of “sharanagati” (surrender) to Ramanujacharya. 
He offered his services to the Lord of the seven hills by bringing water every day from Pushkarini which is about eight kilometres down the hills for the Lord’s abhisheka. Even though he was quite old, regardless of that, every day all alone he would trek down the forest without any fear of wild animals and carry a pitcher of water for the abhisheka. The seva is known as “teertha kainkaryam“. The Lord was happy with his unique and devoted service and decided to bless and help him. 

One day when Nambi was carrying water from Pushkarini up the hill, the Lord came to him in the guise of a hunter-boy. The boy stopped Nambi enroute and said, “Thatha (grandpa) I am very thirsty, please give me some water to drink”. Nambi was struck by the charm of the boy but politely refused to give him water. He said that he was carrying water for the Lord’s abhisheka daily without any break and he did not want any hurdles to the seva. Also Nambi told the boy that if he gave him water he would have to go down all the way to collect it again and that was not possible because he was too old. On the other hand, the boy was young enough to run down to Pushkarini and drink as much water as he wanted. 

Thus, having told the hunter-boy, Nambi started walking uphill. The boy slowly walked behind Nambi and hurled a stone at the pot of water. The pot cracked and all the water flowed out which the boy delightfully drank. Nambi was very sad. He would have to walk back, pick up another pot and then carry the water for the Lord. He was too exhausted and expressed his helplessness. The boy smiled and told Nambi that he did not have to go all the way down to collect the water for the Lord but right there very close to the temple he would provide an alternative for him. As Nambi stood and watched in surprise, the divine hunter-boy released an arrow from his bow. It struck the top of the cliff where they were standing and lo! water started to gush down from the top of the cliff. Nambi knew that this was no ordinary hunter-boy, but the Lord himself come down to help him. He prayed to the Lord to reveal his true form. The Lord stood in front of Nambi in all his pristine glory and told Nambi that this water-fall would be known as “Akasha Ganga” and henceforth the waters from Akasha Ganga would be used for the abhisheka. 

Nambi continued his “teertha kainkaryam” and also introduced other forms of seva like thomala seva, tirumanjanam, vedaparayanam, mantrapushpa kainkaryam etc., for the Lord which earned for him the title “Acharya Purusha” of the temple. Since the Lord had addressed him as “thatha” he is also known as “Thathacharya”. Even to this day, it is the privilege of the descendants of Tirumala Nambi to offer all these sevas started by him to Lord Venkateshwara.

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Bhavaji who played “Game of Dice” with the Lord!

hathiram-bhavaji

Bhavaji was a saint from North India. He was a great devotee of Lord Rama. He once came on a pilgrimage to Tirumala (Tirupati). The quiet and serene atmosphere of the Tirumala Hills was so captivating that he decided to stay there. He made a small kutia for himself and daily used to visit Lord Venkateswara temple, stand for hours together in front of the deity in whom he saw the Lord of his heart — Sri Rama. The temple priests got annoyed with his constant presence over there and told him to go away.

Next day and the day after, when he came to the temple, they refused to allow him into the temple. He pleaded for a glimpse of his Lord, but they refused. With a heavy heart he went back to his humble hut and cried his heart out to the Lord. At night, he couldn’t get sleep and to keep himself occupied he started playing the game of dice — he played for both the parties: he on one side and the Lord on the other side! After some time, he fell off to sleep. There in his vision, the Lord appeared asking him to get up and play dice with Him. He woke up and there was the Lord in front of him. His joy knew no bounds! He and the Lord played the game of dice, and the Lord was defeated. When the Lord asked him what he wanted in return, Bhavaji’s request was that every day the Lord should come and play dice with him. The Lord assured him and as promised, the next day Lord came to Bhavaji’s place. They played…..the Lord even rested for a while and Bhavaji sang for Him. This went on for a few days.

One day, after the dice-game, the Lord hurriedly left. The gem studded necklace that the Lord was wearing slipped down unnoticed and got left behind. Bhavaji later saw it, picked it up and kept it safely to give it to the Lord next day. In the meantime, when the priests opened the temple doors in the morning, they found the necklace missing around the Lord’s neck. The temple authorities were informed. The priests who disliked Bhavaji and had denied him entry into the temple suspected him. The search party reached Bhavaji’s place. They enquired and he immediately brought the necklace from inside, saying it got left behind the previous night when the Lord had come to his dwelling to play the dice-game. Nobody was prepared to believe this. Bhavaji was accused of stealing and covering it up with a fictional story.

The matter was taken to Krishnadevaraya, the king of the Vijayanagar Empire. The king saw the innocent face of the Lord’s devotee and suggested a test for him instead of punishment. Bhavaji was locked up in a cell with a huge stack of sugarcane which he had to consume and finish by next day morning. The cell was closed, the guards were posted outside. Bhavaji prayed fervently to Lord Rama and was lost in his contemplation. Lo! A majestic elephant appeared in the cell. Within a few minutes it consumed the entire bulk of sugarcane and woke up Bhavaji from his meditation with a huge trumpet. He was overwhelmed to see his own Lord Rama in the form of an elephant come down to save him. He again and again prostrated to the Lord. The guards heard the elephant’s trumpet and rushed in. The entire bulk of sugarcane had vanished, and they saw an elephant hurriedly leave.

The matter was reported to the king.  Everyone came rushing. They saw an overwhelmed Bhavaji looking at the site where the elephant stood and uttering the words: “Hathi Ram! Hathi Ram!!”. Having heard of what had happened, the king and the priests asked for forgiveness from Bhavaji. Later on, he was made the Chief Priest of Venkateswara temple for many years. Since he was a devotee of Lord Rama who had appeared as Hathi (elephant), he came to be known as “Hathiram Bhavaji”. In the North, Lord Venkateswara is addressed as “Balaji” which is attributed to him. The Hathiramji Mutt was established in his name, and it exists even to this day.  The Mahants of the Mutt used to administer the Tirumala Temple from 1843 to 1932 till the present Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board was created.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

Aadimoolame Maaku – Annamacharya

Annamacharya was a 15th century saint composer who has sung a number of sankirtans on Lord Venkateshwara. It is said that he has composed 32,000 songs, and each sankirtan was considered to be a floral offering to the Lord. Most of these sankirtans are in Telugu and in Sanskrit.

Lord Venkateshwara

In this beautiful composition, the Saint asks the Lord to protect all – Jeeva Raksha. He also invokes Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (Pancha Maha Bhootas) for protection – Bhumi-Raksha, Jala-Raksha, Agni-Raksha, Vayu-Raksha and Akasha-Raksha. The Supreme Lord indeed is the Protector of all.

Lyrics:

Language : Telugu

Pallavi:
Adi moolame maku anga raksha
Sree devude maku jeeva raksha

Charanam1:
Bhoomi devi patiaina purushottamude maku
bhoomi pai neda nundina bhoomi raksha
amani jaladhi Sayi yaina devude maku
sameepya mandunna jala raksha

Charanam2:
Mroyuchu nagnilo yagna moortiyina devudu
ayamulu takanunda agni raksha
Vayusutu nelinattivanaja nabhude maku
vayuvandu kanda kuda vayu raksha

Charanam3:
PadamakaSamunaku parajooche vishnuve
gadiliai maku akaSa raksha
sadhinchi SreevenkatadreeSude maku
sadaramu meerinatti sarva raksha