As per Srimad Bhagavatham in Krita Yugam, Dhruva did penanace at Madhuvanam on the banks of River Yamuna for six months and had the Lord’s darshan. In Treta Yugam, Sri Rama’s brother Shatrugna killed Lavanasuran and ruled this place for 12 years as per Sri Rama’s instructions. In Dwapara yugam, Krishna sanctified this place by appearing here as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
Mathura (Thiruvadamadurai), Brindavan and Govardhanagiri, all the three places located close to each other are considered together as one Divya desam.
Mathura is one of the Saptha Puris or 7 mukthi sthalams.
Each represents different parts of the body of Sriman Narayanan.
Avanthi (Ujjain) is represented as the divine feet, Thiruvadi of Lord Perumal.
Kanchipuram, represents the waist,
Thirudwaraka represents the Nabhi (Navel),
Maya (Haridwar) represents the Thiru maarbhu (the chest)
* Madhura represents the neck, *
Kasi represents the nose
and Ayodhya Kshetram represents the Head of Lord Perumal.
About the temple:
At Mathura, the prison where Lord Krishna was born is still intact as it was-a small, dark room of about 10 x 10 ft size. By the side of the prison is a beautiful temple of Mathuranathji and a little away of Dwarakadish. On Krishna Janmaahtami day millions of devotees gather, enact and recapture Sri Krishna's divine life.
At Brindavan, South Indian style temple known as Rangamannar temple or Rangamandir which enshrines Sri Rangamannar, Andal and Garudalwar in the main sanctum as in Srivilliputhur. The garden where Lord Krishna used to play flute and dance with Radha and gopikas can be seen here. The samadhi of Swamy Prabhupada, founder of Harekrishna cult is nearby here.
At Govardhanagiri, Sri Krishna lifted up the entire Hill with His left hand little finger, and held it up like an umbrella to protect the people of Brindavan from terrible rains and thunderstorm caused by Indra. The temple was built on the top of the hill by Sri Vallabhacharya after visiting Govardhanagiri. There is a Temple at the foothill of Govardhanagiri, for Sri Lakshmi - Narayana, where worship is done as per the regulations laid down by Sri Ramanuja.
As per Varaha Puranam, the benefit of visiting 600 million thirthas is attained by visiting the theerthams in Mathura. It also states that circumbulating Mathura bestows the benefit of circumbulating 100 times all the holy places in the world. It also says that even seeing a person who has returned from Mathura will cleanse us of all sins. As per Padma Puranam, residing in Mathura for atleast one day will bestow Hari bhakti.
IMPORTANT PLACES IN MATHURA are Sri Krishna Janmasthan, Kesavji temple, Dwarkadeesh temple, Akroor ghat, Vishram ghat, Kothra Kund, Kamsa Tila, Ranga Bhoomi, Adi Varaha temple, Samyavan Theerth(Naga Theerth), Dhruva Tila, Madhuvanam, Talavanam, Kumudavanam.
Mathura on the west bank of Yamuna river is about 140 kms south of Delhi. Brindavan is about 11 kms from Mathura and Govardhanagiri about 15 kms.
DIVYA DESAMs - 72/108 - Thiruvaipadi / Gokulam
Name of the Divya Desam : Manamohana Krishna Perumal
Location : Gokul, Uttarpradesh
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Manamohana Krishna Perumal
Thayaars (Consorts) : Rukmini, Sathyabhama
Thirukkolam (Posture) : Nindra (Standing)
Thirumugam (Facing) : East
Mangalasasanam (Hymns sung by) :
Periyazhwar, Andaal, Thirumangai Azhwar
Sthalapurana (Brief History) :
Lord Krishna as an infant was under threat from the evil uncle King Kamsa. His father Vasudeva, brought him to Gokul for safe custody. Lord Krishna spent his childhood at Gokul. There are many colorful events in Krishna’s life that happened at Gokul. Putana, the demon sent by Kamsa to kill Krishna was killed at Gokul. The famous episode of Krishna overpowering the dreaded multi heads serpent Kalia happened on the Yamuna at Gokul. Another key event in the life of Lord Krishna which happened here was that he met Radha his love for the first time at Gokul.
About the temple:
* Gokulnath is the most important Temple at Gokul. * Madan Mohan, Gopal Lalji, Morwala and Vitthalnath are the other prominent Temples worth visiting.
Raman Reti is the sand in which Lord Krishna played as a child. Swami Gyandasji did severe penance at Raman Reti for 12 years. Pleased with his devotion, The Lord appeared before him and today we can find a Ramanbihariji Mandir at that spot. * Devotees roll over the sand here and see the blessings of Lord Krishna. *
Gokul was a key center for the Bhakti Movement of the 16th century. Vallabhacharya one of the pioneers of Bhakti movement had a vision of Lord Krishna. Krishna gave him the Brahma Sambandha, a mantra of self-dedication to Krishna. He visited Gokul with an intention to restore people to the right path of devotion. He fell in love with the beauty of Gokul and often used to sit beside the River Yamuna and read the holy Shrimad Bhagavatam.
* The divine Architect Vishwakarma had built Nanda Bhavan 5000 years ago. * Located on a hill, it was the house of Nanda, foster father of Lord Krishna. It was in this house that a young Krishna and his brother Balarama were brought up while his birth parents were imprisoned by King Kamsa in Vrindavan.
* Brahmaand Ghat is the place where Lord Krishna had eaten braj raja ( dust of mathura or mud of Mathura ). * The villagers went and reported the matter to Yashodama who went to scold him for eating mud which is not good for children. Initially Gopal denied that he ate it, as Yashodama asked him to open his mouth to confirm it, she was wonderstruck to see the whole universe in Kanha’s mouth. There is a beautiful temple of Brahmaand Bihari on this ghat.
DIVYA DESAMs - 73/108 - Thirudwarakai
Name of the Divya Desam : Sri Dwarakadish temple
Location : Dwaraka, Gujarat
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Kalyana Narayana Perumal,Sri Dwarakadeeshan
As Lord Krishna killed the wicked king Kamsa, his wives (Jarasandha’s daughters) became widows. Jarasandha attempted to kill the Lord in retaliation. His army was totally destroyed by the Lord, Jarasandha was spared by Sri Krishna keeping in mind the future Kurukshetra war.
Lord Krishna shifted to Dwaraka in order to protect the Yadhavas, A great city was built by divine sculptor Viswakarma and the Lord of the ocean gave a vast land for the purpose.
According to Srimad Bhagwath Gita, Skanda Mahapurana, Vishnu Purana and Harivansh, Dwaraka was built of gold. When Lord Krishna was to leave the earth after completing his Avatar, Dwaraka was drowned. The present Dwaraka came into being later on the Kutch bay in the Arabian sea
About the temple:
Dwaraka literally means the "gateway to heaven", as Dwar means "gate" and ka refers to "Brahma". Dwaraka is also referred as "Mokshapuri", "Dwarkamati", and "Dwarkavati".
The original temple is believed to have been built by Sri Krishna's grandson, Vajranabha, over the Hari-griha (Lord Krishna's residential place). The temple became part of the sacred Char Dham pilgrimage in India, after Adi Shankaracharya visited the shrine. The other three of the Char Dham are Shringeri, Badrikashram and Puri.
The temple can be entered by two doorways. The main doorway (north entrance) is known as "Moksha Dwara" (Door to Salvation), whereas the southern doorway is called as "Swarga Dwara" (Gate to Heaven). The outer side of this doorway has 56 steps that leads to the Gomati River. The flag atop the temple shows the sun and moon. The flag is changed 5 times a day, but the symbol remains the same.
* Bate Dwaraka: * Also known as Mool Dwaraka – original Dwaraka, this Islet is 32 km far from the present Dwaraka which the devotees can reach by ferry. It is believed that Lord Krishna stayed here.
* Gopi talav * is where Gopis united with their beloved Sri Krishna. It is at this place, 20 km north of Dwaraka, on the night of Sharad Purnima (full moon) they once again danced the raas with him (earlier was at Brindavan). Legend says that, unable to part from Lord Krishna, the Gopis offered their lives to the soil of this land and merged with their beloved. It is said that they turned into yellow clay, known as Gopi Chandan. Even today the soil of the Gopi talav is extremely smooth and yellow in color. It is offered as Prasad which devotees wear on forehead and body.
* Rukmini temple * is 2 kms from Dwaraka. There are shrines here for Matha Devaki and Krishna's brother Balaraman. There is a temple for Ambaji, the Guardian deity and Mother Tulsi at the entrance of the temple. This is the only place where a shrine is seen for Matha Tulsi.
Dwaraka is one of the Saptha Puris or 7 mukthi sthalams.
As per Brahmanda Purana this place was once the palace of demon Hiranyakasipu who was slain by Sriman Narayana manifesting as Narasimha (Man Lion form) from a pillar there for the sake of his staunch devotee Prahlada. Ahobilam is the "Svayam Vyakta Kshetram" of Lord Narasimha. Since Garuda performed tapas (penance) here, this place is also known as Garudachala.
The gods were stunned to witness the terrific aspect (Ugra Kala) and the strength of the Narasimha avatara of Lord Vishnu, thought to themselves ” * Aho Balam—What a strength * ” and hence this kshetra where Lord Narasimha appeared came to be known as Ahobalam.
The prapatthi sloka about-Ahobilam that reads:-
"Aho Veeryam Aho Souryam Aho Bahuparakramah
Naarasimham Param Daivam Ahobilam Aho Balam.
* About the temple: *
There are Nava-Narasimhasthalas here,
Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava
Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha.
The Nine Narasimhasthalas are :-
1. Jwala Narasimha 2. Ahobila Narasimha 3. Malola Narasimha 4. Kroda Narasimha 5. Karanja Narasimha 6. Bhargava Narasimha 7. Yogananda Narasimha 8. Chatravata Narasimha and 9. Pavana Narasimha.
* 1. BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
The Bhargava Narasimha Swamy is situated at a distance of two kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, on a hill, near the sacred pond, known as 'Bhargava Theertham', where Bhargava Rama performed his penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Bhargava Narasimha Swamy.
* 2. YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 kilometres. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakasipu, Lord Narasimha taught Bakth Prahlada several yogic postures. Therefore, the Lord in this aspect is called Yogananda Narasimha.
* 3. CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
About three kilometres from lower Ahobilam, the moorthi of the deity is installed under a peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence, the Lord is called as Chatravata Narasimha Swamy.
* 4. AHOBILA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam, at a distance of eight kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine temples there. The Lord here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy. It is firmly believed the Lord Narasimha was 'Svayambhu' (self-manifest) here.
* 5. KRODAKARA (VARAHA) NARASIMHA SWAMY *
The temple of this Lord is one kilometre away from the main temple of Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy on the Upper Ahobilam. The moorthi of the deity has the face of a boar (varaha or kroda) and the Lord is seen along with his Consort, Lakshmi. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy here.
* 6. KARANJA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
This shrine is situated at a distance of one kilometre from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The moorthi of the deity is installed under a tree, called 'Karanja Vruksham'. Hence this Lord is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy.
* 7. MALOLA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
Nearly two kilometres from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Malola Narasimha Swamy. The deity here appears in 'soumya' (graceful) form. As Lord Narasimha is seen with his consort, Lakshmi, He is known as Malola Narasimha Swamy. The word 'Malola' means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma=Lakshmi, Lola= beloved).
* 8. JWALA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
The temple of Jwala Nrisimha Swamy, lies higher up the above temple, on a hill called, 'Achalachaya Meru'. This is about four kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu.
* 9. PAVANA NARASIMHA SWAMY *
Nearby the above temple, is the shrine of Pavana Narasimha, on the banks of the river Pavana. It is about six kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. Hence the Lord of the shrine is known as Pavana Narasimha Swamy.
In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Narasimha Swamy in the Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlada Varada Sannidhi. The other divine places to have Dharshan here are 'Ugra Sthambham' and 'Prahlada Mettu'.
At a distance of eight kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is believed that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as 'Ugra Sthambham'.
The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugra Sthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlada Narashimha Swamy. The moorthi of Bakth Prahlada is installed in a small cave.
There are a number of 'theerthas' (holy water ponds) round this place. Of these, Rakthakundam is the most important theertham. It is stated that Lord Narasirnha after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu, washed his hands in this 'theertham' and hence the water is still reddish in appearance. "
According to the Varaha Purana, Adi Varaha swamy manifested himself on the western bank of the Swami Pushkarini (temple tank), while Vishnu in the form of Venkateswara came in to reside on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini.
RESTORATION OF EARTH BY SRI ADI VARAHA
During Pralaya Kalpa (the Great Deluge), the Earth sank into the Patala loka, and remained in that state for almost a thousand years. Sri Maha Vishnu assumed the form of Adi Varaha, a giant wild boar and proceeded to Patala loka. He fought a fierce duel with the demon king Hiranyaksha and killed him. He then brought the Earth up by carrying it on his huge tusks.
Brahma, the Devas and the sages extolled Adi Varaha's virtues, by chanting the Vedic mantras. They prayed to him to re-establish the Earth as before. Adi Varaha obliged them, and called upon Brahma to recreate the Universe. He expressed his desire to reside on the Earth to protect its people. He commanded his vahana, Garuda to fetch Kridachala (a massive natural hill with lofty peaks, embedded with gold and precious stones resembling Adisesha in shape) from Vaikuntam.
Garuda brought Kridachala and placed it on a sacred spot, the East of Swami Pushkarini, chosen by Adi Varaha himself. Adi Varaha stood within the divine vimana of Kridachala, which glittered with many splendorous gem-studded gopuras.
Brahma and the other holy personages requested the fearsome-looking Adi Varaha to assume a tranquil and composed look, and rest on the hill to protect the mankind and grant boons to people.
Adi Varaha with his consort Bhudevi appeared with four arms and a blissful countenance, adorning an array of jewels. He took a divine decision to stay at Venkatadri, under a divya vimana, to bless the devotees.
CONTEST BETWEEN ADISESHA AND VAYUDEVA
During the Dwaparayuga, Vayudeva (the Wind God) went to Vaikuntam to pay his obeisance to Lord Sri Vishnu. The Lord was reclining in the company of Maha Lakshmi and the doorway was guarded by Adisesha. Vayudeva was incensed when Adisesha prevented him from entering Sri Vishnu’s holy abode resulting in a fierce battle between them.
When Lord Vishnu intervened, each was boasting of his superior valour and supreme might. To test who was stronger, the Lord suggested that Adisesha should encircle the Ananda hill, an off-shoot of the Meru Mountain on its northern side, while Vayudeva should blow hard to dislodge the Ananda hill from Adisesha's strangle hold. The contest waxed furiously, and as the World trembled, Brahma, Indra and the other deities prevailed upon Adisesha to yield victory to Vayudeva for the welfare of the world, as a whole.
Obliging them, Adisesha released his hold on the hill, with the result, Adisesha and the Ananda hill were together blown away to the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. As Adisesha was crestfallen over his defeat, Lord Brahma and the others appeased him by saying that he would be integrated with the hill Venkatadri and would become the abode of Lord Vishnu. * Adisesha then metamorphosed into the vast Seshadri hill range, while his hood manifested itself into Venkatadri, the abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara, his trunk portion turned out to be Ahobila supporting Lord Narasimha and his tail housing Srisailam bearing Lord Mallikarjuna (Lord Siva). *
SAGE BHRIGU IN VAIKUNTAM
Sage Bhrigu went to Sri Vaikuntam, the abode of Lord Vishnu and found Vishnu and Sri Maha Lakshmi reclining on Adisesha unmindful of his arrival. Disgusted over this, Bhrigu, known for his intemperate nature, kicked Lord Vishnu on the chest, where Sri Maha Lakshmi was reclining. Vishnu immediately got up, massaged rishi's foot and enquired if his foot was injured when he kicked on his hard chest.
Sri Maha Lakshmi was furious over Bhrigu for kicking the holy spot and her favourite abode - the bosom of the Lord. She left Vishnu in a fury and went on to stay at Karavirapura (now Kolhapur in the state of Maharashtra) to commence a deep penance. Unable to bear the solitude after Sri Maha Lakshmi’s departure, Vishnu left Vaikuntam in search of her and wandered across the forests and hills.
MANIFESTATION OF LORD VENKATESWARA ON VENKATADRI
Frustrated over not finding his consort anywhere, Lord Vishnu took an ant-hill on Venkatadri under a tamarind tree as a dwelling place, besides a Pushkarini. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, taking pity at the plight of Lord Vishnu, made up their mind to serve him in the guise of a cow and calf. Surya – the Sun God, informed Lakshmi of this and requested her to sell the cow and calf to the king of the Chola country assuming the form of a cattle care-taker. The Chola king sent the cow and its calf to graze on the Venkata Hill along with his herd of other cattle. Discovering Lord Vishnu in the ant-hill, the holy cow everyday emptied her udder into the ant-hill and thus fed the Lord. Over a period of time, the queen noticed that the cow was not yielding any milk and chastised the cowherd severely for its peculiar behaviour.
The cowherd trying to investigate the cause, followed the cow and discovered to his utter shock that the cow was emptying her udder over the ant-hill. In his anger, the cowherd aimed a blow with his axe on the head of the cow but accidentally hit Lord Vishnu who rose from the ant-hill to receive the blow and save the cow’s life. On seeing Lord Vishnu bleeding, the cowherd fell down and died. On the death of the cowherd, the cow returned to the king with blood stains on her body, bellowing in the presence of the Chola King. An anxious king followed the cow to the scene of the incident, the ant-hill, where the King found the cowherd lying dead on the ground.
While the King stood wondering how it had happened, Lord Vishnu rose from the ant-hill and cursed the king to become an Asura (Demon) for the fault of his servant. Entreated by the king who pleaded innocence, the Lord blessed him by saying that his curse would end when he was adorned with the Kireetam (crown) presented by Akasa Raja at the time of his marriage with Sri Padmavati. * To atone the sins of raising the axe against the Lord, the cowherd's atma (spirit) received the rare boon from the Lord, which is that, he and his descendants enjoy the privilege of opening the main door in the Lord's sanctum sanctorum in due course. *
In course of time, the Chola king was reborn as Akasa Raja and though he ruled well, he had no children much to his displeasure. As part of the yaga, he was ploughing the fields, he found a baby in a lotus flower and named her Alarmel mangai (Girl child born in Lotus) and adopted her as his daughter. Lord Vishnu reincarnated as Srinivasa (or presented himself after penance in the ant-hill) as the son of an elderly woman-saint Vakula Malika Devi.
Vakula Devi was Yasoda in her previous birth, Lord Krishna's foster-mother and was unhappy in that life for not seeing his marriage. As per the boon received from Krishna, she was reborn as Vakula Devi and enjoyed the rare spectacle of witnessing the celestial wedding of the divine couple.
In course of time, Princess Padmavati grew up into a beautiful maiden and was visited by Saint Narada. On reading her palm, he foretold that she was destined to be the spouse of Lord Vishnu himself. In due time, Lord Srinivasa on a hunting spree was chasing a wild elephant in the forest. The elephant led him into a garden where Princess Padmavati and her maids were playing. The sight of the elephant frightened them and their Princess. When Lord Srinivasa appeared in front of the Elephant, it immediately turned round, saluted the Lord and disappeared into the forest.
At an appropriate age of Princess Padmavathi, Vakula Devi approached Akasa Raja with the proposal of marriage between Lord Srinivasa and Padmavathi. The overjoyed king gleefully agreed and his advisor Bhrihaspati wrote the invitation for the wedding attended by all the Lords, Devas and celestial beings. It is also believed that the Lord also obtained a huge loan from Kubera, the god of wealth, towards meeting the expenses for the divine and grand wedding.
LORD SRINIVASA TURNS TO LORD VENKATESWARA
After this celestial marriage, Goddess Maha Lakshmi who left the Lord, in the past in a huff after sage Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu on his chest, her dwelling place, came back and was explained by Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva about the desire of Lord Vishnu to be on the holy seven hills for the emancipation of the mankind from the perpetual trials and tribulations of Kali Yuga.
Lord Venkateshwara turned himself into a granite moorthi, Goddesses Lakshmi and Padmavathi also turn into stone moorthis expressing their wish to be with their Lord eternally. Goddess Lakshmi stayed with him on the left side of his chest while Goddess Padmavati rested on the right side of his chest.
About the temple:
THE DIVINE STRUCTURE OF THE TIRUMALA MAIN TEMPLE
Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Srinivasa, Balaji, and Veṅkaṭachalapati, made Tirumala his abode over five thousand years ago. Even before him, it was Lord Varahaswami who had made Tirumala his abode. Since then, many devotees have continued to construct grand entrances on the ramparts of the temple over generations. The temple complex is spread over 16.2 acres of land.
SRI BHU VARAHA SWAMI TEMPLE
In Tirumala, the East facing Sri Varahaswami temple is located in the North West corner of the temple tank - Swami Pushkarini. As per the temple legend, Lord Srinivasa sought a gift of land from Sri Varahaswami, which he readily granted.
In return, Srinivasa provided him with an agreement deed assuring that he would be paid the first darshan, worship and offerings by all the devotees visiting the temple. * This tradition is in practise to this day at Tirumala and Lord Varahaswami continues to receive the age old traditional worship. Even today, all offerings are first made to Lord Varahaswami and then to Lord Sri Venkateswara. *
The height of the main entrance has been increased periodically since 13th century. Its present height is fifty feet. This entrance has other names such as ‘Padivaakili’ and ‘Simhadwaram’. In Tamil it is called ‘Periya Thiruvasal’. On either side of this main entrance there are two feet high moorthis made of alloy metal (Pancha loha). They are Sankanidhi and Padmanidhi who are the guardians of ‘Navanidhi’, the treasure of Lord Sri Venkateswara.
The Maha Dwaram comprises three consecutive entrances – the first is a brass one, while the second is a silver one. The third entrance is a golden one.
VENDI VAKILI-SILVER ENTRANCE
The threshold opposite to the flagstaff is called the ‘silver entrance’. This is also known as ‘Nadimipadi Kavali’. This is the second entrance leading to the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Beyond the silver door, the path which circumambulates the main gopura of Ananda Nilaya is known as ‘Vimana Pradakshina’. Early, at the pre-dawn hour, while Suprabhata seva is performed to the Lord, devotees make Anga Pradakshina (rolling one’s body in humility all round the temple as a religious vow). Hence, it is also called Angapradakshina marg. In this pathway one can witness Sri Ranganadha just opposite to the silver entrance, Sri Varadaraja Swami temple, main kitchen, golden well, Ankurarpana Mandapam, Yagasala, Nanala (coins) Parakamani, Notla (Paper notes) Parkamani, Almyrah of Sandal Sreeranganathudu Vendi Vakili paste (Chandanapu ara), darshan of Vimana Venkateswara, cell of records, Sannidhi Bhashyakarulu - the seat of Sri Ramanuja, the temple of Yoganarasimhaswami, Lords’s hundi and the seat of Vishvaksena. All the small temples in this path way are called ‘Chutttu Gullu’ (Sub-shrines encircling the main shrine).
As soon as we enter the temple through the silver door, we can witness Sri Ranganadha kneeling on Adisesha (serpent). There are small gold plated idols of Sri Varadaraja Swami and Lord Sri Venkateswara Swami on the upper and lower sides of Sri Ranganadha. The angapradakshina commences from here, moves round the Vimana Pradakshinam and comes to an end here. It is said that the Lord loves the devotees doing ‘Porlu dandalu’ and grants them their wishes.
SRI VARADARAJA SWAMI TEMPLE
In the Vimana Pradakshina pathway and at a distance of nine feet to the south of the silver door, is the Varadarajaswami temple. The idol is five feet high with a single pagoda over the shrine. Devotes have to go round this temple on their way to the Lord’s Darshan. The period in which this idol was installed is not known. It symbolises the glory of Varadaraja who is ever merciful and grants boons to the devotees!
On either side of the golden gate, there are Jaya and Vijaya, the chief guards of the Lord, holding a conch, a disc and a mace respectively. There is a ten feet high wooden grill around these statues. These two devout servants guard the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord round the clock.
BANGARU VAKILI (GOLDEN DOOR)
The most important entrance for going into the sanctum sanctorum is this golden gate. Here, the stone frame of the entrance and the porches of Jaya - Vijaya on either side are gold plated and hence this name.
At night these doors are closed methodically in a pre-conceived fashion. In the same way, they open this bolt from outside, in the morning. The pristine beauty of the Lord can be witnessed from this point.
The pavilion that one notices after crossing the golden gate is known as ‘Snapana Mandapam’. Every day after Thomala Seva, the moorthy of Koluvu Srinivasa Murthy is brought here and placed on the golden throne and his court is held. During this court, almanac is recited; the affairs of the day, the details of income and the expenditure of the previous day are reverentially presented to the Lord.
The threshold in front of the Lord is called Kulasekhara Padi. A staunch Vaishnava Saint Kulasekhara Azhwar made a humble request to the Lord, to transform him to a stone threshold in front of Lord so that he will have a glimpse of divine beauty every day! Hence, this threshold was named after him.
The spot where Swayambhu Moorthy of Lord Sri Venkateswara’s is located in the Sanctum Sanctorum is called Ananda Nilayam. The golden gopuram on this Ananda Nilayam is the ‘Ananda Nilaya Vimana’, which is also known as Bangaru Gopura Vimanam. As per legend, Garuda (vahana of Sri Vishnu) brought this Ananda Nilaya Vimanam from Vaikuntam (the celestial abode of Sri Vishnu) and consecrated it in this sacred place as desired by Lord Sri Vishnu. This Golden Gopuram carries 64 images of various deities.
BHOGA SRINIVASA MURTHY
In Ananda Nilayam, the ever beautiful idol is that of Bhoga Srinivasa Murthy. During the ‘Ekanta Seva’ at the end of the day, it is the privilege of Bhoga Srinivasa to go to bed on a silk mattress. During ‘Suprabhata Seva’ in the morning, this idol is removed from the silk mattress and kept at the foot of the main deity. That means, Bhoga Srinivasa Murthy acts as presiding deity since the main deity is huge and immovable.
KOLUVU SRINIVASA MURTHY
Every morning Koluvu Sreenivasa Murthy is seated on the golden throne in Snapana Mandapam and almanac (Panchangam) is read out to him. All the details of the day like tithi, nakshatra, yoga and the information about different sevas are given to him. Then the treasury clerk humbly presents to him, the income and expenditure account of the previous day. This is done is Snapana Mandapam before the dusk and it is done in Ghanta Mandapam after dawn.
SRI BEDI ANJANEYA SWAMY TEMPLE
Sri Bedi Anjaneya Swamy temple is located exactly to the opposite of Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple in Tirumala. This ancient temple enjoys priority after Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy temple and Lord Sri Venakteswara Swamy temple. Every day, after offering naivedyam to these deities, it is brought to this temple. According to the legend, Lord Hanuman in his youthful age wanted to leave Tirumala, in search of a camel. This forced his mother Anjana Devi to tie his hands with cuffs and order him to stay in that place till she returned. However, it is believed that Anjana Devi stayed back in Akasa Ganga area and never returned to this place. Hence, the icon of Lord Hanuman in this temple will be seen in a unique form where both his hands were handcuffed (“Bedi-Cuffs”).
There is a popular anecdote regarding Malayappa Swami being made a processional deity in place of Ugra Sreenivasa Murthy.
During the 13th century when Ugra Srinivasa Murthy was being taken in a procession, strange and disturbing incidents took place. Then all the devotees prayed to the Lord and sought his protection. Then the Lord voiced his words through a devotee and advised them not to use these moorthis for processions in future and told them to use other moorthis, which are available at a place called ‘Malayappa-Kona’. The priests searched that place and brought the moorthi of the Lord. As the moorthi was found in Malayappa Kona, the deity was called Malayappa Swami. While the moorthi of Lord Sri Venkateswara is a granite Swayambhu, Malayappa Swami’s idol is made of metal alloy - Panchaloha.
After the main deity, Malayappa Swami has a special place of pride as he is considered as the processional diety - Utsava Murthy, of Lord Sri Venkateswara. It is a great feast to the eyes to see Malayappa Swami along with his consorts, Sreedevi and Bhudevi during processions, festivals and all Sevas.
It is believed that Vakuladevi, the Foster mother of Lord Srinivasa, supervises the preparation of food relished by her son. To this day, she continues to supervise the preparation of all the prasadams for the Lord. So a peep hole is made in the wall for her to oversee the preparations in the kitchen.
VIMANA VENKATESWARA SWAMI
Lord Sri Venkateswara ingrained on Ananda Nilaya Vimanam is said to be as powerful and sacred as the main deity in the sanctum. * It is believed even if devotees fail to have the darshan of the Lord, they could have a glimpse of Vimana Venkateswara and derive the same benefits usually associated with the darshan of the main deity in the Sanctum. *
Just beside Tallapaka treasure trove there is a pavilion called ‘Sannidhi Bhashyakarulu’. There is a granite statue of Sri Ramanuja in this pavilion. Sri Ramanuja in his long life of 120 years (1017 – 1137 A.D.) visited Tirumala thrice. * In those days, very reluctant to trample the holy hills with his feet, he climbed the seven hills on his knees. * It is said that he took rest at a point now known as ‘Mokali Mitta’. In his memory, a temple was constructed here. He has rendered Yeoman service to the Lord at Tirumala.
Sri Ramanuja streamlined the rituals of the temple as per Vaikhanasa Agama and handed it over to the posterity.
After having the darshan of the Lord, the devotees deposit their offerings to the Lord in this Hundi. The temple complex was modified many times for creating easy passage to the devotees. But the hundi was never shifted from this place as it is believed that “Sri Chakra Yantra” (the holy yantra which invokes all riches) lies underneath the main hundi.
Anantalwar, one of the chief disciples of Sri Ramanujacharya, pioneered “Pushpa Kainkaryam” in Tirumala and became one of the prominent and ardent devotees of Lord Sri Venkateswara.
However, to examine his devotion, the Lord went on to test him. In this interesting story, Sri Ramanujacharya, the great Acharyapurusha who revived the rituals in Tirumala temple, while teaching his disciples about the greatness of Tirumala told them that, the Lord was very fond of adorning himself with flowers as he is “Alankarapriya”. He asked if anyone of them was capable of growing a garden in Tirumala braving the chill climate and insects, to present flowers to the Lord. Anantalwar, said he is prepared to do that and went to Tirumala with his wife.
In a bid to develop a beautiful garden for the Pushpakainkaryam of the Lord, Anantalwar initially wanted to dig a pond to water the plants. He wanted to do this task without taking the help from outsiders. The Lord felt happy about the couple’s dedication and decided to help them. He approached the couple as a 12-year old boy but Anantalwar refuseds to take his help.
On a fine day, the boy helped Anantalwar’s wife who was in her full term pregnancy, this gesture of the boy enraged Anantalwar. Out of anguish, he threw a crowbar upon the boy. It hit the chin of the boy and blood oozed and dripped off his chin. When Anantalwar went to the temple to worship the Lord, he saw blood oozing out from the chin of the Lord and then he realised, the boy was none other than the Lord himself.
He realised his mistake and immediately applied camphor to the Lord’s chin. Lord was pleased with his devotion and said that the scar will remain forever and camphor will be applied to cover the mark. This ritual is carried out even today. The crowbar used by Anantalwar is also displayed on the Northern Wall of the main entrance.
Tiruchanoor, is one of the oldest pilgrim towns located 5km away from Tirupati, is abode of Goddess Sri Padmavathi Devi, the beloved consort of Lord Venkateswara. This pilgrim centre is popularly known as “Alarmelmangapuram” (Alar-Lotus, Mel-top, Manga-Goddess, Puram-town). According to temple legend as Goddess Mahalakshmi emerged on the golden lotus as Padmavathi Devi located at the centre of Padmasarovaram-the temple tank, this place is known as “Alarmelmangapuram”.
Devotees also pray at Sri Govindaraja Perumal temple at Keezh Tirupathi consecrated by Saint Ramanuja acharya.
DIVYA DESAMs - 76/108 - Thirunavaya
Name of the Divya Desam : Nava Mukundhan temple
Location : Thirunavaya, Malapuram Dist, Kerala
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Nava Mukundhan/Sri Narayana Perumal
As per legend the nine spiritually enlightened sons of 'Hrishabha', the King of Ayodhya, known as 'Navayogis' (Nine ascetics) installed Salagrama (considered as sacred with presence of Sri Vishnu) here. The first eight salagramas sank deep into the earth as the regular rituals were not followed, the last - ninth one was installed as Mukunda bestowing 'Moksha' to the departed souls with all necessary rituals. This time the installation was successful and the moorthi did not sink beyond its knees. Later these nine brothers (Navayogis) came to this place and performed a 'Yajna' (ritual of sacrifice) for the appeasement of the gods and the welfare of the people. The place was thus known as 'Tirunavayogi', in memory of the nine brothers, and the word transformed, as time passed, to the present form 'Thirunavaya'.
As per another legend Maha Lakshmi and Gajendran the king of elephants (Indradyumna, Pandya king) worshipped Maha Vishnu here with lotus flowers from a lake, with two devotees using flowers from the same source, supply dwindled, and Gajendran appealed to Vishnu, who took Lakshmi by his side on the same throne and accepted worship offered by Gajendran. The name of the theertham Senkamala saras arises from the legend of the lotus filled lake.
It is also believed that Bakth Markandeya, fleeing the clutches of Yama appealed to Lord Vishnu for help at this temple and upon his direction crossed the river Bharatapuzha to worship Lord Shiva, while Vishnu blocked the rear entrance to the temple, to prevent Yama from clutching him.
About the temple:
Navamukunda Temple is one of the oldest Vishnu temples in Kerala. It dates back to the last period of the 'Dwaapara Yuga'. It is believed Adi Shankaracharya came to the temple and prayed on his knees, not knowing exactly where the other eight Salagramas were lying beneath the earth.
Holding immense historical importance, this is the place where 'MAMANGAM', a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala was held once every 12 years, in olden times. This extravagant festival was held for the last time in 1755 AD.
The famous and ancient Thirunavaya Temple, known throughout the country as an ancient teaching-centre of the Vedas, was once plundered and destroyed by Tipu Sultan's army. It was the Samoothiris who repaired the temple later. The last and major renovation with the reconstruction of Sanctum Sanctorum was done by the legendary PERUMTHACHAN under the direction of the Vettath Raja about 1300 years back. The reconstruction had the typical ' Perumthachan touch ' making the rays of the rising sun fall on the moorthi on every Medam First (in Utharaayana period, in April) and on Kanni First (in Dakshinayana period, in October).
The Bharatapuzha river, the presence of temples for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on its banks, accords this temple town a stature equivalent to Benares. As in Benares, cremation of the dead is carried out in ghats along the river. * Thousands of devotees pray here on Karkkidaka vavu day (Jul-Aug) and perform the pithrukriya rites for the departed souls. *
As per legend King Ambhareeshan, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, performed penance towards Lord Vishnu to get His blessings. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Vishnu appeared before him in the form of Lord Indra, the king of Devaloka. Ambhareeshan got disappointed that he performed penance only to get the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Overwhelmed by his true devotion, Lord Vishnu appeared in His original form and blessed His devotee. It is believed that this is the Mukthisthalam of King Ambhareeshan.
According to legend, Sri Narayana Perumal took four different forms – as Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana and Paravasudeva - and appeared before King Ambareeshan here. Hence there are four separate sannidhis here representing each of these forms. It is also believed that these moorthis were installed and worshipped by the Pandavas – one sannidhi each by Yudhistra, Bheema and Arjuna (moolavar) and one sannidhi jointly by Nakula and Sahadeva.
About the temple:
Over 2000 years ago, a sage of this place went to Kasi and stayed there for a long time. He came to know that his mother was terminally ill and started to see his mother. Lord Kasi Viswanathar also accompanied him hiding in the umbrella of the sage.
Reaching this place, the sage left the umbrella and went for a bath in the adjacent Bharathapuzha river. Returning, he saw the umbrella disappeared and a Swayambhu Shivalinga had appeared in that place. It is believed that Lord Kasi Viswanathar came here with the sage to stay with Lord Vishnu, worshipped by the Pandavas.
Devotees respectfully call this place
as “Anjumoorthy koil” since it has five separate sannidhis - four for Lord Vishnu and one for Lord Shiva.
DIVYA DESAMs - 78/108 - Thrikkakara
Name of the Divya Desam : Vamana Moorthy temple
Location : Thrikkakara, Ernakulam Dist, Kerala
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Katkaraiappan
Thayaar (Consort) : Perunselvanayaki
Thirukkolam (Posture) : Nindra (Standing)
Thirumugam (Facing) : South
Mangalasasanam (Hymns sung by) :
Sthalapurana (Brief History) :
The Bhagavata Purana describes that Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Mahabali, a benevolent AsuraKing. Bali was the grandson of Prahlada, the son of Virochana. King Mahabali was generous, and engaged in severe austerities and penance and won the praise of the world. With the praise from his courtiers and others, he regarded himself as the all powerful in the world.
Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahmin boy carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request three paces of land. Mahabali consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya. Vamana then revealed his identity and enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. King Mahabali, unable to fulfill his promise, offered his head for the third.
Vamana then just raised his foot above Mahabali's head and gave the king immortality for his humility. According to Srimad Bhagavatham, Lord created a separate Logam (world) for Mahabali called 'SU-Thalam' with all divine features in it and even today the Lord is standing as guard for Mahabali. He has promised to stand as guard there till the end of this Vaivaswatha Manvantharam. The legend is associated with the temple and also with Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram. Thrikkakara ('Thiru-kaal-kara' meaning 'place of the holy foot') is also derived from this legend.
Another legend associated with this temple is that Kapila maharshi did penance here and Vishnu pleased with the rishi’s penance appeared before the rishi. At the behest of the rishi, Vishnu decided to stay in this place.
About the temple:
Sri Thrikkakara Appan Perumal temple is considered to be the centre of Onam celebrations all over the world. It's on this Thiruvonam day every year, the Lord brings Mahabali back Bhuloka to show him how happy and prosperous his citizens are.
* It is widely seen during Onam celebrations, a pyramidal moorthi symbolizing Lord Vamana is installed at all worship places and celebration, and named Thrikkakara-appan. *
This temple also houses a Shivalingam, located to the north of the Vamana shrine, which is believed to have been worshipped by king Mahabali himself. During the Onam festival, the presiding deity of Lord Shiva temple is also worshiped with equal rites and rituals.
Another legend goes that a farmer tried to plant several plantain saplings but none grew into a full fledged tree. He then decided to present the Lord Katkarai Appan with a Golden Plantain Sapling.
Pleased with the commitment of the devotee, the Lord is said to have blessed him with a huge number of well grown special plantain trees at this place, * now
referred as the “Nendran Vazhai” (a special type of banana endemic to the region). *
DIVYA DESAMs - 79/108 - Thirumuzhikulam
Name of the Divya Desam : Lakshmana Perumal temple
Location : Thirumuzhikulam, Ernakulam, Kerala
Moolavar (Presiding Deity) : Sri Thirumuzhikulathan
Thayaar (Consort) : Madhuraveni Nachiyar
Thirukkolam (Posture) : Nindra (Standing)
Thirumugam (Facing) : East
Mangalasasanam (Hymns sung by) :
Nammazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar
Sthalapurana (Brief History) :
As per legend from the Ramayana, Bharata, came to invite Sri Rama, then in exile, to take over the reins of the kingdom. An angry Lakshmana suspecting Bharata's intentions intended to kill him; however, Bharata's innocence was very soon revealed, and then the two of them offered worship together at Thirumuzhikulam.
As per another legend Hareetha Maharshi performed penance towards Lord Vishnu for many years on the banks of river Chalakudy (previously called as Poorna River). Pleased by the devotion of Hareetha Maharshi, Lord Vishnu appeared before him on the beginning of the Kali Yuga. The Rishi asked the Lord to tell people an easy way to reach Him. Lord, in His reply said that every one should practice their duties assigned to them according to Varnasrama Dharmas and offered the Sri Sukthi text explaining the puja rules. As the Lord spoke "Thiru mozhi" meaning sacred words, hence this place got its name as "thirumozhi kalam" – kalam means place. Later Thirumozhikkalam became Thirumuzhikulam.
About the temple:
This is the only Vishnu temple named after Lakshmana. It is believed that at the end of the Dvapara Yuga, Dvaraka was swallowed by the sea and four moorthis of Sri Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrukhna which Lord Sree Krishna worshipped, were also washed into the sea. Some fishermen subsequently caught these four moorthis near Thriprayar and they were given to the local Chieftain Vakkay Kaimal.
Vakkay Kaimal, had a dream one night in which some mysterious person appeared before him and told him that four idols have been washed ashore and that these idols are to be consecrated. They were duly installed in four temples as directed in the dream. Sri Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, * Lakshmana at Thirumuzhikulam * and Sathrughna at Payammal. It is believed that worship at all these four temples on the same day is very auspicious.
* In the Malayalam month of Karkidakam (July 15 to August 15) - the Ramayana Masam, thousands of devotees do this special pilgrimage, which is popularly known as NALAMBALAM YATRA - a pilgrimage to the four temples (Nalambalam). *
As per legend in a place called Sankaramangalam there was a very devout old lady who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, known to people as Sankaramangalathu amma. She was very particular about observing Ekadasi vradha. During this time Thukala (tholaga), an Asura used to trouble people who come to take bath in the nearby river. One Dwadasi day she could not find any Brahmin to partake of her food. Lord Vishnu Himself took the form of a Brahmachari and came there as her guest.
Sankaramangalathamma requested Him to take bath in the nearby well and come in. Lord Vishnu asked her whether there is any river nearby. She then told Him that an Asura was living near the river and was not allowing any one to take bath there. Lord Vishnu went to the river and killed the Tholagasura with his Sudarshana Chakra and washed the Chakra in the river. This part of the river is known as "Chakrashalana Kadavu".
After taking His bath, the Lord installed the Moorthi of Shiva (Shivalingam) which belonged to "Thukala" at Thukalassery a place east of Mathilbhagom. Then the Brahmachari (Lord Vishnu) proceeded to Kavumbhagom and caught hold of "Yakshi", another devil from Kavumbhagom and put her in a well and closed it. On the top of the well He installed Goddess Mahamaya to guard the Yakshi.
When the Lord returned, there were four more Brahmins. Sankaramangalathamma served food to all the five of them in areca nut sheath (paala). Even today this feeding is done in areca nut sheath and is referred to as Paala Bhojanam.
There is another interesting legend about this ardent devotee. Sankaramangalathamma was an illiterate and used to calculate the occurrence of Ekadasi by putting one stone everyday from the fifteen stones given to her by a literate person. Once some Brahmins came to her house and requested for food. When she told them that it was Ekadasi, they laughed at her and informed her that the day was Dasami. To prove the same, one of them who was an astrologer, did a Prasna (method of astrology) to find out the exact Thithi. The Prasna showed that it was Ekadasi but when they stepped out of the house, it showed as Dasami.
About the temple:
It is believed that the moorthy of Maha Vishnu or Sree Vallabha was sculpted by Viswakarma at the behest of Lord Krishna and was given to Satyaki at the end of Dwapara Yuga. Lord asked Garuda to keep the moorthy in safe custody and accordingly Garuda kept it in the banks of Netravati river. Later Cheraman Perumal - the emperor of Kerala had a dream that the moorthy of Mahavishnu was lying on the bed of Netravati river. All efforts were taken to search the moorthy, at last the moorthy was discovered from the banks of Netravati river with the joint efforts of the Tulu Brahmins and Malayala Nampoothiries. Since there was an empty temple in Thiruvalla which was waiting for a suitable moorthi, the king consecrated the divine moorthi there. When the original moorthi ordered for that temple came, it was consecrated in a place called Malayin Keezh. Even today the people of Malayin Keezh call their God as Thiruvalla Appan. It is learned that Padathi Banana was used as an offering by Sage Durvasa when he visited the temple. Even today Padathi Pazham is offered to the God.
Sri Vallabha Perumal is portrayed as holding a conch, a discus and a lotus. The Sudarshana Chakram seen through the west cardinal door of the sanctum is held in worship and is believed to have been installed in the 13th century. Sandalwood paste is offered as the prasadam in the Sri Vallabha (presiding deity) shrine, while vibhooti or the sacred ash is offered as prasadam in the Chakra shrine on the other side of the sanctum.
Historical evidence such as copper plates and proclamations point to Thiruvalla as a flourishing and major center of spiritual and educational prominence in the past. The Sree Vallaba Temple governed a Vedic School with one thousand students and one hundred teachers.
People believe that the great devotee of Vishnu called Gandakarna who used to hang two bells in his ear lobes to prevent hearing the name of Lord Shiva attained salvation in this temple.
There is a 50 feet black granite flag pole in this temple. This flag pole is buried very deep and only a small portion is visible above ground. A Garuda moorthi made of Panchaloha is chained to the flag pole. It is said that when Perumthachan made the Garuda, it started flying away. So he decided to chain it to the flag pole. In 1970 a new flag pole has also been installed.
During earlier days women were not allowed to enter the temple. The story goes that a lady was so enchanted by the beauty of the Lord that she refused to go out of the temple. Nowadays ladies do visit this temple.
In this temple the God is worshipped five times a day in different forms. For the first and second poojas (usha pooja and ethirettu pooja) Lord Sree Vallabha is worshipped in Brahmachari Bhava, for third and fourth poojas (pantheerady pooja and ucha pooja) Lord is worshipped in Gruhastha Bhava and for fifth pooja (athazha pooja) He is worshipped in Sanyasi Bhava. After athazha pooja Lord's Moorthi will be decorated with a Kavi Mundu and a long thulasi garland. A ritual called Pallikkuruppu for Lord Sree Vallabha and Lakshmi Devi will be held at Palliyara and the doors of the temple will be closed. It is believed that Sage Durvasa will perform Ardhajama pooja for Sree Vallabha in the midnight. In the morning, poojas begins after Palliyyunarthal at Palliyara.
* Performing Kathakali is one of the main forms of worship to this Lord. It seems when Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar visited this temple, he found the Lord watching Kathakali along with the audience.Thereafter, whenever Kathakali is performed at this temple, a seat is kept covered with silk, with a lamp lit near this divine seat. *