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Number 1 Divya Desam- Tiruvemkatam
Date: Thu Aug 20 1998 - 18:45:59 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
We discuss below the  significance  of Thiruvemkatam and Sri Venkateswara in
the context of Saranagathi. This is an excerpt from my talk delivered at the
Pittsburgh temple in connection with the Sri Venkateswara Mahima Bhakta
Sammelanam held recently. I am sure by the time you reach the end of this
article, you would have made up your mind to vote for Tiruvemkatam as the most
favored Divya Desam.
Anbil Ramaswamy

For this, we have to look at the Mega Calendar of our faith and the number of
Avatars the Lord took in each. Kaliyuga in which we live is said to have
4,32,000 human years; Dwapara double that (Dwa means twice) i.e. 8,64,00 human
years; Treta, treble that of Kaliyuga (Tre means three times) i.e. 12,96,000
human years; Kritayuga, four times i.e.17, 28,000 human years. Thus a Mahayuga
has 43,20,000 human years. 

The first 4 Avatars (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and Nrisimha) are deemed to have
taken place in Krita Yuga; The next 3 Avatars (Vamana, Parasu Rama and Rama)
in Treta Yuga; The next 2 (Balarama and Krishna) in Dwapara Yuga. The last 1,
Kalki, the Apocalypse yet to take place in this Kaliyuga in the descending
order in tune with the length of each yuga. And, the Lord appears in Archa
Vigraha as Sri Venkateswara till then.

There is a Sloka which says-
"Krite Nrisimha Bhoothosou Tretaayaam Rgahunandanah /
Dwaapare Vaasudevas Cha kalao Vemkatanaayakah //(meaning) 
"While Narasimha was the Lord of Kritayuga, Rama (Raghunandana) was the Lord
of Treta yuga, Krishna (Vaasudeva) of Dwaapara yuga, it is Venateswara
(Venkata naayakah) who is the Lord of Kaliyuga."

As we are in KALIYUGA, we surrender to this KALIYUGA VARADA - Lord Srinivasa.

Some hold  Lord Ranganatha in the place of Narasimha but all are agreed on
the other three.

The word "Tiru Vemkatam" means One who is the Lord of both "Tiru" and
"Vemkatam" or it might mean "Vemkatam" which is blessed by "Tiru" or Piraatti.

Again, of all the mountains where our Lord has taken his abode, Brahmaanda
Puraana says- " Krite Vrishaadrim Vakshyanti Tretaayaam Anjanaachalam /
Dwaapare Sesha Saileti kalou Sree Vemkataachalam // 

The word "Vem" means 'sins' and the word "Katam' means 'that which destroys'	-
"Sarva Paapaani Vem Praahuhu Kata Ithyaaha Uchyate, Thasmaath Vemkata Sailoyam
Lokae Vikhyaata Keerthimaan".

There is also a solitaire in Tamil, which reflects the same sense:
"Vem Kodum Paavangal Yellaam Venthida Seivathaal Nal Mangalam Porundhum Seer
Vemakata Malai Aanathu.".

Nammalwar in his Tiruvoimozhi 3.3.6 says-
Vemkatangal Meymmel Vinai Mutravum Thaangal Thangatku nallanave Seivaar /
Vemkatathu Uraivaarkku Namavennalaam Kadamai, Adhu Sumanthaakatke //
(Meaning) It is our duty to offer our 'Pranaamams' to those who live in
Tiruvemkatam. For us who are bearing the heavy burden of sins, this is the
only way to get our sin extinguished- because they are the ones who perform
their duties appropriately. (Remember that this was during the time of

In those days, people used to climb up the mountain on foot and worship the
mountain itself. They would not wear footwear while climbing and would recite
"Vemkata Vaasine Namah" echoing what Nammalwar has said above.

Nammalwar in his Tiruvoimozhi 3.3.8 further advises that if you go to the
seven hills and pray, all your sins will vanish- 
"Senru Ser Tiruvemkata Malai Onrume Thozha Nam Vinai Ozhiyume"

Swami Desika commences his Daya Satakam by surrendering to the very mountain
"Prapadhye Tham Girim Praayah Sreenivaasa Anukampayaa / Ikshu Saara
Sravanthyeva yan Moorthyaa Sarkaraayitham" (meaning) The mercy of the Lord of
Tiruvemkatam flows like the juice of the Sugarcane. The mountain is like this
juice that had solidified into Sugar Cube. I surrender to such a mountain of
mercy". Here Srinivasa is Sugarcane; His mercy is the juice. It is He who
raises the crop; it is He who allows His Daya to flow and become solidified.
Daya can only tolerate our sins; but this mountain can even destroy all our

Bhishma Pitaamahar refers to this Srinivasa in his Sahasranamam in 8 words:
"Sridhah, Srisah, Srinivaasah, Srinidhi, Srivibhaavanah, Sridharah, Srikarah,
Sreyo, Srimaan"

Bhagavad Ramanuja in his invocatory verse of his Sribashyam of Brahma Sutram
says that Lord Srinivasa stands on top of the Mountain of Upanishads (Sruti
Sirasi) and proclaims to the world that He is the very "Paramatma" (Brahmani

Sri Madvaachaariar in his "Theertha Prabandham" says that "Lord Srinivasa
stands on top of the mountain and looks around all the directions to bless his
devotees; He even stands on top of the Tall trees on the mountain top as if
searching for us to shower his mercy".
"Drishtvaa Disi  Disi Sweeyaan Dayayaa Paalayantha Iva/
Vardhate Viswatah Sakshuh Vemkate Vemkateswarah //"

Swami Desika describes the "Thiruvemkata Malai" in the ' Paasuram' in Sthana
Visesha Adhikaram of his "Srimad Rahasya Traya Saram"thus-
Kannan Adyinai Emakkuk Kaattum Verpu, 
Kadu Vinayar Iru Vinaiyum Kadiyum Verpu,
Thinnamidu Veedena Thigazhum Verpu, 
Thelinda Perum Thirthangal Serinda Verpu,
Punniyathin Pugalidena Pugazhum Verpu, 
Ponnulagil Bogamellaam Punarkum Verpu
Vinnavarum Mannavarum Virumbhum Verpu, 
Vemkata Verpena Vilangum Veda Verpe"
(Meaning) " The mountain that reveals to us the two holy feet of Sri Krishna;
the mountain where wicked sinners get rid of their 'Punya' and 'Papa'; the
mountain on which flow holy streams perennially with pellucid waters; the
mountain that is extolled as the abode of all righteous actions; the mountain
that secures all the enjoyments of 'Paramapada' (the region of the dazzling
gold); the mountain that is longed for by the eternal 'Suris' and the people
of this earth; that is the only mountain that is described in the Vedas and
famous as Vemkata hills"

Nammalwar in his Tiruvoimozhi 6.10.11 surrenders himself at the feet of Tiru
vem kata Nathan in his famous Pasuram " Akalagillen Iraiyum Enru Alarmel
Mangai Urai Malar Maarba" which he concludes by saying "Tiruvemkatathaane!
Pugal Onrum Illaa Adiyen Unn Adik Keezh Amarndhu Pugundhene".
It is but proper that we also do our ' Bhara Samarpanam ' at the feet of Lord
Vemkateswara .

Anbil Ramaswamy