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Copy of: The Greatness of Thiruvenkatamudayaan

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Fri May 23 1997 - 06:07:07 PDT

Dear BhakthAs of LOrd Srinivasa :
The Buffalo  temple is having PraNa Prathisthai
for the icon of Sri Venkatesa next month .Sri Vijayaraghavan
Srinivasan of Bufalo, our dear host for the SDDS meeting in December,96
asked me to write an article On Lord Srinivasan for inclusion
in their souvenir for the occasion . I am copying you 
on this essay .
May Padmavathi Sametha Srinivasa's Blessings be with us always !
---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From:	V. Sadagopan, 75041,3037
TO:	Vijay,
DATE:	5/23/97 8:52 AM

RE:	Copy of: The Greatness of Thiruvenkatamudayaan

The Sacred Seven Hills of Lord Srinivasan
Sri Venkataachalapathy is the presiding deity of 
Thiruvenkatam , which is also revered as saptha 
giri or seven hills. The extraordinary and ancient 
glory of these hills is attributed to the residence of
Sriman Narayana on them as Sri Venkatachalapathy. 
The seven hills  associated with Him are Seshadri ,
Garudadri , Venkatadri , Anjanadri , Narayanadri ,
Vrushabhadri and Vrushadri . 

These hills have acheived their sanctity as a direct 
result of the imprint of Lord Srinivasa's holy feet on
them . On top of these hills , the Lord known also as
Balaji resides under the vimanam known as Ananda
Nilayam or the abode of bliss . Here , he accepts worship
according to Vaiganasa agama tradition .

Sacred Waters

Balaji's sacred temple is located on one side of the holy
tank  known as Swami Pushkarani . In addition to
this sacred tank , there are other holy water-bodies in these 
seven hills known as Akasa Ganga , Koneri theertham ,
Papa Vinasini falls , Tumburu theertham , Rama Krishna 
theertham , Pandava Theertham  and Svarnamukhi river . 

Tributes of Immortal Bards to Balaji

The Lord of the seven hills has inspired the divine Azhwars 
and the great upasakas of Karnatic music to offer their soul-stirring
music as nada naivedyam to Him . 

The poet-musician , Talapaakam Annamacharya has composed 
countless adhyadmika , sringara and upachara krithis on the Lord.
He is considered the amsam of the sword of the Lord Srinivasa 
celebrated as Nandakam . He was a sishya of Sri Adivan Satakopa 
yathi , the founding jeeyar of Ahobila Matam  . In one of his moving
krithis in praise of the Lord's most sacred  feet ,  " Brahma Kadigina
padamu " , Annamacharya declared : " These are the feet washed by Brahma 
during Trivikramavatharam in Satya Lokam . They are verily Brahman ,
the immortal and universal truth . These feet fulfilling the heart-felt
desires of parama yogins prove that Thiruvenkatam is parama
padam (Sri Vaikuntam ) " . 

Among the other great Karnatic musicians , Purandara Dasa , Saint 
Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshithar and others of recent times 
have offeredd their musical salutations . Purandara Dasa visited 
Thiruvenkatam often and has considered himself blessed to have 
the darsanam of the Lord here . One time , he accompanied 
Sarasvathi Devi and had the good fortune to see the Lord break
His archa samadhi and dance to the Veena music of the Goddess
of learning . He broke forth in a song set in Thodi ragam this way :
" Ninna Nodi Dhanya Nadeno Hey Srinivasa ! I am truly blessed now 
to have seen You . O Garuda Vahana ! O Lakshmi Kantha ! O friend
of Pandavas ! Please save me , the sinner , who has wandered from 
place to place enjoying transient worldly plesures " . 

Saint Thyagaraja climbed up these hills and prayed to the Lord for 
the removal of the screen of arrogance and delusion  that stood 
between him and the obtainment of the blessings of the four
purusharthas, Dharma , Artha , Kama and Moksha . In this Gowlipanthu
raga krithi , the bard pleaded with the Lord to remove the veil that
blinded him from the blessings of Moksham . In another song set in
Madhyamavathi ragam , Saint Thyagaraja declared that one needs
millions of eyes to take in the full beauty of Lord Venkatesa .
Mutthuswami Deekshithar , a contemprary of Saint Thyagaraja ,
gave us the moving Varali raga krithi, Seshachala Nayakam
bhajeham  .

The bhakthi-laden outpourings of the Azhwars

Ten of the twelve Vaishnavite Azhwars have saluted the Lord
of Thiruvenkatam with 202 pasurams in Tamil . They have worshipped 
the sacred feet of the Lord covered up to the ankles by the fragrant flowers 
showered by the Devas . As Saranagathas , they have observed that 
the fragrance of those flowers has increased a thousand-fold by their 
sheer association with the divine feet of the Lord of the seven hills.
The songs of the Azhwars are indeed Bhakthi-laden garlands 
imbued with eternal fragrance. 

First Triad of Azhwars 
Pey , Bhootham and Poygai are the first triad of Azhwars,
who sung the glory of  Lord Venkatesa . Peyalwar explains 
that Lord Venkatesa , who pervades the earth , the heaven ,
the eight directions , the Vedas and their meanings , has taken
His abode in his heart lotus and resides permanently  there.

Pogai Azhwar states that Sri Venkatesa kindles the lamp of true 
knowledge in the minds of His bhakthas and destroys their 
samsaric ills. The third of the triad , Bhootham asserts that 
he has unwavering faith in Sri Venkatesa's commitment 
to rescue him from the afflictions of Samsara and reveals that 
he meditates unceasingly on the insatiable beauty and 
the auspicious attributes of the Lord of seven hills. 

Thirumozhisai Azhwar 

This Azhwar was a great Vedic scholar and accomplished poet
in Tamil . He explains that the Sapta Giris are the ones that 
are  worshipped by the Devas and are the ones that  destroy 
the greatest of sins and save the human beings from becoming
the victims of the endless cycles of births and  deaths.

Periyalwar 's salutations to Gopala Balan of Thiruvenkatam

This Azhwar worshipped Sri Venkatesa as Bala Krishna
( Balaji ) and assumed the role of His mother , Yasoda Devi .
He calls the mischief -maKing child of his to come closer , 
so that he can decorate the tresses of "her" child with different
garlands of flowers. 

Andal's immortal love for Sri Venkatavaanan

Andal , the only female Azhwar is the incarnation
of Bhumi Devi , the Lord's consort . She was the foster
daughter of Periyalwar . She fell in love with the beauty of 
Sri Venkatesa and pined for union with Him . She sent 
the dark blue clouds of the rainy season as messengers to her 
lover standing on top of the seven hills and begged the clouds 
to describe her forlorn state to Him so that , He can take pity
on her and join her. She criticized in her Naacchiyar Thrumozhi 
the lazy nightingales wiling their time away warbling in her garden
for making unplesant noises  instead of devoting their energies 
to sing the songs that invite the Lord of seven hills to rush 
to her house. She commands the nightingales to cease their
singing , if they are powerless to bring the Lord to her side. 

Kulasekhara Azhwar , the Royal Saint 

Kulasekhara was a king from today's Kerala state.
In his soul-stirring hymns,  he declares : " O Lord of 
Thirumala ! Let me be born as a bird , beast , fish , tree ,
stone , a stream or any thing on Your sacred hills so that 
I can be near You . This I would choose over all earthly pelf
and panoply . Let me have the feast of  the darsanam of Your
beautiful face with coral-red lips. Let me be the stepping stone 
at Your door step , where celestial nymphs and mighty Gods
jostle with one another to worship You ." 

Thirumangai Azhwar's conversations with Sri Venkatesa

His conversations with the Lord of seven hills are laced with
appeals and pleas to protect him from samsaric ills. The many 
delectable names with which he addresses the Lord are soul-stirring. 

In a moving prayer , he visualizes the Lord as the One , who has taken
the form of heaven (akasam ) , fire , water , wind and earth so that 
He can pervade all the nooks and corners of His universe. He asked 
for the Lord's forgivenness for all the sins that he had committed 
and sought the blessings of true knowledge that would release him
from the snares of samsara . 

Nammazhwar's anubhavam of the Lord of Thirumalai

Satakopan was the given name for this great Azhwar.
Lord Venkatesa designated this Azhwar as namm-Azhwar 
or our own Azhwar with great affectuion . Hence , he became
known as Nammazhwar . This Azhwar assumed the role of 
a maiden (Parankusa Nayaki ), who was  hopelessly lost 
in love with the beauty and kalyana gunas of the Lord of Venkatam  
and cried out her anguish over separation from Him in many 
moving pasurams delineating the heights of Vipralambha Sringaram . 
The Lord responded to the poignmant cries of the Nayaki and 
united with her. The joy that resulted from the union with the Lord
gave birth to many mellifluous pasurams brimming with irrepresible
elation of the Nayaki , who  obtained the sought -after boon .

Nammazhwar's saranagathi verse is the essence of the divya
prabhandhams of the Azhwars .  In his verses , Nammazhwar 
acknowledges the supermacy of Sri Venkatesa over all Gods and 
states that the Lord of seven hills is his father, mother , friend
and every thing else in this universe. The Azhwar states that he can 
not conceive of ever being separated from Sri Venkatesa , now that
he has been untied with the Lord . He declares that Lord Venkatesa 
is the primordial force and the lasting truth of this universe.  

Acharya Ramanuja 's service to the Lord of Seven Hills

Lord Srinivasan of Thrumalai was always in the heart of 
this great Acharya , who spent many years with his uncle,
Thirmalai Nambi to learn the esoteric meanings of Srimadh
Ramayanam at this divya desam . He installed the icons of 
Rama , Sita , Lakshmana and Sugriva next to the processional
deity (Sri Malayappa Swami ) in the sanctum sanctorium of
the Lord . The beauty of Sri Rama in tribhanga pose is overwhelming.

In his magnum opus , Sri Bhashyam , Acharya Ramanuja says :
" May my knowledge assume the form of loving devotion to
Lord Srinivasa , who is the supreme Brahman and who is the shining 
crown of the Vedas. He takes the form of Upanishads and engages 
in the tasks of creation , sustenance and destruction . He has taken upon 
Himself the supreme vow (Deekshaa) of protecting whoever that seeks 
His refuge as Saranagatha " .

Acharya Vedantha Desikan 's tribute to the Dayalu of Thirumalai

Sri Vedantha Desikan ( AD 1268-1369) is an illustrious Acharya ,
who intrepreted Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja Siddhantham . He eulogized
the Kalyana Guna of the Lord celebrated as His Daya ( Mercy/Compassion )
through one hundred verses in his poem known as Daya Satakam . 
Swami Desikan says that the most important Guna of the Lord Srinivasa
is His Daya . In this poem , the concept of one's surrender (saranagathi ) 
to the Lord and the Lord's Daya  stand out as hte two overarching  themes . 

In Daya Satkam , every set of ten slokas reveals a particular
meaning associated with the divine attributes of Sri Venkatesa 
that blossom as His Daya . These ten divine attributes are :
(1) His power  to bless us with Moksha or release from the cycles
of Births and Deaths ( 2) His ability to carry out whatever he wills
(3) His power to destroy  the enemies of those , who surrender
unto Him (4) His role as the means (upaya) for attaining all significant
goals (5) Being the fruit (palam ) of all earnest endeavours (6) Being
attainable without fail through the Saranagathi route (7) Helping the lowest
and the highest with equal haste , when they surrender to Him 
with sincerity (8) Standing as the tower of strength on the top 
of Venkatam hills to bless us as Kali Yuga Varadan (9) Incarnating
as Rama and Krishna to come into easy reach of His devotees 
and (10) Offering His Moksha Samrajyam right here on this universe 
of His . 

The Vaibhavam of Thiruvekatamudayan 
Many Azhwars , kings , nadhopasakas and common folk 
have worshipped Lord Srinivasan of Sapta Giri from times immemorial 
and have been blessed with Moksham . They have attained this supreme
status even from the sheer sight of His Gopuram and Anamda 
Nilaya Vimanam .

The Mahima of the Lord of Seven Hills is vast and is beyond  words.
The unique status of those blessed to have His darsanam at Thirumalai
is hinted by Kulasekhara Azhwar in one of the verses of his poem ,
Mukunda Mala : " For him , who had the darsana sowbhagyam of 
Mukunda Srinivasan , this wide earth is a small speck , the rolling
oceans a water drop , the raging fires a mere spark , the shoreless
winds a mere breath , the vast sky a pin hole. O Lord! May Your
unbounded Majesty excel ! " .