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Re: Dispute about the God at Tirumala
Date: Fri Aug 31 2001 - 23:03:44 PDT

--- In bhakti-list@y..., "D Bala Sundaram" <dbsundaram@h...> wrote:
Dear Sri Balasundaram,

 Let me try to answer your query. I divide my answer into two 
mails ... the first one confines itself to some observations on such 
questions. In the second, I will attempt to address the question 
about Tirumala that you have asked. 

> Is the claim of those who dispute rests only on the iconograhic 
> details?

Please be informed that even those arguing for other identifications 
for tiruvenkatamudaiyan based on iconographic details have all been 
given a thorough rebuttal by the scholars of the tradition. For the 
most part they have been shown to have inadequate knowledge (if not 
total ignorance) of the texts of the vaikhanasa and pancharatra 
> I am also intrigued by another remark attributed to famous Tamil
> scholar Mahavidwan Tirisirapuram Meenakshisundaram Pillai who also 
> claimed that the god at Tirumala was Sri Subramanya. This remark is 
> in the biography of Sri U Ve Swaminatha Iyer, "En Charitram". I am 
> sure that Sri Pillai was aware of the references in Silappathikaram 
> and Prabandham.

I myself was not able to locate this reference in "en charittiram". 
I'd be much obliged for a page number reference.

It must be remembered that Sri Pillai as well as Sri Iyer both come 
of a sectarian Saivite background, having been connected with the 
Tiruvavaduturai Adheenam. To be sure, Sri UVS in his commentaries 
invariably gives many references from the Divyaprabandham and the 
commentaries thereof. But sometimes even he leaves me somewhat 
puzzled ... there was one place in his works where I found his 
silence intriguing and tantamount to what can only be construed as 
sectarian bias. 

I refer to his commentary on the takka yaga parani published by the 
UVS Library, Madras. It is well known that a Chola emperor threw the 
image of Sri Tillai Govindarajan in the sea with the argument that 
the resting place of Narayana was the sea. This act of Saivite piety 
of this Raja has been eulogised by the Chola court poet Ottakuttan, 
not once but three times ... once each in his takkayagapparani, 
Rajarajacholan ula and kulottungacholan ula. 

In the commentary to the relevant verse on takkayagapparani, all that 
Sri UVS says is "ittAzicaiyil kURappaTTa ceyti ... kulottunga chozan 
ulA .... irAcarAcachozan ulA ... enpavaRRilum 
kuRippikkappaTTirukkiRatu". He even points out how relevant phrases 
in the three different verses point to the same thing. He says 
that " 'munnaik kaTalpuka' enRa toTarum 'munnarkaTal akazin 
mUzkuvitta' enRa toTarum poruLAl ottiruttal kANka." But he very coyly 
avoids saying what is it that the "kURappaTTa ceyti" was ... that it 
was an act of intolerance viz., drowning the holy image of Sri Tillai 
Govindarajan in the sea. 

It is well known that the same Govindarajan had then to be installed 
in the what's now known as the Govindaraja Swami Sannidhi in 

That there was considerable sectarian bias which Saivites entertained 
is also revealed indirectly in one of his other commentaries where he 
says that the traditional commentator Parimelazakar who, despite 
being a Srivaishnava was capable of raising above any sectarian bias 
when commenting upon sections where references to Murugan and Sivan 
are encountered. 

"ivar tirumAl aTiyArAka iruntum paripATalil civaperumAn murukakaTavuL 
mutaliyOrkaLaik kuRippiTum iTangaLil avaravarkaLuTaiya perumaikaLai 
nanku viLakki cellutalAl ivaruTaiya naTuvunilaimai pulanAkiRatu" 

 (paripATal, mUlamum uraiyum, UVS Library, Madras, 1995, p. xxx)

Thus sectarian bias alone has been the cause of such irresponsible 
and baseless statements that the Lord at Venkatam was Siva, or Sakti 
or Murugan etc. The Saivite bhakti texts which are three times the 
size of the Divyaprabandham do not make this claim anywhere about 
Venkatam. Nor does the Periyapuranam which alone is bigger in size 
than the Divyaprabandham. So it's not clear where people like 
Meenakshisundaram Pillai, despite their obvious scholarship, are 
coming from ... I am not even thinking of the fact that the 
Silappatikaram identifies the Lord at Venkatam as Narayana.  

In my next post, I will show that aggressive posturing alone 
("Akkiramippu") on the part of Saivites, without any basis in 
history, tradition or texts, was responsible for this dispute. 

Hope this helps,

Lakshmi Srinivas. 

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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