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Legends of the Temple at Tirupati: Holiest Shrine in South India
Tirupati is a small village located on the seventh hill of the of the range known as Seshachalam in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 120 km from Gudur in Tamilnadu and is well connected to the rest of India. It is also the richest shrine in India and its origin has been estimated as 300AD. This temple has been patronized by most of the kings and rulers who held sway in South India. Because of its location up a steep hill, it missed the Muslim marauders who went and destroyed hundreds of other Hindu temples like Ayodhya and Somnath. This temple escaped destruction and today is the epitome of the Hindu faith.
I have been to this temple from Gudur where I had stopped en route from Shillong to Chennai.The temple is located on a steep hill and the engine of the car is apt to get heated up. En route to the temple, a number of water tanks are constructed. These act as a source of water for a traveler who is driving up the hill.
The temple itself is a marvel of architecture and symbolizes all that is good in Hinduism.
Legends regarding Tirupati Temple
The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is the supreme Hindu deity. The Lord is supposed to have descended from Vaikuntha, his celestial abode and made this place as his residence.The residence Vishnu is Venkateshwara. His wife was Lakshmi who he loved dearly. As per legend, Vishnu went in search of his wife Lakshmi who had left their celestial abode in a huff after a marital tiff. She was upset as the sage Bhrigue a great astrologer had kicked her husband Vishnu in the chest on his heart which was supposed to be the abode of Lakshmi. this had angered Lakshmi, but in humility, Vishnu apologized to Bhrigue and the sage was suitably impressed with the humility shown by Vishnu.
Lakshmi was however not impressed and she left Vishnu. He found her at Karavirapura close to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, but Lakshmi refused to return. Vishnu decided that for some time he would stay on earth till Parvati agreed to come back. He chose the Seshachalam range as his abode in Chittoor district and this is supposed to be the origin of this famous temple.
The tale does not end here as the local king accused Vishnu of being a trespasser. Vishnu had only one choice he could continue to stay at this abode if he married one of the kings daughters. Visnu saw Padmavati and as she looked like Lakshmi Vishnu proposed marriage to her., Vishnu fell in love with her beauty and sought her hand, but the father demanded a hefty dowry for her in reverse.
Vishnu had no choice but to ask for gold and jewelry from Kubera who was Lakshmi's brother and the lord of wealth. Kubera agreed but made a condition. He asked that Vishnu continues to reside on earth till his debt was fully discharged.
The marriage then duly took place and Vishnu continued to stay on top pf the hill while his wife stayed at the bottom of the hill. This was the custom then as wives and husbands had separate residences. Pilgrims visit both the places and make offerings to Lord Vishnu. the object is to help the Lord pay off his debts to Kubera. In return, legend tells us that pilgrims who pay and donate to Lord Vishnu are rewarded by him manifold and they become richer. This is the secret of the success of the temple at Tirupati.
Visiting the temple and donating money has an uncanny result. It has been seen by hundreds of pilgrims that whatever you donate at the shrine get multiplied many times over. Many big businessmen donate millions of dollars worth of jewelry and gold. I understand that none has come back unhappy after a donation to the Lord at Tirupati.
The temple is the last word in orderliness and neatness. It is a beautiful temple and is nearly 2000 year old. The architecture is sublime and spells out the story of Hinduism in vibrant carved images. Reaching Tirupati and praying and donating at the temple is an experience that has to be savored. It remains an unforgettable episode in the life of a Hindu. Many western converts to Hinduism also visit this temple and come away in awe at the temple glory and the invisible vibrations that emanate from it. There is no doubt that Vishnu showers his blessings for helping him pay his debt to Kubera and the devotee is rewarded with something infinitely more.