Balaji - The Lord of Seven Hills (Thirupathy)

Lord Venkateshwara, considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu, is so called in this form because of His residence in the Venkatam hills (the hills are more often referred to as Thiru Venkatam). The Eshwara or God of the Venkatam hills is thus called Venkateshwara. The Lord is also known as Maal, Thiru Maal, Manivannan, Balaji, Sriniwasa, Venkatesa, Venkatanatha, Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan and by many other names.

The Legend

Sage Bhrugu, who, according to Hindu Mythology is believed to have an extra eye in the sole of his foot, once visited Sri Maha vishnu. At that time, Vishnu was in a private meeting with his consort, Goddess Lakshmi, and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage. The sage felt humiliated and angry, and kicked Lord vishnu in the chest. Vishnu did not react and remained silent. Lord vishnu's chest is believed to be the abode of Goddess Lakshmi. the Goddess felt highly insulted at the sage's misdemenour and Lord Vishnu's silence at the act and she left Vaikuntha, the heavenly abode of Vishnu and Lakshmi.

Lord vishnu, in an atempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was conforting to the sage. During this act, he squished the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu's foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage's egoism. the sage then realised his grave mistake and apologised to Lord vishnu. Lord vishnu had then incarnated Himself as Venkateshwara and came to earth in search of Lakshmi, who had taken birth as Princess Alamelu (Padmavati) in the household of Akasa Raju. The princess's father agreed to give his daughter's hand in marriage to Venkateshwara if he provided proof of his wealth. Towards this end, Venkateshwara obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, a god who is considered wealthiest entity in the Universe according to hindu Mythology. Princess Padmavati and lord Venkateshwara were then wed.

Lord vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, and his consort are believed to have enshrined themselves at Tirumala Tirupati for the benefit of mankind. The temple of Lakshmi, in the form of princess Padmavati is at the foot of the seven hills at Tirupati, in a town called Tiruchanur, which is popularly known as Chinna Tirupati, meaning Little Tirupati. Lord uppliliyappan, considered to be the brother of Lord venkateshwara provides grace from Kumbakonam.

History of Balaji Temple at Tirupati

The temple is very old and has mention in ancient texts. 'Silappadikaram' the great Tamil classic, refrrs to the Seven Hills as 'Nediyon Kundrangal'( mountain beloging to Nediyon, Lord Venkateshwara). There are temple inscriptions, written in old Tamil that attest to its antiquity. These inscriptions refer Pallava and Chola Kings and the royal families of the Vijayanagara Empire. Many saints had visited the shrine and offered worship to Lort Venkateshwara. notable among them is Sri Ramanujacharya, who is believed to have installed chakra and conch on the diety after a dispute. The Venkateshwara Suprabhatam, being the morning recital of prayers and songs of awakening, is believed to have been written and sung by one of Ramanuja's deciples who visited the temple with his Guru. Several composers composed beautiful keertanas about lord Venkateshwara, most notable amongst them being Tyagaraja and Annamacharya.

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