The Govindaraja Temple in Tirupati:
Some time earlier, Sri Ramanuja had the news that the divyadesa (divine abode of God) called Tiruchittira kutam (in Chidambaram) was in great danger of being destroyed and that the processional deity of Sri Govindaraja had somehow been saved by some devout Srivaishnavas and brought to Tirupati. The moola moorthi, (Stone icon) Chitrakutanatha Govindaraja, in the form of the Lord reclining in the milk-ocean had been thrown into the sea. It may be recalled that Sri Govindaraja appeared there to please the sage Kanva who was observing penance on the banks of the river Cauvery. The desecration of this temple was part of the large-scale destruction of Vishnu temples by a certain Chola king, unfit to be called by name, who was an ardent devotee of Siva. He is identified as the King whose neck develOped a carbuncle and was infested with worms (Krimi-kanta) which caused his death.
Sri Ramanuja was deeply stirred and grieved that an ancient divyadesa sung by Sri Kulasekara Aiwar and Tirumangai Aiwar should be so destroyed. He believed that the shrine, which was the object of the mangala sasanam (good wishes for welfare) of sage Kanva and the two devoted Alwars, would not suffer total destruction and was bound to appear again. He decided to have the processional deity established in a temple in Tirupati for the present.. He informed his beloved disciple, the Yadava king of his intention of establishing the utsava moorthy, worshipped as Devatideva, in Tirupati. He had the divine power (presence) of the Lord in the moola moorthy secretly extracted from the idol thrown into the sea by prescribed rites and transferred to a new moolamoorthy. He had the (stone) moolamoorthy Govindaraja and the bronze icon (recovered from Tiruchitrakuta) Devatideva established by the side of the lake in the southern part of Tirupati by the rites of Vaikhanasa agama.
i he new moolamoorthy was a replica of the icon thrown into the sea by the Chola king — the Lord of the milk ocean reclining on His serpent bed, his feet gently massaged by Sridevi and Bhudevi, with the four-faced Brahma appearing on the lotus rising from the navel, decorated by the tall crown and other jewels, bearing the divine weapons chanka, chakia and others in His four arms. The Lord was reclining on His serpent bed with His head towards the south and feet to the north. The mouth of the serpent Adisesha was spitting fire and poison to drive away the demons Madu and K.aitapa who were approaching the Lord towards His feet.
The king, according to the command of his guru Sri
Ramanuja, established Govindaraja as described earlier in a big temple in the southern part of Tirupati and developed a township around the temple by name Ramanujapura. In order to pacify the anger of Adisesha spitting fire and poison on the demons Madu and Kaitapa, the king effected certain alterations in the design of the township according to the suggestion of acharya Sri Ramanuja. The shrines of the Alwars were shifted from the foot of the hills to locations around the Govindaraja temple, in Ramanujapura.. The town of Tirupati was developed in the form of the limbs of Garuda, near the sacred hill which is the body of Adisesha and sporting ground of Srinivasa.
Pleased by the Yadava King who was a devoted disciple ready to listen to his advice and carry out his commands, and devoted to the Lord of Tiruvenkata who took up the Conch and Discus in His hands at his request to remove the saivas from Tirumala, and to Sri Govindaraja whom he had established in Ramanujapura in the town of Tirupati, the great saint Sri Ramanuja, though greatly attached to Sri Ranganadha, travelled to Tirupati and Tirumala several times and continued to reform the temples in conformity with ancient tradition.
The king Yadavaraja, a royal disciple of Bagavat Bhashyakara (Sri Ramanuja) who was ready to carry out the instructions of his acharya was also very much devoted to Sri Govindaraja established by Sri Ramanuja. He raised magnificient gopurams, protective walls and mantapams for the temple. He had broad streets laid around the temple and had the various festivals to Sri Govindaraja celebrated in a fitting manner.
Bodily Features of Sri Govindaraja:
Chapter 203 of the Bhavishyaparva of Sri Harivamsa, in the context of describing the birth of Brahma, the four-faced god, states that the demon Madu appeared, full with the quality of tamas, as an obstacle to Sriman Narayana reclining in the waters of the vast ocean. Another demon, Kaitapa, full with the quality of rajas appeared on the scene to help Madu. The demons met each other and worshipped Vishnu stretching with a vast and beautiful form with Brahma sitting on a lotus rising .from the Lord’s navel. The mighty demons, itching, for battle, saw Brahma with their red, angry eyes and asked him “Who are you, sitting in the midst of this lotus with white turbans on your four heads?” From this account we learn of the appearance of Brahma on the lotus arising from the navel of Vishnu reclining on Adisesha spread over the surface of the ocean, and also of the appearance of the demons Madu and Kaitapa.
The first chapter of Sri Vishnu Smriti describes the conversation between Bhumidevi and the Lord of the milk ocean. It states that the facial features of the Lord could not be clearly distinguished because of the excessive light shed by the gems on the stretched heads of the serpent. The face was at the same time comparable to a hundred moons and a thousand suns. The Lord was wearing golden hued clothes and was decorated by jewellery set with brilliant gems. His tall crown (kirita) was as bright as the sun and could not be looked at because of the glare. He was wearing two ear-rings with the shark-motif (makara) and reclining on His serpent bed. Bhudevi who saw Him thus, paid obeisance by touching the ground before Him with her head and said “0 Bhagavan! Four bhutalayas (elements in their places) are always close to you. (The elements fire, air, water and space-akasa are each represented in personal form by the divine insignia associated with Vishnu the conch, discus, mace and lotus). I, the earth, (fifth element) in the form of a woman would like to be accommodated at your feet”. The Lord replied “so be it”. Her wish fulfilled, Bhudevi took her place at the feet of the Lord, gently massaged by the tender hands of Sridevi.
All these Puranic accounts were followed in establishing the image of Govindaraja, since it is stated that Madhu and Kaitapa were burnt by the flames spat out by Adisesha, the town was planned in the form of Garuda to save it from any danger posed from the anger of Adisesha.