The Nagabharana:

We will now relate the history of the golden nagabarana. Once Veera Narasimha deva Gajapati (Gajapati appears to be the title of Vzjayanagar kings). who was on a tirta yatra to Sethu, coming to know of the greatness of Tiruvenkata, came up the hills, had a bath in Swami Pushkarini and duly worshipped Sri Jnanavaraha Perumal, Sri Narasimha famous as the lion of Venkata and Srinivasa the Lord of Venkata. He observed the vari­ous regulations such as fasting and worshipped the Lord, for some days. He became deeply devoted and was anx­ious to do some lasting. service. He learnt from the learned people there that according to the agamas the kirita was superior among jewels, vimana among gopurams and diamond among gemstones. Since at that time there was no gopuram (temple tower-obviously the ananda Vimana was already there) befitting the great­ness of the Lord, he decided to construct one on a large scale. He entrusted the work in suitable hands provid­ing all the funds needed and proceeded towards Srirangam. After having the holy dip in the southern sea at Sethu and worshipping the Lord in important places, he came back to Tirumala. He was happy to see the con­struction work proceeding satisfactorily. He gave liberal gifts to the artisans and others and stayed there for some time.

One night, a huge serpent appeared before the Gajapati in his dream and said, “0 Gajapati! This Tirumala is my body. Your constructing a big gopuram places a huge weight on me and puts me to considerable strain. I have no recourse to relieve myself of this other than representing my case to the Lord.” So saying the ser­pent coiled itself around the Vaikunta hasta (the right hand pointing to His holy feet as the means to Salva­tion). Struck by fear, the king called the learned pundits and related to them the details of the dream and requested them to guide him. They replied “0 king, the puranas de­clare that this Venkata mountain is the body of Adisesha. Examining your dream it is clear that Adisesha does not accept a heavy gopuram being built here since the weight is too much for him to bear. He asks you not to proceed with the construction.”

The king immediately suspended the construction operations and reconciled himself in the thought “This is all the Lord of Tiruvenkata would accept” and by way of atonement of the sin he had committed against Adisesha, he had a beautiful jewel made in the form of Adisesha and offered it to the Lord. The priests and other servants of the Lord saw the new jewel and wondered how to decorate the Lord with it. They were also doubt­ful whether it would suit Srinivasa since it is reputed to be worn by other gods. Then the Lord spoke through a devotee thus.

`0 servants of Mine! Formerly there was a dispute between, Vayu (wind-god) and Adisesha regarding bring­ing this hill here. My award was somewhat partial to Vayu. Humbled by this, Adisesha shed his ego and performed penance on this mountain, his own incarnation, for many thousands of years and caused Me to come down here. He assumed the form of a bed in addition to bearing Me in the form of the hill. Having become the vessel of my grace, he is enthusiastic in doing all sorts of service to Me. I have caused some grief to him by favouring Vayu. Like a father who has caused grief to his own son, I will bear him in My hand. Adisesha is my most devoted ser­vant and is intimate and so very dear to Me. I will bear his likeness on my hand. Let this jewel be an armlet; I will wear it on My arm”. On hearing this command the priests set the new jewel on the right arm (Vaikunta hastha) of the Lord. It may be mentioned that other Puranas also refer to the dispute between Vayu and Adisesha and the Lord’s decision in favour of Vayu. Grieved by this, Adisesha performed a long penance and thus became instrumental in bringing the Lord to Tiruvenkata hills and he thus earned the infinite love of Srinivasa.

The dispute is described in detail in Brahma Purana, Chapter one. When Vayu and Sesha were quarrelling among themselves, the Lord appeared there and asked them why they were quarrelling. Hearing the details from Adisesha, He said “Vayu is mighty god and is the life-giving breath of all. I consider him superior. 0 sesha! You are haughty that you are bearing this earth on your head. But you forget that the great tortoise (Kurma) is bearing your weight also.” There itself in the second chapter, it is stated that Adisesha, humbled by the ver­ dict, chose a wooded spot north east of Swami Pushkarini on the sacred hill and amidst sylvan surroundings, per­formed penance for thousands of years near the Naga tirta in order to bring the Lord down from His abode. Pleased by Sesha’s penance, the Lord came down and offered a boon.

Adisesha requested the Lord “0 Lord if you are re­ally pleased with this humble servant, please grant it that you will reside here forever on this hill, my ,body, as you recline on my body in your superior abode, Vaikunta. The Lord replied: “I have been looking for a place on the earth for my sport. As a result of the dispute between your­self and Vayu, this Venkata hill has come down here. I will be pleased to live here as you have prayed.” Thus Lord Vishnu descended down from. His superior abode on to, this hill with Srimahalakshmi and happily sports with her on the banks of Swami Pushkarini.

This account is found in Chapter 2 of the Brahmanda Purana. It states: The Lord called Adisesha and with eyes widened with pleasure and addressed him in a loud, clear and pleasant tone: “Ananta! There is none dearer to Me than you. Flawless. one! I want you to do this to please me. You listened to what sage Narada said. I wish to live on the earth in a place suitable for my sport. Choose a suitable place and live there in the. form of a hill. My­self and Sri Mahalakshmi would like to live under your protective hoods” We thus come to know that the Venkata hill is the very form of Adisesha.

The Lord has been wearing a nagabharana only on the right hand since the time of Gajapati Veeranarasimha deva. Sri Ramanuja, who worshipped Srinivasa with the serpent armlet only the right arm was told of the origin of this jewel as due to Gajapati Veeranarasimha. He thought thus: “The infinite love of the Lord for Adisesha is evident from the Puranas. It is not proper that the Lord should have a serpent armlet only .on one arm. It will add very much to His beauty if two armlets decorate both arms.” Chapter eleven of Bhavishyothara Purana mentions that Akasa Raja presented the Lord with two serpent arm­lets and shoulder-rings. The Lord’s particular preference to Adisesha is evident by His reclining on the serpent bed. Srinivasa who is very much attached to Sesha comes in procession during the annual Brahmotsavam mounted on the Sesha Vahana not only on the first day night of the festival but also on the morning of the second day.

“The two nagabharanas presented by Akasa Raja have somehow disappeared in course of time. The Lord is now Wearing one armlet for a different reason. He himself caused this to be offered to Him, and thus showed out His pleasure in wearing it. The lack of another serpent armlet is really a deficiency. We should decorate the Lord with another serpent armlet on the left arm also. It will definitely add very much to His beauty.” Arguing thus, Sri Ramanuja had another jewel made and decorated both the arms of the Lord with two jewels which were a feast both to the eyes and to the heart. Needless to say Srinivasa was extremely pleased with this act of Sri Ramanuj a.