Tiruvenkata Mountain is the Abode only of Vishnu and no other God
May the vision of the beautiful face of the Lord of Tiruvenkata Hills ever reside in my heart with His towering crown, face brightly lit by Tirunama (face-mark) of camphor powder and musk, finely chiselled nose, ears adorned by makarakundala (fish motif), bright cheeks, cherry-red lips displaying a bewitching smile, and eyes showering ever-flowing grace on devotees!
I am weaving a garland ‘Sri Venkatachala Ithihasa Mala’ with fragrant flowers of holy anecdotes of incidents which occurred in the sacred Tiruvenkata Hill. May those devoted to Hari, the beloved and inseparable consort of Sri, wear the garland on their chests and in their thoughts!
The Lord of Sri, Enjoyed and served by the ever-free souls in His blissful abode of Srivaikunta, the Supreme Ruler of the entire Universe and the most mer ciful, though full of bliss of the highest order, is always concerned with the welfare of innumerable souls, who without knowing anything of the eternal bliss they can obtain in the service of the Lord, are steeped in the misery of the cycle of countless births and deaths — the cruel ocean of samsara (association with a mundane body), and not realising the means of crossing the ocean, apparently are engrossed in going in and out of the waters.
With the wish of pulling out these souls by showing the haven of His lotus like feet. He descended a long distance from His abode to this earth and has taken residence in the sacred Hill of Thiruvenkata and stands there in archa (image fit for worship) form, indicating by His right hand that they (the samsarins) should take refuge in His holy feet to attain salvation, and by His left hand touching the knee indicating that to those who sought refuge in Him, the sea of samsara would become just knee-deep. The all-merciful Lord can be seen even by us, sinners as we are. Is this not a well-known fact?
In the beginning of Kaliyuga forming part of the eighteenth cycle of yugas in the period of rule of the seventh Manu by name Vaivaswatha, during the, second half of the life-time of our present Brahma, a lengthy yaga (deerga-satra) was being performed in the holy Naimisaranya. Large numbers of sages assembled there. Sage Sootha, son of Romaharshana and disciple of Bhagawan Vedavyasa was present there. Sootha was well-versed in all the ithihasas and puranas and anxious to disseminate this knowledge to the assembled sages, described, among others, the holy story of the Thiruvenkata Hill, part in detail and part in brief. The incidents that occurred in the present Kali age find a place in the narration. of Sootha.
A famous emperor, Thodarnan, whose birth had been prophesied in the puranas, lived in the beginning of the Kali age after the Sakabda of the great Vikramaditya. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Srinivasa, the presiding deity of Tiruvenkata. He could not bear the trouble given to him by his enemies and engaged himself in destroying the armies of the enemy kings. The all-merciful Thiruvenkatanatha gave away his unique weapons Sanka and Chakra to the emperor to help quell his enemies. To make people in the world know that He was ready to help His devotees, and thus attract people to come to Him, He kept showing Himself without the unique divine weapons in His hands.
Those were disturbed times in this world. The cruel kali age held sway and people became indifferent to the duties cast on them befitting their caste and station (Varnaasrama dharma). Kings were prone to sinful acts. People were hostile towards the teachings of the Vedas and engaged themselves in destroying temples = particularly those of Vishnu. Pained by this degeneration, the all merciful Lord of Sri called His most confidential servant, who served Him as a seat and as a bed-namely Ananta (Adisesha) and commanded him thus: “Go into the earth and be born there; establish the Vedic dharma; vanquish those who are hostile to the Vedas and those who misinterpret them; protect and foster Vaishnavadharma; restore proper worship as of yore in our temples and establish the “Kingdom of Narayana.”
Sesha, so commanded by the Lord, chose to be born of the famous Vedic Pandit Sri Kesava Yajwa of the Haritha clan (gothra), a resident of Sriperumbudur close to the Milk River (Palar) in Thondamandalam in Tamil Nadu where varnasrama dharma was still lingering on. He was born under the star Arudra in the month of Chitra in the year Pingala corresponding to Salisaka year 939, 4118 years from the advent of the kali age. Adisesha who was born thus as a boy was named Ramanuja. He grew up into a great devotee of the Lord, and mastered the Sanskrit and Tamil Vedas along with all ancillary texts. He established the Vedic path in life through masterpieces he wrote-the Vedartha sangraha, Sri Bhashya (commentary on the Brahmasutra of Vyasa Bhagawan) – explaining the five-fold knowledge of the self, super-self (God), the ultimate goal of life, the means to reach that goal, and the obstacles preventing the realisation of the goal. He vanquished all opponents and restored the purity of worship in the temples of the Lord. He made Vaishnavadharma flourish in all important centres in this vast land. He lived most of his life in the capital city of the Vaishnavas, the ancient Srirangam.
About this time, the Vaikhanasa priests serving the Lord of Thiruvenkata in Tirumala lost interest in the proper conduct of the ritualistic worship and the services and had to be punished by the Yadava king of the day for dereliction of duty. The priests left Tirumala for other destinations. During the disturbed times when there were no experienced priests and learned Vaishnava pandits, some saivites started exploiting the situation to gain their own ends. They approached the king who had no friendly feelings for the Vaishnava priests and the Vaishnavas in general who should have served the temple faithfully, and built up their influence by freely telling lies.
This is what the saivites told the king: “Oh! Great king! The god who flourishes on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini (holy tank) is, in reality, Bhagawan Skanda (Subrahmanya). He is alternately called Kumaraswamy -and the tank is called Swami Pushkarini because it is his tank. Just like Bhimasena is abbreviated “Bhima” and Satyabhama, “Bhama” it is easy to infer that “Swami” is an abbreviation for Kumaraswami”.
Further, in the narration of the greatness of Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) in the Vamanapurana, it is stated that Kanda (Subrahmanya), happy to hear the auspicious words of his father Siva, asked the father who knew the Truth, thus: “My Lord! I wish to engage myself in meditation and penance. Please indicate the auspicious place where I can continue in my penance unobstructed. Oh! One who helps destroy the misery due to births! I will engage myself in austerity and penance in that place with your approval.”
The narration continues with his granting of a boon to Brihaspathi, and reaching Venkatachala after bidding adieu to the Devas. There he found a beautiful and holy tank full with lotus and lily. There he found the wind-god (Vayu) engaged in penance. He had a bath in the sacred tank and started doing penance, meditating on Narayana the Lord of the devas, who always carries the conch (Sanka) and discus (Chakra) in His hands. He went into a trance and continued to perform severe penance. He kept meditating on the Supreme Being (Parabrahma), the gratest of all the great. Since the narration in the purana mentions Kumarswami otherwise known as Subrahmanya as performing penance on the banks of the tank of unequalled glory atop the Thiruvenkata Hill, the god worshipped in this temple is, in fact, Kumara. Since he is engaged in penance, he has abandoned his traditional weapons which do not befit a tapasvi. So these are not seen on the idol. For these reasons, it is clear that hill is a holy place of saivas. At some later period some Vaishnavas misrepresented the contents of the puranas, and furtively obtaining the permission of the king, newly introduced Vaishnava deities into the temple and have been conducting festivals also. Actually this place is only a Saivakshetra and all worship has to be conducted according to Saiva codes (saiva agama). This was what the Saivas told the Yadava king.
It should be pointed out that the foregoing narration of Kumara’s penance in the Vamana Purana Venkatachala mahatmya is only a part, torn out of the true context in which it is found. It is not in agreement with the narration of Kumara’s penance in other puranas and even contradicts those accounts. The persons who talked to the king were only time-servers who were interested in building up their influence in the palace and by taking over the temple and making money. They were obstinate in gaining their en6 and their version was highly superficial and garbled. The king saw enough of this and thought to himself thus!
Till this day, the Venkata Hill is best known only as a hilly place of Vishnu and that the God worshipped in the temple is Sri Mahavishnu. This Swami Pushkarini is well-known as a Vishnu-theertha. Only Srivaishnavas have been conducting the worship and celebrating festivals here. Then how is it that the saivas claim all of a sudden that this place is theirs? Which is the truth? I cannot permit any change without carefully considering the pros and cons.
While the situation was thus fluid, the Srivaishnavas resident there, not being competent to establish their case in the royal court, sent a petition to Sri Ramanuja at Srirangam requesting his intervention, informing him fully of the state of affairs. They knew that Sri Ramanuja was backed by learned and competent scholars and that he himself was a highly learned devotee of irreproachable conduct.
Deeply disturbed by the letter he received, Sri Ramanuja started immediately from Srirangam and travelling fast, reached Tirupati, close to Tirumala, in a few days. He met the Yadava king, blessed him and explained to him the purpose of his visit. With the intention of lifting up the king from the depth of the doubts created by the saivites with evil aims, he addressed the king thus:
“Oh King! Doubts have been created in your mind regarding the Thiruvenkata Hill, Swami Pushkarini and – the deity Sri Venkatesa by the Saivas. I have come here from very far to remove these doubts and establish the truth before you. Let all those who created these doubts come into this open court and put forth their views. I will refute them, establish the truth and remove all your doubts.”
Being addressed thus by Sri Ramanuja, the Yadava King called forth all those saivites who were prepared for a wordy duel to assemble in the court. They came in crowds, their bodies smeared with ashes and decorated with garlands and bracelets of rudraksha beads, and took seats allotted to them. The Vaishnavas resplendent with vertical marks of white clay with the saffron-coloured mark in between were assembled in another area of the court. The debate then started. Each group put forward its view and argued their respective cases using the power of their intellect. The King’s mind kept rolling, on hearing these arguments, like the Mandara mountain which was used as the churning rod for churning the milk ocean with the serpent Vasuki as the rope. The Saivites opened the debate.
The Saivites argued thus:
The god seen in the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini on the Thiruvenkata Hill is Skanda, also called Subrahmanya and Kumaraswami. The holy tank Swami Pushkarini is his. It is usual to refer to a name by abridging it to a part. The “Swami” in Swami Pushkarini is obviously refers to Kumaraswami. This should be in the mind of the author of the purana.
In the second chapter of the Venkatachala Mahatmya portion of the Vamanapurana, starting with the question put by Kanda (Subrahmanya) to his learned father (narrated earlier), and ending with the statement that Kumaraswami (Subrahmanya) kept standing on his feet, meditating on the Highest Truth — the Supreme Being, it is clearly .stated that Kumaraswami was doing severe penance, standing on the banks of a holy tank (theertha) on the holy Tiruvenkata Hill as told by his father.
For the reason that he was engaged in penance standing on the banks of Swami Pushkarini, in accordance with tradition, he appeared with matted hair without his Usual weapons like pasa and ankusa. The archa idol consecrated here represents Kanda as he was engaged in penance. In this form his is showering his grace on his worshippers by granting their prayers. The place, Thiruvenkata Hill where Kanda was engaged in penance should be a Sivasthala and not one of Vishnu. Furthermore, if the deity is Vishnu, He would be adorned with His weapons — sankha, chakra and so on. Not only are these absent, but the god is found with matted hair, wearing a serpent band (nagabharana) indicative of other gods. Facts being thus, some Vaishnavas, exploiting favourable attitude of an earlier king forecefully occupied this place, introduced Vaishnavite icons into the temple. They also introduced modes of worship according to Vaishnava agamas and Vaishnava festivals. Despite being worshipped as Vishnu at the present time, in keeping with age-old practice, for one month in the year, bilva leaves are used for archana to the deity even now. It is well-known that bilva is unique to the worship of other gods (Siva). So it is but proper that the temple should be handed over to Saivites and all worship in accordance with Saiva agama should be restored.
Bhagavan Sri Ramanuj a replied thus: “Noble king! Unknowingly or even deliberately these saivites are tearing the words of Sri Vamana Purana and the ideas conveyed therein out of context and are giving a garbled version of the penance of Kanda described in the Varaha and other puranas. Aiming at procuring money and wealth as also positions of influence in the court, these people are out to confuse you and appropriate this holy place. The top of Trivenkata Hill is well established and famous as a sacred place of Vishnu both in common knowledge and in the authoritative books. The God found therein is only Sriman Narayana. Swami Pushkarini is nothing but a Vishnu Theertha. There is absolutely no room for doubt about the importance of this place to gods other than Narayana. That this is a holy place of Vishnu is narrated in detail in the self same Vamana purana cited by these persons”.
In the first chapter, in the dialogue between the sages Valmiki and Narada introducing the subject matter, this question is asked by Valmiki: “Venerable Narada! Which is the sacred place of Vishnu said to be on the earth which is superior to all such places in all the three worlds? You have seen all such places including the Satya loka of Brahma. In which holy water (theertha) are all holy waters present? Which is the place on earth by being resident in which people acquire endless virtue (punya)? Which is the place where the most auspicious Narayana, the Supreme person, resides with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi? Oh! Divine sage! Please describe to me that place and theertha, the holiest in all the three worlds.” This question clearly indicates that Thiruvenkata Hill is a Vishnu-kshetra: (This and subsequent questions are general to the extent that they ask about a holy place of Vishnu. The answer to all these questions is “Such a place is Thiruvenkata Hill”. It should be noted that the question is not asked about/ Tiruvenkata. The question is general and the answer refers to a particular place. So, it is clear beyond all doubt that Thiruvenkata is only a Vishnukshetra.)
In his reply to Valmiki’s question, Narada refers to a conversation between Mahadeva (Siva) and Kanda. Kanda asked his father, Mahadeva, “Which is the sacred water which will wash off the brahmahatti dosha (the sin of killing a brahmin) resulting from my killing Tarakasura”. Mahadeva referred then to his getting rid of the skull of Daksha (son of Brahma) which stuck to his hand when he punished Taksha by killing him. He got rid of the skull and the brahmahatti dosha by the great merit of the Vishnu kshetra (theertha) known as Prayaga. Then Kanda also asked his father to tell him about Prayaga. Kanda also asked his father to tell him the holy place which would remove his sins. The reply to this question clearly indicates Venkata is a Vishnu kshetra.
In the second chapter of Vamana purana, Kanda happily asks his astute father whose words destroy sins and confer good, “My Lord! Please explain to me the auspicious place where I can perform penance unhindered. Oh! One who wipes out misery in one’s birth! I will, by your command, go and do penance there. Oh Sankara, the blissful who is worshipped by great yogis! Please tell me the Vishnushetra which will cleanse me.”
In reply to this question Mahadeva mentions Thiruvenkata as a holy place of Vishnu. The portion of the second chapter referred to runs thus: “Siddhas and rishis constantly do penance on that hill (Venkata). Atheists and non-vaidikas (those who do not have faith in the vedic teaching) cannot get up the holy hill. Great rishis like Suka and Bhrigu, men of great virtue like Prahlada, devoted kings like Ambarisha, respect the Hill as another body of Vishnu. Being reluctant to set foot on the hill for this reason, they perform penance in the region surrounding the hill, bathing in the rivulets flowing down the hill and offering water-oblations to. Janardana with the aim of realising Him. The purity of the hill is such that a mere sight of its sacred top would remove all sins and purify the viewer. Mahavishnu resides there as Adivaraha, the form of the Boar in which he moved the Earth up from the waters of the great deluge. He is showing Himself to His devotees with mother Earth on his lap, embracing her.” This hill is hence called Varahakshetra and there is absolutely no room for doubt that it could be a saivakshetra.
Furthermore, having heard his father Mahadeva tell him that he got rid of the –brahmahatti dosha due to the killing of Daksha by the merit of residence (and penance in) the holy Vishnukshetra — Prayag, Kanda likewise, wished to get rid of the dosha accrued to him by slaying Taraka, by worshipping Vishnu in a Vishnukshetra. He got initiated by his father into, a Vishnu mantra and on the advise of the father went to Thiruvenkata Hill, a holy place of Vishnu and performed penance there. This is the account found in the purana and this clearly shows that this hill is only a Vishnukshetra. In the question indicated earlier, namely, “Respected Sankara! Please teach me the best Vishnukshetra where I can do penance”, it is clear that Kumara (Kanda) asked only about a Vishnu kshetra where he could do penance and atone his sins.
In the same second chapter of the Vamana purana cited, it is narrated that Kumara asked his father; “Oh Sambhu! Please teach me the best of all the Vishnu mantras, the one which will grant all wishes and will be the means of attaining the great Vishnu.” When Kumara, who finished the tasks he undertook effortlessly and efficiently, requested his father as said above, he got initiated into the Sri Rama Taraka Mantra according to the Sastras and felt supremely happy. So it is obvious that Kumara got from his father Mahadeva an efficacious Vishnu mantra for chanting during his penance in a holy place of Vishnu.
If for the sole reason that Kumara did penance here, this hill is to be declared his place (of worship) then why should this place not be declared a Vayu kshetra since earlier (to Kumara) Vayu did severe penance here for a very long time? No purpose is served by this long discourse. Before Srinivasa Bhagawan, Lord of the Tiruvenkata hill showed Himself out here, all the Devas — Brahma, Siva, Indra and others, all the rishis, gandarvas, yakshas and even rakshasas, princely rishis like Sanka and Dasaratha performed penance here to realise Him (Srinivasa). While such a large number of persons were engaged in penance on this hill, none but a fool would single out only one among them, Kanda, and declare that the hill belonged to him (Kanda).
In the same Vamana purana, chapter 14, while sages like Agastya and kings like Uparicharavasu meet and go to Swami Pushkarini, reference is made to this place as a place of Vishnu, superior to others. Those great sages and great kings viewed these hills with immense pleasure and conversed thus between themselves: “Is not this wooded hill always very dear to Sarngapani (armed with the divine bow Sarnga) Vasudeva, the creator of these worlds? Did not the ancient sages, approaching this place, realise the ancient one who is neither born nor dies? (not subject to birth and death like mortals). ‘Do not the devotees of Purushottama, the protector of the world get up this hill singing His praise and realise Him? Does not this divine and big hill immensely please the Supreme Lord of Sri? Does not the name Narayanadri for this hill show that there is no greater place than this among the abodes of Narayana?” This is the conversation recorded in the Vamana purana.
This same Vamana purana records in clear terms, which cannot be interpreted alternately to confuse people, the appearance of Sri Varaha Bhagavan and Lord Srinivasa on this hill, their continuous sojourn here, and their being worshipped without break by countless devotees of Vishnu. The identification marks found here and there on this hill indicate very strongly that this Venkata Hill is only a place of Vishnu. All these can neither be controverted nor done away with.
In the same manner, from all the portions of the various puranas which speak of the greatness of this Tiruvenkata Hill, it is seen that this Hill is only the abode of Vishnu.
In the first section of Venkatachala Mahatmya in Varaha purana, in the very first chapter, in the introductory portion the rishi asks: “0! Sootha BhagaVan, the recipient of the grace of Sage Vyasa and well-versed in all , dharmas! May it please you to tell us which, of all the abodes of Vishnu, more particularly of the places where He is self-revealed (Swayam vyakata), is most dear to Him? In which place do good acts yield the best fruit? In which place is the most wonderful sportive activity of Vishnu witnessed? Which is the place by residence in which one realises Hari? Which is the place -the talk about which pleases the ears; by hearing which one does not want to hear anything else? Please tell us about that wonderful place which is a feast to the eyes. Then Sootha talks about the glory of Venkata in answer to all these queries.
In the second section of Varaha Purana, captioned “Dialogue between Bhumidevi (Mother earth) and Varaha” (the boar incarnation of Vishnu), the first chapter refers to the existence of a “quite well-known” abode of Vasudeva called Venkatachala (sloka 42). This shows the prominence of this place as an abode of Vishnu.
In the Venkatachala Mahatmya found in Padma purana, in the first chapter, the visit of the great sage Suka to this place is described thus: Atop the Meru-mountain, when the sages were talking with Brahmadeva about the greatness of this Narayanagiri (Narayanadri) and the vision of Lord Srinivasa, the master of the Sarnga bow, Suka was filled with the desire to visit this place immediately. He went round Brahmd, prostrated before him and with his permission headed south towards this place. The most-learned sage, full of devotion towards the most ancient (the first) Lord Vasudeva — Purushottama, walked towards this place eagerly, talking out His glory, all smiles in the happiness he found, and saw this Abode of Narayana where He resides. Thus this place, the abode of Vishnu, has been spoken as the goal of the good devotees of Vishnu.
Chapter 63 of Venkatachala Mahatmya in the Garuda Purana, relates the conversation between Arundhati and Vasishta, in which Arundhati asks: “I wish to perform (tapas) towards Vishnu beside a holy tirtha (sanctifying waters of a tank or river) in one of His great abodes and get to know from Him, the best of all the dharmas (ways to realisation of the Lord) and reveal this superior dharma to the world for the benefit of all mankind. Is it not the duty of a virtuous woman to get the permission of her husband before starting a penance-tapas? Please direct me to such a holy water in the most sacred abode of Vishnu.” To this sage Vasishta replies: “Among the range of hills on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, the most sacred is the one called Venkatachala. This hill is dearer to Lord Vishnu than His celebrated abodes — the white island sweta dweepa in the ocean of milk, the centre of the sun, and Srivaikunta.” This reply reveals very clearly that Venkatachala is a holy place of Vishnu.
The first chapter of Venkatachala Mahatmya in the Brahmanda purana records a conversation between the sages Brigu and Narada. Brigu asks “Most worshipful sage Narada! You have travelled extensively all over the world and you know the sacred lore of all places. 0 chief of all Brahmins who have tapas as their sole wealth! Be pleased to tell me which is the holiest of all tirthas and the holiest of the abodes of God. Where does the unimaginably great Lord Vishnu sport with His beloved consort Sri, reveals Himself to be seen by all people and grants all their prayers?” Narada replies: “Best of Brahmins! Listen carefully to this account of the holy place of God. There is a very famous sacred hill where the beloved Lord of Sri (Srinivasa), leaving His Supreme above Srivaikunta resides with Sridevi, worshipped by all the gods. The place called Venkata is capable of wiping out all sins and multiplying virtues tenfold. Its greatness cannot adequately be described even by Brahma and other Gods. Why all this? The superior virtues of the place are beyond the comprehension of any mind.” This reply of Narada establishes that this Venkata hill is beyond doubt an abode of Vishnu.
Thus, the portions dealing with Venkatachala Mahatmyam in all puranas, even others not cited above, mention this place only as Vishnu’s place. Puranas say that this hill was brought here from the land of Vaikunta by Garuda for the sport of the Divine couple. The hill itself spoken .of as an avatar of Adisesha the serpent couch of Vishnu. It is called by different names such as Vaikuntachalam, Seshadri, Garudachalam and so on. All these go to show clearly that this place is only an abode of Vishnu. Further, orthodox vaidika brahmins, while performing daily rituals enjoined in the dharmasastras, refer to this place as Varahakshetra while mentioning the day, time and place of the ritual.
Enough with all this; the ultimate authority is that even the Sruti (Vedas), which is eternal and faultless, not authored by any person and hence not subject to the limitations of the author, declare that this Venkatachala is an abode of Vishnu. We quote from the thirteenth varga of chapter 8 in the eighth ashtaka of the Rig veda:
“Araayi kaane vikate girim gaccha sadanve
sirim bitasya satvabhi thebhishtwa chaathayaamasi.”
The Venkatachala mahatmaya portion of the Bhavishyatothara purana, chapter 14, says: “The Rig Veda mantra “araayi kaane vikate girim gaccha…..”, according to learned Scholars, refers to the great Tiruvenkata mountain. So it is a vedic mountain. We have to resort to the puranas to get lucid explanations of vedic formulate(?) which are not easily intelligible. This practice is accepted in codes of ethics (dharmasastras) as indicated in the code of Brihaspati.
In this vedic formula, the jeevatma desirous of various fruits like dharma (rightful life), artha (wealth), kama (fulfilment of desires) and moksha final salvation) is taught of the means to attain the desired fruit. The word twayi (you) is understood (latent) in the formula. The heart of this formula is “Sirimbitasya giri” which means Srinivasa’s mountain (or hill). The Lakshmi bijakshara `sreem’ has been corrupted to `sirim’ and `beetah’ to `bitah’. Many instances of such corrupted changes can be quoted in ancient literature. Sirimbitah, it is clear is none but Srinivasa because Sri is firmly established in her seat in the chest of Vishnu. The word `bitah’ can alternately be taken to be a change from `vitah’ (special or preferred residence). Thus Sirimbitah is the name by which Srinivasa is referred to in this Vedic formula. Instances are not wanting where the sound `NT’ gets changed to ‘p’ or ‘b’.
We can now go to an explanation of the mantra! (0 Jeeva!), twayi araaye sati — if you are devoid of wealth of this or the other worlds: twayi kaane sati — if you are devoid of insight or physical sight, twayi vikate sati — if you are afflicted by the three fold afflictions (bodily infirmities, trouble from natural sources — heart, cold quakes and so on), twayi sadanve sati — if you are prevented by obstacles hindering your realising the desired fruit, sirimibitasya girim gacha — reach the mountain of Srinivasa inorder to be freed from the above mentioned ills, and, twa tebhih sirimbitam chatayamasi —you should, in their (the devotees of Srinivasa) company, entreat Srinivasa. The purport is, “When you suffer from the difficulties outlined above seek the company of the Lord’s devotees and in that holy company reach Srinivasa’s hill and pray to Him for deliverance. This is the upadesa — advice given by Veda.
Alternately the final verb chatayamasi can also be taken to mean — you are to offer yourself to Sirimbita — Srinivasa. The advice is: if you are in dire trouble, go to Srinivasa’s hill in the company of His devotees and in their presence, offer yourself to Him. It may be noted that `satvabhP — refers to sadhus (in this context devotees); `sadanva’ is derived from sa-danava, danava is evil and is symbolic of obstacles hindering progress.
To sum up, it is the vedic injunction that in dire circumstances it is but proper for one to seek the company of the good (devotees of Srinivasa), travel with them to the Hill of Srinivasa (Venkatachala) and in their presence (seeking their recommendation to the Lord), pray to him to grant one’s desired end; alternately to offer oneself at the feet of the Lord in the presence of His devotees so that He, out of His unbounded kindness and mercy shower His grace.
Since this vedic formula explicitly asks people to go to this hill of Srinivasa and approach Srinivasa and that in the company of His bhaktas, this Venkatachala hill mentioned in the formula can clearly be seen to be an abode of Vishnu.
By these convincing arguments of Ramanuja resulting from painstaking research, the Yadava king was fully convinced that Venkatachala is not a saiva — kshetra. This is how Yatiraja Ramanuja by intelligent and authoritative arguments acceptable to the learned pandits dispelled all doubts from the mind of the kind just as the sun’s rays dispel darkness.
This concludes the first flower bunch (section) of Sri Venkatachala Ithihas Mala written by Anantarya, dispelling completely the doubt that Tiruvenka mountain may be the abode of other gods (than Vishnu).
End of Section I
Swami Pushkarini is solely a Vishnu Thirtha
Having convinced the Yadava king that the Venkata Hill is an abode of Vishnu and thereby that the deity enshrined therein is only Vishnu, Sri Ramanuja continued further: “0! Yadava king! I will now completely clear the doubts the Saivas have raised in your mind about Swami Pushkarini (the holy tank in Tirumala). Please listen to me”.
What the Saivas say about the name Swami Pushkarini is not proper. They say that part of a name is often used to mean the full name, and that Swami in the name here denotes Kumaraswami (Subrahmanya). They allege that Kumaraswami is engaged in tapas beside this tank, that the tank is named after him (it is his) and so it is not a Vishnu-tirtha. Really speaking, the puranas explain the words Swami Pushkarini to mean Pushkarini which is Swami (the tank which is Lord of all tanks —indicating its superiority). This meaning stems from the liarmadharaya samasam’ in Sanskrit.
Further in no place in our holy books, the term Swami is used to indicate Kumaraswami. The full name is always used. While the word Swami is not employed to refer to Kumaraswami, it is apt and common usage to refer to Sriman Narayana, the Lord of all the words as SWAMI and Swami Pushkarini is obviously Swami’s Pushkarini. This clearly establishes that this tank is a Vishnu tirtha. The arguments of the Saivas based on this name is clearly improper. It may be that Kanda (Kumaraswami), like many others, was performing tapas beside the tank. This cannot be the basis for calling the tank Swami Pushkarini.
Even the Vamana Purana which the Saiva claim to favour them, chapter 25 relates a conversation in which Brahma tells sage Markandeya: “In the Tamil country, there is a well-known and sacred mountain by name Venkatachala which is praised as a great (very sacred) mountain worshipped by the gods. Atop this mountain there is a famous and spacious tank celebrated as Swami Pushkarini, capable of destroying all sins, bestowing virtue and granting all wishes. Oh! Good brahmin! Is it not the Lord (chief) of all the holy waters in these three worlds? Markandeya! For the simple reason that it became the Lord (most sacred) of all the holy waters, it is called Swami Pushkarini.”
The first part of Varaha purana in Chapter VI says that the name Swami Pushkarini is a conferred name. Elders have said that by reason of its being the Swami (chief) of all Pushkarinis (tanks) it has been called Swami Pushkarini. Now Bhagavan (the Lord) has conferred this lordship of purifying waters (tirtha) as a boon and hence this name is acceptable to the Lord also. This is what the Varaha purana says.
In the 18th chapter of the same Varahapurana we find the statement, “Oh! Brahma, grandfather of the world! This tank is the lord of Pushkarinis and is meaningfully called Swami Pushkarini. Holy (purifying) waters in this world such as the_Ganga sprang from this. Grandfather! It is the Irammatha(?) tank in Srivaikunta which has come down here as Swami Pushkarini.
In Chapter 29 of the same purana, among the 108 worshipful names of Sri Venkateswara, it is found, “Obeisance to Venkatesa who bestows desired boons on people who bathe in the koneri (temple tank) which is the lord (chief) of all tirthas. (Kon — Lord; eri — tank)
In the second section chapter I of the same Varahapurana, Lord Varaha (the boar incarnation of Vishnu) is stated to tell Bhumidevi (His consort), “Since Swami Pushkarini is the first (chief) among all tirthas —tanks, rivers and the like — it has become (earned the name) Swami Pushkarini.”
Similarly in Padma purana — Section 32, in chapter 9, which establishes that Swami Pushkarini is a holy purifying water capable of washing away the sins of sinners, the sage Vamadeva declares: “Is this tank not the chief (holiest) among all the divine tanks in this world? So it is called Swami Pushkarini”. The same idea is conveyed in Chapter 3 of the Markandeyapurana — that this tank is the chief among all tirthas.
It is reported in the second chapter of the Brahma purana(?) that goddess Saraswati, desirous of greatness, took the form of a river and flowed in the country called Brahmavarta. She could not get her desire fulfilled because of the curse of sage Pulastya. Grieved by this, she propitiated Vishnu by tapas and got the boon that her wish should be fulfilled by becoming a holy tank. She then appeared as Swami Pushkarini on the Srivenkata hill. From this it can be inferred that the tank is so called because of its being the lord of all tirthas.
The narration begins thus: “Once upon a time Saraswati Devi, wishing to be the chief of all holy waters, was incarnated as the celebrated river Saraswati in Brahmavarta (area northwest of the present Delhi). Here it is stated that Vishnu granted this boon to Saraswati: “The three and half crores of holy waters are coming to me to beg the means of getting rid of their acquired sins. Oh auspicious one! I am going to direct them to bathe in your waters to cleanse themselves of the sins. Those waters which approach you at dawn on the Sukla paksha dwadasi (twelfth day of light fortnight) in the month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan) will become your obedient servants. They will then anoint and crown you as their chief’. These puranic utterances about there being a chief for tirthas are worthy of remembrance in the present context.
There are verses (in puranas) conveying the idea that this tank which is close to Sri Varaha and Sri Srinivasa, who are masters of all the worlds (Master = Swami), is called for that reason, Swami Pushkarini. In the first chapter of Section-I of Skandapurana, the sage Sakalya tells Kasyapa: “By the side of the river Swarnamukhi there is a hill respected all over the, world, well known as Srivenkata hill, a resting place of Vishnu. In that holy Sesha-hill which destroys heinous sins such as acquired by stealing gold, drinking toddy and even brahmahathi (killing a brahmin), and is worshipped by the good (devas) and the evil (asuras), there is a tank, Swami Pushkarini situated north of Srinivasa (his temple). This tank destroys all sins. Go to that hill, bathe in that auspicious tank with due ritual, worship Sri Varaha on the western bank of the tank, and then Lord Srinivasa ever resident on this golden hill, bearing his divine weapons — the conch and the disc, decorated by the Vanamala, assuring us, “do not be afraid!” If you worship this Supreme God, 0 Brahmin! You will surely be relieved of all your sins. Have no doubts about this.
In Chapter 37 of the second section of the Skanda Purana one may find the following: A huge hill has been brought from Srivaikunta by that mighty speed-bird Garuda and established on the banks of the holy river Swarnamukhi for the sport of Vishnu. It is highly re- spected by the sages and gods. On this Sri Venkata Hill, Vishnu, under the name of Venkatesa, flourishes with His consorts Sridevi, Bhudevi and Neeladevi, granting salvation to his devotees. This purana relates that a brahmin by name Padmanabha went to this Venkata hill with his son Kesava, worst among sinners, and after bathing in Swami Pushkarini with due ritual, and after worshipping Sri Varaha, reached the temple of Srinivasa and worshipped Him after going round the inner shrine.
Here since it is clearly stated that the Venkata hill is an abode of Vishnu and that the Lord of the entire worlds, (incarnate as) Sri Varaha and Srinivasa reside on the banks of Swami Pushkarini, it is obvious that the term ‘Swami’ in the name of the tank refers particularly to Sri Varaha and Srinivasa. Hence it is highly proper that the name obviously means Swami’s pushkarini — the tank belonging to the Lord. The stanzas there can be found to relate this unambiguously.
In the same way, it is stated that this tank was brought from Sri Vaikunta for the sport of the Lover of Sri. One can see then that it is a Vishnu tirtha. In Chapter 3, Section I of Varahapurana it is related that this beautiful tank filled with divinely fragrant water, fondly protected by Sridevi and Bhudevi, the source of holy waters like the Ganga, was brought from Srivaikunta by Garuda for the sport of the lover of Sri. This tank, called Swami Pushkarini is there in the Venkata hill for the water-sport of Sri Venkatesa.
Since it is stated here (in this purana) that this tank is the playfield of Bhagawan (Swami), it is clear that the term ‘Swami’ in Swami Pushkarini refers only to Bhagavan (Vishnu). It is also stated that a dip in this holy tank and worship of Vishnu confers the immeasurable benefits such as ‘Vishnu sayujya’ (equality with the Lord in knowledge, bliss and other divine qualities). This also _leads one to the clear inference that this is Vishnu’s tirtha. Just as the Lover of Sri is the Lord of all the worlds; this tank is the lord of all purifying waters and is close to the Lord of the worlds. So it is confirmed that it got the name Swami Pushkarini.
The tirtha associated with Kumara (Subrahmanya) is the one called Kumarathara. It is there, according to the Purana, god Kumara will reside till the end of the kalpa. Though named Kumarathara, it is only a Vishnutirtha because all the waters in this Venkata hill are Vishnu-tirthas. Many other waters (springs, rivulets etc.) are associated with names of sages like Kapila, Jabali and others (Kapila tirtham, Jabali tirtham and so on) because of the long residence of the sages close to the holy waters. Similarly Kumarathara is so named only because of the long residence of Kumara close to that water. It is known that this entire hill along with the waters therein are associated with (belong to) only with the Lover of Sri. So, there is little room for the thought that Swami Pushkarini is associated with any god other than Vishnu, the Lover of Sri.
Hearing the well-reasonedout discourse of Sri Ramanuja the king confidently nodded his head and accepted that Swami Pushkarini is the ancient water belonging to the ever-pure Vishnu, the loving Lord of Sri.
The king drank with great pleasure the extremely apt and nectarine words of Sri Ramanuja through his ears and was immersed in joy. He was struck with wonder and was convinced about the truth of what he said. He considered the Saivas as merely a cantankerous crowd engaged in making mere noise serving no purpose.
Here ends the second bunch (section) in the Ithihasa Mala (garland) woven by Anantarya contradicting the view that Swami Pushkarini is a tirtha of other gods (not Vishnu).
End of Section II
Sri Ramanuja refutes the arguments of the Saivas
The Saivas looked at the king who was captivated by the arguments of Sri Ramanuja and whose happiness was writ on his face, with a feeling of frustration. They could not brook to look at the king who lent a favourable ear to the saint because he felt that his words were reliable. They began to argue thus:
“Oh King! If this Venkata Hill cannot be contradicted from being a Vishnu kshetra because of the presence of Sri Varaha here, so also it cannot be contradicted from being a saiva-kshetra by the presence of Subramanya here. Further, nothing prevents this tank from being called lord of tanks because of its association with Kanda (Subrahmanya). The accepted superiority of this tank cannot conclusively establish that it is a vishnu-thirtha. So long as it cannot be negated that the god present south of the tank is Kanda, the association of Kanda with this hill and the tank cannot be negated. Under these circumstances, what is the use of this holy man’s talk? We do not totally deny the presence of God Varaha on this hill and His being worshipped by devotees of Vishnu call- ing this place a Varaha kshetra. We again submit that the god seen on the southern side of this tankis really Kanda and the association of this god with this hill and the tank cannot be denied. We have established by unquestionable and incontrovertible authority that the god is not the Lord of Sri. Therefore you should not conclude without further examination that what Sri Ramanuja says is correct”.
Having heard what the Saivas said, the king replied thus confidently:
“0 Saivas! I do not consider that what you have said is apt. The reason for this is that the puranas declare with one voice that this hill, to which kanda came to do penance to expiate the sin caused by, Ills killing Tharakasura, is a great kshetra of Vishnu. Further the puranas declare that this hill was brought by Garuda from Sri Vaikunta for the sport of Vishnu and that this tank was also brought by Garuda from there for the water-sport of his Lord. Kanda, came to this place to do penance because it was already established that this is a sacred tank. So it cannot be accepted that this tank is named because of association with Kanda (Kumaraswami)”.
Citing various authorities Sri Ramanuja has, by valid arguments, established the association of this hill and this tank with Vishnu and negated their association with any other god. You have not been able to put forward convincing arguments to deny what he has established. I am convinced that the well-reasoned arguments of Saint Ramanuja have clearly established his stand in this matter. The only remaining point to be established is whether the deity enshrined to the south of this tank is Vishnu or Kanda. With obvious devotion and veneration he asked Sri Ramanuja what he had to say in this matter. He spoke thus:
“Respected sage Ramanuja! I accept that your well-reasoned arguments and the authorities you have cited are enough to establish your stand that this hill is a Vishnukshetra and that this tank is a Vishnu-thirtha. You have now to establish by proper evidence that the deity shining forth on the southern side of this tank is only Vishnu and not any other God. Please speak out on this aspect of the dispute. Thus asked by the Yadava king, Sri Ramanuja spoke thus, convincing the king all the way by his well-reasoned arguments citing suitable authority in support”.
“Oh king! Please listen to me with attention. The matter is so obvious that no painstaking examination is needed. By numerous evidence and the incomparable prowess shining forth from this god, it is incontrovertible that this Venkatesa is none other than the slayer of the demon Madhu (Madhusudan). That he is referred to as a deva (god) along with lesser gods need not cause any doubt that His might is finite like the other gods. The common name kadyota for the Sun and the glow worm (a winged insect which emits visible light in the dark) does not lead one to mistake the sun whose light is all brilliance with the lowly glow worm. Now, most of the Venkatachala Mahatmya portions of the various puranas loudly declare with lifted hands”. (This deity shining forth on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini is verily Narayana, the Lord of Lakshmi)
Almost all these puranas declare, The Lord (Lover) of Sri, abode of wonderful and auspicious qualities and infinite bliss, leaving His superior abode of Vaikunta lives happily with Mahalakshmi on the banks of Swami Pushkarini on the Venkata hill. These words really refer to Srinivasa, of the two (forms of Vishnu) shining in the western and southern sides of the tank, indicating respectively Sri Varaha and Srinivasa. The reason for this is that these words are found in the context of the appearance of Srinivasa on this hill. Sri Varaha is always united with Bhudevi and is seldom described as being with Sri (Lakshmi) in the puranas. He (the boar incarnation of Vishnu) lifted up Mother Earth from the primal waters (Pralayarnava) and established it in its proper place. Having done this, He along with the goddess representing the Earth, came down from Mount Meru and established Himself on the Venkata hill on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. The reference to coming down from Vaikunta with Mahalakshmi cannot obviously apply to Varaha.”
The Venkatachala Mahatmya, forming chapter 48 of Sesha Dharma Purana belonging to the Harivamsa refers to this request made by Dharmaputra (Yudhishtira the eldest Pandava) to Bhishma. Dharmaputra asked Bhishma: Most fortunate one! Son of Ganga! Lord Bhishma! Please talk to us about the greatness of Srinivasa. Master of the speech! Please tell me how the all-powerful and all-pervasive Lord of the devas, the Lord of Sri came doWn to the Sri Vaikunta hill. Beginning with this question of Dharmaputra, it goes on to relate, through the mouth of the divine sage Narada, I heard a holy message from Vaikunta. Listen to this, good friends! I heard that the Lord of Sri, the abode of countleSs auspicious qualities and infinite bliss, leaving his great Vaikunta sojourns with Mahalakshmi on the SriVenkata hill beside the Swami Pushkarini. Having heard this Indra and the Maruths(?) tried to visit the hill and worship the Lord there; I also tried. Narrating thus the attempt of Indra and others to get to see Srinivasa on the Sri Venkata hill, it concludes: The Lord of Sri appeared in a form extending from the heavens to the Venkata hill, bearing the brightness of millions of suns and the coolness of millions of moons. Appearing in a vimana looking very much like the sun’s luminous sphere, Srinivasa stayed on the banks of Swami Pushkarini, worshipped by a host of devas.
Chapter 10 of part I of the Varaha Purana begins with a narration of the appearance of the Lord on the Venkata hill thus: “Is not the Lord showing Himself atop the Venkata Hill like a lustrous black peak for all to see, granting required boons to whoever approaches Him, without any distinction whatsoever? One wonders to which noble soul the Lord revealed Himself thus.” Beginning thus, the narration mentions that the devas, harrassed by the asuras, went to the shore of the milk-ocean to seek the help of Bhagavan Vishnu. At that time a person armed with conch, disc and mace appeared in the sky and said “0 good people Sanaka and other rishis please listen. Mahalakshmi and the Lord are now residing on a hill on the earth. Please go there.” Similarly, Narada when he went to the Vaikunta, heard from the mouth of a celestial that the Lord was sporting with His beloved Sri on a hill on earth. Similar words are seen in other accounts (Puranas) where the appearance of Srinivasa on earth is spoken of. This establishes that the words spoken earlier (Harivamsa) refer only to Srinivasa and not God Varaha. The reference to a body like a black peak would clearly show that it does not mean the Boar incarnation who is white.
Chapter 2 of part I of the Varaha Purana talks of how the white Boar incarnation of the Lord established the seven worlds and the seven seas in their proper setting as of yore. It continues that Hari as a white Boar stayed permanently in the sacred forest on the western bank of Swami Pushkarini in the Venkata Hill. The account clearly mentions that the Venkata Hill was brought from Vaikunta and established there by Garuda and that in that hill of sport named Venkata, Bhagavan Varaha stood on the western bank of the holy Pushkarini. It adds that later on (after the advent of the sweta varaha-white Boar) the lotus eyed Lord of the devas appeared in a Vimana on the southern bank, armed with conch and disc. Thus it is clear, without any ground for doubt that Sri Varaha and Srinivasa are different incarnations of the Lord and reside in different temples on the same hill displaying different auspicious qualities. Their appearance here occurred at different times.
For these reasons, it is not appropriate to accept the white Boar incarnation of Vishnu alone as resident on this hill and deny the fact that the deity on the southern side of the tank as Srinivasa is another form of Vishnu. Imagining that the deity on the southern side is Kanda engaged in penance cannot be valid.
Chapter 1 of part II of Varaha Purana relates the conversation between Bhumidevi and Sri Varaha on the top of Meru Mountain where He had gone after re-establishing the earth, following the great deluge at the-beginning of the Varaha-kalpa. Here the greatness of Swami Pushkarini as a holy water is mentioned. The Lord tells Bhumidevi, “I will be there with you on the western bank of this sacred tank till this kalpa ends. So also the Lord of the Universe, Srinivasa will be there on the southern bank for a similar period.” Thus the continuous sojourn of Sri Varaha and Srinivasa as two different incarnations of Vishnu on the banks of this tank during each kalpa, Varaha with Bhumidevi and Srinivasa with Sridevi and Bhudevi, is mentioned by Sri Varaha Himself. After this conversation, Sri Varaha embraced Bhumidevi, kissed her on her face, and placing her on his left thigh, flew to the Venkata Hill on Garuda, his bird-vehicle. From then on the Lord of Bhumidevi (Varaha) has been residing permanently on the western bank of Swami Pushkarini along with her.
Towards the close of chapter II here, we find the question being put by Bhumidevi, “Oh Lord Varaha! When will the Lord of the Universe, the Lord of the devas, Janardana, the faultless Srinivasa come to this great hill named Venkata? How will He be here till the end of the kalpa? I have a great desire to know this.” The Lord replies to her as related in chapter 3, thus: “0 Blemishless Devi! During the reign of Vaivasvatha Manu in Kritayuga of the last kalpa, seeing that Vayu was engaged in long penance on the banks of the Swamy Pushkarini, Srinivasa came down here with Sridevi and Bhudevi. He will continue to live in the Ananda vimana on the southern bank of the tank, pleasing Vayu and worshipped by Kanda. He will not reveal Himself to anybody then. In the next kalpa also, Srinivasa will appear here as a result of Vayu’s penance. He will reside with Sridevi and Bhudevi on the southern bank of the tank, till the end of the kalpa, worshipped by Kanda.” While Sri Varaha Himself has spoken thus, there is no place to deny the existence of Lord Srinivasa and imagine Kanda to be in His place.
As against this the proposition that Kanda is the presiding deity worshipped here contradicts his coming here to rid himself of the sins resulting form his killing Tharakasura. All puranas say that Kanda does penance here to expiate sins. He is known only as worshipping Srinivasa. To say that he is being worshipped here would go contrary to his arrival here according to his father’s advice to get rid of his sins.
Thus in most of the puranic portions talking of Venkatachala Mahatmya, it is clearly mentioned that Sri Varaha and Lord Srinivasa are being worshipped separately on the western and southern bank respectively of the Swami Pushkarini.
In the Sri Padma Purana, chapter 4, mention is made of Lord Vishnu revealing Himself to all, out of His infinite mercy with generous intentions. He revealed Himself as Srinivasa on the banks of Swami Pushkarini atop the Venkata hill: The fifth chapter narrates how Sveta Varaha (white boar) appeared on the Simha hill, another name for Venkatadri. Thus it is clear that the appearance of Lord Varaha is distinctly separate from that of Srinivasa. This chapter relates that the Lord of the devas in boar form left the other worlds and, eager to be on this earth, resides in the western bank of Swami Pushkarini. Bearing a divine form He is by nature friendly to all and gladdens the heart of the learned and blissful devas a well as others (mortals).
The sixth chapter of the same Purana talks of Lord Varaha being atop the Seshadri taking the form of a beautiful boar on the bank of the Swami Pushkarini. Here it is stated that the Lord is comfortably housed there with His dear consort Bhumidevi, not known to others (the common people). This account is immediately followed by the advent of Lord Srinivas on this hill from His heavenly abode of Srivaikunta to bless the people of the lower (this) world and make them happy. The ancient Lord and the creator of these worlds is now here, having left His divine abode of bliss. Thus the advent of Srinivasa, according to this Purana also, is later than and distinctly different from that of Sri Varaha. This establishes that Lord Vishnu is present for ever in two different forms, Varaha and Srinivasa, on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini.
The tenth chapter describes the appearance of a new and flawless shrine (vimana) which gladdens the hearts of the viewers, on the western side of the sacred tank. This is followed by a description of the appearance of Srinivasa Himself on the western bank to fulfil the prayer of the devas and to protect the world. The reference to the appearance in the western bank need not necessarily be construed as contradicting the earlier account of His appearing in the southern bank. The shrine of Srinivasa (Ananda Vimana) is actually south-west to tank and may be approximated as south or west.
In chapter 1 of the Markandeya Purana, Garuda tells Markandeya, I will respeat (?) the greatness of that sacred hill (Tirumala). All holy waters are present there. There is a holy tank there by name ‘Swami’. On the western bank of this tank Lord Bhuvaraha sheds His grace on all, revealing a beautiful form embracing His dear Bhumidevi. On the pleasant southern bank, the Lord of Vaikuntha has been living for a long time bearing Sri on His chest, granting the desires of all who come to Him. How can I adequately describe the greatness of this tank?
The third chapter of BhavishyotharaPurana states that Satananda told King Janaka thus: “The most important of the holy waters atop that hill is the Swami Pushkarini. On the western side is a dune decorated by a peepul tree, inside which the Lord in the form of a Boar resides embracing His consort Bhumidevi. While the Lord was considering where He could reside hidden from others, He felt happy to see this flawless dune below a tamarind tree on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini and decided that it would be the fittest resting place. Thus it is clear that the Lord of Sri resides here on this hill in two places in two different forms.
In chapter VII of part I of the Skanda Purana, we see the words of the Markandeya purana repeated verbatim. By the account in chapter I of the same purana cited in the second section of this work and also from chapter XXXVII of part II of the same purana-it can be clearly understood that the Lord resides on the banks of Swami Pushkarini on the Venkata hill in two distinctly different forms. One may recall (from Section 2) that a great brahmin Padmanbhan brought his son Kesavan who had slipped into evil ways and made him bathe in the Swami Pushkarini following the ordained rituals After worshipping Lord Varaha, he entered the temple of Srinivasa, went round the holy shrine, worshipped theLord and got rid of his heinous sins and partook Of the holy Water.
Likewise, chapter 50 of ‘Brahmotharakanda’ states: “The famous Swami Thirtha is superior to others. On its southern side Vishnu lives happily with Lakshmi.”‘ In chapter 18 of Vamana Purana, we find Satananda telling. King Janaka, “0 King! the sages, after hearing what the Lord said, hastened to the wonderful and everpresent shrine of the Lord on the southern bank of the well-known Swami Pushkarini and set their eyes on shrine resplendent like the sun”. These explicitly establish the presence of Srinivasa in his shrine on this hill.
Thus in two places in the Skanda Purana, and in the Vamana Purana it is worth noting that the appearance of Sweta Varaha (white Boar) and Srinivasa are described separately from each other. In Bhavishyothara Purana and other puranas, incidents such as Srinivasa marrying the daughter of Akasa Raja, His inviting Sri Varaha for that, His conversation with Sri Varaha and others are described separately from each other in detail. Since all these talk of two distinctly different forms of the Lord residing on the Venkata hill on the banks of Swami Pushkarini, it is impossible to deny the existence of Lord Srinivasa on this hill. In the same manner, the Vedic sentence beginning with `araayi kane’, the words `sirimpitasya’ is sufficient proof of the presence of Srinivasa on this hill as distinctly different from Sri Varaha.
Sri Ramanuja continued:
We will now prove that the identifying features on the deity clearly indicate that He is not Kanda but only Lord Vishnu. The deity seen on the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini is seen with four hands. This is distinctive of Vishnu, it is not so for Kanda. In Brihaspathi’s praise (sthuthi) of Kanda in chapter 2 of Vamana Purana he extols Kanda, son of Parvati as having one face and two arms. Due to his mother’s affection he became six-faced. Mentioning that Kanda by nature had one face and two arms, it adds that for drinking milk from the breasts offered by six mothers, he became six faced. This increase is artificial and so is the mention of twelve arms, appropriate to six faces, each of these carrying a weapon. Even this artificial increase in arms is to twelve and not to four.
It was mentioned earlier by the Saivas that this deity is Kanda and that he bears no weapons since he is engaged in penance. It is not improper for one with a high status to carry one’s weapons when one goes into the forest to perform penance. Not only is it not improper to carry weapons but it is even necessary for self-defence. It is not proper for Kanda with his high status as the commander-in-chief of the gods to be without his distinctive weapons. So what they (the Saivas) say is not valid. In the Ramayana and Mahabharata, heroes like Rama, Lakshmana and Arjuna, though they appeared with matted hair like those engaged in penance, are stated to have carried a bow and quiver full of arrows befitting their status as princes.
Chapter 3 of Vamana Purana cited earlier specifically mentions that Kanda who started towards the Venkata hill for doing penance carried his weapons with him. No mention is made of his leaving them. There it is stated “when the golden-hued Kanda went there to perform penance with Devasena, carrying his bow and javelin…..” Further on also there is no mention of Kanda’s abandoning his weapons.
On the other hand, this Lord (the deity in question) is seen with two arms raised as if carrying two weapons. The right hand (the third) points down to His feet eager to grant boons. It points to the feet as the goal to be attained and as the means to attain that goal. The left hand (fourth) touches the hip, indicating that the ocean of samsara (cycle of births and deaths) would become just hip deep to those who seek and approach Him. Such an arrangement of limbs is appropriate only to Lord Narayana who is meditated upon by all those who wish to cross the ocean of samsara and attain salvation and who is worshipped universally. It is in no way fitting to alone?
Kanda who is intent on doing pooja (to a higher deity) and doing penance to get rid of sins.
There is no need for more words on this topic. The very fact that the symbol of Sri Mahalakshmi is found on the right chest would enable even an ignorant person to determine beyond doubt that this deity is only Mahavishnu. Is not the Lakshmi-motif on the chest dis¬tinctive of Mahavishnu. To remove any lingering doubts, Sri Ramanuja con¬tinues on the subject of identifying features of Srinivasa as described in the different puranas:
In chapter 15 part I of Varaha Purana, it is stated that the four-faced Brahma found Srinivasa thus: “He feasted his eyes on the tall auspicious figure of Srinivasa with four arms wearing diverse jewels, holding the chakra with a thousand flaming spokes in one hand and the conch, white as the autumn moon in the second; the third lo¬tus-like right hand pointing to His feet, enthusiastic in bestowing boons desired by devotees and the fourth gracefully touching the left hip. It is worth noting that the different function ,s of each of the’ four arms are de¬scribed in detail so as to leave no doubt regarding the identification of the deity.
Chapter 10 of Padma Purana clearly describes ,Srinivasa on the Venkata hill as having four arms, two holding the conch and discus and another in varada (pointing to the feet, ready to grant boons) pose. It mentions the `Srivatsa’ mark on the chest (characteristic of Vishnu), and the jewels-Kausthuba, Vanamala, and Vyjayanthi all distinctive of Vishnu. This description of four arms with different functions fully agrees with de¬scriptions found in other puranic accounts.
Chapter 63 of Garuda Purana states that the most fortunate Arundathi worshipped the Lord of Venkata who has Mahalakshmi on his chest and who rids people who come to Him of their sins. In her praise of Srinivasa she says: “You bear the auspicious Lakshmi always on your chest; the great Siva, the destroyer of the three (flying) cities bears the purifying water washing your feet; you are having the Venkata hill as your permanent abode. Lord of all the gods! I do not find any one else other than You who can grant the benefits of this world and the higher worlds.” The explicit reference to the presence of Lakshmi on the Lord’s chest by Arunthathi who de¬scribes what she actually saw is clinching.
In.the Brahmanda Purana, chapter nine, the Chola king Chakravarti describes that the feasted his eyes on Srinivasa on the Tiruvenkata hill. He describes the Lord thus: He is pleasing like the dark-cloud. He who is the nestling place of Sri, with the mole Srivatsa shining like a jewel on His chest, holds two hands aloft carrying the Sankha and Chakra. One hand (right) is lowered down, offering boons to His devotees and the other (left) touches his hip. His pleasing figure exudes peace. He wears a golden-hued cloth. His crown is resplendent with shining gems. It is thus that the king saw Srinivasa-Vasudeva-fit to be worshipped by celestials.
The identifying marks seen by the king-the marks of Srivatsa and Sri herself, four arms, two holding the conch and discus respectively and of the other two, one in varada (offering boons) pose and the other in ghati (touching the hip) pose are\ clearly those of Vishnu. In the same purana in the Sri Venkateswara Sahasranama adhyaya (chapter) in the form of a conversation between the sages Vasishta and Narada, the following passage is found describing Lord Srinivasa: “I mediate in my heart on that Srinivasa. Lord of Tiruvenkata, two of whose arms are lifted up carrying the Sankha and Chakra intent on destroying the foes of the devas, whose lowered right hand points to His feet as fit for worship, whose left hand touches the thigh indicating that to His devotees the sea of samsara is only thigh-deep, and whose auspicious chest is market by the Srivatsa mark and from where Sri shines forth. It is worthy of note that Srinivasa, the object of meditation is described with only the unique identify¬ing features of Vishnu.
It is stated in chapter nine referred to earlier that King Chakravarti begged the Lord that He should show Himself to all devotees exactly in the same form in which He revealed Himself to him (the king) and the Lord agreed to do so. The very prayer of the king “That di-vine and beautiful form of yours which even the great yogis cannot see has been revealed to me by your grace. Please grant that this form should become visible to all. You should reside here (on the Tiruvenkata Hill) per¬manently for the benefit of all mankind.” The Lord an¬swered, “So be it. You are a true devotee of mine; there is none to equal you.”
Describing the appearance of Srinivasa in His shrine (Vimana), in the second chapter of Markandeya Purana the beautiful form of the divine Lord is described exactly in the same manner (as in Brahmanda Purana) — with two arms holding the divine weapons eager to grant all wishes of His devotees, with the right hand in¬dicating that His lotus feet are worthy of worship, and with the left hand indicating that the ocean of samsara is only thigh-deep, with His chest shining by the pres¬ence of Sri. This description of Srinivasa, adorned fully by jewels and with a bewitching smile on His lips wor¬shipped by Brahma and other devas, tallies fully with ear¬lier accounts.
The fourth chapter of the same Markandeya Purana describes the form in which He revealed Himself to Kanda (Subrahmanya) in exactly the same manner with all the features set forth earlier. Towards the end of the Thirteenth chapter of the Bhavishyothara Purana, it is clearly stated thus: Sri Venkatesa, the Lord of Sri can be worshipped even today bearing Sridevi with her charm¬ing wide eyes seated on a lotus flower on His chest, with two arms held aloft but without the usual Sankha and Chakra, with the right hand pointing to His lotus feet and with the left hand touching the thigh. This is undoubt¬edly the presently seen form of the Lord.
Chapter Twentythree of the Vamana Purana states that the divine vimana (shrine) in which Lord Srinivasa revealed Himself to Brahma besides the Swami Pushkarini disappeared there itself, but Sri Srinivasa kept Himself visible to the eyes of men. In this context sage Agastya tells that the great sages that the Lord would occupy a shrine built by men. Agastya begged the Lord that He should keep showing Himself to people and the Lord agreed. This being the narration in the Vamana Purana, there is no basis for imaging that Kanda is resi¬dent there on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini.
The same Vamana Purana states that the divine Vimana revealed by the all-powerful Lord lies hidden in this great hill. Nobody can set his eye on it. Only those who mediate upon the Lord can see it by His grace. This is certain. In the Kali age which is to come, a holy vimana (shrine) which will destroy all sins of viewers, which by its auspicious nature will gladden the hearts of all view¬ers, which will be worshipped by celestial beings-devas, gandharvas and others, which will have unique good fea¬tures, in which the Lord will be ever-resident, is going to be designed and constructed by the devotees of Vishnu. The Lord, full with auspicious qualities of incomparable power, all-pervading, with four arms holding the sankha and ,chakra (in two of them), bearing Sri on His chest, will stay in that Vimana. Oh best of brahmins! This vimana, which will be an ornament to the three worlds, capable of removing the sins of devotees will be very famous in this world. This is what the Vamana Purana says. The same account is found in many other Puranas.
As for Kanda, he is ever-resident in the region of the Kumara-dhara in this hill and comes frequently to the banks of Swami Pushkarini and worships Lord Srinivasa. Chapter five of the Vamana Purana states that Siva tells Parvathi about the presence of Kanda here and his worshipping the Lord. So it is obvious that the God found on the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini is only Lord Srinivasa and not Kanda.
In the same chapter, Paramasiva tells Parvati, “Blemishless one! Lord Vishnu is. sporting atop the Venkata hill with Sridevi and Bhudeviwithout His temple or Himself being visible to human eyes. In the area ad¬joining Swami Pushkarini grown with trees, shrubs and creepers yielding in all seasons, the Lord, with an ever youthful and beautiful form, surpassing that of an infi¬nite number of manmathas (god of Love and Beauty) is happy with the Lady of the flower (Sridevi) and the Lady of the earth (Bhudevi). On auspicious days in the month of Chitra (April-May), Kanda worships the Lord, pleas¬ing the Lord with celestial music and dance by celestialmaidens. He is resident near the Kumara-dhara, an aus¬picious water-fall. The ferocious-looking and unbearable brahmahatti (personification of the sin of slaying a brahmin) stayed away from the Tiruvenkata Hill. 0 Devi! The six faced Kanda wishes to worship the Lord of Sri there daily and does not wish to leave the place.”
Sri Ramanuja continues: It is not proper to say that Kanda who is described as worshipping Vishnu is being worshipped on this hill. It is not so mentioned in any of these ancient works. The idea that Kanda, with a body composed of elements of these worlds is being wor¬shipped in this hill where Vishnu has descended down from His land of bliss, Vaikunta. The Lord did not agree even to Paramasiva’s residence on this hill along with Him and permitted him to reside only at the foot of the hill.
This conversation is recorded in chapter eighteen of the Varaha Purana. Vishnu, with a guileless smile asked Siva: “Sankara! Please tell me the purpose of your present visit” to which Siva replied, “0 Lord of the Venkata Hill! Master of Vrishagiri! I wish to be present where you are”. The Lord of Tiruvenkata shining with a darkhued effulgence told him, “0 Mahadeva, consort of Parvati! I will be resident here till the end of this Kalpa. Eswara! You may occupy the southeastern portion at the foot of the hill.”
While Mahadeva himself was not permitted to be worshipped by people on this hill, is it necessary to ex-plicitly mention that it will not be apt to say that Mahadeva’s son Kanda is being worshipped here? Sum¬ming up, it should be said that Srinivasa resides in the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini, making himself vis¬ible to the gods as well as to men as prayed for by Agastya and other sages. He is resident there in archa (idol) form exactly in the same manner revealed to the gods. There is absolutely no basis to claim this god as. Kanda.
Chapter three of the Brahma Purana says that com¬manded by Lord Srinivasa, king Sanka built this temple and established the archa form (idol) exactly as revealed to Him. The command ran thus! “Oh superior among men! Most fortunate king! establish my form and shrine ex¬actly as you saw. You will be amply rewarded.” Having said this the Lord disappeared. The Purana says that the king carried out the command, attained, fame on earth and then found lasting bliss in the Lord’s eternal land — Paramapada.
Frequent mention in various accounts of the Lord holding His divine weapons — Sankha and Chakra in His hands, pointing His lotus feet and touching His thigh, the presence of Sridevi on His Chest. This clearly establishes that this deity cannot be any other than Vishnu.
It is because of these reasons, that leading Paramaikantis (those who hold that only salvation and not other fruits should be desired from the Lord and that only the Lord of Sri, the Supreme, can grant this) like Sri Satakopa, Tirumangai and others (familiar as Alwars) have sung in their Divyaprabandas (Divinely in¬spired works) that this Venkata Hill is a palace (Tirupati) of Vishnu and that the Lord resident therein is only the Lord of Sri (Narayana).
The greatest of the devotees free from wordly at-tachments, these Alwar saints would not deceive them-selves and the world by praising and meditating on a god assuming that He is Vishnu. These devotees whose sole aim is true liberation moksha would not be lured by wealth or fame into worshipping any deity other than Vishnu who alone can grant moksha.
It cannot be established that the object of their praise and meditation is only the boar incarnation of the Lord present on this hill. They clearly mention features such as a tall crown, four arms, Sri embraced on the chest, which apply uniquely to Srinivasa. In the Dravida¬brahma-samhita (Tamil Tiruvoimozhi), Satakopa (other¬wise called Nammalwar) has sung two decads addressed to the Lord of Tiruvenkata, (3-3 and 6-10) in the latter of which the unique features of Srinivasa are clearly de-scribed.
In verse 2 of the tenth decad of the sixth Canto, the Alwar refers to the flaming chakra held aloft on the right hand, ready for use against enemies and always under control, implying the presence of weapons allied to the Sudarsana Chakra. In the tenth verse, the presence of Sri who does not brook separation from His chest even for an instant and in the eleventh verse, the reference to the hand to the lotus feet as the goal to be sought and also as the means to attain that goal are revealed. It is sug¬gestive of the inference that to those who seek the lo¬tus feet the sea of samsara would only be knee-deep. The incomparable greatness of the Lord is explicitly brought forth in the eleventh verse. “Seek refuge under these feet without looking for any reward other than attaining them. The happiest life is in store for you.” The Alwars have referred to the other features which identify the Lord. This is ample proof that the deity is only Srinivasa —Vishnu.
The Puranas are one in detailing that Lord Srinivasa gave his divine weapons to help his ardent devotee Em¬peror Thondaman against enemy hordes and that He de¬termined not to hold them in His hands so that the world will know about His help to His devotee.
Chapter seven of the Brahma Purana details the rea¬son for the absence of the Sankha and Chakra in the hands of the idol-that He had sent them to help His devotee in battle. The narration runs thus: When the emperor Thondaman was deeply engaged in meditation and wor¬ship in the shrine of Srinivasa, a large enemy army beseiged his kingdom. The king, on being informed of this went at the head of his army and fought a pitched battle, but could not vanquish them. He ran up to the inner sanctum of Srinivasa’s shrine through a secret un¬derground passage and firmly holding on the Lord’s feet cried out for His help. Though in idol form, the Lord assured him, “My child, do not fear; I will send my di¬vine weapons Sankha and Chakra with you. They will de¬stroy your enemies. Go with them to your city”. So say¬ing the Lord handed over the weapons and when the king went over to his city, the divine weapons themselves de¬stroyed the entire enemy army. The kingdom was left without enemies. The weapons automatically went back to the Lord’s hands; but the king prayed ‘0 Lord of the Gods! My Lord! I beg of you not to show the weapons in your hand to the people of the world so that they may know that you sent them with me to overcome my foes”. The Lord granted this prayer and in this idol form He does not show out His weapons. They lie hidden, invis¬ible to human eyes. The Lord is never without His unique weapons but only He chooses not to display them, in def¬erence to the request of His ardent devotee.
In Chapter eleven of the Brahmanda Purana the Lord is stated to have told His royal devotee, “Wise one! I will give you now itself what you are to get at a later stage (the liberated one attains a form similar to that of Vishnu with similar weapons and decoration). You take these weapons with you and slay the hostile demons in the battle filed.” This is stated in the context of a battle with the demon Simhanada. At the end of the same chap- ter, it is stated that the king, after slaying the demon re¬ported the matter to the Lord and returned the weapons. The Lord, however, asked the emperor to retain them for some more time saying that they would return to Him by themselves once He commands them. The Lord wishes to remain without weapons for some time to come. In the coming Kali age, when devotees offer a shrine (vimana) and other paraphernalia and also divine weap¬ons (in archa form) He would accept them. Thus the Lord had Himself told the king that He would remain without His unique weapons for a period; this explains the ab¬sence of the identifying weapons at the present time.
In no Purana is it mentioned that Kanda has been established in archa form without His weapons at any place nor any reason for his remaining without the weap¬ons. Hence there is no room for any doubt that this de¬ity is Kanda. He is undoubtedly only Srinivasa.
The arguing Saivas put forth another reason for their contention that though Srivaishnavas are conducting wor¬ship here, following ancient custom, theSlilse vilva leaves in the worship during one month (margasirsha) even now. This according to them,’ strongly suggest that this god is not Vishnu but some other. If He is Vishnu, not only the absence of His unique weapons is ununderstandable, but the presence of Jata (matted hair) and nagabharana (a jewel in the form of a coiled serpant) are also not proper on a Vishnu idol. Their main contention that the idol is not that of Vishnu because we cannot see Him 60 SECTION-HI holding His unique weapons has been shown to be un-tenable for valid reasons from acceptable sources — the Puranas. The same Puranas state in many places that Srinivasa is an incarnation of the Lord of Srivaikunta. The authority of the Puranas cannot be negated by the guess (anumana) based on the use of bilva leaves. The authority of the Sruti (Veda) is superior to that of the Puranas and research has revealed that Sruti also reveals that the Lord in this Hill is Srinivasa. The evidence is conclusive. We will also prove that the use of vilva is appropriate in Vishnu worship.
What the Saivas say about vilva leaves is not true. Tulasi leaves are dear to Vishnu because they are dear to Tulasi Devi. It is well-known that Vilva is dear to Lakshmi and for this reason, dear to Vishnu too. The Sri Sukta formula (vedic mantra) chants: “adityavarne tapasotijato vanaspatistava vrikshota bilvah”. This means: “Oh Sri with a crimson brilliance like the Sun! By your wish, the bilva tree, great among trees became very auspicious.” For this reason (One of the 108 names of Lakshmi is Vulva nilaya) it is mentioned in the scrip-tures that Vishnu may be worshipped with vilva leaves. In describing the worship of the Lord during dhanurmasa (Dec.-Jan. during the sojourn of the Sun in dhanur-rasi) the great dharma sastra-Harita Smriti chapter 5, states: In the month of Margaseersha, the brahmin should bathe daily before dawn, offer usual ob-lations tarpana, concentrate mentally on the Lord and Sri Venkatachala Itiiikasa Maki 61 worship Him-Jagannatha-Narayana according to pre-scribed rites. He should, reciting the purushasukta and chanting the ashtakshara, perform archana with tulasi and vilva leaves, lotus, dark lily and fine-jasmine flowers. He should offer incense, doopa, light, deeps and sandal paste. He should offer a variety of foods, payasam, sweet-pongal, pongal, sweet-cake with honey, parched rice, roasted gram and so on as also a variety of tasty fruit & in the same chapter it is stated that one’ should per-form archana to Sri Lakshmi-Narayana with Lakshmi seated on the Lord’s left thigh with vilva leaves and ten-der tulasi leaves, chanting the gem of mantras-the dwaya. Then one should offer vilva leaves, lotus petals, or ghee in the holy fire agni chanting the mantras of the Purusha-sukta.
One should worship Sri Krishna the Lord of the cowherds with utmost sincerity by offering alari, hill-fig, and wild jasmine flowers and vilva leaves as archana chanting the ten syllabled mantra, “Om name bhagavate Krishnaya”.
Sri Narasimha should be worshipped’ in a similar manner with a variety of flowers tulasi and vilva leaves chanting the sacred Narasimha mantra or the gayatri man-tra or the ashtakshara.
Similarly the Venkatachala Mahatmya portion of the Varaha Purana, chapter 13, refers to king Dasaratha seeing the exemplary conduct of the great rishis performing thapas on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini anticipat¬ing the appearance of Lord Srinivasa. Here it is stated that these yogis perform archana to the Lord of Sri with dark and light Tulasi leaves and Vilva leaves.
In the second section of the Varaha Purana chap-ter which also deals with Venkatachala Mahatmya, the devas, praising Sri Lakshmi say, “Obeisance to Sri resi¬dent in the vilva forest; obeisance to the consort of Vishnu.” This indicates that vilva is dear to Lakshmi. Fur¬ther, it is stated that Lakshmi, pleased by the worship, told them: “0 Devas, whoever be it, Devas or men, chant¬ing the praise uttered by you, worships me with full vilva leaves, they will achieve their wishes-dharma, artha, kama or moksha. This is certain. So it is clear that Lakshmi herself ordains that she should be worshipped with vilva leaves. So, it is that the Lord of Venkata whose chest is adorned by Lakshmi without a moment’s separation is worshipped with vilva leaves. There is mention in other works also about Vishnu being worshipped with vilva leaves.
So it is established from authoritative texts that Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi hold Vilva dear and hence they should be worshipped with vilva leaves. Following this, it is the arrangement from ancient times on this sa¬cred hill to use vilva leaves in the worship of Vishnu. It is also seen to be the practice in some other temples of Vishnu. For these reasons, the fact that vilva is used in archana to the Lord cannot establish that this deity is not Vishnu.
Further, matted hair is not found solely on gods other than Vishnu. Books state that Vishnu in some of His incarnations is found with matted hair. If this found with Lord Srinivasa here on this hill, that cannot stand in the way of His being Vishnu.
In Chapter 9, section 11 of Sri Bhagavatham, there is a conversation between King Nirni and the Yogi Karabajana on devotion to the Lord. Here the king asks the sage “What is the colour of Vishnu’s form in differ¬ent ages? What are His different forms? What are His names? What are the different modes by which men wor¬ship Him? Please enlighten me 0 sage”. The sage replies, “Oh king Lord Kesava (Vishnu) manifests Himself with different forms with different colours during the ages¬Krita, treata, dwapara and Kali. He is worshipped in di¬verse modes. In the krita age, He is white in colour; He has four hands; His hair is matted; He wears garments of tree-bark; He is adorned with a sacred thread made of deer-skin; he holds a japamala, kamandalu and danda (stick) in His hands; He bears the names-Hamsa, Supama, Vaikunta, Dharma, Yogeeswara, Amala, Easwara, Purusha, Avyakta and Paramatma. Men of that age who have over¬come their senses and bear no to anybody, me¬diate on the Lord with their senses fully under control. Meditation is their mode of worship.
It is clear that at different forms ages the Lord as-sumes different with different colours and bears different weapons. In the different incarnations, He is to be wor-shipped in the form characteristic of that incarnation. Since it is stated so, it is proper that Lord Srinivasa ap-pearing with matted hair and four arms has to be wor-shipped with such a divine form.
The Sripancharatra Satwata Samhita, in its section describing the forms of various gods suitable for medi-tation first describes the form of Sankarashana (one of the five manifestations of Vishnu) in the nether-world patala. This form of Bhagavan Ananta the infinite, the presiding deity of knowledge, is described as having four faces each reciting one of the four Vedas Rik, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana. He displays a long beard and moustache and has matted locks. He has four hands and carries a kamandalu (water jug)and a danda (stick), a prayer-bead garland He wears a sacred thread. This is the form of the Lord to be meditated upon for gaining learning. A little later in the same text, Krishna (one of the four foldavatars of Vishnu-Nara, Narayana, Hari and Krishna) is described as one with a dark hue like the dark-lily flower, with matted locks and holding his hands aloft. He has air for His food and observes the `atikrisra'(?) vow. This is one form of Lord Krishna to be meditated upon.
Again in the same text, another incarnated form is Sri Venkatachala Ithihasa Mala prescribed as suitable to be meditated upon. He is seated on a fine horse, his body covered by an armour, wearing a white turban over long matted locks, with body gleam-ing like gold, holding a bow in his hand. He has two quiv-ers full of arrows and has a variety of other weapons. He protects those engaged in righteous acts like chant-ing the vedas, performing sacrifices, yagas, giving alms and so on. He destroys those who, with evil intentions, talk ill of the righteous. He supports all beings. He has Adisesha the many headed serpent as his bed and as a decorative jewel. He shines like the fire of destruction and appears to be clothed with bright flames. He holds weapons like the chakra. Such is the form of Vishnu pre-scribed for meditation.
Thus it is known that in several of His incarnations, Vishnu wears matted hair, such a feature with Lord Srinivasa does not contradict that He is Vishnu. The fea-tures found on Lord Srinivasa agree in many respects with the description given in the Satvata Samhita. The divine form of Srinivasa described in the puranas may now be considered:
The description of the Lord in Satvata Samhita as being seated on a fine horse and other details given therein apply to Srinivasa. Chapter 4, Section 2 of the Varaha Purana describes the Lord as engaged in hunting and this is how Padmavati, the Lord’s bride to be and her friends found the Lord. They saw a horse of superior breed white as the autumn moon and shining with gold ornaments appearing like a streak of lightning among the clouds. Seated on this horse they found a dark-hued war¬rior, beautiful like the god of love Manmatha with large eyes like lotus petals extending up to the ears, wearing large red ruby ear-rings, holding golden bow and arrows. His black hair was tied into a knot above the head and covered with a white silk.”
These details tally well with the description given in the Satvata Samhita. In chapter 6 of Bhavishyottara Purana, we find an account of Srinivasa starting out for hunting. It states, He wishes for a horse. God Vayu be¬came a horse and appeared before Him; Sri came before Him as the bridle. He adorned Himself with all ornaments and conveying His respects to the horse He mounted it. His hair was tied into a knot above the head and covered with a red silken turban. Beautiful flower garlands adorned His shoulders. His feet were covered with golden shoes set with gems. He carried a bow and arrows and appeared with the most attractive form with the beauty of a hundred gods of love gathered into one. The horse was blue with white feet and appeared fifteen cubits (about 22 feet) tall and was decorated with golden seat, harness, rein etc. and a golden tilak. It appeared swift as the wind. Mounted thus, the Lord-came down from Tirumala and proceeded on a hunt.”
The reference in this Purana to Srinivasa riding on a stately horse carrying bow and arrows, wearing his hair
tied into a knot above his head (like the jata worn by sages) covered by a silken turban is striking. It is on the same lines as the description in the Satvata Samhita. While the Varaha Purana refers to the horse as white and the Lord’s turban as white, the Bhhavishyothara Purana differs slightly by describing the horse as blue with white feet and the Lord with a red turban. These may refer to different occasions and there is no basic difference in the details. Further, it is quite possible that small dif¬ferences may have crept in due to human error in record¬ing what was heard from a sage. If we remember that. the Puranas were written from memory after hearing the ac¬count, minor variations in these accounts have to be al¬lowed for. Small variations in the narration of Sri Venkatachala Mahatmya in different Puranas in traceable to this cause.
In the Skanda Purana, chapter 10 of the first sec-tion, in the context of describing the divine form of the Lord, it is stated: “Sage Agasthya and King Sanka, find¬ing a powerful light appearing before them, meditated on Narayana, the most blissful, with a body most plea¬surable to view, possessed of iffimense knowledge, be¬yond thought and speech and the possessor of infinite wealth. They beheld the cosmic form of the Lord with a thousand faces (thousand denotes its innumerable na¬ture) thousand hands, thousand feet with a brilliance like molten gold.
The form was most frightful to look at with innu-merable long teeth protruding out of the mouths, which spat out hot flames. Lakshmi adorned His chest deco¬rated with the Kousthubha (a divine jewel). His form was all pervasive; neither the beginning nor the end could be perceived-. Though the font instilled fear in their hearts, they felt happy and repeatedly worshipped Jagannatha¬the Lord of all worlds. They then saw the divine weap¬ons-the discus chakra surpassing the sun in brilliance, the powerful mace_ gada, the sword Nandaka, the . P.undarika lotus flower insignia., the conch sanka white like the moon and capable of loud and ear-piercing sound-approaching the Lord. The sound emanating from the Panchajanya, the Lord’s conch filled the entire worlds and struck terror in the hearts of the unrighteous demons.
The similarity between this account and that given in the Satvata Samhita is again striking. The Satvata Samhita refers to the Lord shining like the fire of de¬struction and being enveloped by flames as His garment and spitting out fire. Thus His form is frightful and dif¬ficult to view. His body is bright like molten gold and is surrounded by His divine weapons, assuming personal forms. Here in skanda purana, the brilliance of His form is compared to that of molten gold. His weapon which patrol the worlds to protect them are reported to have approached Him. The form of Srinivasa described here tallies with the form prescribed for meditation in the Satvata Samhita.
It was mentioned in the Varaha Purana that Srinivasa when He started out on a hunting expedition appeared with an attractive dark blue hue. Here He is described as having the brilliance of gold. This appearent differ¬ence is easily reconciled. The Veda describes his body hue as Krishnapingala, a combination of dark blue and golden yellow, similar to the peacock’s neck. The divine form of the Lord is frequently likened to a blue gem dis¬playing a golden brilliance.
In the Skanda Purana, it is stated that the Lord, in deference to the entreaty of the gods led by Brahma with¬drew His frightful form enveloped by flames and showed out a tranquil and beautiful form. In this context, the Lord is described as appearing in a golden vimana with an at¬tractive face like the full-moon and body pleasing to look at like the dark-lily. Thus the dark-blue hue of the Lord’s form has been indicated.
In the Vamana Purana, chapter 15, narrating the ap¬pearance of Srinivasa, the question is asked by king Janaka: “0 Sage Vamadeva! Please describe to me the bodily, features of Sri Hari. What is the nature of that. form which is most difficult to get sight of? How many faces and hands are there? How many weapons does He wield? Tell me about His cosmic form.
Vamadeva replies: “0 King of Mithila! His beau-tiful face partly covered by dark and curly hair flowing outside His attractive crown looks like the full-moon partly covered by dark clouds. His many hands hold many sharp and bright weapons which are every ready to strike. Here we have a reference to the hair (not tied up but unfurled) and innumerable weapons of destruction with the brightness of fire. These are frightful to behold, par¬ticularly to the demons-the foes of the gods, and afford protection to peace-loving devotees. Their brilliance may be compared at the same time to the blinding sun and reassuring moon. Thus the Lord has two norms, one caus¬ing fear and the other pleasing. The weapons surpass the sun in brilliance in association with the fearful form. They appear calm and tranquil like the moon in the pleas¬ing form. The former is associated with the destructive aspect of Lord Srinivasa and the latter with His protec¬tive aspect. Weapons like the sword, spear and axe men¬tioned in the Satvata Samhita are associated with the de¬structive form and those like the chakra and sanka with the protective form.
The accounts in the Skanda and Vamana Puranas re¬fer to the cosmic form shining with a multiplicity of hues with many heads wearing wonderful crowns, shining brightly like the sun. This ancient form is described to be glowing like the fire which burns up everything at the yuga-end, with a bright face and brilliant eyes. Immedi¬ately following this comes the description of the pro¬tective aspect, with soft handsome cheeks, ears adorned by dangling pendants, wide eyes reaching up to the ears in length, with a high-rising chest smeared with fragrant sandal paste, wearing soft yellow silken garments, wearing the unique Vyjayanthi around the neck and shining forth like lightning. Thus the frightful destructive form and the pleasing protective form are both described one after the other. It may be recalled that the Satvata Samhita also talks of the Lord as protecting those who are righteous-reciting the Vedas, giving liberal alms and so on.
In the same way the Vamana Puana recounts the praises offered by the seven sages (saptarishis) to Srinivasa. “Obeisance (Namaskara) to you who hold the chakra brilliant like a thousand suns! Obeisance to You who hold the divine conch! Oh Mahatma Vishnu adorned with a tall crown! Obseisance to You who have a body like the dark-hued cloud! 0! one who holds flashing weapons like the sword, spear, axe and many others! obei¬sance to you. 0 one who grants the fruits of sacrifices yagas! You who wear bright pendants on the ears! You who are the master of both the high and the low! You who is the primal cause of the universe and appear with an up-coming lotus from your navel (the seat of the cre-ator Brahma!) You whose form is frightful! Obeisance to you.” Thus it is clear that Lord Srinivasa displays two forms one the protective one, calm, peaceful and attrac¬tive and the other flaming, holding frightful weapons of destruction. Thus the account given of Srinivasa in the Vamana Purana agrees essentially with that given in the Satvata Samhita.
Thus, in the Padma Purana chapter 3. in the context of the appearance of Srinivasa. on the banks of the Padmasarovar’ in Tiruchuganoor to please sage Suka, the Lord is described in these terms: Pleased by the pen¬ance of sage Suka, Sri Vishnu, the inner life of all be¬ings,. the creator of all the fourteen worlds, the all-per¬vasive Lord, He who activates all beings, He who dis¬penses favours, and penalties (according to good and bad acts committed), He. who carries; the Sankha, Chakra, mace and lotus; respectively in His four hands, He who has the thousand hooded Adisesha as a gem-studded um¬brella, He who is; decorated by snakes, beautiful jewels, gold threaded cloths and fragrant flowers, He who wears fine sandal-paste exuding a. pleasing aroma, appeared be¬fore Sage Suka with a broad smile on His handsome face. Here the reference to snakes- is. to golden jewels in the form of snakes (nag. ct&harcoria).. This description of the Lord as having. a. snake-canopy and snake jewels is in keeping with the description of the’ Lord in the Satvata Samhita as having a serpent bed and. serpent-like jewels.
Similarly, in the same Padma Purana, chapter 4, de¬scribes the • arance of Lord Srinivasa before the same Sage Suka on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini atop the Venkata hill. This; refers to the’ Lord as, having dark curly hair resembling the dark-hued rain-bearing clouds, and shoulders shining with snakes (jewel’s with the snake motif). Again in the tenth chapter, the appearance of Srinivasa on the banks of Swami Pushkarini in response to the prayers of Brahma and others is• described thus:
“Pleased by these prayers, the Lord who is above sin and virtue showed Himself out with the brilliance of a thou¬sand suns, with the cool luminescence of a thousand moons, and, at the same time enveloped in a thousand flames. The Lord is thus shown to have an attractive and a fearful aspect which is in agreement with the account given in the Satvata Samhita.
In Chapter 11 of the Bhavishyottara Purana, in the context of describing the wedding of Lord Srinivasa with Padmavathi it is mentioned that Akasa Raja (father of the bride) presented the bridegroom with two nagabaranams (jewels with the snake motif) along with other jewels. Thus the Lord a resident of Seshachala and has sesha for His bed holds sesha (the divine snake) dear to Him and so was presented with jewels to match.
In the Sri Venkatesa Rahasyadyaya in the Bhavishyottara Purana, in recounting the most secret (rahasya) upadesa given by Paramasiva to his consort Parvati about the divine form of Srinivasa in His shrine (vimana) for the purpose of meditation, the Lord is de¬scribed as wearing beautiful nagabaranas, attractive like the indranila gems. He is described as bearing the Sankha and Chakra and holding His hands in the abhaya and anama poses. (Abhaya mudra is holding the hand in¬dicating fear not’; anama mudra refers to the hand held down touching the left hip). Paramasiva says, “His name is the divine gem Kaustuba in the huge ocean of the Vedas; He dispels ignorance by His very presence; He grants a good life (welfare) to our son Kanda; He grants the wishes of all His devotees; He wears nagabaranas; He is the root cause (granter) of all wealth; He gives Himself to His. devotees. Such is the form and the qualities to be meditated upon.” Thus the divine form of the Lord is described here as being decorated by nagabaranas on the shoulders.
Chapter 2 of the Brahmanda Purana says — “The Lord, with his eyes bright with pleasure, addressed Adisesha in a pleasant tone: “0 faultless Ananta, there is nobody dearer than you to Me; I want you to do some¬thing I love. You heard what Narada said. I need a playfield for sport. It will be good if you take the form of a tall mountain on earth. I will live there with Sri un¬der the conopy provided by your hoods.” Ananta (Adisesha) replied, “0 Lord, I will take the form of a mountain on which you can have a pleasant time with Sridevi.” From this we see that Adisesha became a moun¬tain at the command of the Lord to provide a pleasant resort for enjoyment and rest. This Brahmanda Purana indicates, as the Satvata samhita does, – “The Lord fit to be meditated upon by men has Adisesha for his bed and jewellery.”
In the Sri Venkatesa Sahasranama Sthothra section in the Brahmanda Purana the names kabardee, kamaharee (the Lord with flowing hair; one who de¬stroys worldly desires), and those which say, He who holds the conch Sankha, He who has lotus-like (desir¬ able to look at) hands; He whose body is covered by sweet-smelling saffron; He who wears serpents for bangles; He who holds a spear; He who wears garlands of pearls; – these indicate that He has two aspects one which is awe-inspring and another which is pleasant. Each form holds weapons suitable to it. This again is in ac-cordance to what the Satvata Samhita conveys.
If it is held that the names Kabardee (one with flow¬ing or matted hair) and Kamaharee (destroyer of Kama-Manmatha) may refer to Siva, but they can equally well be applied to the indwelling Paramatman in that body (of Siva). But in this Sahasranama Sthotra, since most names refer directly to the Lord of Venkata, these names (Kabardee, Kamaharee) also can be taken in the same way as explained earlier.
From what has been pointed out from the Puranas, it is established that Vishnu here wears nagabarana (jewel with serpent motif). This cannot be adduced as evildence that Venkatesa is not Vishnu. The argument of the Saivas that these features — worship with bilva leaves; absence of Sankha and Chakra; wearing hair like an ascetic and wearing nagabarana — show that Venkatesa is not Vishnu is baseless. Though the hair-style and nagabarana are more familiar with Siva icons, these per se are not clinching reasons to accept that this deity is Kanda.
While the identifying features pointed out by the Saivas are not acceptable as conclusive, the features pointed out by us (Sri Ramanuja) namely — the presence of Sri and the Srivatsa mark on the chest, the presence of four arms held in a unique fashion characteristic of Vishnu, and other such features – and the many puranic statements identifying this deity as Vishnu — Narayana should be acceptable to any unbiased person. So it is con-clusively established that this Sri Venkatesa with a beau-tiful form not seen any where else, and called by the name Srinivasa is none but Narayana and cannot by any means be Kanda-Subrahmanya.
One thing should be noted: The Upanishads declare “eko ha vai Narayana aseeth na Brahma nesanah” — At the time of creation there was only Narayana, but nei-ther Brahma nor Siva. These texts declare Narayana as the sole cause-creator of all the worlds and that Brahma and Siva are created by Him with different forms and qualities. The qualities which are not present in the cause cannot be found in the effect. Such qualities found to be present in the effects, creations karya should have been present in subtle form atleast in the cause karana.
Narayana, the seed primal cause of all creation wills, “bahusyam” — I will become many and manifests all cre-ations. He has the power to create, to sustain and to de-stroy the entire unverse. The capacity for creation and destruction are clearly derived from Narayana by Brahma and Siva respectively. The forms associated with creation and sustenance should be far more tranquil than that as-sociated with destruction which would inspire fear. This Sri Vertkatachala Ithihasa Mala 77 awe-inspiring form would be associated with jata (mat-ted hair), serpent-jewels, spear, axe and such weapons. These would clearly be associated with Narayana in His destructive aspect.
The references cited from the Puranas clearly bring out the dual aspects of Srinivasa as saviour and destroyer. Creation, sustenance and destruction are uniquely asso-ciated with Him whereas with other gods it is bestowed. The Lord keeps showing this by His dual forms. That is why the Satvata Samhita states that He is the primal cause and support of all that is manifest and that He pervades all.
Chapter 3 of the Padma Purana says that the all-pervasive (sarvatman) lotus-eyed Lord, who is the cre-ator, sustainer and destroyer of the entire universe, pleased by the penance of sage Suka showed Himself to him with His consorts Sridevi, Bhudevi and Neeladevi on the banks of Padmasarovar (tank in Tiruchuganoor). Mention is made here that countless aspects of His in-finite Vaishnava power competed with each other to dis-play themselves. So He is clearly both creator and de-stroyer with infinite prowess unique to Vishnu.
In the celestial song of the Lord Sri Bagavatgita, He tells Arjuna: “Whichever created being has a num-ber of other creatures under its protection and has enough wealth and foodgrains for that purpose and can find more resources for the same purpose, infer that being is a manifestation of a tiny fraction of.My infinite Prowess of ruling others.” Is it not clear that all power vested in various persons in this world is all derived from the same source-Vishnu?
Further, chapter 4 of the Padma Purana states:-“Once Lord Vishnu out of His infinite mercy towards mankind, with the best of intentions, proposed to give darshan to all, made Himself directly visible, surrounded by Garuda, Adisesha, Vishwaksena, His five divine weap¬ons, attendants like Kumuda, the retinues of Brahma and Siva, in all grandeur. He was accompanied by the won¬derfully bejewelled consorts Sridevi, Bhudevi and Neeladevi who always give Him great pleasure. The all-pervasive sarvatma and sarvakarana Lord is thus de¬scribed as attended upon by all His weapons, personal attendants, and the retinues representing the powers of Brahma and Siva. Similar statements are to be found in other puranas as well.
The awe-inspiring and fearful form associated with the destructive aspect along with weapons like spear and axe as also decorations like hair, snakes and the like shown by Lord Srinivasa should not mislead one to iden¬tify Him with Siva. Pramasiva derives his power of de¬struction and the form associated with it as a small part of this aspect from Srinivasa. This form of Srinivasa is the source of all power – that of creation, protection and destruction. The puranas estimate the power in terms of 32 crores. A small fraction of this infinite power is in- vested in other gods like Brahma and Siva, and the Paadma Purana mentions that Vishnu-Srinivasa-is attended upon by His own as well as the powers (retinues) of Brahma and Siva. The primal cause thus revealed itself to human eyes in the form of Srinivasa so that His immense great¬ness may be comprehended by devotees. His infinite con¬cern and mercy towards those who seek His protection are well-brought out in these puranic accounts.
In the term sarvatma applied to the Lord, the term atma may be taken to connote quality. It may be taken that the qualities found in the effects (karya – outward manifestation of a cause – karana) should have origi-nated from the cause. The manifested qualities of Brahma and Siva (effects-karya) should be traceable to the root-cause (karana) namely Vishnu. Alternately atma can also be taken to mean “cause” as is understood in the state¬ment “mridatmako gatah” (the pot is derived from clay). Then Sarvatma would mean that He is the root cause of all. Thus according to the author sage, Srinivasa is the root-cause of all gods and other beings and the quali¬ties manifested in these effects. The 34th chapter of the relevant section of Vamana Purana also states that the original form of Lord Vishnu appeared like a huge bright flame, shocking and surprising the viewers. This means that the form of Srinivasa is the first manifestation of the primal cause-Narayana.
It is with all the foregoing in mind that Sri Peyalwar (Mahadahvaya) one of the three earliest Alwars sang thus in his poem. 3rd Thiruvandadi that in the Lord of Tirumala, the two forms merge with each other-one with flowing hair, the battle axe, the girdling serpent and the other with a tall crown, charming discus (chakra) and a fine golden hip girdle. (verse 63 — thazh sadayum neenmudiyum etc.) The Alwars were singing saints who hold Vishnu as the Supreme and went around the land singing only His Praise. This verse implies this is the primal causal form of Vishnu indicating that He is the cause (creator) of Brahma, Siva and others. The battle axe is representative of the destructive aspect of the Lord with flowing (matted) hair, serpent girdle etc. and the tall crown (kireeta) and the chakra representative of the pro¬tective and ruling aspect.
It is natural for one to ask, “The fearful form holding spear, axe etc. is not visible now; only the beautiful pro¬tective form is seen. How then is it that the Alwar says that the two forms merge into one!” The answer is that the Lord, in response to the entreaties of Brahma and other gods chose to withdraw His awe-inspiring form and show out only the pleasing one. Sages like Peyalwar, be¬ing endowed with divine knowledge and mystic powers of vision, were able to see the Lord as He really is, a combination of the creator, protector and destroyer. So there is no contradiction. The fearful aspects of the hair, serpent, and weapons have been withdrawn and only some of these now adorn His very desirable form.
When the sage Brigu kicked at the chest of the Lord (this was a test to find out the most saatvic deity among Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra), the inseparable Lakshmi felt insulted and went out to live in Karavirapura. Vishnu had to do penance on the banks of the Padmasarovar (the Tiruchuganur tank) so that Sri may be pleased to ap¬pear and join Him and one form of Srinivasa conforms to that doing penance. Further, Vayu and Kanda were doing penance on the Venkata hill repeating the Sri Rama taraka mantra and Srinivasa intended to show Himself to them as Rama_ Bearing different forms in the different ages, He bears a form sporting flowing and matted hair (jadai) in the Krita age. Adisesha is most dear to Vishnu be¬cause he serves the Lord as His bed, protective canopy, sandals protecting His feet and residence on earth as the Seshadri mountain on which He sports with Sri. To show His affection to Adisesha, His foremost servant, He wears him as a jewel on His arm. Putting all these fea¬tures together one can understand the various unique fea¬tures of the pleasing and tranquil form of Srinivasa. In¬cidentally, it may be mentioned tht the separation of Sri from the Lord’s chest due to sage Brigu’s kick and the sequel are detailed in chapter 2 of the Bhavishyottara Purana and Chapter 11 of the Padma Purana.
According to Chapter 2 of the Vamana Purana, Sage Narada tells Sage Valmiki, “Vayu, the life breath of all creatures keeps chanting the Rama taraka mantra with the only aim of having a vision of Jagannatha, the God of gods, wearing a tall crown, with the Sankha, Chakra, saranga bow and arrow in His four hands, in the com-pany of His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. Kanda, who is capable of accomplishing good tasks with ease, hav¬ing been at his request initiated with the Rama taraka mantra by Paramasiva is chanting that mantra here to realise Rama.
That Adisesha did penance that the Lord should re¬side on the hill — the form which he took on earth is de¬tailed in chapter 2 of the Brahmanda Purana and chapter 2 of the Brahma Purana. That Lord Srinivasa incarnated Himself first in the Krita age is explicitly stated in chap¬ter 3, section 2 of the Varaha Purana and Chapter 10 of the Padma Purana.
Sri Ramanuja concluded his arguments saying, “By all these reasons detailed so far and the authorities of the accepted puranic texts quoted in support, which are irrefutable, it is conclusively established that the Lord by name Srinivasa, the consort of Sri, Lord of Vaikunta, who descended from His divine abode of Srivaikunta on to the Tiruvenkata Hill to show Himself to devotees and protect them is only Sriman Narayana. These authorita¬tive texts leave no room for any doubt that He may be either Kanda or his father.
Thus by the timely and learned discourse of Yathiraja (Ramanuja), the contention of the Saivas that the deity on the Tiruvenkata hill was Kanda was utterly routed. The Yadava king told the Saivas. “The fiction that this deity is Kanda produced by your united efforts over a long pe¬riod of time has been blown away, in a moment by the tempest of Sri Yathiraja’s authoritative discourse. Enough with all your imaginative talk which is apparently rea¬sonable but cannot stand proper examination. If you can give proper and acceptable reply to the arguments put forward by this learned sage, you may come back tomor¬row and present them in court tomorrow. The king struck with wonder at the learning and apt arguments of Yathiraja told him “0 Sri Ramanuja! I request you to be present in this court to meet the remaining arguments of your opponents”. Sri Ramanuja retired to his camp along with his disciples.
The Yadava king was very much impressed by Sri Ramanuja’s scholarship and skill in debate and found pi asure in talking admiringly about it with his minis-t rs. He was convinced about the truth in his arguments and felt that the plea of the Saivites was untenable. He wondered what arguments they would advance the next day.
The Saivites met and reexamined their own argu-ments and felt diffident of success. Like one determined to try medical treatment to the gravely ill till the end, they decided to continue the debate to their last word and assembled in the court the next morning. Sri Ramanuja also came in accompanied by his disciples and took his seat, acknowledging the courtesy shown by the king.
When the king and the court had settled down, the Saivites addressed the king: -0 King, we are firmly of the view that the god seen on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini is either Kanda (Subrahmanya) or Mahadeva (Siva). It may even be Harihara (a combination of Vishnu and Siva) but not solely Vishnu. There is nothing unac¬ceptable if a few features of Vishnu are seen in this de¬ity whom we claim to be Kanda. The Vamana Purana states that a fraction of the nature (amsa) of Vishnu is present in Kanda and this may be manifest in the external fea-tures of the god found on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini. Hence it is quite possible that Kanda showed himself with the discus (Chakra) of Vishnu.
In the second chapter of the Vamana Purana, Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, tells Kanda; “0 commander-in-chief of the gods! High shouldered one! Do not grieve; do not forget that you posses the inde¬structible prowess of Vishnu.” Further in the same chap¬ter, Brahma is reported to have advised Indra, “Sati devi (wife of Siva), who shed her body by her yogic power, is incarnate as the daughter of Himavan (Mount Himalaya) and is being lovingly brought up by her mother Menaka. Pray to the mighty Siva that he should marry her (Parvati) and beget a son capable of slaying Tharakasura. God Kanda, who will do good to us will then be born with a fraction of the prowess of vishnu.” Fur¬ther when Brihaspati praises Kanda. He says, “0 son of Sankara born with a golden lustre to do us good! I sur¬ render unto you. You are Rudra the god of destruction; you are Brahma and you are Vishnu.” Kanda who can take whatever form he chooses is quite likely to take one with four arms just like he may take one with twelve arms. So the appearance of four arms on this deity found in Tirumala does not rule out his being Kanda.
It is equally likely that he is Mahadeva (Siva). Dis¬play of long hair and nagabharana (serpent jewel) is well-known as unique to Siva. The Vaishnavas accept that Vishnu is the root-cause of all creation and the features of his creations show out in him. So also, we claim that Siva is the root-cause of all creations and likewise, the fea¬tures of created being appear in him. If the Vaishnavas claim the god solely as Vishnu by virtue of the visible features of Vishnu, we claim him to be solely Siva on the basis of the visible features of Siva on this god. Who can refute this?
By the presence of both kinds of features (of Vishnu and of Siva), and according to the words of the early Vaishnava Alwar-Peyalwar quoted by our opponents in debate, this god is certainly of the form of Harihara. Only on this basis can we properly explain the statement in the eighth chapter of the Skanda Purana, section I, that those brahmins who think of and praise Srinivasa who is Mahadeva are rid of all their sins as also the one which states that those men who worship this Srinivasa who is Mahadeva once need not do any further tapas, dana (giving gifts), yaga (sacrifice) and the like since their once-worship equals all these. Similarly in other places also, this god is referred to by both the appellations Srinivasa and Mahadeva, bearing testimony to this being Harihara, a combination of Vishnu and Siva.
Likewise, in chapter four of the Padma Purana, this god is described as bearing the phase of the moon as on the eighth day (after the new moon day), and also as wearing the Tirumankappu (naamam). These establish that the god is in the form of Harihara. Are not the 8th day moon and the Tirumankappu identifying features of Siva and Vishnu respectively?
The view of the Vaishnavas that this god is solely Vishnu is in opposition to what has been enumerated —so argued the Saivites mustering all their skill in debate. The Yadava king then addressed them: “0 Saivas! It is my view that Sri Ramanuja has already countered all these arguments. Who, having heard the impressive pronounce¬ments of the saint will not be able to give suitable re¬plies to all the points raised by you? Your arguments look like small grains of mustard against the thunderous ar¬guments of Sri Ramanuja, which stand aloft like Mount Meru. Though I can brush aside your arguments, I would still like to hear what Sri Ramanuja has to say about this Harihara form. I therefore call on him: “0 great saint! I am eager to hear your reply to the points raised by these people.” Sri Ramanuja replied thus:
“0 King! While all doubts regarding the truth in this matter have been dispelled from your mind what is left over is perhaps the residual darkness which lingers be-fore sun rise. These Saivites argue that since according to the Vamana Purana a fraction of Vishnu’s nature (amsa) is present in Kanda, there is no contradiction in the fea¬tures of Vishnu appearing in Kanda. Further, since Kanda can take any form he wishes, it is quite likely he shows out four arms. This by itself does not contradict his be¬ing Kanda. All this is quite wrong.
Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in chapter 10 of the Bagavatgita, “Whichever person (or living being) has others under his control and has the wealth to protect and sustain them, and has the ability to acquire more such wealth, such persons are the result of a fraction of my commanding prowess.” Therefore all beings who pos¬sess wealth and power and the ability to acquire more, they possess a fraction of the nature of Vishnu. Since Kanda is the powerful commander-in-chief of the devas, it is apt that the Vamana Purana describes him as having a small portion of the prowess of Vishnu. Based only on this statement of the Vamana Purana it is not proper to say that the features of Vishnu are found in him. There are many other Puranic passages declaring that four arms are unique to Vishnu. Ignoring these altogether, to im¬age that the Vamana Purana justifies Kanda having only four arms is totally improper. There is no doubt that these arguments are highly untenable.
In the Gita, Krishna declares “I am Kanda among the commanders-in-chief, indicating that an aspect of Vishnu resides in Kanda. The passage in the Vamana Purana means just this and no more. If on the basis of an aspect of Vishnu being present in Kanda, Sankha, Chakra and other weapons may be found on four arms of this god, then, since. Krishna has said “I am the peepul among trees”, should not the peepul tree should exhibit these unique features of Vishnu? What is the use of all this talk? The familiar statement that no person not be¬ing Vishnu (possessing an aspect of Vishnu) can be a king, all kings may be inferred to have a small fraction of the prowess of Vishnu in them. If then I ask “Why are not the unique features of Vishnu found on all kings, what reply would these Saivites give? Let them ponder on this and decide.”
Furthermore, at the close of the second chapter of the Vamana Purana it is stated thus: Kumara (Kanda) bathed in the Swami Pushkarini and sat down on its banks. Seeing god Vayu engaged in penance there, the six-faced Kanda settled down near Vayu and engaged himself in severe penance meditating on the Supreme God, the God of gods, Sriman Narayana holding the Sankha and Chakra in his hands, worshipping Him morning, noon and evening. Thus Kumara is specifically stated as having come to the Tiruvenkata mountain to rid himself of the sin due to kill¬ing Tarakasura and as meditating on Vishnu, who holds the Sankha and Chakra in his hands. In the fifth chapter of the same purana, it is explicitly stated that God Vayu had come to Tiruvenkata earlier and by his tapas realised the vision of Narayana as Srinivasa and similarly Kanda, who arrived later and engaged himself in penance was granted the same vision and the blessing of worshipping the Lord there till the end of that kalpa. Thus it is clear that Kanda is the worshipper and Srinivasa is the God worshipped. Nothing short of madness would induce any¬body to say that Kanda, the devotee, is the god wor¬shipped on the sacred hill.
It is well-established in all puranas dealing with the greatness of Tiruvenkata that Kanda worshipped Srinivasa. It is because of this reason that in the first part of the Varaha Purana, in chapter 29, among the 108 holy names of Srinivasa, names such as “He who is worshipped by Kanda till the end of the kalpa”, and “He who grants the wishes of Kanda resident near the holy waters of Kumaradhara” are read.
Finally, these points should be put before these Saivites for clarification: (1) Now there is a deity vis-ible to all people on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini (2) From the various puranas it is clearly known that a god by name Skanda or (Kanda) came to Tiruvenkata to do penance and get rid of the sins due to his slaying of Tarakasura. (3) As a result of the penance of Brahma and other gods, the devarishis, brahmarishis and rajarishis and many others, the great Srivaikuntanatha appeared as a god by name Srinivasa in his divine vimana and is worshipped as on the southern bank of the Swami Pushkarini. Let these Saivites clearly state whether the archa deity (idol) worshipped here is to be identified with the god mentioned in (2) above or (3) above?
That the idolised deity is Kanda is not tenable. Kanda, who came to Tirumala to do penance is there only to worship Lord Srinivasa like Brahma and other gods who went there to do penance so that the Lord would appear there and become visible to them. There is no rea¬son to believe that Kanda alone of all the gods who as¬sembled there was deified for worship. Since it is clearly stated that he lived near the tirta called Kumaradhara, he was not clearly an all-time resident of the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini. There is no mention in the Venkatachala Mahatmya portion of any purana that Kanda was deified on the banks of the tank by anybody. On the contrary, the god, Srinivasa mentioned in (3) above is explicitly stated as being resident for all time on the banks of the tank in deference to the prayers of the gods and the rishis. It is clearly stated in the puranas that king Sankha and emperor Thondaman built a shrine (temple) and established the Lord in archa (idol) form and arranged for daily worship. Thus it is established the idolised god mentioned in (1) above is none but Srinivasa described in (3) above and not Kanda referred to in (2) above.
It is not proper to argue that the Lord named Srinivasa is Kanda. It is clear that this Lord appeared there as a result of the ardent penance of Kanda, Brahma, Siva and others and is being worshipped there is idol form.
Therefore this god should be different from Kanda. In describing the appearance of Srinivasa, the relevant sec¬tions of the different puranas are one in declaring that Sriman Narayana made His appearance there, having de¬scended from His Vaikunta for sport and also blessing and protecting the people. The name Narayana does not apply to any god other than Vishnu and there is absolutely no basis for the claim that Srinivasa is to be identified with Kanda. This claim, made by short-witted persons without properly understanding the statements found in the puranas in their totality, cannot be accepted by the learned.
This god is not Siva who is popularly called Mahadeva either. This god, who has appeared on Tinunala and established Himself on the southern side of the Swami Pushkarini in archa form is clearly stated to be Narayana. Since this name cannot be applied to Mahadeva (Siva) or to Kanda, the view that this god is either Siva or Kanda has to be totally rejected.
The Vamana Purana states that after the arrival of Kanda on the Tirumala hill, before the august appearance of Lord Srinivasa there, Mahadeva, like Brahma and Indra and other gods and rishis, was engaged in penance in order to gain a vision of the Lord. He is stated to have wit¬nessed the arrival of the Lord in His divine vimana to the accompaniment of a very loud sound and worshipped that primordial form which is the root-cause of all cre¬ation and destruction. He is stated to have presented his prayers and departed for Kailasa with his retinue after having had a dialogue with the Lord. The puranas explicitly say that after their departure Lord Srinivasa stayed be¬hind and took permanent residence on Venkatachala. While the Vamana Purana clearly states all this how can anybody accept that Srinivasa is the Mahadeva (Siva) re¬ferred to?
In the third chapter of Vamanapurana, it is stated that Parvati, consort of Paramasiva, after the handsome Kanda had departed for performing penance holding the bow and spear in his hands, out of motherly affection, bowed before her husband in all humility asked him: “0 three eyed one! What is it that my son, young as he is, going to do on that hill? (Tirumalai ). How is he going to perceive with his eyes the great Lord Vishnu whom even Brahma cannot perceive?” To this Parameswara re¬plied: “Great lady!. Daughter of the King of Mountains! I will reveal to you a secret, about what is yet to happen. Listen; in order to have a vision of the Supreme Lord, all great sages will assemble on that hill to perform deep penance. Devas, men, pitrus, gandharvas, yakshas, rakshasas, siddhas, sadhyas, garudas, pannakas and sages are going to perform penance on that sacred hill to have a direct vision of the Lord. My love! We shall also later on go there to have a vision of the Supreme who is called Narayana and Parabrahma, on that holy hill. We should join the others in perfortning penance to gain a vision of the Lord.”
In the fifth chapter of the same purana. Paramasiva tells Parvati, “In order to fulfil the prayer of King Sanka, Vishnu is going to make an important appearance which will become very famous. Making King Sanka his excuse, the Lord will appear in the sacred Tiruvenkata hill for the benefit of all. There we will see Kanda absorbed in his devotion to Vishnu.” Hearing this, Parvati rid herself of all worries regarding her dear son.
Much later, when Sankara wishes to visit Tirumala, he tells Parvati, eager to see her son, “Dear, the time for us to visit Tiruvenkata hill as I told you long ago has now come” and he continues later in the same chapter, “0 daughter of the mountain! Both of us will go to that hill with our retinue and see our son moving about with his consort Devasena and live there long.” So saying he is reported to have mounted his bull (Nandi) with Parvati and to have gone to Tirumala to see Kanda.
In the same purana, in chapter nine, sage Agastya is reported to have been circumambulating_Thumala ea¬gerly expecting the appearanee of Lord Srinivasa and that during his movement he saw Mahadeva (Siva) deep in penance near Kapila Tirta in the southern foot-hill and was happily engaged in conversation with him.
It is stated in the eleventh chapter of the same purana that the grandfather of the world, Brahma, on hearing an incomparably loud sound, decided that Vasudeva Hari has made His appearance and along with the sages and others approached Lord Krishna (Vishnu) who achieves His objects effortlessly. The great three-eyed Sankara, the destroyer of Tripura, displaying long matted hair and shining like the sun also heard the sound and inferred that the auspicious Lord Hari had appeared and imme¬diately approached Him to have a vision. Thus it is clear that the appearance of Srinivasa was heralded by an un¬precedented sound and hearing that, the great gods Brahma, Siva, Indra and others and all the sages joined and worshipped Srinivasa and petitioned their needs be-fore Him.
Further, chapter nineteen of the same text states that Sankara, also called by the names Sambu and Siva, wearing a phase of the moon on his hair, departed from the Tiruvenkata hill for his abode Kailasa. It does not state that he stayed behind on the banks of the Swami Pushkarini. It is only Lord Srinivasa who decided to stay there till the end of the Kalpa for the benefit of all liv¬ing beings. This is explicitly stated by Mahadeva (Siva) as the Lord’s decision in chapter five of the Vamana Purana.
It was stated earlier that chapter seventeen of sec-tion one of the Varaha Purana states that Mahadeva ex-pressed a desire to Srinivasa that he be permitted to stay on the Tiruvenkata hill and that the Lord did not agree to that since it is not proper for gods of the lower worlds other than the eternal land of bliss to live and be wor¬shipped on the sacred hill which came down from Vaikunta and that He permitted Mahadeva to stay at the foot of the hill. It is emphasised there that Lord Srinivasa told Mahadeva that He was going to be there on the hill till the end of the Kalpa.
Thus, it is learnt that Mahadeva only visited the Tiruvenkata hill to have a vision of Hari’s appearance there and to worship Him just like the other gods Brahma and Indra and then returned to his usual abode Kailasa. No¬where is it stated that he took permanent residence on the banks of Swami Pushkarini. It is only Hari who ap¬peared there in response to the prayers of all the gods and sages that resides there permanetly so that He may be worshipped by all who wished to benefit by His pres¬ence. The name Narayana applied to the god who appeared there clearly indicates that the god deified there is not Mahadeva (Siva).
Further, in the world it is seen that Mahadeva is wor¬shipped only in symbolic form (Linga) and not in whole human form. It is ordained so in the agama texts. It is not seen anywhere that Mahadeva is worshipped in a whole form with various limbs. Such a worship is actu¬ally barred by agama texts. So, this deity with a capti¬vating and auspicious form (and not symbolic) is not Mahadeva. The Bhavishyothara purana — Venkatachala Mahatmya section — very clearly explains that Siva should be worshipped only in linga (symbol) form and not as a complete idol.
Since this Lord Srinivasa who appears whole in form (unlike Mahadeva-Siva-who is worshipped in linga form) is different from Mahadeva and is the object of the latter’s deep devotion; He (Srinivasa), is referred to in the compilation of his 108 divine names in chapter 29 of the Varaha Purana as “He whose form is meditated upon by Sankara resident in the foot hills”. He is also referred to in His Purana as “He who is worshipped and praised by Neelakanta” and as “He whose Lotus feet are the object of meditation of Siva resident on the banks of river Swarnamukhi”. So also in Bhavishyothara Purana, Part II, Chapter 80, Mahadeva is explicitly reported to have told his consort Parvati “Sri Venkatesa, endearingly called Srinivasa, is none other than Narayana, who is the object of my loving meditation everyday with deep de. votion.
Since the name “Narayana” is unique only to Vishnu, and since it is established in the sacred texts that this Srinivasa is only Narayana, it is not correct to argue that He is Mahadeva (Siva) on the basis of His wearing locks of hair and Nagabarana which are well-known for Siva. These (locks of hair and Nagabarana) have already been proved to be worn by Lord Vishnu in some of His ava¬tars.
The Saivas have it that since Rudra has no avatars, he always wears matted locks of hair and nagabarana and so they are unique to him. On the other hand since Vishnu
wears these only in some of his avatars and not in oth-ers, they are not unique to him. Because of the unique¬ness and well-established nature of these with Siva, this Srinivasa should be taken to be only Siva according to these people. We will expose the fallacy of this.
Vishnu takes several avatars in every kalpa (com¬bination of ages from one pralaya to the next). In each of these kalpas, the avatars are repeated in a sequence and each bears particular identifying features as in the previous kalpa. Each identifying feature is unique for the particular avatar. Locks of hair and nagabarana are there¬fore no less unique to Vishnu than Siva and since they are displayed in more than one avatar by Vishnu there are perhaps more particular to Vishnu.
It is well-known that in many avatars Vishnu wore matted hair. That Sri Rama had matted locks has already been mentioned. In the Venkatesa Sahasranama, an ap¬pendix to the Venkatachala Mahatmya in the Brahmanda Purana, the names — “He who has matted locks”, “He who lives in a forest hut”, “He who destroyed Maricha’s-pow¬ers” are found.
Similarly the wearing of the serpent as a jewel (nagabarana) is characteristic of the avatar of Vishnu as Venkatesa. In fact it distinguishes this avatar from oth¬ers. This is also made out in the Sahasranama referred to earlier. Names such as “He who brings joy to King Sankha”, “He who is borne on the shoulders of Garuda”, “The formless one”, “He who resides in (the heart of) Siva”, “He who is identified by being coiled around by the serpent-king”, He who is housed in a vimana (shrine) bright like a thousand suns”, “He who is full with desir¬able qualities” and so on. The particular name “bhogeendraboga smasathanah” is of particular inter¬est here. Bhogeendraboga = the body of the king of ser¬pents; samasthana to whom it is a unique and natural iden¬tification. These words obviously refer to the nagabarana worn by Sri Venkatesa.
Here the name “He who resides in Siva” bears the idea conveyed in Bhavishyothara Purana Part II chapter 80 that Sri Venkatesa is being meditated upon constantly by siva in his heart. Here in this chapter it is also stated that Venkatesa is both formless and with a beautiful form. This refers to His being invisible to some and visible to others. The same idea is conveyed in the name “form¬less one” quoted among the names mentioned above.
Apart from Venkatesa, the nagabarana is not unique to Siva because it is quite well known that garuda has a coiled serpent round his neck. In chapter 3 of Padma Purana, in describing the appearance of Lord Srinivasa on the banks of Padmasarovar (a holy tank), reference is made to the vahana of the Lord (Garuda) thus:- “The Lord appeared mounted on the shoulders of Vainatheya who is referred to by the names Sathya, Suparna, Tharkshya, Vihageswara and Garuda, whose body is made of divine stuff (panchopanishanmaya as against the five bhootas of which our bodies are made) and is a personofication of the Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas and whose limbs personify the subdivisions of the Atharva Veda, whose power exceeds that of the mighty Hanuman, who wears the nagabarana and whose greatness is immea¬surable. Thus the nagabarana is mentioned as a particu¬lar adornment of Garuda. All the greatness of Garuda is actually derived from his master Lord Vishnu by virtue of his being an eternal servant to Him.
Thus it is established that wearing locks of hair and nagabarana are features of Vishnu during certain avataras. It is not correct to hold these as exclusive to other dei¬ties as the Saivas do. It is highly improper for them to claim that this god (Srinivasa) as theirs on the basis of his bearing the nagabarana in the same way the Vaishnavas’ claim him to be Vishnu on the basis of his bearing the Chakra.
Bearing the Chakra is an identifying feature solely that of Vishnu. Siva informs Parvati about a dialogue be¬tween himself and Vishnu in the following words: “0 daughter of the mountain!” The Chakra (weapon of Vishnu) called Sudarsana, brilliant like a billion suns, beginningless and endless, of immeasurable power, is solely that of Vishnu. Except that supreme person none else can bear the weapon. That divine weapon burnt down my kingdom of Varanasi (Kasi) to ashes. Once Janardana (Vishnu) out of affection for me offered a boon. I asked him that He should ask his chakra, which once burnt my city to serve me, and carry out my commands. Madusudana (Vishnu) smiled on hearing my request and said “Sankara! The Sun’s brilliant cannot leave him and reside elsewhere. So also, Sri Mahalakshmi, the gem Kaustuba, the bow Saranga, Sudarsana Chakra and the ve¬hicle Garuda will always be with Me. They have neither birth nor death. They will not be with anyone other than Me. So I cannot grant your request.” Thus it is clear that the Chakra is solely that of Vishnu while features like locks of hair and nagabarana are common and are asso¬ciated with Vishnu in some of His “avatars. The fiction that this deity is Siva is thus ruled out.
The Saivas say, “Just as the. Vaishnavas claim that, Vishnu is the all-pervading cause (of everything) and that all features suit him we claim that our. Mahadeva is the primal cause and that all features would equally suit him.” This cannot be admitted. The supreme scriptures namely Vedas proclaim that Narayana and none else is the pri¬mal cause of the universe. The name Narayana would ap¬ply only to Vishnu and the name can be proved to mean “The cause and the Creator”. Further, it is not relevant now whether Siva is the cause and the Creator or not. It is clear that the deity on the southern side of Swami Pushkarini is not Mahadeva (Siva).
This deity is not Harihara, a combination of Vishnu and Siva either. The Sankha and Chakra are unique weap¬ons of Vishnu and not associated with any other deity. That locks of hair and nagabarana may be worn by Vishnu in some of his avatars has already been explained. In ex¬plaining the appearance of this deity it is said that the Lord of Sri descended down from Srivaikunta to Tirumala and the names Narayana and Vishnu are applied to this deity. These names cannot be used to refer to any other God. Hence this deity is only Narayana and He does not have the `Harihara’ form.
In the Tamil verse “thazhsadaiyum” Peyalwar does not say that the deity in Tirumala has the features of Vishnu and Siva. On the other hand he says that the two forms appear as aspects of our Lord Srimannarayana. There is no justification to cite that verse to show that this deity has the Harihara (combination) form. Further, it is specifically stated that other gods like Siva and Brahma came to Tirumala from their respective places to worship Srinivasa when He made His appearance here. If this deity is Siva, Brahma (his father), would not have come and worshipped him. Similarly it would be mean¬ingless to say that Siva came here to worship his own form. If this deity is Siva and if this place is in his per¬manent residence, what is the need for him to come from Kailasa and get back there as described in the puranas?
The Saivas obviously mean that one half of this de¬ity is Vishnu and the other, Siva, in the same image, simi¬lar to Ardhanareeswara, a combination of Siva and Parvati in a single body. The Puranas clearly declare that since this hill itself came from Paramapada and is divine, gods other than Vishnu ought not to be worshipped on this hill.While it is so, is it necessary to point out that the pres-ence of another God, as part of the body of the main deity is impossible? Further, nobody is able to see the iden¬tifying features of Siva in a portion of the image. There is no evidence to believe that this deity is a combina¬tion like Ardhanareeswara. Paramasiva’s attempt to be¬come part of this body is described in Vamana Purana and from that account also it can be seen that Siva is not present in this deity as a part.
Chapter 5 of Vamana Purana relates the following conversation between Siva and the person representing the Time cycle (kala chakra), an aspect of Vishnu’s Sudarsana, Siva says — “0 Sudarsana! I who am full of the quality of tamas, fear to approach and touch the form of Vishnu, totally devoid of rajas and tamas, propitiated by all Yajnas and is, the personofication of satva. So I would like to take residence in that holy form through you since I feel compelled to be there”. The purana clearly states that Narayana directly descended from Srivaikunta with such divine aprakrita jewels and weap¬ons. So the fiction about Harihara avatar has absolutely no place here.
The Saivas quote the verses in the chapter 8, Part I of Skanda Purana wherein this deity is referred to by both the names Srinivasa and Mahadeva and claim that the deity is part Vishnu and part Siva (Harihara). This also is not valid. The name Mahadeva used there is not in the sense of a unique name but to indicate a great deva, superior among the gods. Another word (Paradeva-Supreme god) is also used in this connection in the same text.
In the same chapter (cited above), it is reported that a Brahmin well-versed in all the vedas will not equal a sincere devotee of Venkateswara, however ignorant he may be. Expounding the greatness of this Lord, this purana states that any pure-minded person who thinks of Mahadeva (the great god), the god superior to all other gods, the Supreme Lord (Paradeva), who approaches Narayana who is known as Venkatesa and worships Him are rid of all their sins. Whoever does not think of the supreme Lord (Paradeva), Venkatesa, even for a moment is the worst sinner and will become an ignoramus, deaf and mute. Is it not true that only the life of those who worship and chant the names of the supreme Lord Venkatesa is to be considered fruitful? It is enough if the great god Sri Venkatesa is properly worshipped. What can Brahma or Siva do? Only those who have worshipped Venkatesa can be considered as kritakrityas (one who has completed his mission in life). There is no equal in all these worlds to one who has come to the Venkata hill which can destroy all sins and confer immense virtue, and worship Srinivasa with true and sincere devotion. It may be noted in this context that the word Mahadeva (the great god) is used synonymously with paradeva (Su¬preme Lord).
Further, in the same context, it is said that by wor¬shipping Narayana here, sins amounting to thousands of brahmahatyas (resulting from killing a brahmin) and sins due to drinking liquor many times are destroyed com¬pletely_ One, who worships this god known as Venkateswara, reaches Vaikunta with all his descendents. It may be noted that Venkateswara is referred to as Narayana and the reward for worshipping Him is made out as Vishnu sayujya (equality with Vishnu). These would be true only if the deity enshrined here is Narayana and not either if He is. Siva or even Harihara. The ques¬tion “What can either Brahma or Siva do?” is quite per¬tinent. It will definitely be meaningless if the deity is Siva.
The Saivas claim that this deity is Harihara based on the name “Ashtarnintu kaladhara lalatastor dhvapundrah” mentioned in chapter 4 of Padmapurana. This means that the Lord wears a face mark urdhvapundra¬vertical lines characteristic of Vaishnavas-with a base resembling the eighth phase of the moon. This base is worn on the nose (near the eyes) and on this the two upgoing lines stand. This name cannot, by any imagina¬tion interpreted in terms of -the phase of the moon car¬ried by Siva in his matted locks. In the six chapter of the same purana, the appellation “Lalatapatta ghatia venupathrordhvapundrakah” which describes the urdhvapundra worn on the flat face of the Lord in terms of the bamboo leaf. How can this indicate that the deity is Siva?
Scriptural texts declare that the urdhvapundra popularly known as `tirumankaappu’ should be worn on the face with white clay. The `swetamriturdhvapundropanishat’ (one of the upanishads) ordains that the urdhvapundra should be of white clay in the form of two vertical lines starting at the base of the nose (between the eyes) with an interspace of at least one inch between the lines. This space is for the Srichurna by wearing which one becomes a sriman (obtains the grace of Sri, that is Lakshmi) Chap¬ter 3 of Padmothara Khanta ordains that the white clay urdhvapundra should extend from the base of the nose between the eyebrows to the top of the face. It prescribes that the lines should each be one inch broad and the in¬terspace separating them should be two inches. The Bharadvaja samhita prescribes a similar Urdhvapundra and adds that the scrichurna worn in the space between the white may be of either turmeric powder or sweet-smell¬ing saffron paste. The Vaikhanasagama also describes the urdhvapundra as extending vertically from the base of the nose to the top of the face with an interspace.
The base (between the eyebrows) for the Urdhvapundra on which the lines stand should b semi¬circular recalling half of the full moon as seen on the sky on ashtami day (eighth day of the moon). This is spe¬cifically mentioned in the Padma purana. It has nothing to do with the Chandrakala (part of the moon) worn by Siva on his head.
Chapter II of the Bhavishyothra Purana contains the statement: “that refuge of the pious, Srinivasa, himself made up the tirunamam (urdhvapundra) with white clay in the form of two upgoing lines from the base of his nose on his beautiful face shining like glass and shaped like the eighth phase of the moon”. This would suggest a reading for the name already mentioned as “ashtamintukalakara lalatastordhvapundrah”, instead of kaladhara; but the latter reading is more authorita¬tive. Anyway, the Saiva’s interpretation that the face sup¬ports the moon (one phase of it) is unacceptable.
It is important to bear this in mind. In the count-less avatars as fish, tortoise, boar and so on, with a va-riety of forms, colours etc., the description is invariably found in the scriptural texts “Vishnu Himself was born thus” or “Narayana Himself incarnated thus”. It is this that identifies the avatar and not merely the identifying marks. The names Narayana and Vishnu are more force¬ful to show that these are incarnations of the Lord. Simi¬larly since it is explicitly stated that Sriman Narayana directly descended from Srivaikunta into the Venkata hill in the form of Srinivasa with the features already de-scribed there is no reason to doubt that this deity is none but Vishnu-Narayana. The identification of the Lord by external features is far less important than the scriptural authority that “It is Vishnu who is incarnate as Srinivasa”. Furthermore, in this world, one may dress oneself as Rama or Krishna by making up the well-established form. Then people would say only “that this make up for the actor like Rama fits him so well that we can call him Rama”. This does not mean that the particular actor is Rama himself.
If one remarks “Features like Nagabharana and locks of hair are not found in other avatars of Vishnu” we would point out there is only one fish-avatar or boar-avatara. In the Krishna-avatar, the Lord was fond of wearing pea¬cock feather on his hair. Since the peacock is associ¬ated with Subrahmanya as his vehicle, nobody tries to identify Krishna as Subrahmanya. The Nagararana is also found on the deity (Sri Varadaraja) enshrined on the Hastigiri (Kancheepuram). Here, there has never been any dispute whether it is Vishnu or Siva. This deity is uni: versally accepted as Vishnu. That the nagabarana found on Venkateswara is not found on other forms of Vishnu is not true. If it is accepted that Lord Varadaraja wore the nagabarana out of affection towards his devotee Adisesha, there are many forceful reasons, already de¬tailed, to explain the presence of this on the Lord of the Venkata hills.
The Poorva Mimamsa prescribes the following cri¬teria in decreasing order of importance in the matter of arriving at a conclusion in any matter. The earlier crite¬ria lead to more precise conclusions that the later ones. All these criteria, from puranic texts would lead to only one conclusion-that the God of Tiruvenkata is only Srimannarayana. These criteria are:
Sruti the Veda, decides the meaning independently of other methods of deciding the meaning. It is clear statement. The ‘puranic texts which describe this deity, use names such as Vishnu and Narayana which are par-‘ ticular to the Lord of Sri and not applicable to any other deity support this.
Lingam is an identifying feature for an object. The identifying feature which are peculiar to Vishnu (Lord of Sri) are, the presence of the sankha and chakra weap¬ons on the hands; the presence of Sri (Lakshmi) on the chest, being enshrined in a vimana with Garuda as the guardian, and being worshipped by gods such as Brahma and siva. These identifying features, unique to the Lord of Sri and Sri Venkateswara, can be identified by these features.
Vakyam is a sequence of words. The term sriyah pati (Lord of Sri-Lakshmi) clearly identifies the deity. This term has been applied to the deity on the Venkata hill.
Prakaranam means context. The Puranas begin with
calling Venkata a Vishnu kshetra and conclude with re¬ferring to it as an abode of Vishnu.
Sthanam means position. If one name is used where clearly another is meant, it clearly means that the two are identical. Here are some examples. The Bhavishyothara purana and Varahapurana state that Krishna promised his shepherdess mother Yasoda who could not witness his wedding to afford her that pleasure in another avatar. Yasoda was born as Vakulamalika on the Venkata hill. To afford her the pleasure of witnessing his mar¬riage, Sri Krishna was born as Srinivasa and wedded the daughter of Akasaraj a with the help of Vakulamalika. There is a puranic story that Sita during the fire-ordeal in Lanka requested Rama to wed Vedavati who substituted for her in captivity, to which Rama agreed. It is narred that Padmavati, daughter of Akasaraja is an incarnation of this Vedavati and Srinivasa who married Padmavati is an in¬carnation of Rama. It thus turns out that Srinivasa is none other than Rama and Krishna who are undisputedly iden¬tical with Lord Vishnu. So it is clear that Srinivasa is only the Lord of Sri.
Samakhya is a derived name. Since Sri (Lakshmi) adorns the chest of the Lord. He is named Srinivasa. This association with Sri clearly established that Srinivasa is the Lord of Sri, that is, Narayana. The Brahma puranam relates this: King Dilipa asked Duravasa: “Great rishi! Please tell me by what name is the great Lord who is all pervasive and who bears the divine weapons Sankha and chakra familiarly called on the Venkata hill?” Durvasa replies that the well-known name of the Lord is Srinivasa. So the authority of samakhya also proves that Srinivasa. is Vishnu.
0 King! These criteria irrefutably establish that this deity is the Lord of Sri (Narayana) and not any other god. The Saiva’s wish that they can establish this deity is siva on the basis of some artificially made out marks cannot be sustained. The presence of the serpent-jewel¬Nagabharana cannot be taken to establish that this deity is Siva. The learned who are never confused by such marks will not object to this deity being Vishnu on such basis. If one looks at the names (a) `bhogeesa kankanah’ (b) `sankyah’ (c) `nissankah’ and (d) `sankitakilah’ men¬tioned among the 1000 names (Sahasranama) of Venkatesa in Brahmanda Purana, it can be clearly seen that there is no room for any doubt. The names mean (a) He who wears a serpent armlet (b) He who is suspected (because of this) to be somebody else (c) He who is be¬yond any doubt (whose identity need not be doubted on this basis) (d) He who keeps others in doubt (Here other’s mean people who are not learned)”. Thus Ramanuja told the Yadava king that there was absolutely no basis to doubt that Srinivasa could even remotely be any God other than Vishnu.
The king was wonderstruck at the cojent arguments presented by Sri Ramanuja which the learned pundits in the court applauded. He felt that the dust which was the arguments put forward by the Saivas was blown miles away by the tempest which was the arguments of the saint. He had all his doubts fully cleared. He addressed the saivas who looked like snakes whose fangs had been re¬moved: “Your arguments have been torn to thousands of pieces. The eloquence of this saint exceeds that of Brihaspati. Wonderful! What are you going to say now?” After being dumb founded for sometime the Saivas ad¬dressed the king thus:
“Your Majesty! This sage Ramanuja somehow makes his opponents dumbfounded in debate. Perhaps he prac¬tices magic (mantra) power and makes us dumb. Though we are not able at present to give fitting answers to the points raised by him, we, who believe in the truth of what our elders have all along been saying and which we put forward before you, will not be convinced with just the arguments of this sage unless he shows divine acceptance of his arguments. You are the king of this land and are all-powerful and there is nothing that we can do. There is the old adage, “If the king appropriates all wealth of his subjects what is the use of grieving over it?” We have no other go but to silently accept things.
The king felt that these Saivas were obstinate zealots. He told them “0 Saivas! So far you have been replying to the points raised by your opponent to the best of your ability. Now that you are not able to meet him in argu¬ment you are trying to fool me by saying that Ramanuja has practiced ‘mantra’ craft on you. So far you have been trying to fool me by neo-arguments not based on accept¬able authority. Now that you are not able to win your op¬ponent in argument you are trying to fool me; you will get proper reward for your conduct. Be careful.” He felt that Ramanuja was a great yogin and was surely capable of super-human feats and that he would demonstrate di¬vine acceptance of the truth of what he said in the court. He decided to request Ramanuja to do so and addressed him thus:
“0 respected sage Ramanuja! You have refuted the opponents and established your views soundly. The devil of doubt which was in my mind due to the attempted brain¬washing by the Saivas has been driven quite far away by you. I am fully convinced that the view that Venkatesa is a Deity other than Vishnu is far from truth. The au¬thoritative texts you quoted and the arguments in keep¬ing with the scriptures that you put forward and your de¬bating skill have clearly established beyond any doubt that this deity is none other than the Lord of Sri (Narayana). I am fully convinced in my mind on this score. So I will carry out your behest in this matter. However, I would request you, if you kindly agree to prove by some means, to the satisfaction of the common man as well as the learned pundit that this deity is only Vishnu. Please do not be under any misapprehension that I will go back on my word. But I make this request so that this saivas will be convinced and will not open their mouth again…”
Hearing this Sri Ramanuja thought “Even after hear¬ing my detailed arguments, the king seems to be harbor¬ing some doubt. It is indeed strange. Yet I will try to do this. The Brahmandapurana, chapter 11 says that the Lord has vowed to accept his weapons if designed on earth (according to the sastras) and offered to Him the same way as the shrine (vimana). There is no reason to be¬lieve that He will not do so now. Furthermore to remove this great confusion created by the Saivas that He is not Vishnu, it is worth compelling Him by ardent prayer to accept the Vaishnava weapons. The Lord is very fond of His devotees and He will certainly fulfill their wishes by accepting their offerings. I am sure He will accept the Sankha and Chakra if offered. If He accepts them that would be enough proof of divine acceptance to demon¬strate to all the truth of what I have been telling.” Thinking thus, the sage addressed the king:
“0 King! Please listen to my words! I am saying that this deity is Vishnu. These, my opponents deny, I will have the unique weapons of Vishnu, the Sankha and chakra made and will place them before the Lord. Let them place the weapons unique to Siva like the pasam, ankusan and so on. Whichever the Lord accepts will identify the de¬ity.” The king was extremely happy to hear this and agreed immediately the proposal. The opposing parties then had the identifying weapons made and getting up the hill, they place.d them in the sanctum in the temple, locked the sanctum and sealed the lock. They kept awake, prayed to their respective deities and went around the temple. Sri Ramanuja Bhagawan, by his yogic power ap-proached the Lord, worshipped him and ardently prayed to Him to accept the chief identifying weapons (sankha and chak•a) as He was reported to have vowed. He made the Lord to accede to his prayer. The next morning, when the king broke the seal opened the locks and went in, he was pleasantly surprised to see that the Lord, caught in the net of devotion spread by the sage, rejected the pasa and ankusa and bore the Sankha and Chakra on His hands. His respect for Sri Ramanuja grew enormously and the king became his disciple and got duly initiated as a Vaishnava by the sage. He punished the Saivas for pre-senting a false case by banishing them from his kingdom. Then Ramanuja, whose reputation in establishing the supremacy of the Lord of Sri (Vishnu) spread over the entire country declared that the deity enshrined on the southern bank of Swami Pushkarini on the Tiruvenkata hill was none other than Mahavishnu the consort of Sri and the Lord of Vaikunta, and had been temporarily clouded by the doubt that he was Siva by Saivas who sought dubious means, lured by possible wealth and in-fluence, to change the very character of the Hill Temple. He had mahasamprokshanam (Purification’s ceremonies) performed according to Srivaikhanasa agarnas and Sri Venkatachala Ithihasa Mala ranged for uninterrupted daily worship (pooja) to be con-ducted for Sri Venkateswara.
Furthermore he restored the ancient and beautiful “Ananda Nilaya Vimana” which was in a mutilated con-dition to its normal form described in the Vaikhanasa agama texts by establishing the Vimana deities Vaikuntanatha and Varahanarasimha on the four corners, and establishing the retinue of Vishnu, – Ananta, Garuda and Vishwaksena in their respective places in the Vimana. Following the statement in chapter 7 of Varahapurana that Vyuhalakshmi who is seated in the Padmasana pose who has two arms and adorns the Lord’s chest is most dear to Him, Sri Ramanuja had the deity made of gold and es-tablished Her on the Lord’s chest as a chain-pendant on a Sukladwadasi combined with Friday and the star uttram in the auspicious yoga called ratnamalika. It is stated in the Bhavishyothra purana that Srinivasa bears Lakshmi seated in the Padmasana pose with crossed legs. It also refers to her as the wide-eyed, two armed Vyuha Lakshmi. This deity makes the unlimited wealth of Srinivasa flour-ish well.
Thus Bhagawat Ramanuja took great trouble to re-move the danger to Tiruvenkatam, the central gem of all holy places of Vishnu posed by the vicious Saivas who created confusion in the mind of the king and tried to appropriate the place to themselves. He established the place as an abode of Vishnu. He taught the king the es-sential knowledge about Vishnu. He saw to it that the various pujas to be conducted at different times in the day were properly done. He sojourned for some time in Tirupati at the foot of the Tirumala Hill and returned to Srirangam.
Thus ends the third section of Sri Venkatachala Ithihasa Mala written by Anantaraya entitled “Refutation of arguments to the effect that the Lord of Tiruvenkata Was a god other than ViShnu.”
End of Section III SECTION-IV