Lord Balaji Mandir

balaji-temple

 

What is Meaning of Venkateswara?
Lord Balaji is also famous as Govinda. Lord Balaji is very kind and helps anyone who prays to Him for help. Lord Balaji at Tirupati has performed numerable miracles. The surroundings of Tirumala awaken waves of bhakti of Lord Balaji and the name Govinda appears on the tongues of devotees. Millions of people visit Lord Balaji at Tirupati every year. The reason being that Lord Balaji is famous as the Lord helps during one’s misfortune. The same Lord Venkateshwara is soon going to descend in the city of Pune, and will similarly attract thousands of people to His temple which is now under construction at Pune through the efforts of His loving devotees and patrons.

In the following paragraphs we will see how the Lord so mercifully descended in this world to live on the top of Seshachalam, the mountain that is located at Tirumala.

Venkateshwara means the Lord, who frees us from all of our sins. Ven means sin, Kat means one who delivers. We remain in this world, suffering, birth after birth, because of our sinful reactions, now in this age of kali, it is an age of sin. It is an ocean of faults.

Acharyas Tells Greatness About Tirupati Temple
The greatest of the acharyas climbed this mountain with their own feet, as we are going to do tomorrow, eager for the darshan of Sri Venkateshwara. Shankaracharya came here to worship, and later on the great Vaisnava Acharaya, Ramanujam. Ramanujam declared according to the sastras that these seven hills are Vaikuntha on earth. Ramanujacarya was living in Sri Rangam but singing the songs and the hymns of the Alvars, always put him in a trance of ecstatic love. And one time while reading the glories of Tirumala and the Lord, Sri Venkateshwara, he told his devotees “We will go there”.

He came to the foot of the hill, and performed his bhajan, giving lectures on the Absolute Truth.

One of his disciple, Anantacharya, he was living up there on the Lord’s order, taking care of a garden, knowing that his guru was down at the bottom of the mountain, he came down and asked him “Please come up, please come up”.

But Ramanujacarya said, “How can I put my feet on that mountain, it is non-different than Ananta Sesha, it is Ananta Sesha’s body. It is Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. I cannot go”. But he said, “Ramanujam, my gurudeva, if you do not go then nobody will go. Even the pujaris, if you, the most holy and saintly and pure of all beings, are not willing to put your feet on the mountain then what is our position? The pujaris will come down; no pilgrims will go up there. Balaji will be up there all alone. You must come, please.” So on the persuasion of the devotees, Sri Ramanujacarya climbed. As he was climbing, one of his spiritual masters, Sri Shaila Purna, came with garlands and Prasad, to greet Ramanujam, when he was just close to the top of the mountain.

Ramanujacarya said to his senior, elder guru, he said “Why did you come with all this load of Prasad and garland yourself? Why didn’t you just send a junior devotee to do this? You are very old and it’s very difficult for you.”

Sri Shaila Purna responded that, “Yes, it is the proper etiquette for me to send a junior devotee, but I looked in all directions, and I could not find a single soul junior to myself. I am the junior most; I am the most neophyte of everyone so I had to do the chore myself”.

This is what a guru of Ramanujacarya was speaking. Sri Ramanujacarya’s heart melted with the humility of a true Vaisnava. He stayed on the top of the hill for three days, having the darshan of Sri Balaji in great ecstasy.

It is explained that over a period of time Balaji has four hands, over a period of time, the Vaisnavas worship Him as Vishnu, but the Shivaites worship Him as Lord Shiva. The followers of Shankaracharya consider that Balaji is Shiva. And the followers of Ramanujam and others consider Him Vishnu. So should we put the drum of Shiva and the trident in his arms, in His hands? Or should we put the conch shell and the disc? There was a dispute and you know how religious people can be when there is a dispute over theological issues. It was a heated debate. Ramanujacarya proposed a solution, he said that, “All followers of Shankar, you put Shiva’s drum and Shiva’s trident before the deity and I will put the conch shell and Sudarshan chakra before the deity, and then we will all leave the deity room and lock the doors so no one has any possibility of coming in. And in the morning we will open the door and see which symbols the Lord is holding”. Can you imagine the intensity of that night? I didn’t read this but I don’t think anyone slept that night, because this was in South India, this was like the ultimate deity. Is it Shiva or Vishnu?

In the morning, the doors were opened and Sri Venkateshwara was holding the symbols offered by Sri Ramanujacarya of the conch shell and Sudarshan chakra. Venkateshwara Bhagavan Ki Jai!!!

Sri Ramanujacarya descended from the hill, he was about to depart for Sri Rangam, Sri Shaila Purna offered to teach Ramanujacarya Valmiki Muni’s Ramayana for one full year in Tirupati. Ramanujacarya remained here in Tirupati for that year studying Sri Ramayana.

Sripad Madhavacharya came here to Venkateshwara’s mandir, resided for some time and worshipped Sri Balaji with great love and devotion with his disciples. Sripad Vallabhacharya came here and worshipped Sri Balaji with his disciples.

In Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat we find Nityananada Prabhu’s pilgrimage, He came to Tirumala to worship Sri Venkateshwara with great love and devotion. And in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He walked up the same path we will be going tomorrow and in the presence of Sri Venkateshwara, in ecstatic love, He offered His prayers, He danced with His arms raised inducing every one around to chant the Holy Name.

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So many of our beloved acharyas worship this place, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, if we are fortunate we will see the lotus footprints of Lord Chaitanya that He installed here. And Srila Prabhupada, himself, came here. It is written about it in his biographies to take the darshan of Sri Balaji and he was very, very deeply impressed, in fact he told devotees that we should learn how to manage a temple very nicely and worship the deities so beautifully from Venkateshwara temple.

Today, after lunch Prasad, which will be served if I ever end this long lecture, we will be visiting the temple of Padmavati.

Tomorrow, for those with the strength, providing there’s no cyclone rains, by Yoga Maya’s potency, Christmas is such an immensely crowded place, time for Tirupati. More people come here on pilgrimage than any other temple in the entire world. Even though it is so difficult to get to. And Christmas time is a time where people all around have holidays. So this place should be swarming with hundreds and thousands of people, millions of people.

However, because there are cyclones in Andhra Pradesh the vast majority of people are afraid to come. So the last few days I’ve been living on the top of the Tirumala Mountains and there’s hardly anyone there, it’s a great benediction. I mean, whoever suffering from the cyclone we definitely offer our prayers and our sympathies and pray for the Lord’s compassion upon them, but at the same time there is some, some good that we can.

So tomorrow those who are fit, we will leave at 4’o clock in the morning, and the meeting place will be announced. And we will, following in the footsteps of Sri Shankaracharya, Ramanujacarya, Nityananada Prabhu, Lord Chaitanya, Prabhupada drove off, so those who drive will be following in the footsteps of Prabhupada.

And tomorrow, we will be having the darshan of Sri Venkateshwara Balaji. And the darshan is very fast, it is not like Radha Govinda temple, where you can stand all day long and chant prayers. In Venkateshwara temple you only get a few seconds and you are, “chalo chalo”, you are pushed forward. But it’s amazing. Sometimes people stand in line for 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, just stand in line for all these hours, they have to bring tiffins and just eating while standing in line, sleep at night where they are in line, just to get a three-second darshan, “chalo, chalo”. And in certain ways, in some people they shave their heads. There is a certain hall where they shave heads, hundreds and hundreds of people a day, men, women, everyone. As a traditional offering amongst the devotees of Balaji, an offering of surrender.

Sometimes, when things are too easy to achieve we take it cheaply or as they say, for granted, but things that are very hard to achieve we meditate on its value more deeply. So this is one of the wonderful experiences about Venkateshwara, so much trouble to come here and then to get up the hill and then to stand in line and then just a second or two and then you are whisked away, but for that second or two, just offering the deepest, heartfelt prayers, praying for mercy, and beholding the form of the Lord, with much intensity, that is what we should do. Factually, that is how we should behold the deity all the time. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in Jagannath Puri, standing and gazing upon Lord Jagannath there will be tears pouring from His eyes, His limbs trembling, and however much time He was standing before Jagannath it was never enough, that is love. What should we pray?

Na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi.

In the line of Lord Chaitanya and the six Goswamis, our prayer is for eternal service, our prayer is for pure, unalloyed love, we want nothing else. My Lord, if You want to embrace me, or trample on me, or make me brokenhearted by not being present before me, as You like, I am Your servant, unconditionally.

Many business people have become wealthy by praying to Balaji, by offering gifts to Balaji, many sick people have become healthy by offering their hearts to Balaji, but we do not want Karma-mishra bhakti, we do not want liberation, the desire of the jnana-mishra bhaktas, we want suddha-bhakta, we want pure devotion. What is pure devotion? Samsaddhir Hari tosanam, my Lord, how may I please You? Let me just be Your servant, unconditionally. That is my ultimate ideal, my ultimate aspiration, and even in the footsteps of Vedavati, if I have to suffer for yugas, I will never give up the hope of the shelter of Your lotus feet, in this spirit, let us worship the Lord and chant His holy names.

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