We go to the Seven Hills Tirupati. We bow to the Lord of the Seven Hills Lord Balaji. Also known as Venkatachalapathi the owner of the Hills and the presiding deity and feel happy. But there are many a miracles, truths, and practices in vogue of which many of us are unaware. An attempt has been made to compile and present some of these here under.
1. About one KM distance away from the main temple of Balaji, there are a few rare stone structural formations known as Sila Thoranam (Stone Decorations). This is the only place wherein such stones are seen in this world. The age of these stones is reckoned about 2500 million years. The idol of Balaji is carved out of these types of stones.
2. Pachcha Karpooram (Literally means Green Camphor) a soft white chemical of which a pinch is crushed by hand and added for fragrance to the kalasa theerthams as well as sweet preparations like payasam, sakkarai pongal etc., made out of jaggery is applied on the main granite idol of Lord Balaji daily. This is a mild acid which may cause itching. It is said, if this chemical is pasted on any block of granite it would result in cracks developing in the stone. But surprisingly when this is applied on the stone formations found at Tirupati they have no effect on them. Though this is applied on the idol of Lord Balaji daily, round the year till date there are no damages to the idol of Lord Balaji.
3. In all granite stone idols of gods and goddesses one can see the chipping marks of the sculptor’s chisel on the stones. Similarly in the case of metallic casting of idols one can detect visible marks of the liquid metal having been poured for the casting of the idol at placesnear the holes for pouring the liquid metal.But the idol of Lord Balaji is totally devoid of such marks or blemishes.Not only that. Intricate carvings/workmanship have a smooth finish giving one a feel that it is a divine hand that has finished the idol. The various decorative ornaments carved on the idol of Lord Balaji, like the chutti on the forehead, the ear rings, the eye brows, the decorative snake formations etc- all look bright and spick and span like polished ornaments.
4. The idol of the Balaji always maintains a temperature of around 110*F. The Tirumala Hills is at a height of about 3000 feet. Abhishegam sacred bath is done early in the morning around 4.30 a.m. to the idol with cold water, cold milk and other dravyams. But immediately after the sacred bath, fine particles of water, appear on the body of the idol just like sweating. The priests, gently wipe the sweating by pressing a silken cloth on the body of the idol. On all Thursdays, when the ornaments are put on the idol of Balaji and when removed just before the commencement of the sacred bath they are found to be very warm.
1. The kitchen / hall at Tirupati is very big and spacious. And a variety of items are prepared daily on massive scale.
2. The temple authorities buy a mud pot daily in which curd rice is offered to the Lord. Except curd rice, no other cooked or prepared food items would ever cross the Kulasekaran Steps (the name of the steps at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Balaji) and enter the sanctum sanctorum. No other type of expensive vessels made of rare metals or stones would be permitted into the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Balaji, or even cross the Kulasekaran Steps. It is deemed to be a big blessing indeed if any devotee gets the used mud pot and any remnants/left over of the curd rice offered to Lord Balaji.
3. The length of the Silken material of Lord Balaji is around 21 arm lengths(one muzham which is roughly one and a half feet and it weighs around 6 kilograms.
This cannot be bought from any shop. Any devotee who is desirous of offering one such dress material has to remit a sum of Rs. 12,500 at the Devasthanam (Temple Office) towards the cost of this dress. (Present day cost one should enquire at the temple office.) The new dress is offered to the Lord only once in a week, that is on Fridays.
If you decide to offer a dress to the Lord, pay now and wait for your opportunity! It will be a few years, before your name appears in the list!!
4. One set of add on outer garments (Mel Sathu Vastrams) used to cost Rs. 20,000, but present cost is unknown; check with the temple authorities.
Every Friday about 15 such outer garments are accepted for offerings. Presently the waiting period exceeds 10 years from date of remittance!!!
5. Other than the clothes offered by the devotees, the government of Andhra Pradesh also offers ONE SET of dress twice a year.
6. The waiting period for common man desirous of offering an Abhishegam to the Lord, is beyond 5 years.
7. Many of the items required for the Abhishegam (Sacred Bath) are imported from abroad, e.g. saffron is from Spain, Kasturi (wastage from the body of musk deers) from Nepal, Punugu (wastage from the body of civic cats) from China, and certain fragrance materials from Paris etc. These items are used to be mixed with sandal paste prepared on a golden plate. 51 small kalasams of milk are offered in the Abhishegam. Then they apply Kasturi and Punugu to the idol.
From 4.30 to 5.30 every morning the Abhishegam is performed. The cost of each Abhishegam is around Rs. One Lakh.
8. Specially picked Roses are air-freighted from Amsterdam by the Lord’s devotees. And the cost of each rose is above Rs. 100.
9. Many fragrant items are sent from China to Lord Balaji. These include the Chinese Camphor, Aghil (a scented wood) resembling sandalwood, Sandalwood, Amber, Thakkolam, Lavangam, Kumkumam, Thamalam, Niryasam etc.
10. The value of the ornaments of Lord Balaji is around Rs1000 crores. (And appreciates as the Bullion Market rises.) Since they have no safe place to keep all these ornaments and since Lord Balaji does not have the time to decorate himself with all these ornaments, he has decreed that the excess ornaments be auctioned off once every year after due publicity.
12. Royalties like King Rajendra chola, King Krishna Deva Raya, Achchutha Raya have donated many precious jewels and have also created permanent endowments / trust for the benefit of the pilgrims of Lord Balaji and have got them engraved in stones as well as in copper plates as authentic proof of such donations. Even the Chola Queen had visited the temple and had offered many a gifts/presents to the Lord.
13. A look alike small silver statue (idol), similar to the tall well built Moola Vigraham of Lord Balaji inside the sanctum sanctorum, was made on 8th June in 966 AD, for the purpose of daily Abhishegam as well as making Him wear his ornaments The Pallava king Sakthi Vidangan’s wife and queen to the throne called Kadavan Perum Devi had donated a lot of ornaments/jewels to this silver idol of Lord Balaji and she has also created an endowment for the purpose of conducting regular daily worship. The first Kulothunga Chola King had offered many costly gifts to the Deity.
14. The paintings/murals at Tirupati are more than 300 years old.
15. Bilva Leaves, a must for worship of Lord Siva are used during archana (worship by various names of the Lord) to Lord Balaji on all Fridays. Similarly the same Bilva leaves are used during archanas in the month of Marghazhi.( 15th Dec. to 15 Jan).
16. On Maha Sivaratri day which is considered sacred for the worship of Lord Siva a festival called Kshetra Palika is celebrated at Tirupati. On that day the Urchava Idol is decorated with a flat diamond studded ornament resembling the three streaks of vibhuthi (sacred ash applied on foreheads in three lines by worshipers of Lord Siva) and taken out in procession on the streets.
The devout poet, Thalappakkam Annamayya had sung kritis in praise of Lord Balaji, portraying the Lord as Parabrahma, Ishwara, or an amsa of Lord Siva and also as Shakthi Swaroopa (the consort of Lord Siva) which are still available engraved on copper plates.
Tamil poet laureate Arunagirinathar (known for his devotional songs on Lord Skantha, the Thirupugazh) had visited Tirupati. Both Arunagirinathar and Annamayya were contemporaries.
Muthuswami Dikshidhar, (One of the trinities of Carnatic Music) was a well known Srividhya Upasakar and was well versed in mantra sastras. He had sung songs in praise of hundreds of Hindu deities/gods. In particular he had sung a song in the carnatic raga Varali in praise of Lord Balaji beginning with the words Seshaahala Namam.
17. There is a traditional belief among the devotees that Lord Balaji opens his third eye and is visible at the time of Abhishegam.
18.The sthala vriksham for the Tirupati Temple is the Tamarind Tree.
19. Normally most Hindu God’s Idols are in Sathvik and Shanthi postures (in a calm and quiet posture) and would be depicted with at least one weapon in one of the hands. But in the case Lord Balaji no weapon is held by him in his hands. He is a nirayudhapani (with no weapons in hands). That’s why in ancient Tamil literature he was described as Verungai Vedan, a hunter without any weapons in hands.
20. In the year 1781 AD the British Army camped at a nearby Thakkolam (a place near Vellore in Tamil Nadu). A British soldier Levellian belonging to the 33rd Regiment was lying mortally injured. He prayed to Lord Balaji to save his life. On being fully recovered he sent through an Indian soldier what ever he had vowed to send to Lord Balaji.
21. Britishers like Sir Thomas Monroe, Col. Geo Stratten were devotees of Lord Balaji.
22. Respecting the sacredness of Seven Hills, no Britisher attempted to climb the hills during the period 1759 AD to 1874 AD. European Christian Fathers wanted to establish a Cross at least in one place in the Seven Hills. But the British Generals did not give permission for the same. The Britishers
wanted the daily puja rituals at the Seven Hills to continue uninterrupted. They were anxious and worried that if the puja rituals were not held properly it may have an adverse effect on their rule of the country.
23. The inner garments (Ul-Pavadai) of Lord Balaji’s consort Goddess Alarmelumanga, are made of cotton at a place called Kathwaal. The weavers of this garment belong to the Chenchu Tribes and they prepare it with utmost devotion. Since this inner garment touches the body of the Goddess, the weavers take bath thrice daily during the preparation of this dress. They also do not touch liquor or any non-vegetarian foods during this period.
The items for Friday Abhishegam are got prepared on Thursday nights at the Parimala Room. Saffron is also added to the mixture for Abhishegam. Devotees from abroad continue to dispatch various fragrant items to the Lord. Roughly materials worth about Rs. 50,000 are sent every week.
24. The worship of Lord Balaji is done as Mother Goddess (Ambal) for 4 days, as Lord Maha Vishnu for 2 days and as Lord Siva for one day in a week.
25. The Abhishegam water / liquids are let out through a pipe into the nearby sacred tank of the Temple called Pushkarani. Hence the water in the tank is also considered to be sacred (Even otherwise all temple tanks are considered as sacred waters capable of removing one’s sins on taking a dip) After taking bath in the temple tank the devotees offer Arghyams – lift the water in the palms keeping both hands as a pouch to the Lord but the water is allowed to be let into the tank itself. This is also considered to be one type of worship.
26. On all Fridays in the early morning, a special worship is performed before the commencement of Abhishegam. One sloka in Tamil beginning with the words “Venkatam Yenap petra and a Thaniyan individual compilation) are sung in the Vadakalai Sampradhyam, one of the Vaishnava Sects.
During this special worship the Idol is without any dress or flower decorations. Camphor is lighted and shown to the Lord as Arathi. Then the worship in the Thenkalai Sampradhayam is performed. Then Neivedhyam is offered to the Lord. Once again a karpoora arathi is performed. The idol of Lord Balaji at that time would be shining beautifully and is a treat to the eyes.
28. The flower garland worn by the idol of female devotee known as Sri Aandaal at Srivilliputhur temple of Tamil Nadu is brought daily to the Hills and offered to Lord Balaji.
29. There are about 1180 stone engravings in the temple at the Seven Hills.
30. Of these engravings only 50 are in the Telugu / Kannada Languages and the rest 1130 engravings are in Tamil Language only.