Balaji – Venkateshwara has stood at Tirumala since the dawn of civilization, to save his devotees from the evils of Kali yuga. History cannot explain or record the power and capabilities of the God, the temple and the hill.
We live in a world of change, where values are threatened all the time, where people are questioning their role and purpose in life, even the necessity of life itself. Young people are desperately trying to retain their ideals, to prevent cynicism taking over their lives. Their confusion, and their search for permanent values, takes them to Lord Balaji on Tirumala hill.
Triumph of good over evil :
Whenever Dharma is in danger, Vishnu manifests himself on earth to rid the world of the evil. As Varaha, Vishnu destroys the evil demon Hiranyaksha, who steals the knowledge of truth as it is documented in the Vedas, and settles on the sacred Tirumala hill. Again, as Venkateshwara, he destroys evil demons who threaten the existence of Dharma. The demons represent negative forces and actions which prompt us to deviate from the path of righteousness.
The destruction of evil and the triumph of good is central to all religions, particularly Hinduism. Balaji is a role model – a model of divine perfection to be emulated by human beings in their search for the divine. Salvation can be achieved by mortals if they follow the path of goodness, truth and righteousness, without deviation.
Triumph of hope :
The miracles associated with Balaji make the impossible possible. The stories of these miracles have spread far and wide and, as more people hear them, they too desire to visit Tirumala. He helps rich and poor, weak and strong.
Through his miracles Balaji protects his devotees. He is omnipresent and omnipotent, transcending barriers of time and space. As Vishnu the all-pervading Protector, he identifies with every believer. Thus, Balaji represents the triumph of hope – as long as there is hope in the human heart, there is no place for despair. The impossible can be achieved. This is an important message for young people in these days of fast-changing situations.
Triumph of faith :
Balaji is a focus for faith – his temples are found in the heart of every believer. He protects his devotees, he is an embodiment of love. Their total faith in him creates miracles, for there is nothing as potent as faith. When Mother Earth sinks into the nether world at the time of the great flood, she does not lose faith, for she knows that Lord Balaji will come to her rescue. Balaji destroys the evil Hiranyaksha who stands in his way and re-establishes the earth.
It is this total faith in the Supreme Being that is essential for our well being. As the pilgrim enters the sanctum sanctorum, powerful vibrations emanate from the deity. The pure and absolute faith of the devotee who reposes absolute trust in his Lord creates vibrations that permeate the air. Finally, to reaffirm the power of Bhakti or devotion, the devotee is absolved of his sins.
When the sage Bhrigu visits Vaikuntha, he sees Vishnu reclining on the serpent Adishesha with Lakshmi by his side, and kicks Lord Vishnu on the right chest, the abode of Lakshmi. Instead of losing his temper, Vishnu bows to the rishi and washes and presses the latter’s hands and feet, apologizing for his inattention at the arrival of a guest. His humility – despite the fact that he is a God and his consort Lakshmi is angry at his humble behaviour towards the proud rishi – impresses the sage so much that Bhrigu informs the other rishis that Vishnu alone can give them salvation.
Krishna, ruler of Dwaraka, washes the feet of his friend and visitor, the poor Brahman Sudhama, and eats the handful of puffed rice, which alone has the ability to satisfy his hunger. When the devotee shaves off all his or her hair, it is an act of humility, to affirm that he has abandoned his ego and is humble before the Lord.consequences, humility must never be forsaken – it has its own rewards. Brahma’s pride denies him devotees and worship. Shiva was inattentive and Bhrigu forsook him. Arrogance is an evil, and can only harm us.
Respect for the earth and nature :
As Varaha, Vishnu rescues the Earth from the evil demon. The story of Venkateshwara and his marriage with Padmavati is a celebration of our wonderful earth, her very existence and her bounty, and represents the fusion of the earth with the divine. Religion teaches us to respect all creation and the bounties of nature. At the Tirumala temple, one can obtain prasada in the form of saplings and make endowments to plant trees. Through the various Sri Venkateshwara Vanaabhivriddhi schemes, the public can participate in the Devasthanam’s afforestation programmes and earn great merit. All life is sacred and conserving the environment is our duty – this is the message from the temple of Tirumala, one of the few centres of religion where merit can be earned through actually conserving trees and nature.
In a fast-changing world, where values and beliefs change almost daily, where people and situations are often not what they appear to be, Balaji represents a rock of stability and security, of unchanging definitions of right and wrong, good and bad. This is a source of reaffirmation for the old and strength to the young. He represents continuity, moral values and all that is good and beautiful.
The pilgrim visits his Lord with awe and total devotion. Balaji takes over one’s sorrows and worries, nobody who visits the temple with love and total devotion comes back without reward, either mental or physical or spiritual. Everybody is rewarded – whether it is a devotee who receives the object of his desire or the transgressor who is resentful.
The message :
Lord Balaji – Venkateshwara gives every human being the opportunity to lead a better life, the right to hope and keep faith. He teaches us the difference between right and wrong, humility and pride, he helps us to help the less fortunate and to give back to nature an infinitesimal fraction of what she has given us. Finally, he assures us that it is never too late to repent and ask for forgiveness, that even the most wicked sinner can change for the better. What makes him unique is that the miracles he performs have changed lives and brought out the best in people as they realize his divine power and grace.
It is all summed up in the mantra –
brahmaande naasti kinchana;
Venkateshwara samo devo
na bhooto na bhavishyati
which means, “There is no place equal to Venkatadri in the whole universe. A God equal to Venkateshwara has never been nor will be.”Vishnu teaches us that one is never too high to be humble.