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Thread: About Sri Venkateswara

  1. #1
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    About Sri Venkateswara

    Namaste,

    Sri Venkatachalapathi's avatara seems to have happened in Kali yuga, with the mission of marrying Sri Padmavathi and to repay his debt to Kubera. If we see the Lord's other avataras, he has either killed a few bothersome asuras and restored peace or the Lord has been the utensil for some great mission such as saving world during mahapralaya or during Samudra Manthana. When compared to such causes, Sri Vishnu's avatara as Sri Venkateswara does not seem to carry any such important mission? He is regarded by many as embodiment of Saturn (he is particularly worshiped on Saturdays). What is his avatara kainkarya?

    Also what is the reason why his 'thirumaN' or his tilaka on his forehead covers half his eyes? It is said that is purposeful as he is not supposed to view with his eyes fully open?

    Thank you.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Right, I believe posting here would not be controversial. I can see that my views would give the moderators quite a headache otherwise.

    The archa form in temples is itself an avatArA. What is an avatArA? Krishna describes it in the gita - an avatArA descends, and exhibits two traits - 1)sAdhu paritrAnam 2) vinAshAya ca duskrtAm.

    Now, what is sAdhu paritrAnam? Swami rAmAnujar describes it as giving darshan to devotees. The azhwars say that his act of rescuing devotees is mainly by appearing in front of them. If he did not do so, his devotees would die. So, sAdhu paritrAnAm is simply giving seva to devotees who cannot live without him.

    The next aspect, vinAshAya ca duskrtAm - is only a side-effect of giving such seva. Obviously, there are many things that hinder the devotees from enjoying bhagavAn even if he appears in front of them - the tApatrayam, enemies, etc. So, bhagavAn destroys these obstacles so that they can see and serve him.

    SrI vedAnta desikan summarizes it beautifully as follows - when planting crops, one automatically removes the weeds. Similarly, sAdhu paritrAnam entails destruction of asurAs. His killing of rAvana, sisupAla, the kauravas, etc are incidental. The main purpose was to give seva to devotees like Vibhishana, Guha, Akrura, Vidura, etc who were hindered by the likes of rAvana, duryOdhana from serving him. The killing of asurAs is NOT the main purpose of his avatAra.

    Hence, the purpose of srI venkatEswara is his appearance itself.

    Now, the reason why his eyes are closed - nammazhwar says that he possesses the guNam of dayA to an infinite extent in this particular form. So, the logic is this - His lotus eyes exude dayA like an ocean. If we saw his fully open eyes, we would be swept away by this ocean and our eyes would moisten with tears of happiness. These tears would obstruct us from seeing him properly. So, by covering his eyes, he hides his beauty and lets his dayA out gradually, rather than a torrent of karunA! This tattvam is mentioned by swami thondaradippodi azhwar.

    Swami peryiavAcchan pillai calls this as the guNam of "satmya" (sAtmya bhOga pradE - says swami vedAnta desikan as well). This means, he does not seek to overwhelm the jivAs in ecstasy at once, but shows his wonderful guNams gradually and slowly for the jivA to take in properly and absorb it.
    [CENTER][COLOR="Black"][COLOR="Red"][COLOR="DarkRed"]No holiness rules over my freedom
    No commands from above I obey
    I seek the ruin, I shake the worlds
    Behold! I am blackest ov the black

    Ov khaos I am, the disobediant one
    Depraved son who hath dwelt in nothingness
    Upon the ninth I fell, from grace up above
    To taste this life ov sin, to give birth to the "I"[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

    [B]~ "Blackest Ov the Black" - Behemoth.[/B]

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-JdwtK1DY[/url] [/CENTER]

  3. #3

    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    This is the Vaishnava subforum, so hopefully the arbiters of political correctness will not object to this discussion.

    I have nothing to add to Sri Vaishnava's excellent explanation. This was also my understanding - that the main reason for the Lord's descent is for pleasing the devotees. He need not come merely to kill demons - that's just a perk. :-)

    I do have a question related to this topic, however. The only purANic evidence I have found to date regarding shrInivAsa's avatAra is in the venkatesha mahAtmyam of the skandha purANa. Therein, it is stated that padmAvati performed a service for The Lord previously when He came as rAma. She took the place of sItA and was kidnapped by rAvaNa as a "mAyA-sItA," and real sItA only returned during the agni-parikSha. I'm told also that this version of the story (which I would note is not found in the rAmAyaNa of vALmIki) is also found in the sthala-purANa of the temple.

    Now, the problem with this view, is that the idea that sItA herself was abducted and tormented is pretty central to the Sri Vaishnava's understanding of the rAmAyaNaM as a sharanAgati-shAstra (aside from being most consistent with what vALmIki wrote). I previously favored the "mAyA-sItA" explanation, as I could not stomach the idea that the Lord's consort could be touched by one such as rAvaNa. However, when I read the unabridged story, I was moved by sItA's grace under pressure and her uncompromising surrender to The Lord. I found myself thinking, "only one such as LakShmI-mAta can do this."

    Yet, we have both of these views, and they contradict each other. And I have heard both views even within Sri Vaishnava circles. Why the contradiction? Is it an issue of kalpa-bedha? Or do Sri Vaishnavas consider the mAyA-sItA story to be a later interpolation? If the latter is the case, then who was padmAvatI that viShNu had to take avatAra just to wed her?
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Quote Originally Posted by Sri Vaishnava View Post
    Now, the reason why his eyes are closed - nammazhwar says that he possesses the guNam of dayA to an infinite extent in this particular form. So, the logic is this - His lotus eyes exude dayA like an ocean. If we saw his fully open eyes, we would be swept away by this ocean and our eyes would moisten with tears of happiness. These tears would obstruct us from seeing him properly. So, by covering his eyes, he hides his beauty and lets his dayA out gradually, rather than a torrent of karunA! This tattvam is mentioned by swami thondaradippodi azhwar.

    Swami peryiavAcchan pillai calls this as the guNam of "satmya" (sAtmya bhOga pradE - says swami vedAnta desikan as well). This means, he does not seek to overwhelm the jivAs in ecstasy at once, but shows his wonderful guNams gradually and slowly for the jivA to take in properly and absorb it.
    How wonderful is the anubhavam of Sri Nammazhwar? I feel so overwhelmed by his wordings I wish I possess his bhakti towards the lord so I can feel the ecstatic joy he feels...

    I had heard elsewhere a long time ago that Sri Venkateswara's eyes were so because he could not/supposed not to see with his full eyes as they were furious when opened fully (or something like that).. Maybe I got it wrong.

    Also, I was imagining that Sri Venkateswara signifies something special being ridden with debt towards Kubera! I have heard somewhere that Sri Venkateswara blesses his devotees so much with material wealth to the point it makes them arrogant, then err out of it and finally repent it and pay a huge sum as an atonement to Sri Venkateswara which he uses to pay back his debt from Kubera! It doesn't sound too nice to say this about a god but this is what I have heard... So I was thinking something along those lines, to be his avatara mahima.. Like I have some questions as in knowing, why he is supposed to be embodiment of Saturn, why his avataram happened in Kali yuga, and what his debt signifies and so forth.. Maybe as you say, Sri Vaishnava ji, it is special form in Sri Venkateswara that bhagwan Sri Vishnu chose to bless his devotees during Kali yuga.

    Thank you for the wonderful write-up and clarification!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post

    I do have a question related to this topic, however. The only purANic evidence I have found to date regarding shrInivAsa's avatAra is in the venkatesha mahAtmyam of the skandha purANa. Therein, it is stated that padmAvati performed a service for The Lord previously when He came as rAma. She took the place of sItA and was kidnapped by rAvaNa as a "mAyA-sItA," and real sItA only returned during the agni-parikSha. I'm told also that this version of the story (which I would note is not found in the rAmAyaNa of vALmIki) is also found in the sthala-purANa of the temple.

    Now, the problem with this view, is that the idea that sItA herself was abducted and tormented is pretty central to the Sri Vaishnava's understanding of the rAmAyaNaM as a sharanAgati-shAstra (aside from being most consistent with what vALmIki wrote). I previously favored the "mAyA-sItA" explanation, as I could not stomach the idea that the Lord's consort could be touched by one such as rAvaNa. However, when I read the unabridged story, I was moved by sItA's grace under pressure and her uncompromising surrender to The Lord. I found myself thinking, "only one such as LakShmI-mAta can do this."

    Yet, we have both of these views, and they contradict each other. And I have heard both views even within Sri Vaishnava circles. Why the contradiction? Is it an issue of kalpa-bedha? Or do Sri Vaishnavas consider the mAyA-sItA story to be a later interpolation? If the latter is the case, then who was padmAvatI that viShNu had to take avatAra just to wed her?
    You are quite right. The mAya sitA story is not accepted by us. Furthermore, padmAvati is none other than srI mahA-lakshmi herself and not mAya sitA. On the other hand, we have a shrine for vakuLa mAtA near srI venkatEswara - it is said that this dEvi was yashoda in a previous birth, who attained mukti and took an avatAram as the mother of sri venkatEswara.

    If you note, vAlmiki declares the real name of rAmAyaNa as "sita charitram". Our acharyas say that it talks more about the glories of sita than rAmA. In addition, they jocularly say that it was not rAvaNa who abducted sita, but actually sita who carried rAvana to Lanka! Because she wanted to be of solace to the deva strIs imprisoned by rAvaNa in Lanka and hence, went there as a prisoner to keep watch over them.

    Both srI rAmA and sita had forgotten they were nArAyaNa and lakshmi by their own sankalpa in that avatAra. But since Brahman is avikArA, even if he forgets his nature voluntarily by his omnipotence, he still exhibits it. So, in every act of theirs, they displayed supremacy without even realising it! This is what sets srI rAmAvatArA apart from the others and why sri vaishnava AchAryAs favored srI rAmA above all other forms!

    sita also tells hanuman that if she so wished, she could burn rAvaNa to ashes. But being the kind mother of the universe and also wishing srI rAmA to claim the fame of killing rAvaNa, she desists.

    I was imagining that Sri Venkateswara signifies something special being ridden with debt towards Kubera
    The kubera debt story is very mordern and not found in the original sthala purAnA to my knowledge. Obviously, it became popular when the temple itself became famous. Not that there is any harm in believing in it, but I would like to maintain the integrity of the original sthala purAnA.
    [CENTER][COLOR="Black"][COLOR="Red"][COLOR="DarkRed"]No holiness rules over my freedom
    No commands from above I obey
    I seek the ruin, I shake the worlds
    Behold! I am blackest ov the black

    Ov khaos I am, the disobediant one
    Depraved son who hath dwelt in nothingness
    Upon the ninth I fell, from grace up above
    To taste this life ov sin, to give birth to the "I"[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

    [B]~ "Blackest Ov the Black" - Behemoth.[/B]

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-JdwtK1DY[/url] [/CENTER]

  6. #6

    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    If you note, vAlmiki declares the real name of rAmAyaNa as "sita charitram".
    Do you have the verse reference for this? I would like to note it down

    sita also tells hanuman that if she so wished, she could burn rAvana to ashes. But being the kind mother of the universe and also wishing srI rAmA to claim the fame of killing rAvana, she desists.
    This verse I definitely remember reading:

    असंदेशात्तु रामस्य तपसश्चामपालनात् | न त्वां कुर्मि दशग्रीव भस्म भर्मार्ह तेजसा || ५-२२-२० 20. dashagriiva = O Ravana!; bhasmaarha = (although you are) suited to be burnt into ashes; asaMdeshaat = not having mandate; raamasya = of Rama; anupaalanaat = (and) preserving; tapasaH = austerity; na kurmi = I am not making; tvaam bhasmam = you into ashes; tejasaa = (with my) glory.

    "O Ravana! Although you are suited to be burnt into ashes, not having the mandate of Rama and preserving austerity, I am not reducing you into ashes with my glory." (rAmAyaNa 5.22.20 - Rao)


    I took this as indicative of the mood of sharaNAgati. Although sItA could indeed have burnt rAvaNa to ashes, as a surrendered soul she did nothing without her Lord's consent, and made no independent effort to free herself, choosing to depend entirely on rAma.


    The kubera debt story is very mordern and not found in the original sthala purAnA to my knowledge. Obviously, it became popular when the temple itself became famous. Not that there is any harm in believing in it, but I would like to maintain the integrity of the original sthala purAnA.
    Does the sthala purANa mention the mAyA-sItA story? Because if so (as I was told), then Sri Vaishnavas don't accept it either, right?

    I was under the impression that, as per the story, Kuvera funded the wedding after the arrangement was confirmed. If there is some other Kuvera debt story, then I am not aware of it.

    regards,
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    charitra vrata = sage who observed all sacred vows; kR^itsnam kaavyam = to entire, epic; raamaayaNam = Ramayana; siithayaH charitam mahat = Seetha's, legend, sublime; poulastya vadham = Ravana's, elimination; iti = thus [naming]; evam cakaara = that way, made, rendered.

    (~vAlmiki rAmAyaNa 1.4.7) (pasted from valmikiramayan.net)

    The ithihAsa has 3 names - rAmAyaNa, sita charitra and poulastya vadham (rAvaNa is the son of pulastya - hence, poulastya). Out of these, the first name is popular and the second name is favored by sri vaishnavas. Note the word "mahat" is used with respect to that name - her glory is greater than that of srI rAmA's!

    srI pillai lOkAchAryar states that the rAmAyaNa came about to describe the glory of she who was a prisoner (sita) and the mahAbhArata came about to describe the glory of he who went as a messenger for the pAndavAs (srI krishna). These two incidents in the two ithihAsAs are of paramount significance and that is why achAryAn used them to describe his view. It is explained in detail in the work "srI vachana bhUshaNam".

    And yes, Sita did not burn rAvaNa because of her dependence on srI rAmA. Wanting srI rAmA to have the fame of killing rAvaNa is one aspect of such dependence, ie, the jivA does not make self-efforts to attain bhagavAn.

    Now, let the discussion on srInivAsa of tirumalA continue. This rAmAyaNa discussion may be considered taking the thread off topic.
    [CENTER][COLOR="Black"][COLOR="Red"][COLOR="DarkRed"]No holiness rules over my freedom
    No commands from above I obey
    I seek the ruin, I shake the worlds
    Behold! I am blackest ov the black

    Ov khaos I am, the disobediant one
    Depraved son who hath dwelt in nothingness
    Upon the ninth I fell, from grace up above
    To taste this life ov sin, to give birth to the "I"[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

    [B]~ "Blackest Ov the Black" - Behemoth.[/B]

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-JdwtK1DY[/url] [/CENTER]

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    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Quote Originally Posted by Sri Vaishnava View Post
    Now, let the discussion on srInivAsa of tirumalA continue. This rAmAyaNa discussion may be considered taking the thread off topic.
    Oh no! I don't have any problem with this as he (Govinda) is also 'Kausalya Supraja Rama'!

    I only have a related question. In the Thirukalvanur divyadesa, the story says Sri Kamakshi amman divided the lord into being represented in temples in 3 different states - in Nindra kolam (standing posture) as in Tirumala, Kidantha Kolam - Lying posture as in SriRangam and Iruntha Kolam - Sitting posture as in various Narasimhar temples. Why is this bedham or differentiation necessary? Is there any difference in significance between the Lord's various postures?
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

  9. #9

    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Namaste

    The mAyA-sItA story need not be an explicit story, but do we see how profound it is?
    Come to think of it, SitA and mAyA-SitA. SitA is Bramhan. This is applicable to everyone. Are we not AtmA and Atma-mAyA ? Are we not supposed to stay alipta (aloof) from the mAyA aspects in/around/associated with/attached to us?

    That is exactly what SitA did. She was a walkie-talkie Bramhan on earth. She lived the ved-vedAnta. So, when rAvaNa kidnapped "Her" WHO did he actually kidnap? Not SitA's antaranga that was always with Shri-rAma. He just kidnapped a body - which is mAyA-sitA.

    This is what the story implies. The real sitA is untouched by the kidnapping. Agni as protector means sitA's True Self was protected by Bramhan; Agni aspect of Bramhan in this case.

    Thanks for bringing this up - acceptance or unacceptance of this story. It made me think - tattva dnyAna.


    sarva-devaika sharaNam sarva-devaika daivatam
    samasta-deva kavacham sarva-deva shikhAmaNi || (Venkatesh Stotra)

    _/\_
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  10. #10

    Re: About Sri Venkateswara

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    Namaste

    The mAyA-sItA story need not be an explicit story, but do we see how profound it is?
    Come to think of it, SitA and mAyA-SitA. SitA is Bramhan. This is applicable to everyone. Are we not AtmA and Atma-mAyA ? Are we not supposed to stay alipta (aloof) from the mAyA aspects in/around/associated with/attached to us?

    That is exactly what SitA did. She was a walkie-talkie Bramhan on earth. She lived the ved-vedAnta. So, when rAvaNa kidnapped "Her" WHO did he actually kidnap? Not SitA's antaranga that was always with Shri-rAma. He just kidnapped a body - which is mAyA-sitA.

    This is what the story implies. The real sitA is untouched by the kidnapping. Agni as protector means sitA's True Self was protected by Bramhan; Agni aspect of Bramhan in this case.

    Thanks for bringing this up - acceptance or unacceptance of this story. It made me think - tattva dnyAna.


    sarva-devaika sharaNam sarva-devaika daivatam
    samasta-deva kavacham sarva-deva shikhAmaNi || (Venkatesh Stotra)

    _/\_
    Pranams,

    I did not understand the reasoning offered above. But I can say this: the rAmAyaNa of vALmIki does not anywhere imply that anyone other than sItA was abducted. I can understand the desire to feel that sItA was not abducted and not tormented by rAvaNa. However, the reader is clearly meant to feel that she was. Her refusal to free herself, her complete dependence on the mercy of rAma, and her devotion in separation are all meant to exemplify the ideal of sharaNAgati.

    Now, in the skandha purANa, we have a different story. Therein, it is mentioned that a lady by name vedavati was harassed by rAvaNa and that she became the mAyA-sItA who later became padmAvati in shrInivAsa-LILA. This is from memory - I can try to review the verses tomorrow when I get a chance. The SkP clearly endorses the mAyA-sItA story, and while I want to believe it, I cannot help but be moved by the plight of sItA as told in rAmAyaNa, and am left with the unequivocal conclusion that the author was glorifying sItA aka LakShmI.

    regards,
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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