Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:06 PM
Lord Venkateshwara or Balaji is the all-pervading Lord of the Universe and is considered to be an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Vishnu. Venkateshwara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people. According to the Hindu scriptures, lord Vishnu out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateshwara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yuga and is considered the supreme form of lord Vishnu in this age.
The ancient and sacred temple of lord Venkateshwara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Shri Swami Pushkarini. Venkateshwara (Lord of the Venkata Hill) is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills. A large number of devotees approximately 30,000 visit the sacred temple of Lord Venkateshwara to pay their homage to the Lord. The temple of lord Venkateshwara has acquired unique sanctity in Indian religions. According to the Shastras and the Puranas, in the present age, one can attain salvation (mukti) only by worshipping lord Venkateshwara.
The temple town of Tirupati is situated at the foot of Tirumala hills in the Chandragiri Taluka of the Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh. The sacred spot on the hill about 2,800 feet above sea level is known as Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateshwara.
The Legend of Lord Venkateshwara
According to the Puranas, the legend of Venkateshwara's incarnation is as follows. Once upon a time, some sages under the guidance of sage Kasyapa began to perform a sacrifice on the bank of the river Ganga. Sage Narada visited them and asked them why they were performing the sacrifice and who would be pleased by it. The sages did not answer and they approached sage Bhrigu for the answer. To search the answer of the question, sage Bhrigu first went to the abode of Lord Brahma there he found, Lord Brahma, reciting the four Vedas in praise of Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma did not take notice of Bhrigu. Concluding that Lord Brahma was unfit for worship, Bhrigu went to the abode of Lord Shiva, there he found Lord Shiva with goddess Parvati, not noticing his presence. Therefore, he went to the Vaikunta, the abode of lord Vishnu, there he found that lord Vishnu was sleeping on the Sheshnaga with goddess Lakshmi in service at his feet. In the Vaikunta also, he did not get respect and he kicked the Lord on his chest, the place where goddess Lakshmi resides. Lord Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. The sage then realized his mistake and apologized to lord Vishnu. Thereupon, the sage concluded that Lord Vishnu is the most supreme of the Trimurti (Trinity) and told the sages the same. Goddess Lakshmi became angry by the action of the lord, so she left the Vaikunta and came down to the earth. After the departure of Lakshmi, a forlorn Lord Vishnu also left Vaikunta and took abode in an ant-hill under a tamarind tree, beside a pushkarini on the Venkata Hill, meditating for the return of Lakshmi, without food or sleep.
Taking pity on Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Shiva decided to assume the forms of a cow and its calf to serve him. Surya (the Sun god) informed and requested Lakshmi to assume the form of a cowherd girl and sell both, the cow and calf, to the king of the Chola country. The king of the Chola country bought the cow and its calf and sent them to graze on the Venkata Hill along with his herd of cattle. Discovering Lord Vishnu on the ant-hill, the cow gave its milk; thus the cow fed the Lord Vishnu. Therefore, the cow did not give milk, so the Chola Queen punished the cowherd severely. In order to find out the cause of lack of milk, the cowherd followed the cow, hid himself behind a bush and discovered that the cow emptying her udder over the ant-hill. Due to this conduct of the cow, the cowherd aimed a blow with his axe on the head of the cow. Lord Vishnu rose from the ant-hill to receive the blow and thus the cow was saved. When the cowherd saw the Lord bleed at the blow of his axe, he fell down and died of shock.
Sometime later, the King Akasa Raja was ruling over Thondamandalam. The king had no heirs, and therefore, he wanted to perform a sacrifice. So, when he was cultivating his field his plough turned up a lotus in the ground. On examining the lotus, the King found a girl in it. The king became happy and handed over the girl to his wife. The king named her Padmavati, because she was found in a lotus. She grew up as a princess into a beautiful maiden and was attended by a host of maids.
Art of Legend India.