Category Archives: Tirupati Dham

Srila Prabhupad in Tirupati

On April 25, XX/YY (year is missing) we flew to Tirupati. In the mountains nearby is Tirmula, where there is the richest temple in India, the Venkatesvara temple, with its Balaji Deity. Srila Prabhupada very much liked the cottage the temple managers provided for him. They were very respectful and let our party enter the temple, although (l) people usually have to wait on a long line, since 15,000 people enter daily, and (2) Westerners are usually not allowed in. Following behind Srila Prabhupada, however, we walked right in. In the cottage there was a picture of the Balaji Deity. Prabhupada said that the Deity’s name means “child,” Krsna as a cowherd boy, not in His Vaikuntha aspect [His majestic form in the spiritual planets]. “What do the rascal scientists know of Vaikuntha?” I said. “They haven’t seen these planets through their telescopes.” He said, “That [telescope knowledge] is imaginary, defective. So many planets are glittering at night. What do the scientists know of these other planets? They cannot say that such a place [the spiritual sky] is not possible. The rascals can’t get a vague idea of even this one planet.” I said they are making progress because 500 years ago people thought the earth was flat. “Not in the Vedas,” he said. “It is clearly stated: goloka, meaning ’round.’ Maybe in your Bible,” he laughed, “but although you didn’t know, the Vedas knew.” About all the people going to see Balaji, Srila Prabhupada said, “This shows that the mass of people are still attracted to God, despite government propaganda. The people are coming and going, visiting the Deity. But an advanced devotee can capture God in his heart. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena: with the ointment of love of God spread over his eyes. Of course, Deity worship is good for the neophyte.”

We went three or four times daily to receive darsana [association] of the Balaji Deity. One time we went at 2 in the morning. The Deity is very big, in a dark inner sanctum where the only light comes from the torches held by the pujaris [attendants]. Srila Prabhupada would regularly leave his cane on the rail before Balaji, and then, after we were walking out, he would call “Where is my stick?” and we would have to go back for it. As the general mass of people goes into the temple for alleviation of material distress, they call out “Govinda!” When Srila Prabhupada started in (you have to go barefoot in the whole area around the temple, outside also) he would say “Govindam adi-purusam tarn aham bhajami” [I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord]. He said we should build temples like this Venkatesvara temple, which has a gold dome and wonderful facilities for visiting pilgrims. While he was there, Srila Prabhupada took Balaji’s prasada [food offered to the Lord] and said it was tasteful. He said that Lord Caitanya had visited this and many other places all over south India. We were thinking that Srila Prabhupada, who says he hasn’t visited any holy places in India except Mayapur and Vrndavana, was visiting them to purify them.—BTG, HH Satsvarup Maharaj

Lord Chaitanya in Tirupati

Chaitanya Charitamrita – Lord Chaitanya on South India Tour –
Madhya Lila 1.105

TEXT 1.105
trimalla-tripadi-sthana kaila darasana
sarvatra karila krsna-nama pracarana

trimalla—a place named Trimalla, or Tirumala; tripadi—and Tripadi, or Tirupati; sthana—the places; kaila—did; darasana—visit; sarvatra—everywhere: karila—did; krsna-nama—the holy name of Lord Krsna; pracarana—preaching.

He visited the places known as Tirumala and Tirupati, where He extensively preached the chanting of the Lord’s holy name.

This holy place is situated in the district of Tanjore (Chittoor), South India. The temple of Tirupati is situated in the valley of Vyenkatacala and contains a Deity of Lord Ramacandra. On top of Vyenkatacala is the famous temple of Balaji.

Madhya 1.106

TEXT 1.106
tabe ta’ pasandi-gane karila dalana
ahovala-nrsimhadi kaila darasana

tabe ta’—thereafter; pasandi-gane—unto the atheists; karila—did; dalana—subduing; ahovala-nrsimha-adi—Nrsimhadeva, named Ahovala or at Ahovala; kaila—did; darasana—visit.

After visiting the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had to subdue some atheists. He then visited the temple of Ahovala-nrsimha.

The Ahovala temple is situated in Daksinatya, in the district of Karnula, within the subdivision of Sarbela. Throughout the whole district this very famous temple is much appreciated by the people. There are eight other temples also, and all of them together are called the Nava-nrsimha temples. There is much wonderful architecture and artistic engraving work in these temples. However, as stated in the local gazette, the Karnula Manual, the work is not complete.

Madhya 9.64

TEXT 9.64
mahaprabhu cali’ aila tripati-trimalle
catur-bhuja murti dekhi’ vyenkatadrye cale

mahaprabhu—Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; cali’ aila—arrived by walking; tripati-trimalle—at the holy places named Tirupati and Tirumala; catur-bhuja—four-handed; murti—Deity; dekhi’—seeing; vyenkata-adrye—to the holy place Venkata Hill; cale—began to proceed.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Tirupati and Tirumala, where He saw a four-handed Deity. Then He proceeded toward Venkata Hill.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has actually described the chronological order of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s visit. The Tirupati temple is sometimes called Tirupatura. It is situated on the northern side of Arcot in the district of Candragiri. It is a famous holy place of pilgrimage. In pursuance of His name, Venkatesvara, the four-handed Lord Visnu, the Deity of Balaji, with His potencies named Sri and Bhu, is located on Venkata Hill, about eight miles from Tirupati. This Venkatesvara Deity is in the form of Lord Visnu, and the place where He is situated is known as Venkata-ksetra. There are many temples in southern India, but this Balaji temple is especially opulent. A great fair is held there in the month of Asvina (September-October). There is a railway station called Tirupati on the Southern Railway. Nimna-tirupati is located in the valley of Venkata Hill. There are several temples there also, among which are those of Govindaraja and Lord Ramacandra.

Madhya 9.65

TEXT 9.65
tripati asiya kaila sri-rama darasana
raghunatha-age kaila pranama stavana

tripati asiya—coming to Tirupati; kaila sri-rama darasana—visited the temple of Ramacandra; raghunatha-age—before Lord Ramacandra; kaila—did; pranama—obeisances; stavana—offering prayers. TRANSLATION: After arriving at Tirupati, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited the temple of Lord Ramacandra. He offered His prayers and obeisances before Ramacandra, the descendant of King Raghu. Madhya 9.66 TEXT 66 sva-prabhave loka-sabara karana vismaya pana-nrsimhe aila prabhu daya-maya

sva-prabhave—by His own influence; loka-sabara—of all the people; karana—inducing; vismaya—astonishment; pana-nrsimhe—to the Lord named Pana-nrsimha; aila—came; prabhu—Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; daya-maya—the most merciful.

Everywhere Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went, His influence astonished everyone. He next arrived at the temple of Pana-nrsimha. The Lord is so merciful. PURPORT Pana-nrsimha, or Panakal-narasimha, is located in the district of Krishna, in the hills known as Mangalagiri, about seven miles from a city known as Vijayawada. One must climb six hundred steps to reach the temple. It is said that when the Lord is offered food with syrup here, He does not take more than half. Within this temple is a conchshell presented by the late king of Tanjore, and it is said that this shell was used by Lord Krsna Himself. During the month of March, a great fair takes place in this temple.

Madhya 9.67

TEXT 9.67
nrsimhe pranati-stuti premavese kaila
prabhura prabhave loka camatkara haila

nrsimhe—unto Lord Nrsimha; pranati-stuti—obeisances and prayers; prema-avese—in ecstatic love; kaila—offered; prabhura—of the Lord; prabhave—by the influence; loka—the people; camatkara haila—were astonished.

In great ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered obeisances and prayers unto Lord Nrsimha. The people were astonished to see Lord Caitanya’s influence.

Madhya 9.68


śiva-kāñcī āsiyā kaila śiva daraśana
prabhāve ’vaiṣṇava’ kaila saba śaiva-gaṇa


śiva-kāñcī—to the holy place named Śiva-kāñcī; āsiyā—coming; kaila—did; śiva daraśana—visiting the temple of Lord Śiva; prabhāve—by His influence; vaiṣṇava kaila—turned into Vaiṣṇavas; saba—all; śaiva-gaṇa—the devotees of Lord Śiva.


Arriving at Śiva-kāñcī, Caitanya Mahāprabhu visited the deity of Lord Śiva. By His influence, He converted all the devotees of Lord Śiva into Vaiṣṇavas.


Śiva-kāñcī is also known as Kañjīvaramā, or the Benares of southern India. In Śiva-kāñcī there are hundreds of temples containing symbolic representations of Lord Śiva, and one of these temples is said to be very, very old.

ISKCON in Tirupati – The Beginning days

When ISKCON’s founder-acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, visited Tirumala and Tirupati in 1974, he spoke with administrators of the Venkateswara temple. He encouraged them to join with ISKCON for the glorification of Lord Venkateswara (Krsna) throughout the world. Indian-born Sankha-bhrt dasa heard these discussions and took heart. Over the years Sankha-bhrt dasa served in nearby Bangalore and Hyderabad. As a natural result of his preaching activities, he developed good relations with the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the board of trustees in charge of the management and development in the region. In 1981 Sankha-bhrt decided to preach in Tirupati. Mr. P.V.K. Prasad, the executive officer of the TTD at that time, provided an apartment for Sankha-bhrt and his family. Sankha-bhrt dasa and his wife began to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and Back to Godhead magazine door to door and at the bus and train stations. Sankha-bhrt: “My idea was to have a big book distribution program, taking the help of TTD for printing books in the South Indian languages. Later on, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja visited, and he was very impressed with the potential here for preaching. He thought we should build here, so he advised me to request Mr. Prasad to donate a hundred acres of land. Our proposal was rejected. Mr. Prasad, seeing that I was alone, felt we couldn’t make use of so much land.” At every opportunity Sankha-bhrt reminded Mr. Prasad of Srila Prabhupada’s vision: TTD and ISKCON working together in the service of Lord Venkateswara. Gradually other devotees joined, and Sankha-bhrt expanded his preaching programs. In 1982-83, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja, director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the scientific preaching arm of ISKCON, arranged a “number of conferences and seminars in the local schools and colleges. This greatly impressed the people of Tirupati with the’ scope and purity of ISKCON’s programs for presenting Krsna consciousness on all levels and to all people.

In 1983 Mr. Prasad paid a visit to Sridhama Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the site of ISKCON’s largest project in India. Sankha-bhrt: “When Mr. Prasad returned from Mayapur, he was very enthusiastic to do something to help us. It was a crucial time, because his term as executive officer was coming to an end. I had no idea if the next officer would be as favorable as Mr. Prasad, so I said, ‘Forget about one hundred acres. I humbly beg you to give me a piece of land—whatever you can manage—and we will develop something on it.’ He said, ‘O.K. Tomorrow morning come early to my office. I have a place in mind.’

“The next morning I went to Mr. Prasad’s office, but they told me he had gone to my apartment. I rushed back and found him with a crew of about twenty workers marking off some property and clearing the land. It was about fifty acres covered with thorns and bushes, and it was very uneven. Mr. Prasad said, ‘I am allotting you this piece of land, and these people will clear it for you.’ He could see I was a little disappointed because the land looked so rough and so out of the way, but he said to me, ‘Don’t worry. You don’t know the future of this place. It will be one of the best locations in Tirupati, considering the plans for development of this city. It will be a good place for your preaching work.’ He also gave seventy thousand rupees for us to build an asrama and bhajana hall.” Soon a small temple was constructed to temporarily house the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, who had been installed in the summer of 1984. At present, Sankha-bhrt is busily raising funds for developing the property. Plans include an ornate temple, a three-hundred-room modern guesthouse, a gurukula school, and landscaped gardens.

Sankha-bhrt: “From here we will be able to preach to people all over the world—just by preaching in Tirupati. Everyone comes here on their way to Tirumala. I prayed very hard to Srila Prabhupada to make this happen, and now it is all coming to pass. In the future the bus station will be moved near here, and all the buses will go past our project on the way to Tirumala. We’ve hardly started our work, yet already we get several busloads of people a day. We will be able to distribute Krsna conscious books in every Indian language. “It is significant that the TTD has given us this land. Every religious group, yoga organization, and what-have-you in India has tried to get a place here. Some have been trying for years. They want to come because to be in Tirupati is prestigious. And Tirupati is the wealthiest temple in all of India. If TTD, which controls a lot of wealth, decides to back some project, that project will flourish. “But TTD hasn’t allowed any of these groups to come in. ISKCON is the exception. That’s because we are preaching the scriptural conclusions without deviating, without concocting anything. We follow the prescribed dharma for the age, chanting the holy names of the Lord, and we are convincing people to live a spiritual life. The TTD trustees like us. They want us to work with them to give people real religion. Srila Prabhupada’s vision is coming true.”

Tirupati Balaji and Ramanujacharya – Is he Vishnu or Shiva ?

That the Deity in Tirumala is a plenary form of Lord Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was not always known. Traditionally, a Deity of Lord Visnu will bear in His hands certain distinguishing symbols: a lotus, a conch-shell, a discus, and a club. During the time of Ramanuja, however, in the eleventh century, Lord Venkateswara’s two upper hands were empty. No one knew why. It was impossible to verify the true identity of the Deity. Was this a form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or a form of a demigod? To further complicate matters, figures of snakes, symbols of Lord Siva, are on the body of the Deity. A dispute developed. Some claimed the Deity was Lord Siva, while others insisted it was Lord Visnu. In the midst of this feud, Ramanuja, a saint of great renown, came to Tirumala on pilgrimage. Both factions called on him to settle their dispute. Sri Ramanuja locked a gold disc and conch, symbols of Lord Visnu, in the Deity’s room overnight. Next morning, all were astonished to find the conch and discus in the Deity’s hands, and since that day Lord Venkateswara’s identity as Lord Krsna has never been questioned.