Stories of Vrishabhadri & Narayanadri
In the last few episodes of Sri Venkatesha Vaibhavam we were blessed to enjoy the stories behind the descent of the seven hills through Sri Ramanujamji’s lectures. Now let’s continue to enjoy the glory, grandeur and majesty of Srinivasa Perumal based on the discourses about the leelas of Lord Sri Venkateshwara by Sri Poornimaji, given at Sri Aishwarya Srinivasa Perumal Temple @ Namadwaar Houston in December 2022.
Bhagavan Srinivasa Perumal out of immense compassion blessed the bhooloka with His divine presence as archavatara and Adi Sesha dutifully rushed down before Bhagavan to become the seven hills – His resting abode! Like in every other avatara, Goddesses Mahalakshmi, divine mother too descended but chose to reside in Srinivasa Perumal’s chest, (vakshastalam) so that; from that elevated position she can cast Her compassionate glance at the devotees who come to worship Perumal. Divine mother is the purushakara – the mediator, who lovingly embraces and brings us all into the fold of Perumal.
Sri Sri Krishnapremi Maharaj in Venkatesha Vaibhavam says that these seven hills are ‘aprAkrutam’, absolutely divine. Saint Ramanujacharya could not bring himself to climb the hill because he saw himself as stepping upon Lord Adi Sesha Himself. Any divyadesa is divine and Sri Guru Maharaj would say that though the place might seem ordinary to the human eye it is not. Each and every stone, grass or a pillar in the divyadesa could be a Mahapurusha. Mahatmas yearn and pray to be born and associated with the kshetra. Kulasekaraazwar, in Tirumala sang 10 pasurams in supplication to Sri Ramachandra Prabhu. He yearns to be born as a step in Tirumala – “padiyAi kidandu un pavazavAi kAnbEnE ”, or even as a wolf in the forests of the seven hills or just anything.
Once Anantazwar, who along with a few devotees started on a yatra from Tirumala to Anantapadmanabha Swamy temple retraced his way back to Tirumala because the food packet they had carried for the way was infested with ants. Anantazwar did not have the heart to deprive these ants of their blessed home (Tirumala); so he brought the ants back to where they belonged. That was the love azwars and acharyapurushas had for Tirumala – their Sri Vaikuntam! In this context, there is yet another incident that happened in Anantazwar’s life. Anantazwar was bit by a venomous snake when he was in Tirumala but nevertheless he remained totally unperturbed. He stated that if he does happen to survive, he would be on earth happily serving Sri Venkateswara residing near Swami Pushkarini, else, he would be serving Sri Vaikuntapathi residing near the holy Viraja. To him Vaikuntapathi is no different from Srinivasa Perumal and either way he would be spending his time in joyful service. Mahatmas were so deeply devoted and attached to Tirumala. The kshetra, Srinivasa Perumal and the service was their life current.
The great Vaishnavacharya Sri Vedanta Desikar, who is the incarnation of ‘Ghanta’ – the bell of Srinivasa Perumal too extols the glory of the seven hills saying,
kaNNan aDiyiNai emakkuk kATTum veRpu
kadu vinaiyar iru vinaiyum kaDiyum veRpu
thiNNam idhu veeDu ena thigazhum veRpu
theLindha perum theerthangaL seritha veRpu
puNNiyathin pugal idhu ena pugazhum veRpu
ponnulagil bhOgam ellAmm puNarkkum veRpu
viNNavarum maNNavarum virumbum veRpu
venkaTa verpena viLangum vEda veRpE
“The hill that shows us the way to attain the lotus feet of Perumal; the hill that annihilates the effects of all our past actions; the hill which is Sri Vaikuntam on earth; the hill filled with bodies of sacred waters like the Swami Pushkarini; the sight of that hill which can be only earned due to the fruit of accumulation of all past merits; the mere sight of that hill which blesses one with all objects of human pursuits; the hill that is loved and sought after by both the celestials and the people of earth; the hill talked about even in our Vedas.”
Every peak in Tirumala has its own unique story and thus its special name. One of the peaks of these seven hills is Vrishabhadri, named after the demon Vrishabasura. Vrishabhasura tortured all the sages who were at this mountain performing penance and austerities. During Sri Rama avataram all sages went seeking refuge at the lotus feet of Sri Rama to protect them from the demons in Dandakaranyam. Similarly, here too the sages prayed to Srinivasa Perumal. Bhagavan took the form of a hunter galloping on a horse, and aimed an arrow at Vrishabhasura to kill him. Just as the arrow pierced Vrishabhasura, at that very instance Vrishabasura attained gnyana. At this state he submits a prayer of gratitude to have been blessed to face death at the hands of Bhagavan – “tavaiva hastEva vadho mamaivAm”.
Bhagavan, surprised at how Vrishabasura had attained gnyana so easily, attributes this to the greatness of the stala – the seven hills. These seven hills are the ‘kreedAchala’, the playground of Srinivasa Perumal. Bhagavan says that it is the mere association with this place that has blessed Vrishabasura with enlightenment and hence the hill came to be known as Vrishabhadri.
The beauty and simplicity of Bhagavan is that he loves to be known through the name of his dear devotees. Narayanadri is also named after a great rishi called Narayana. Pancharatra Agama and Vaikanasa Agama are two main systems of worship followed in Sri Vaishnava temples. The system of worship followed in Tirumala is Vaikanasa Agama. Narayana Muni belongs to the Vaikanasa gotra. He practiced severe penance seeking the darshan of Srinivasa Perumal.
Bhagavan, immensely pleased, blessed him with His darshan. Narayana muni witnessing the towering magnificence of perumal stood baffled. He exclaims,
“How can I meditate upon you oh Lord with my mind, when you are the very source and the power behind my mind; to the One who is the substratum of everything how am I to offer an ‘AsanA’; to the One who is ever-effulgent, the source of all light, how am I to offer ‘nIrAnjana’; to the One who is all-pervading how am I to offer a ‘vastra’; to the One because of whose touch mother Ganges is purified, how can I offer ‘pAdyam’; which direction should I prostrate to the One who is present everywhere; how am I to worship you with anything oh Lord!”
Sri Guru Maharaj too in one of His kirtans conveys a similar expression. He says,
thoTTu viDa ninaikkudu en manadu – unai
vEnkaTavA vEnkaTavA – adu
kiTTi muTTip pArkkudu undanai – adu
“That mind which is totally incapable to attain and reach you is repeatedly attempting to do so in vain!” And He very beautifully ends the kirtan finally with a prayer beseeching Bhagavan not to forsake but help take ashore.
Srinivasa Perumal is touched by Narayana Muni’s prayer. He explains further saying,
“Love alone can bind me. When a devotee’s heart blossoms in love for Me I enter their mind out of my own accord. A blade of grass, a little drop of water or a petal or a leaf when offered with pure love is enough. I am happy, I shall become theirs!”
Thus Bhagavan soothed and pacified the heart of Narayana Muni.
Let us hear and enjoy the video of this episode here: