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Tiruchanoor as Vadirajapuram – Part 3 (Concluding part)

 

In Part 2 (Tiruchanoor as Vadirajapuram – Part 2) of this series I have tried to present an analysis of Sri Vadiraja’s visit to Penugonda, the capital of Venkatapathy Raya and the probable period of Sri V’s title conferment.

In the same part, the undiminished influence of Sri V. on the successive emperors of Krishnadevaraya has also been discussed with the help of inscriptions of Aravidu dynasty.

In the present part I wish to focus on the visit by Sri Vadiraja to Tirumala hills. In order to ascertain the probable year(s) of the said visit, I have considered (i) Tirtha Prabandha; (ii) Vadirajaguruvara charitamruta and (iii) books published by contemporary authors.

Estimating the year(s) of Tirumala visit by Sri Vadiraja

There should not be an iota of doubt about the dedication and the devotional fervor of Sri Vadiraja towards Tirupati Timmappa i.e. Lord Venkateshwara residing at the abode of Tirumala hills. His hundreds of Kirtanas in Kannada are the strong testimonies for this assertion.

As the present exploration of Tiruchanoor had been called as “Vadirajapuram” during Vijayanagara days, I thought it might prove a worthy point to estimate the probable year of visit to Tirumala by Sri V. The first reference thus picked up is his unique kavya i.e. Tirtha Prabandha. 

The 11 shlokas composed by Sri V. on Tirumala and Venkateshwara give another testimony for the deep devotion developed by Sri V. towards the Lord of Seven Hills. He did not praise any other kshetra or kshetramurty in such abundance of shlokas.

Though I am reciting this book since 1993, for the first time, I have tried to re-read these shlokas from the historical perspective and thought that it may offer some clue as to which period in time of his life, Sri V. could have paid a visit to this holy place.

Before that I wish to narrate briefly a legend associated with V.’s visit to Tirumala. The following shloka from Vadirajaguruvara charitamruta thus narrates this episode:

ततॊवॆंकटशैलस्यनिकटंप्राप्तवान्कृती।

शिलासॊपानरूपॆणदॆवमावीक्ष्यदिव्यदृक्॥

जानुभ्यामॆवशैलॆंद्रमारुरॊहमहाबलः।

श्रीनिवासंनिरीक्ष्यार्थशालिग्रामसुमालिकाम्

अर्पयामाससामालातत्कंठॆद्यापिराजतॆ

The anchor-phrases of the above verses are (i) “Shila sopana rupena” and (ii) “Shaaligrama sumaalikaam arpayaamaasa.” A little historical probe of these stone steps and Saligrama garland can give some lead to our present exploration.

Understanding the Shilaa Sopaana Marga of Tirumala

Today, 5 routes are available to climb the Tirumala hills. One of them is the stone staircase that starts from Alipiri, Tirupati and this is the most popular route.

Second route is called as “Srivaari Mettu” which is a shorter route than the Alipiri one and is located in the vicinity of Srinivasa Mangapuram (abode of Kalyana Venkateshwara). This has become popular quite recently, though it was built long ago.

The other 3 routes originate from different villages surrounding the Tirumala town and are of treacherous types thus being used by the trekking enthusiasts and by the Forest Dept. employees.

As per the published historical accounts, the most popular stone steps of Alipiri have been first constructed by Matli Kumara Anantaraju, a feudatory chief from the present Kadapa area and a close confident of 4th dynasty of Vijayanagara Empire i.e. Aravidu dynasty. He erected this stone steps in c.1650  and to this effect couple of inscriptions are available in the lower Gopuram of Alipiri. In its chronological appearance, this stone staircase has been built nearly half-a-century later to the Brindavana pravesha by Sri V. Thus the present day’s popular stone steps have been ruled out from the possible route taken by Sri V.

I do not think that some 500 years ago, Sri V. would have traversed through those 3 jungle routes that I have specified above which are originating from villages near to Tirupati town as they are quite deceitful in 21st century too!

This supposition leaves only one option i.e. “Srivari Mettu” near Srinivasa Mangapuram that is believed to be used by Sri Vyasaraya during his 12 years stay at Tirumala (c.1486-98 as stated by B. Venkoba Rao in Vyasayogicharitam)

There is another possible route from the temple of Kapileshwara Swamy at the foothill of Tirumala. Local people say that there existed an ancient stone staircase above the waterfalls of Kapila Tirtham and that route predates all other routes.

Some 20 years ago I have climbed over the waterfalls when it was bursting with rain water but do not remember of seeing any staircase or its ruins at least!  Anyhow, if this route really existed, it could also become another possible route taken by Sri V.

The summary of the above exploration is that the reference of “Shila sopana rupena” has not given any insight in to the possible of year of Sri V’s travel to Tirupati. Another interesting point to be noted here is that Sri V did not narrate his divine experience of the whole mountain appearing as a Saligrama in any of his TP shlokas on Tirumala kshetra!

Another possible pointer that narrates an exact occasion during which Sri V. paid his visit to Tirumala can be obtained from the following shloka:

अरूढगरुडस्कंदंआलिंगितरमाधरम्।

आनमज्जनसर्वस्वम्आश्रयवॆंकटॆश्वरम्॥

Usually, the Lord of Tirumala can be seen seated on Garuda vehicle only during Brahmotsavams. These Utsavams are being annual events, this shloka only hints that Sri V made a visit to Tirumala during one such Brahmotsavam which usually occurs during Ashwija Masa (Oct-Nov months) but can’t help us in assigning a specific year.

Having unable to generate vital clues from Sri V’s travelogue (Tirtha Prabandha), I have turned towards his Paryaya timelines given by Sri B. Venkoba Rao in his English translation of Vyasayogicharitam and compared them with another list provided in Sri Jayatirthara Mula Brindavana – Gajagahvara by editor-duo Sri P. Pushkaraprasad Acharya & Sri Navalgunda.

Sri Venkoba Rao gives the following years as the Paryaya periods of Sri V.:

1532-33

1548-49

1564-65

1580-81

1596-97

As per the book Sri Jayatirtha’s Mulbrindavana issue (Sri Jayatirthara Mula Brindavana – Gajagahvara) the editors have listed the travels undertaken by Sri V. as under:

Travel Year (AD) Important Milestones
1st Tirtha Yatra 1502-14 Writing Lakshalankara in Lower Badari.
2nd Tirtha Yatra 1529-31 ---
3rd Tirtha Yatra 1542-47 Saving Prince Akbar (Moghul Emperor) from an untimely death.
4th Tirtha Yatra 1555-62 Obtaining Saligramas from Gomathi river. Visiting Tirumala and offering 108 Saligrama garland to Srinivasa. Similar garland offered to Udupi Krishna.
5th Tirtha Yatra 1566-71 Exclusive tour of S. India and Erection of Victory pillar in Sringeri
6th Tirtha Yatra 1583-88 “Prasangabharana Tirtha” title conferment by Venkatapathy Raya at Penugonda.*

*In Part 2, I have predicted the period of title confirmanent as anytime between c.1586-91. 

Following are the sequential order that I could achieve from the above inputs:

  • The timelines of Sri V’s travels given by the Editors of SJMBG do not clash with the Paryaya timelines given by Sri B. Venkoba Rao.
  • With this a proper conclusion could be arrived at that Sri V visited Tirumala during his 4th tour (c.1555-62) and offered the Saligrama garland.
  • I presume that the probable year(s) of Tirumala visit by V. would be towards the end of the tour i.e. anytime between c.1560-61.
  • He would have returned to Udupi by c.1562 as his 3rd Paryaya was coming up in c.1564.
  • This said visit comes in the middle of the periods of the earliest inscription bearing the name “Vadirajapuram” in c.1537 and the last one belonging to c.1586-164.
  • Thus the existence of “Vadirajapuram” would only get strengthened with the inscriptions that predate and post date Sri V’s visit to Tirumala and his important contributions to the temple like 108 Saligrama garland that was being decorated up to the beginning of 21st century.

Certain Other Fascinating & Humiliating Facts

It is interesting to note here that each of these 108 Saligramams was etched with letters “Vyaa…Vaa” which stand for Vyasaraja and Vaadiraja. I got this information from TTD insiders and I trust that it is true.

If this “Vyaa…Vaa” is a true account then there is no need for us to scratch the heads whether Vadiraja was a disciple of Vyasaraja or not. This strong evidence coupled with the kirtanas of Purandara Dasa and Vijayadasa can put all those arguments that negate the disciplic order of Vadiraja to a final rest.

The most humiliating fact of this story is that the said Saligrama garland offered by Sri V has been set aside by the present Archakas and TTD officials and in its place a new Saligrama garland is being used. I understand that the gold chain that binds the Saligramas might have got aged and worn out but not the Saligramams. TTD could have garlanded the 108 Saligramams with new gold links. But this has not been done for the reasons best known to them and the Archakas!

All our Mathadhipatis should strive together to impress up on the Archakas and TTD officials to bring back the ancient garland for Lord’s decoration as it is the greatest symbol of Madhvaa contribution in the service of the Lord of the Universe and no Madhvaa should ever allow to forego this unique Seva

It is worthwhile to recall what Sri Gopala Dasa said in one his kirtanas:

ಬಿನ್ನಪವ ಕೇಳೋ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಎನ್ನ ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಅಲ್ಲ

ಎನ್ನ ಹೊಂದಿ ನಡೆವ ವೈಷ್ಣವಾರನ್ನು

ಇನ್ನವರಿಗೇ ಬಾಹೋ ದುಷ್ಕರ್ಮಗಳ ಕೆಡಸಿ

ಘನಗತಿಗೈದಿಸುವ ಜ್ಞಾನ ಕೊಡು ಸ್ವಾಮಿ

Should we think that Sri Vadiraja was not having this universal thought and has offered the Saligrama garland for his personal gains and only to show off his pomp?

It should be borne in the mind by every Madhvaa that Sri Vadiraja did not offer the Saligrama Maalaa as his personal presentation but as a cumulative service of the Hari Bhaktas that includes all  the followers of Vedic culture and Sanatana Dharma!

Linking of Inscriptions & Deeds and Travels of Sri Vadiraja

We have seen in Part 1 that the earliest inscription referring “Vadirajapuram” has been found in c.1537 AD and the second inscription belongs to c.1552 AD and the third one could be placed anytime between c. 1586 to c.1614.

In the midst of these inscriptions Sri V. paid a visit to Tirumala sometime in c.1560 or 61.

This chain of events clearly establishes the fact that Sri V. was actively traveling throughout South India and was quite famous in this part of the world. That is why even the Shrivaishnava Sthanattars (Administrators of Tirumala Temple) of 16th century have not refrained themselves from using “Vadirajapuram” to denote “Tiruchanoor” a name that directly relates to their language and tradition!

The only aspect that is not yet clear to me is – “Why and how Tiruchanoor has been renamed after a Madhva saint?”

I think that the Supreme Godhead named as Time only can reveal this in future.

Further Evidences to show the huge influence of Madhva Saints in Tirupati & Tirumala

Before I conclude this search, I wish to showcase the influence of Sri Vyasaraja (Sri Vy.) on the emperors of Vijayanagara who came after Krishnadevaraya and also the respect held by the non-Madhvas.

Sri Vyasaraya Mandapam in Govindaraja temple

(Inscription 399 – Govindaraja Temple – Inscriptions of Sadasivaraya’s Time Vol. V)

The above inscription is dated 08/01/1546 AD and found on the north wall of the 2nd Prakaram of Sri Govindarajam Temple in Tirupati.

The important inferences that we can draw from this inscription are as under:

  • That an exclusive Mantapa was built for Sri Vyasaraya in Tirupati (downhill town) in the close vicinity of Govindaraja temple.
  • This mantapa is in addition to the one that we can see near Sri Varahaswamy temple at Tirumala.
  • Even after 7 years of Brindavana Pravesha of Sri Vyasaraya, this mantapa was still being called in his name only.
  • Even the Srivaishnavites were addressing Sri Vy. with a royal title of “Udaiyar” i.e. Odeyar which has been in vogue since Sri Vyasaraya ascended the Vijayanagara throne during Kuhu Yoga (c.1524)
  • This inscription is a clear evidence to shows the respect commanded by Sri Vyasaraya even after his physical disappearance.
  • Sri Vy. has been commanding the respect not only from the royal house of Vijayanagara but also from other sects like those Srivaishnavites  who erected the above inscription in the name of Sadashivaraya.

Therefore, we can further understand that a particular locality would have happily borne the name of Sri Vadiraja as he was not only alive but still commanding the respect throughout Vijayanagara Empire and has traversed the length breadth of South India particularly the modern Andhra Pradesh.

His TP shlokas on Tirumala, River Swarnamukhi, Ahobalam, Srikurmam, Srishaila, Nivrutti Sangama etc. are the testimonies for his extensive travel throughout Andhra Desha. Thus, he was not an unknown public figure during Vijayanagara days but a much revered and celebrated personality.

This finding further substantiates the fact that in 16th century, Tirchanoor village has been called as “Vadirajapuram” and this name was in vogue for close to a century i.e. up to the complete reign of Venkatapathy Raya (5th emperor from Krishnadeva Raya)

What we do not know at this moment is how this name got in to existence and how it lost its usage in the ensuing centuries i.e. 17th to 20th.

All I can say at this moment is that the Madhvaas were not only lenient to their legacy but also have become highly cocooned in their own internal calamities that were based on the most frolicsome reasons. They have neglected their legacy and got themselves reduced to a status called as “hyperfastitudious” by Philip Lutgeridorf (Hanuman’s Tale : The Messages of a Divine Monkey)

~~Swasti~~

Comments   

Dr.Manakari Sreeniva
+2 #2 Dr.Manakari Sreeniva 2014-12-28 13:19
All our Mathadhipatis should strive together to impress up on the Archakas and TTD officials to bring back the ancient garland for Lord’s decoration as it is the greatest symbol of Madhvaa contribution in the service of the Lord of the Universe and hence it should not be taken lightly by any Madhvaa!// Very true.
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IVNS Raju
+2 #1 IVNS Raju 2014-12-27 10:18
//All our Mathadhipatis should strive together to impress up on the Archakas and TTD officials to bring back the ancient garland for Lord’s decoration as it is the greatest symbol of Madhvaa contribution in the service of the Lord of the Universe and hence it should not be taken lightly by any Madhvaa!// Very true. Our History has been changed thus by the vested interest. These Saalagrama shilaas must have been taken away by the Archakaas!!
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