Great Devotees of Tirupati Balaji
Once, on the banks of river Swami Pushkarini, which falls in Andhra Pradesh, the house of Lord Tirupati Balaji. This holy river is blessed with direct manifestation of Lord Tirupati and his blessed devotees, Sri brahma, Sage Agastya, King Shankha and others.
Sage Agastya received Darshan (தரிசனம் spiritual vision) of Lord Vishnu along with a king named Shankha. This historical event is very interesting.
King Shankha was an able ruler hailing from the Heheya dynasty. This dynasty was predominant in the days of yore in western and central Bharath (India).
King Shanka, the unheard Devotee
King Shankha was an excellent ruler. He followed Dharma at all levels of administration. Over and above that, he would spend much time in the worship and meditation of the Lord. All his actions were selfless. He was devoted and his activities were done to glorify the Lord.
The King performed Yajnas, Dana (holy donations) and other pious activities, to please the Lord. He totally renounced the desire for worldly or other-worldly enjoyment and expected nothing in return for his activities. His sole aim was the pleasure of Sri Vishnu. He had built many Ashrams and retreats in his kingdom for spiritual practice and service.
In his spare time, he ardently listened to the many pastimes of the Lord narrated by elevated, enlightened beings. Constantly deliberating on those pastimes, the pious king spent all his waking hours.
In addition, he would take special interest in celebrating religious festivals, which followed singificant dates. Thus, he ensured that his mind was always occupied with the thoughts of the Lord. His completely engaged in 9 forms of services (नवधा भक्ति Navadha Bhakti) to the Lord.
It is a well-known fact that performing devotional service of the Lord, yields intense Vairagya. This is a rare achievement, extremely dear to God. The heart gets completely purified.
As the devotee-king would progress in Sadhana, the burning desire to have Darshan of the Lord grew in his heart.
Desire of King Shankha
He used to wonder: “When will that ocean of compassion show me His wonderful countenance? Will I be fortunate enough to have a glimpse of His transcendence? When will I be accepted by Him? Maybe I am totally unfit to approach Him. But, I am certain that it is He alone who operates within me. What should I do when I shall be face-to-face with that Ocean of Beauty?”
Such thoughts started harassing the king, though these thoughts were very sweet, by their very nature.
The voice of God, through his heart would sometimes call out to him: “Oh King, do not worry. You are extremely dear to Me. For my happiness, you have endured a lot. I am totally satisfied with you. You shall have my Darshan in a thousand years from now. Just like you, Sage Agastya is pining to have My Darshan. By the order of Sri Brahma, Sage Agastya is undergoing penance on the Venkatesa Parvata. So, now you should too perform austerities in Venkatesa Parvata, like the great sage. There you shall certainly have My vision.”
Hearing the Lord speak from his heart, made the king go wild with spiritual joy. He thought, “I, a fallen soul shall have the vision of the Lord. I cannot believe it.”
King Shankha renounces
The king felt that 1000 years was not a very long time.
Those were the times of yore, where average life-expectancy of a human being ran into 10s or thousands of years. So, waiting for just a thousand years would not be great delay, he thought. It is said that when someone is bored with Sadhana, that fellow is unfortunate and shall not be able to win the Grace of the Lord. Sadhana is indispensable when it comes to attaining the Lord. It is Sadhana alone that shall bring down Grace. Only a person who has tasted some love, can attempt to draw the very source of Love, the Lord.
The king was lost in so many thoughts. He thought, “I am going to be blessed with His vision, where even the great Rishis have failed. Oh the Mercy of the Lord is unparalleled.”
Austerities on the Bank of Swami Pushkarini
King Shankha then called upon his eldest son. He coronated him as the king and left for Venkatesa Parvata. We must pause here and look at the available options that the king had.
The king had another option. What was the need to perform austerities when the Lord has already promised to appear before him, after 1000 years?
But this is unlike a devotee. A true devotee, may forsake the Lord, but can never forsake Bhajan (भजन Sadhana or service to the Lord).
The pure devotee and the Lord’s service become one. King Shankha was most enthusiastic in performing Bhajan. He established a “Parna kuti” (पर्णकुटी thatched hut), for his stay, at the banks of the river Swami Pushkarini wherein he could carry out the instructions of the Lord.
Maharishi Agastya’s grief
That was the time that Sage Agastya performed circumambulation of the Venkatesa Parvata as part of his austerities. Slowly the news spread that the Supreme Lord shall give Darshanam to Sage Agastya at the Parvata. Hence, many Rishis and Devatas flocked near the Parvata and waited. 1000 years passed rapidly but Sage Agastya never attained the Darshan of the Lord.
This made him very restless. He was plunged in sorrow. It is said that when a sincere aspirant plunges into sorrow on account of not having Darshanam of the Lord, the Lord gets moved and makes Himself available.
At that time, Sri Brahma sent elevated sages such as Shukracharya and Brihaspati to bring Sage Agastya at the spot where the King Shankha was performing his austerities. So, all the sages, along with Sage Agastya arrived at the banks of the Swami Pushkarini River, where the Lord promised to give His darshan.
The two Acharyas namely Shukracharya and Brihaspati informed King Shankha that the Lord was about to present Himself at that spot. The king was overjoyed at the news and he started dancing. He began singing Kirtan, overcome by Love of God.
All the assembled sages and Devatas joined King Shankha and started singing the glories of Lord Hari. The Kirtan continued for 3 days and nights, non-stop. When they started resting, on the third night, all-assembled devotees, had a common dream.
All of them simultaneously had a vision of the 4 handed form of Lord Narayana wielding Shankha, Padma, Gada, in the Abhaya Mudra.
The next morning, all were convinced that the day of Actual Darshanam of the Lord had drawn near.
Tirupati Balaji Emerges
The Devatas and sages were filled with emotions for the Lord. Everybody started reciting the “Om Namo Narayana” mantra loudly.
At that moment, the whole environment was lit up with the light of 1000 suns. Although the light was bright, it had a cooling effect. In the middle of that lit environment, the Lord made Himself visible.
The whole assembly of Devatas and Rishis had direct Darshanam or the Lord’s physical form. His physical form is fully spiritual. There is no difference between the Lord’s Body and the Lord’s spirit. Ordinary living entities have a body made of the five material elements but they are the spirit, separated parts and parcels of Lord Narayana.
All the assembled sages and Devatas offered many prayers and worship to the Lord. The Lord, in return, accepted all their services in person and blessed all of them.
The Lord asked king Shankha to seek a boon. A sincere devotee never asks the Lord anything else other than pure Loving service (Bhakti) for the Lord. King Shankha did exactly that.
Sage Agastya was blessed to become one of the Saptarishis and was granted a lifetime of 1 Kalpa. He became the blessed one to grant Lord Rama the Aditya Hridaya Stotram, which was useful in breaking the spell of Ravana’s atrocities.
Bhagawan Sri Hari was established on the banks of Pushkarini, at the top of the Venkatesa Parvata. Even today, there exists a self-emerged deity of Lord Hari, there.
This is the current day Balaji Vigraha established at Tirumala, Tirupati. India.
Tirupati Balaji Deities for Home Worship
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