From time immemorial, Tirumala, the Holy Abode of lord Venkateswara has been venerated as one of the most hallowed the pasurams of Alwars and the sankirtanas of Tallapaka poets proclaim that the Lord of Seven hills is the most blissful Archa form of Sriman Narayana. Many great dynasties of the South, especially the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, and the Vijayanagar emperors liberally patronised the temple at Tirumala and Tirupati give more or less a vivid picture of the Temple and its administration from ninth century to eighteenth century.
Sri T.K.T. Viraraghavacharya's History of Tirupati which was first published in 1953 deals with the history of the temple, its layout and general administration. After closely studying the available source materials like the inscriptions, ancient records and literary works, late Sri Viraraghavacharya has meticulously brought out a comprehensive account of the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati. The author who was basically an engineer by profession combines his scientific spirit of enquiry with his traditional theistic approach to present a lucid and fairly accurate History of Tirumala Temple.
It is also out endeavour to bring out many more books on sanatana dharma, agamas, temple art and architecture, scriptural texts, besides illustrated books for our young readers. Much emphasis is also laid on reprinting some of the popular publication which were not available for several years.
The History of Tirupati by the late Dr. S Krishnaswami Ayyangar, published by the Tirumala- Tirupati Devasthanams committee, dealt with the setting in which the sacred Temple of Sri Venka teswara existed under the administration of Hindu, Muslim and British rulers. Such mention as was poblible was made, therein, of the various costly endowments and gifts to the Temple. In the present work, the author deals in addition with the religious, social and economic aspects of the evolution of the norm of worship and its effect on the worshippers.
The author traces the change that have occurred in the norm of worship pari passu with the development of the metaphysical and philosophical ideas of the Upanishads as expounded by Sri Ramanuja. He also traces how the Tamil Prabandhams came to find a place in the ritual, even though worship in all Vaishnavite temples were exclusively governed by the appropriate Agamas. In separate chapters, he deals with how food offerings came into existence as part of ritual, how endowments for the purpose were made, abused and attempted for the Purpose were made, abused and attempted to be set right; the structural development from a one – room Koyil – Alwar to a huge Temple; the form of the Murti and the authorities therefor; and, when and how other idols were installed there. The temples of Sri Govindaraja and Sri Ramaswami and other shrines at Tirupati have been presented to the reader in detail together with the manner and reasons for their affiliation with the main Temple of Sri Venkateswara.
A separate chapter is devoted to a retrospect of the Temple administration from ancient times setting out lucidly and congently the manner in which that Temple was managed originally by the Srikaryakarta appointed by the Pallava Kingas; then by the Sadhaiyar constituted by the village assembly of Tiruchanur during the period of the later Pallava and Chola Kings; thereafter, by the later Pallava and Chola kings; thereafter, by the Sthanattar appointed by the yadavarayas; and how after the Yadavarayas, the Sthanattar divided themselves into two units, one for the secular and the other for the religious administration of the Temple until it passed into the hands of the Nawab of Arcot.
The author has devoted four separate chapters to the development and zenith of the Temple, the increase of food offerings and festivals and consolidation of the religious community during the Vijayanagar reign i.e. from the time of Saluva Narasimha to Sadasivaraya and the Aravidu Kings.
The work is very original and the author's deep study of not only the inscriptions but also of the various sacred texts has resulted in giving a rational explanation of the various, and even minute, details of worship and endowment, the interconnections of which have been forgotten or rendered oblivious through the dim vista of distant centuries. I trust this will be the first in the line of such thought – provoking works in respect of religious institutions and hope that managements of other such institutions will have all their historic records collected and presented by competent persons to the worshippers.
The author is eminently fitted to have undertaken this work and he has done it in a way worthy of the great traditions of his family and of his personality. It is his life mission and he has placed the world under great gratitude. At this age that he should have attempted this task and finished so well speaks volumes of his sincerity and devotion to this task.
At an age past seventy, while I was compiling a table of latitudes and longitudes for various places in India, the will of God slowly instilled into me the idea of writing this book on the famous temple of Tirupati or Tiruvengadam. While I was attempting to find out from ancient inscriptions the chronological methods of recording the dates and the changes in such methods from time to time, I referred to the Tirumalai – tirupati Devashanam Inscriptions Published in six volumes. Going through the first of the volumes, the polished language and the deep piety in which some of them were couched evoked my interest in the higher aspect of the subject matter of the same. Particularly, the imprecation in Inscription no. 8 in Vol. I. caught my imagination. The devout Princess samavai, in making endowments to the Silver Murti of Bhoga Srinivasa installed by her in 966 A.D., says "Both the feet of those who protect this Dharman shall for ever be adornments to my head" and appeals to Sri Vaishnavas in particular to protect the charity. This is very inspiring relief to the other inscriptions relating to later foundations of charity in referring to which the donors invoked curses on those who disturb them saying "Those who disturb this charity shall be incurring the sin of having slaughtered a hundred cows in kasi." The inspiration produced by the love of mankind, the piety and humility of no less than a Princess of the time can only be felt. Such was the height of culture of our mothers and fathers in ancient India much of which has been lost but which, I dare say, could still be revived.
Thus inspired, in my quest I could not find any work dealing with the structural, religious, ritualistic, economic, administrative and social developments of the temple. I have, therefore, in my humble way traced in this book how from probably an open wooden structure as might be inferred from Kulasekhara Alwar's songs, the temple has developed by stages of a single-room stone structure which was thereafter reinforced by a wall outside into its present size and magnificence, how Samavai installed the silver Murti of Bhoga Srinivasa with the resultant increase of worshippers how the Vaikhanasa Agamic form of worship Yielded itself to the present form from the time of Ramanuja; how social equality was put into practice and achieved to a great extent by the adoption was put into practice and achieved to a great extent by the adoption festivals, inculating the Bhakti form of worship; how the taxation policy of the state was framed from time to time with a view to developing the temple and cult it stood for with particular reference to the taxes that existed; how food offerings were introduced tacking successfully socio-economic problems; how endowments were conceived, founded adn administered by various classes of people at various stages of stages from state control to popular control, from the Madaptyadar appointed by the King to the Sadhaiyar or committee chosen by the king and later to the Sthanattar chosen by persons interested in the institution and the shape things took up to the present day through the Muslim and British rule.
In order to set forth the structural and ritualistic significance of the temple, I had to study the Agamas in their original as there is no work dealing with the subject in any of the popular language I have endeavoured to present in English, with as much detail as possible, the significance of the Agamic forms in a separate chapter Likewise, I have devoted separate chapters for the Alwars and acharyas and their influence on the Temple and on the spread of Srivashnavism. In separate chapters, I have dealt with the historical connection of the various rulers of the land with this Temple.
I am grateful to the Lord who enabled me to complete a work which, from its nature and volume, would have been too formidable to attempt at any age, with decaying health and an eye-sight which has almost failed. In writing this work, the one thing I tangibly felt is that, if he wills nothing is impossible. He gave me the steadfastness, energy, eye-sight and the willing and affectionate co-operation of eminent men and good friends who never felt tired to give me suggestions and some of whom sat for hours with me doing tiresome work. I shall be failing in my duty if I do not specially thank Dr. B. S. Baliga, the Curator, and Sri M. C. Subramanaya layer the, Assistant Curator, Madras Record Office, for the advice and suggestions they gave me from the time I began this work. I have also to thank Hon'ble Justice Sri P.V. Rajamannar, the Hon'ble justice P .Rajagopalan and Sri V.K .Narasimhan of The Hindu for reading through the first draft of the book and giving me encouraging advice. I feel highly of the book and giving me encouraging advice. I feel highly grateful to Sri C. Rajagopalachariar, the chief minister for Endowments, to the former for the Foreword and the latter for Endowments to venkataswami Naidu Garu, the Minister for Endowments, to the former for the Foreword and the latter for the Introduction to this book. The Members of the T.T. Devasthanam Committee with Sri Venkataswami Naidu Garu as the President have encouraged e by taking it as a Devasthanam Publication. The present Board of Trustees and their Chairman, Sri V.S.Thyagaraja Mudaliar, have evinced keen interest in getting the work completed. Sri C. Anna Rao Garu, the very energetic and talented Executive officer of the Devasthanams, has been continuously taking deep interest in the publication without which it could not have been completed so early. My thanks are also due to Sri parthasarathy Bhattacharya for reading through the chapter on Temples and Agamas and giving useful suggestions. Sri D. T. Tatacharya, M.O.L. has not only been seeing to my properly interpreting the Siddhantha aspect of temple worship. Sri T. R. Narasimhan, B.A. the Superintendent of the T.T.D. Press has been largely responsible for having the work executed in the Press and for getting the blocks of the drawing and pictures carefully prepared. Sri P. Chenchuramiah, the Devassthanam Draftsman, prepared the important drawings and the tracings for making the blocks. My sincere thanks are due to them. Lastly, I have to say that no thanks can adequately express my deep debt to Sri M. Narasimhachariar, Assistant Public Prosecutor, Chittoor, for sparign continuously a portion of his valuable time for correcting my manuscripts giving instructive suggestions and in short, For dealing with this work as his own.
The period from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century, till the entry of the East India Company was a tumultuous period in the History of South India. There were bitter wars waged by one dynasty against the another. It was also the period when the Muslim rulers and the Mahrattas entered the fray to get a firm foothold in this part beyond the Vindhyas and take maximum advantage from the internecine wars. We also find the arrival of the foreign companies ostensibly for trade and their gradual involvement in the political intrigues of the country which tilted the balance of power in their favour.
The period, however witnessed great Hindu revival under the dynamic rule of the Vijayanagar kings. The rulers of the Sangama, Saluva, Thuluva, and Aravidu dynasties of this empire considered Lord Venkateswara as their tutelary deity and the liberal grants and endowments, they made are a measure of their piety to Lord Srinivasa. The temple of Tirumala- Hill reached its zenith of glory during the period of the illustrious king Krishnadevaraya, the scion of the Thuluva dynasty. He not only gave fabulous gifts to thiruvengadamudaiyan but also undertook major renovation to the temple and personally supervised its day to day administration.
In this volume, the about deals with the History of Tirupati from the last phase of the Sangama dynasty to the early years of the 19th century. The History of the recitation of Alvars' Divya prabandham also finds a place in this book. The Alvars' concept of the Archa form of Sri Venkateswara is also dealt with at length in this volume.
This volume deals with the history of the temple from about the closing years of the Sangama Dynasty of the vijayanagar Empire, say form 1450 A. D. to the early years of the nineteenth when the English East India company at Fort St. George, Madras, after dispossessing the Nawab of Arcot in 1801 A. D., assumed direct management of the Temple and carried out a systematic investigation into its affairs till about 1830 A.D. It is only for the period from 1450 to 1638 A. D., that sufficient materials of historic value are available from the inscriptions on the walls of the temple. Although the last king of the Vijayanagar Empire continued to retain in the title till 1665 A. D., the Carnatic country and our temple passed into the hands of Mir Jumla, former commander of the Golkonda forces in July 1656 as his personal Jagir granted by the moghul Emperor Shah Jehan. The temple continued since then to be under the control of the Nawab of he Carnatic till 1801 A.D. except for a short period in 1758 – 59 as the French captured the temple in October 1758.
Materials for writing the history during the period of mulslim overlordship have not been obtained from inscriptions but from contemporary records of the English and the Dutch Factories in India and the east which came into existence in the early years of the seventeenth century. Forster's Book on English factories in India throws some indirect light on out temple affairs also. After the building of fort St George in madras in 1641 our position improves. The Diary and consultations book, military and country correspondence and Reports of secret committees throw more light on the political game in which our temple became a pawn.
The marattas entered the south as the comrades of the Bijapur muslim king in his invasions and established a principality in Tanjore. Sivaji a little later came in as the ally of the Golkonda king in 1677. The net result of the ambitions of the Marattas was a treaty with the Moghul emperor which secured for them one fourth of the revenues technically known as the chauth. For the annual assessment of the chauth amount, all the accounts and connected records, including land registers, came to be maintained in the Modi scrip of the Maratta language. This is of interest to us because all the important old records of our temple, whether in the Devasthanam office or in the Madras Records office, are in that language and script. Until they are translated into English or Telugu an authentic history of the temple during the Muslim and the East India Company rule could not be written. Chapter XXII deals with this period. There is not much to learn therein about the internal affairs of the temple, its festivals, the changes in religious practices and so on. All that we learn is that for the first time in its history the temple and its properties were parmed out annually by bid to a renter who managed to secure all votive offerings into his hands adn pay the Nawab the bid amount. He seems to have devised the method of collecting the bid amount by such exactions as poll tax, kanukas, varttanas, arjitams etc. These have continued to be lived as a permanent source of income. We are loath to believe that Hindu pilgrima who are deeply religious would not voluntarily give large donations for charitable purposes connected with temple administration without exactions made.
The earlier two volumes of the History of Tirupati present a historical survey of the sacred shrines at Tirumala Tirupati from the ninth century to early part of the nineteenth century. The author gives a graphic picture of the temple and its administration under various dynasties based on inscriptional and literary evidence. Topography of the temple and salient features of its architecture, icnographic details and the significance of the recitation of Alvars, Prabandhams are also deseribed in detail in these volumes.
Apart from daily rituals and festivals, food offerings too from an important part of the temple activities. Consecrated water or tirtha and prasadam, which contain a variety of ingredients have high physical and psychic value. A pilgrim who arrives at Tirumala after Traversing long distances finds the temple prasadams enlivening to his body and spirit. The third volume gives an account of these popular prasadams and the endowments received from times to time for their preparation Similarly, any new festivals introduced at different points of time are also discussed at length here. Improvements brought about in the existing festivals and rites due to the compulsions of time as well as sastraic injunction are also narrated in detail.
We shall indeed by happy if this third and last volume of Sri T.K.T Viranaghavacharya's History of Tirupati which throws a flood of light on the events and people that are connected with the sacred temple of Lord Venkatesa gets the due attention it deserves from the theistic public.
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