Observations placeholder

Seshadri or Seshachalam hill

Identifier

006663

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is a Hindu Temple located in the hill town Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. The temple is located on the Venkatachalam hill which itself rises above the hill town of Tirumala, both are on Seshadri or Seshachalam hill part of a range of seven hills in the area. Thus we here have a hill which is topped by a hill and then by a temple. Thondaiman, a Pallava king, is believed to have first built the temple after visualising Lord Vishnu in his dream. Lord Vishnu is the Creator in Hindu mythology.

Up until the 12th century the understanding of the symbolism was probably still intact. Ramanuja, the famous Vaishnava scholar of the 12th century, confirmed the identity of the deity to which the site was dedicated to be indeed Vishnu.

After this date, however, the temple was rebuilt in a far more lavish style and richly endowed by the kings of various dynasties. The imperial Pallavas, Hoysalas and kings of Vijayanagara were some of the key contributors and donated gold, expensive jewellery made of diamonds and gold and other ornaments to the temple. In 1517, Krishnadevaraya, on one of his many visits to the temple, donated gold and jewels enabling the Vimana (inner shrine) roofing to be gilded. Among the later rulers who endowed large benefactions were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal. During this process, much of the original symbolism associated with the site was lost and obscured. The final break with the original symbolism was made when the coronation ceremonies of the emperors were held at Tirupati. The temple itself became more venerated than the hill itself.

The temple has now become the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it one of the most visited holy place in the world.

Rather ironically, according to legend, the temple has a ‘self-manifested idol murti’ of Lord Vishnu. In Hinduism, a murti is a thing of some sort, in which a Divine Spirit is expressed (murta). Hindus consider a murti worthy of worship after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship. As such there is still recognition that the original purpose was as a symbol of the Creator. It is just probably not realised that the ‘thing’ in this case is not an idol or image, but the hill on which the temple is built.

The source of the experience

Hindu and yoga

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Planets, the

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Overloads

Visit sacred sites

Commonsteps

References