About the Sacred Seven Hills History Tirumala
According to Puranas Seven heads of Adishesa are the Seven Hills of Tirumala. The Seven peaks are called as Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri, Venkatadri.
There are many legends associated with the sacred seven hills and the Lord resting atop the Hills here. The legends are so inter-twined as it seems one cannot distinguish and separate the Lord from the sacred seven hills. These hills are said to have waited for the Lord for thousands and thousands of years. Some of these stories are highlighted here.
Accordingly to Hindu mythology and legends, foundation to the Tirumala Hills can be traced back to Treta yuga, i.e. during Lord Ram’s existence on earth. When Ravana takes away Sita from the forest, Lord Agni (God of fire) intervenes and takes Sita away from him in exchange for one Vedavati, once the staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. Vedavati wanted to become wife of Lord Srimannarayana and to achieve this end, she goes into forests and starts meditating when she was disturbed by Ravana. Ravana, astonished to see the beauty of Vedavati, wanted to marry her but she refuses. Ravana insists and threatens her with abduction. Having found no way to get out of this situation, Vedavati vows to cause Ravana’s downfall and death before sacrificing her life by becoming ahuti in fire. Agni, the God of Fire, saves and protects her.
Thus, when Ravana takes away Sita from the forest, Agri intervenes and sends Vedavati in place of Sita. This is said to be the reason for Lord Ram’s asking Sita (Vedavati, who is rescued from Ravana) for perfomance of Agni-Pravesh to get back Sita from Agni. Till such time, Agni protects Sita. Thus, Vedavati goes with Ravana, spends about a year in Lanka thereby becoming the reason for his downfall and death.
When Vedavati performs Agni-pravesh, Lord Agni appears and Sita is restored to Rama with gratitude.
Here is another legend:
Once upon a time, there was one staunch devotee (asura) of Lord Vishnu by name Vrishabhasura. Once he performs ghora-tapas for the Lord. The Lord appears and readies to shower boons on the asura. But Vrishabhadra asks a boon which Lord Vishnu readily accepts. The boon was ‘Vrishabhasura’s desire to fight with the Lord’.
The fight began and both sides put in their strengths. Even after putting up a very brave front, Vrishabhasura is defeated by Lord Vishnu. The Lord first destroys the ‘Aham’ (or Ego) of Vrishabhasura. The asura then begs Lord to forgive him and asks asylum which the Lord readily grants. Then Vrishabhasura asks the Lord to put HisLotusFeet on his head and rest there! Lord Vishnu assures Vrishabhasura that, during Kali yuga, He is going to reincarnate as Lord Venkateswara and he would rest on him. Vrishabhasura becomes a big mountain on earth and waits for the Lord to come down to earth. At last, during Kali yugam, the Lord reincarnates as Venkateswara and rests on the mountain/hill fulfilling the desire of Vrishabhasura.
Here is yet another legend:
There was one devotee by name, Bawaji, living on the seven hills, near Tirumala Temple long long ago. Lord Venkateswara used to visit Bawaji’s place quite often, to play ‘paachikalu’ (a kind of dice-game). As usual, the Lord one night, after ekantha seva, came to play the game with Bawaji. Before starting the game, the Lord placed the bracelet of His right hand beside Him. Bawaji played the game the whole night with the Lord. It was the time for Suprabhata Seva and the temple bells rang for awakening the Lord. Sri Venkateswara, till then playing paachikalu with Bawaji, was alerted; and rushed back to the temple. The Lord forgets to wear His bracelet (really?) in that rush.
During Suprabhata Seva, the chief priest of the temple observed one of the bracelets to be missing and sounded alert around. In the morning, Bawaji having noticed the Lord’s bracelet rushed to the temple to give it back to Him. On the way, the temple priests found the bracelet in Bawaji’s hands and he was immediately imprisoned. The case came for trial before the king. Bawaji explained everything to the king. Disbelieved, the king made fun of the story and threw a challenge on Bawaji to prove his innocence. The challenge was: Bawaji was to be able to crush and eat a very large heap of sugarcane placed inside his prison, before dawn, to prove his innocence. Otherwise, he would be deemed to have been the thief of the Lord’s bracelet.
That night, Bawaji said just these few words in his heart: “Oh Lord, I have played pachikalu with you that night, You too know that I am not the thief. Then, why should I worry?” And he went to sound sleep.
It was the test for the Lord to prove His devotee’s innocence. He had to rush to the prison to rescue His devotee. The Lord assumed Himself an elephant, crushed and ate all that huge heap of sugarcase lying in Bawaji’s prison before sunrise.
In the morning, Bawaji was again before the king for trial. Voila! The crushed remains of sugarcane were found in his prison. The king in amazement asked Bawaji an explanation. Bawaji smiled, “would you now believe me if I say that the Lord came as an elephant and ate all that?”. The king realised and sought Bawaji’s forgiveness.
[There is a beautiful painting of the Lord with Bawaji playing the game, on the wall near the temple. This painting can be viewed from where the devotees stand in queue outside the temple premises.]
Rulers of several South India have paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara and patronised the ancient temple.
The Pallavas of Kancheepuram (about 9th Century A.D.), the Cholas of Thanjavur (about a Century later), the Pandyas of Madurai and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagar (during the 14th & 15th Centuries AD) were devotees of the Lord. It was also said that they competed with one another in patronising and endowing the shrine with valuable offerings and contributions.
The later years were different. It was only during the great Vijayanagara Empire that the contributions to the temple increased manifold. Sri Krishnadevaraya is believed to possess the shrine in his kingdom.
Even after the decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty, nobles and chieftains from all parts of the Country continued to pay their homage and offer gifts to the temple shrine.
The General of the Maratha kingdom, Raghoji Bhonsle, also visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the Temple. He also presented valuable jewels to the Lord, including a large Emerald which is still preserved in a box named after the General.
Also among the later rulers who have endowed large amounts were the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.
After the fall of the Hindu Kingdoms, the Muslim rulers of Karnataka, later the British took over, and many of the temples came under their supervisory and protective control.
In 1843 A.D., the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of Non-Christian places of worship and native religious institutions. The administration of the shrine of Sri Venkateswara and a number of estates were then entrusted to Sri Seva Dasji of the Hatiramji Mutt at Tirumala and the temple remained under the administration of these Mahants till 1933 A.D.
In 1933, the Madras Legislature passed a special Act, which empowered the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Committee to control and administer a fixed group of temples in the Tirumala-Tirupati area through a Commissioner appointed by the Government of Madras.
In 1951, the Act of 1933 was replaced by an enactment whereby the administration of TTD was entrusted to a Board of Trustees, and an Executive Officer was appointed by the Government .
On the re-organisation of States on linguistic basis, a separate State for Telugu speaking people was formed and the Government of Andhra Pradesh has took over the Administration of the temple through this Board. The chairman and members of the Board are nominated by the Endowments Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
The provisions of the Act of 1951 were retained by Charitable and Religious Endowments Act, 1966.