Monday, March 28, 2016

***The Camphor Dot on Lord Venkateswara’s Chin***

***The Camphor Dot on Lord Venkateswara’s Chin***
 Bhagavan bhaktiyuktena krtan ajnana samyutan
Dosan Sahati yasmatte priyas tasya mahatmanam
(God is not only pleased by the worship done by His steadfast devotee, but also by the innocent mistakes of the
devotee. He works to design the mistake into a pleasant gesture and glorify the honor of His devotee. )
story of ananthALvAn (Ananthaalvaan) , which took place during the 11th century CE (Common Era), depicts
the unique love and care of God towards His devotees.
In the olden days, there was a thick forest around the seven hills of Tirumala–Tirupati. Even the steps leading
to the hill were not at all good. Recently, they were set right and more convenient means are available. Earlier,
the priests used to go to the Temple on foot every morning. They used to return home at night. They used to
carry the deity’s ornaments with them and bring them back. Even the Naivedyam (food-offering ) was taken
from the foot of the hill daily. In those days, none used to stay on the hill.
Bhaghavath Ramanuja Acharya (1017-1137) ordained that a flower garden be raised on the hill and its flowers
to be used for decorating Sri Venkateswara Swami. Besides that, the Acharya made arrangements for the
priests to reside on the hill so that the Temple could be in a sanctified atmosphere with continual chanting of
Veda Mantras charged with spiritual power. From then onwards, it became very convenient for priests,
avoiding daily trips to and from their homes.
Bhaghavath Ramanuja Acharya had a disciple called ananthALvAn. ananthALvAn was highly reputed as a
kind hearted person (parama sAdhu). The Acharya ordained ananthALvAn to serve Lord Venkateswara
Swami. ALvAn said, “I will stay on the hill. I will raise a flower garden for the Alankara Seva (decoration
service)”. Everyone was happy.
ananthALvAn and his wife started to dig a tank for supplying water to the flower garden. He used to dig the
soil with a pick-axe and his wife used to remove the soil to throw it a little away. One day Sri Venkateswara
Swami came there in the disguise of a boy and said, “Sir! Let me also serve a little”. ALvAn said “Sorry! In
obedience to the Acharya’s order, only we two must do this work” and sent the boy away. Then the boy went
to the wife of ALvAn and asked her, “At least you give me a chance to serve.” She consented and said,
“Unseen by my husband, throw away the soil behind these trees.” She was in a stage of advanced pregnancy.
Whenever the boy took the basket full of soil, her pain reduced. ALvAn observed that the boy was carrying
the soil. He thought that he failed in performing his self-duty (Svadharma) and said angrily, “When I refused
to accept your service, you approached and convinced her” and struck the boy with the pick-axe in haste.
There was a bleeding injury on the boy’s chin. Astonished by this incident, aLvAn dropped the pick-axe and
approached the little boy. Before ALvAn could reach the little boy, he ran and entered into the Temple in
counter-clockwise direction (apradakshina mArgam). ALvAn was repenting for his cruel behaviour.
The next day, the priests were upset looking at the bleeding chin of the idol. Then they heard the oracle of God
(asherira vani), “I myself went to the flower garden. Do not worry. Ask anantALvAn to apply camphor
(KaRpUram) to this wound. The wound will heal but there will be a scar on me. As Srivatsam indicates the
place and presence of Sri Alamelumanga Devi, the camphor dot on my chin reminds ananthALvAn. This
incident happened with my influence (Maya).” Knowing this, ALvAn felt very sad and said, “Oh! I could not
recognise the Lord and injured Him.” Then he went into the Temple and applied camphor to the chin of Sri
Venkateswara Swami. The scar impression is developed on original Idol of Lord Venkateswara Swami. From
that time onwards, the scar on the chin of the Lord is decorated everyday with camphor. Thus the camphor
dot application gained elements of divinity and eternity. The pick-axe is preserved and displayed in the
Temple premises.
This kind of deeds earned God several titles as “Bhakta Vatsala”, “Bhagavatha Priya” etc. ananthALvAn
earned the grace of God through pure devotion. This incident fascinated poets of later age. Sriman Srishaila
Srirangaacharyar quoted this divine event in his composition, Sri Srinivasa Gadyam:
“… Arya dhurya anatharya pavithra kanithra paatha
paathrikruta nija chubuka vrana kina
vhibushana vahana suchita shritha jana vatsala atishayaha”
(Lord! You received a real bleeding injury when highly revered ananthALvAn struck you with sacred pickaxe
on your chin. You bore the pain of the injury with great patience. And you decorated the scar as an
ornament, indicating that you accepted the pain as a pleasant offering. You did this to bring reverence and
divine glory to your devotee. Just like a cow would care for her calf (Vathsa), you took care of your devotee’s
Sri Annamacharya (1408-1503), the first Vaggeyakara, analysed the stories of Sri Venkateswara Swami’s
devotees. Realising the abundance of grace the Lord bestowed on his devotees, he composed the famous
Sankeertanam, “koNDalalO…” (rAgam—hindOLam; tALam—Adi).
Pallavi: koNDalalO nelakonna kOnETi rAyaDu vADu
koNDalanta varamulu guppeDu vADu
Charanam1: kummara dAsuDaina kuruvarati nambi
immanna varamulella iccina vADu
dommulu cEsinayaTTi toNDamAn cakkuravarti
rammanna cOTiki vacci nammina vADu
Charanam 2: accapu vEDukatO anantALuvAriki
muccili veTTiki mannu mOcina vADu
maccika dolaka tirumala nambi tODuta
nicca nicca mATalADi naccina vADu
Charanam 3: kancilOna nuNDa tirukaccinambi mIda
karuNinci tanayeDaku rappincina vADu
enca yekkuDaina venkaTEsuDu manalaku
mancivADai karuNa pAlincina vADu
(You derived pleasure by deciding to volunteer yourself for ananthALvAn’s project. You carried soil and
earned an injury on your chin as a reward for your free service. This is your divine play and an example of
abundant grace showered on your devotee.)
Similarly, strange customs have crept in the services to the Lord. The food-offering made in earthen pot, the
flower garland, Camphor Arati, and Palanquin procession are some such customs practiced regularly in
Tirumala-Tirupati Temple. The Palanquin procession or ‘back-savAri” is done relating to counter-clockwise
path entrance into the Temple taken by Lord Venkateshwara Swami in the guise of the little boy. The British
rulers observed this custom and called it as “back-savAri.” The legacy of these customs is considered as God’s
boons to his devotees, as a result of their devotional worship.
(Compiled from book KathAsAgaram written by Sri Ganapathi SachchidAnanda Swamiji

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