Govindaraja Swami – Incarnation of Swami Venkateswara

Tirupati - Govindaraja Patnam

Tirupati is a temple town famous all over the world for its religious significance.

Once the pilgrims reach Tirupati, Govindaraja Swami temple’s majestic tower beckons them. Because of this temple, the town is also known as “Govindaraja Patnam” since ancient times.

In this temple, the idol of Govindaraja Swami was installed by the famous Vaishnava Acharya, Sri Bhagawad Ramanujacharya in the 12th century...

Govindaraja Swami is another incarnation of Swami Venkateswara

In Varaha Purana, it was mentioned in Ashtothara Sathanama Chapter, “Govindaya namastubyam, Srinivasa yate namaha”. Thus, it is shown that there is a unification of Sri Venkatachalapati and Sri Govindaraja Swami.

Sri Bhagad Ramanujacharya lived during the reign of Kattiyam Yadava kings. That time, Chidambaram Govindaraja Swami for some reason left Sri Chitrakoot, an ancient and glorious religious place, and was brought to the divine town Tirupati, wherein Adipuli [Alipiri] of Tirumala was present. Here, Lord Venkateswara was receiving all the worship in full glory.

Sri Bhashyakar [Ramanuja] felt that Sri Govindaraja Swami should also receive equal rituals. Accordingly, he made Andal, the daughter of Periya Alwar, hold a lotus in her right hand and installed a ‘DhanaYantra’, responsible for endless wealth. This he got it etched on the divine throne of Vyuhalaxmi.

He further, got the idol of Sri Govindaraja Swami installed on the left side, according to Vaikhanasa Agama tradition and ensured that all the celebrations and festivals are also performed to Sri Govindaraja Swami.

Tirupati Govindaraja Swami is also Govinda!

Govindaraja Swami, who is present as sayanamurthi [idol in sleeping posture], is reflective of Vishnu tatva [tenor] who dwells on Ocean of Milk. Vara Vasudev [who grants boons] is symbolic of para [other]tatva and Govindaraju has Vaishnava tatva.

He is the emperor who is surrounded by his retinue – Ananta Garuda and Vishwaksena, as he relaxes on the great serpent along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi with Brahma in the lotus emanating from his navel.

Annamayya has praised in his lyrics that both are one and the same. Both Govindaraja Swami who lies down with the measure under his head as a pillow and the Lord uphills are one and the same.

Ramanuja Swami built this town

Govindaraja Swami is an important god. Because he showed up here, Tirupati is also known as Govindaraja Patnam. Since Ramanuja Charya got the town constructed, it is also known as Ramanuja Puram. Ramanuja designed the town in the shape of a serpent to ward off the problem of poisonous snakes.

The Tamil morpheme ‘Thiru’ means ‘Sree” in Telugu. As such, Tirupati means Sripati in Telugu. Similarly, Thirumala means the mountains of Sripati or Vishnu.

Interesting are the celebrations [utsavs] at this temple

It is told that some of the naivedya offered to Tirumala Srinivasa are brought to Tirupati Govindaraja temple. That time, both Goda Devi and Govindaraja Swami welcome them.

During Vaikhasi utsav time, Govindaraja Swami goes to Kondanda RamaSwami temple and will have abhishek there. Again, during that period and in another Brahmotsav called ‘ani’, he reaches Kapilateerth on a ninth day and stirs the water and returns.

In another edict, it is written that he offers to the temple 365 yagnopaveet [sacred threads] with the direction that one should be used each day. Similarly, there are several other rituals –

  • Avilala garden festival,
  • ponnakalva festival,
  • parveta utsav,
  • visit Ramachandra theerth katta and
  • finally having a float festival in the lake opposite to the temple,
  • getting poolangiseva,
  • participating in utla festival,
  • visit to Ahobil Mutt.

How Brahmotsav are celebrated

Even this Swami gets the same vahan sevas as for Tirumala Venkatesa. Festivities are performed for the elder brother as they are done for the younger brother. They are held in a navahnika procedure as per Vaikhasana tradition. The last day ends on Anuradha star day and hence dhwajarohan [flag hoisting] is done nine days before.

One day before the rituals are initiated [ankurarpan]. As part of these festivities,

  • senadhipati [commander in chief] utsav,
  • ankurarpan,
  • tiruchi utsav,
  • dhwajarohan,
  • peddasesha [adisesha] vahan,
  • china [small] seshavahan,
  • hamsa [swan] vahan,
  • simha [lion] vahan,
  • pearl mandap,
  • kalpavrikshavahan,
  • sarvabhoopalavahan.
  • Also, Mohini avatar vahan in a palanquin,
  • Garuda [eagle] vahan,
  • Hanumadvahan
  • Gaja [elephant] vahan,
  • Surya prabhavahan,
  • Chandra prabhavahan,
  • radhutsav,
  • ashv [horse] vahan,
  • palanquin vahan,
  • Chakra [disc] snan [bath] are performed.

Govindaraja Swami is taken out in a procession in the town streets and He blesses all his devotees. Let’s participate in all these Vahan sevas and receive His blessings. Let’s chant Govinda’s name which instils devotion amongst us and make our hearts as a dwelling of Govinda.

It’s only God’s name that purges our sins, purifies the sinners and gives us relief from mundane attachments and opens our internal [jnana] eyes. Therefore, let’s worship Govinda who is full of virtue and is omnipresent and blesses us with peace and comfort.

Thirumanjaseva with ground nut oil and betel leaves

Tirupati Govindaraja Swami is the elder brother of Tirumala Sri Venkateswara. People say that the elder brother kept on measuring with a vessel the kasulu [coins] that his younger brother had received, got tired and is resting with the measuring vessel as his pillow.

Since his elder brother is doing his work, the younger brother [Srinivasa] sends him groundnut oil and betel leaves on Krittika Star day during the Kaarteek month to be used for his ‘tirumanjan’ [abhishek]. Govindaraja Swami is given this kind of tirumanjan because the idol is made of navaneet [tender butter].

Here itself there are temples for alwars and acharyas

The name of the Devi in this temple is Pundareekavalli. There is a special temple for her with the name “Salainaachiyaar”. Another temple for Sudarshana Chakra [disc] by the name Chakrattalwar. Similarly, temples are there for Poygai, Poodatta, Perialwaar, Nammalwar.

There is a Nrusimha Temple for Ahobil Mutt. Further, there are temples for Ramanujacharya, Vedanta Desika, Manavaala Mahaamuni, Koorattalwar [kuresa], Tirumala Nambi etc for Vaishnava Acharyas.

Certain deeds are prohibited here

  • There is a temple for Anjaneya [Sanjeevaraya] in the Teru street opposite to the temple.
  • As per dharma diktats, one should not visit Anjaneya in detail.
  • Similarly, one should not cross Matla Gopuram.
  • One should not wash their feet in the spring.
  • One should not crane their neck and see Jiyyar Mutts.

All these are incorporated in Venkatachala Vihara Sataka.