CONSORTS: Lord Vishnu temples are deemed incomplete unless it also contains a shrine to His Consort Lakshmi. She plays a secondary role as consort and wife. Traditionally the deity is smaller than those of the Lord but her presence is considered mandatory, for without Her, the presiding deity of the temple would lack divine splendour. Often She manifests in the human form. By marrying her, the male god gets the right to be in that area. Good examples are Vishnu marrying Padmavathi in Tiruchanur, Indradevi in Koiladi, Vanjualvalli at Nachiar Koil, Cenkamalavalli at Tereluntur etc. The would be rich folklore behind the circumstances leading to the marriage. In some temples, Lakshmi stands separate from the temple of the Lord as in Pandharpur, Maharashtra and Dwarka, Gujarat where Rukumani’s shrine stands at a distance from Panduranga. Padmavathi stands separate due to a misunderstanding. The separation yet close relationship between the two shrines is a sign of interdependence yet independence of the God and Goddess.
TEMPLE: Goddess Alamelu’s main abode is Thiruchanoor which place is also known as Alemelu Mangapuran. This is a suburb of Tirupati City. It is a tradition that pilgrims venerating Lord Venkateshwara at Turupati-Tirumala Balaji, should also offer obeisance to Goddess Alamelu at Thiruchanoor. In Tiruchanoor, Goddess Alamelu manifests as Goddess Sri Padmavathi Devi. Her temple is one of the highly venerated places in the South. It attracts thousands of devout pilgrims daily.
Tiruchanoor occupies a very important place in the ancient scripts. This was a part of Tiruvengadakootam under the Pallavas. Later under the Cholas it became a part of Rajendra Chola Mandalam. In the eighth century, the village was totally a Sri Vaishnava settlement. As the temple of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala was not of easy access, a new temple called Tiruvalankoil was constructed at Tiruchanoor to have a representative idol of Lord Srinivasa. Later over a period of time Shaivism, followers of Lord Shiva gained support and importance. Thus a temple of Lord Shiva was erected at Jogimalleswaram. Again following the decline of the Chola’s and the rise of Yadava Rayas, Sri Vaishnavism regained support and a temple was constructed for Goddess Padmavathi.
VENKATACHALA MAHATYAM: Legends have it that Goddess Alamelu Mangai is the inexhaustible source of compassion and love. Mother Goddess manifested in the Pushkarini called Padmasarovaram in a golden lotus. That had not blossomed. The Mahatyam states that Lord Suryanarayana was instrumental in blossoming the lotus in full splendour. Thus a temple dedicated to Lord Suryanarayana is found on the eatern side of Pushkarini.
PADMA PURANA: The Padma Purana gives a vivid description of the advent of the Goddess and subsequent wedding with Lord Srinivasa.The manifestation of Sri Padmavathi Devi occurred in the month of Karthika on Sukla Paksha Panchami when the star Uttarashada in the ascendent. The Brahmotsavam of the Goddess is celebrated with all pomp and glory to commemorate the auspicious occasion of Her avatara. This resplendent festival celebrated for ten days attracts devout pilgrims from far and wide. The Panchami Tirtham marks the highlight of Tiruchanoor Brahmotsavam.
Turmeric, Tulasi, Silk Saree and other sacred presents are brought from Tirumala Temple in an impressive procession on this occasion and offered to the Goddess. In an exquisitely decorated mandapam built on the banks of Padma Sarovaram, Sacred bath is offered to Goddess Padmavathi Devi and Sri Sudarsana Chakra amidst vedic chants. The ten-day Brahmotsavam at Tiruchanoor is a spectacular event witnessed by her myriads of devotees. It is also an occasion for all devotees to receive Her benign grace in divine abundance.
MYTHOLOGY: Lord Venkateshwara is in deep penance at Padma Sarovar for twelve years. It is said that Goddess Lalshmi appeared on a red lotus flower to give the Lord darshan. The Goddess’s temple origins are narrated in the in Padma Purana. In the Kali Yuga, rishis performing yagna sought the advise of Narada, as to which of the Trimurtis is to be venerated. Well known for his celestial confusions, Narada assigns this to the sage Bhrigu, the son of Lord Bramha. He was entrusted with the task of finding out who was the most powerful god among the Trinity.
So he goes on a sort of fact finding mission to seek out the Supreme of all. His first journey is to Kailasa, the abode of Lord Siva. The Lord was in his intimate moments with Goddess Parvathi. Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva is standing guard does not allow Bhrigu access. But he somehow manages to secure permission. Seeing Bhrigu’s intrusion, the Celestial Couple were upset and did not extend a welcome. Bhrigu was upset and cursed Lord Shiva that He would be henceforth worshipped as Lingam. For all I know, Bhrigu could have done all of us a favour.
He next goes to Lord Brahma, his father. He too does not welcome the son as competition among the Trinity was usually an external factor. He remains silent and this is interpreted as high handed behaviour by Lord Brahma. Bhrigu therefore curses cursed Brahma that no temples would have him as Deity and went away.
It was Lord Vishnu that remained to be ‘interviewed’. Lord Vishnu, however was fast asleep. Irritated by the previous two Lords, Bhrigu gets angry. Unable to control his temper, he kicked Lord Vishnu on the chest. Goddess Lakshmi who was also on the chest received a part of the kick. Lord Vishnu woke up and He not only pleaded guilty but asked if the kick hurt his leg. Vishnu, as compromise, massaged Bhrigu’s feet but in doing so he squeezed the third eye of which was on the paw of sage Bhrigu. Thank god, Bhrigu did not notice this. Otherwise this story could be slightly longer. But Bhrigu was very pleased with Lord Vishnu, you know apology, massage etc. There are other versions that state that the extra eye represented Bhrigu’s false egotism. Bhrigu thereafter realised his mistake and begged forgiveness
Now Mother Goddess was not pleased at all with Vishnu’s subservient behaviour. So she left Vaikuntha and goes to Patala Loka. Unable to bear the separation, Lord Vishnu came down to earth and wandered for days and months. During this wandering he reached Kolhapur, where he worshiped Lakshmi’s image in the temple, set up by sage Agasthya.
One day the aakasa vani, the divine voice told him to do penance for Goddess Maha Lakshmi at the bank of river Swarnamukhi for twelve years. She also directed him to offer lotus flowers for Goddess Maha Lakshmi so that she would grace him with her darshan and accept reunion. On hearing this Lord Vishnu reached Tiruchanoor and dug a tank, which is now called as Padma sarovar. Lord Vishnu prayed Lord Satyanarayana and asked him to see that the lotus flowers don’t wither. Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared before Lord Vishnu on Karthika Sukla Panchami standing on a red lotus flower with lotus in two hands and offered her hand as a gesture to reunite with the Lord. This form of Goddess Mahalakshmi is still offered prayers as she gave darshan to Lord Vishnu in Padma or Lotus form. This is the tank which is dug by Lord Vishnu for his penance and where Lord Satyanarayana helped Lord Vishnu as Lord Balaji on Tirumala.
BRAHMOTSAVAM: The Brahmotsavam of the Goddess is celebrated with all pomp and glory to commemorate the auspicious occasion of Her avatara. This resplendent festival celebrated for ten days attracts devout pilgrims from far and wide. The Panchami Tirtham marks the highlight of Tiruchanoor Brahmotsavam. Turmeric, Tulasi, Silk Saree and other sacred presents are brought from Tirumala Temple in an impressive procession on this occasion and offered to the Goddess. In an exquisitely decorated mandapam built on the banks of Padma Sarovaram, Sacred bath is offered to Goddess Padmavathi Devi and Sri Sudarsana Chakra amidst vedic chants. The ten-day Brahmotsavam at Tiruchanoor is a spectacular event witnessed by her myriads of devotees. It is also an occasion for all devotees to receive Her benign grace in abundance.
Yogi Ananda Saraswati