Tirupati Package from Chennai by AP Tourism (APTDC)

Tirupati Package from Chennai by AP Tourism (APTDC)

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Chennai - Tirupati - Tirumala Tour (with Srikalahasti):
Chennai Departure: 6:30 pm / Chennai Arrival: 5:00 pm next day
Daily by Volvo AC Coach with Seegra Darshan covering Tirumala, Tiruchanur & Srikalahasthi. 
The geography of the central hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats of India, is compared by the puranas or ancient texts, to a huge recumbent cobra or Adisesha. The Jyotirlinga of Sri Mallikarjuna Swami in Srisailam temple is located on its tail, Sri Narasimha Swami Temple in Ahobilam on its back, Sri Venkateswara temple atop its hood like the dancing Krishna (though the temple is noted for its location in the low of the last hill rather than the peak) and Sri Kalahasti temple of Shiva at the opening of its mouth. 
Surprisingly, despite the hill's topography suiting military operations, which were frequent in the region, the Balaji temple remained miraculously untouched, even by the infamous iconoclast Aurangzeb's (the last of the Great Mughal Emperors) plundering and pillaging army. Ancient references to the deity and the purifying hill even before the advent of the deity are many. They go back to the Rig-Veda. Some described only the purifying hill, others mentioned the Lord who absolves sins and presides over the hill, but not any temple. The puranas refer to the Tirumala hill as Venkatadri or Venkatachala. 
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, one of Lord Vishnu's incarnations, and his Vanara (monkeys) army marching to Lanka for war with Ravana halted here on the request of Anjana Devi, the mother of Hanuman. The Mahabharata, the longest epic in the world, describes the transformation of the departed spirit of Sri Krishna, after it entered the solar disc, into a lifeless four-armed image, which was to descend to Earth. An ethereal voice told the assembled devas or gods that it was to be worshipped in Kaliyuga, the present era of darkness and ignorance, as an easy means for seeking personal salvation. This is believed to be the Tirupati deity. The eighth century Tamil classic Silappadikaram quotes a pilgrim's description of the deity.
Idol worship is not animism practised by the so-called primitive peoples and cultures, as colonialist anthropology would have us believe. Faith in it opens up many gates of spirituality. A recent book on the first encounter of medieval Arabian Muslims with idol worship in India reveals their curiosity and respect for this path to God-realization instead of intolerant iconoclasm they became infamous for.Esoteric manism which evolved a complex system of Archa or image worship is rooted in Balaji's idol. The deity is the first image of any god or goddess that manifested spontaneously. 
Bhakti (devotion) path has nothing to do with sandhya, vandana, japa and other rituals, which are all means of worship and are all right, but worship of divine images is accorded primacy in bhakti or devotion. Attachment to the deity's image detaches the devotee from samsara, this world, and enables him to realize the supreme being as Narayana. It is worth noting that Balaji's right hand is pointing downward towards his feet just above the knee, indicating that worshipping him will liberate one from kneedeep illusions of worldly existence. 
Thus, not only is the main idol in Tirumala believed to be of divine origin, it is also connected with divine sanction for Archa worship. The earlier yugas or eras, offered a tough yogic path of penance, mental concentration and meditation. Archa is to enable all in Kaliyuga, the present era of darkness, to achieve God realization through less tedious means of intense love and devotion.Lord Venkateswara is also known as Pratyaksha Daivam (manifest divinity) who helps his devotees in distress even if they do not or cannot help themselves, thus contradicting a simplistic adage. This is, of course, linked to one's yogam or spiritual entitlement.
TTD, the multi-billion rupees endowment, represents the best temple management system in any shrine in India. But it has also fallen victim to the general trend of increasing commercialization and despiritualization of pilgrim centers. Black money constitutes only a small fraction of the annual collection at the temple, contrary to popular belief. The income from darsan and seva tickets itself constitutes half the revenue and donations to the free meal scheme add up another 33 crore (330 million) rupees. 
The culture of crass commercialism and exploitation that dogs you in Tirumala has been institutionalised by TTD itself. It has made minor services needlessly free even as it milks people who prefer to pay to jump the queue for darsan or sevas. With its eye on revenue and populist policies, TTD has been tinkering with the deity's sleeping time, religious duties and timings, rather than work around the Lord as every temple should.
Tirupati An exceptional stampede in the temple many years back was attributed by the then Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham to the improper or non-observance of the rituals prescribed by the Agama Sastras. The violation of the proscription on men entering the temple wearing upper garments is prompted by the TTD. This is in sharp contrast to the custom at major temples in Kerala, India.M.V. Soundar Rajan, secretary, Dharma Rakshana Samiti, Hyderabad, is highly critical of the violation of the Agama Sastras by the TTD and its treating the deity as a mere stone. The famed, delicious laddu prasad, he says, is not even offered to the deity but has been turned into an industry despite strictures by the Justice Kondiah Committee report 12 years ago.
He further points out that the deity has to suffer the unnecessary and heavy diamond crown besides the heat of focused electric lights. All sevas are compacted to be completed by dawn to facilitate darsan by pilgrims while ignoring the importance of Ushas Kalam (the period starting at 4.30 a.m).TTD is trying to please all, especially the state government of Andhra Pradesh, except the presiding deity it thrives on and claims to serve.
"The devotion and pilgrimage by millions increase the power of the deity while violation of the Agama Sastras will deplete its power and wealth," Soundar Rajan points out. One result of rabid commercialism and brazen doubling of displayed rates of eatables and beverages is frequent scuffles between indignant devotees and vendors in the massive Vaikuntam Queue Complex.While its administrative and educational institutions could have been managed better, the TTD's medical institutions, such as the one for the handicapped, are doing yeoman's service. 



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