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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

*Om Namo Venkatesaya* ~ legend of Hathiramji of Thirumala is Telugu Movie

The most  beautiful temple of Lord Srinivasa at Tirumala Tirupathi in its present form owes a lot to our  greatest Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls. Every experience at Tirumala is so divine, one feels so refreshed and yearns of the next visit ! .. .. even as one enters and feels the chillness of the mountains, there felt is the divineness in air – every announcement be it of whatever nature on mike is preceded by ‘Om Namo VEnkatesaya’ – appeal to devotees follows .. .. ..

When was the last Tamil film on Hindu mythology released ? – Tollywood needs to be appreciated for the regular flow.  Om Namo Venkatesaya is a 2017 Indian Telugu devotional  film, based on the life of HathiramBhavaji,produced by A. Mahesh Reddy, directed by K. RaghavendraRao with AkkineniNagarjuna, AnushkaShetty in lead roles.The teaser of the film was released on 24 December 2016.

On the right hand side of the Rajagopura and the main entrance of the Holy temple stood a mutt popularly known as Hathiramji Mutt, which too alongside so many others and the beautifully 1000 pillared mantap were dismantled a decade or so ago, in the expansion plan of TTD.  It is stated that the temple before the formation of  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) was under administration of Hathiramji mutt.  It is a matter of common knowledge that the temple administration [religious side] as also the other was fully controlled by the PeddaJeeyar Mutt instituted by Sri Ramanujar, almost a thousand year ago. 

At Tirupathi city, after a prolonged legal battle, the Hathiramji Mutt gained control over a prime chunk of land in Pudipatla on the outskirts of the city.The landholdings spread over the survey numbers 6 and 3 of Pudipatla village, embroiled in a legal tangle for a decade after alleged systematic encroachment by professionals, came back into the Mutt’s fold after the court pronounced its verdict in its favour.The mutt authorities immediately removed the encroachments and fenced the entire area, besides building a compound wall in the sensitive areas.Sad that properties belonging to Temple and Mutt are encroached by people who try to take illegal possession without paying even the notional rent.

There are so many legends and thiruviladayal [divine plays of Lord] associated with Lord Balaji of Tirumala.  In popular belief is the one of Hathiramji.  Hathiram was born in Rajasthan, a devotee of Lord Rama, who upon a visit to the holy place, was so attached to the Lord that he decided to stay here itself and e and set up an ashram outside the temple. This is the present day – Hathiram Bhavaji Muth which from its earlier place above the mantap where Unjalseva is now daily performed now has shifted to a nearby place on way to Vaikuntam complex. 

It is believed that Lord Balaji was pleased with his devotion and used to come to his place to play dice with him. On a day, when Lord want to play with the devotee, his ornament was left there and the Priests finding the ornament missing, searched and found at the Ashram, thereby leading to some misunderstanding.   When the King ordered an experiment that was not humanly possible, Lord in the form of a white elephant helped His devotee and ensured that he was not harmed. 

Though there is a thematic depiction of Lord playing dice with Hathiram, there is no specific image of the baba in popular culture.  Soon, there could be an identification based on the movie, the part of Hathiramji being played by Nagarjuna.  It is believed that the supreme Lord of Seven Hills had penchant for playing with the pachikalu (dice) and during this time, Hathiram had several conversations with the Lord. He shared the stories with his disciples which have been handed down over generations.

The movie storyline is reported to be : Rama (Akkineni Nagarjuna) born in Rajastan,  leaves his house in childhood  in search of God. He chances upon  a saint Anubhavananda Swamy who assures him that he will definitely see the God and also teaches him to play the dice. Rama  meditates and afer15 years Lord Venkateswara appears in a form of child and disturbs his meditation, Rama scolds the kid and asks him to go away. Upon returning to his place, his parents  arrange the marriage with his cousin Bhavani. Before it occurs, Rama has a dream, follows it realizing that the boy was none other than Lord, returns to Tirumala in search of Lord. 

Krishnamma (Anushka Shetty) is another ardent devotee who believes herself as the wife of Lord Venkateswara and dedicates her entire life to his service. Rama is unable to have darshan of Lord and keeps waiting outside the temple foregoing food or sleep.  By Krishnamma’s guidance, Rama decides to begin a new horizon at Tirumala. He starts reading SthalaPuranam (History of the temple) and campaigns it to the pilgrims create awareness among the people about the true nature of the Lord. He  decides to construct his own Ashram’ at the hill top and starts cultivating  flowers & fruits and growing byre (Goshala) for milk products to the temple.  Later gaining access he  brings in changes and and introduces organized prayers, services, offerings, nithyakalyanam and more. 

Telegu tinseldom  deserves credit and telegu cinema goers are to be appreciated for encouraging such films tinged with divinity.   The music for the film is by MM Keeravani, the audio launch was on 8th Jan 2017  coinciding with the holy MukkotiEkadasi.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Mar 2017.

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