Sri Venkateshwara (Sri Balaji)

Lord Venkateshwara - Venkateshwara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people.

ImageThe name Venkateshwara can be split into multiple parts in Sanskrit: Ven (sins), kata (destroyer), and ishwara (Supreme Lord). Using this etymology, Venkateshwara refers to the Supreme Lord who destroys sins. He is also known as Maal, ThiruMaal, Manivannan, Balaji (though this is a more recent name),Venkateshwer, Srinivasa, Venkatesha, Venkatanatha, Venkatachalapathi, Thiruvengadam Udaiyaan, Tiruvengadattaan Tirupati Thimmappa, and by many other names. He is also worshiped with the name Tirupati Thimmappa all over Karnataka by traditionally Shiva-worshipping communities. The presence of seven hills in the area influenced alternate names for the deity: such as Edukondalavadu in Telugu and as Ezhumalaiyan in Tamil both of which mean "Lord of the Seven Hills". Lord Venkateswara is also known as Maha Ketarie and Maha Parmasree.

According to the scripture Sthala Purana, the legend of Venkateshwara's Avatara (incarnation) is believed to be as follows:
Sage Bhrugu, who according to Vedas is believed to have an extra eye in the sole of his foot, once visited Vishnu. At that time, Vishnu was in a private meeting with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, and failed to immediately receive and honour the sage. The sage felt humiliated and angry, and kicked Vishnu in the chest. Vishnu did not react and remained silent. Vishnu's chest is believed to be the abode of Lakshmi. The goddess felt highly insulted at the sage's misdemeanour and Vishnu's silence at the act. She left Vaikunta, the heavenly abode of Vishnu and Lakshmi.

Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. During this act, he squished the extra eye that was present in the sole of Bhrugu's foot. The extra eye is believed to represent the sage's egotism. The sage then realised his grave mistake and apologized to Vishnu. Vishnu had then incarnated Himself as Venkateshwara and came to earth in search of Lakshmi, who had taken birth as princess Alamelu (Padmavati) in the household of Akasa Rajan. The princess's father agreed to give his daughter's hand in marriage to Venkateshwara if he provided proof of his wealth. Towards the end, Venkateshwara obtained a heavy loan from Kubera, the Hindu treasurer god of the virtuous wealth in the Universe. Princess Padmavati and Lord Venkateshwara were then wed.

Vishnu, in the form of Venkateshwara, and his consort are believed to have enshrined themselves at Tirumala Tirupati for the benefit of mankind. This phenomenon is called swayambhu loosely translated to mean "self-existent and established on earth of one's own accord, without any external cause".

Venkateshwara's temple is at the top of the seven hills in the place called Tirumala. The temple of the Lakshmi, in the form of Padmavati, is located at the foot of the seven hills at Tirupati, in a town called Tiruchanur.

Another legend, a helper boy called Bala, was one day wrongly accused as a thief. He ran for his life when chased by people. He was hit on the head by the mob and his head was bleeding profusely. He ran to the Tirupati temple of Lord Vishnu and ran to the main door of the temple. When the people entered the temple, they couldn't find the boy but saw the head of god's idol bleeding. It was considered that the boy was sheltered and protected by Vishnu himself and the priests put cloth on the idol's head to stop the bleeding.