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Friday, September 16, 2022

Holy Thirumala - annadanam - Matrusri Tarikonda Vengamamba

 Wish to experience the extreme Bliss ! ~ every time we enter the holy Thirumala -  even as you start feeling the chillness, most likely the mellifluous song of Sri Annamacharya  would pervade you…. ..   One may not know or understand Telugu – still, it is divine, it is the sankeerthana about the most sacred Seven Hills, the abode of Supreme Lord. Sure you would have visited the holy Thirumala, many a times, next time, take a leisurely stroll on the Mada veethis of the holy hill and feel Him fully.


You may have heard this Annamayya keerthana – ‘Chalada harinama’


చాలదా హరి నామ సౌఖ్యామృతము దమకు |

చాలదా హితవైన చవులెల్లను నొసగ ||:

You may view this song from a movie starring Meena. 

The very name of Hari (Sriman Narayana) gives everyone  immense pleasure. Is that not enough to fulfill one’s desire ? To break all the hassles of this life and to relieve thyself  from thousands of miseries, the very name of Hari is enough. Rendering the praise of Lord Venkateshwara is enough to live like a “kalpabujam” which means kalpataru and to lead life with a pleasant smile throughout.


A life well lived would not be complete without kainkaryam to Emperuman and to his devotees.  Our rich   Sanatana Dharma highlights   feeding a hungry living being is a great act than even rituals.  Feeding hungry -  Annadanam is Mahadanam or the greatest donation and is a part of our tradition. 

Tarigonda Vengamamba (also Venkamamba) (20 April 1730 – 21 August 1817), is famously known as  Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba.  She was a poet and a staunch devotee of Venkateswara swami. She is so revered that a temple exists in Narrawada, near Nellore - Sri Vengamamba Perantalu Devastanam   visited by more than 5 lakhs pilgrims.  

Thirumala Devasthanam leads by example in vary many ways especially in charity.  The annadana sheme (free meals to devotees) is administered so well there.  As you would have observed it is named as ‘Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba annadana centre’ named after a  saint poetess who pioneered the concept of feeding poor  in 18th  Century itself. On  the divine instructions of Goddess Padamavathi Devi, the then In-charge of Hathiramji Mutt, Mahant Sri Atmaramdasji offered a small thatched hut in the present Rambhageecha gardens to Vengamamba. The Saint Poetess used to perform penance under a tamarind tree present opposite her hut. During every Nrisimha Jayanthi (which usually falls in the month of May) she used to serve scores of pilgrims who visited  Tirumala during this period in the premises of her residence for ten days. Seeing her charitable activity devotees  gave her “Dana Patras” (donations) between 1785 AD and 1812 AD with which she carried out her Annaprasada Vitarana till her last breath. Since then she became popular with the title “Matrusri” since she took care of the visiting pilgrims as a mother. Following her legacy, TTD has begun Annadana scheme in 1985. 

Vengamamba with extraordinary devotion was widowed in her very early age.  She later moved to Thirumala and did kainkaryam at the holy shrine and was good in singing too.  After some trouble, she was so highly respected that Emperuman was made to sleep daily with karpoora harathi and the singing of Vengamamba.  Understand that even today, the final harathi is known as ‘Venkamamba harathi’. 

Today at the holy Thirumala Tirupathi, lakhs of devotees who visit to have darshan of Emperuman Lord Srinivasa are offered free and unlimited quality food   Anna Prasadam Center. It is at a Walkable distance from the holy tank, Koneru and Sri Varaha swami gudi.  Lakhs of devotees who visit are provided breakfast, lunch and dinner at this Annaprasadam center.  Devotees follow strict queue discipline and the quality of food is well maintained; cooking here is done using Solar Electricity. Food is served in Banana Leaf.  More than 65000 devotees take food on a day here at Venkamamba centre alone  during week ends according to TTD. 

The Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam has rightfully named the entire food complex after Tarikonda Venkamamba’ .. .. and opposite to Sri Varahar swami gudi, behind Sri Hayagreevar sannithi lies her brindavanam.  Here are some photos taken at Vengamamba brindavan.   The postal department too honoured her by issuance of a stamp with her image. 

The song at the start is from the movie – ‘Vengamamba’ directed by the Udaya Bhaskar and produced by V. Doraswami Raju under the banner VMC Productions, the movie cast included Meena, Saikiran, Saratbabu, Ranganath and LB Sriram. M.M. Keeravani composed the music  .. .. Telugu tinseldom deserves all appreciation for making such fine devotional movies.

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
16th Sept. 2022.

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