The Vimanam is the structure right above the Garbha Gruham, the Sanctum of a Mandir. Every Vimanam has a name. To give you two, The Vimanam of Sri Ranganatha Swami in Srirangam Mandir is called Pranavakara Vimanam and the Vimanam at Tirumala Sri Venkateshwara Mandir is called Ananda Nilayam. The resplendent gold-plated, divine structure. To a bhakta, the entire Mandir is divinity personified. It is not just the Archa/ Salagrama Svayambhu Vigraha standing right under it inside the Garbha Gruham that is divine. There is nothing like a secular structure in a Mandir. Each structure is divine. Every part of the Mandir is religious and worshipful. Ananda Nilayam or any Vimanam is not a secular structure. It stands right above the Moola Vigraha. It houses various Vimana Devatas, including the most visible and the most famous Vimana Venkateshwara. It is routine for every bhakta to have the darshan of Vimana Venkateshwara while he/ she goes around in Pradakshinam after the darshan of the Moolavar Malaiyappaswami. Pujas are conducted to it routinely inside the Garbha Gruham. Annual Pavitrotsavam/ Sthapana Tirumanjanam/ Kovil Azhvar Tirumanjanam is conducted as part of Sudhikaran to the Vimanam also for any deficiency in Mantras, Kriya, or Bhakti.
Ananda Nilayam is religious:
Maharshi Mareechi says in Vimana Archana Kalpam that Archana performed to Vimanam is equivalent to performing Archana to the Moolavar and Vice Versa. Maharshi Mareechi, Athri, Brighu and Kasyapa, and Sri Vaikhanasa Acharya, the originator of Vaikhanasa Agama, the Agama followed at Tirumala, have all extolled the divinity of the Vimanam. The Archakas who step on it during the performance of Pavitrotsavam wear a Deeksha, observe austerity and pray for Kshama/ Prayaschit for setting foot on it.
Such is the Sannidhyam/ Sanctity of the Vimanam, The Ananda Nilayam.
Mckenna’s gold… the first adventure and the wrap on the knuckles:
Years ago, the TTD Board under Chairman late Adikesavulu Naidu embarked on a misadventure of gold plating the inner Prakaram (walls) of the world-famous Tirumala Venkateshwara Swami Mandir. There was a huge public outcry, but as usual, it fell on the stone-deaf ears of the Board. It took Dr. Subramanian Swamy and a few others to take TTD to court, and get a ruling to ensure that the proposal was scrapped. The courts in that case took cognizance that over 10,000 rivets to be used could damage the structure as also gold covering would essentially hide/ damage the inscriptions of the heritage. The Sanatana Samaj is in eternal debt to these warriors.
Trust TTD to come out with such bizarre ideas. And get into more Mckenna misadventures.
Now, TTD Board has resolved to replace the gold plating of the Ananda Nilayam! A copy of the resolution is posted below the article.
Gold-plated in 1958:
The existing Vimanam was built in 1150 CE. It was gold plated in 1958 and a Maha Samprokshanam was done when the job was completed. Photos plus the TTD flyer of 1958 are provided at the end. There is also a photo of how thousands climbed on top of the 1000-pillar Mandapam to have a view of the repair work. This Mandapam was razed to the ground as part of the master plan during the Naidu regime. One can also read in detail the various repair works undertaken from 1800, including the gold plating work done in 1958 in an earlier article written by me in this link.
To date, the gold plating of Ananda Nilayam has neither lost its sheen nor its grandeur. There are no cracks in the plating done and it has held remarkably over six decades. The Devatas including the Vimana Venkateshwara are as worshipful as the Moolavar. Vimana Darshanam, Koti Punyam.
One can understand if there is any crack in the gold plating, or if they have identified any cracks/ weeds or vegetation in the structure it covers the wear and tear, or loss of its sheen/ resplendence/ brilliance to undertake the replacement work. While crores and crores of bhaktas consider the existing golden Ananda Nilayam as simply magnificent and Divine beyond compare, the TTD Board seems to think otherwise.
To the current Board, it is perhaps not beautiful enough. Hence, they have resolved to make it more beautiful by adding some floral motifs, decorations, or whatever. It is spoken about in the closed TTD circle that they have planned to do it by getting 350 Kg of gold from the public. Sources told me that officials have already started seeking gold from big donors visiting the Mandir, of which there is no dearth in number. Remember, TTD probably has a reserve of approximately 9,000 Kg of gold.
It appears from the resolution passed that currently there is apparently no damage either to the gold plating or any compromise in the existing structural integrity of Ananda Nilayam. Should TTD want to check the current integrity of the structure, I am sure institutions like ISRO, etc can always help them arrive at conclusions on the existing structural integrity without having to resort to removal of the existing gold plating. Removal involves removing rivets. Replacement involves new rivets. Both can cause likely damage to the existing structure of the Vimanam.
Please go through Point 4 of the resolution of the TTD Board. The following is approved:
- 4) a) To conduct a meeting with the Pradhana Archakas, Agama Advisors & HH Pedda Jeeyangar for obtaining their opinion to conduct Balayam (sic. Read Balalayam) to the Main Deity i.e., Moolavarlu and to conduct Maha Samprokshanam after completion of the gold malam work
- b) To constitute an Experts Committee with Engineers, Sthapathies, Pradhana Archakas, Agama Advisors, HH Pedda Jeeyangar, and renowned religious persons to check the structural stability/ strength of every part of Ananda Nilayam to take up strengthening/ maintenance works wherever required duly following religious procedure.
- c) To take up the measurements of Ananda Nilayam of Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vari Temple, Tirumala for providing gold Malam with floral designs.
* * * * * *
Res. No. 305, dated: 17.02.2022
Proposals at Para No. 4 (a), (b) & (c) approved.
Sd/- Y.V. SUBBA REDDY
CHAIRMAN, TTD BOARD
As a devout bhakta of Bhagawan Venkateshwara and as a member of the family that served for generations inside the Mandir, I fail to understand the need to “beautify” the Vimanam by replacing the existing divine gold plating of the Vimanam.
I visualize the scenario that is most likely to play:
- From point a. Meeting with Pradhana Archakas, Agama Advisors and HH Pedda Jeeyangar and renowned religious persons are ONLY for an opinion about conducting Balalayam and conduct Maha Samprokshanam after completing gold plating. Their opinion is not sought on the need to replace existing gold plating for “beautification” purposes, nor on the work to be undertaken on a religious structure. Remember, this is a religious structure. Not secular structure.
- Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu and Sriman Narasimha Dikshitulu have been re-instated to their respective earlier positions after the courts came down heavily on the illegal retirement of hereditary Archakas by the erstwhile Naidu government. This means Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu is not only the Pradhana Archaka but also the Agama Advisor now, as that was his role before he was illegally retired.
- However, during the time it took for the courts to hear, and deliver judgment and the enormous time for TTD to reinstate him post the court order, TTD appointed Sriman Venugopala Dikshitulu, and 2 others namely Sriman Govindaraj Dikshituu and Sriman Krishna Seshachalm Dikshitulu as Pradhana Archakas. All three continue to be employees of TTD and NOT Hereditary Kainkarya Archakas (Though they belong to different families of Hereditary Archakas, they opted for employment with TTD). After the court order reinstating the Hereditary Pradhana Archakas, a show cause notice was served by TTD to them as to why they should not be reverted to earlier positions of Archakas from their current position of Pradhana Archaka. They went to HC and obtained a favourable order NOT to disturb their existing position and the counter of Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu is not being listed/heard for reasons unknown. Copies of TTD show cause notice and court order added in the end. In normal circumstances, this should have no bearing on the status of both the illegally retired Hereditary Archakas who have been properly ordered by courts to be reinstated to their earlier position.
- Will TTD Board ask their employee Pradhana Archakas for the opinion or the Hereditary Pradhana Archakas be reinstated by the courts? To date, Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu and Sriman Narasimha Dikshitulu haven’t been “restored” to their dignified duties as Pradhana Archakas, which is their hereditary right to property of Archakatvam (each has over 40 years of experience as Pradhana Archaka). Copy of directive by the Endowment Secretary, AP government asking E.O on action taken report in restoring rights of Pradhana Archakatvam to Sriman Narasimha Dikshitulu can be seen in the end article. TTD will remain conveniently silent on such important issues as it may not likely suit their current plan of beautification action.
- Will TTD Board consult Sriman Narasimha Dikshitulu and Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu who has been reinstated to his original position as Pradhana Archaka and Agama Advisor? Or will it go with employee Pradhana Archaka’s opinion and opinion of a pliable late Sriman Sundaravaradan type outside Agama advisor, instead of the TTD Agama Advisor, Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu?
- For TTD, it is very EASY to get HH Pedda Jeeyangar on Board with this beautification, as the gentle Jeeyar is not used to offering any meaningful resistance to such TTD proposals.
What should TTD do?
The TTD should ideally seek the expertise of ISRO. It should also respectfully call the traditional Sri Vaishnava Acharyas along with HH Jeeyangar of Tirumala for a Sadas. Seek their opinion on religious aspects governing the Vimana. Seek their guidance on the religious rituals to be performed, should ISRO find the need to do repairs on the structure of the Vimana, the Ananda Nilayam. This task should not be left to HH Jeeyangar of Tirumala alone. It is important to get the Traditional Acharyas on Board while deciding on such crucial issues.
The TTD should not feel shy to junk the proposal if the ISRO report certifies that the structure is good for many more years to come. And that there are no areas that need any repairs or renewals. This would surely save some court time and possible loss of face again.
What should we bhaktas do?
I am sure the bhaktas of the Bhagawan would agree with me that there is no need to replace the existing beautiful gold plating of the Ananda Nilayam unless there is something structurally wrong with it or under it currently. And I am sure that none can bear the catastrophe of likely damage to any of the Vimana Devata Murthys including the Vimana Venkateswara in the process of renovation, removal, re-riveting, etc., I am sure bhaktas would agree that the existing structure looks divine, resplendent and that there is no need whatsoever to add further beautification of floral motifs, etc which the Board has resolved to carry out. I am also confident that bhaktas would understand that TTD can approach organizations like ISRO for solutions to study structural integrity without resorting to the removal and replacement of existing gold-plating.
I urge bhaktas to take Social Media by storm to make the Board withdraw its proposal. Circulate the link of this article in every WA group you belong to, should you feel it would help TTD see the logic. Earlier, The courts could stop gold plating of the Prakaram (the outer walls of the sanctum) because it could cause structural damage and or obliterate Sasanams engraved on the walls. Now, what about the sacrilege/ damage to the Vimana Devatas and or its structure in the process of removing the old gold plating (which looks just divine) and replacing it with new gold plating riveted in its place?
Will courts come forward Suo-moto to scrap this? Will TTD wake up? Or go woke? Will it continue to go after Mckenna’s gold for Venkanna? Will the same set of Sanatani warriors knock on the doors of the court to make TTD junk this proposal?
Pray, they do.
Om Namo Venkatesaya
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 Tirumala – MahasamprOshanam or MahaNirbandham? Devotees have a fundamental right to pray – Jul 17, 2018, PGurus.com
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