Śrīnivāsa Kalyāṇam story
The Story of Lord Veṅkaṭeśvara
(Śrīnivāsa, incarnation of Lord Vishnu)
and his marriage
with Śrī Lakshmi Devī and Padmāvatī (Bhu-devī)
The story of Śrīnivāsa Kalyāṇam spans over 3 eons (Yugas) relating to incidents from Trētā Yuga (Rāma’s period), to Dvāpara Yuga (Krishna’s period), and finally to Kālī Yuga (Veṅkaṭeśvara).
Kālī Yuga started soon after the Mahābhārata period. There was a general decline in morality and ethics amongst people. Several sages began a yajña (sacrifice) with the guidance of Kaśyapa Rishi to ward off the impending evil.
Sage Nārada asked them to whom the results of the yajña are dedicated.
They replied “to the trinity”.
But Nārada said the fruit of such labour should be given only to that Lord who can accept all the sins with dignity and composure.
Sage Bhrigu was deputed to find out which deity is worthy of it. He went to Satyaloka, Kailāśa, and Vaikuṇṭha to determine the worthiness of each of the trinity.
Sage Bhrigu first went to Satyaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma:
At Satyaloka, he found Lord Brahmā, reciting the four Vedas in praise of Lord Nārāyaṇa, with each of his four heads, and attended upon by Saraswati. Lord Brahma did not take notice of Bhrigu offering obeisance.
Concluding that Lord Brahma was unfit for worship, Bhrigu left Satyaloka for Kailāśa, the abode of Lord Shiva.
At Kailāśa, Bhrigu found Lord Śiva spending his time pleasantly with Pārvatī and not noticing his presence. Parvati drew the attention of Śiva to the presence of the sage.
Lord Śiva was furious at Bhrigu's intrusion and tried to destroy him. The sage cursed Lord Śiva and left for Vaikuṇṭha.
At Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Vishnu (also called Śrīman Nārāyaṇa) was reposing on Adiśeṣa with Śrī Mahālakṣmī in service at His feet.
Finding that Śrīman Nārāyaṇa also did not notice him, the sage was infuriated and he kicked the Lord on His chest, the place where Mahālakṣmī resides. .
However, Vishnu immediately apologized and held Bhrigu’s feet and massaged them to relieve the pain in the sage’s foot and during the process he removed the “eye of ego” on Bhrigu’s foot which also gave the sage his enormous power.
Eventually the sage realized his mistake and considered Vishnu as worthy of receiving the sacrificial offerings and made it known to other sages.
Śrī Lakṣmī who resides in the chest of Vishnu was terribly offended by the disrespect shown by the Bhrigu towards her consort and in a huff she left Vishnu to go live in Bhūloka (earth) and did intense penance to purify herself.
At the commencement of the current Sveta Varāha Kalpa, the whole universe was filled with water and the Earth was immersed in it. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a white boar (Śrī Varāha) and dived into the water to lift the Earth. He slew the demon Hiraṇyākṣa who was obstructing Him and rescued the Earth.
Brahma and the other Devas praised Śrī Varāha for saving the Earth by chanting the Vedas and showering flowers on Him.
Lord Vishnu decided to stay on Earth in the form of Śrī Varāha for some time, to punish the wicked and protect the virtuous. The place then came to be known as Varāha Kshetra and the Varāha Kalpa commenced.
After the departure of Mahālakṣmī, a forlorn Lord Vishnu left Vaikuṇṭha and took abode in an ant-hill under a tamarind tree on the Veṅkaṭa Hill.
Taking pity on Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Maheśvara decided to assume the forms of a cow and its calf to serve Him.
Lakshmi took the form of a cowherdess and sold the cow and calf pair to the Chola king who ruled that territory. The cow and calf were added to the palace cattle population and were allowed to graze in the hills.
The cow located the anthill where Vishnu was living as Śrīnivāsa and emptied her udder of milk at the anthill to feed him. It happened every day. This resulted in the cow going dry at milking time in the palace grounds.
The king wanted to know why this special cow would not yield any milk despite grazing the whole day.
The cowherd followed the cow one day and caught her in the act of draining milk from her udder at the anthill. He hurled his axe at the cow but Lord Śrīnivāsa came out of the anthill and took the blow on his head. He bled profusely.
At that sight the cowherd fell down and died on the spot.
The cow went to the palace with blood stains and started bellowing. The king followed the cow and reached the anthill.
Lord Śrīnivāsa cursed the king to become a demon for the fault of his cowherd. When the king asked for forgiveness, the Lord told him that he would be born in the future as a king again in the name of Ākāśa Raja and Lakṣmī would be born to him as a daughter. At that time Lord Śrīnivāsa would marry his daughter. The king’s curse would be eliminated when he offers a crown to Lord Śrīnivāsa.
The Past: In Trētā Yuga Śrī Lakṣmī was born as a daughter to sage Kusatva as Vedavatī and did penance wishing to marry Vishnu. When Rāvaṇa abducted Sītā in Pañchavaṭī, the fire god Agni intercepted him and told him that the Sītā he was carrying was a fake and that the real Sītā was with him.
Rāvaṇa left the Sītā he was carrying and took Vedavatī (from Agni) instead with him. After Rāvaṇa’s annihilation Vedavatī (as Sītā in captivity) perished in the fire ordeal that Rāma ordered. Agni, however, delivered both Vedavatī and the real Sītā to Rāma. Rāma told Vedavatī that he was sworn to monogamy but he would accept Vedavatī later in Kālī Yuga. Accordingly Vedavatī was born as a daughter to the king Ākāśa Raja, who raised her as Padmāvatī (vide infra).
In Dvāpara Yuga Yaśodā (Krishna’s foster mother) was sad that she did not witness Krishna’s wedding to Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā. Krishna promised her that she would witness one such in Kālī Yuga. Thus Yaśodā was born as Vakulādēvī and served Śrī Varāhamurthy (third avatar of Vishnu) who was dwelling in Venkaṭagiri (see below).
The Chola king was reborn as Ākāśa Raja but he was childless. He did a yajña and ploughed the field. He unearthed a lotus flower on which was found a female baby.
Akasa Raja was happy to find the child. He carried it to his palace and gave it to his Queen. At that time he heard a voice from above which said: "Oh! King, tend to it as your child and fortune will befall you. "
As the child was found in a lotus, the king named her Padmāvatī.
In course of time, Princess Padmāvatī grew up into a beautiful maiden. In the meantime Vakulādēvī (Yaśodā in the past) who was serving Śrī Varāhamurthy adopted Lord Śrīnivāsa as her son.
One day, while Princess Padmāvatī was spending her time in a garden picking flowers with her maids, Sage Nārada approached her. Assuring her that he was her well-wisher, he asked her to show him her palm to read her future. He foretold that she was destined to be the spouse of Lord Vishnu himself.
At this time, Lord Śrīnivāsa, who was hunting, chased a wild elephant in the forests surrounding the hills. In the elephant's pursuit, the Lord was led into a garden, where Princess Padmāvatī and her maids were picking flowers.
The sight of the elephant frightened the Princess and her maids. But the elephant immediately turned around, saluted the Lord and disappeared into the forest.
Lord Śrīnivāsa, who was following on horseback, and saw the frightened maidens, who accosted Him with queries
When Lord Śrīnivāsa returned, Vakulādēvī brought him his usual dinner comprising various delicacies. However, she found him lying on his bed, pining for his love.
When she enquired about the cause, the Lord informed her that unless he married Princess Padmāvatī, he would never be well again.
Vakulādēvī then asked Him to tell her all about the Princess. The Lord then narrated the story of her (Padmāvatī’s) previous birth and his promise to wed her:
In olden times, Lakshmi, in the form of Vedavatī, was staying in an ashram in the forests. At that time, Rāvaṇa, the lord of Lanka tried to tempt her.
In anger, Vedavatī cursed him saying that she would better die and to show how true her words were, Vedavatī walked into the fire, but Agni, the Fire God rescued her. He took Vedavatī to his house and entrusted her to his wife's care.
When Rāvaṇa was about to carry away Sītā from Pañchavaṭī, in the absence of Rāma and Lakshmana, Agni appeared and offered Vedavatī to Rāvaṇa as the real Sītā who was kept with him by Rāma to evade Rāvaṇa.
Rāvaṇa was tricked into thinking that Vedavatī was the real Sītā.
Rāvaṇa took Vedavatī to Lanka thinking she was the real Sītā, while Agni took Sītā to his house and asked his wife Swāhā-devī to look after her.
After the destruction of Rāvaṇa, Vedavatī entered the fire when rejected by Rāma. Then, Agni, offered the real Sītā to Rāma.
Rāma then questioned her as to who the other lady by her side was. Sītā informed Rāma that the lady was Vedavatī who endured Rāvaṇa's torture for ten months in Lanka for her sake.
Sītā requested Rāma to accept Vedavatī also as his spouse. But Rāma declined her request saying that he believed in having only one wife during his life time.
However, He promised to wed her in her next birth as Padmāvatī, born as the daughter of Akasa Raja, when Rāma himself would take the form of Śrīnivāsa.
After listening to Śrīnivāsa's story of how he had promised to marry Vedavatī in her next birth as Padmāvatī, Vakulādēvī realised that Śrīnivāsa would not be happy unless he married Padmāvatī. She offered to go to Akasa Raja and his Queen and arrange for the marriage.
On the way she met the maid-servants of Padmāvatī returning from a Śiva Temple. She learnt from them that Padmāvatī was also pining for Śrīnivāsa. Vakulādēvī went along with the maidservants to the Queen.
Meanwhile, Akasa Raja and his queen Dhāranī devī were anxious about the health of their daughter, Padmāvatī. They learnt about Padmāvatī’s love for Śrīnivāsa of Veṅkaṭa Hill. Akasa Raja consulted Brihaspati about the propriety of the marriage and was informed that the marriage was in the best interest of both the parties.
After the departure of Vakulādēvī, Śrīnivāsa could not rest in peace. He doubted if she would succeed in her mission. He, therefore, assumed the form of a lady fortune-teller and entered the streets of the capital telling fortunes. Padmāvatī’s maids saw her and invited her to the presence of their Queen.
The maid-servants informed Queen Dhāranī devī that the fortune-teller was hesitating to enter the palace without the Queen's invitation. The Queen came out herself and invited the fortune-teller into the palace.
The fortune- teller was taken to the presence of Princess Padmāvatī. The fortune-teller read the palm of the Princess and told the Queen about the cause of Padmāvatī's indisposition:
She advised the Queen to give Padmāvatī in marriage to Lord Śrīnivāsa. She also told the Queen that a lady would approach her shortly on behalf of Lord Śrīnivāsa, to formally request Padmāvatī's hand in marriage.
After the departure of the fortune-teller, Vakulādēvī arrived at the palace, and was taken by the maidservants to the Queen. She informed the Queen that she had come on behalf of Lord Śrīnivāsa to request the hand of Padmāvatī in marriage.
When Vakulādēvī approached the queen about the wedding of Padmāvatī to Śrīnivāsa, the queen and the king protested initially because Śrīnivāsa was a commoner but agreed after consulting with his advisors. Śūka, the parrot sage, fixed an auspicious day for the wedding and it was duly celebrated with Kubera lending money to Śrīnivāsa for the lavish wedding.
Śrīnivāsa Kalyāṇam is thus the fulfilment of Rāma’s promise to Vedavatī (in Trētā Yuga) that he (as Śrīnivāsa) would marry her in Kālī Yuga.
Mahālakṣmī, Sītā, Vedavatī, and Padmāvatī are all one and the same entity.
Likewise, Rāma, Krishna, and Veṅkaṭeśvara (Śrīnivāsa) are all manifestations of Lord Nārāyaṇa.
After the marriage to Padmāvatī, Lord Śrīnivāsa was still not fully happy. He was looking for Lakṣmī who left Vaikuṇṭha in anger after Bhrigu kicked her consort in the chest. Eventually he found Lakṣmī and took her to Thirumalai. Since then it is believed that Lord Śrīnivāsa lives in Thirumalai with Lakṣmī and Padmāvatī in Ananda Nilayam.
vinā Veṅkaṭēśaṁ na nātho na nāthaḥ
sadā Veṅkaṭēśaṁ smarāmi smarāmi |
hare! Veṅkaṭēśa! prasīda prasīda
priyaṁ Veṅkaṭēśa prayaccha prayaccha! || 9 ||
Śrī Veṅkaṭēśa Stotram
Apart from Lord Veṅkaṭēśvara I have neither master nor place of rest.
Again and again I remember Lord Veṅkaṭēśvara!
O Saviour, O Lord Veṅkaṭēśvara! Be gracious towards me
And bestow your compassion upon me.
śriyaḥ kāntāya kalyāṇa-nidhaye nidhaye’rthinām
śrī veṅkaṭa-nivāsāya śrī-nivāsāya maṅgalam |1|
Śrī Veṅkaṭēśa Maṅgalam
May all auspiciousness shower on Śrīnivāsa who dwells in the Veṅkaṭa Hills!
He is the beloved Lord of Lakṣmī and is the storehouse of all auspiciousness.
Prayer: (Veṅkaṭēśa Gāyatrī)
auṁ nirañjanāya vidmahe
tanno śrīnivāsaḥ pracodayāt ||
Let me meditate on the god who is eternal truth.
--One who does not have any bondage.
Please give me higher intellect.
Let Lord Śrīnivāsa illuminate my mind!