I heard two interesting stories, about Thirupathi, on my train journeys. Just sharing.
- A commissioner of the temple of the old days had told his grandson, my co-traveller, that he had seen the Thirupathi vigraha without the alankara and that it had waist length hair. To his dying day he maintained that it must have been Devi and not Purusha. Others say they have heard this story also, but no one has actually seen it. - He also said that there is a cave below the temple that connects this hill to the Alamelu Mangapuram temple.
- A guru took one of his disciples (s different co-passenger) to see the cave below the temple (very difficult to access) where Swami was said to be still meditating.
It is also true that this vigraha is very old and has been sculpted prior to the silpa sastra rules in vogue today. So waist length hair may not signify a Devi.
On the east coast there have been cases of the vigrahas having been modified to appear like another deity than the original one intended (eg Simhachalam Nija Rupa Darsana). Appropriation is not new to human religious nature – where the bible has been called Veda in regional languages (befuddling the less literate) and the winter solstice celebration has turned into Christmas Day!!
From a spiritual perspective, if you say Govinda, then Govinda it is, and if you say Devi, Devi it is, who will bless you and take care of you. So this information need not alter anyone’s devotion. It will not alter mine!
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