Of late, I have been running into a lot of temple histories, where it turns out that Sri Ramanujacharya with his intuition, influence and research has claimed the deity for Sri Vaishnavism.
This includes Sri Kurmam and Thirupathi temples too.
In our own life time Ayodhya has been claimed by muslims as well as by Hindus.
Every ancient temple has a mosque and church built right next too it, reminding one of the burger kings built right next to mcdonalds.
When centuries blur into millenia, later religions lay claim to old sites. We read that even mecca was the site of old arab polytheist Gods.
It looks like new religions always like old prayer sites.
These are punya kshetras or punya sthalas.
At sri kurmam, we hear that it was both a siva kshetra and a kurma kshetra.
Thirupati, I have heard was a Karthikeya, Shakti, Varaha, buddhist . . . And who knows what else before Ramanujacharya determined it was a Vaishnava Kshetra.
Both places I found were phenomenally powerful and peaceful and helpful to me and to people I know. My muslim coconut seller has also been there with his friends.
Who is the original deity?
I think it is Siva. Before people could sculpt beautiful images of Vishnu, before people could make sacred vedic fires, they could worship lumps of stone, sand and ice as Siva in his nishkala linga form.
Since the powerful andhra kings who ruled india were buddhists, many andhras today believe that all original prayer sites in andhra are buddhist. Siva was worshipped before buddhism came to be, so I think they were Siva kshetras turned buddhist in the first place.
Siva is still the God of the tribes and the hills, and the pre agriculture societies.
Some people like the most recent Gods and Gurus, I happen to like the most ancient.
Some people like to ascribe ancientness – originalness to recent Gods and Gurus.
A great God gives authority to its priests and power to its kings. So authority and power seekers will claim all places of worship as their own, and insist on their names for the God and their ways of worship to be followed.
But the place itself still exerts its own magical pull on ordinary people who seek succour and solace and courage. And the deity responds to that person, unmindful of the name and attributes and mode of worship, hearing only that cry from the heart, because that is what the deity hears.
The rituals are all to make us feel better and put us in a mood to recognise and conduct divine conversation. Thus all methods work. All names work.
Author : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved