Eesanam jagathosya Venkatapathir Vishnoparam
Tadvakshasthala nitya vaasa rasikam tatkshanti samvardhineem !
Goddess Lakshmi lives in the vakshastala of Lord Vishnu. God’s Leela
is amazing. He can do anything to please his disciples. One day, centuries
ago, as the pundits opened the temple doors of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala;
they stared at the image of Lord! The Goddess Lakshmi on his Vakshastala
was missing! They were shocked! They were worried! They were breaking
their heads! Then they heard God’s voice. ‘She is imprisoned
in the garden of Ananthacharya. Go and bring Her here with all grace.’
Isn’t it strange? It is strange but true!
God wants to spread the faith of his devotees to the world through his
miraculous actions. It started this way!
Ananthacharya was a disciple of Ramanujacharya. Ramanujacharya entrusted
his disciple to serve Lord Venkateswara! Lord Venkateswara is a lover
of flowers and garlands. Ananthacharya partook the decking of the lord
with flowers. He performed it as yoga but not as a duty. Every morning,
he gathered meticulously various flowers, prepared garlands out of them,
decked the lord with them and admired the Almighty with a pleasing smile.
He sang many songs in praise of the Lord.
This practice continued for a few days. Then one day he had a flash of
an idea! When he needs so many flowers every day why not he grow a flower
garden himself? The minute he had this idea, he wanted to implement it.
After he finished his morning yoga of offering flowers, he began the afternoon
yoga of growing a flower garden! This is a special task relating only
to His God and Himself! Not even a fly can come in between! Of course
his wife was given a share in the project.
Sri Ananthacharya wanted to dig a lake, to begin with. He chose a place
to the south of the temple. In the scorching heat of the sun he dug heaps
of mud. His wife’s duty was to throw the mud far away. She was pregnant
and so it was a hectic task for her. But he was unmindful of her suffering.
It was not because he did not care her but because he was always lost
in the thought of Garden of Eden he was going to cultivate. They were
an ideal couple. The wife had no complaint against her husband though
he made her slog. She was glad to share her husband’s spiritual
| They were unmindful of their trouble but how can God be unmindful? He
wanted to help them. So he went to Ananthacharya as a 12 year old boy
and sought work. Ananthacharya did not want even a fly to interfere, as
already mentioned. So he refused. The boy pleaded again but he angrily
drove him away.
His sincerity, his fond love pleased God all the more. So God came to
him everyday and asked him repeatedly to employ him and all the times
Ananthacharya bluntly refused. God could not bear to see the pregnant
lady suffer. So he employed himself in the task one day. Without the knowledge
of his devotee, he snatched the mud vessel from her hand and threw it
outside. He did this in a jiffy very actively. The lady was pleased at
the boy’s gesture and she could not say no to him. But the husband,
after a few trips wondered how his wife could accomplish her task so fast!
His wife told him the truth. He was so angry with the boy for breaking
the law. He ran after him and when he couldn’t catch hold of him,
he threw his shovel angrily at him. The shovel hit at the boy’s
chin and at once blood gushed out of it. Anybody would have pitied him,
but Ananthacharya was unmoved since he felt the boy deserved it for his
That evening when Ananthacharya went to the temple, the temple priests
were having a round table conference. When he asked the reason for their
discussion, one of them took him inside to behold the Swami! Lo! Lord
Venkateswara’s chin was hurt and blood was oozing out! Ananthacharya
could understand at once that he had hurt not a small boy but the very
God Himself! His devotion to God made God suffers! He cried over his unreasonable
act and asked God for forgiveness. God was not at all angry with him.
He spoke affectionately to Ananthacharya. ‘Don’t worry; this
wound will remain on me as a token of your love to me. Your name will
remain eternally as a staunch devotee of mine. Chandanam will be applied
there every day to mitigate the pain’. He was touched by God’s
love for him.
Ananthacharya completed his Herculean task with renewed vigour. In due
course a beautiful flower garden took its shape in his hands. Ananthacharya
spoke fondly to every bud, every leaf, and every blossom. He knew every
plant in his garden. His loving care added beauty to the garden and it
became a favourite resort of Lord Sri Venkateswara and Goddess Lakshmi.
Every night, they spent their time together there, without the knowledge
of the owner. One night in the romantic mood, God plucked a few flowers
and offered them to Goddess. The next morning, Ananthacharya could make
out somebody roamed around in his garden and plucked flowers. How could
human beings enter into it when it was meant exclusively for God! His
anger knew no bounds! The next night he sat awake with a watchful eye!
He saw nobody and he gloated over his watchfulness. But no! he was mistaken!
Again some flowers were ransacked and the garden was trodden upon. He
made sincere efforts for eight nights but miserably failed. Finally he
sought the favour of God too.
God did not want his devotee to feel disheartened anymore. He also wanted
to spread his devotion to the world.
That night as he was looking out, he saw a couple entering his garden.
‘Ah, at last I got them!’ He thought and ran towards them.
There was such a glow on their faces that he stood admiring them for sometime.
Then his sense of duty dominated over his sense of beauty. He ran towards
them. He caught hold of them both in his hands. ‘How dare you spoil
my garden which is exclusively meant for my God’ he cursed them.
The couple tried to free themselves from his hands but was not successful.
After some time, the husband managed to escape. Ananthacharya wondered
how he could leave his beautiful wife behind, to her fate! He felt that
even though he escaped then, he would definitely come back for his wife.
Then he would take revenge. So he took the lady to the champak tree and
tied her to it with creepers.
The lady pleaded to him in many ways, but he paid a deaf ear to her. Then
he ran behind the husband. The husband ran into the temple and again ran
into the garden. He was too fast for him. Unable to keep pace with him,
Ananthacharya went to bed.
The next morning, when the priests opened the door they were shocked.
They were dumbfounded. The Goddess Lakshmi who is always seated on Lord
Venkateswara Vakshastala was not to be seen! Who could have taken her
away! Then God spoke to them, don’t worry! She is imprisoned in
the flower Garden of Sri Ananthacharya. You all go to her and bring her
here with all the pomp and show. The Brahmins unable to believe their
ears, hastened to the garden. Yes they heard it right! Goddess was very
much there! When Ananthacharya heard this, he had a mixed feeling. He
was delighted that God came there in person with Goddess Lakshmi but he
couldn’t forgive himself for imprisoning her. He pleaded guilty.
The pundits and he made her sit in a flower basket and took her to His
Holy presence singing hymns all the way. God greeted Ananthacharya as
‘Mama’. You brought your daughter to me in a basket. Henceforth
you are my mama’. Goddess Lakshmi became a golden image and occupied
her original place on the Vakshastala of Lord Venkateswara! Ananthacharya
was a blessed soul!
How lucky he is! We hear of devotees praying to God and their wishes being
fulfilled. Here Ananthacharya did not ask God for anything. He wanted
to serve him all by himself. He, his wife, his garden, his every thought
were directed towards God. That attachment, that love, that total surrender
made God come down to him personally and to bear even pain in his hands,
not once but twice!