1.22.2012

Origin of "Balaji"

Right now our television choices are more Indian than when we were in India. So our days start with all the tear-jerker ETV Kannada serials and end with watching live Godly programs on various channels. On one such evening the sound of the TV, exhaust and microwave were driving my sound system crazy. My repeated requests to turn down the volume were turned down by T who was reading an e-paper. I finally lost my cool and shouted at him for not watching TV but keeping it on. He said he was listening. In a bid to catch his lie I asked him what the purohit on TV was talking about. The story he re-told for me is what the post is about.

The only female avatara of Vishnu, Mohini, appears during the Samudra Manthana, manages to successfully secure the Amritha and hand it over to the Devas to clinch them immortality. It is believed that Ramanujacharya, the patron Acharya of the Srivaishnavas, had a very strong influence on Tirupati's routines in worshipping Lord Venkateshwara. Keeping in mind the Mohini avatara of Vishnu, Ramanujacharya laid down a dictat that the Lord of the hills should be dressed as a lady (Mohini alankara) 3 days a week starting every Monday. This practice was continuing without hitches for a long time. By the 18th century, the temple had attained popularity in the far reaches of the Indian sub-continent and worshippers from the North of the Vindhyas started to visit for darshana. It is said that they referred to the Lord in female attire as "Bala" which was intending to mean "girl". As is customary, the "ji" was added to show respect.
And thus was coined the word Balaji.


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