Tirupati is most commonly associated with the world-renowned Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. But there is another Vishnu temple in Tirupati, the Govindaraja Swami Temple. (This isn't the only Govindaraja temple; there's also one in Chidambaram.) As I understand it, the story of the temple goes roughly as follows: when Venkateshwara (the Vishnu deity in Tirupati, AKA Srinivasa or Balaji) wanted to marry Padmavathi, he got a large loan from Kubera (the god of wealth) to pay for the wedding expenses. Afterwards, Govindaraja, an elder brother of Venkateshwara and another form of Vishnu, helped Venkateshwara by counting the money. He spent a long time weighing the gold on a giant scale until he fell asleep on the scale itself, which is how the statue looks in the temple.

My questions are;

  • Who is this Govindaraja?
  • What does it mean to say that he is Venkateshwara's elder brother?
  • Was he a son of Venkateshwara's foster mother Vakuladevi?
  • I wasn't aware that Vakuladevi had any biological children or was even married. I just thought Vishnu came to the house of Vakuladevi when she was an elderly woman living alone, but was she a widow or something? (Presumably if she had a husband he would be the next birth of Nandagopa, just as she was the next birth of Yashoda.)
  • Or was Vakuladevi a foster mother to Govindaraja just as she was a foster mother to Venkateshwara?
  • Is anything else known about Govindaraja other than this gold-counting story, for instance how and why Vishnu took an incarnation as Govindaraja?
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    You've been asking some really great questions! Keep it up! (I wish I could answer some of them, but alas, my knowledge is not that deep.) – senshin Jun 19 '14 at 21:40
  • Govindaraja is elder brother to lord Venkateshwara. – johnson316 Dec 17 '14 at 5:15
  • @johnson316 But what does that mean? Does it mean he's the son of Venkateshwara's foster mother Vakuladevi? – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '14 at 5:17
  • see the source:google.co.in/… – johnson316 Dec 17 '14 at 5:25
  • source says Sri Govindaraja Swami is considered to be the elder brother of Lord Balaji – johnson316 Dec 17 '14 at 5:26

So according to sthalapurana (local story) when lord Venkateswara come to Tirupathi hills, he visited Vakuladevi, and she became his foster mother. As you already explained this is linked to Dwapara yuga where Krishna promises Yashoda that in next life he will let her do his marriage, and Yashoda reborn as Vakuladevi. Vakuladevi is a maiden and did not have any sons. One story is Krishna's elder brother Balarama reborn as Govindaraja. Govindaraja helped in organising all the money for Srinivasa's marriage. He is also foster son of Vakuladevi. I'm still trying to get more information on his whereabouts. Hope this answers your question atleast partly.

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Thanks for your answer, but could you provide sources to back up your answer? Like the claim that Vakuladevi was a maiden, that Govindaraja was a rebirth of Balarama, and that he was a foster son of Vakuladevi? Also, do you know how Govindaraja became a foster son of Vakuladevi? Did he have actual parents on Earth, or did he just appear before Vakuladevi or come in a Vimana like Srinivasa? – Keshav Srinivasan May 14 '15 at 4:30
  • By the way, if you're interested in Venkateshwara, I've posted a bunch of other questions about him on the site: hinduism.stackexchange.com/… – Keshav Srinivasan May 14 '15 at 4:40
  • I'm still trying to find Govindaraja whereabouts like when he became foster son of vakuladevi. This is story in TTD published venkateswara story. I don't have purana reference to the same. – satyasodhaka May 14 '15 at 4:40
  • What TTD book has the story? – Keshav Srinivasan May 14 '15 at 4:41
  • I read that book when i was kid. I seriously don't remember the name. But i can surely furnish the whereabouts in 2 months of time. I know that this answer is not sufficient to back my earlier comment. Sorry that is all I remember. – satyasodhaka May 14 '15 at 4:48

Lord Govindaraja is the God of the place Tirupathi. Venkateswara came to Tirupathi lately. If there are two Vishnu temples in one place, the one who was established first will be called as elder brother of the one who came lately. That's how govindaraja become elder brother of venkateswara. This is followed in many places like, in Kanchipuram Lord Varadharaja is known to be younger brother of Lord Yathokthakari perumal as varadharaja came after Yathokthakari perumal. Lord govindaraja was called by devas to be the witness for the agreement that Lord venkateswara's loan with kubera. Lord govindaraja verified all the money and jewels that was lent to Lord venkateswara. The amount was so huge that he became tired by that task so he lied there by making thr measuring jar as his pillow.

  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Unfortunately, this doesn't answer my question at all. What was the story of Govindaraja before the time of Venkateshwara? I already know about sleeping on the scale and all that; I mentioned that in my question. And in any case, it would be wrong to say that Govindaraja was the god of the place; that would be Varaha, which is why the place was originally called Adi Varaha Kshetra. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 31 '15 at 2:58
  • Aathi varaha is the god of the place thirumala which refers to 7hills – Bhargavi Feb 3 '15 at 15:19
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    Read the answer once again. It answers the second part of your question. For the story of Lord govindaraja, u can read the kshetra puranam of govindaraja temple – Bhargavi Feb 3 '15 at 15:24

Lord Govindaraja is the deity of Chidambaram, one of the 108 Divya desams (Sri Vaishnava kshetras sung by Alwars)

Chidambaram or Thiru Chitrakootam is one of the 108 vaishnava divya desams. The Vaishnavaite sthala purana is supposed to be based on Bhavishyottara Purana??, Kshetra Khanda. Viswakarma is believed to have built Thiru Chitrakootam.

Koyir Puranam? or koyil puranam? a very ancient record speaks of 6th century Pallva King Simhavarman as having worshipped the original deity in Thillai forests.

The stories connected with this divya desam are related to Bhavishyottara puranam, Kshetra khanda in the chapters dealing with Krishna Kshetramahatyam.

The stories connected with this divya desam are told by Vyasa to Jaimini.

In Kritayuga, Sage Kanva performed severe penance on Meru Mountain for number of years.

Lord Vishnu appeared before the sage and asked to choose a boon. Sage Kanva requested for moksha. Lord Vishnu informed him that sage has to live for some more time in this world. Lord Vishnu advised the sage to go to Pundarikapuram where viswakarma had at the behest of Brahma, created a town in the form of lotus. Lord Vishnu asked the sage to go that town at worship him and that in due course of time Lord Vishnu would appear again and grant the sage his wish of Moksha.

Sage Kanva went to the pundarikapuram and in midst of thillai vanam (a kind of mangrove forrest) started doing severe penance. The severity of the penance was so great that Indra and other devas were worried and went to satyaloka to seek Lord Brahma’s advice. Brahma assured them that the penance of sage Kanva was harmless, but still took all of them to Lord Siva. Siva also assured them that the penance was harmless and the sage was praying only for moksha. But inorder to reassure the Indra and devas, Lord Siva took all of them to Ksheera sagara, for Lord Vishnu’s advice. Lord Vishnu assured them and informed the devas that sage Kanva was doing the penance for moksha as adviced by Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu asked all the devathas including to go to Pundarikapuram, as he would soon be appearing in front of sage kanva to grant his wish of moksha.

Soon, Lord Vishnu appeared again before sage kanva. This time the sage wished for four boons.

  1. Lord Vishnu should stay in Thiru Chitrakootam or Chidambaram and give provide succor to all his devotees

  2. Whoever even thought of this place will be blessed with four purusharthas

  3. Those who give up their mortal coils at that place must be granted moksha

  4. Lastly, the he should get moksha.

Lord Vishnu granted all his wishes.

In the meantime, Lord Brahma requested Viswakarma and also maya the divine architects to construct a temple for Lord Vishnu.

Accordingly a beautiful temple was built for Lord Vishnu at Chidambaram. The vimana was called Satvika vimana. The pancha bhoothas became the five kalasas on the top of sanctum sanctorum. The four vedas became the gopurams and 36 smruti sutras became 36 entrances. The astakshara became the eight steps that lead to sanctum.

On completion of this temple all devas worshipped Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu assumed the sleeping posture (sayana posture) on his favourite couch Adisesha under the satvika vimana and is called Govindaraja. Lord Brahma performed the brahmothsavam for the Lord.

Another Stahla purana is as follws:

Another story related to this divya desam is about Lord Vishnu acting as the Judge watched the dancing contest between Siva and Parvati. One day, Lord Siva was lost in meditation on Lord Vishnu and his divine qualities.

Out of sheer joy, Lord Siva performed Ananda thandava (dance of joy or happiness) All the devas appreciated the dance. Seeing this Goddess Parvathi got a desire to dance along with Lord Siva. In course of time, the the dance became a competition between the two viz. Siva and Parvathi.They requested Lord Brahma to give a verdict on who was the better dancer. Brahma expressed his inability and asked them to request Lord Vishnu.

Both, Siva and Parvathi went to Kshira sagara and requested Lord Vishnu to Judge their dance. Lord Vishnu told them that he would witness their dance at Thillai Vanam (a type of mangrove forrest, Chidambaram) and then provide his judgement.

Lord Vishnu reached Chidambaram, went to the Ratna sabha and sat on the throne shaped like Omkara. Siva and parvati started their dance competition. Lord Vishnu laid out the rules prescribed in Bharata sastra and that each should repeat whatever dance mudra performed by the other. In case any one of the them (Siva or Parvati) is not able to perform accordingly, he or she should accept defeat. Also, any violation of bharata sastra will also result in defeat. Whoever is declared as defeated should stay outside the city of Chidambaram. Both Lord Siva and Goddess parvati agreed to the above conditions.

The dance competition started and went for days. As days progressed, parvati was becoming more and more refined and beautiful in dance. Siva felt ashamed that he may be defeated by Parvathi. So, Lord Siva appealed with to Lord Vishnu to help him from the imminent defeat. Lord Vishnu became pleased with Lord Siva’s appeal, took pity on Lord Siva and gave him a hint. Lord Siva quickly grasped the hint (provided by Lord Vishnu) lifted his leg and performed urdhva thandava. Parvati, as a woman, felt ashamed at performing this Urdhva thandava posture. This failure of parvati in performing the dance posture resulted in Siva being declared as winner by Lord Vishnu and Parvathi was to stay outside the city as agreed earlier.

As a result, in the northern part of the town, a small temple was built and Thillai Kaali (Parvathi) is to seen even today.

Lord Siva was so happy that he was declared the winner, informed Lord Vishnu (Govindaraja), that he too would continue to stay at Chidambaram and worship Lord Govindaraja (Lord Vishnu).

Hence it is that Lord Siva known as Nataraja continues to give darshan to devotees in his dancing posture by the side of the shrine of Lord Govindaraja. At that time, Indra also came to Thiruchitrakootam (Chidambaram) He reminded, Lord Vishnu of his earlier promise to give him a weapon to defeat Valkali, a rakshasa. Lord Vishnu accordingly gave him a weapon and as a thanks offering, Indra celebrated in the month of Vaisakha, a grand festival for 10 days. This story is related in Bhavisyottara purana in the 12th and 13th adhyayas. It is also related in Vyagrapura mahatyam in the 14th adhyaya and chidambara mahatyam in adhyayas(chapters) 25 and 29 - (Reference - 108 Vaishnavaite Divya Desams by M.S.Ramesh, published by TTD publications)

Kulothunga Chola (11-12th century) a fanatic Saivaite king, who was persecuting vaishnavas and forcing everyone to convert to saivism, ordered the removal of Govindaraja's deity from the temple and submerged the deity in the ocean.

When Sri Ramanujacharya visited Tirupati and when he heard the incident of Submergence of Govindaraja deity by Kulothunga Chola, Ramanujacharya decided to create another deity of Govindaraja and consecrated it in the present Govindaraja temple in Tirupati. This temple actually might have been the temple of Parthasarathi (Lord Krishna and Goddess Andal). Ramanujacharya installed Govindaraja deity in that temple. There are separate shrines for Lord Parthasarathi and Goddess Andal.

Infact, TTD has put a signboard containing the same story outside the Govindaraja temple in Tirupati.

The story of Govindaraja being the brother of Lord Srinivasa is more like Lord Oppliappan being called brother of Lord Srinivasa as avatara of Oppliappan was before Lord Srinivasa. Similarly, Govindaraja is considered brother of Lord Srinivasa because his avatara was before Srinivasa.

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    This doesn't answer my question at all. I don't want to know the story of the temple or the statue, I want to know the actual story of Govindaraja himself. It's fine If the story is only found in Sthala Puranas, I still want to know what it is. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 26 '15 at 14:41
  • @Keshav - Ok, you are looking for Sthala purana of Govindaraja deity in Chidambaram? Then you should try reduce your emphasis on Tirupati episode or explicitly say that What is the sthala purana of Govindaraja at Chidambaram. Otherwise, the history of Govindaraja temple at Tirupati is that it was consecrated by Ramanujacharya.. – user808 Aug 26 '15 at 14:45
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    I don't care if the information is from the Chidambaram Sthala Purana or the Tirupati Sthala Purana. One way or another, I just want to know who Govindraja is and what's his story, not the history of any temple. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 26 '15 at 14:53
  • @Keshav - Well, the precursor to your question misleads people to tell about history of Govindaraja at Tirupati. So, it would be better if you reworded the question about Govindaraja..Else, you will end up getting answers about history of Govindaraja shrine in Tirupati only. – user808 Aug 26 '15 at 14:58

Govindaraja Swamy is the elder brother of Lord Venkateswara. He took a loan from Kubera for performing Venkateswara Swamy's marriage. So He looks after the money and loan to be paid for Kubera. That's the reason why you can see the idol with money measuring jar as his cushion.

  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Unfortunately, this doesn't answer my question at all. I gave all this information in my question itself. But my question is about what it means for Govindaraja to be the "elder brother" of Venkateshwara? Does it mean he was Vakuladevi's son? Vakuladevi was the foster mother of Venkateshwara, but I'm not sure if she was even married. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '14 at 21:22
  • Also, answers on this site should be elaborated with details and sources (preferably scripture). They shouldn't just be three lines long; otherwise you should post a comment, not an answer. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '14 at 21:24

Govindraja is the main and basic posture of lord Vishnu who sleeps on the coils of adishesha embodiment of time.Now,to answer your question first of all you try to get rid of all mythological and sentiment based confusion. Govindraja is the core form of mahavishnu and all the stories were built around the obvious vaishnavite centre Tirupati.

The real thing is that lord vishnnu was worshipped in the form of Govindraja in Tirupati that's why tirupati also has an alias Govindrajpattana later on the story of lord venkatesha happened around tirupati Tirumala and shrinivasa was declared as an Incarnation of lord vishnu and Thu the priority and significance of Govindraja was shifted to lord venktesha its all a sequence based story or rather a myth.we should stop Fantasizing about the the gods timeline and should focus on the real cosmic form LORD MAHAVISHNU you wouldn't want to explore it further

Lord Govindraja Is my family deity kuladevta and to know him I never ever referred to any mythological conclusions.

  1. There is no separate story for Govibdaraja. Its only as sthala purana of Chidambaram.
  2. There is no relation between Lord Venkateshwara and Lord Govindarajan
  3. As said in previous comments, this Moola Govindarajan Moorthy and srhi Andal was installed by SRI RAMANUJA.
  4. The uthasava Moorthy was being safeguarded by one of the Dasi and the same was handed over to shri swmy RAMANUJA and installed there.
  5. To bring importance to the Govindarajan temple, it was propagated as big brother of Lord Venkateshwara.

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