Venkateswara, AFAIK, is a form of Lord Vishnu. And, Alwars a group of Tamil Vaishnavite saints.

But, the article, Sri Venkateswara on the Kamakotimandali.org, says that initially, the Alwars used to see Venkateswara as representing both Shiva and Vishnu.

The hill that grants eternal bliss is Venkatachala. Or, Vem refers to sin and kata, to destroy. That hill which destroys the sins is called Venkatadri. The lord of such a hill is called Venkatesha or Venkatadrisha. From time immemorial, the formless Brahman has been worshipped in his saguNa aspect as Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya, Skanda and Ganapati. Followers of each of these forms claim their chosen deity to be superior over the rest, ignoring the lofty truth of the Upanishads, which proclaim that the Parabrahman is formless and that these murtis represent the saguNa aspect of the same Brahman.

Does Sri Venkatesha at Tirumala represent Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti or Subrahmanya? This question has been raised, answered and contested by several individuals and sects for several centuries now. Sri Venkatesha has been worshipped by Jains worshipped as Adimuleshwara, Vaishanavas as Srinivasa, Shaivas as Harishankara and Shaktas as Sri Bala Tripurasundari. There are enough reasons to associate this mUrti with Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu and Subrahmanya. I will not list the reasons why this mUrti is associated with Srimannarayana as these are already well known.

Association of Sri Venkateshwara with Lord Mahadeva and his parivAra:

  1. Early Azhwars [Vaishnavaite saints] praised Venkateshwara as a blend of Hari and Hara. In some of the older pasurams of Azhwars, the lord is said to have worn Chakra and Parashu, signifying Hari-Hara-Samaikya Murti But after the advent of Ramanujacharya, this practice was severely discouraged. By this time, Shaivaites called him Shiva and Vaishnavaites called him Vishnu. This becomes clear after one reads several shAsanas in the name of a local king called Thalalu Gosina Yadava Rayalu. He was a staunch devotee of Ramanuja who beheaded 101 Shaivas who claimed Venkatesha to be Shiva. For his staunch adherence to Sri Vaishnava philosophy, he was honored by Ramanuja with the title Sri Bhashya, to be named after him.

My question is if this is true then what is the proof of it? Which texts related to (or composed by) the Alwars prove this claim?

  • 5
    Looks like the author of the blog is in strong opinion that Venkateshwara is a form of Devi or Shiva. Why did he write an article saying Venkateshwara represents Shiva or his family even when wrote it's answered already by many individuals? He mentioned many points in the article which are proven wrong by Vaishnavitespe and the Tirupati priests themselves. Looks like an opinion based article. Alwars didn't see Venkateswara as a Shiva and Vishnu. It's due to misinterpretation. I answered a question like that were Alwar poems are interpreted according to advaota. This looks like a similar one. May 31, 2018 at 14:19
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    It is a commercial website. It is not linked with Sringeri math. The writer only belongs to a succession of Shringeri guru parampara and not an official site of Sringeri peetha. This is official site. Read its description properly. Considering what you said is true, it will be very bad if a site affiliated with a math is spreading false news. Jun 8, 2018 at 6:54
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    The author of the article is one of the disciples of disciple of Sringeri guru parampara. That doesn't make the site authentic or affiliated with Sringeri Peetham. Official websites generally have .org as their domain. Official sites do not write comparative articles like these saying one god is another god and one person changed everything. BTW, you didn't clarify my question I asked previously "Why did he write an article saying Venkateshwara represents Shiva or his family even when wrote it's answered already by many individuals?" Check your sources properly. Jun 8, 2018 at 7:04
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    I have read this article completely. All the points he mentioned are wrong. He is writing points to prove that the deity in Tirumala is not Vishnu. This is totally wrong. One who knows history of Venkateshwara will not say that. In the point you emphasized, you said early alwars saw Venkateshwara as Shiav and Vishnu blend. That is also wrong. One who knows Peyazhwar will not say that. He gave many points like these. He also says Balaji is referring to Devi but it's an epithet of Venkateshwara only. I wrote an answer about it too. Is naming one god as totally different god right thing to do? Jun 8, 2018 at 16:57
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    Kamakoti.org is very much different site. It hosts books, gives schedule and programs of mutt, hosts live videos of shankaracharyas. This website kamakotimandali doesn't do that. Sringeri.net does that.Consider this, my guru is a disciple of a jeeyar in Vaishnava tradition and I follow my guru. If I start a website and writing articles about Vaishnavism, will my site considered as official site of Jeeyar math? No. This is the same case. Next time you talk with that person, show him sringeri.net and also ask him to read the kamakotimandali site description well. Jun 8, 2018 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


No, the Alwars did not consider Venkateshwara to be both Vishnu and Shiva. The verse that people misinterpret as saying that is verse 63 of Peyalwar's Moondram Thiruvanthathi:

tAzh saDaiyum neeNmuDiyum oNmazhuvum chakkaramum
soozharavum ponnANum tOnrumAl soozhum |
tiraNDaruvi pAyum tirumalaimEl endaikku
iraNDuruvum onrAi isaindu ||

My lord who dwells in Tirumala, where streams flow down in all directions, is the same as the Lord who has two opposing forms in one - matted hair, a tall crown, an axe, a Chakra, an encircling snake, and a golden waist band.

Peyalwar is not saying that Venkateshwara has attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva. He is saying that the same Vishnu who appears in Tirumala as Venkateshwara is the same Vishnu who appeared as Shankaranarayana. Shankaranarayana is an incarnation of Vishnu who has attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva in order to show that Vishnu is the Antaryami or inner self of Shiva. Peyalwar is comparing Venkateshwara and Shankaranarayana because both of them demonstrate Vishnu's attribute of Soushilya or accessibility to devotees. Here is what the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Periyavachan Pillai says in his commentary on the Moondram Thiruvandhadhi:

The same Soushilya that Bhagavan displayed in his Shankaranarayana incarnation, that same Soushilya is shown by the Lord of Tirumala in descending on that hill and appearing visible to all. The idea is not that Alwar is saying that the Lord of Tirumala is having the form of Shankaranarayana, but rather that the Guna of Soushilya is the same for both.

The Sri Vaishnava Acharya Prathivadi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya makes clear that the Venkateshwara statue only has attributes of Vishnu, in his commentary on this verse:

tiruvēṅkaṭamalaiyil araccaiyāka eḻuntaruḷiyirukku memperumāṉ pakkal tāḻcaṭaiyumillai, oṇ maḻuvumillai, cūḻaravumillai, nīṇmuṭiyum cakkaramum poṉṉuṇumēyuḷḷaṉa

The great Lord of the Thiruvenkata mountain has neither matted locks, nor an axe, nor an encircling snake, but rather only has a tall crown and a Chakra.

The attributes of the Venkateshwara statue and how they depict Vishnu was shown in more detail by Ramanujacharya, whose arguments are summarized in the Venkatachala Itihasamala which you can read here. In any case, Peyalwar was a staunch Vaishnava; he's the one who converted Thirumazhisai Alwar, who was at the time a Shaivite poet named Shivavakya, to Vaishnavism, by showing him the futility of worshiping Devas. This is described in the 6000 Padi Guru Parampara Prabhavam.

By the way, the story of Vishnu's incarnation Shankaranarayana is given in this passage from the Kuresha Vijayam, a 16th century account of Kurathalwan's debate in the court of the Shaivite Chola king:

In the puranic age, one staunch Vishnu baktha set his journey to Prostrate Sri Ranganatha. On his way he was completely exhausted and was terribly hungry. He found a temple nearby and decided to cook the food inside the temple and do the Aradhana to Perumal before consuming it. To his surprise, he found that to be a Shivalaya (Shiva temple). Being a true Vaishnava, his conscience did not allow him to cook there and he came out. But he fainted due to starvation. At that juncture, Sriman Narayana appeared in disguise in front of the baktha and offered help. The Baktha explained the he could not cook in Shivalaya. Lord Vishnu explained that it is not a Shiva temple but the deity inside is Vishnu. He then took the Baktha inside the sanctum and showed His true form with Sanka and Chakra as Vishnu is the antaryami of Shiva. Thus the Shankara Narayana Moorthy came to existence. This is only a leela performed by Lord with His baktha.

That is why this story conveys Sriman Narayana's Soushilya, because he is so accessible to his devotees that he will even appear to them in a Shiva temple if the need arises.

  • Understand this, the Supreme Brahaman is one. You call him Shiva or Vishnu doesn't really matter. That Supreme Brahaman will appear in front of you as you want to see him. That is why we have many Gods in Hinduism. And this also should convince you that why that Brahaman appears as Vishnu in Shiva temple. It's not like Shiva and Vishnu are different. They're one. Hence I don't consider your answer fully convincing.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Jun 9, 2018 at 9:56
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    @TheLittleNaruto Well, Sri Vaishnavas believe that Vishnu is the supreme Brahman and Devas are Jivas. But we also believe that Jivatma and Paramatma have a body-soul relationship, i.e. Paramatma is the Antaryami of the Jivatma. So that is what the Shankaranarayana form illustrates, that Vishnu is the Antaryami or inner self of Shiva. But that's irrelevant, because Venkateshwara doesn't depict Vishnu's Shankaranarayana form. What Peyalwar is saying is that Vishnu, who is displaying his Soushilya by standing before one and all in Tirupati, is the same one who displayed Soushilya to that Rishi. Jun 9, 2018 at 13:36
  • I don't want to object any sect's belief, but truth is what I told in my previous comment.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Jun 9, 2018 at 14:53
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    Not gonna happen, bro. Keep your belief with you and I'll keep my belief with me.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Jun 9, 2018 at 16:59
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    @TheLittleNaruto Reading Ramayana and Mahabharata are great, and watching TV serials is good for getting a basic idea of stories. But to arrive at a proper understanding of things like the nature of Brahman you need to study more Hindu philosophy, like the Brahma Sutras and other Vedanta works. In any case, this work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan would be a good work to read: archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.92385 Jun 9, 2018 at 17:24

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