The Puranas state unequivocally that the image of Sri Venka- tesvara is self-manifest and not prepared by any mortal. It is said to have lain in an anthill under a tamarind tree on the bank of the Svamipushkarini on Tirumala. We are also told that the image is of Vishnu and that it depicts him as holding samkha and chakra in the two upper hands, keeping the lower right hand in varada and the lower left hand in Katyavalambita. It is said to be fully decorated with various ornaments and clad in fine clothes.
A group of inspired saints, popularly known as the Alvars, flourished in the Tamil country and sang the praise ofVishnu. They propagated Bhakti and Vaishnavism. These saints are assigned to the period400-800A.D. These Alvars visited many Vishnu temples of the time and went into trances on looking at the images of the Lord. Their inspired songs have been collected and arranged later and this collection goes under the name of the Nalayirapra- bandham.
The Sri Venkatesvara temple on Tirumala is said to have been hymned by Poygai-alvar, Bhudattalvar, Pey-alvar, Tirumalisai- alvar, Periya-alvar, Andal, Nammalvar, Tirumangai-alvar and Kulasekhara- alvar. All these Alvars have sung the praise of this god.
Poygai-alvar refers to this god in eight verses. He says that Vengadam destroys all sins and that Vishnu stands on it wearing a Tulasi garland. The scholars and philosophers of the time are said to have gone to him with flowers, lights and incense, worshipped him and obtained true knowledge. This god is said to be Krishna who blew the conch and who dispelled Aijuna’s ignorance; Mohini
for whom the asuras lost their heads; Narayana who sleeps on the milk ocean; Rama who killed Ravana and Trivikrama who measured the earth.
Bhudattalvar has seven verses in praise of Sri Venkatesvara. This god is identified with Krishna who tore the mouth of a horse. All the celestials are described as placing their crowned heads at his feet. He is Vishnu who took his abode here a long time ago. He is often dressed as Krishna. His body is smeared with sandal paste and decorated with fine ornaments and garlands.
Pey-alvar praises the god in ten verses. It is stated that the god is self-manifested, and that he is Trivikrama and Krishna. We are also informed that on his chest shines the Divine Lady seated on a lotus flower.
Tirumalisai-alvar praises the Lord in fourteen verses. He mentions the celebration of the Onam (Tiruvonam-Sravanam) festival on Tirumala. Brahma and Siva are said to worship this god daily. The god’s feet are said to be decorated with flowers placed there by the devotees. It is also stated that the god is visible from everywhere.
Tiruppanalvar has two verses in praise of Sri Venkatesvara. He says that the celestials worship him daily and that the same god stands at Vengadam and sleeps at Arangam or Srirangam.
Kulasekhara-alvar also says that Brahma, Rudra and Indra worship the god. He also wished to be the doorstep and worship the god.
Nammalvar states that the Lord manifested himself at Venga- dam and that he is the one who destroyed Vali. He is said to be having Alarmelmangai on his chest1.