Venkateshvara or Balaji with Exceptionally Carved Prabhavali

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This tall, exquisitely carved wood-piece shows Lord Vishnu in his Venkateshvara manifestation, the deity form that enshrines the worldwide known Venkateshvara, or Tirupati Balaji Temple, one of India's holiest and the most highly visited shrines. Before a visitor has a glimpse of the deity, he is required to queue up for many hours, but as the faithful mind believes, that glimpse of a moment is sufficient to accomplish 'the desired' of ages. This manifestation of Lord Vishnu is also known as Venkatachalapati or Balaji.

The Venkateshvara Temple stands on a high hill of Tirumala amidst the mountain range of Eastern Ghats. The Eastern Ghats take here a serpent like undulating curve and with their massive size look like the mythical serpent Shesh. The believing mind hence emphatically claims that this mountain range is only the manifestation of Shesh or Adishesh. It accordingly calls Tirumala as Sheshachala, the abode of the serpent Shesh or Adishesh. The seat of Lord Vishnu comprises of the coiling Shesh. The Sheshachala theory thus completes the Vaishnava analogy of Vishnu's abode at Tirumala hill. Just at the foot of the Tirumala hill lay the township of Tirupati, the deity is hence more popularly known as Tirupati Balaji and the shrine as Tirupati temple.

South Indian Vaishnava devotees consider the image of Venkateshvara, or Balaji, as the holier than that of any one of Vishnu's incarnations. They believe that Venkateshvara, or Balaji, is Lord Vishnu's manifestation in his proto form and not an incarnation that realises him only in degrees. Tirumala is thus Vishnu's only abode on the earth or rather anywhere in the three worlds for, as the tradition has it, it was Tirumala where he permanently settled after he had abandoned Vaikuntha, his heavenly abode. His presence here is thus full and absolute.


This statue of Tirupati Balaji characteristically depicts this pre-eminence of the deity over Vishnu's incarnated forms. The artist has carved Balaji as his principal theme but at the same time and to suggest his deity's distinction from Vishnu's incarnated forms has carved in the panel below Vishnu's ten incarnations, which suggests his status as Balaji above them. At the centre of the base can be seen the figure of Sheshashayi Vishnu with Goddess Lakshmi at his feet and Lord Brahma emerging from his navel.

The most noteworthy feature of the composition is the arch or Prabhavali, superbly worked over with parrots, Yalis, elephants, makaras and densely packed with flowering and vegtative motifs. The artist has created around the deity yet another smaller prabhavali which consist of floral strings, three on its right and three on its left and the outer one ringing above its crown. To complete his deity's cosmic impact, the artist has carved over its right and left breasts Shridevi and Bhoodevi, one representing the ocean and all its riches and treasures and the other representing the earth and her fertility and boons of life.

Besides its capacity to define this unique theological aspect of Vaishnava thought, as a work of art also the statue is a masterpiece of woodcraft. It has been erected on a high pedestal, which consists of a multi-layered horizontally tiered structure and well-moulded roof. The roof has a finely rendered auspicious Kirtimukha crowning it. Deity's lower costume, which forms a semi-circular frill around the feet level, consists of floral garlands ringing around the deity figure in numerous courses.

Bhagawan wears a towering crown consisting of various patterns. The typical Vaishnava tilaka, a vertical red mark contained inside a white frame, which covers a part of the deity's forehead, nose and eyes, is the characteristic feature of the iconography of Venkateshvara. The deity has four arms, though only the two of them are visible. The left one is suggestive of holding the usual mace in it and the right one is in abhaya and displays the mark of padma, another essential attribute of Vishnu. The deity is holding its usual disc and conch near the two shoulders, which is suggestive of two other arms in which they are carried. The image has been lavishly bejeweled as deserves that of Lord Vishnu, who is the master of all jewels. Sharp features, a perfect posture and minute details are other outstanding features that define the wondrous craftsmanship of the statue.

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Item Code: DDK442
Wood Carved Statue
Height: 70.5 inch
Width: 47 inch
Depth: 16.2 inch
Weight: 106.40 kg
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Fully insured
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100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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Fair trade
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