venkaTAdri samam sthAnam brahmANDe nAsti kincana;

venkateSa samo devo na bhUto na bhaviSyati


This sloka  taken from the Puranas  claims  …………There is no place in the entire universe that equals Venkatadri, the place where the Lord resides and there is no God, neither in the past nor in the future who equals  Lord Venkateswara.

TIRUMALA, the abode of Lord Srinivasar stands unique as an embodiment of mans eternal quest for the divine and His infinite grace. A piligrimage to the sacred Hills is a soul-stirring experience cherished by every devotee.

The puranas say that soon after Dwaparayugam ended and Kaliyugam started, Lord Krishna, decided to stay back to protect one and all and chose TIRUMALA. The appearance of the Lord would be mentioned in detail later as a piligrim’s diary . Lord Thiruvengadamudaiyan is acknowledged as the most glorious and auspicious   avatar of Lord MahaVishnu in this Kali Yuga. Even atheists and rationalists admit a sense of humility and the presence of the Lord can be felt by one and all as soon as one approaches the sanctum.


May be , this made Kulasekhara Azhwar in his Perumal Thirumozhi to burst into the pasuram PADIYAAYI KIDANDHU UNN PAVAZHA VAAI KAANBENEY.

The piligrims who seek his darshan enter the  serpentile queue  chanting the holy name and with deep devotion wait patiently to have the LORDs darshan .  And as one joins the queue along with  several devotees chanting LORDs names



the feeling is  very special .

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Once we  understand we are reaching the temple  main door . we can  have darshan on our right side  Lord playing dice with a baba .(near the old Sreevari Sahsra Deepalankara seva stage) , This  huge models of LORD playing dice with a babaji makes one wonder what divine leela that would  this have been . 

It may be noted , among several devotees , Few hundred years ago  Bahavaji   from  Northern India an advanced  devotee of Lord Sri Ram joined a group of sants in having darshanam of LORD VENKATESHWARA in Tirumala . Incidentally the day when Bhavaji  entered temple  for darshanam was   Puratasi Saturday ( the entire month of Purattasee ( September -October ) commemorating  LORDs Appearance month .


Bhavajee  after having LORDs darshan was  in complete bliss  . The  divine place it was and the  HARI NAAM attracted him  a lot . He could experience inner peace multifold at this place .He decided that the search for  his LORDRAM has  ended and hence decided to remain there .He  was so fascinated by the majestic appearance of the Lord that he decided to  be there permanently  having darshan of the Lord all the time.  With the devotees and  mahants support he constructed a small  Ashram (a place where the saints live near the temples) and settled  near the temple permanently .


Bhavaji  paid his obeisances to LORD as often as possible  and  he was slowly dissolving LORD in himself  Few occasions , He used to  swoon and fall and sometimes with tears used to have darshanam of  the lord unmoved for a long time . This continued for a few weeks and months in the temple  .  The Temple authorities being ordinary onlookers could not understand the devotion of him .


They   became suspicious about his  long waiting  and hence  reported the matter to the Temple  Chief .  With the instructions received  from the higher ups  , Bhavaji  was not allowed the next day . He was given a  strict warning  not to come to the vicinities of the temple . They demonstrated their anger  by pushing him out .  Our Bhavajee  pleaded the staff  not to separate him from his Lord Ram . But all this went to deaf ears .  A sad and dejected Bhavaji returned to his Ashram with tears .


Bhavajee expressed his grief  to LORD  with tears praying for HIS mercy  in having HIS darshan .  Whenever he used to make an attempt to enter the temple he was mercilessly pushed out .  Bhavajee was not sure how to pass his time without having the Lord’s darshanam.He  took up a dice board and started playing the dice himself assuming that he was playing with the Lord on the other side. He  switched the roles of LORD and himself while throwing the dice  and suddenly dozed of to sleep unknowingly


Bhavajee was in deep sleep . Suddenly  he heard a pleasant voice calling, Bhavaji!   Bhavajee ..   Please Wake up! It’s me, Your Rama!  Bhavaji opened his eyes and  was amazed  to have darisanam of  LORD  standing in front of him. He  just couldn’t believe his eyes.  He pinched himself to cross check was it a normal dream ??  Amazed   Bhavaji fell at LORDS feet  with tears . LORD lifted him and said HE was keen to play dice with him . Bhavajee  a bit shy ,  expressed joy like a small child . A  jubilant Bhavaji laid a mat on the floor and  offered an asanam to  LORD  . Was it  true ?? LORD playing dice with his devotee ….  It was something strange .



The game begun…and  LORD lost the game by making HIS devotee win .The innocent Bhavajee was feeling so elated .LORD kept loosing many games and was feeling pleased with HIS devotees win . Our compassionate  Lord wanted to gift HIS devotee VICTORY always ….  and hence  asked Bhavaji to seek any boon   . Bhavaji politely said,   Lord ..!! I  am  the most fortunate person to have  YOUR  darisanam and also play with you  . My humble prayer to you ..Oh  LORD please grace me with an audience on daily basis as the temple staff  are  not allowing him inside . To this LORD just smiled expressing his love to Bhavaje.

hh Next day  our Bhavaji  was eagerly waiting for LORDs arrival .He was feeling a strange excitement . He literally prayed the sun to leave the horizon as  soon as possible . He was very excited  recollecting LORDs bewitching smile and the fatherly love soothing him  . Finally the wait was over.  The Temple staff closed the  huge  doors of the temple  Even our  Lord  also was keen to meet HIS devotee . Lord made his move by coming out of the  “Ananda Nilayam”  and  went to Bhavajees ashram .  Bhavajee profusely fell at LORDs feet and offered asanam   . It became a regular practice for the Lord to visit the Mutt and spend time playing dice with Bhavaji at night when the temple doors were closed. One day Lord was playing dice with Bhavaji. Bhavaji  heard some noise in the ashram .He  had to go  out to   check  what  could be that noise , but there was nothing  special . It was a gentle breeze which disturbed the utensils to fall .


When he returned to inform  the  same to Lord,  he  found that the Lord had already left the place . Disappointed he looked down   but was surprised  to see a diamond studded necklace of the Lord lying at the board. He picked up the necklace and kept it safe thinking that the Lord might have forgotten it and he would return when He comes back to play next time. The next morning  the Chief Priest attending LORD  noticed a missing necklace which he promptly reported to the Temple Authorities. The Temple Authority were worried about the theft of Lord’s necklace.  The search for the necklace began  All the employees were called up on and inquired about the missing necklace. The  Chief Priest  informed the management about  Bhavaji   and  raised suspicion over him. The Temple Authorities ordered to summon  Bhavaji for enquiry.


Bhavaji  as usual was awaiting for Lord’s arrival to play the game of dice.  Sadly that day LORD did not join him . but he  could heard someone  calling his name . By the time he reached , the soldiers got in and started searching all over the place. Bhavaji was surprised to see them searching  the ashram all over. He   understood from them about the missing necklace . Bhavaji immediately  got the missing  necklace he held it safely to return the Lord when he visits again.  He innocently  submitted  to the guards… Was  this the necklace you were looking for?


The soldiers  without any concession arrest Bhavaji for his theft . Bhavaji pleads  his innocence  to the security staff  , but it goes to deaf ears  Bhavajee expresses LORDS compassion and mercy over him .He tells them about the DICE game played with LORD daily and that particular day he saw LORD has forgotten the necklace and he was preparing to return the same the next time LORD comes .  This innocent  explanation  make all of them laugh and   fun of him .


The next morning Bhavaji is reprimanded  in the courtyard of the Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya . Sri Krishnadevaraya  listens  to  Bhavaji’s explanation and  feels  it would be unjust to punish him without sufficient proof and proper investigation. He therefore, decides  to put Bhavaji on test. Sri Krishnadevaraya  informs the devotee  Bhavaji that he will be given an opportunity to prove his innocence  provided  he succeeds in consuming the entire heaps of sugarcane kept in his jail cell  by the next day else he will be punished severely..


Bhavaji  surrenders to the will of LORD .  Without any choice  he accepts  the Emperor’s decision.   In the prison cell , tons of sugarcane heaps   are dumped before him and the  cell doors are locked .  Bhavaje sits in a corner looking at the heaps of sugarcane .With tears he submits to LORD for his mercy .Our all compassionate LORD  never fails to rescue HIS devotee .


A little later,  he finds a giant Elephant appearing from no where in the cell and by the wake of the dawn  all the heaps of sugarcane dumped there for Bhavaji  is  consumed by the divine elephant .   When  Bhavajee  saw the entire heaps of sugarcane being  finished, he realizes  that his  Lord Ram has arrived for his rescue and immediately  with tears  cries  Oh  Ram…! Oh Ram..! My Ram…! You have come up for my rescue. How lucky am I? The Elephant blesses  Bhavaji  and disappears  …

jai jai jai

On hearing the Elephant’s  noise , the guards  are suprised to see both the sugarcane and the elephant have disappeared . The Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya  understands the devotion of the saint after being briefed by his soldiers  and  relieves  him of all charges and appoints  Bhavaji as the Chief Priest of the temple of Tirumala.  

Since this  Baba Bhavaji’s beloved Lord “Sri Ram” had personally come to  his rescue  in the form of a Hathi (an Elephant) he  is affectionately called as  Hathiram Baba.




As the Chief Priest  of the Temple, Bhavaji served the Lord for many years. He later entered into a Jeeva Samadhi. His  last years were spent near Sri  Venu Gopala Swamy Temple on the way to Papavinasam on the hills of Tirumala.


A Samadhi of Hathiram Baba had been constructed there and daily pooja is being performed even today. People visiting  Sri Venu Gopala Swamy Temple pay their homage to this great devotee of Lord Venkateswara. The Hathiram Baba Mutt had been built on the top of southern side of the temple in his remembrance. LORD announces to the world that HIS devotee is always special  and always gives him the place over his Thirumudi  .


Even one archanai thirunaamam   and Govinda namam    has

Hathi Raamapriya Govinda ……..…………………..

All glories to Hathiraam bhavaji …

Jai Jai Jai Sriman Narayana


3 thoughts on “Hathi Raamapriya Govinda ………..THE DEVOTEE WHO PLAYED DICE WITH LORD VENKATESHWARA………..

  1. Hari Om!
    Devotion of HathiramBhavaji simply thrilling!
    Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan – Jai Sriman Narayana!

  2. Thanks for sharing for Hathi Raampriya Govind history. It was so interesting to know about God’s game towards Hathi Raam. The line what I liked LORD announces to the world that HIS devotee is always special and always gives him the place over his Thirumudi

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