Belief in self manifestation obscures history
It is a great paradox that in this country a lot many people are made to believe that murthis can be self manifested, i.e. murthis are making their presence without being made by the human hand.
It is not only the illiterate masses, who believe in this but also the most educated and the learned do. Such is the mentality that has been purposefully created by the few elites of this land. It does not only remain a harmless superstition on personal level but is used by these clever people to obscure any inquiry, any kind of intelligent interchange of ideas. It is understandable if a devotee believes in this but for a student of history it is of no use. Unfortunately, the scholars dealing with the subject of Tirupati have taken refuge under this theory of self manifestation to explain away the historical fact, such as:
*. 1.Why one need not discuss the attributes of Murthi
*. 2.Why there are no parivar devatas. Why it is the only ek-devata temple in whole of India.
*. 3.Why the murthi does not conform to the Agamic rules.
*. 4.Why there was no regular worship in this Temple, till 966 A.D.
*. 5.Why the various murthis are not recognized in this temple by their Agamic names.
and many such points which are inconvenient for Brahmnic scholars to answer, are tried to by solved by the panacea of 'self manifestation'. For example T.K.T.Vira Raghavacharya, while refuting the theories of Shri Srinivasa Rao who had challenged the Vaishnavite creed of the temple, explains away the absence of updevatas as follows:
"...As for connection which Kapila and Bhrigu are said to have had, it may be stated that Kapila, Bhrigu, Ganesa, Durga, Siva and Brahma are all Updevatas in a temple consecrated to Vishnu according to both the Vaishnavite Agamas. But they never had a place in Tirumalai for the simple reason that Sri Venkateswara is svayamvyakta murti and not consecrated according to Agamas..." [Raghavacharya: I, 300]
These stories of self manifestation are constructed by the learned few and are incorporated in daily rituals,for ignorant many.Several sthala puranas and stories are compiled for this purpose, and incorporated in various Puranas. The purpose of these stories was not only to attach the divine importance to the shrine but also to explain to ignorant masses how they happened to come across a new image overnight. Historically speaking, it only means that the person who wrote the sthalapurana either does not really know who manufactured the murthi or does not really know who manufactured the murthi or does not want to mention it because of his vested interests, even if he knows. In plain language it existed before the sthala puranas were compiled.
R.C.Dhere rightly avers that any image with attributes, features or weapons can never be 'self manifested', it is always sculptured. Any attempt to say so by the so called research scholars and priests on the verdict of saint poets, should only be considered as preservation of their selfish interests. [Dhere: 1984: 150]
Usurped Buddhist Murthis are labeled as 'Self manifested'
In context of Lord of Tirumalai, 'Self manifested' should only mean that the murthi existed. It was there. It was abandoned by its devotees or there were no devotees left to care for it. It was uncared for, it was unworshiped, it was friendless, it was lying in a state of bad preservation for a length of time, such a length of time that it got buried in an ant hill. When it was found by one shudra Rangadasa, it was resurrected, and its worship started. Then the quarrel ensued for its ownership, each of the two main religions Vaishnavism and Saivism, claiming the ownership. Were they so depressed by any of the enemies form outside or from inside that they could not dare to look after their beloved idol? Devotees of either Siva or Vishnu or any other Brahmnical sect never had any such misfortune and calamity, except in times of Muslim invasion, It was only then, that Brahamnic idols had to be guarded, concealed and protected from the iron and fire of Muslim hand. Before the Muslim onslaught Brahmin murthis were never in a state of such humiliating and deplorable conditions. The people of various sects quarreled among themselves but never annihilated others to the extent that nobody remained there even to light a lamp in the temple. Before the Muslims came, Buddhists were the only enemies of the brahmins. But none of the Buddhist kings was so intolerant to Brahmnical images so as to let it suffer such a fate. Then why this image of Lord of Tirumalai was lying uncared for, for such a long time, if it was an image of any Brahmnical deity?
On the contrary, there is a definite historical evidence that Brahmnical kings persecuted the Buddhists and Buddhists had to abandon their shrines, with the result that no bhikshus were left to look after their viharas, Hiuen Tsang has given many examples where the local deities protected themselves. L.M.Joshi has observed:
"Although Buddhism in South India during the 7th and the 8th centuries had ceased to receive royal patronage, since the Pallavas and their rival dynasties were followers of Brahmnical religion, yet it continued to face the rising opposition from Jainism and Saivism." [L.M.Joshi: 1977: 38]
"In Dhanyakataka or Dharanikota on the Krishna, many Buddhist monasteries were not in ruins when Hsuan-tsang visited the province. Still about 20 of them were occupied by about 1,000 Mahasanghika monks. The famous Purvasaila and Avarasails monasteries near the capital city (modern Bezwada) as also Amaravati, were still extant, but without any monks. In the time of Hsuan-tsang only 'the local deities guarded the monasteries.'" [L.M.Joshi: 1977: 38]
Thus in Buddhist monasteries, the images were left uncared for, for the simple reason that there were no people to go about worshiping the Buddha, to such an extent that the caves of Ajanta which were unparalleled in the world in aesthetic were forgotten for a pretty long time and not one bhikku or a lay Buddhist remained there to narrate to glory the Buddhism was. Thus the memory of Buddha was gradually wiped out from the minds of people.
Device of 'Pandavas'
In addition to this device of so called 'self manifestation', Brahmins have resorted to use another device to appropriate Buddhist shrines, temples, mathas and viharas. That is 'Pandavas' device. Any cave , any old temple, any old structure which is found deserted, Brahmins have christened it, rather crudely, in the name of Pandavas. Surprisingly millions of god loving, god fearing, ignorant gullible masses have believed this, just ignoring the fact that the Pandavas, either singly or collectively, were never the subject matter of worship. Such structures are scattered all over the country. Even for the great 'Seven Pagodas' or so called 'Rathas' of Mahabalipuram, which definitely deserved a better treatment, it is a pity, that Brahmins could not find a better nomenclature than that of Pandavas.
Dr. Ambedkar had very aptly said:
"The people with selfish motives say that the caves in Maharashtra are Pandava caves. What for did the Pandavas come here? Pandavas never went more than 80 miles away from Delhi. How did they dig up fifteen hundred caves in Alwar state? They neither had a pick or a spade." [Ambedkar's speech at Pune., "Janata", 1.1.55, Ganjare's vol.VI, p. 121]
Device of 'Rakshasas'
It was told to masses that a certain temple or the other was built by Rakshasas, overnight. This is a well known device used by brahmins about many temples. May be, that was the real attitude of brahmins towards the Buddhists. They have called all charvakas as rakshasas, and they don't seem to make any difference between them, anyway.
Device of Mouni
Another device is to declare that God mouni in kali yuga, i.e. God observes silence in the present Kali era. This is a clever instrument to keep the masses away from the Doctrine, at the same time glorify the Master as a 'Guru', which could have been very useful in those early days of conversion from Buddhism to Brahmanism. 'Your God has gone silent, he does speak, does not preach, though you must worship him as a 'Guru' could be a good advice for the neo-converts to Brahamnism. We have to understand that in ancient times, and to same extent even now, the medium of approach to masses was folklore, folk theater, dramas, songs, and bhajans, kirtans and pravachans. These artistes were very efficient as propagators of 'god ordained' chaturvarnya, and even a small of slogan like 'mouni guru' is enough for their pravachana for the whole night. The importance of this device can only be appreciated if these facts are taken into consideration. People were bound to ask if Buddha is present avatara of God, how, are we supposed to observe chaturvarnya and caste, which is against Buddha's teachings. The ready made answer was that though he is avatara of god, his teachings are not to be followed, as he no more preaches in kali yuga, thereby making it imperative for them to observe chaturvarnya as was ordained by avatars previous to the avatara of Buddha. By silencing the Guru the Teachings were silenced. Avatara of Buddha, any way, was taught to be maya moha and was declared apujya i.e. unworshipable. 'Mouni guru' seems to be a part of a broader conspiracy to allure the masses away from Teachings of the Buddha and at the same time retain His name in the scriptures, only for the names sake. We find Marathi saint poets lamenting about the "moun" of Vitthala, as previously mentioned.