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Story of Hathiram Baba and Tirupati Balaji Temple

Hathiram Baba (also known as Hathiram Bhava) was a Bengali devotee who came to the Tirupati Balaji Temple to worship Lord Venkateswara. His original name was Sevadas. He built an ashram in the Tirumala hill and started living alone.

He was an ardent devotee of Venkateswara but to the temple priests and people, his worship was mystical and different. Therefore, they did not befriend him.

His frequent visit to the temple and method of worship was disliked by the priestly class. They stopped him from entering the temple.


But God never abandons his true devotee. So, Lord Balaji visited Sevadas at night and they played Chausar (Pachisi – a board game {dice}).

One night, the Lord left his pearl necklace in the house of Sevadas.

When it was discovered, Sevadas took it to the temple. However, nobody was ready to believe his story; and the temple priests and authorities accused him of theft and imprisoned him.

Sevadas then prayed to Venkateswara to prove his innocence.

At midnight, a white elephant barged into the prison cell in which Sevadas was imprisoned.

The terrified soldiers reported the matter to the temple authorities.

When they reached the prison, the elephant vanished before their eyes. They were clueless and speechless.

Sevadas who realized it was the blessing of Venkateswara, ran into the temple shouting Hathiram (hathi means elephant).

From that day onwards, Sevadas came to be known as Hathiram and his fame spread far and wide. His ashram was visited by people from all walks of life.

There is a famous sculpture of Lord Balaji playing dice with Hathiram in the Tirupati Temple.

Related
Saptagirisha – One of the names of Lord Venkateswara – Tirupati Balaji

Did you know?

The meaning of the name Venkateswara
The name Venkata is exclusively used to refer to Balaji. It is not used for any other deity. There are two different meaning for Ventaka in Sanskrit – the first is ‘destroyer of sins.’
Tirupati Laddu Facts
The tradition of Tirupati Laddu is nearly 300 years old.
It is prepared by special hereditary priests known as archakas in special temple kitchen known as ‘potu’.