Among the world’s religions, Hinduism is arguably one of the oldest and the largest. The original principles of our religion are based on scriptures known as “Vedas Sanathana Dharma” or the “Eternal way of Life”. Strongly believing in peace, prayers, and celebrating the natural stages of life, Hindus incorporate “Dharma” or duty to self and the society to attain salvation or “Nirvana”. While Vedas, written in Sanskrit language, extol the virtues of the practice of Hinduism, “Upanishads” unravel the true philosophy of the religion. formulated thousands of years ago and are still being studied, recited, chanted and practiced daily. Hindus regard religion as “
Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) and Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), famous transcendentalist literary giants were influenced by the Hindu spiritual translations like the “Bhagavad Gita”. But, active interest in Hinduism in the western world was sparked by a very charismatic young philosopher Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), who spoke so eloquently about Hinduism at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago during the Columbian Exposition. Later, many famous luminaries like the Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Beetles, and Desmond Tutu ….. made Hindu philosophy world renowned for the peace and tranquility it imparts on its followers. Some ancient Hindu epics like “Ramayana” and “Maha Bharatha” have helped broaden a thoughtful perspective of the trials and tribulations of life on this planet.
Hindu faith does not restrict one’s belief in the way the religion is practiced, or how the prayers are offered, either at home or the Temple. Though the basic divine force of Hinduism rests upon the Trinity of Gods, “Brahma”, the creator, “Vishnu”, the sustainer, and “Siva”, the destroyer of evil in the universe, Hindus treasure various forms of the Supreme Being, based on their regional, traditional and ancestral beliefs. Hence you will encounter many Deities in our Temple that represent different aspects of our Religious appreciation. Hindu religion is very tolerant of other faiths, as evidenced by new origins and coexistence of many diverse religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Judaism Sikhism and Zoroastrianism in India over thousands of years.
Sri Venkateswara Swami (Balaji) Temple
A group of nine young philanthropists, with the idea of building a shrine to serve the religious and cultural needs of the increasing number of immigrant families from India in the early eighties, acquired several acres of land in Aurora and donated 20 acres for the construction of our Temple. With funds raised by many devotees from across the country and India, Sri Venkateswara Swami (Balaji) Temple of Greater Chicago was meticulously designed, planned, erected and officially consecrated in June, 1986. Our Temple includes several shrines that will be described in more detail. Hindus offer prayers and gifts in various forms to the Deities, believing in the omnipresence of the Supreme Being. The learned Priests, who dedicate their lives to the Lord, are ordained to deliver the offerings or “Puja services” by reciting “Mantras” in Sanskrit and provide a glimpse of enlightenment with the lamp “Aarthi”. Regular services are offered throughout the day and special services are planned in advance and organized on a large scale.
The Temple’s main entry is called the “Raja Gopuram. The large central main hall is “Maha Mantapam”, and the hall in front of the deities is “Artha Mantapam”. With the exception of the Priests, no one is allowed into the main “Sannidhis” (shrines).
With increasing popularity, the Temple underwent two major expansions and is continuing to draw thousands of devotees and visitors from all parts of the world. We continually strive to maintain the authenticity of religious services and value added benefits to the communities we serve.
SHRINES (Sannidhis)Sri Venkateswara Swami (BALAJI):
The main shrine in the center of the Temple is the abode of the presiding Deity, Sri Venkateswara Swami, also known as Balaji, considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The spectacular, awe inspiring, fully adorned form of the Lord manifests all the qualities and attributes of the Divine spirit that embodies the true Hindu devotion and dedication. The four arms depicting the four corners of the world, four aims of life (Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha) and four Vedas (Sama, Rig, Yajur, and Atharva) deliver the undisputed message about the omnipotent nature of the Supreme Being. The “Sankha” (Conch) to awaken, the “Chakra” (Discus) to destroy evil, “Äbhaya Hastha” ( Blessing Hand) to safeguard the righteous, and “Kati Hastha”, (Resting Arm) to offer peace and comfort to the Devout. He is adorned by his eternal consort, Sri Lakshmi close to his heart.
Sri Lakshmi is the beloved wife who appeared in all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and took equal role in saving the world many times according to our mythology. She is worshipped as the Goddess of wealth and good fortune, harbinger of auspiciousness and abundance. She is the true icon for dedication to the cause of humanity and her spouse.
Sri Bhudevi (Andal):
The goddess of Earth completes the concept of the universe with her consort Lord Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi. She represents the greatest devotion to the God, expressing her love in mystic poetry, portraying patience and tolerance like mother earth.
Sri Kanyaka Parameswari:
The incarnation of Sri Parvathi as a young deity is worshipped as Kanyaka Parameswari. She represents the significance of art, character, dance, education, love, music, and piety.
He is the son of Lord Siva and Mohini, a rightful combination of power and magnetism. Devotees of Lord Ayyappa take on rigorous practices (Diksha) to avoid worldly distractions and fortify godly devotion.
The Lord has appeared on the earth ten times to preserve dharma and destroy evil. He has assumed various roles and forms necessary to accomplish the Herculean tasks. The ten incarnations (Dasavataras) are depicted in the order they appear in Hindu mythology, Matsya, Kurma,Varaha, Nrisimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Sri Rama, Balarama, Sri Krishna, and Kalki.
Lord Hanuman or Anjaneya personifies ultimate friendship, immeasurable love and infinite strength. Before any difficult task, it is common practice to recite His praise in Dandakam.
Believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Sri Satyanarayana Swami is prayed to on more occasions, seeking good fortune and welfare for the entire family. We celebrate His prayers on a regular basis to large groups of families.
The 'destroyer' in the Triumvirate is worshipped in the form of Siva Linga to deliver strength, virility and virtuosity to ward off all evils from the universe. Lord Siva is believed to be the easiest to be pleased and bless His disciples with insurmountable gifts that led to celestial wars, only to be saved by Lord Vishnu. The mankind is thus served by the delicate balance between the might and the bright. Lord Siva is the consummate husband as “Artha Nareeswara” with wife Parvathi truly becoming his other half. Nandi, the bull resting in front of Lord Siva’s shrine represents strength and virility. His gaze is fixed on the Lord, despite the head turned slightly away, implying the grace of God drawing the attention.
Goddess Parvathi is the ultimate champion for women’s rights by claiming Her rightful position in Lord Siva. She is the undisputed Mother for most Hindu women that offer prayers to bestow the best virtues in the husband. Sri Parvathi is also worshipped for Her inestimable might as Kali or Durga Matha.
The artful master of Dance, Nataraja, is an incarnation of Lord Siva, who loves the delightfully expressive skill of Nritya and Natya. All forms of Hindu art and culture are dedicated to please the ultimate connoisseur.
The nine planetary Deities’, Surya, Chandra, Mangala, Budha, Guru, Sukra, Sani, Rahu and Kethu, influence on the celestial world is believed to have a direct effect on the destiny of humans on earth. Astrology is an important part of Hindu beliefs, and praying to these Deities will ward off any untoward situations.
Sri Vinayaka (Ganesha):
Popularly known a Ganesha, He is always the first one to be offered prayers before any important event in Hindu tradition. Highly regarded for the gifts of education, and as remover of all obstacles, He is closest to the hearts of School children and adults seeking a smooth sailing through all endeavors. Mooshika vaahanam, Ganesha’s ride in the form of a rat awaits him in front of His shrine.
Son of Siva and Sakthi (Parvathi), regarded as the commander of all the Deities is worshipped along with His consorts, Valli and Devasena. The peacock is his favorite chariot rests in His clear view. He is attributed with six faces (Shanmukha) and also known as Skanda, Karthikeya, Murugan and Velan.
Sri Siddhi Vinayaka:
Lord Vinayaka is worshipped in many forms by virtue of His attributes like Siddhi Vinayaka for accomplishment or fulfillment, and Buddhi Vinayaka for enrichment of intellect and knowledge. Sri Siddhi Vinayaka is one of the first Deities worshipped on these grounds to bring the epic project to achievement.
Sri Lakshmi Varaha:
Sri Varaha Swami is one of the ten celebrated incarnations of Lord Vishnu accompanied by Bhudevi, Mother Earth. He resides on the banks of the Pushkarini (the lake) in front of Sri Balaji Temple in Tirupathi. It is customary to seek the blessings of Sri Lakshmi Varaha Swami before entering the main Temple.
The well celebrated and highly revered form of transport for Lord Vishnu is Garuda, the great Eagle. His shrine is located in front of the main entrance to the Temple on the terrace.