This incident occurred more than two hundred and fifty years ago. A group of Haridasas were climbing the hill at Tirumala to get a darshan of Lord Venkateshwara.
When one Haridasa said he was hungry, Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755) went away from the group to find some food. He returned within minutes and offered food to the hungry Dasa who relished it.
A little while later, Vijaya Dasa, came to the group with food. When he offered food to the Dasa, he was stunned to be told that he himself had come sometime ago and given food. Both Vijaya Dasa and the Dasa who had been hungry and this was none other than Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi soon realised that the person who had offered food was none other than Lord Venkateshwara himself.
So overcome was Vijaya Dasa by this incident that he began singing the glory of Venkateshwara and Hari all through his journey to the top of the hill.
Vijaya Dasa continued singing even as he entered the sanctum sanctorum. He fell at the feet of Venkateshwara and burst into a song.
Vijaya Dasa continued to sing the glory of Venkateshawra even as he descended the hill. Today, the practice of singing the Lord’s glory continues and the credit for starting this unique practice goes to Vijaya Dasa.
Vijaya Dasa wrote more than 25,000 compositions and it was he who led the second renaissance of the Haridasa movement in Karnataka.
A staunch devotee of Venkateshwara and Raghavendra Swamy, Vijaya Dasa went to Tirumala along with Jagannatha Dasa and other Dasas. He has written many songs on Srinivasa whom he lovingly called Venkatesha or Venkatachala and Tirupathi Thimappa.
A master of Suladis, he has written many in that genre on Venkatsha, including “Venkateshana yatri entado varunisalu”, “Venkatachala parvata mahime suladi”, “ba ba baba bakutara hrudaya mandira”, Saagi baraiah bhavarogada vaidyane, “Venkatesha mantra onde
By the way, “Saagi baarayya Bhavarogada vaidyane” was composed extempore and on the spot at Tirumala when the chariot carrying the idol of Venkatesha did not move. He had gone to Tirumala during Brahmotsava. Vijaya Dasa was meditating on the Lord even as the chariot was being prepared to take Venkatesha in a procession.
The chariot, however, could not be moved and it later transpired that As Vijaya Dasa was not present, Venkatesha did not want to move without him. This was revealed to the temple officials by a devotee who claimed that Venkatesha had come upon him and given him the reason for the chariot not moving.
The temple officials searched out Vijaya Dasa and brought him to the place where the chariot stood. The Dasa then sang “Saagi…” and the chariot began moving.
Today, chants of Govinda, Govinda and Srinivasa and Venkataramana are common when pilgrims and visitors climb the hill to reach Tirumala. Besides, the practice of saying the Lord’s name aloud when travelling originated from Vijaya Dasa.
Now a days, thousands of devotees from hundreds of bhajan groups from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala participate in the Tirupathi Tirumala Padi Vizha (Steps Festival) where they would trek their way through the hills to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala.
The festival is called Padi Vizha and it is preceded by the singing of devotional songs by the bhajan groups near the Balaji Busstand at the foot of the hills in Tirupathi. The festival generally commence at Alipiri on the foot of the hills.Women devotees adorn each step with saffron and turmeric and offer camphor ‘aarti’. The devotees would climb the steps leading to Tirumala, singing devotional songs all the way.