Balipitha of Sri Dharbarnyeswara Temple and Sri Saneeswara Baghavan Thirunallar Temple, Karaikal
The Balipitha in a temple usually faces the sanctum at a distance directly in front of the Lord. But, the one here is not facing the sanctum directly but it is little away from the line of the usual position and thereby hangs a tale. A milkman was supplying milk in the temple daily on the orders of the local king. But the accountant of the temple asked the milkman to deliver the milk at his house and enter it in the temple accounts. But the honest milkman who objects to the instructions of the accountant was threatened with drastic action by the later.
The helpless milkman could only seek justice from Lord Darbharanyeswara, who irked by the accountant’s malfeasance wished to punish him and released his lance in his direction. And as the Balipitha was in line with the courses of the launce it is said to have moved a little away from its position to clear the way for the passage of the hurtling launce.
Balipitha is an indispensable associate of the sanctum. It is an altar or the dispensing seat of the deity. It is a small but stylized stone seat that is installed directly in front of the icon and very near to the sanctum. It is the seat on which offerings to deity are placed. The chief (pradhana) Balipitha will be directly in front of the icon and often near the Dwajasthamba. It is usually made up of hard granite and will be highly stylized, ornate, and majestic, with several limbs such as the base, cornices, wall-surface with door-lets or niches. Most texts suggest that the size of the altar should be 1/8, 1/7 or 1/5 of the dimensions of the sanctum. Depending on their sizes and shapes, the altars are classified into several types such as Sri-bandha, Sri-bhadra, and Sarvato-bhadra and so on.
The Pradhana Bali-pitha will often be covered with metal sheets .The more affluent temples as the one at Tirumala, give the Pradana Balipitha a metal covering with gold polish.
It is on this Balipitha that the food offerings, in the form of vermilion colored rice, and rice mixed with pepper are offered to the attendant divinities and the guardian goblins. These offerings are placed only after the main food offering to the presiding deity, in the sanctum, is completed. While the main (pradhana), Balipitha will be directly in front of the icon; there will be several such other altars, located in the prakara, positioned in the eight directions, around the sanctum. Their positions are determined in accordance with the prescriptions of the canonical texts that the temple follows. Some suggest that the yupastambha (Sacrificial post) and the balipitha (sacrificial pedestal) of the Vedic age have metamorphosed into the dhvajastambha and the balipitha of the present day.