Saturday, August 15, 2009
in june, alongwith my wife i did a pilgramage to tirupati. earlier in march i had worshipped lord varadaraja and lord yahtokthakaari at kancheepuram. i normally have no difficulty in getting the lord's darshan at kancheepuram.it does not have the type of rush as in tirumala and as my father hailed from kancheepuram,i have my contacts to ensure a hassle-free darshan. but in tirupati,i do not have such contacts. one can plan well in advance,book on the internet and have a reasonably peaceful darshan.in our case,we are unable to do such long-term planning which the net booking calls for.hence, i have to use 'influence' to get darshan. for the last twenty years or so,i have been managing in this manner. i wonder when my luck is going to run out.
the sacred abode of lord vishnu is nestled amidst the peaks of seven hills(representing the seven hoods of adisesha).this most venerated and richest temple of the world situated at a height of about 3000 ft above sealevel is more than 2000 years old and is a twenty minute uphill car ride from the base tirupathi. as per our family tradition,we chanted the vishnu sahasranamam and completed it just when we reached the top.also it has been the family practice to visit the padmavathi(wife of lord srinivasa) shrine at tirucchanur(6 kms from tirupathi) and obtain her permission and blessings and then embark on the steep climb and on return visit the sri govindarajan(lord srinivasa's elder brother) temple at tirupathi. lord venkateshwara(srinivasa) is the reigning deity of tirumala.services are offered to him round-the-clock excepting for about two hours after the 'ekanta seva' around midnight when he takes some rest. about one lakh piligrims visit the temple everyday and on special occasions the crowd could go to a staggering seven lakhs. the arrangements for accomodation though are satisfactory,it is a herculean task for the ttd authorities to manage such a huge gathering.many of those who seek the free darshan have to stand in serpentine queues sometimes for fortyeight hours!
so we feel guilty when we go for the break-darshan causing inconvenience to the regular devotees.reports keep on coming that ttd authorities are going to scrap this preferential treatment.break- darshan is a facility for vips enabling them to jump the lengthy queue for a darshan of the lord. from six hours in a day which were kept for break-darshan,it has now been reduced to one hour.even break-darshan worshippers have to stand in queue for some four hours at times. the final decision on scrapping now rests with the cm of andhra pradesh.the break darshan regulars include l k advani,bigB,s m krishna,anil ambani, jeetendra and his daughter ekta,anand mahindra,vijay mallya,sachin tendulkar,shilpa shetty(recently kissed by a priest but not in tirumala) and last but not the least janardhan reddy,minister for mines(gold?) who donated a crown for a staggering rs 40 crores.made out of 34 kg of pure gold it has an emerald of 880 carat and about 70,000 diamonds.
but that has set off a controversy of sorts.it is said that heavy lies the head that wears many crowns.the priests have a headache. they are worried that the lord's head is getting overburdened.they are afraid that this may cause a crack in the lord's moolavigraha(the main idol).lord balaji's jewellery kitty has already seven magnificent crowns plus eleven tonnes of gold,ornaments and many other precious jewels.on an average at any point in time the gold ornaments on the 'moola vigrha' weigh about 6o kg of gold.several years ago my wife's cousin,a professional expert in gemmology, was given the contract to clean all off lord srinivasa's jewels.she did it happily and in record time and which was well appreciated by ttd officials.
a closely guarded secret for centuries is likely to be revealed soon.the andhra pradesh high court has asked ttd to submit an inventory of properties and ornaments owned by lord srinivasa on the basis of a public interest litigation recently filed alleging certain irregularities by ttd officials.
the lord's(frequently called "govinda" by his devotees) pull is magnetic and his grace offers his worshipper the much needed solace." venkataadri samam sthaanam brahmaande naasti kinchana; venkatesha samo devo na bhooto na bhavishyati" ( there is no place equal to venkataadri in the whole universe; a god equal to venkatesha has never been nor will be). all pujas for lord srinivasa commence with"idam bhagawan" (this is god). if you want to know all about tirumala and lord srinivasa, i would recommend to you "Tirumala tirupati the legends and beyond" by sarita reddy and biraj yajnik.it is a beautifully illustrated coffetable book priced at rs 3600.there is another informative book on balaji by nanditha krishna priced at rs 295.early this year,i attended an exhibition of tanjore paintings from the personal collections of late sir c p ramaswamy iyer(dewan of travancore) at cymroza art gallery in mumbai.i took permission from nanditha krishna and took pictures of some very beautiful paintings.one that i liked very much and wanted to buy(the price was unaffordable) is the last picture shown above.now,i regret not having bought it.