I have dreamt of you Venkatesha. Most of this life. Where were you oh grandeur of existence; With the holy namam showing the third eye. Where were you remover of sorrow; tester of time. Consort of the holy divine feminine - shri who you have kept in your child like heart.
Once so alone and distant - I thought that I was done for; I remained aloof and almost defiant. I thought that the sweet lord of the seven hills was not worth bowing down for. For which god I thought asks from devotees ornaments and prayer, this egoistic material thought was something which kept me back for such a long time.
And all the while Remover of sorrow and fear kept me safe and together near his heart like goddess shri.
I had the oppertunity to go to Tirupathi - arguably the most crowded and impressive temple/place of worship in the world recently with my folks. I have been there innumerable times in my life - but the difference being that this time I wished to be there. I wished to bow and pray and spend my life in sweet melody of his ways. Lord and sustainer of the universe. The keeper of heart, testing many on the way so that they can change as and where needed - to reach the feet of the primal consciousness - Narayana - beckoning each individual every moment.
The journey from hyderabad to tirupathi - overnight by train and pretty comfortable - we reached to a misty mountain bop kind of weather and remained in lower tirupathi the first day - resting and looking to make our move towards the abundant temples present in lower tirupathi.
Our first stop is the temple town of Kalahasti which is some 50Km off from tirupati. The temple is located in Tamilnadu and is a very ancient Chola/Pandya architecture; beautiful and one of its kind. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva - and is considered important across the country as remedy from Rahu and Ketu - the head and tale of a demon - which in astrology corrospond to the lunar and solar nodes (eclipses) which affect in turn the mind and body of a person in his life.
The thing is that since young - I have been wanting to see the temple and for one reason or none - never been able to make it. My folks know how many times I have bugged them in this regard, and never got to see the site. This was my time - we reached quickly enough and the beautiful thing being - that it was pouring ney downpouring in between as my mother was chanting shiva strotras and stopping with some beautiful intermittent sunshine - what a wonderful life!
The temple is very commercial with little or no respect to the archaelogical/cultural/mythical aspects of the site left anymore.
The temple runs on the rahu ketu pooja which brings in loads of people and big business over the year, I ofcourse am no better - My rahu is placed in a predicament in my natal birth chart - in the XII house - which hosts the collective unconsious/subconscious worlds. Thus, this means that my life would be tainted at times with some mental problems (which I have been facing on and off) – and the only teaching this would lead to is, is to have faith and not take things so seriously that they impair life itself to progress towards eternity.
We waited for a long time for the pooja to happen – and it kept raining intermittently and heavily the whole time (the temple has many inlets from the roof through which rain kept sizzling down and refreshing us with its view). Finally post the small ritual – we went to see the grand and beautiful kalahasti lingam.
The mythic story goes something like – three animals in present life (Elephant / Snake / Spider) all were shiva devotees in previous life – taken birth to worship this elusive and beautiful lingam. So the elephant used to offer bilva leaves while the snake would guard the lingam and the spider would put a net around it to protect it, and all three used to invariably get in each other’s way. And one fine day in anger – all three killed each other (Spider kills elephant who kills snake who kills spider!)
Shiva is very happy for some reason for them to kill each other (kidding!) but rather with the extreme levels of devotion each one shows and stills in this place as the great Vayu Lingam (This is one of the elemantal temples as well – for the element of Air). Hence the lingam is very thin and very tall (almost more than 7 feet up) and looks magnificent even from a far off distance.
I had a grand darshan along with my family and felt extremely satisfied (at heart) to have made the journey to see what I had been in my mind and soul wishing to see for such a long time. We headed home and called an early day with some good tamil dinner by the side (Tamil meals are probably the best in the world in terms of spice and condiments)
The next day we headed for the local temples present in tirupati – all old and now taken care of to some extent due to the beautiful site present on top of the hill (otherwise like most other indian temples – they would be relics only known to the locals and not taken care of even then).
I went to the beautiful Manga Rama and Kodanda rama temple – the former being at the periphery of the town (which has become very very big as on date – commercialization of gods and men rampent like no place in the world as in india). The manga rama temple is where Vishnu comes as a bachelor and stays and prays to the lord of wealth – Kubera for help to marry his grand beautiful gentle consort – Lakshmi. Kubera then lends him dowry cash for a successful marriage and to repay the amount with interest – the lord of all takes rest on top of the hill where he wishes his devotees well and in return gets sums unthinkable by any to be given to an idol! (it is now the second richest temple/place of worship – post discovery of his counterpart mode – Lord Ananta – padbanabhaswamy in trivandrum who has amassed secret treasure through his devotees with time!)
The other temples were equally beautiful – the Kapila temple dedicated to lord shiva and goddess kamakshi – where these two come to bless and marry the beautiful couple into union, located on the slope of a natural flowing waterfall coming from the top (and perennially), the place looked powerful – but dismayed with the human dirt which has accumalated in the water pool with time – spent time here getting restored before going to the ISKCON conning temple for some food and then headed back for rest time.,
The next day early morning we set out to the top of the hill on our cab – we picked a guy who works with the TTD office and who would help us with a quicker darshan than possible (as we were leaving on the same day and a six to ten hour wait is simply impossible – for my folks). The ride up was extremely serene – the hill is taken care by TTD and also forest department and forms part of the nallamalai ranges (dark forests of Andhra Pradesh). We reached and changed quickly into our dhotis (I did not wear anything to cover my chest – and found out that I was perhaps one in a million who had nothing to cover myself on the cold mountain )
The wait lasted for three hours where my parents and I stood patiently and talked and discussed life as well as others who were there in the line (most of the folks dedicate their hair to lord venkateswara – as a symbol of offering their head and their most respected part of body to the god as a token of their love!) So these folks of course look pretty funny and our conversations continued as we inched (literally) towards the beautiful sanctum sanctoram.
The temple is small in area and has history of being a Lakshmi temple before hand – the idol of the lord is around 11 feet high and there is no confirmed sculptor for the same – the story is that it was found in this manner at a site which is couple of kilometers from the present day temple. The god materialized his form into stone and the same was found by a shepard – till date the shepard family is the one who is authorized to open and close the temple gates though the priests are the ones who do the formal pooja and the informal looting of the cash.
Till recently tirupati was the richest and even after padbanabhaswamy’s treasure discovery it remains in the top richest in the world – but unfortunately a lot of money and beautiful jewellery has gone missing over time and recently discovered findings speak that the mukut and the precious jewels adorning the lord’s face had been stolen and replaced with less costly imitations in the past 10-20 years. Shocking as this god is one who takes such matters very very seriously and attracts punitive action to those concerned. There is not a single person who comes in his presence who does not ask for something in turn – and once delivered – what we had promised to give balaji must be done and promptly – he is one who takes our tests all of our lives – giving us misery and love at the same time. He makes our life complete – with constant trials and tribulations – with victory in humility at his feet and unbounded love in the heart. Such a god is a rarity to find!
The temple still looks the same – but when I entered the inner sanctom with the pushing and what not happening (you do not need to use your own force once you enter the temple premises – you will be whisked away by the pressure of men women children behind) I saw the god and he was looking a bit lack lustre – perhaps because the previous day was deepawali and might have included extended ornamentation. But thankfully got to see the lord for a long time (don’t think much – long time means maximum 5 seconds in front of this beautiful idol!)
Came out and took prasad and then moved on to the the place where the lord descends and sends forth the idol to be worshipped – this is unique as there are 2 stones touching each other – which forms an arch structure – even more unique is the fact that these are sedimentary and igneous rocks together – and only 3 of such kind are present in the world! This is the arch through which the lord manifests himself, a bit further away is where his footsteps were once found in stone (but unfortunately through rampant carelesseness by devotees – the original stone has got disfigured – the photo of which remains, the place is called Chakra Padam). The feet of the lord like stature seem to be over 15 inches or more atleast. Huge feet !
From the arch like structure – I moved forward and making my mother rest at a comfortable place went downhill on foot where in between the jungle – a small rivulet cuts through – thought to be very holy water – people drink and spray it on themselves to cure diseases and misfortune, the other side rises again and one can goto visit a secret small shiva temple which really looks secluded and pretty. My father and I went and spent a moment in peace before returning to get my mom and leave via cab down hill.
Down hill the journey was mellow with the one stop at the beautiful iconic idol of Hanuman – the entire hill is extremely beautiful to say the least. Even if completely rummaged with human beings.
I had a beautiful darshan and the lord blessed me with his presence - this was not some form of superstitious belief or blind faith but an understanding of the power of the lord who removes his lover's sorrows.
Go towards the divine hills - discover and rejoice, there is no place like it, there is no time standing still like my beautiful lord of the seven hill!
Peace and Love