The Temple Gong struck twelve, heralding the beginning of an another 24-hour-day ahead. Twenty four hours means, 24 into 60 and that to be multiplied again by 60 and it comes to 86,400 seconds in all. O God! How to end that unbearable torture as each tick of the clock is proving to be one yuga of centuries numberless. I do not know, why one longs to prolong the longevity of life, when assailed by heart-rendering news with every flash, such as throwing of grenades; burning of vehicles; removing of fish-plates; kidnapping of innocents; abduction of weaker mortals; looting of houses; sabotaging of machinery; staging of dharanas; exploding of sky scrapers; punctuated by the soul-searing cries of the victims of bus accidents; train derailments; plane crashes; boat-capsises; steamer sinkings; aggravated by the holocaust created by natural calamities, like incessant cyclones; torrential down pours; ever rising floods; horrifying earthquakes etc., etc.. etc. No news bulletin is bereft of tragic deaths, nor the radio and TV cease broadcasting awfully woeful news happening on some part or the other on the globe. Weighed down by anguish. Overpowered by ever mounting tension, I tried much to slip into the lap of Morpheus – Nidra Devi. Is she in her senses to extend comfort by taking on to bosom her own loving children seeking soft cool hands to wipe out streaming tears? She turned insensate at the sight of Bhumata relapsing into lunacy by the ever escalating ghastly scenes of violence and blood shed. She was beyond herself. Neither to console, nor to be consoled. So…. Rolling in the bed was no answer to put out the rising fires in the fevered mind.
What then is the way out to turn oblivious of the catastrophes going on, particularly affecting me terribly from early morn. Dashing out of the mattres, I went up to balcony to cover a thick black cover over the fast spreading flames of tension. Target missed! Started then surveying the whole panorama around as far as gaze could cover. Oh! how enchanting is the mountain scenery surrounding the Tirupati town in the mid-night! A little further down. The skyline is lit by thousands of electrical bulbs, sodium vapour bulbs burning over house tops and all along the roads giving it the pretence of floating in the gentle air. Revolving slowly and gradually, I turned to north. Ah! what a captivating sight! How grand is the picture of long line of lights resembling the creeping of a snake from the tall tower at Alipiri Mahadwar going up to Galigopuram!! What an enchantment the illumined zig zag line casting from the foot of the hill and culminating at the Vaishnavate symbols flanked by dise and conch adorning the high Galigopuram tower, as it were in the dark nigh!!! Against the back drop of pitch darkness, the lighted up Vishnavate symbols seem hanging down from the blue canopy of the heavens. Ah how lovely! What an exuberant grandeur the range of hills is embodying in the starless night lighted up by the foot-path lights. As the gazing went on, the Muse of Verse – Mother Saraswati seemed attuning to my rousing poetic fancy. My rapturous joy assuming enormous proportions ignited the slumbering instincts of devotion and inspired me to visit Ananda Nilayam to feast the panchendrias with a royal banquet of the darsan of the Divya Mangala Swarupa Srinivasa Bhagawan’s granite icon installed in the garbha griha. But how? What else can subdue the raging hurricane except by a mere single waving of Bhagavans Abhayahastam. In the dead of night at it, when every mode of conveyance is off the tracks and the operators are enjoying the well earned rest. Scratching of the brain supplied a right practicable clue-taking refuge in the viewless wings of poesy – imagination. Unconscious ejaculation springing up from the heart went up into air like spray on pressing the button.
Leaving no chance to procrastination, I summoned the service of that Divine Muse. A gentle, cool nectarine breeze blowing over my entire being indicated its approach and readiness to carry me across the hills and leaving at the desired destination. Mounting anon on its soft wings I started north wards. As it is the aerial flight neither blind curves, nor bottle necks retarded the velocity. Moving with meteoric speed it ushered me into the calm, hallowed garbha griha in a trice, travelling over hills an dales.
The very thought of standing alone straight infront of that august six-foot-high glistening granite image of Bhagawan Srinivasa sent thrills alternated by chills through my spine. The entire garbhagriha saturated with Bhagawan’s grace found charged the gentle air with an ineffable aroma inhailing of which I felt emboldened instantaneously. I, raised then my hands in prayer to that superbly decorated Him, to screening me from anything untoward. Standing as I was infront, I had the rarest opportunity of seeing every part of the vigrah minutely. When my eyes were passing over from tip to toe, I cried out overwhelmed by that mahadbagya. “Oh God! How grand! What splendor! What enchantment! Which could stand comparison! Would the world ever present another specimen like this! The gorgeous decoration with haras in profusion from neck downwards touching makaratoranam makes one gape and sure no description justifies its attempt. Then came to my mind its previous form and threw me into raptures at its change and so I let out Is it that august black masterly sculptured Swayamvaka Vigrah found lying on the bank of Pushkarini?
That simple unadorned icon is metamorphosed into ineffable beauty. Then began my scanning with utmost reverence to present to the readers the rain-bow beauty of Bhagawan Balaji item by item for its full divya sakshatkara. The first piece of artistic decoration striking the eye is the long thick multi-coloured tastefully knit garland dangling on two sides from the top of the unusually long diamond decked crown stretched up to the sacro-sanct feet, seemed offering obeisance to the Lord. The charm of the round face adorned with broad Tripundnam on the forehead found adding lusture to the dazzling Karnapatras decorating the long ears and the crystal white spot on the round well cut chin appeared in heightening the eyeful charm of the body. The visalavaksha adorned with the images of Mahalakshmi on the right and Alimelmanga Tayar on left, buffeted by the dazzling diamond studded Sudarsan Chakra and Panchajanya held close to shoulders by upper arms and the white yagnopavita passing across, seem vying in spelendour and opulence with that unique three foot – high diamond crown studded with 28396 diamonds. The tastefully arranged Vanamala. Makarakanti and Lakshmi Mata, one after an- other over the entire Vaksha and touching the well shaped lower hands adorned with Nagabharamas are fortifying the supremacy of the Parabrahmans’ elevating assurance of full refuge to the saranagathas with the down bent Abhayahastam pointing to the lotus feet and the left Katyavalambita hasta placed on the left knee signifying the depth of samsaramahasagara is only knee deep on expression of absolute total surrender to him. And the broad lotus feet adorned with gold gilted covering striking the eye with its sparkle hastened me for instant falling at them for full perpetual protection. In front and on too sides of Bhadrapitham are placed the metal icons of Chakratalwar, Kautaka, Srirama, with Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya, Krishna with his consorts and Utsavmurties Malayappaswamy with his deveries, Bhoga Srinivasamurti etc. I recalled then the various claims advanced by sectarians asserting their dogmatism that He is Para Siva and Para Vishnu. On full and closer examination of every aspect, anyone can come to conclusion that Parabrahman is both Hari and Hara and even He is Trinity in unity. He is Vyakta, Avyakta and Vyaktavyakta as eulogized by the devout highly evolved souls. The Vyakta aspect is quite visible with the weapons of disc and conch he is holding in his hands together with the images of Mahalakshmi and Alimel Mangai on chest. The Vyakta-vyakta aspect is represented by the Nagabharanas and Jata, the characteristic features of Siva, and the Brahma aspect is unmanifest due to the fact that it is enshrined in the Mulabera itself. I remembered that there is one more aspect which the Saktyas discern from the name Balaji as they believe that the icon is tht of Balatripurasundari Devi. Has not this singularity of archamurti embodying all the essential aspects of Trinity proved the inseparable oneness existing among the highest Trimurtis? To complete the arc as it were, the presence of eternal moisture at the feet standing for the Viraja river flowing perennially testifies that Tirumala is the Bhuloka Parampada and the Lord Srinivasa Bhagawan is the Parabrahman, a visible manifestation of Sri Mahavishnu in archa form. So the archamurti is succeeding in convincing all sections of people and drawing to his Sannidhi everyone, and is offering refuge at his feet on expression of Prapatti.
As may ecstatic rapturous joy was rising higher and higher due to inhaling of the aparupa divya souraba-the vapourised karunadradrishti exuding from the broad lotus eyes of Bhagawan Balaji, there heard a thumping sound of the doors flung open by the torchbearers followed by priests to performing the Suprabhata ritualistic prayer service. I deemed it judicious to leave at once for back home. Sooner than summoning the fertile potency of poetic fancy-imagination, there blew over my body cool breeze indicating its presence. And put me back in my home, in a wink of an eye, when the TV was blaring forth in ringing notes the Suprabhatam reverberating the whole colony. I then came to a momentous conclusion of penning all that graced my eyes for theists’ benefit. Its very decision lightened the heavily charged mind and removed all anguish. Is n’t it panacea superb? Acting as an elixir that apurupa souraba anointed me from head to foot. Then I started working on all observed together with everything sacred enshrined in objects atop the hills anointed by the lords padasparsa in ten sections to visualizing the fortune of the darsan of Abhayahstam that ensures permanent bliss as I was blessed with after the aerial trip to his lotus feet. Result: The Tirumala Saurabham adorning your hands. Now read the succeeding sections for warding off the disastrous effects of the destructive Satanic forces once for all.
No doubt your ‘Hullo Tirupathi’ succeeded in giving a graphic account of Tirumala and Tirupathi. Beginning with Padayatra, followed by the darsan of Srivaru, details of Sevas, Nityanaimithika Pujas, mode of their performance; visiting of worthy places around both Tirumala and Tirupathi etc., but it has not thrown adequate light on Vahan Vaibhav, origin of Brahmotsav and its uniqueness etc., which are equally significant as the topics dealt with That yawning gap deserves filling up for visualizing the glory of the hallowed kshetra in its entirety. Why not another without gaps”. Suggested a well meaning friend recently….”A good job done. A superb piece, a remarkable service, better in some respects than any one of the single Temple Series released hitherto, but non-inclusion of topics on Brahmotsav, its legends and the novelty of Udyanavanas is forcing my hands search for another to supplement it for full grasp, don’t you think. I am right in my remark”, released a dart a casual reader the other day, when met him in the bus going to Tirumala.
These and many more like opinions of approbation cum suggestions along with a caustic comment, like. “What is there in your book, your publication after the two recent books on the Hills released by well known publishers is a waste. You should not have thought of printing such thrash:” made me brood over for some time. That pungent remark, “….waste….thrash….” did not stir of perturb me even a little, rather it only acted as a spur for further work, since I know very well that bad odow emanated from than green-eyed monster was mainly due to the sale prospects of books he stocked came to an abrupt end after my book entering the market. So I remained like Sphinx. For, writers, why every artiste should treat, as a matter of fact, bouquets and brick-bats alike. He who transcends pettiness leveled against him alone can make a mark. Brushing aside the virulent criticism and motiveless malignity, if one goes forward doing justice to his chosen cause, sure laurels seek him. Keeping that mellowed wisdom in mind. I started the search for source materials for those left out untouched topics earlier; for, those remarks heard are genuine and eye-opening, and more over justified. Surprisingly, for Sevas abundam information greeted me with a smile I utilized if liberally and feel this is more than their expectation. It is quite exhaustive and so enlighten them with every detail needed, of course the timings and rates, may not be accurate; for, they are subject to changes from time to time. Regarding the Prasadam section added. Luckily I bsumped upon a treasure in the form of a book masterly penned by TKT Veeraraghava Charya, titled. “The History of Tirupathi”. Being an erudite scholar with vast research experience to his credit, he packed into his work what all one needs. Choosing the most relevant points. I confined them to a separate section and captioned it, ‘Prasadam and its varieties’. And I am sure. The readers welcome the addition, since the aroma exuding from every item seduces them to read avidly and propel them to the spot to avail it when chance permits. The Brahmotsav section too loomed larger and larger, as I went deeper and deeper into that mine of information I secured. It was hailed as an excellent piece, to quote an honest opinion on its perusal by discerning readers. When published in the September issue of Saptagiri, 1999. Coming to the Udyanavanas section. I have to say much about the most ennobling service rendered by the Conservator of the Department of Forests of T.T.D. which is my opinion no temple administration has ever thought of so far, nor would ever do so. the section enshrining in itself the lofty ideals of the Bio-aesthetic project launched out by the Department to making the hills more beautiful and fruitful with creation of Tapovanams studded to its portals with many marvels, like the mobile monolithic architecture. Rock Literary, etc., I am sure it makes a fascinating reading and lifts the souls of all classes of readers more than seeing it. Hence the inclusion. My write-up published in Saptagiri as far back as in 1986 came in handy and it is appended with some changes.
When I was presuming that all the pertinent topics are dealt with in a better way than those included in Hullo Tirupathi, there came a flash and startled me a bit: for I worked on almost all confined to Tirumala alone, but did not furnish anything on the manner of reaching the Srivari Sannidhi. Sure it is expendient and pertinent too. How can one enjoy the bliss unless reaching the hills. So I thought it a necessity to transfer the whole mass of the write-up published in ‘Hullo Tirupathi’ earlier with few changes here and there. Would it be possible to stretch one’s gaze afar to catch the glimpses of divinity embedded in the objects atop the hill scattered to nooks and corners sans reaching it? So its presence gets approval. I opine. By and large, this Tirumala Saurabham will surely lull the readers with its ethereal rare fragrance and elevate them to a higher plane and from there direct to the lotus feet of the Parabrahman, asbiding in the Ananda Nilayam. That is my hope and the theists yearning too, since it fulfils their long felt need. No further stretching of hands for any matter later.
Before suffixing ‘The End’ acknowledgement of gratitude the traditional ritual is beckoning me to add the names of persons visible and invisible instrumental for the production this book in your hand now. Of the many, the name of Dr. NS Rama Muruthy, the Editor-in-chief of Sapathgiri T.T.D’s monthly flashes across mind first and joins falms to offer my irredeemable indebtedmess for the timely guidance in matters of submitting the script and using his office to making it come out with words ‘Aid granted’. I lock up it in my mind his humanist action for ever and ever. The artist and Press chief and his personnel are the next whose whole-hearted co-operation is quite satisficatory and memorable deserving mention.
Then comes the Invisible Deities whose apara Karunadradrishti made my work bear sweet fruits. It beings with my Triple Deities-Baliji Bhagawan, the Lord of Seven Hills, Mother Sarada the Jnanasakti aspect of Adiparasakti, and Sri Kanteswar my Ilavelpu whom I am adoring every second of my conscious state, my pen has been moving on the paper and is instrumental in releasing a good number of books on temples. Going round chanting their sacrosanct names times numberless only reminds me of my unredeemable debt to them. But a beginning has to be made. Hence prostrations, before inaugurating the parikramana of the temples presided over by them.
Offering obeisance to those who contributed their mite by way of suggestions, opinions, comments etc., to transforming my elusive thoughts into conspicuous letters, I take leave anticipating unbiased and practicable suggestions for the advancement of my writing project, awaiting publication.
Brahma Sutras (81)
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