I went to Pittsburgh recently to seek blessings from His Highness Lord Venkateshwara. It was actually my second time.
I entered the last dwara – as one might say – where his Highness resides. The room was filled with about 20 people. Scattered around. Some in meditation. Some chanting slokas silently. Some just sitting. Some standing in front of the sanctum sanctorum. Just like any other temple.
I took a few steps towards the sanctum sanctorum and I could see Lord Venkateswara’s idol, adorned magnificently, as always. A slight smile, which somehow assures and says ‘Everything is going to be alright.’ I then did what people usually do in temples. Basically spent some time with Him. And shared the necessities.
Perhaps I had very high expectations, or my expectations matched with the same sense of satisfaction one gets when one visits the shrine at Tirumala (as the temple at Pittsburgh and the temple at Tirumala are managed by the same TTD authorites), that, I must admit, I felt quite disappointed after the visit. Both times. What was it that was lacking? The Idol by itself was beautiful. The decoration was wonderful. Holy feeling all around. Slokas in the background. Few people chanting bhajans. The sacredness and sanctity of the sanctum sanctorum.
My mind investigated back to the moments spent in Tirumala after one enters the last dwara. There will be like two hundred people ahead, with very little space. Squashed amidst people all around. People’s breath, sweat and stink crams one up. People elbowing, pushing, cursing. A human wave, slowly but surely nudging forward. Like 8 lanes merging to a single lane within few feet.
Some are chanting deliriously. Some are cursing the authorities for improper people management. Some are shouting slokas at top of their voice. Some are singing in praise of Him. Some are nudging ahead, caring nought for others, and in hurry to meet Him. Some are carrying kids on their shoulders, asking them to crane up and get the first glimpse of Him and clasp hands and pray.
Atmosphere is feverish. At that point of time, after 3-4 hours standing in the queue, after 2-3 hrs locked up in rooms, with legs aching, hunger playing tantrum in the tummy, feeling swamped, everyone has just one aim, one achievement in mind. Especially because the end of the queue is near. To see Lord Venkateshwara.
And, I realized with a bang, after decades of belonging to the clan of cursing-authorities-for-improper-people-management, that that is what makes visit to Tirumala so gratifying and satisfying. It’s that damn crowd! Its that challenge. Its that aim. Its that same human instinct of wanting to achieve something. That crave for success. And, in this case, success is just to see Him. To seek His blessings. The long hours of wait conditions the mind and channelised towards God. For Freedom. From all the difficulties. Per se.
And hence the satisfaction.