When I began writing this article, I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to be stuck down by lightning. I might very well be ostracized for saying this.
But my life motto is to be question the norm and I must show you the other side of the coin.
Coming from a family that has “connections” meant that we weaseled our way through a lot of things common folk did not have access to.
And today, I confront my demons by telling you about the dark side.
Tirupathi disturbs me.
On one hand, there are people standing in line for days just to get a five second glimpse of Lord Venkateshwara and then there’s folks like us, zipping off ahead of them because of our deathly expensive tickets. Same bias extends to simple things like buying their limited edition calendars or even the prasadam. There’s no way God likes us any better for having black ticketed our way in there, right. Right ?
But let me redeem myself by giving you a more holistic perspective.
Tirumala – Tirupathi are temple – temple town siblings. Tirupathi is where the major bus / train stations are. Its a thriving mid-size town that houses the erstwhile famous SV University [ where my parents met ] and Tirumala is the summit of the Lord of the Seven Hills, Venkateshwara or Balaji, my family’s namesake. So you get why I am so sentimental about the place.
There are three ways to get to Tirumala from Tirupathi. A dizzying hairpin bendy road. A 9km walkway that cuts through two of the seven hills called Alipiri. And a far older, through the jungle route called the Srivari Mettu.
Hinduism at its core is a scientific religion and ill justify the simple brilliance of suggesting the trek to a pilgrim.
When you are surrounded by hundreds and thousands of devotee’s chanting, you cannot help but feel a strong sense of community. Score one.
Shloka’s have been scientifically proven to have a frequency of 432Hz. Hearing a shloka for as little as 7 seconds energizes all your chakra’s. Score two.
And quite simply, the fresh mountain air energizes you, walking on the rough cobbled pathways activate all the pressure points, and the walk is over before you even know it. Home run.
One at the summit, I suggest you head straight to Woodlands for the best masala dosa in the world. Down a cup of coffee, pop a painkiller and go to sleep. It’s always a very early day in Tirumala.
Seva’s go on all day long but the holiest is considered to be the Arjita Seva which is embarrassingly exclusive and begin at 2am and goes on until the Suprabharata Seva at 5am, if I am not wrong.
Wiki has a really well written article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seva_in_Tirumala.
I had the lucky chance of participating in the Arjita Seva. I’m not much enthusiastic about temples but let me tell you – my mind was blown. It is a full spectrum of frequencies in there and you cannot help but feel like your whole body is about to explode with the intensity of the chanting. The pujari’s recite the Thiruppavai, which an ancient Dravidian text on the methodology of waking the Lord for another long day of blessing us mortals.
If you are interested, read the Wiki on the Thirupavvai: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiruppavai.
No one stays in Tirumala beyond a day or two at best. Its a good thing too, the entire experience of it provokes you into thinking about the karmic implications of such elitism. And the fact that life could have been very very different if not for the circumstances of your birth.
Gold help us. Govinda Goovindaa.