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Idhil enna sandhegam??

vraghuna_at_CALFED.COM
Date: Wed Sep 02 1998 - 11:07:16 PDT

Kind Bhaagawathas:

Sri. Sadagopan's posts are always illuminating, but his recent post on his 
personal experience of several Divya Desams (especially the amusing image of 
this great scholar peeking thru curtains to satisfy curiosity:-)) must 
remind us all of like times when we made "unplanned" trips to these 
kshetrams and were blessed with a darshan we didn't expect but which He had 
very much planned.

On one such trip to Tirupathi, I didn't know it going in, but it was the 
Lord's Tirunakshatram and when we reached the temple, there was a huge crowd 
around a glass enclosure in the open which was lit up with lamps all over, 
and with their light playing on His face, there He was, being pushed gently 
on a swing! I had never heard of this sevai in Tirupathi before, and it was 
just amazingly beautiful.

About Divya Desam #1 tho, I have stayed out of it because I haven't been to 
enough of them to be any kind of judge, and to be honest, I thought that 
Lord RanganAthar would be such an obvious choice (if based purely on Alwars' 
Arulicheyals as originally purpoted) that He didn't need a half-baked vakil 
who might even quote a mayavadi or two. But the fervent pleas ("manrAdal"s) 
of Sri Venkatesh make one want to add one's mite. I can at least speak to 
the contest between Srirangam and Tirupathi. The Lord CHOSE to reside in 
Srirangam and land value and everything else in Srirangam revolves around 
proximity to the Lord. "Maamis" who might have boasted of diamonds, houses 
or other stones elsewhere would say proudly "engaathuvaasalla thaan 
oorgolame nikkum, ingaye nanna paarkalaam..". With the "muthangi", 
"poovangi" etc the celebration of the Lord in all His splendour is a very 
imaginative and complete experience in Srirangam. In Tirupathi the Lord is 
woken up earlier and earlier to fit in one more lucrative puja. (I don't 
know if things are changing in Srirangam too.) If you see the "naamam" 
everywhere you turn in Srirangam, you see the big block letters "TTD" 
everywhere you turn in tirupathi and are made aware of how "managed" the 
place is. Suprabhatham is recited at 2:30am. When I witnessed it I thought 
the priests were both sleepy and bored. Of course I don't know what it is to 
do this year after year, and I'm obviously a lesser human being than them, 
but even when one prepares oneself to not be distracted by "Rs. 101" gets 
you here, "Rs. 1,001" gets you a few minutes more, etc, one has to work at 
acheiving one's pure and simple goal in Tirupathi. (In fact once a kind old 
man was among the "jaragandi men", and he said to me "avasaramillai. nee 
paattukku innum konja neram paathukko paappa", and I was very grateful tho I 
could not take the time when so many wait. Then I started to walk away and 
he said "pathu roopai kudu" (Give me 10 Rs.). When I asked him what for, he 
said "I let you have the darshan, did I not?"

Of course what we humans have done with a particular kshetram cannot be used 
as an argument against the Perumal as He appears there. Srinivasar is such a 
powerful figure that even from an average calendar He just looks so intense 
with so much "life" that you think it's a vigraham standing there. But one 
does wonder. In psychology we learn about "the focus on an unmet need" and 
is it because He experienced what it is to be without Sri prior to coming to 
Tirupathi, that there's such a focus on wealth (and the unfortunate worldly 
power of wealth), not only in getting one to the place, but also in what 
people think He offers to the devotees. Of course, in the end, it is as it's 
said in the Gita, the one who seeks "artham" will get that and so will the 
one who seeks "kamam". I don't know if anyone has already used the argument 
that when our Sri Andal sought instead a marriage with Him, Her wish was 
fulfilled at Srirangam.

I have only one more thing to say. Even with my pedestrian knowledge, saying 
"It is green. It is a big mountain. Therefore it's Tirupathi" seems a bit of 
a stretch. Lord Krishna wearing peethambaram is often likened by poets to 
"looking like a bluish-green mountain in the distance with the sun's 
yellow-gold rays on it.." (aha!). I think that's the mountain the Alwar 
meant, the one he saw in his closed eyelids.

One of many "experiences": Once, when my grandmother was "in the family 
way", my grandfather (whose family did kaimkaryam at Srirangam for 
generations) was doing Sandhyavandanam in the evening. Grandmother was alone 
in the kitchen and grandfather saw a snake moving along the path made for 
water to flow out of the kitchen to the backyard. It was moving quickly 
towards the kitchen and grandfather could not stop the Sandhyavandanam. So 
he said "Ranga, please tell (Adhi)seshan to tell this snake not to harm my 
wife, and I will name the child after You and Him" and then he continued. 
Not only did the snake come out quietly, but it crawled into a "sombu" (a 
pot) and could be carried out to freedom later. Father was named Seshadri. 
I'm sure such events were part of everyday life in many of our ancestors' 
homes in all our Divya Desams. They really did put the "bharam" on the 
Lord's shoulders and were strangers to words like "stress". The only issue 
is, "mathavA appa ellam muzhichundu nalla kAryam seiyarAnna engappa 
thoonginde kAppAthiduvaa..."

Engum surri Ranganaye ser....
Viji Raghunathan