Om Namo Venkatesaya
I heard someone saying these lines to convince someone to let him go to visit Mata Vaishnodevi, "Arey Bhaiyaa, Jab Mata ka bulawa aaya hai toh Jaana hi padega..."
I now learn that when God calls you, there is nothing that can stop you from going. Its all in his hands. After all, we are just his children and he has total command on us. From out of the blues, it was decided that I am going to visit the Lord Balaji Temple at Tirumala Hills, Tirupati on 24th August 2011. The decision was taken on 21st and on 23rd evening, my body was in the car that cruised from Bangalore. It actually took some time for my mind to realize and actually understand that I was in reality going to Tirupati. It was like a very long time plan that I had been having that I have to go to the temple. The last time I went there was perhaps in 1997 with my parents and grandparents. So, it was like 14 years now. I was definite that there would be tremendous change in the place by now. Moreover, being a child (6th standard then), I did not remember very accurately the time spent over there except that I very clearly remember that we stood in the queue for a very long time and when we were before the Lord's idol, I forgot to observe & pray. I had just taken 2-3 steps and my father asked me, 'Did you see the God? Did you pray?'. I asked, 'Where?'. He tried to show me but in vain as the security personnel was pushing us away. I ignored it all, bend down, almost ran back, saw the Lord and prayed. I asked the Lord something and in the meanwhile, the security personnel identified me and pushed me off. My parents had already gone out. It did not take much time for me to find them though. From Tirupati, we went to Mantralaya and then, we reached Hubli. To my utter surprise, my wish had already come true. It was no less than a miracle in my life. After having been rejected for Sainik School due to some medical reason, there was a letter that allowed me to come & join the school in case I get a medical examination done from a higher hospital and if they certify that I am fit. I was certified FIT by the Command Hospital, Bangalore and Sainik School, Bijapur allotted me Roll no. 3210, Adilshahi House and asked me to sit in Class 6th, A section. Life got a new definition
Thus, my faith in Lord Venkateshwara is very huge. I believe in God. I learnt that if you have good intentions, ensure honest approaches, make consistent efforts, remain dedicated, be selfless and keep moving towards your goals putting your best foot forward and leaving the rest to God, with complete faith in him, he will never disappoint you. He might not make your wish come true but that happens only when he has planned something better for you
While I was immersed in thoughts and memories, the car had paused at a Kamat Hotel on the way for dinner. We had dinner and proceeded. By about midnight, we could see the most beautiful 7 Hills of Tirupati where a line of lights was like travelling from the bottom to the top. The God's signature symbol appeared on the top with complete glow and I was super excited. In the meanwhile, I was told that this is the stretch that we had to walk as we had planned to walk up the hills rather than drive. Was it fear, hopelessness, lost feeling or what exactly that hit me in an instant is yet unknown but I was completely gone. I mean, such a big hill by walk? It took some time for my mind to settle down
After a good half an hour, we started to proceed further and at around 2100 steps, there was a counter where our photos were taken and we were given free pass for Darshan that included free accommodation and free meals. We learnt that we had a total of 3650 steps to cover and thus, we had to cover another 1550 steps. However, from now on, the steps have a longer gap and you actually walk more than climb. The journey continued and after covering about another 600 steps, we reached the road. We were confused whether we were on the right path. We got a clarification from other pilgrims that we are on the right path. We have to follow the white color painted on the footpath for about 3 kms to reach the next steps.
It was about 5.30 am and the scenic beauty was striking. We loved the walk. It almost appeared like a morning walk for us except that the muscles had a different idea. Soon, we reached the steps. People gave us an idea that there were steeps steps half the way and then, the steps were at a good relaxing distance further. We started and I had a total muscle cramp in my thigh. I just could not lift my leg and lied down by the side. It took some time and I got started again. As we closed in to 3200 steps, things seemed easy and the steps seemed to end quicker. Finally, after about 4 hours of effort, our wish had come true. It was about 6.30 am and we were atop the Tirumala Hills, to be specific, the Venkata Hill. Wikipedia says, "The Tirumala Hill is 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level, and is about 10.33 square miles (27 km2) in area. It comprises seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha, thus earning the name Seshachalam. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri, and Venkatadri. The temple is situated on Venkatadri (also known as Venkatachala or Venkata Hill), the seventh peak, and hence is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills (Saptagiri in Sanskrit)"
As we came out, we felt we have to go back in again but then, you know it is not possible. Its such an eternal feeling to sit before God. I have experienced such great peace sitting in temple. But then, with the size of people visiting this temple, the darshan itself is a blessing. We had prasadam and moved towards the Laddoo counter. It mandatory to take token to purchase Laddoos. It costs Rs 100 for 4 laddoos. Some people claimed that one can not take more than 2 tokens. I took 1 token. So, I now had this 1 Rs 100 token for 4 laddoos and another token for 2 laddoos that I got as a part of Footpath Darshan (by paying Rs 20). We took the laddoos and headed towards the Vaikuntam Q complex to collect our belongings. After that, we had some food immediately as we did not have anything since morning (except the prasadam & laddoo some minutes back) and loaded ourselves into the car to be driven back to Bengaluru. We stopped on the way for light dinner and reached Bangalore by about 1 am
It was a fantastic experience. It was a kind of dream come true for me. Like I mentioned, I had intention of going to the temple but I never tried to strengthen it as I am a very firm believer in God and once I strengthen the will, I will not feel comfortable till I do it. So, I was just telling myself that, 'One day, the Lord will call you... And when the supremacy calls, you have no option but to go'. The 14 year gap was one reason perhaps why he ensured that I am in his service for 14 hours. (2.30 am to 4.30 pm). Numbers you know. They are quite fascinating
I just loved the experience and thanks my friends for making this possible. The plan was on a very short notice and that perhaps had more advantages as we just went ahead rather than spending time on planning and discussing. For those who are planning, I would say, 'Stop planning. Start moving. The Lord is there to provide you with whatever you need'