Thoughts about, devotion, faith....and crowds and the place of influence in religion

July 6, 2015

My friend had posted, asking if anyone had any “contacts” to enable a darshan of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupathi on a certain date.

My thoughts on visiting Tirupathi, which those of faith will probably take exception to…..please remember, it’s only my personal opinion, and don’t take offence.

Why do we adhere to a faith where even communion with God has to be achieved by “contacts”? After finding that In Tirupathi (that’s the way to say it…it means, the Lord of all that is auspicious) one needs to pay for shorter lines, “special” sevas, and that people always seem to boast about the contacts they used to get the darshan, and (more seriously) after my sister-in-law and friends were, over several occasions, molested in the queue, so that the darshan was the last thing on our minds as we approached the “garbha graha”, I decided to stop going to Tirupathi. What’s wrong, I feel, with visiting the TTDC temples in, say, Bangalore or Chennai? Is God, indeed,so location-specific that one must use “special means” to get His darshan?

I do, in fact, avoid temples, gurudwaras and other public places of worship during “auspicious” days, when all you are doing for the most part is looking at the back of the devotee in front of you, and trying not to be jostled by the (often sweaty) crowd milling about you. I found a very good exception in the orderly queues at the Hare Krishna temple (ISKCON) at Bangalore, where people are asked to step from one marble tile to another, each time, chanting a devotional mantra. This removes the element of hurry and jostling, and keeps one’s mind on the devotional aspect.

I would like to hear other points of view, because I can appreciate that there must be something special in the Tirupathi darshan to make people willing to undergo so much hardship, and call in so many favours, to get it. I do remember, in spite of the crowds,heat and dirt, a feeling of sanctity and upliftmet at the “sannidhi” of Meenakshi in Madurai, and Akhilandeswari in Thiruvaanaikkaval, that I have never been able to explain rationally.