Memories of a South-Indian pilgrimage
The long-expected day came and we left for the wonderful India. It was January in Hungary. The usually freezing weather could not rule our mood. We could tolerate it easily because we knew that in South-India January is much different: it is joyful with bright sunshine, palm trees and singing birds. And why were we leaving for South-India on this day? Why were we curious of the southern states or more exactly Tirupati amongst thousands of nice areas of hundreds and hundreds traditions?
In the South the Hindu culture or the continuity of Vedic traditions are so obvious. We can find ancient and monumental temples here in which – uniquely in the whole world – worship of deities and meditation has been on without any interruption for thousands of years. One of the most sacred places of pilgrimage of South-India, Tirupati is such a region. The fantastic mountains of Tirupati give place to Tirumala or heaven on earth. Balajī, Vis£u’s incarnation who came to the earth in search of his wife is reigning here. Balajī once hurt Laksmīdevī very much by not taking her feelings into consideration. Laksmīdevī became so furious that she left Vis£ut and hid on the Earth and absorbed in deep meditation. Balajī was in misery without his consort. Even the heaven looked like a desolate desert without her; therefore he tried to find her. After a long search Balajī became tired and found his home in Tirumala. The temple city of Tirumala is advocating the opulences of Vis£u and his heavenly abode with unbelievable treasures, gems, parks and temples of fabulous atmosphere. The main goal of our journey was to discover this ancient and mysterious world manifested millenniums ago.
We were lodged in a beautiful Kṛsṇa-temple at the feet of Tirupati’s mountains. Three days after our arrival I and my friend, Lokabandhu left for Balajī’s place in the mountains of Tirupati on foot early in the morning. Arriving at the feet of the mountain a long stairway and an imposing gopuram (spire) indicated the beginning of the pilgrimage of five or six hours. I could feel the weight of the stairs and the limits of my mind after the first hundreds of steps. Lokabandhu asked me several times smilingly if we should stop. We advanced with shorter rests and met a lot of pilgrims in the meantime. There were some who lit night-lamps and many touched the stairs with paint honouring the path of the pilgrims. After one and a half hours of climbing, all difficulties disappeared. As they say when I exceeded the deadlock or got new energies without my comfort zone. I would say that my mind gave up fighting and became peaceful like a calm and endless ocean. The key of life is a peaceful mind. The positive side of life or even the spiritual world can appear there.
In the next few hours we did not want to take any rest but were marching towards our destination among the peaceful pilgrims. The special atmosphere was increased by the frequent cries of “Govinda! Govinda!” and by the groups singing God’s names. On approaching the temple of Balajī there were summits and valleys, gardens of heavenly beauty and safari parks on the bench of our path. The majestic sight of the summits and the joyful hustle and bustle reminded me of my childhood summer something strange started in me. I could see it in front of me as “bicycles are ridden in a hot summer over the bridge to the field”. I could feel the touch of breezes carrying the scent of childhood tales stirred up in the woods again. I could see that in the distance, along the shining horizon the side of the mountain blend with the stream coming from the valley and the alluring blue sky. I was sitting on the hill above my grandparent’s house again and I was watching the stream of life bewitched. However not the horizon was burnt in my mind but something else: the sight of Balajī’s sublime mountains. Now the light breezes were carrying the hope of Balajī’s heavenly region.
Suddenly we arrived at Balajī’s temple. It was indicated by a spacious square and a temple with golden cupola with gopurams. We started queuing quickly among the cordons to reach Balajī because we knew we were about to wait for another two or three hours. During our trip we got into such an oblivious and joyful mood that those few hours were not even noticed. Lokabandhu was reading aloud from an Indian sacred text and I was listening to it absorbed and was watching the playful sunshine in the temple’s garden and the Indian people amongst us. I did not see them as superstitious Indians as I used to, but I could feel their simple, moving love for Balajī. Everybody was spanning without complaint and in a bright mood to get closer to the wonder.
After two hours of queuing and two quick bends we turned to the internal garden of the temple. Huge golden and silver gates and antique stones with silver fugue indicated that we were approaching Balajī. The mass exclamations of Govinda! Govinda! became more and more ecstatic, and the whirlpool took both of us. It was like a fall in time. We could see the priests between the ancient walls of the altar as they were chanting Vedic mantras in the same way as one or five thousand years ago. Almost everything reminded us of the ancient and glorious Vedic times.
Only a few people separated us from the expected sight. The guards were baffling the people fast in front of the altar. Everybody could stand in front of Balajī only for a few seconds, but the Western devotees of Krishna were holding the people for almost half a minute. We were crying the names of Govinda in a trance. We could not do anything else since the ebony Balajī was standing right before us with the most valuable tiara of the world decorated with diamonds. His eyes were covered in fear of his burning into ashes the sinful people of our age by his glance. On the other hand the person who saw Balajī’s wonderful eyes would not be able to forget them anymore.
Balajī was standing on the altar alone without his consort. Laksmīdevī’s anger can be softened with difficulty, thus she was without her husband in Tirumala. Her act has a moral for us mortal humans and especially for men: the wife is the greatest treasure of the husband. The husband must learn to relate to his wife and her needs with respect and love, because not even God is happy without his consort.