Friday, September 5, 2008

Chapter 49

Among other temples I visited in the vicinity of Chennai:
The ancient Perumal temple at Tiruvaiyavur, where Lord Narayana, in his standing posture resembles the famous Lord at Tirumala;
Tirupputkuzhi, near Kanchipuram,is yet another famous temple for Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama is supposed to have performed the funeral rites for the celestial bird, Jatayu at this spot, enabling the latter to gain Moksha.

Lord Sundara Varadar graces the beautiful temple at UttiraMerur. This ancient temple is an architectural delight and there are various sanctums for Lord Vishnu , built over three levels. Lord Sundaravaradar is on the ground level depicted in a standing posture, while on the second level, as VaikundaVaradhar, he is seen seated, along with his consorts. On the top most tier of the Temple Gopuram, one can see Lord Vishnu lying on his serpent bed as Anandasayi.

Thenangur is famous for its newly construced temple to Lord Pandurangan and his consort Raghumayi. The interior of this temple is richly decorated with many friezes and sculptures depicting stories from the life of Sri Krishna. The main sanctum houses two imposing statues of the Lord and his consort !

Just across the temple for Pandurangan is a Shakthi Peetam where there is a separate Sanctum for RajaRajeshwari known as Shodashi, here.
There is a beautiful image of a smiling, young Bala in this shrine, seated just below her Mother, surrounded by all the attendant deities. I was fortunate to witness an abhishekam at this shrine on Chitra Pournami .

Both temple complexes were founded by Gnananda Giri Swamiji whose goal was to spread divine knowledge through “ Nama Sankirtanam” ( chanting of names of the Lord).

I visited Perumal temples at Tiruneerrmalai, Tiruvidanthai and Tiruvalloor; Murugan’s abode at Kunrathur, the Shiva temple at Kalahasti and Tiruvalangadu; the sacred seat of Shakthi at Trichaanur and the powerful Kali at Mathoor.

It seemed that Bala was encouraging me to take continuous pilgrimages, as if She wanted me to think of nothing else but Her. This is true because at each and every temple, I looked at the main deity and just saw Bala. Whether it was Lord Shiva, or Lord Vishnu, Anjaneya or Murugan, in my eyes, they seemed to be extensions of this child- goddess.
There is no doubt that She accompanied me on all my temple trips.

On Friday, March 21st, 2008, it was the auspicious Full Moon day. On this day, a Bala Parayanam was held in Chennai and was organized by me. However, the story of how this event came to pass is an interesting one.

Ever since the wedding in January, I had wanted to hold a group prayer meeting with all members of the Bala Parayanam group at Chennai and I hoped Sri Ezhilmani’s family would be able to participate as well.
However, when I broached this topic to him , Sri Ezhilmani indicated that the March, pournami paryanam was fixed up already and would be held at another devotee’s house in Chennai. Needless to say, this scheduled event was cancelled and, since exams were looming for most school children at this time, the family from Nemili decided not to travel down to Chennai at all.

A few days before Pournami, I got a call from Babaji asking me if would be possible, to arrange this event after all. I was overjoyed! Luckily, I found a large hall available for rent and swiftly made arrangements with the caterers to provide breakfast and lunch on that day.
About forty members of the family were to travel down and I was able to fix up accommodation for them as well.
I am sure it was Bala who ensured that all plans fell into place so smoothly!!

It was wonderful that I got an opportunity to play host to Bala’s family.

However, almost as if Bala announced her arrival along with the family, just as I prepared to receive Sri Ezhilmani and his wife into the hall where the parayanam was to be held, it started to pour with rain!!

I couldn’t help remembering the day of my daughter’s wedding when the same thing occurred! As if reading my thoughts, Sri Ezhilmani remarked” It looks like whenever we come to attend an event hosted by you, it starts to pour”!

We went inside and soon the parayanam began. Oblivious to the downpour outside, the uplifting songs written by Babaji and sung melodiously by Sudha and Madhu, filled all our hearts with total peace and bliss.

After the hour long parayanam, Babaji , who had been sitting alongside his father and mother said something totally startling. He said “ Bala just gave me this message in a flash. She says there is an old lady present at this parayanam who has joined in singing all the songs with so much love and devotion that Bala has asked me to give this lady all her books and Cds as a gift!”. He looked directly in the direction of my elderly aunt. This was the aunt who had accompanied me to Nemili a few weeks ago. Ever since that first visit, it seemed to me she was completely enamoured by Bala.She listened to Bala’s songs every day, read many of the books published at the Peetam with great devotion, and recently, she described to me a dream in which Bala had appeared as a small child .

While my aunt was completely overwhelmed , it came as no surprise to me that Bala had actually “heard” my aunt’s prayers and sat on her lap that morning enjoying her singing!

At the finish of the Pournami parayanam, I thanked Bala fervently for giving me this opportunity to pay respects to her family and say “thank you”, once again, to her for taking care of me during those difficult days!

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