Jarugandi jarugandi

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

To many Hindus, few gods have more pull than Tirupathi Balaji. The essence of the Tamil proverb, ‘if you drop a grain of ellu (sesame) in the crowd, it will land as a droplet of til oil on the ground’ applies to the case of the crowd density at the sacred seven hills than it would probably anywhere else.

The primary reason for such a huge throng may be due to the preference of multi-darshan, through different sevas, as the electrifying form of the awe-inspiring, head-to-foot bedecked Balaji is as satiating as the temple’s laddu prasad. One can get, pummelled, pushed, badgered and browbeaten by the milling crowd that forms an orderly line until let loose near the sanctum sanctorum where the devotees would scatter like berries poured out from a gunny bag. An ardent devotee will not be satisfied by the few seconds available for communion with the deity while being pulled, pushed and rushed by the temple staff with the infamous regimental command ‘jarugandi, jarugandi’ ( move on, move on).

As I was inching along the serpentine queue that morning, a bare-chested devotee in a silk dhoti draped in Andhra style drew my attention with his freshly tonsured head. “Sir, this is my fourth entry into the sanctum sanctorum during this trip,” he told me proudly. “I had Ekanda seva last night, the suprabada seva (early morning ritual of waking up of the lord), thomala seva and now sahasranama archana.”

But was he not was denying or delaying the opportunity to others who were standing for hours for a fleeting darshan once? But who am I to be judgemental about personal choices of worship?

“I have good contact with the temple. So, I will have a number of laddus, and special prasads not available to others,” he said beaming proudly. Perhaps he was not aware Lord Balaji was reportedly offered only curd rice cooked in an earthen pot. I wanted to convey the allegory that many of the very rich may roll in wealth, but their health may not permit any fancy food, excepting the humble curd rice or an insipid gruel. 

This might, however, go over his tonsured head. Instead, I told him, “One can have any number of darshans of looking at him, but don’t you think, it is more important that he looks at us once. A mere side glace will liberate us from our tortures and tribulations.”

He squirmed nervously sensing the complexity of the subject and ostensibly adjudicated the matter to Balaji himself, who was nearby. He shouted ‘Govinda, Govinda, Go-vinda!’ with the bespoke modulation and moved away from memarkedly, managing to lose himself in the advancing multitudes.

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