October 30 Tirupathy to Chennai Via Tamaraipakkam

We were off for the darshan of the Lord of Tirupathi at 2AM. It was an auspicious day, after Vaikunta Ekadashi and we considered ourselves very fortunate to have the Lord’s darshan in the presence of our Guru.
Beautiful winding roads lead us to the abode of Venkatachalapathy and our Darshan was done in no time. After the Darshan, we were lead to a room where a special prayer was conducted for us and a shawl was presented to Pujya Guruji on behalf of the Pujaris there. While we were walking out, temple’s yearly procession was on its way, we got to see the Utsava moorthy at His resplendence.
Considered the richest and most sacred temple in the world, Tirupati temple is located 67 km away from Chittoor in southern Andhra Pradesh. Also known as Tirupati Balaji Temple, it is a major pilgrimage center of south India.
The temple is located on a hill at Tirumala. It is a conglomeration of seven hills known as Seshachalam or Venkatachalam. The temple boasts of a vibrant and colorful culture and a grand past. It is an important pilgrimage center, where devotees stand for long hours waiting to get a glance of the presiding deity.
The ancient Tirupati temple follows the Dravidian style of architecture. The gopuram of this temple is its highlight. The Vimana or Cupola, named the “the Ananda Nilayam” is placed over the sanctum sanctorum. It is completely gold plated.
A day at Tirupati Tirumala temple begins with Suprabhatam (awakening the Lord) at 3 am. The day ends with the Ekanta Seva (putting the Lord to sleep) at 1 am. Prayers are offered daily, weekly and periodically in the form of Sevas and Utsavams to the Lord. Devotees who want to pay homage to the Lord can donate a small amount and have the Sevas or Utsavams done in their name.
After breakfast at Bliss, we went to Chinmaya Srinivas, the new Tirupathy Chinmaya center. There is a beautiful Chinmaya Venugopal murthi at that temple. Phaneendra Sai Garu who is instrumental for the Ashram and its activities, talked briefly about the history and events.
Guruji commended about the wonderful Satsang hall, connected with the temple, which had come since his last visit. They also have plans to build an Ashram on the land nearby.
Guruji explained that Krishna means the one who attracts. In life, what attract are beauty, sweetness and happiness, this is represented by the word “Madhu” in Sanskrit. What gives beauty, sweetness, happiness is called Madhura. “Madhuradhipathi” is the lord of sweetness, beauty, happiness and that is who is presiding diety as Chinmaya Venugopal. We should all strive to gain these qualities in our lives.
After this short visit, we were back in Hotel Bliss for lunch. Thanking our hosts, we were off to Tamaraipakkam. The last hour, we were escorted by Yuva Kendra members on their motor bikes with orange flags who lead the way to ashram. We received a warm welcome at the center.
About 40 km from Chennai is Sarveshwara Nagar in Tamaraipakkam. This ashram was set up as a Pitamaha Sadan — a place where people over the age of 60 can stay permanently. The purpose is to provide a quiet, serene environment conducive to reflection and meditation. A Tamil Sandeepany was formed here and two batches of students were trained under the guidance of Swami Shreedharananda.
The Geeta satsang hall on the ground floor of Sarveshwara Dhyana Nilayam (the temple) is a well-ventilated circular prayer hall.
The ashram also has a Goshala (cowshed), paddy fields and beautifully forested areas.
We got tours of CORD activities by Mr. Kannan, a very dedicated Sevak, after which we visited Shiva temple which is shaped like a Shivalinga. History, activities and plans were presented to us by the center administrators. A Hari Har school which is in operation at the center for the disadvantaged is being expanded thanks to generous support from the family of one our fellow Yatris and will go up to Standard 8 from 2010. In the end, Guruji introduced us to Brahmachari Sadashiva Chaitanya who has been instrumental in interfacing with the local people in Tamaraipakkam.
We reached Hotel Breeze for the stay while Guruji and a few of the delegates went on to the Chennai Ashram. A long, eventful day was coming to an end.

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