Written on 1st Oct 2010
Around 2 months back; I, along with my Mother, Sister and a neighborhood Aunty happened to visit "Sri Puri Jagannatha Temple" which is built in Hyderabad, Banjara Hills Road-#12. The presiding deity of this temple is "Lord Sri Jagannath, Sri Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra" who are Lord Sri Krishna, Sri Balarama and Devi Subhadra respectively.
This "Jagannath Puri" temple actually exists in Puri (a place in Orissa near Bhubaneshwar). However, that temple has been replicated in Hyderabad by the devotees of Lord Sri Jagannath. Hyderabad temple looks exactly like that of Puri temple and is built with the same wood, same carvings and sculpture done on the temple "Gopuram". Here are two pictures of that temple, depicting the beauty in daylight and under the halogen floodlights at night.
The beauty of this Hyderabad temple is made manifold by the beautiful wall sculpture around the temple premises inner and outer sides of the boundary wall. These sculptures are painted with beautiful and attractive colors which takes one's mind to the historical age of Treta and Dwapara when those events actually happened. All the stories of Hinduism are part of these beautiful artwork. The below list is just few examples only,
- Birth of Lord Ganesha, his fight with his father and finally how he became elephant headed
- How Ganesha won the competition over his brother Skanda and how Skanda left mount Kailasha and settled in South India
- Churning of the Milky Ocean
- Important episodes/scenes of Ramayana, right from Dasharatha killing Sravan Kumar, Breaking of Shiva's bow, Bharat taking Rama's paduka, Absolving Ahalya from curse, Sita Haran by Ravana, Sabari's story, Sundarakanda, Hanuman carrying Mountain of Sanjeevani, Ravana killing, to Sri Sita rama's Pattabhishekam
- Lord Vishnu's Dasavataras and their pastimes
- Lord Vishnu's stories like Protection of Elephant from crocodile's jaws
- Durga killing Mahishasura demon and Kali stepping over Lord Shiva
- Lord Sri Krishna's life history right from childhood pastimes (Vasudeva carrying baby Krishna over his head to Gokul, Killing of Putana, Kaliya Mardana, Butter Stealing, Kamsa killing, Lifting of Govardhana Hill etc.) to his image as Jagadgudu who preached the wonderful Bhagwad Gita to the mankind.
This picture of Vaikuntha is what i am going to discuss in detail here.
One may think what is so special about this Vaikuntha sculpture that i had to write a blog for this? Yes! It's something special in my life. It has shown the love of Lord Narayana on me.
Just to give a background of my spiritual love life let me divert the current discussion slightly away from the topic. For the past one year, i have left the idea of being a devotee. I have adopted a "Bhavam" of being a son of the Trinity couple viz. Parvati-Shiva, Lakshmi-Narayana, and Saraswati-Brahma. I have been receiving their parental affection continuously throughout my life, but it's my bad luck that i never realized their maternal and paternal love for me and all the time just used to consider them as Gods/Goddesses and myself their devotee. Only in June 2009, by the grace of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, who opened the doors of my heart and made the sonly love flow for the Trinity and Trimata. I consider Sri Adi Shankara and Tiru Gyana Sambandar as my elder brothers for a reason (Of course I'm not claiming myself as any incarnation or any saint or a poet equal to their levels, but there is an emotional bond/connect between them, me and Shiva-Parvati as the reason which connects them with me as my elder brothers. That discussion is out of scope of the current blog though).
For the past one year i have experienced the divine parental love from the Trinity and Trimata continuously in many ways. One of them i would discuss here. Now coming back to the temple premises where from we time traveled a year back to know my feelings for the Trinity couple and related details as discussed.
The day when we visited that temple of lord Jagannath it was the evening time. We moved around the place and visited all the temples situated there and meanwhile we also took some photographs of ours standing or sitting near the beautiful wall carvings, on the stair case etc.
The entire temple was brilliantly shining with a Golden hue due to the sodium hyper lights and halogen lights. If you are still there with me you would remember that i discussed the "Lakshmi Narayana" wall sculpture of Vaikuntha and the Krishna-Arjuna chariot carving on the other side of the wall.
Due to the everlasting "Mahabharata effect", whenever i happen to see a bow, it steals my heart. When i saw krishna-Arjuna chariot where Arjuna's left hand held the bow firmly and the right hand held an arrow; i immediately got attracted to that picture and wanted to take a photograph of mine at that place. I immediately handed my camera to my sister and ran towards that wall and held that divine mighty bow "Gandiva" in my hand and stood beside that Arjuna and had a shot taken (A feeling of myself being the Grandsire (Son of Ganga), the mighty bowman gushed through my body which made me very happy.)
Then we went to Vaikuntha (the other side of the temple wall where my divine parents "Lakshmi Narayana's abode was there). That was the first time we happened to see that wall carving. It was so realiztic that i felt as if the great Lord Narayana and the ever compassionate mother Lakshmi were seated in real. All my sonly love gushed out like a jet and I could not control myself and wanted to have a feel of sitting in Vaikuntha. Hence again i handed my digital camera (Sony Cybershot DSC TX7-Blue) to my sister and asked her to take my snap with my mother Lakshmi and father Narayana who always reside in my heart.
I ran towards them like their infant and sat on the ground right in between my mother Lakshmi and my father Narayana with my body turned slightly towards my father. I placed my hand on on the hand of my father who is the father of the universes and felt as if i was really taking a snap in Vaikuntha. It was an awesome experience which i cannot express in words. Those moments were so blissful that i could have without any hesitation given up my life had the God of death "Yama" appeared and asked my opinion for leaving this mortal body.
That picture of mine which was taken in the evening time (around 7:15 PM) is as shown below.
The same picture taken with flash is as shown below.
I stay in a duplex house where the below house belongs to another family who are very pious and often visits sacred places of pilgrimage. They have perhaps covered most of the South Indian pilgrimage spots perhaps. That aunty came to our home next day and asked my mother where were we the previous evening. My mother told her that we went to Puri Jagannath temple. They didn't discuss much on this topic in finer details. Why i stressed on this point is, i know that my mother didn't narrate all sequences and my photo shoot in Vaikuntha. That aunty said they would also visit that temple next weekend.
Next weekend they went (She, her husband, and their relatives). Coincidentally that uncle also happened to take photographs there and especially in Vaikuntha. After 2 days they showed us the photographs they had taken (They went in day time though) and they gave us those photographs in a pen drive. The Vaikuntha picture which he took in daylight is shown below (mine was in evening time under halogen lights).
When my sister showed me those photographs i was thrilled to see that uncle's photograph with my divine parents almost in the same way the way i had taken. But still i missed one miraculous thing in that photo. I was in a hurry for the office and thought of seeing all the pictures later.
That night i switched on my PC and then started browsing through the folder where their photographs were loaded by my sister and especially with a desire to look closely at the vaikuntha one. I usually have a habit of looking very keenly at any picture which interests me and looked at the Vaikuntha picture of that uncle very keenly and was thinking/imagining about his feelings for that divine protector of the worlds and that mother who sustains and nourishes the worlds.
All of a sudden i found a strange change in his picture which conflicted with my memory where i had stored my picture safely captured. Immediately i opened my picture folder and looked at my Vaikuntha picture. I did a quick comparison between the two pictures and then i remained speechless, shocked, astonished for few seconds and then an infinite gush of euphoria ran through my entire body and my face bloomed with extreme happiness. I shouted and called my sister to come, and also called my mother next. When they came, i showed them a miracle and shared my happiness with them. It wasn't important for me whether the other person felt the same or not, but my treasure was my personal happiness on observing that miracle, and they too enjoyed my state of bliss.
Now let me tell us the reason behind my extreme happiness and state of transcendental bliss. If you enlarge both the photos and observe them carefully you would notice what miracle my loving father had shown me. Note the following setup first:-
- My photo was taken in night time under Sodium hyper lights / halogen light (without flash and with flash), whereas his snap was taken in daylight
- I sat in between Lakshmi-Narayana slightly towards the mother and turned towards Narayana. Whereas he sat approximately at the center point between Lakshmi-Narayana. However there is no much difference in positioning between us. This is slight difference and one may ignore this as insignificant
- In both of our snaps Lord Brahma (Navel born Son of Vishnu) appears more or less at the same place
- In both the pictures lord Hanuman also appears at the rightmost side with his body only partially captured in the snaps.
- There is definitely a slight difference in the angle where from the photographs were taken in both the cases, but to me that angle doesn't look like having major difference in both the cases
- You can observe that in both the pictures there is not major difference in the positioning of mother Lakshmi. Surely slight difference exists due to the angle from where the snaps were shot. However for Lakshmi's statue there is no much difference
Now go to my photograph and zoom it and observe that Lord Narayana's face is turned away from the camera and is facing towards me. He looks as if he is looking directly at me. Now compare the smiles of my pictures (with flash and without flash) with the smile of Narayana in his picture. Don't you feel some difference? Now look at the raised hand of Vishnu which is in blessing posture. Observe that it is tilted and is not completely straight towards the camera. It is pointing towards me and if you draw an imaginary line from the center of his palm as though some power is emanating, it would directly come and touch my face. Isn't it looking true, to you?
Is it not the infinite love of that Narayana which he poured on me? Is it not the compassion of a father for his son (me) by seeing me feeling thrilled and desirous of taking a snap with the divine parents of Vaikuntha? Is it not true that he reciprocated to my childly love for that couple with a fatherly compassion and assured me with his hand as though saying, "You are always my little infant, don't worry my Kid"?
Even if we consider the angle of the camera behind this so called miracle, then also, how can the camera make such a tremendous difference in the positioning of Narayana's face and hand when Lakshmi, Brahma, Hanuman, are at almost same place facing almost in same angle. I am not denying the existence of angular differences in views. But to my eye the turning of Narayana's face and his Palm seems to happen in a huge angle. When other parameters didn't change much how can Narayana's face and palm twist in such a huge marginal difference?
I don't know if i am under stupor or my childlike love for the trinity made me blindfolded from seeing the photographs in scientific/practical way. But whatever i narrated is not the only incident which made me to think that as a miracle. Let me show one more thing which usually doesn't happen with anyone (unless the Narayana himself wishes that to happen). The below incident really can't happen without the grace of the lord. Read and judge that using your own mind.
Few months ago, In June (before this Jagannath temple visit), we happened to go to another area in Hyderabad which has beautiful temples of various Gods. That place is known as "Dharma Puri". There we visited many Temples of deities, Durga, Maheshwara, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Venkateswara, Shiridi Sai Baba, Ananta Padmanabha Swami etc. I'm going to narrate an incident which took place in the "Ananta Padmanabha Swami" temple. Ananta Padmanabha Swami is none other than the Lord Sriman Narayana himself who remains sleeping on the bed of AdiSesha and his consorts Sridevi (lakshmi) and Bhudevi (Mother Earth) remain seated near his feet.
After visiting other temples, we all moved towards that temple and i was with extreme madness as usual to see my divine parents. When i stepped up the stairs of this temple, i found that the temple grills were again closed (i used the word-"again" here, note it carefully; you'll know the reason later), and for a short while i felt sad that i wouldn't be able to see them from close distance. Meanwhile a person (don't know who he was, may be a guard / temple gardener / care taker) arrived there and told me, "Sir! The grills are not locked, open them, Sir!". I was surprised to see that the grills were really not locked again (note the repeat incident in-"Again"). I opened the grills and with hesitation i took two steps inside and stood there with folded hands praying the Lord. When i heard his voice from back, "You may go inside, Sir!". And then he went away. I was surprised! (Why?-Will be revealed shortly)
On seeing the lord, for the second time (why i said second time, will be revealed soon) all of a sudden a gush of extreme happiness and child like love ran like a current through me and without thinking of any consequences, i ran and first touched the feet of the lord, and then ran and hugged the Lord Narayana as like as a child meeting with his parents after a long time. My sister captured that moment in the camera which is shown below. But now, one thing i should reveal here is; this was a repeat incident and was the second time this happened.
First time was in the month of April when my mother's uncle (my Grandfather in relation), visited our home. He is a very religious person, and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He comes rarely since he usually likes to spend his time in visiting temples or sitting alone somewhere peacefully. But whenever he comes we ask him his life stories and also we discuss about God and i learn lot many things from him. On that day when he came to our home, as usual he was telling lot many stories on Gods and then he told us how he spends his evenings and evening walk everyday. He told us that near his home there is a place "Dharma Puri" where he goes every evening for evening walk. Also narrated the beauty of the temples and the presiding deities. He himself asked me, "You are also a devotee! You are showing so much of interest in listening to the stories, if you are free today come with me I'll take you there". Actually that day my feet got swollen due to some reason and wanted to go to see a doctor that evening so that i can be fit and fine the next day for office. But somehow he persuaded me to come there. He also asked my mother and sister to come. My mother also being a spiritually inclined person accepted to come. We all went there and he, like a 'Guide' was narrating everything about each temple, and the related stories from scriptures etc. When we neared the "Ananta Padmanabha Temple" he said, "Oh! the grills are closed. You can look through the iron bars". I was actually looking through the grills and in my heart was repeatedly telling the divine parents the following verse from Agasti Lakshmi Stotram (Written by Sage Agastya), "Twameva mama Janani Lakshmi Mama Pita Lakshmi Twameva Cha". which means "O Lakshmi! You are my mother who gave me birth and you are my father too". I was little sad since the temple was closed and there was not much lighting inside which was not allowing me to see the Statues clearly. But all of a sudden Grand father said, "Hey! the grills are not locked, open them". It erased all my sadness and his words sounded in my ears as though the Lord himself has understood my inner sadness of not being able to watch him closely and asked me to come inside his abode. With immense happiness i opened the grills and that time i had no control over myself. My mother was surprised to see that uncommon act of mine to go inside and fall on his feet and the very next second hugging the Lord and sleeping on the Lord's chest. My mother was calling me back saying we shouldn't touch the God but Grand father who was happily laughing said, "No! Let him be there. Don't stop him!". That's the first time when i experienced the divine love of that Narayana who is of the size of this vast universe due to which he is called as Vishnu (means one who pervades the entire universe). That lord Vishnu whose form is so huge that we can't see him completely. He who measured the three worlds with his 3 steps as Vamana. That lord Narayana allowed me to hug him? After sometime i got up and hugged my divine mothers (Lakshmi and Bhudevi) also. That day i had two feelings within me, one was the extreme feeling of happiness and the other was a question - "How compassionate that Lord is on my kind of sinner?". On the way back home, my mother said, "Son! All credits for your happiness goes to your grandfather who has come like Lord Shiva himself and guided you all the way" (As already i mentioned above, that he is a great devotee of lord Shiva but equally likes all forms of the almighty, so my mother compared him as Lord Shiva himself in disguise, which kept me in stupor for sometime and made me think-"May be this was a divine decision of the God to show me God's compassion")
This time we didn't have our camera with us since May end i purchased that camera, hence we could carry it during the subsequent visits thereafter. Now coming back to the second visit to the same temple. Here an unknown person guided me to get inside the temple and he went away leaving me there. And everything happened exactly same, only difference was in dates, and perhaps my dress, and the people who accompanied me. But it was good that my sister captured that moment in the camera which i would cherish throughout my lifetime.
Points which surprise me and keeps me thinking are:-
- Both the times Priest was not around in that temple
- Both the times Grills were seemingly closed but without any lock
- Both the times someone told me that the grills were not locked and asked me to open
- Both the times i was asked to enter inside
- Both the times a sudden gush of immense child like love entered inside me on seeing the divine parents
- Both the times i got the divine grace of the lord by letting me hug him
- Both the times incidents repeated alike
Well, i understand that i would be stared/taken as if i am a mad man. I understand that for practical and realistic people these all incidents could be just a matter of chance, that stranger could be just a common man, the repeat and sequencing of incidents may be just a matter of coincidence. But for me, it would always be a divine incident where for sometime i could visit the Vaikuntha and encompass that unmeasurable lord within the limited length of my hands...!!
"मम माता च लक्ष्मी देवी मम पिता देवो नारायणः"
"श्वेतंबरधरे देवी नानालङ्कार भूषिते मम ह्रुदयस्थिते मम माता महालक्ष्मि नमोस्तुते"
"हे माता लक्ष्मी! कृपय सदा तव शिशुवत मम पालयमाम्. मम जननि, मम धात्री, मम माता महालक्ष्मि नमोस्तुते"
"श्वेतंबरधरे देवी नानालङ्कार भूषिते मम ह्रुदयस्थिते मम माता महालक्ष्मि नमोस्तुते"
"हे माता लक्ष्मी! कृपय सदा तव शिशुवत मम पालयमाम्. मम जननि, मम धात्री, मम माता महालक्ष्मि नमोस्तुते"