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A Few Months
Before that fierce battle took place inside the Tirumala Temple, the office of the Executive Officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) board was constantly receiving letters from devotees, all over India, about the broadness of the Tiru Namam, worn by the Moola Virat, Lord Sri Venkateswara in the garbha griha of the Temple.
As a result, lot of discussions have taken place, between the priests of the Temple and the Executive Officer, in the TTD office, about the Tiru Namam.. In fact, there were also a couple of arguments, during those discussions, both in favor of the Namam and also against it.
However, before I tell you why was there so much discussion about this sacred Tiru Namam on the Tirumala Hills, I must first tell you,
What Is A Tiru Namam
Tiru Namam is a pretty broad application of powdered camphor, applied on the forehead of Lord Sri Venkateswara, as you may see in the above photograph, which appears to us in the form of an English letter that’s a combination of other letters U and Y.
This Tiru Namam is a symbolic representation of the two Vaishnavite sects, Vadagalai and Tenglai, and has a Red colored Kasturi Tilakam, strategically applied on the forehead of Lord Venkateswara, inside this Namam.
This Tiru Namam is applied once in a week, on every Friday, after the Abhishekam seva (sacred bath) to Sri Varu in the Temple is complete..
This Namam is deliberately applied in such a way, on the divine face of Lord Venkateswara, that it almost completely covers the two eyes of the Lord which would make them invisible to the devotees.
However, the size of this Namam is considerably reduced after the Pulangi Seva (Flower Decoration To the Lord) and would be completely removed at the time of the Abhishekam seva, on every Friday morning.
For a few minutes during this period, only those devotees who have obtained special seva tickets, would get an opportunity to see the real eyes (Netra Darsanam) and holy feet (Nija Paada Darsanam) of Lord Venkateswara.
That means, millions of other devotees, who visit the Tirumala Temple every year, will never have a chance to view the holy eyes of Lord Venkateswara because of the Tiru Namam covering the eyes.
This exactly was the point that had gradually gained momentum among the devotees and in course of time it led to all the discussion between the priests of the Tirumala Temple and the E O of TTD.
Many from among the devotees, in their mails, have questioned the Executive Officer, not about the availability of tickets for Netra Darsanam or Nija Paada Darsanam, but about the reason behind such a broad application of Tiru Namam on Lord Venkateswara’s forehead that was making His eyes almost invisible to the devotees.
Later, this kicked up a silent storm on the sacred Tirumala Hills..
Now, Here’s The Argument Of The Devotees
“Sir, who started this tradition of such a broad application of the Tiru Namam on Lord Venkateswara’s face when there’s no such reference anywhere either in the Sastras or the Puranas about the size and broadness of the Namam..”
“Secondly, if we look at the old images of Lord Venkateswara, no where do we find a broader application of the Namam on His face that would make His eyes invisible to the devotees.. Some priest some time ago had taken a decision on his own and had started this unwanted broad application of the Namam that is much against the interests of the devotees..”
“At least now the TTD should wake up and rectify this age old error, being committed against the Lord, and reduce the size and broadness of the Tiru Namam and provide relief to the Lord and His Netra Darsan to His devotees.. TTD must do this immediately..”.
Quite surprisingly, completely contrary to what the devotees have said, this was what
The Temple Priests, Mirasidars, And Jiyyangar Had To Say
“Sir, although we do not know about what the Sastras and the Puranas have to say about the size and the broadness of the Tiru Namam, we can however confidently say that as far as our memory goes, the application of Namam has always been this broad..”
“And coming to the old images referred by the devotees.. These images were drawn by artistes, sitting in front of the Moola Virat in the Sanctum area of the Temple, during those days when there were no cameras available.. These artistes have described the Namam, in their images, as they have felt it or as they have wanted to..”
“But we are sure that the namam of the Lord, for several centuries, was always this broad and it should certainly remain so forever.. Trying to amend it’s size today, just because a few devotees have been demanding, would be a bold attempt on our part and may not be to the liking of the holy Lord.. We, however, leave the final decision to you, sir..”
They concluded their argument.
Unable To Know
What decision to take, the Executive Officer, who was not fully convinced with his priests’ arguments, had then consulted the ‘Acharya Purushas’ and ‘Agama Pandits’ to know if they can be of some help to him.. Even they have pleaded complete helplessness.
The Executive Officer knows well that it’s high time he takes a firm decision on his own without worrying too much about it’s consequences.. Sitting quietly in his office, one day, he told himself,
“A devotee is the most important visitor in the sacred premises of our Tirumala Temple.. He’s the purpose of our job, which means, his interests should come first to us and be weighed above everything else..
Secondly, the decoration of such a broad Tiru Namam, on the face of Lord Venkateswara, is consuming quite a lot of our time.. This is in fact, very badly affecting the darsan timings of the devotees making them wait in the Q line for a longer period of time than required.
Instead, if we can narrow the size and broadness of the Namam, that would yield double benefits to TTD.. One, about fifteen to twenty minutes of priests time would be saved; two, about five hundred to six hundred devotees additionally can have darsan of Sri Varu during that saved time.. Both the ways it is beneficial to the devotees..” .
After carefully assessing and weighing all the options he had before him, the Executive Officer had finally called for an emergency meeting of the priests and had instructed the head priest to considerably reduce the size and broadness of the Tiru Namam application to Lord Venkateswara, immediately..
Unfortunately, In The Meantime,
That ugly battle had taken place right inside the Tirumala Temple between the employees of the TTD board and the constables of the Reserved Police forces, that had finally resulted in the closing of the Maha Dwaram of the Temple, that day.
Later, the Executive Officer had remained disturbed, for several months, with that ugliest incident that had ever occurred in the history of the Tirumala Temple, that too during his tenure of office of the TTD board.
However, that did not stop the devotees from shooting letters to the Executive Officer regarding the size of the Tiru Namam of Lord Venkateswara.. There was one particular devotee who was constantly sending mails to the E O on this issue..
Fed up with non action from the E O office, this devotee had one day shot a strong mail to the E O saying, “despite so many letters and requests from the devotees you are just not bothering to reduce the size of the Tiru Namam.. That means we the devotees have no value in your eyes.. Disgusting..”
Shocked with that unsavory letter, which he had received on a Thursday evening, the Executive Officer had firstly regretted for not implementing his decision of reducing the size of the Tiru Namam, which he had taken quite a few months ago, and then had immediately instructed the Temple priests to alter the size of the Tiru Namam, the next day – a Friday – after the Abhishekam..
On That Same Friday
The TTD revenue and engineering officials, after a High Court order, have started demolishing the illegal shops and other commercial establishments that were constructed in the Sannidhi Street in front of the Maha Dwaram of the Tirumala Temple.
A few years prior to that, the same Executive Officer, who had reported on duty as the new Executive Officer of the TTD board had found that, too many shops and establishments right in front of the Tirumala Temple were not only causing a lot of inconvenience to the devotees but were also spoiling the beauty of the sacred Tirumala Temple.
His whole idea was to clear all that crowded space in front of the Temple area and make it clean and vacant so that the devotees can freely move around and also sit and relax with their families in that vacant area just as they relax in a park..
Secondly, so much of vacant space in front of the Temple would also make the Maha Dwaram of the Temple visible from quite a distance.. Such a view, the Executive Officer had thought, will not only add beauty to the whole of the Tirumala hills but would also provide peace to the mind of the devotees.
Thinking so, he had a series of meetings with the owners of the shops and their leaders and had clearly explained them the need to add beauty to the Temple.. He had also told them that he would relocate all their shops to a nearby area which would be much better than this crowded area.. However, they have rejected his proposal, outright.
Left with no other option, the Executive Officer had then decided to use his absolute powers and instructed his engineers to commence the demolition of the illegal shops after giving the shop owners sufficient notice period to move their business to a new place.
The reluctant shop owners had approached the Court of Law and quickly procured a stay order against the Executive Officer’s decision.. The never say die disciplined Executive Officer too had immediately approached the High Court and got the stay issued by the lower court vacated..
Finally, on that same Friday morning, after receiving the stay vacation order from the High Court, the Executive Officer had marched his officers into the Sannidhi Street and stood in front of the Maha Dwaram of the Tirumala Temple, monitoring their demolition job.
After A Few Minutes
Before the Executive Officer could even realize what was happening to him, a hard Cricket ball sized concrete stone came flying towards his face but had fortunately missed it by a whisker.
The shocked E O quickly looked into the direction from where the stone had come flying towards his face and was further more shocked to see a large group of shop owners and leaders coming running towards him throwing stones at his face.
Sensing danger to the life of their beloved Executive Officer, the Chief Vigilance Officer of TTD, Dhilleswar Rao came running to his boss and stood guard around him along with his other security officers.
However, the fast approaching shop owners didn’t stop throwing stones at the Executive Officer, which have unfortunately hit the faces of the C V O and his other officers who stood around the E O, leaving them in blood.
Not caring for their wounds, the ever agile TTD vigilance staff had tried their best to take the Executive Officer from that spot to some safer place..
Before they could even move from that place, the shop owners group approached them and cordoned off the Executive Officer and started shouting slogans against him asking him to immediately stop the demolition of their shops.
Some of them have even come violently closer to the Executive Officer abusing him with foul language.. Sensing more danger to their boss this time, the C V O, Dhilleswar Rao had quickly ordered his security police to open firing, first, three rounds in the air.
The police too had quickly responded; removed their revolvers and rifles out and had shot three rounds in the air, standing right in front of the sacred Maha Dwaram of the Tirumala Temple.
Shocking.. Shocking.. Shocking
Not only that sudden act of the police had shocked the shop owners of the Sannidhi Street but had also made them quickly fled away from that scene.. For about five minutes, after that firing, there was a stunning and deadly silence all over the Tirumala hills area.. The devotees too went into a deep shock.
Even the five elements of Nature, the eight rulers of the directions (ashta dikpalakas), the hundreds of thousands of Kinneras, Kimpurushas, Gandharvas, Angels, Saints and all the holy sages who were, at that time,
Peacefully meditating on the Tirumala Hills, were shocked with that sudden sound of the police firing, at the most sacred place on the Earth and had opened their eyes and just remained looking at the frozen people standing in front of the Tirumala Temple.. PERIOD
Later In The Evening, On That Friday
After his engineering staff had successfully completed the demolition of all the illegal shops and other commercial establishments in front of the Tirumala Temple, the Executive Officer, who was greatly disturbed by that ugly incident that morning, went to have the Darsan of Holy Lord Sri Venkateswara in the garbha griha of the Tirumala Temple.
However, to his surprise, he found a considerably reduced and fully altered Tiru Namam on the face of Sri Varu.. The Lord’s fully exposed eyes, at that moment, were dazzling with beauty.. But, they could not offer any solace to the disturbed mind of the Executive Officer.
Standing quietly in front of the Moola Virat, the Executive Officer had first closed his eyes and then silently offered his prayers to Lord Venkateswara, saying.
“Swamy, as Your humble servant, I wanted to do my best both to You and to Your ardent devotees and also to Your most sacred Tirumala Temple.. But why did it happen so today.. Why is that, for the first time in the history of the Tirumala Hills, Police had to open firing in front of the Maha Dwaram.. ??..
Why is that stones were pelted at an honest and sincere Executive Office like me which again had happened for the first time in the history of the Temple.. ??.. Swamy, am unable to understand what went wrong at what place and what is my role in that.. Please help me with an answer, Swamy..Please..”.
Later, he slowly opened his eyes and kept looking at the fully exposed eyes of Sri Varu, Lord Sri Venkateswara.. The more he was looking at them, the more uncomfortable he started feeling inside him..
Unable to bear with the tremendous restlessness that was going inside him, which he had never experienced before inside the Sanctum area, the Executive Officer had quickly requested the Senior Archaka Mirasidar, standing there and looking at him, to clear all his doubts and explain him, if he can, the reason for such restlessness inside him, even though he was standing right in front of the Moola Virat of the Tirumala Temple.
Composing himself, the Mirasidar slowly narrated him everything that was responsible for all the unrest on the Tirumala Hills and inside the Executive Officer..
After silently listening to everything that the Mirasidar had told him, the Executive Officer, had then slowly turned his head towards the Moola Virat Lord Sri Venakteswara and with tears flowing down his eyes, kept looking at him, this time with complete peace in his mind.
The first ugly incident, a battle between the employees of TTD and the Reserve Police Force had taken place on a Friday – the Vijaya Dasami, 8th of October, 1981 – and the second ugly incident, that made the TTD security Police open firing in front of the Tirumala Temple, too had taken place on a Friday, some time during 1982.
The name of the honest Executive Officer involved in this whole Cosmic Drama is Sri. PVRK Prasad, who later went on to become the most successful Executive Officer ever in the history of the Tirumala Temple.
All the major developments on the Tirumala Hills and all the vacant space and the beauty that we are all seeing and enjoying in front of the Maha Dwaram of the Tirumala Temple today was due to the audacity of Sri Prasad, who was even ready to receive stone throws that day from the shop owners,whose illegal constructions he had mercilessly demolished and cleared the area before the Temple.
Later on, Sri. PVRK Prasad went on to become the chief adviser to Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, and had recommended many bold economic reforms to him that have finally changed the economic scenario of India.. One of the most crucial reforms among them was to allow foreign companies to do business in India.
Sri PVRK Prasad was also the chief negotiator, on behalf of the Indian Prime Minister, who negotiated between the warring chiefs of RSS and the Muslim groups after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1994.. PERIOD
I have read about this incident in Sri PVRK Prsad’s Telugu book ‘Sarva Samhavaam’ in which he had written about many of his amazing experiences in the Tirumala Temple.. (Title : Sri Vari Namam – Chapter Twenty)
As always, I did my best to write that Telugu story in my own style and narration in English and presenting it before you, today..
This was what the Senior Archaka Mirasidar had told PVRK Prasad in the Garbha Griha of the Tirumala Temple, on that Friday evening.
“Sir, when you have, for the first time, asked us to reduce the size of the Tiru Namam, we have sincerely done that on the most auspicious day of Vijaya Dasami, a Friday on the 8th of October, 1981, which was also the last day of the annual Brahmotsavams..
But within few hours our staff and police had a big fight right inside the Temple and we had to even close down the Maha Dwaram of the Temple.. Such a thing, as far as I know, had never happened in the history of the Tirumala Temple..
Considering that a bad omen, we have immediately discontinued the new method and had continued the old method of broad application.. However, we did not tell you that we have altered the size of the Tiru Namam.
And for the second time when you have again asked us to reduce the broadness of the Tiru Namam, we have promptly done that today, again a Friday.. Again within a few hours we all have witnessed a battle in front of the Tirumala Temple.
You also have survived an attack on your life and our police had even opened firing.. This again, as we all know had happened for the first time in the history of the Tirumala Temple.. Honestly Sir, I some how do not want to see both these incidents as coincidences.. I don’t think anyone here would see them that way.
In fact, with my enormous experience of serving Sri Varu in this Temple, I can only say He’s clearly showing His dissent to us for altering the size of His Tiru Namam.. In a way, He is disapproving our decision.. Sir, this is only my opinion and I leave the final decision to you”..
After that Friday, the size or broadness of the Tiru Namam, appearing on the face of Lord Sri Venkateswara in the Tirumala Temple, was never altered.
Narayanam parabrahma sarvakarana karanam.. Prapathye Venkatesakyam tadeva kavacham mama
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