Generally it is said that you cannot have a darshan of Lord Venkatachalapathy in Tirumalai unless he wills it. Fortunately, the Lord has been kind to me and except for a stray incident in 2002; my visits to Tirupati-Tirumala have always been fruitful.
This year, I had initially planned a visit to Tirumala towards end of March when school examinations are generally over. But I had to reschedule my plans so as to visit Tirumala towards end of May 2010.I had planned to walk along with my better-half from Alipiri to Tirumala (yes, the same stretch that was recently in the news thanks to Anil Ambani).Unlike most of us who plan a whirlwind trip to Tirumala using the spot-darshan or seegra darshan (as it is called by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam), I have a habit of organising the trip in advance by planning well.So, this year was no exception. The first step in the process was to book the seva tickets.
In early Feb 2010, I religiously followed the instructions given in the TTD website and sent them a demand draft for Rs.1000/-.In the covering letter, I had mentioned the dates of the seva along with all other details like my residential address, number of participants in the seva etc etc.The rule is that you are supposed to send the demand draft (DD) at least 90 days in advance. So, I sent this DD by registered post to TTD.
Days passed by but there was no sign of the seva ticket. All my hotel bookings, bookings of train tickets depended on confirmation of the seva ticket from TTD. Towards mid-March 2010, when my patience had worn off, I made a call to the TTD office and enquired about my seva ticket. They insisted on my DD number. I made frantic enquiries with Vijaya Bank regarding the DD number. The DD number that Vijaya Bank gave me wasn’t tallying with the TTD database. Unfortunately, in my rush to send the DD to TTD, I had forgotten to take a Xerox copy of the DD.After struggling for almost three days with the TTD office, the voice at the other end, politely informed me that my DD was rejected as my IT Pan number wasn’t mentioned and the address proof wasn’t attached. I mildly protested to them that the TTD website did not specify that these details were mandatory.
However, the lady on the other end (God bless her) went out of the way to explain to me that the cancelled DD would be sent to my address in the next 30-45 days. But she also advised me to send a fresh DD giving all the relevant details. Her instructions were cogent and useful. On the same day evening, I rushed a new DD to TTD by speed post. Two weeks later I received the seva ticket for the Sahasra Deepalankara Seva on 28th May at 5 pm.I was relieved. I wasn’t much bothered about the return of cancelled DD as I believed that that money anyway belonged to the Lord – so it was fine if I did not receive the cancelled draft. By this time, my bookings for travel and accommodation were frozen.
Weeks passed by. On 14th April 2010, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from TTD that I had been allotted darshan for the ‘Oonjal’ seva on 29th May 2010 at 1 pm.I guess rather than sending me the cancelled DD, the TTD officials were kind enough to send me a ticket for another seva.I was overwhelmed on receiving this ticket, so was my family. I had aspired to have only one darshan of the Lord and here the Lord himself had conspired to give me more than that. How lucky I was!
Our visit to Tirumala towards end May turned out to be a fantastic experience. Walking from Alipiri to Tirumala was therapeutic. I had put on lot of weight and really struggled to walk the steep path. I simply prayed to the Lord to be successful in my mission and before I knew myself and my spouse had walked and reached Tirumala in 3 ½ hours. Till today, we consider this a miracle and nothing but the will of God. How we managed the journey – we continue to wonder. So, from this cathartic experience, I learnt that if you pray to the Lord with a pure heart and full devotion, your prayers will certainly be answered.