In those far off days of the old Mandir Darshan area, every moment seemed so precious. Darshan times, no mattered how crowded they were, always held something magical for us and I cannot really express how blissful each day was. Each one unfolded in the most unusal way, where and the outside world seemed to fade away. Much like we had entered another realm of existence. We treasured our time with Swami back then and forever thankful for the memories.
Gurupournima is always a venerable celebration. This time-honoured festival is held every `full moon day’ around July in honour of the guru. I had inwardly asked Swami for a spot inside the Mandir and feeling confident that he would oblige, I ‘d bought a bright festive pink punjabi especially for the occasion.
Before dawn, I rose and left for darshan. There was a dream-like quality everywhere. The early morning sounds of distant chanting could be heard, and the crows nesting in the trees leading to the Mandir made a hard rasping sound as they greeted the new day.
From small houses tucked away behind zigzagging gardens, small lights shone – throwing a hazy glow along narrow alleyways, from which shadowy figures now and again emerged, as they walked drowsily to the temple.
A distant musical clock chimed the four o’clock hour with its melodic nursery rhyme tune – the last few notes of which hung defiantly on to the stillness of the night air.
At the temple, the long queues of ladies spilled over into one another as they squatted in tired readiness for Omkar, the morning chant.
And on reaching the seating area, I noticed ladies assembled everywhere.
The endless queues stretched beside and around the Mandir entrance. In fact, there must have been over forty lines all of which were double. They sat squashed and anxious. I chose the row by the side of the Poornachandra Hall which I hoped would be favourable.
Soon dawn began to break and in the early morning light, I noticed the Mandir had already begun to fill with visiting V.I.P.s, hospital and ashram staff, I knew few `general lines’ would be permitted to enter.
When the Seva Dal lady came along with her bag of numbers, I held my breath and prayed silently for a positive token, but being seated somewhere in the middle of the line, I couldn’t find out what number we had drawn. Suddenly, the young girl in front of me turned and whispered, “It’s o.kay, we have
Line one slowly rose and were seated, and then a pause before line two moved. After what seemed endless waiting, line three and four both rose and went in at the same time. Then another tedious wait. Ultimately, after a heated discussion among the Seva Dal, we too, were guided in and placed unexpectedly in the front. Just after we sat down, the Seva Dal closed the gates.
Our line was the last to enter but our seating position proved to be the very best.
This of course reminded me of the Biblical text, “and the last shall be first.”
What is Guru Purnima?
The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa. All Hindus are indebted to this ancient saint who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.