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Man does not even get a few minutes to pray to God

   Swami went on to say that in the modern world, man does not even get a few minutes to pray to God. Instead, he spends all his time in acquiring wealth and earthly desires for oneself, family and children. He further added that the transaction with God needs only minimum investment but offers maximum benefit. The mere offering of a tulsi leaf or water to God with full faith and sincere devotion would yield us unlimited return. In all other transactions, one does not get complete satisfaction and benefit and many a time one has to incur losses. He narrated about how we foolishly become victims of time. It is all in one's mind and with one's will power and steadfast resolve, one can train and tune the mind to spend at least a few minutes spiritually in the worship of God. His words left us spell bound and so ardently were we listening to him that we became totally unaware of the time. When the clock struck noon, we realized how the time had passed in listening to his divine speech. After finishing lunch, Swami told my husband that after visiting Tirupathi, we should go over to Kalahasthi also (where there is a huge temple for Lord Siva) and by worshipping there, all the ill effects due to the planetary position of Rahu in our life would be wiped out. He waited for all of us to finish our food and after that, he left. We then started discussing and analyzing Swami's narrations. This first divine close encounter had proved to us beyond all doubt that Swami is not an ordinary Godman but a true siddhar who though like an ordinary man in appearance, is an all-knowing seer who knows the past, present and future of anyone who stands before him.

   The college had closed for a month for Deepavali vacation for me and my son Rajesh was also having vacation after exams in the school. My daughter Latha said that she also has a week off for Deepavali. My brother-in-law told us that he would try to get tickets for us through one of his agents. Since it was a festive season and vacation time, getting train tickets for the journey was very difficult. We were a little apprehensive as to whether we will make the trip. After three days, my brother-in- law informed us that he had been able to procure journey tickets for us. It was really unbelievable that we were able to get confirmed tickets within such a short notice. We called Swami and sought his blessings.

   On the day prior to our departure, my husband said that we should perform a mini Kalyana Utsavam for Lord Balaji as an offering since he felt a little strange and uneasy in his mind about our just going there for Lord's darshan. I immediately replied that for performing Kalyana Utsavam, one has to book at least six months in advance and that one couldn't just go there and perform it. I further told him that the offering costs Rs. 501 and five people were allowed inside the temple to witness the divine wedding of Lord Balaji with Goddess Padmavathi. Only about one hundred families were allowed daily at that time to perform this offering. After the divine marriage they were allowed to have a special darshanam of Lord Balaji. At this point, I would like to inform the readers that the Venkatachalapathi (Balaji) temple at Tirupathi is the richest temple in the world fetching crores of rupees as income from the offerings of devotees and from the hundi. So, I told my husband that it is not possible for us to do the above unless otherwise ordained by divine grace. I suggested to him that we put that amount in the hundi (collection box).

   We left on 17th November for Tirupathi by the Chennai Mail train. The next night at 2 am, we reached Renikunda station. While we were crossing the over-bridge to take a bus to the foothills of Thirumalai, a van driver was loudly calling out for people to go to the foothills. We rushed and hurriedly got into the van. Within forty-five minutes, we reached the Alamelumangapuram. As per Swami's suggestion, we wanted to go and worship Goddess Alamelumanga. Since 3 am was too early, we started searching for hotel accommodation and finally we succeeded in getting a room. After resting for about an hour, we all got ready and left the hotel. One auto driver approached and agreed to take us to the Devi temple and then drop us at the bus headed up the hills of Tirupathi. He was very reasonable and was very accommodative. He also accompanied us to the Devi shrine. After worshipping Devi, he drove us to the bus stand and asked us to wait for the next bus, which would arrive within fifteen minutes. He helped us board the luggage into the bus and even waited for us to leave. We were astonished to come across such a humane auto driver. Just before leaving, we thanked him and asked what his name was. He replied Venkateshwaran. We all felt elated since it is another name for Lord Balaji. Somehow, we felt the divine hand on all of us. After reaching Thirumalai, we went to the reservation office right away and secured accommodation in a family room. We asked our children to relax and after a while, we both went out to search for the counter where advance bookings are done for Kalyana Utsavam. There were a few people waiting in the queue and we also joined them. The person ahead of us had come to cancel a booked mini Kalyana Utsavam to be held that day due to some problems. When my husband reached the counter, the official asked him whether we were prepared to conduct the mini Kalyana Utsavam on that day itself at 10.30 am. Our joy knew no bounds and we could not believe the miraculous ways of divine grace. After paying the amount we rushed to the room. We hurried the children to get ready and literally ran towards the entrance of the gate. At that instant, an old man approached us and earnestly requested us to take his son along with us since the latter did not get even a single darshan of Lord Balaji. Since we were four, he said we could accommodate a fifth if we were kind enough to. We readily agreed and his son, who was about twenty-five years old, working in Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd in Bangalore, also joined us. We went straight inside.

   While going inside the temple, I casually asked the young man's name. He replied Srinivasan, another name for Lord Balaji. Hearing this all of us were thrilled and we felt that the Lord was accompanying us. My husband and me were asked to go and sit in front and our children and Mr. Srinivasan sat in the back rows. We witnessed and participated in the divine wedding ceremony. Our hearts were filled with joy and we became emotional thinking about all the miracles that we had witnessed. We stood in line to have darshan of the lord. This was a great moment and we were very thankful to Lord Venkatachalapathi and to Swami for giving us a chance to witness this. The bliss we experienced within the sannadhi was beyond explanation. Early morning the next day my husband and son did angapradakshanam, rolling on the temple ground around the sanctum after the early morning bath with wet clothes. One of the ladies standing in queue requested me to accompany her as she was going to do angapradakshanam alone. I asked my daughter whether she wanted to go. She refused as she was not very comfortable accompanying a strange lady. So I went with her and helped her do angapradakshanam and got a chance to have darshan of Lord Balaji again. My daughter was left behind but she wanted to have darshan again, so I went once again with her. So I had my heart's content of the Lord's darshan. My daughter told us that she had prayed that she would come back here after her marriage. All of us thanked Swami in our minds for all the unexpected and marvellous happenings in the temple. We packed our luggage and left for Kalahasti by the 8.30 am bus as per Swami's directive. Kalahasthi is an ancient huge Siva temple. It is believed that if you worship the Lord here, all the evil effects of the planet Rahu are nullified. The temple has lingams carved into all the walls. When we reached the sannadhi, we were surprised to see Mr. Srinivasan and his father ahead of us. It was nice meeting them again. When we gave the coconut for the archana to the priest it turned out to be spoiled. We were upset but the priest consoled us saying that he would perform the archana again with a fresh coconut. After worshipping the Lord, we went around the temple. Later, we proceeded to Madras by bus. We halted overnight at my brother's house and proceeded to Bombay the next day. We were so happy that within a day we had such wonderful darshans of lord Venkatachalapathi, not once but three times and within four days, we could accomplish everything we had planned. Swami had told us in advance that there would be unusual happenings and his words had come true, and how! When we arrived in Bombay we came to know that Swami was in Chembur. We went to see him and related our experiences. We thanked him, since it was due to his divine grace that we had such a comfortable and wonderfully rewarding journey. He explained the meaning of the spoiled coconut in Kalahasthi saying that this was signifying that all our misfortunes had been wiped away as the priest redid the archana with a fresh coconut. When we related our Kalyana Utsavam experience all the devotees around Swami were stunned. Swami asked my husband to extend his hands cupped. A silver Balaji idol fell into his hands. He asked us to keep the idol in the pooja room and keep a tulsi leaf for it every day.

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