Making God Laugh
Mom decided we ought to pay a visit to the temple town Nathdwara during our Christmas holidays. Dad made a fuss about the expense but Mom was firm: we hadn’t gone to pay our respects to the family deity, Shreenathji, for quite a while and we couldn’t put this off forever. Finally dad gave in and sent somebody from the factory to queue up at the railway station to buy the tickets for the family – which meant my parents and we three boys, the youngest of them being me and I was twelve at that time.
It was a long journey. First we went by train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and then changed trains for Udaipur. Once there, we boarded a bus to Nathdwara.
Dad had booked a room at a local dharamshala. We landed there late evening so we just had enough time to freshen up and have dinner so that we could go to bed early. We had to be up very early next morning for the mangala darshan.
Next morning, dad shook us awake when it was still dark and cold. Of course we boys were reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed. But there was no way he would allow us to sleep. So we got up reluctantly, had tea which mom had already made, dashed to the loo, had a quick bath in icy-cold water drawn up from the well in the courtyard, then got ready to visit the temple.
The Nathdwara temple has eight darshans – which means, the temple gates are opened eight times a day to allow devotees to have a glimpse of the deity. The deity is adorned differently for each darshan hence each darshan is unique.
Now, if you are devout, and in love with the deity, even with its form, you would like to have as many darshans as you can. So I announced to my mother, “Tomorrow I will have all eight darshans of Shreenathji.”
“Hush!” said my mother. “You can’t say that. Say that and you’ll never be able to have all the eight. Only His wish prevails.”