I had a wall between mortals and Gods, and mortals in my mind are defined as those inadequate, incapable and ignorant. There are within this spectrum of people, those who challenged themselves and went beyond their boundaries, exploring their true potential. I have great respect for them... but for the rest of the world... there was a differentiating wall.
I was mistaken, for my yardstick of measurement didn’t account for everything. This lesson came home through none other than Lord Vittal himself, the Lord of Pandharpur. I have a secret pact with the Gods, that of "easy access" to their homes. I don’t go to living temples as easily. And I have a deep wish to meet them without hassles and up close at their home, and call it fate or divine intervention, they ensure I get to meet them without much trouble.
Pandharpur - a land I have known about for a while has appeared distant and inaccessible - had more surprises in store for me. The plan was to have an evening darshan, but it hardly crossed my mind that it would be the evening of Ekadasi, the most crowded day of the month in the Vaishnava calendar. I had mixed feelings within my head, I didn't relate to the Lord of Pandharpur yet, and he had called. I was finding my way there, stepping out of comfort zone, going to an unknown place with a child in hand. There was a slight uneasiness but that doubt was killed fast. He sent me one of his own, a good friend who ensured my experience was way beyond smooth.
It didn't strike me yet, for the access was so easy that there was a good chance to take it for granted. The first darshan was beautiful, I absorbed the Lord, in his physical presence. I absorbed all that my eyes to feed on, my senses could take in. It was indeed a different world of Vaishnava flavor and yet starkly different from Jagannath of Puri. I opened up all my faculties not knowing what to expect. Just took it all in. My friend didn’t accompany me, I went in with another who was assigned to lead me to him. It was according to plan, executed perfectly without errors.
It was by the end of my journey on New Year’s Eve, that the heart yearned for another visit, to see the Lord once again, before I moved on. I placed my request rather impulsively, to my friend, one of Vittala's own, and he accepted most willingly, without any sense of hesitation. The request was placed 3 hours before the temple closed for the night - it was now or maybe, I don't know when. The arrangements were in order within an hour, the paper work in place from what I understood was a VIP entrance. We were headed back to town, still somewhere on the highway. It was the smooth silent operation that baffled me, the darshan was scheduled. The impossibility of it hit the mind and yet it was so easily possible to go to Vittala's own home, and be greeted as if I had always belonged there, any time I wanted…. With one of his own to accompany me. There was a strange joy in that, it was impulsive, exciting and mystical.
You know, it’s a baffling experience when one walks into a land where they have never lived, not known anyone for "as long", and yet the warmth engulfs you and gives a sense of such love... that I felt I had left this home in some other birth and I was coming home now, in this birth. It’s not goodness, it’s not social network, it’s not the power of money. It’s a miracle that shouts back loud in my head.... who or what do I define as my real "family" - who are my own, defined by spiritual relationships in a mortal world?
I had set foot in Pandharpur for the first time, and yet it didn’t feel like that. I understand small town hospitality (we go way out of our way to make people feel special), but this was way beyond the social goodness. Lord Vittal had sent one of his own trusted men, to take me through this journey. It’s not just about being hosted, it’s not just about spending few days on a holiday with help at hand... it was way more deep than that packed into a mystical experience of what I call - the Secret of Sakhya Bhava.
I had spent this vacation with a mixture of people in terms of human relationship - family, friends (with whom I had lived, spending my 24/7) and friends whom I knew but I was yet to build a "face to face" relationship. It turned out, that the one I understood least in this reality was by far the closest to my heart. I left Pandharpur with an experience sprinkled with divinity, not just in a darshan, but in the experience of a friendship of a different kind. A relationship that I am unable to define in human terms, but the flavor of it remains rich in my mind and the heart yearns to go back there again, my home... defined by the mysticism of past births, by the miracle of karma, fate had brought me back here... to witness another world... one that has manifested in my head as pure Sakhya Bhava towards one of Lord Vittala's own.