Faith in God includes Faith in his timing ~ Neal A. Maxwell
I vaguely knew about Shri Nath ji – the 7 year old ‘infant’ incarnation of Hindu god Krishna , from many years (as I am Hindu myself). However, it was through the stunning Pichwai paintings that I came to see during the Textile Trail in Delhi, that I really got interested in the religious history of Shri Nath ji at Nathdwara, which was as fascinating as it was about faith. While on the family road trip through Rajasthan this winter, we realised that we could visit Nathdwara if we just got our timing right. We decided that if we did get our timing right, while driving from Mount Abu to Chittorgarh, when we reached the highway point which takes a detour to Nathdwara town, we will definitely visit the Shri Nath ji Temple. In my heart, I kept praying that everything goes fine and for me it was a journey into the power of faith to visit and seek blessings of Shri Nath ji in Nathdwara.
The Shri Nath ji temple in Nathdwara has enshrined the historic Shri Nath ji 7 year old ‘infant’ incarnation of Hindu god Krishna. The legend or history behind the temple goes like this – the shrine at Nathdwara was built in the 17th century at the spot as exactly ordained by Shrinathji himself. The idol of the Lord Krishna was being transferred from Vrindaban to protect it from the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb who, according to sectarian literature, wished to have the deity reside with him in Agra. When the idol reached the spot at village Sihad or Sinhad, the wheels of bullock cart in which the idol was being transported sank axle-deep in mud and could not be moved any farther. The accompanying priests realised that the particular place was the Lord’s chosen spot and accordingly, a temple was built there under the rule and protection of the then Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar. Shrinathji Temple is also known as ‘Haveli of Shrinathji’ (mansion). – Source: Wikipedia. The temple is also popularly called Shrinathji ki Haveli (House of Shrinathji) because like a regular household it has a chariot for movement (In fact the original chariot in which Shrinathji was brought to Singhar), a store room each for milk, betel, sugar/sweetmeats and flowers), a functional kitchen, a jewellery chamber, a treasury, a stable for horses of chariot, a drawing room, a gold and silver grinding wheel.
The temple worships the infant god Krishna or Shri Nath ji, which means darshan is only open for visitors only 8 times a day for half hour to 4 minutes. I looked up the internet on the reason for the particular darshan timings and it was quite interesting to learn about it. Here it is: The sequence of eight darshans are set out below.
- Mangala: First darshan of the day. Lord, having woken up, has just had his breakfast and greets his devotees with the most “auspicious” darshan of the day. This darshan usually occurs at dawn.
- Shringar: Having bathed and dressed her little darling, Mother Yashoda allows everyone to adore her baby. After this darshan, the Lord goes out to play with his friends.
- Gval: Having had his mid-morning snack, the Lord is about to go out to hear the cows of Nandaji. Lord is worshipped by reciting His thousand names and the sacred tulsi (basil) leaves are offered with each name.
- Rajbhog: After his mid-day meal, the Lord is resting in the comfort of Nanadalay. Lord is often most regal and resplendent for this darshan. Fresh garlands and lotuses are offered to the Lord. The arti, Lord plays chopat, an ancient board game or version of chess to while away the hot afternoon.
- Utthanpan: Lord has just woken up from his afternoon siesta.
- Bhog: Having had his afternoon snack, the Lord is about to go out to play again.
- Sandhya: As the sun dips over the western horizon, the Lord returns with the herds of Nandaji and the gopies come to see their beloved. Mother Yashoda wards off any evil that may have befalled her darling in the woods of Vraj, by doing an arti and the Lord bathes for the evening meal.
- Shayan: Having had his dinner, the Lord is about to go off to his bed chamber. This is the last public darshan of the day.
We calculated the time to reach Nathdwara from Mount Abu to be about 11 am (via google maps) and we found out that there will be a darshan open at 11:15 to 11:45 am. The husband also wanted to visit but said that it’s better to be safe (especially with a toddler) and drove with speed but very safely. In my heart, I kept praying that we safely reach Nathdwara on time. It so happened that we reach the detour point to Nathdwara at 10:45 am, it was a 15 minutes of tough driving through the narrow roads of Nathdwara (till the parking lot) avoiding hitting the many cows. By the time we parked, it was 11 am, but still there was a 15 minute walk into the remaining (and really narrow lanes) part of the town, depositing our valuables and shoes at the temple gate and then queuing up in line for the darshan. It was a mad dash I tell you! The husband carried the toddler on his shoulder and we were literally running the whole way. The crowds got bigger and bigger as the lanes got narrower. Finally, we got in the queue, where I was separated from the husband and toddler as I was in the separate ladies line (and husband got to move ahead in the men’s queue as he had the toddler with him). The darshan was out of this world – I mean there are some moments in life where the whole experience is so overwhelming that it’s difficult to describe! I would just say that we came out of the temple with a lot more faith in higher powers, which made possible the darshan for which we as a family had so much wished.
Darshan over, we had delicious aloo puri lunch in the lanes and bought the famous ‘pichwai’ painting from a local artist (and he was the only one making the painting himself at the shop – other shops were just retailers).
The visit to Shri Nath ji temple was one more ‘out of the world’ experience for me and and also as a family; we will be talking about it for many years to come.