As the count of dead bodies over Srikailasam in Uttaraperur mounted Raja Chandrahari was deep in his anguished thoughts. Why had a tragedy of such monstrous proportions hit his Kingdom? Why the loss of lives of people in the abode of the God? Why did God permit such a heart wrenching massacre of those who came to have a glimpse of him the almighty, his pious devotees? As wails of despair increased in crescendo, Raja Chandrahari felt like running away from it all, into seclusion, far removed from everything. A look of concern appeared on the brows of Mantri Vishwaraya as he looked at the King, silent, in deep turmoil, fighting with his thoughts. The occasion called for a Raja-in-charge and not one fighting devils of sorrows thought the Mantri. “What is it that bothers you Maharaja?” asked the Mantri. The Raja awoke from his stupor and looked up to see his Mahamantri, the wise Vishwaraya’s calm face, a man of wisdom, intellect personified. “Why Vishwaraya has this tragedy happened? Why in our Kingdom? Why in God’s abode? Why has God forsaken his devotees?” the questions poured out of him in torrents.
|Why has God forsaken his devotees?|
“Maharaja” replied the wise Vishwaraya, “all this is so unnecessary if you follow the true dictum of our religion. Engum Sivamayam, God is omnipresent they say. By that logic this ritual of visiting holy places itself seems so unnecessary. After all doesn’t God reside in us?”
“Don’t confuse me with philosophy O wise one! If so why build so many Temples?” asked Chandrahari clearly irritated. “You know as well as I do the reason for so many Temples Maharaja” answered the Wise one patiently. “The temples are the economic backbone of our land. The entire trade happens around the opportunity generated by the temples. Architects and artisans build the temples which take years to build. From food to clothing to every other need of the daily lives of our subjects is bartered, traded, bought and sold around the infrastructure that a Temple is. The temple as you well know is a centre for education and promoting art and culture too. The rituals, utsavam of the temple gives an opportunity for every type of trade to flourish. And during war, the Temples also convert into forts for our security. Is it any surprise Maharaja that all the major cities in Bharatvarsha are temple towns?”
“If that is so and the entire motive behind the construction of Temples is so honourable and pious, then why did this tragedy happen?” questioned Chandrahari. “Greed Maharaja, greed” said Vishwaraya. “As the business around the Temple and the Temple town increase, it draws visitors like a magnet. Not all are visiting devotees. Many come in search of employment and to do business. As the resident population as well as the number of visitors increase beyond the capacity of the town, compromises are made to build structures in areas not suitable to hold them or are built so densely that Mother Nature doesn’t have the outlets to vent her excess energies. Her natural ‘breathing space’ is denied to her and that causes devastation. It is not the anger of the Gods Maharaja but the selfishness of Man that causes these tragedies” explained Vishwaraya patiently.
“So is there a way out? Is there actionable measures which can prevent such an occurrence again?” asked Chandrahari with the first rays of hope, knowing the wise one will have an implementable solution. Vishwaraya didn’t disappoint him as usual. “There is Maharaja, there always is!” He said sagely. “Firstly, all construction which will affect the ecology, the nature’s ‘breathing space’ must be stopped and while reconstruction of the city, should be provided for. The outlets for water to flow, the weak mountain sides not weakened any further to avoid landslides, and use materials which are suited to the terrain of the temple town”
“That is fine from the point of reconstruction Mantriji but what about the multitude of devotees who will flock the temple once restored? From what you say and I understand, the city is incapable of accommodating such a rush of visitors? Surely we cannot stop them from visiting the place of Worship O wise one!” continued Chandrahari, worried for the first time that Vishwaraya might not have an answer to this query. Vishwaraya was silent for a second and then sighed. “Maharaja there is a solution for that too but I am afraid, you might not like it” he finally blurted. “Just tell me Mantriji, I will try and implement the solution however unpopular it may be as long as the lives and property of my subjects are protected. Nothing is more important to a King than that, not even God! And if this sounds like a slight to my maker, so be It.” cried the benevolent but worldly wise Maharaja. “Then Maharaja, please issue a decree wherein the number of visitors per day be fixed to a level the town is capable of accommodating. This will ensure a smooth journey for the visitors, the town’s infrastructure can provide comforts to the devotees like transport, inns, eating house, bathing ghats, medical requirements and toilets optimally so as to not only ensure safety but also peaceful dharisanam and stay for the devotees.”
“But will the neighbouring states agree to this proposal? Don’t forget we have visitors from all over Bharatvarsha. And what about the loss of trade because of lesser visitors?” asked Chandrahari overcome by doubts again. “Maharaja, we can ask the neighbouring states also to implement similar rules in their towns. As you well know, is there any state in Bharatvarsha which does not have a Temple town or two and which face similar problems? Each state can be allotted a quota of visitors per season which they can distribute among their citizen. For your information Maharaja, the Kakatiya Emperor after facing many an opposition has already implemented such a system at the Devasthanam at Tirupati. As regards, loss of trade, it is a small price to be paid Maharaja for avoiding the loss of lives” said Vishwaraya.
Chandrahari stood up beaming at his wise and learned Mantri. His doubts now cleared and the road map clear in his mind. “So where do I start Vishwaraya?” he asked. “First of all Maharaja, let us give relief to those suffering right now. Once every single victim is taken care of, we will build the infrastructure and a system so strong and efficient that never again will we lose a life of our citizen” concluded the wise one.