Tirupati: Capitulating under all-round criticism, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam revoked its decision to cancel darshan to pilgrims during the Maha Samprokshanam from August 11 to 16 and said devotees would be allowed to worship unhindered during this period albeit in smaller numbers due to the limitation of time.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu reportedly intervened to get the cancellation move that had turned hugely unpopular with the pilgrim community while drawing flak on the social media as well as from the Vedic scholars and seers; not to forget the serious charge of conspiracy from the temple's former chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu.
Following a phone call from the CM, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal along with trust board chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav addressed a crowded media conference Tuesday morning at the Annamaiah Bhavan in Tirumala and announced revoking the move to stop the darshan during the Maha Samprokshanam. The decision had been taken "under instructions from Honourable CM", said the EO.
Sources said the press conference was also advanced in order to take the wind out of the media engagement planned by Ramana Deekshitulu at Chennai later in the day. Notwithstanding the revocation announcement from Tirumala, the ex-chief priest told reporters that the TTD move to prevent pilgrims from darshan "only proved right my suspicion that they are attempting to recover the treasures hidden in the kitchen" and to destroy all evidences of the various lapses which he had raised in the TTD functioning.
The ex-priest apart, several Vedic scholars and seers had strongly objected to the TTD move to suspend the darshan during the Maha Samprokshanam. Social media was afire with the fury of the pilgrim population. Responding, CM Naidu told the TTD that the darshan should not be stopped on any account. If there were time constraints due to the festival, the devotees could be allowed in limited numbers during the period. Also, TTD officials should ensure that the Agama Shastra principles are strictly adhered to while performing the Maha Samprokshanam, he told the Board.
Welcoming the CM's intervention in getting the TTD to 'correct its mistake', Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswathi of the Vishakha Sarada Peetam said there were several seers, pontiffs and Agama advisors whom the TTD could have consulted before taking such decisions and hurting the devotees, besides raising several doubts. "Will the EO, TTD chairman and four archakas complete all the rituals in the temple after closing all the roads leading to Tirumala? Why should someone holding the post there for mere two years take decisions while there are several pontiffs and seers not consulted for proper guidance? The temple boards should take proper decisions in the interests of the pilgrims and not do anything to damage the religion. We are happy the CM has responded positively and set things right", said the pontiff.
At the TTD media meet, EO Singhal said the CM had given instructions that the darshan and rituals should go on without causing inconvenience to the pilgrims. "Now the decision is open to the pilgrims. We will go with the majority opinion on whether to allot tickets online or to allow darshan on first-come basis in the available time. We will take the final call on how this could be done at the Board meeting on July 24, after taking the feedback into consideration", he said.
He said the earlier decision to stop the darshan during August 11-16 was 'only in the larger interests of the pilgrims" as it would be possible to permit entry for hardly 30 hours during those six days of ceremony. "We would be able to allow darshan to less than 15,000 devotees a day during that period and we did not want to cause hardship and disappointment to the pilgrims. Hence that decision, but now we will allow darshan. Now everyone will know there's no conspiracy, all can see what's happening inside the temple", the EO said.