DISCOURSE Velukkudi Krishnan spoke of seven steps. Suganthy Krishnamachari
I f a sabha organises a four-hour concert, it advertises the fact as a novelty, for in the era of two and a half hour concerts, how many would turn up for a marathon? They might if the name is popular. And this despite air-conditioned auditoria, with enticing canteens and neat rest rooms. In the absence of such creature comforts, the turnout is bound to be even less.
While this may be true of music concerts, spiritual discourses seem to attract larger crowds, even if the audience has to sit on the floor, and contend with mosquitoes. Even a conservative estimate would put the audience turnout at 2,000, for Velukkudi Krishnan's discourse for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, indicating the speaker's celebrity status, or perhaps even cult status!
The discourse ran to more than three hours, but before the programme began, this writer gathered from the audience, that they had come expecting a three-hour upanyasam and looked forward to it. Yet another surprise element with regard to the audience at spiritual discourses these days, is the increasing presence of youngsters. At Velukkudi's discourse, this writer spotted quite a few, even in the age of group of 10 to 14, listening keenly, some even diligently taking down notes!
This was Velukkudi's ninth consecutive annual discourse on ‘Srinivasa Kalyanam' for the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha. Velukkdui's lecture on this occasion, was not so much about Lord Srinivasa's and Goddess Padmavati's wedding, as about the quest for moksha. He spoke about the seven steps every aspirant to moksha should pass through, beginning with aradhana to the Lord to the final step of atma darisana. Interestingly, ‘Venkatam,' the name by which Azhwars refer to Tirumala, means the ‘burning of sins' both in Tamil and Sanskrit, said Velukkudi.
The audience stayed on till the end. However, the huge audience made crowd management difficult. People were seen ‘reserving' seats for friends and relatives, using bags and handkerchiefs, leading to arguments. There were some old people, who needed to go to the rest room, while the discourse was going on, but found it almost impossible to make their way out. In some cases their discomfort was palpable.
Convenience of the elderly is also something the sabha must keep in mind when it organises an event of this duration and magnitude. Maybe the venue should be larger, or the duration of the discourse shorter.
That morning was released the colourful calendar, Vishnu Sahasranamam, brought out by Kinchitkaram Trust of Velukkudi Krishnan. Justice Parasaran released the calendar and vocalist Sudha Ragunahtan received the first copy. The calendar containing pictures printed on fine art paper, is accompanied by a handbook explaining the significance of each of the 1,000 names of Vishnu and two CDs of Velukkudi Krishnan's lecture.
“The actual cost of each calendar is Rs. 1,000 but is made available for Rs. 150,” said Velukkudi Krishnan. The proceeds will be used to promote spiritual activities of his Kinchitkaram Trust. For copies call 24992728/9841271926 or write to the Trust at No. 6, Bheemasena Garden Street, Mylapore, 6000004.