Every once in a while, in the life of a student, comes a time when there is a need to find some peace, some quiet. Not the silence you get inside the room, but some place different. The need to run away from the loud music, the chatter of people around, the study stress, the personal problems. Some place far, but not very far. No, i’m not talking about Dee Tee, but the Vee-Gee-Tee(VGT) – The Venugopal Temple.
Yes, the temple which, though is a part of the campus, is in a place cut out from the normal campus crowd. With a beautiful garden right in front of it… two huge white elephants, welcoming you into a long stretch of greenery leading to a lovely fountain. There are benches set up, but i hardly find people sitting there, probably because this place is known for the army of red ants that are more than happy to attack sometimes!
To the right of the temple, you’ll find a park for little kids. A sand heaven with slides, swings, see-saws and other play-stuff. Behind the temple is a vast stretch of lawns where you find people playing cricket and other sports. To the left of this heavenly abode lie beautiful trees.
It’s quite amazing how in such a noisy campus of MIT, there’s actually a part which is peaceful most of the times. In the evenings, it’s wonderful to just sit there and watch as people come and go. Bhajans are sung, and lil kids run around the temple in circles following their parents. A place for all kind of people.
But for me, the real magic of the temple lies during the non-peak times. Say morning or afternoon…? People rarely come at these times, and it’s the best time to meditate or just sit and muse. There’s nice wind blowing at times which adds to the feel. The only constant companions at that time are the birds, which by the way keep flying inside the temple all the time. (Be careful where you sit, cos these birds shit all over the place!)
Meditating at this time is a real magical experience. The occasional chime of the bells as someone comes to visit shake you out of the dhyana sometimes, but otherwise the vibration of the sound just makes you feel divine. All troubled minds find peace in this residence of the Lord Venugopal, another name for Lord Krishna – the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu who came down on earth to restore Dharma. The black statue adorned with silver ornaments shines radiantly. When you stand in front of the God and look deep into his eyes, for those few moments you forget everything and the mind finds peace.
Along the walls of this temple, you’ll find the pictures of many Godly figures, including a statue of Lord Shiva.
Outside the main temple, there are two little temples. One of them belonging to Lord Hanuman, the symbol of immense valour and undying devotion.
The other is of Lord Ganesh, the symbol of wisdom, the one who removes all the obstacles in the endeavours we undertake.
The architecture of this temple is a beauty to behold in itself. I had once heard that this temple has the components of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
I don’t know how true it is! But if you notice, the shape of the dome looks inspired from the mosques, the long tower-like straight structure to that of the churches, with the top symbol, carvings and other characteristics undoubtedly reflecting the elements of a typical Hindu temple.
That said, the point i wanted to put across is that visiting the temple during festivals when it is fully lit and is thronged by people has its own charm. But once in a while, visiting it at non-peak times will present you just another side of the temple, the existence of which you might not have noticed. The power of silence is amazing. The tranquil atmosphere it provides might just be something you’ve been looking for.
Maybe that little time away from the normal Manipal nuttiness will help you see a part of yourself you never knew existed. Maybe you’ll find the answers to the questions you haven’t had time to think about. Maybe the serenity of the temple will help you get the clarity you’ve been praying for.
Praying for all your prayers to be answered and mine,