THE BEST WAY TO DO DARSHAN IN SHRI NATHJI
Many visitors to Nathadwara feel that the current system of letting people in the dolti bari does not make for the most comfortable way of doing darshan of the Lord. All the pushing and shoving by other vaishnavs spoils the supreme moment of having a darshan of the divine Lord Himself.
Some say that this is perfectly fine as even the discomfort and distress of such crowds is sanctioned by scriptures ! In my view, this is nonsense !! The whole point of darshan is, to have a profound sense bliss and grace, not stress ! Pushing and shoving other vaishnavs out of the way is most ungraceful of all activities and as it often hurts the vaishnavs around you, it is most un-Pushti like - afterall, we are specifically told - "Treat the Lord, Shri Vallabh and His vaishnavs as one and the same." By causing discomfort to the vaishnavs, we are causing discomfort to the Lord. How can that be sanctioned by scripture ?!
Here are my tips on how to get the darshan of the Lord without hassle, pushing or shoving.
DO - be patient.
Best thing to do is to wait till the arti is finished and the tide of humanity in the doltibari will automatically ebb, allowing you to go in and have darshan in relative peace. Pre-electricity, arti was an essential time for vaishnavs to be in the doltibari. In the dark, dimly lit interiors of ancient havalies of the time, arti was one of the few times when the Lord's person was lit up. During arti, a concentrated pool of light is used to focus on the Lord, and this focus is transferred from one part of the Lord to another in a controlled manner. In the days before electric lights, arti allowed the vaishnavs view in minute detail the person of the Lord. This still happens in many South Indian temples, were electric lights are not used in the inner sanctum and arties of kapur (camphor) have to be used to view the icon in any detail.
Seeing that electric lights are used in the Nathadwara Haveli, arti is no longer the only way to get a good glimpse of the Lord. Yes, arti is still an important ritual and is sacred. But, it is no longer an impaling reason to inflict pain upon fellow vaishnavs. By going after the arti, you still have the same opportunity to revel in the beauty of the Lord as before or even during the arti. The purpose of arti is to remove the "evil eye" and is essentially a private ritual between mother and child (Yashodaji and her Krushna). We are only present there by the grace of Shri Vallabh, but it is not "essential" to be there. The purpose of going to the haveli is to have a darshan of the Lord, not the arti. Yet, many feel if they have not see the arti, the darshan is somehow less than complete. It most certainly is not ! Darshan of the Lord, even a glimpse (jhaki), is important. Nothing else is.
DON'T - push or shove.
Apart from being inconsiderate, it is unfair and very much against the grain of what Pushti Marg teaches us. Indeed, as vaishnavs, we should try to help others get darshan of the Lord, not push them away from the Lord !
DO - modulate your visits to the other havelies so as to minimize grid lock traffic in any one haveli.
There are sufficient havelies in Nathadwara to allow everyone to move between them and not cause huge crowds in one haveli and almost none in others.
The main havelies in and around Shri Nathji's own are :-
1) Navnit Priyaji's haveli - right across the courtyard from Shri Nathji's own.
2) Vitthalnathji's haveli is across the road from Pritam Pole of Shri Nathji's. It is an important pilgrimage site, as this is one of the seven main nidhies of Pushti Marg.
3) Yamunaji's haveli is just further up the road. It is a private haveli.
4) Gopalji's haveli is also near Pritam Pole.
5) Madan Mohanji's haveli is along the main route leading from Shri Nathji's main gate towards many of the older dharmshalas and the market where clothes and material our own sevas can be bought. The icon here was once cared for by the princess of Udaipur. It is now in the care of ShriNathji.
6) Kalyanraiji and Dwarikashishji have a haveli near the main gate, but the Lords no longer reside here. However, seva offered here (fruits, flowers etc) does reach them in their own distant havelies.
One of the best places to visit while crowds throng Shri Nathji''s haveli, is Navnitlalji's haveli.
Unlike Shri Nathji, Lalan sits much closer to his devotees and during palana, which times itself closely with Shri Nathji's Gval darshan, devotees can get to within three feet of the Lord ! It is a wonderful opportunity to get a close look at this major nidhi svarup and indeed see how shringar is to be done.
DON'T pay to get in first - it is a waste of time and money. Too many people pay for this privilege, and so it is no longer as exclusive a way to obtain darshan as it once was. Besides, it is very un-Pushti like to "pay" for priority darshan. There is a varta in our scriptures of a queen who manages to do this and how the Lord teaches her a lesson.
DON'T fret that you will not get a darshan unless you in first - everyone will get an opportunity. Doors normally do not close while new vaishnavs are still coming in. Have faith. The Lord is not going to abandon you nor deny you His darshan. He is a great host and would not disappoint guests in His own house !
Have faith !!
DON'T go for a darshan during a major festival - it is too crowded and too intense. To accommodate the crowds, a number of darshans may be skipped, giving you less opportunity to be in front of the Lord and have a proper darshan. Sure, if you want to see the crowds and say "I have been there !", go for the major festivals. Be ready for the crush and be careful of pick pockets !
DO - plan so you are there in the "off-season" ie not during major Indian school holidays, or major festivals. Summer is an excellent time as no one in their right mind wants to "visit" Rajasthan at that time, unless it is to visit the family or for pilgrimage. Winter is also an ideal time, though it is now getting more popular as visitors from abroad prefer to come at that time.
Early monsoon and spring are also good - Indian school children (and their parents) are busy with start of school, exams etc.
DO - visit during an eclipse - the darshan stays open for nearly 3 hours !!! And best of all, the Lord is dressed in minimal clothes and and only a few jewels, allowing you to have a darshan of the Lord, rather than all his shringar. As much as I love shringar, I love to see the person of the Lord, afterall, that is why we are there !
If what you want to see is glittering jewels, better go to a jeweler or a museum, you will get a closer look at the jewels and fuller explanation of its what you are looking at, its history.
Above all, DO the darshan and preserve that moment in your heart. Temple priests can carry out all their rituals before you, but if your mind is not full of bhav, what use is it watching it all ? Once I was there just before holi, and the mukhiyaji was playing faag with the Lord by dabbing colour on His clothes. One vaishnav, unaware of the ritual, and its bhav, said "Why doesn't that man just get out of the way ! Shouldn't he do all this tila tapka (making coloured dots) before the darshan ?!" The idea that by doing this in front of us, the mukhiaji was inviting us to enter in to a lila of the Lord - and giving us an opportunity to learn as to how we too can play holi with our own Thakorjis at home - this man saw this as an unwarranted intrusion during his darshan. What a waste of an opportunity !
Bhagwat Shah ©
Return to the Haveli index
Return to the main courtyard of the Haveli