The Elusive Laddu And The Sardarji

A_view_of_Laddu Low

If this wasn’t coming from B, I would have bet my last buck this was a concoction from an ardent devotee. Read on to know why:

In the 1980’s I regularly visited Thirupati for darshan of Lord Venkatachalapathy, variously called as Srinivasa, Balaji…During one of those trips in late 1980’s I was accompanied by two of my office colleagues, one of them a sardarji, a very pious man.

This was the first visit for him. After standing in the queue for about two hours, we finally entered the main entrance in the temple complex at Thirumala (top of the hill at Thirupati) at about 9:00. As soon as we entered there, sardarji covered his head with a hand-kerchief and started chanting some prayer while we engaged ourselves in some idle chat. It took us another 20 to 30 minutes before we could stand in front of the Lord to have His darshan.

On our way out, we collected a small laddu given out as prasadam. We promptly partook the same and, as always, headed towards the prasadam counter located outside the temple entrance for buying additional laddus for our families. With huge demand and limited production in those days, up to three laddus were offered per head. It was already 9-45 and the queue was very long. Hard-pressed for time – the Bombay-bound train was due at 11-30 at the far-away Renigunta railway station, it was clear we would miss the train if we stood in the queue.

Sardarji’s disappointment was writ quite visibly on his face.

He pleaded with the people triumphantly exiting the prasadam counter with laddus in their hands to give him just one so that he didn’t return home empty handed. Unfortunately for him no one obliged.It was no surprise to us – the laddus were and are always a much prized prasadam to be shared with family, neighbors and friends back home. Not with a total stranger.

During our travel to Renugunta station sardarji without let-up bemoaned his drawing a blank and regretted he partook that small laddu at the temple itself instead of sharing it with his wife and daughter back home. We tried unsuccessfully to pacify him saying the good darshan he had had was a greater reward than the laddu. And he should be happy and thankful to the Lord for the same.

The Madras-to-Bombay train arrived  puffing and panting for a short halt at Renigunta. We had just the time to board the compartment and move to take our seats before the train pulled out slowly. As we looked around we observed a large Gujarati marriage party going from Madras to Bombay occupying almost the entire compartment. Before long, one of their group-members approached us tentatively with a request: If we could be kind enough to move to the adjoining compartment, three members separated from their group could take our place to be one with the group. Since we were not encumbered with any heavy luggage, we readily agreed to switch our seats.

At the next stop, the shift was effected without further ado.

Once we settled down at the new place,the usual getting-to-know chit-chat commenced among the co-passengers. One of them was an elderly Bengali lady looking calm, graceful and respectable. Our sardarji needed little encouragement to unwind his tale of woe: his first ever trip to Thirumala, the good Darshan he had, the prasadam he ate, and his utter disappointment and sorrow in not procuring even a single laddu for his family back home. The lady continued to listen intently until the end.

When the sardarji finally rested his story, she said: “Beta, Balaji kisi ko nirasha nahi karenge” <He never disappoints anyone>. While it sounded like one of those perfectly inane commiserating remarks, she retrieved a bag from under the seat and pulled out for him one big laddu, at least 4 to 5 times larger than the laddu sold at the prasadam counter.

He was speechless awash with excitement and apprehension – Was it for real? Was she playing some cruel prank on him?

She explained: She had arranged for some special Pooja at Thirumala which included at its conclusion a sizeable quantity of prasadam for her. She added she would be only too happy if she could, in a small way, redress his disappointment.

With folded hands, unbelievable surprise and tears in his eyes, he accepted it and readily shared the some of it with us.


Was this all just happenstance or divine Grace or what was it?

What do you think?

For those of you who have not read my posts elsewhere, B was my neighbor for long years and Vidya Balan, the highly talented and widely  acclaimed actress of Bollywood is his daughter.



13 thoughts on “The Elusive Laddu And The Sardarji

  1. Yes it is true that unseen hands do extend unexpected help in various experiences relating to Balaji. Way back in the mid 70s, it was my first visit. My friend and colleague – the one and only RPC of Blue Star – wanted to show his new FANTABULUS [pl Google and find if anyone has written memoirs about this brand Scooter or search in a Scooters’ museum, if there is one!!] to the Lord Balaji and 4 of us went in two scooters (mine a Bajaj Chetak bought at a premium!!). Though my Bajaj Chetak really behaved like Chetak, the FANTABULUS engine had to be cooled repeatedly while riding up the 7 Hills and thus frustrating us. After somehow reaching the Lord’s abode, when I saw the long queue (estimated time 8 to 10 hours of waiting in the queue) and since anyway our family deity is Prasanna Venkatachalapathy of Gunaseelam, Trichy and we pray there frequently, I was keen on giving up. My Fantabulus friend would not!. He ORDERED me to join him in the QUEUEUEUEUEUE. Believe me, when everyone including the temple chowkidars estimated – based on where we were in the QUEUE – 8 hours+, the queue really moved very rapidly and we were able to finish the Dharshan in less than 3 hours. More importantly, we were able to ride down the hill in day time and without Fantabulus giving any further trouble till we reached Chennai.

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  2. If u have faith in HIM, miracles do happen. Once I went to worship Lord Srinivasan at Gunaseelam and I searched for Lotus flowers everywhere around the temple; but it was not there. Totally disappointed I was cursing my luck and the queue was slowly moving. Just I was about to step into the inner sanctum & was thinking about the Lotus flowers only, which i could not get, a loving hand gently touched my shoulders and without my asking offered 2 big lotus flowers; i was thrilled and could not believe my eyes.It was the old priest of the temple (now he is retired (84 years old) and is reported to be living in Perambalur) with all his smile offered me the 2 lotus flowers! The excitement i experience at that moment can’t be explained. That is the way HE shows his presence. At the same time if you are arrogant you cannot see him and I experienced it once at Thirumala.

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  3. Sir, Not all the phenomena science has been able to explain. There are a few like ‘thought waves’, ‘telepathy’ etc. – which I have also experienced not sure if fully explained by science. At a more tangible plane, the anecdote is an evidence of ‘Love is God’. The unconditional love of the elderly Bengali lady in the train was Balaji for the Sardarji. Corollary is we also play the ambassador of Bajali (or any other God) spreading unconditional love through our actions e.g. Can we give away a laddu to someone wanting to rush to his train? Going back to less tangible, true maturity lies in accepting life as it comes e.g. accepting His will that I don’t carry laddus back this time, than long for miracles. With that, yes, like what Vidya has quoted from Tamil and Thyagaraja in Telugu “Kaddane vaariki kadhu”, He is there for those who believe.

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    1. The two points you have made, Sravan, are interesting ways of looking at it. Especially considering certain entities as instruments of God.

      Thanks for taking the trouble of recording your views here for everyone’s benefit..


  4. Miracles occur-tangible intangible all around us. When we are open the universe conspires to make it happen
    The ladoo was not for himself but for someone else
    Thanks Raghu for writing this narrative and comments from all are interesting!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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