Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sri Badrinath – The experience of a lifetime

Jagatprabhum devadevam anantam purushottamam … we began chanting the Vishnu Sahasranamam, high up in the Himalayas, almost 10000 feet up, surrounded by snowy peaks on a picture perfect November morning. Sparse white clouds that decorated the blue sky were like angels vying to take a quiet peek into the Lord’s abode without being noticed. As the chanting continued we felt a gentle breeze from the top of the Narayan Parbat sweep the valley floor and the small line of devotees held their colorful sweaters tighter as they entered the ancient temple echoing Jai Badri Vishal!

The gushing turquoise waters of the river Alkananda splashed against the temple steps and rushed out with tremendous energy and joy, as they felt ready to welcome and sanctify anyone in their arms. Natural hot sulfur springs of great medicinal value dotted the bathing ghats. The temple bells and the chants of the Vedic priests along with the joyful tears of devotees echoed all around this ancient land. Aroma of burning camphor floated around in a mystical way, carried by the swirling gusts of wind that surrounded the inner sanctorum of the temple complex. Silver colored plates decked with Himalayan flowers, sweets, nuts, dry fruits, saffron cloth pieces and other offerings adorned the hands of devotees. Sadhus in their saffron attire circled the temple with their faces beaming with the joy of meeting an old friend. The place felt timeless. If there is a heaven, we felt we were in it.

Amidst these, we chanted a thousand names of the one who is without a name and praised the beauty of the one who is without a form. After the chant, we closed our eyes in meditation and the mind quietly disappeared. We felt that we were in the center of the universe. Meditation was as its effortless best. As the legend goes that the Lord Narayana, who is present here in his dual form of Nara-Narayana, chose this place to be the best place to meditate in all of the Himalayas. Numerous saints and Shankaracharyas have meditated here over thousands of years.

Adding to the mystic nature of the place are numerous local legends. One of the legends is that the Lord Narayana appeared as a little boy who tricked Shiva and Parvati to move out of Badrinath to Kedarnath dham. At a little distance from Sri Badrinath is the famous Vyas’s Cave and Ganapati’s cave, where the Mahabharata was first composed. A very small stream flows through this place called the river Saraswati. There is also a natural bridge believed to be built by Bhim himself. One of the most fascinating legends is the swargarohini or the ascent to heaven. Legend goes that the Pandavas after the Kurukshetra war, were in this area to meditate and they walked into higher elevations of the Himalayas and finally to Heaven. Following this legend, devotees every year in August, undertake an arduous pilgrimage in the same direction into absolute wilderness of the Himalayas. They go up higher into the mountains with food and water and material to survive, walking for seven days. It is considered a rare fortune for someone to undertake this journey.

We met a sadhu at the Badrinath temple who trekked by foot from Rishikesh in 22 days, he pointed us to a small kutir up high on one of the surrounding mountains and narrated the story of a mystic who meditates there and has been living there with no necessities even in the 6 months of winter when the entire temple town is closed down and the temple deities are taken down to the town of Joshimath. It is believed that the angels along with the creator Lord Brahma guard the Badrinath temple during the winters.

Sri Badrinath is vibrant with divine energy and peace. Praju and I never imagined that one day we would be at Sri Badrinath Dham. We felt truly fortunate to have been here. On the way down, we spent some time at Joshimath. Joshimath or Jyotir-math is the first of the four major maths established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. We were lucky to have meditated at sri shankara math here. The town is full of amazing temples and legends, the Sri Narsimha Swamy temple is believed to be the place where the young Prahlada meditated, Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s place of meditation, and the temples built by the Pandavas.

It’s a rare fortune to be blessed with such beautiful experiences as the pilgrimage to Sri Badrinath ji. We truly felt blessed. All glories to my Gurudev.


Himalayan Hermit said...

Simply beautiful! May god give his grace to all of us!

By the way we are planning to go this November 2012, can you suggest us a good place to stay, since you had been there in November, and also did you face any breathign problem? Was the drashan easily accesible in November or was there a que then. Jai gurudev, pranam

Himalayan Hermit said...

Simply Beautiful! May god shower his grace on all of us. Since i am also going to be in Badrinath in November this year, can you please let me know
1. a good place that you suggest to stay,

2. also did you face any breathig problem then,

3. was darshan diifficult or easily accsible. large was the tourist crowd in november
jai gurudev

visakar said...

Good to read your new post after a long break . Thanks for this post and please keep writing.

Till date, your post about Rudram is one of the best and I keep referring to my friends to get to know about it.

All Glory to Guru Dev !

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