In continuation with Vraj Parikrama, on the 9th of November, HH Subhag Swami Maharaj took a group of 70 devotees to Badrinath. Buses departed from our Krishna Balaram Mandir after mangal arti, ensuring an auspicious start to our yatra. A bumpy ride which lasted for two hours led us to our desired destination.
"One day Nanda Maharaj wanted to take his family on pilgrimage to Badarikasrama and Kedarnath. He had previously prayed to Lord Narayana for a son, and after attaining Krsna he wanted to thank Lord Badri-Narayana with worship. Krsna, however, didn't want Nanda Maharaja or the Vrajavasis to leave Vraja, so He brought His family here and revealed Badrinatha to them, complete with all its pastime places and divine associates." (Vraja-Mandala Darsana-LNS)
Being considered Adi Badri, all pastime places, which are in Badrinath in the Himalayas, are here also. The place where Nara Narayana performed austerities and where Vyasadeva spoke the Vedas to Ganesa are amongst some of these historical places.
In His fourth incarnation, the Lord descended as Nara Narayana. To instruct the world about the process of self realisation, He performed severe penances whilst controlling His senses and practising devotional service. A wonderful description of Nara Narayana Rsi is given in SB 12.8.33-34. Once Indra became fearful of his position as King of Heaven due to the austerities of the sages. He therefore decided to send Cupid along with many apsaras to bewilder the sages. The sages, naturally were however undisturbed by this incident. They also decided to have a little fun with Indra! From Their left thigh, hundreds of beautiful women manifest, each excelling the beauty of the apsaras Indra had sent. The apsaras then felt ashamed at seeing the splendour of these women. The sages then requested Cupid to select one damsel to take to Heaven, the famous Urvasi was chosen.
After taking darshan of Nara Narayana (Krishna and Arjuna), we proceeded to a peaceful location next to the Lakshman Jhula Mountain. There we heard the glories of Vraja and Badrinath from Maharaj. Maharaj stressed on the point that Krsna wanted to make it clear, by this particular pastime, that all holy places are in Vraja Mandala.
Prasad was served to devotees consisting of lemon rice, yogurt and gulab jammuns. A drama was then performed by the youth. All devotees were very much appreciative of their sincere efforts to render some service to the Vaisnavas. Kirtan Mela was then held until the afternoon.
Some devotees proceeded with Maharaj up Laksman Jhula. Situated between two mountains, it is considered to be the place where Laksman performed severe austerities. We were told by locals that many deer and blue cows (nila gai) come out in the night from the mountain. The long walk bore fruit when we took darshan of Lakshman ji. Situated at the back of the temple were two small temples of Ganga devi and Yamuna devi. These two places are also to be considered Gangotri and Yamunotri respectively. With a beautiful view surrounding us, devotees didn't feel like leaving this place. Many other holy places could be identified from here, such as Alakananda and Triveni Sangam.
From Laksman Jhula we proceeded towards Tapasya Kunda. It is said that great sages had performed austerities here. Many devotees took bath here although the water was very cold. A refreshing feeling followed. Surrounding the kunda is an exquisite goshalla, the cows here look very peaceful unlike that we see from other places. Peacocks were seen nearby with their cooing easily heard. We then headed back to our base, although technically in the forest, the loud sound of kirtan made the route very easy to locate.
We were told that in 1932, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur came to Badrinath as part of Vraja Mandala parikrama along with hundreds of his disciples. We feel fortunate to be walking in the same steps of such exalted personalities.
After another short drama, a grand feast awaited all the devotees. The menu consisted of: rice, dahl, mixed vegetable subji, paneer subji, chutney, pakora and gulab jammun. All devotees were enthusiastically ready to serve, even to the extent that they would get less prasad. It was a feast for the eyes to see the love and care exhibited between the devotees.
One devotee shared his experience, "Of all the places in Vraja, my favourite by far is Badrinath. It is so peaceful here. I can just sit on the mountains for hours chanting my japa whilst enjotying the view of the holy dhama. To get into the bus was a great struggle for me. I pray that I may come back here again."
We are reminded of the words of Narottom das Thakur, describing the spirit in which we should enter the Dhama:
visaya chariya kabe suddha ha 'be mana
kabe hama herabo sri-brndabana
"When my mind is completely purified, bring freed from material anxieties and desires, then I shall be able to understand Vrindavana and the conjugal love of Radha and Krsna, and then my spiritual life will be successful.
Locana das Thakur repeats these words in his famous song,
visaya chadiya, se rase majiya,
mukhe bolo hari hari
If one wants to be Krsna conscious by this process, one has to give up his engagement in sense gratification. One simply has to chant, "Hare Krsna! Hari Hari!" without any motive.
We offer our respects again and again to our beloved Srila Prabhupada for revealing the holy dham to us and giving us a glimpse of the spiritual world.
Vraja Mandala ki Jay
Badrinath Dham ki Jay
Srila Prabhupada ki Jay