Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sapta Badri.


The Badrinath temple is believed to date back to the  Vedic period, though the current structure was built in the 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya. The Badrinath legend states that Vishnu in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, did penance in an open space at the location of Badrinath.

Adi Badri

Adi Badri, the first temple complex among the Sapta Badri temples is an ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located 17 km from Karnaprayag. 7 temples were built during the late Gupta period (5th to 8th century). In ancient times, when approach to the Badrinath Temple was closed during winter months, pilgrims worshipped Vishnu at this temple. Adi Badri is an hour's drive from Karnaprayag, close to Chulakot on the way to Ranikhet.

Vridha Badri

Vridha Badri, is located in Animath village, 7 km from Joshimath. The legend says that Vishnu appeared in the form of an old man before sage Narada who performed penance here. Thus, the idol installed in this temple is in the form of an old man. The legend has it that the image of Badrinath was carved by the divine craftsman Vishwakarma. At the advent of Kaliyug, Vishnu chose to remove himself from this place, later Adi Shankara found the partly damaged image in the Narad-kund (pond) and established it at the Badrinath.

                                      Bavishya Badri

Bhavishya Badri, about 9,000 ft above sea level is located in a village called Subhain, 17 km from Joshimath. It is situated on an ancient pilgrim route to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar, along the Dhauli Ganges River. Bhavishya Badri is connected by a motorable road to Saldhar,19 km from Joshimath, beyond which a 6 km trek is undertaken to reach the shrine.

According to a legend when the evil will transcend the world, the mountains of Jai and Vijaya would block the route to Badrinath and the sacred shrine would become inaccessible. The present world will be destroyed and a new one established. Then Badrinath will appear at the Bhavishya Badri temple and be worshipped here, instead of the Badrinath shrine. 

Yogadhyan Badri 

Yogadhyan (Yoga) Badri is located at Pandukeshwar at about 6,000 ft above sea level, close to Govind Ghat and is as ancient as the main Badrinath temple. Pandukeshwar is located en route from Govind Ghat to Hanuman Chatti, 9 km from Hanuman Chatti. Legend has it that King Pandu, meditated here to god Vishnu to cleanse him of the sin of killing two mating deer, who were ascetics in their previous lives. The Pandavas were also born here and Pandu died and attained salvation here. Pandu is believed to have installed the bronze image of Vishnu in the Yoga Badri shrine. The image is in a meditative posture and thus it is called Yoga Badri. The idol is life size. According to a legend, the Pandavas, after defeating and killing their cousins Kauravas came here to repent. They handed their kingdom to their grandson and went to perform penance in the Himalayas. 

Another historic location is the Suryakund, on top of Milam glacier, a hot water spring, where Kunti gave birth to her illegitimate son, Karna, fathered by the sun-god, Surya. Kunti was married to Pandu at Pandukeshwar.

Dhyan Badri

Dhyan Badri, is located in the Urgam valley, close to Kalpeshwar on the banks of river Alaknanda. It can be reached from Helang Chatti by a 12 km trek. The legend of Dhyan Badri is linked to the Urvarishi, son of King Puranjaya of the Pandavas lineage who meditated in the Urgam region and established the temple for Vishnu. 

Ardha Badri

Ardha Badri, located on the Joshimath-Tapovan road is in a remote village and can be approached only by trekking along a steep bridle path. As the size of the idol is small, the temple is called Ardha Badri, meaning half Badri.

Narasimha Badri

Narasimha Badri at Joshimath is closely linked to the Bhavishya Badri legend, even it is not one of the famous Panch Badri. Some believe the image is self-manifested. It is also believed that one arm of the image is getting thin with time and will finally fall off. When the arm disappears, the main shrine of Badrinath will be closed to the world and Lord Badrinath will shift to the Bhavishya Badri shrine. With this cataclysmic event, Kali Yuga will end ushering in the Satya Yuga. Then the Badrinath shrine would get re-established. When the chief Badrinath shrine is closed in winters, the priests of Badrinath shift to this temple and continue their worship to Badrinath here. Along with the central Narasimha image, the temple also has an image of Badrinath. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Who is Happy?

*        I wish to share a story of wisdom, I read somewhere.

Who is Happy?

A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied in life. But one day he saw a swan. "This swan is so white," he thought, "and I am so black. This swan must be the happiest bird in the world."

    He expressed his thoughts to the swan. "Actually," the swan replied, "I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colours. I now think the parrot is the happiest bird in creation."

     The crow then approached the parrot. The parrot explained, "I lived a very happy life—until I saw a peacock. I have only two colours, but the peacock has multiple colours." The crow then visited a peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see him. 

     After the people had left, the crow approached the peacock. "Dear peacock," the crow said, "you are so beautiful. Every day thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet." The peacock replied, "I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully, and I have realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in a cage. So for past few days I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I could happily roam everywhere." 

    We humans suffer from the same mindset, make unnecessary comparison with others and become unhappy. We don't value what God has given us. This all leads to the vicious cycle of unhappiness. Learn the secret of being happy and discard the comparison which leads only to unhappiness.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Panch Kedar.

As the legend has it, after the Mahabharta, the Pandavas went to seek blessings of Lord Shiva to atone for their sins. But Shiva, who didn't want to meet them, took the form of a bull to hide. The Pandavas were not ready to accept it. Bhima tried his best to pick up the bull but failed, and the bull scattered into pieces. 

Impressed by Pandavas' determination, Shiva finally blessed them and freed them from their sins. The lord then asked them to worship his hump at Kedarnath. This conical protrusion is worshiped as the idol in the shrine. This ancient and magnificent temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range in the Garhwal region of Uttaranchal. In Kedarnath lord Shiva is worshiped as one of the twelve jyotirlingas (linga of light).

Tungnath, the 2nd Panch Kedar is set on the crest of a hill. It is the highest shrine on the inner Himalayan range. About 3 km uphill from Chopta, Tungath is reached through a path winding through meadows and rhododendron thickets. Tungnath is built of stone. There are two smaller temples dedicated to Parvati and Vyas in a small courtyard.
Rudranath the 3rd Pancha Kedar is situated amid thick forest at a height of 2286 m. This shrine is 23 kms from Gopeshwer. In this natural rock temple the face of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Neelkantha Mahadeva. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshiped as a symbol of his face, a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva. The holy Kunds (Tanks) near Rudranath temple are Surya kund, Chandra kund, Tara kund, Manas Kund. 

Madhyamaheshwar, the 4th Pancha Kedar, is located at the base of Chaukhamba peak, 3289 m above the sea level, and 30 km northeast of Guptakashi. Shiva is worshiped at Madhyamaheshwar in the form of navel - shaped lingum. From here Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks, associated with the life and times of shiva, are visible.  

Kalpeshwar, the 5th Pancha Kedar, is a small rock temple and located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. Here the locks (hair) and head of Lord Shiva are worshiped as JATADHAR. 

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