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My Journey to India 2011 - Badarikashrama - The Mountain Home of God

October 8 2011

“What do you ask for, when you have a request free to ask of the Lord?” I pondered and pondered as the brahmanas chanted their mantras and the Ganga water glided down the well proportioned black image.
Suddenly, a bowl of sandalwood flew from the altar and hit my head. Fortunately, I understood the message. “Oh yes!” I thought, “Just like sandalwood cools the body, I pray that the fever of material desires cools down and the all devouring fire of prema (love of Godhead) will consume every part of my being.”
At holy places you don’t have to wait for miracles – they are all around you.
 
It is customary to ring a bell before entering a temple – in order to announce oneself to the Lord. The bell in Badarikashrama, which we wanted to ring, was so high that all hope left me and I decided to ask a soldier to use his machine gun as a stick to strike the bell. He looked back incredulously and then turned around. Maybe this was the first time someone had requested him to do such an unusual thing. Some devotees offered their hands so I could climb up and soon: the bell called: dong, dong, dong... As the sound went through the thin mountain air, everyone looked at the temple.

I was definitely not prepared for what happened in the temple of Badarinarayana. Overwhelming devotion seized my heart like electricity grabs someone touching a wire without letting go. But there is a difference: The electricity of devotion gives life, real life.

Have you ever fallen into a pool of honey? Or have you ever entered a warm, fragrant room in which your best friends were waiting, after walking through an ice-cold snowstorm that frightened you to the bone?
Well, that is what I felt like when I entered the temple of Badrinatha. It felt like home!
With great faith I recited a few prayers and felt how they released the lock on the treasure chest of mercy. With all the excitement around, and the many pilgrims almost wrestling for the best view, I just stayed in the queue streaming past the altar. There was not much to see. The deity was wearing a large crown and was covered with a pile of Tulasi leaves.
I made up my mind: tomorrow at four a.m., I will come back.

Due to the high altitude and the extreme cold we didn’t sleep well, so at 3.30 a.m. we were relieved that it was time to get up. We quickly took a set of fresh clothes and went to the hot springs for our morning baths.

In the temple courtyard I met an Indian gentleman who knew me from Zurich. By Krishna’s mercy he convinced the temple guard that I somehow belonged to his family and was therefore entitled to one of the coveted and prepaid sitting places in the temple during the morning abhisheka (ceremonial bathing of the Lord). After being smuggled in, so to say, I could witness the abhisheka. First the sandalwood was removed from the body of the Lord and then he received worship with water, mantras and Tulasi leaves.

Things of spiritual nature can only be seen through the eyes of devotion, not otherwise. Due to the devotional atmosphere all the 60 pilgrims who had waited for years to come to Badrinath, received glimpses into the beauty of Lord Badrivishal. Strangely, I started to feel tired in this atmosphere. The ego has its mechanism, which springs into action when it is time to surrender!

“What do you ask for, when you have a request free to ask of the Lord?” I pondered and pondered as the brahmanas chanted their mantras and the Ganga water glided down the well proportioned black image.
Suddenly, a bowl of sandalwood flew from the altar and hit my head. Fortunately, I understood the message. “Oh yes!” I thought, “Just like sandalwood cools the body, I pray that the fever of material desires cools down and the all devouring fire of prema (love of Godhead) will consume every part of my being.”
At holy places you don’t have to wait for miracles – they are all around you.

In the afternoon our small party went to the cave of Shrila Vyasadeva where the Bhagavatam was composed. We visited the river Saraswati, which gushes out of the rocks close by and afterwards we deeply meditated about the meaning of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Towards the end of the day, we took a meal at an austere domicile of some sadhus (saintly persons). This was followed by a long kirtan at the house of one saint, who is the music guru of all the yogis living in different caves around the temple of Badrinatha. The saint quickly grabbed his harmonium to lead our kirtan with songs from Vrindavan. Together with those long haired sadhus I danced and danced until I almost fainted. Good – let the old man faint and the new person rise.

My next message will be from Vrindavan.

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