Today our scheduled parikrama pilgrimage took us to Badrinath or Badarikashram. The original Badrinath is high in the Himalaya mountains, so high that it is only accessible for a few months in the summer. During the winter it is completely snowed in.
I seem to have now definitely left my flue behind and feel again strong and full of energy, however, Nandini Radha mataji is now the latest victim of this 3 day discomfort. The buses were scheduled to leave for 5 AM but did eventually leave at 6. Samir did unfortunately not come with us. He was overwhelmed by the force of material nature. It was therefore only Varshana Kishori mataji and myself from our group who went on this pilgrimage.
There is the following story how Badarikashram came to be in Braj. One day Lala (little Krishna) saw that His mother was preparing all sorts of funny prasadam fried in ghee. It was not the usual kind of things such as rice, dhal and chapatis. Therefore He asked, "Maiya, what kind of funny things are you preparing and why are you preparing them?". Because little children ask so many questions all day long and mothers cannot do their housework she said "go to your father Nandababa and ask him".
This is what Lala did. Nandababa said: "Dear Lala, we are going on a pilgrimage to Badrinath and because it is a very long way off we are taking prasadam with us that will keep for all our journey." Hearing this Lala took His father by his hand and brought him to 'Adi Badrinath', a place equal to Badrinath in every respect, which He had quickly manifested by His divine energy so that His parents would not have to leave the area of Braj.
It took us a few hours by bus till we reached the area of Badrinath in the state of Rajastan. It is a beautiful hilly area covered with trees which can only be found on hills such as Badarikashram and the sacred hills of Varshana. These trees change in colour throughout the year from turquoise green to gold, copper and eventually to silver.
Dina Bandhu, our parikrama guide, who has been living in Vrindavan and Braj for the past 25 years told us many pastime stories of the area. To remember them all would be very taxing for anyones memory and especially mine. However, one story stood out.
Long ago there was a demon who did great austerities in this area, so much so that Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. The demon replied that he wanted to become immortal. We heard this kind of request before, namely with Hiranyakashipu, which caused a lot of trouble, so much so that Lord Nrisimhadeva appeared to kill the demon and at the same time upheld the benedictions of Lord Brahma.
Lord Brahma replied to the demon that he cannot give the benediction of immortality because he himself is not immortal. Hearing this the demon replied, "then give me the benediction of 1,000 kavachas (protective armour) and that each kavacha will make me undefeatable for 1,000 years." Lord Brahma granted him the boon and the demon thought that he was now immortal.
As we know Nara and Narayana rishi, which are none other than Krishna and Arjuna, are eternally residing in Badarikashram in deep meditation engaged in austerities. They decided to curb the pride of this demon. First Lord Narayana fought with the demon for 1,000 years and thus broke his first kavacha. Now Arjuna fought with the demon for 1,000 years while Lord Narayana engaged again in meditation.
This went on until 999 protective armours of the demon had been destroyed. Arjuna, who had the last turn, however, let the demon off. The demon took shelter of Suryadeva, the sun god and was consequently born as Radheya, who is also known as Karna in the Mahabharata. In the great Kurukshetra war Arjuna was able to kill Karna, because Karna gave his remaining kavacha to Indra in charity.
We visited many other important places in the area, such as a 5,000 year old yogamaya temple. To talk about all of them would be too much for this blog. After meeting up with a few hundred devotees from the Vraj Mandal parikrama we took lunch together at the main Badrinarayana temple and returned to Vrindavan.