Neeraja was a gopi who came to Gokulam as the daughter-in-law to a Gopa family. She was beautiful and humble and loved the new place which had some special vibrations .
Her husband and in-laws cautioned her about a dark skinned cowherd boy who was very mischievous and warned her to be away from his pranks.
They threatened her to keep away from Him and to avoid Him by every possible means. Neeraja was confused.
However ,she was very curious to see how he looked and what were those pranks which attracted so many gopis .
Her mind was absorbed now .
One summer evening, near the outskirts of a village ….
Neeraja was returning from the banks of Yamuna river immersed in the thoughts of the dark skinned boy. .
Suddenly , she heard some mellifluous music from a direction which almost pulled her She ran towards the direction from where the sweet melody was heard .
She somehow reached those wonderful grooves in the forest .
Krishna the irresistibly attractive lotus eyed Preceptor of the Universe, bestower of boons, Eternal Lord, was playing the flute as the sun sank in the west.
His small lovely fingers were over the flute and the cosmic music gushed out . She instantly fell for him and was watching from the grooves .
The vibration of this divine instrument was able to break the meditation of the greatest sages. Krishna the cosmic musician he was thus challenged the cupid with his transcendental music .
Something divine happened .
The birds flying above descended down , and one on the trees started chirping with joy . The peacocks assembled to dance with their gaiety steps .
The calves stopped sucking their mothers udders and remained like statues .The poisonous reptiles were humbled to the divine music .
The bamboo trees nearby were shedding tears of joy because a little part of it which made up the tree was creating such a wonderful music.
The clouds passing over the land stopped moving and provided an umbrella to Krishna. Lakes and rivers overflew with water, expanding their banks hurriedly desirous of embracing Krishna’s lotus feet which mesmerized her with captivating celestial tune .
Krishna’s beloved cows stood in tranquilly with their ears spread just to catch the nectar-filled tune flowing out of his flute.
Few cows and calves that were eating the grass, froze their actions in order not to let those munching sound disturb His divine music and thus get the fullest enjoyment.
Krishna knew the gopis would come and be with him in the moonlight dancing in eternity. Grace can only flow through Krishna’s flute, as there is nothing inside its body to prevent his will from coming through.
There were three kinds of flutes used by LORD …..
One called venu,
one murali, and the third flute was
The Flute Venu is very small, not more than six inches long, with six holes for whistling.
Murali is about eighteen inches long with a hole at the end and four holes on the body of the flute.This flute produces a very enchanting sound.
The vamsi flute about fifteen inches long, with nine holes on its body was melodious
Lord used to play on these three flutes occasionally when they were needed. Lord has a longer vamsi, which was called as mahananda or sammohini.
When the flute is more longer it was called akarsini and when it is even longer was called anandini.
The anandini flute is very pleasing to the cowherd boys and is technically named vamsuli.
The flutes were made of marble and hollow bamboo bedecked with jewels.
When the flute is made of jewels it is called sammohini.
When made of gold, it is called akarsini.
The gopis heard the celestial music and wondered how sweet it could be if they were able to sing and dance with Krishna in accordance with the music.
The minds of the gopis , wandering in different directions, were now centered on the divine music that came from the flute of Krishna.
The mesmerizing music of the flute it was, each gopi simply left what household chores they were doing and rushed to the flow of music like bees encircling the honeycomb without looking back. Few gopis left the dishes still dirty butter un churned racing into the flow .
Some even left mothers in mid conversation and few allowed the food to burn on the stove.
The call of Krishna’s flute was eternal and they couldn’t resist . Lord is never without the flute , whether he is with his mother, on the grazing grounds with his herd of cows, among his cowherd companions or roaming around on the Yamuna banks.
Even when He is not playing the flute , it is safely tucked in His waistband, never leaving Him..
The Gopis ran into the forest seeking that transcendental bliss, where Krishna stood with his flute. He was too handsome and each gopi felt he was looking right at them.
They formed into a garland and began to dance around him, their ankle bells tinkling, their saris waving to the divine tune. He played his flute and the gopis danced eternally.
Some waved their arms in the air, some spun in circles and some bent their knees and waist, swaying with the flute music.
The flowers decorating their neck and ears scenting the air and thus the gopis reached for their Lord of all Senses. As they reached for him he reached back, expanding himself to meet each gopi individually.
Each gopi placed her hands on his shoulder and Krishna placed his hands on each gopi’s shoulder.
They smiled at him and their eyes twinkled at him. He laughed out loud, delighted with their joy. They danced and danced, waving their wrists, stamping their feet and twirling in the moonlight.
The bells and bangles of the gopis and the stamping and clapping of hands and feet joined with the singing of Krishna to fill the night. Some gopis twirled their saris, spinning with Krishna.
Others sang back and forth with him, or stepped lightly in time with beautiful Lord. Some clung tightly to him, crushing their flower garlands into his strong chest, while others barely touched him as they danced in time with the music.
The singing and dancing, the twirling saris and intertwining arms was so beautiful that the moon paused in her track across the sky to watch the eternal joy .
Those gentle deers and sleepy birds watched from the edge of the forest with unknown joy while the dance continued .
Krishna and the gopis danced on, each gopi embracing Krishna as if he was only for her. Each gopi completely satisfied with Krishna the Soul of the Universe’s touch and gaze.
The gopi’s faces and arms were dripped with sweat . Krisna wiped the droplets from their chubby cheeks. Garlands of flowers lay crushed on the ground as the gopis, one by one, dropped their arms in exhaustion. Krishna, still expanded to be with each gopi individually, led them to the banks of the Yamuna River and poured the cool water over their faces and hands.
The gopis splashed the water on him back playfully and their laughter filled the clearing. The gentle wind picked the scent of flowers from the garlands around the gopis neck and the blossoms in their hair and carried it up to the watching moon.
Slowly, the moon sank and the sun began to rise and here the gopis rested in the embrace of Krisna, each gopi held tight, held lovingly, held personally by the endless compassionate Lord. Krishna the eternal friend he was expanded and held each gopi in his arms for each one to feel HE is there to just be with them.
Neeraja was watching all the fun , unmindful of the time that was passing .She was in a divine trance .She suddenly shook up and went back home love struck .Her husband and in laws disowned her and she was made an outcast , a harsh punishment . Neeraja felt it was a call to transcend the material bonds, to free oneself from the trammels of earthly endeavours. Neeraja did not care for any one now.
She became mad and yearned to meet Krishna .Her thoughts were always filled with HIS smile and the divine play .She was immersed in HIS love .
Everything was Krishna now .Her breath was krishna . She was in overwhelmingly in an ecstatic state. It was Neeraja who was the first gopi to rush and hold the reins of Akrura’s chariot when he was taking Krishna to Mathura away from Gokulam as per Kamsa’s plan , and try to push the vehicle back.
Dejected she spent her life in the Vamsi Kunj, whole mind fixed on the Lord always whom she had dissolved in her heart .
Years passed. She was getting old. One day she prayed desperately to Krishna …
My Lord!! I can no longer bear this forlorn life. My eyes have gone dry, they have no more tears to keep this love for you. My heart too is fast turning into a wasteland.
Please come and grace this craving soul !! My Lord, please come and save me, take me unto yourself. Her prayer was sincere and unconditional..
Krishna heard the prayer. He responded to her yearning and presented himself immediately before her .He called her by name, so sweetly that the very voice filled her with new life.
The Vamsi Kunj was now fragrant with divine glory.
Krishna came near her and took Neeraja’s palm in His hand and said……..
Neeraja my dear …. Tell me … “What do you desire?”
Neeraja was overjoyed. She looked at Krishna and said …
My Lord!! I wish you to play the flute once just for my sake.
Krishna smiled and gave the excuse that He had not brought His flute.
But, looking at Neeraja’s yearning, he plucked a reed from a bamboo tree in Vamsi Kunj and broke it right and in a trice converted it into a flute.
With Neeraja on his lap, Krishna played the flute melodiously by which the entire Gokula and even the whole world, was bathed in ecstatic joy.
When He stopped, Neeraja had attained final beatitude and was no longer a limited individual Gopi separate from Him.
Every Gopi’s story is nectarine , each in its own way, for they were all so transmuted by the unconditional bhakthi they bore towards the Lord.
The Gopis were declared by sage Narada in the Bhakthi Suthras (aphorisms on devotion) to be the greatest among the bhakthas (devotees).
Satyabhama took pride on being Krishna’s most beloved but soon had to swallow it as she made a futile attempt to measure Krishna’s weight in gold.
Rukmini proved her love to Lord by offering a sacred Tulsi leaf instead which caused the scales to promptly tip by the weight of her devotion to Krishna.
When Krishna was leaving Gokula to free his biological parents and Ugrasena by vanquishing the demon Kamsa, Radharani was awaiting for Krishna on the way. Krishna’s eyes dissolves in Radharanis eyes .He asks the driver to stop the cart. Akrura surprisingly asks, Oh Lord!! “Who is she?” Krishna responds, Akrura
“Everyone is drawn to me, but I am drawn to her!”
May our lives too celebrate their stay and…………
let’s fall at HIS holy feet our divine father always in thoughts and deeds ……….…
….Sri Vishnusahsranama ..………a divine gift from Bhishmacharya ………………..
After the great Mahabharata war, as per destiny , Bhismacharya was lying on the bed of arrows . He was letting the world know that he was waiting for the auspicious time [punya kala] for the sun orienting its direction northwards [Uttarayan] for leaving his mortal body.
Deep inside his heart he was praying Lord Krishna to bless him with his darshan during his last moments of his life . by
Bhismacharya was patiently bearing the pain and being a nice devotee had the firmness not to ask the lord for relief and instead waited for the Lord to grace him .The lord also acted in the same way as his devotee. Since Bhismacharya did not directly call upon Lord , the Lord also decided that he will not use that as a direct reason for giving him his darshan.
It is also revealed , before the onset of the war, Arjuna was perplexed and hence Lord Sri Krishna gave the Holy epic Srimad Bhagavat Gita to clarify all the doubts of Arjuna and indirectly to the humankind.
Meanwhile after the war , the whole of Dwaraka was eagerly waiting for the Lord’s arrival Lord Krishna was getting ready to depart to Dwaraka
. Yudishtira somehow wanted to delay the lord’s departure for some reason. He submits to Lord humbly and pleads , Oh Lord Krishna! I cannot sit on the throne which is stained by the blood of all my relatives and all my grandsir’s.
I am not sure about the righteous path and am confused over the path of dharma.” Please help me ..
Lord thought that probably he had to bestow Yudhistira with another sermon of Bhagavat Gita but decided not to do so. He thought of a better option. He told Yudistira that the best person to seek knowledge on dharma was none other than Bhismacharya . The lord said “When Arjuna was confused; I thought that my discourse would make his mind light and devoid of any doubts. But I later realized that he was all the more confused and worried.”
He advised , Yudishtira that he was going to lead him to a satsang which was a divine communion with a great devotee Bhismacharya. So the entire retinue now proceeded towards Bhismacharya in the war field .Bhishma was lying on a bed of arrows with no food, water and was sustaining his life only by uttering the Lords holy names silently and living with sheer divine grace.
The moment Bhisma looks at Lord Krishna along with Yudhistira, his face brightens up with a smile. He is overjoyed with Lord Krishna darshan. Lord walks near him and with a bewitching smile requests Bhisma to clarify Yudhishtira’s doubt’s . Lord thus created a situation and used this as a pretext to grace Bhisma.
(He wanted to show the greatness of Bhisma).
Lord looks at Yudishtira and says , Yudhishtra !!! when people are about to depart this world, they would disclose the supreme of all secrets which they have been guarding all their lives. This is akin to the father giving all his wealth to his son only during his last moments. The lord advises him to clarify all his questions related to the highest dharma from Bhisma who was considered the man for his strength, honesty , values and benevolence .
All the Pandavas and Draupathi arrive at the Kurukshetra battle field where Bhisma was lying on the bed of arrows. Bhisma looks at the them and becomes very emotional..
Bhisma recollects all the misfortune that happened one by one
. He concludes with tears even for wise people some things are apprehensive ..“Sarvam kala krutham manyae” It is all the play of time [kala] and none other than Lord Krishna can comprehend this.
Time is no different from Krishna as the lord appears as time outside. Yudishtira moves close to Bhishma to voice his concerns on dharma and requests to expound on Dharma.
Hearing his question, Bhisma replies ..
My child listen ….
Dharma can be classified as follows
Raja dharma – The dharma for politics
Moksha dharma – The dharma for different stages of one’s life as a student, as a house-holder
Varma Dharma – The dharma that one needs to adhere by someone who is ready for renunciation
Ashrama dharma – The dharma for a renunciant
Look here, your own mind, senses, will, discrimination, ability, brilliance, valour, courage, your own abode and the dweller of the above are all pervaded by the living Lord.
Synthesis, wisdom, understanding, learning, formulating and executing of the various activities of the creation are included in the one wisdom which comes out as the breath of the Supreme Lord.
Bhisma elucidates on the prayachitha dharma [pavana dharma ) set of guidelines that one needs to follow if one commits a mistake.
After patiently listening to the discourse on dharma , Yudishtira pleads Bhisma to expound on the supreme of all dharmas.
Bhishma smiles and says My child !!! Can any one compare between dharmas. Every dharma is unique in its own way.
However ..listen the supreme of all dharmas is verily chanting the divine names of Lord Vishnu.
It is superior to any other dharma. It is indeed greatest of all dharma, jnana and bhakti yogas. The chanting of divine names of the lord exists independently of other dharmas.
Bhishma blessed us all by revealing Sri Vishnu Sahasranama which has the powers to cure any disease in samsara and liberate us from this prison of samsara and ensure we are united with Lord Sriman Narayana.
All the great commentators of Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasarnama gracefully point out the fact that chanting the divine names of the lord is indeed the greatest of all dharmas in the age of Kali.
Human mind thinks that if a path has lot of intricacies then it is a supreme. Human mind also thinks that if a path is rare then it is great. TV
The same mind also thinks that a simple path cannot be a great path. The great Azhwars , Acharyas and advanced devotees from all the vaishnava schools justifiy why the path of nama sankirtan is indeed supreme. There are six reasons to substantiate the greatness of this path.
Firstly there is no violence involved. It is easy to perform, for it has no expectations on six fronts – himsa [violence], purushantara [irrespective of caste/creed], desha [place], kala [time], dravyantara [no material cost], niyama [no rules]. There are absolutely no rules.
Namasankirtan will unite everybody. It will unite countries, people, cultures and races. People will unite and come together irrespective of their religion, tradition and philosophies they follow and everyone will be united by the bond of love which will be further strengthened by the chanting of the divine names of the lord.
The battle of Kurukshertra took only twenty years before the start of the Kali Yuga which is about 5200 years ago.
So Bhismacharya gave a fitting dharma which logically, philosophically fulfills the principles of Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam fulfills Bhagavad Gita and it explains Gita with lot of relish by quoting examples and anecdotes.
At the end of Mahabharatha war, Yudhistira was bestowed with the thousand names of the lord, the Vishnu Sahasarnama.
Sree Vishnu sahasranama Sthothra, is a garland of the thousand divine names of Lord Vishnu, strung into a beautiful sthothra by the legendary Rishi “Veda Vyasa” , acknowledged as one of the greatest exponents of the Vedic wisdom. The first 13 stanzas are the dialog between Yudhisthira and Bhishmacharya . The next three stanzas are the customary Dhyana verses…. It is said that in Veda Vyasa’s 149th chapter Anushasanika Parvam of the Great Epic Mahabharatha, the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra, the 1000 names of the Lord Vishnu are written..
The person who requested for it is the Dharma Putra and the person who gave it is Dharma Swaroopa, the very embodiment of dharma, Bhismacharya.
The witness to this wonderful episode was none other than the end of all dharma, Lord Sri Krishna.
It was in such a beautiful way that the chanting of the divine names of the lord was introduced to the world in such an auspicious setting and amidst a holy group. After hearing this, Yudhistira was completely satiated and relieved.
It is saids by Elders , that One who learns these holy names by mind, heart and soul meets with nothing undesirable. He is free from the conditioning of the worlds, mundane and spiritual.
One who wants wisdom, will know all the philosophy. The ruler meets with success, and the businessman finds the culmination and significance of his wealth. The labourer attains happiness. The seeker of Law realises what is Law. He who is desirous of wealth will attain the real wealth.
He who wants accomplishment will be accomplished. One who wants a child realises what a child is. One who chants these thousand names without any desire, becomes prominent in society and is known as inevitable. His Wealth lies in stability and his prosperity lies in his virtue. Ability and brilliance keep him fearless. His divine aura keeps him in strength, beauty and virtue and protects him from any indisposition.
The unhealthy one finds himself healthy, the imprisoned realises freedom. The frightened one is freed from fear and the one who is in peril, will be out of peril.
Everyone stands above and beyond his own hurdles by chanting the prayer of the Supreme Person.
One lives beyond these fears, by chanting the thousand names of the Lord with devotion.
This is because a devotee of the Lord bears no malice, no anger, no hatred and no coveted expectation of anything. Remember that the vault of heavens decorated with the sun, moon and the sparkling myriads is kept in poise by the Lord of all Lords, who lives in everyone of them.
Since He pervades all, you remember that the whole creation which includes the gods and demons and the beings astral, etheric, etherial and meteorological, exists in obedience to Him.
Sage Veda Vyasa very joyfully included the divine name chanting in Mahabharatha.Satsang brings in the aura of peace, ushers into clarity and keeps our intellect intact so that we can enjoy happiness and love of the lord.
HARI NAAM SANKIRTAN KI JAI…
By Asmath Acharyar’s and Elders blessings we were able to conduct 108 times recitation of
SRI VISHNU SAHASRANAMAM recitation in our temple that takes almost 30 hours non stop attended by a large group of devotees . Today 1st Feb 2023 is Bhishma Ekadasee and this is the Seventh year and Adiyen seeks readers good wishes and blessings for continuous gathering . Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Once a new disciple approached Acharyar Bhattar and asked him………..
… Swamin ..
Please clear my doubt . What qualifications are needed to recite the Lord’s names ?
Bhattar smiled and replied ,
My dear child ,
When you stumble on the road OR unknowingly face a danger .., what do you say instantly ..the disciple said I will scream AMMA …. …
Now tell me what qualifications were needed to call AMMA ….
The disciple did not have any answer ….
My child !! continued Bhattar ….
One who goes to bathe in the Holy ganges indeed need not cleanse himself beforehand by dipping in a salt water pool .
When we wish to be saved what more qualifications do we need than simply to desire it and forthwith fly to our savior LORD who saves us and also make us fit for salvation too .
When we go to a pure fountain, is not the fountain itself the purifier .
The disciple continued ..
some say that besides the visible body there is nothing like what is called as soul there is no moral order and there is no God whereas other say this body is transient and admit its turbulent nature and therefore say we must aim something permanent beyond this body .
The disciple begged again …
Swamin please elucidate what give rise to these two different opinions .
My child !!!
This body is a loathsome abomination if only one would turn its inside out and examine the contents .
Then NO body’s teaching would be needed to detest it .
And , yet our long habituation with it is the cause that we love it in spite of the immediate visible evidence that is disgusting. Bhattar continued ….
Lord Krishna says in Srimad Bhagavad Gita chapter 7-14 ..
To pure hearts LORD gives sufficient enlightenment to realize the detestable nature of the body and thence to endeavor to rid oneself of it but for sinful hearts the love for body persists and as a consequence to , in its company they commit more abominations and hence ………………….
Lord weighs us in HIS scales of justice each according to the merits and demerits of KARMA .
Bhattar used to feel low during the darshan of the processional deities after Abhishekam ( Thirumanjanam ) wearing wet clothes and used to contemplate …..
Oh Supreme Lord !! when your Highness are not able to convince obstinate people like me with your abundant compassion for our final upliftment are you………………….
.My savior ……………………………………………………………..
adorning yourself with the wet clothes so as to take an oath and convince us ??
Lord’s presence is our strength and HIS absence our weakness …………
NAMO NARAYANAYA SRIMAN NARAYANAYA CHARANAU SARANAM PRAPATHYE SRIMATHE NARAYANAYA NAMAH SRIMATHE RAMANUJAYA NAMAH SRI MUDALIAANDAN SWAMY THIRUVADIGALEY SARANAM SRI AMRITHAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI LAKSHMI NARASIMHA PARABRAHMANE NAMAH
Prostrating at lotus feet of LORD LAKSHMI NARASIMHAR , Adiyen feels honoured to share the divine experiences of piligrimage few years ago to Sri Ahobilam Divya desam.
Ahobila Mutt authorities has taken the holy initiative to develop this kshetram on war footing and made it convenient for the piligrims to have darshanam of LORD in the temple.We offer humble obesiances to Jeeyar and the Mutt followers as this holy intiative from HIS HOLINESS has really made piligrims journey more simple compared few years ago . Presently nine archakas ( priests ) have been appointed who perform Nityathiruvaaradhanai ( worship) to all the Nava Narasimhars .
They travel by Cycles to the temples and are very cooperative with the piligrims.
Adiyens sincere acknowledgements to Ms.Ramesh , the author of “108 DIVYA DESAMS”and members of Sri Rangasri group ,whom we regard as our spiritual guide.
Adiyens recent visit last year was most memorable . Out of the 108 Sri Vaishnava divya desams, two are in Andhra Pradesh, Tirumala and Ahobilam. Both the divya desams are situated in the Nallamalai Hills in Chittoor districts respectively. It is about 68 KM from Nandyal Station ( Ex PrimeMinister Shri P.V.Narasimha Raos constiency ) As per the Puranas, Nallamalai Hills is the personification of Adisesha, the great serpent bed of Perumal. Srisailam, one ofthe famous Shiva sthalams is the tail end, Ahobilam is the middle portion, Tirumalais the head and Srikalahasti, another Shiva kshetram is the mouth of Adisesha.
Thus, the sacred hills houses two Vishnu and two Shiva kshetrams.Ahobilam, the great Narasimha kshetram is also known as Ahobalam, SingavelKundram, Vedachalam, Garudachalam, Veera kshetram, pancha kosa kshetram etc.for the following reasons.
AHOBALAM means “great strength”. Since Lord manifested Himself here for rescuing His devotee by killing the asura, Hiranyakasapu, the devas praised Him saying “AHO BALAM” (Oh! What a great strength) VEDACHALAM :-Perumal restored the Vedas to Brahma by killing Somuka, an asura. GARUDACHALAM:-Perumal blessed Garuda who was doing penance here. VEERA KSHETRAM :- Lord exercised one of His gunas “VEERYAM”
NAVA NARASIMHA KSHETRAM:
There are nine temples dedicated to Narasimhar at Ahobilam This Holy dhaam is glorified as as PANCHA KROSA KSHETRAM
Jai Jai Narasimha
All the nine temples are situated within a radius of 5 krosas or 10 miles or 16 kilometres. As stated earlier, Ahobilam is situated 25 Km from Arlagadda in Kurnool district and can also be approached via Cuddapah district. It is situated on hills amidst thick jungles. The local tribals are very kind . Compared to Tirumala yaatrai, this is strenuous because there is neither an easy motorable road (except to two or three temples) nor well laid pathway like that in Tirumala few years ago .But now things have changed Almost all the temples are scattered on the hills with no direct route , but now the scene is different . One was forced to walk back the way he came and then go to the next temple earlier .
Great care has to be taken while trekking especially when we trek the holy hills . Added to this, the place is inhabited by wild animals and monkeys. Due to monkey’s menace, even eatables have to be taken with utmost care. It is always advised to take help of local guide. This made us recollect Thirumangai Azhwar’s mangalasaasanam comprising of 10 pasurams describing the divya desam beautifully. He describes Perumal’s ugra swaroopam and the scenic beauty of this place. In the first 8 pasurams, Azhwar describes how difficult it is to reach this place which is inhabited by wild elephants, tigers, lions and the tribals .
Azhwar says that even tigers and lions offer their prey to Perumal before eating them. But in the 9th pasuram Azhwar says that these difficulties would be faced only by the enemies and demons and the bhaktas need not have any fear because here Perumal residing along with Thayar would always protect the devotees. This pasuram boosts our confidence level and take refuge in Him. Every nucleus in Ahobilam reverberates with Lord Narasimha’s holy name.
As per sthalapurana , Jaya and Vijaya, the dwarapaalakas gate keepers of Sri Vaikuntam who were puffed up with ego because of their proximity to Perumal were cursed by Sanathakumara brothers (who were the Manasaputras of Brahma ) to get separated from Lord (Perumal). The repentant dwarapaalakas were given the option of either living a pious life for 100 births or become demons for 3 janmas ,develop enmity towards the Lord and finally get killed by Perumal. They opted for the latter and hence were born thrice. In their first janma, they were born as Hiranyaaksha and Hiranyakasipu,they took their second birth as Ravana and Kumbakarna and in their third birth, they were born as Kamsa and Sisupaala.Bhagavan declares in Bhagavad Gita that He will appear to protect His devotees anddestroy His enemies.
So whenever the earth becomes overburdened with sinners,the Lord manifests Himself to protect His devotees. Narasimha Avataaram is one such avataaram where the Lord appeared to protect the great child-devotee, Prahalada by killing his father, Hiranyakasipu. In Matsya, Kurma and Varaha avatarams, Lord appeared as an animal and in otheravatarams like Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna , the Lord appeared as a human and protected everyone. The Narasimha avataaram is the only avataaram where the Lord appeared as “half beast half man “ a rare combination. It is only in this avataaram that Lord depicts contrasting feelings of “sowlabhyam”and “krodham” i.e. love and hatred with the same organ, “eyes” at the same time.
The Lord was full of compassion and love to the child devotee , Prahalada and at the same time was fierce and angry with Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu with his severe austerities had wittingly acquired a boon from Brahma that he should not get killed by any of Brahma’s creation, he shouldn’t die eitherduring day or night, he shouldn’t die either on earth or in the sky, he shouldn’t bekilled by using any weapon or astram. Puffed up with the confidence that he couldn’tbe killed as fulfilling as the above conditions would be impossible, he had become notorious and tortured pious people. He developed hatred towards Lord Vishnu. But his son, Prahalada was a born Vishnu Bhakta. All his advises to realise the soul and seek Narayanan’s Holy feet became in vain.
The wicked rakshasa started torturing his son by throwing him from top of hill, administering poison, throwing him in sea, fire etc. All the efforts of the rakshasa became futile as his son was protected by Lord. He realised the purpose of birth and had absolute faith on the Ultimate. Sri Mukkur Swamy gives a wonderful explanation to the incident when Prahalada was thrown from top of the hill. He says that when Prahalada was thrown by the asuras from top of the hill, he held his hands close to his heart to ensure that Perumal who was residing in his heart as ANTARYAAMI” shouldn’t get hurt. Seeing this act of Prahalada,Bhoomidevi overwhelmed with pity protected the child by taking him in her alms on a bed of flowers.
When Prahalada was thrown in the fire, Agni deva protected the child and it was his aunt,Holika , who got burnt. This incident is celebrated even today as “Holi “ festival in India. The asura could not accept the concept of “OMNIPRESENCE OF THE LORD” propagated by Prahalada and as a challenge, he kicked a nearby pillar in his palace and asked the boy to show him the Lord. The asura was fully confident that as he himself had constructed the palace, he was sure that the Lord could not be present. Even before he could complete his sentence, an extraordinary being emerged out of the pillar. The being had a body like a human and a face like that of a lion’s. He had sharp nails like the paws of a lion.
This was the most prominent avataaram of the Lord “NARA-SIMHA “ avataaram. The Lord with His wonderful form of half-beast and half-man (he was neither a man nor a beast but at the same time, he was the combination of the two) and 10 hands placed the asura on His lap (it was neitherearth nor sky), he was holding the asura with two of his hands; pierced the asura’s intestine with his nails, (thus not using any astram or weapon), it was evening when the incident occurred , (thus fulfilling the condition that he should neither be killed in the morning nor night). Thus the Lord killed the asura and lessened the burden of the earth .
Even after the samhaaram, the Lord was furious . Thayar and the demigods were afraid to go near him and pacify. It was Prahalada who sang the praise of the Lord known as “PRAHALADA STHUTHI” and pleased the Lord. This sthuthi comprising of 43 slokas contains the essence of Vedanta philosophy difficult to grasp even by mature minds. Prahalada was able to recite this slokam only due to the grace and touch of the Lord. This incident is mentioned in the seventh chapter of Srimad Bhagavatham. The Lord took him on His lap and blessed him to rule the kingdom and finally reach His abode. He also granted the boon that no one belonging to his dynasty would be killed by Him. (This was the reason why Perumal didn’t kill Bali Chakravarthy, the demon-king who was Prahalada’s grandson when Perumal assumed Vamana avataaram , Dhenukaasuran and Banaasuran during his Krishnaavataaram.
With His touch, the sins of Hiranyakasipu got wiped off . The Lord conceded the request of the devas to stay back in earth and protect His devotees. He later married Chenchulakshmi, a partial manifestation of Thayar and continues to reside in this holy place even today. To this day, this tribe enjoys special privileges and they get offerings for Perumal’s Thirukalyaanam which is celebrated in a grand way. It was only after obtaining the grace of Narasimhar, Sri Ramar got the information that Ravana had kidnapped Sita Devi.
It was after having darshan of Narasimhar,Lord Srinivasar met Padmavathi Thayar and married Her.The presence of the Lord can be experienced even today. To quote few instances, itmay be mentioned that Perumal appeared as a sanyasi to Srinivasachariyar around500 years ago to the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt and initiated him into Sanyasam and prompted him to propogate Srivaishnavism. The Lord gave the Jeeyar theutsava vigraham of Malola Narasimhar and this vigraham is in the custody of theAhobila Mutt Jeeyars for Nityathiruvaaradhanai.
The Lord also protected the 33rdJeeyar of Ahobila Mutt from wayside dacoits. The Lord saved Annamacharyar , thegreat saint who attained the Lotus feet of the Lord by singing His praises, from the harassment of the local king and he got initiated into Srivaishnavism by the thenAhobila Mutt Jeeyar. The Lord blessed King Pratapa rudra by enlightening him abouttrue knowledge. This king contributed to a great extent for the welfare of this place.The present Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar has contributed to a great extent by spending few lakhs of rupees for the renovation of old temples and constructed new temples.
The way to these temples has become accessible. As mentioned earlier, there are 9 shrines dedicated to nine forms of Narasimhar.Out of this Prahalada varada Narasimhar is in Lower Ahobilam, Ugra Narasimhar,who is a swayambhu and is treated as the divya desa Perumal is seen in Upper Ahobilam. The other shrines are scattered all over the hills. Apart from the navaNarasimha shrines, “Prahalada padi” where Prahalada studied and “Ugra Sthambam”from where Perumal emerged are usually visited by pilgrims. There are number of Theerthas in this shrine.
A few like konneru near Bhargava Narasimhar , Ramatheertha near Lower Ahobilam and Raktha Kundam near Jwala Narasimhar ,Bhavanaasini near Ugra Narasimhar which flows through both the mountains are a few to name.
Adiyen wishes to briefly give the details of the nava narasimhars. 1) PRAHALADA VARADA NARASIMHA SWAMY:
Situated at the foot of the hills known as Lower Ahobilam, this temple can be visited by one and all. Usually all homams and yagams are performed here. Here Perumal is seen along with Thayar blessing Prahalada. Hence, Perumal is known as “Prahalada Varadar”.The utsava vigrahams of all the Narasimhars except Malola Narasimhar are offered nitya thiruvaadhanai here. To the left of Perumal, utsava vigraham of Pavana Narasimhar can be seen majestically . In front of the Lord, the utsavaiodls of Prahalada varada Narasimhar along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi grace us . The processional deity of Jwala Narasimhar along with His consorts is also seen inthe garbagriham . The vigraham is superbly carved and on request , thearchakar removes the alankaranam and performs Aaarathi to the idol. This idol has 10 arms and Hiranya vadham (killing) is beautifully depicted. There is also asmall vigraham of the first Ahobila Mutt Jeeyar facing south. The temple is a huge Pilgrim’s diary Ahobila mone and many monkeys can be seen here. The walls of the temple depict the sthala puranam briefly. There is a Thayar Sannidhi to the right of the temple.
2) BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMi:
This temple is situated two kilometres from Lower Ahobilam on a small hillock and can be approached by foot. As Bhargava(Parasurama) did penance here, the Lord is thus known. It is easily approachable.
3) YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMI:
Situated at a distance of 3 kilometres from Lower Ahobilam, this can be approached by foot. It was here that Prahalada mastered the art of yoga from Perumal Himself. The divya mangala swaroopam of the Lord is eye captivating. Perumal is seen alone in Yogaasanam. 4) CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMI:-
This temple is situated at a distance of nearly 3 kms from Ahobilam on a different route also reachable on foot . As Perumal is seated alone under a peepul tree which protects Perumal like an umbrella, He is known as Chatravata Narasimhar. This Perumal is fond of music played by Gandharvas. It looks as if the Lord is deeply engrossed in music by clasping His hands. We were told that He is fond of Adi Thalam. Reptiles keep moving in this place but they don’t harm the devotees. One has to take care of these. 5) UGRA NARASIMHAR SANNIDHI:-
This temple is in Upper Ahobilam. There is a narrow bus route and it takes about 40 minutes to reach this place from Lower Ahobilam. This is considered as the divya desa temple. Usually, pilgrims have bath in Bhavanaasini or Paavanaasini (a spring which flows from the top of the hill) and then have Perumal’s darsanam. A dip in Paavanaasini absolves all the sins committed.
Though there are no proper bathing ghats, still we can see hundreds of devotees having holy dip unmindful of their surroundings. The sannidhi is located inside a cave . Perumal along with Thayar is seen in Veetruirundha Thirukkolam . Opposite to Perumal, there is an idol of Prahalada. There is a dark room on the other side of the cave which is believed to be the place where Chenchulakshmi resides . Recently, under the supervision of Jeer, a bridge across Paavanasini river has been constructed which facilitates the pilgrims to go to Varahanarasimhar temple (Krodha Narasimhar) KRODHA NARASIMHAR:
One kilometer further from Upper Ahobilam leads to the shrine of Krodha Narasimhar. He is also known as Varaha Narasimhar as HisThirumukam resembles a varaham (a boar). Any japam done here elevates onespirtually. Especially, Narayana Sadakshara Japam from Varaha Kanda bestows manifold benefits as told by Archakar Swamin.
KARANJA NARASIMHAR SHRINE :
This temple is situated between Upper Ahobilam and Lower Ahobilam.. As the divya mangala moorthi is installed under Karanja vruksham, the deity has been named so. Perumal is seen in VeetruirundhaKolam and is holding Sarngam (bow), dhanus (arrow) and chakram . As usual,Adisesha acts as “Kudai”(refer Irundhal Kudaiyam…) and isprotecting. The theertham here is known as Bhairava kundam. Hanumar who visited this place was astaunch Rama bhakta . Lord Narasimhar appeared to Hanumar, who was a staunchRamabhakta, with bow and arrow thus showing that He is Rama Himself. This Lord is in Padmasaanam pose. One can have darshan of Hanumar also. We are reminded of Sholangur .
6) MALOLA NARASIMHAR:
This holy shrine is situated two kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam. Perumal came in search of Mahalakshmi Thayar who was doing penance here and placed Her on His lap. Hence, Perumal seen along with Thayarhas a somya (graceful) form. Due to Thayar’s presence, Perumal graces even the worst sinner . Azhwar refers to this Perumal in pasuram no. 1016 (Peria Thirumozhi) when he says that bhaktas are always protected by Perumal andonly the wicked have to fear . This Lord gives abhayam to His devotees and Thayar bestows Asthaaiswaryam and grants the wishes of the devotees. There is a vigraham of Thirumangai Azhwar in the sanctum . Outside the temple, there is a small pillar with murthis. Those who are not able to go to Ugra sthambamcan prostrate this pillar.
7) JWALA NARASIMHAR:-
This temple is located at a higher altitude may bear ound 2800 feet. And can be approached from Malola Narasimhar shrine. It takes about 2 hours to reach this temple from Upper Ahobilam. The path is slippery and as mentioned care has to be taken. It was here that Perumal killed Hiranyakasipu by tearing his stomach with his spear like nails. The idol with 10 hands which is approximately 3 feet high and is scaring to look at. Beside this shrine, there is a small pond known as “Raktha Kundam” where the Lord is believed to have washed His blood-stained hands . The water is reddish in colour and this was the explanation given by the guide to us. Recently, a temple has been constructed for this Lord and a archakar is appointed to perform Nitya Thiruvaaradhanai.
8) PAVANA NARASIMHAR:
This temple is situated six kilometres away from Upper Ahobilam towards north east on the banks of River Pavana. It is difficult to approach this temple as wild animals keep roaming earlier If one wishes to visit this temple, he must do so during daytime with the help of a guide.
The path is too narrow, the trek amidst cluster of rocks is strenuous . It takes about 45 minutes for trekking.One can view Malola Narasimhar shrine and few water falls on the way on the other side of the mountain. Forest fire is very common in this place and this helps in one way to ward off wild animals. It is believed that devas offer worship to this Lord.
The Lord is seen along with Thayar . The local tribals usually observe fast on Saturdays and offer flowers, honey, fruits, rice, jaggery etc. to the Lord.The general notion that “bali” (sacrifice) is done here was rebuked by the priest. He said that the sacrifice would be done elsewhere in the jungles . He also added that wild animals do not roam near the temple and only during severe summer,they come to the river bank to quench their thirst.
They usually do not hurt anyone.Besides the above shrines, other places of interest are Prahalada Padi or PrahaladaMettu (Mettu in Telugu and Padi in Tamil means “step”) and Ukku sthambam.
is the place where Prahalada had his vidyabhyaasam from Sukracharya’s sons. The way to Prahalada padi though tough is breathtakingly beautiful with river flowing on one side and with various water falls amidst a huge valley. This reminds me of the route to Badrinath. The temple is in a small cave and one has to crawl to enter inside the cave. Only 4 persons can be accomodated insideat a time. Mountain lizards and bats move freely here.It was here that the child started propogating Lord’s qualities. Prahalada used to resort to this place for meditating upon the Lord. There is a vigraham of Narasimhar in centre . to its right, there is an idol of Chakaratazhwar and to the left , there is a vigraham of Lord Vishnu.
More brief details can be had from this link http://wp.me/pbiwb-2x which is situated at a distance of 8 kms from Upper Ahobilam isthe pillar from which the Lord emerged . The pillar which is situated at the edge of the cliff is split into two as a proof that Lord appeared from this pillar. Ahobilam usually give their offerings here. It is very difficult to reach this place which is at a highest altitude .Doing pradakshinam around this pillar is even more difficult as it isin the cliff. Near the ukku sthambham (iron pillar) as the Telugus call, there is Perumal’s Thiruvadi. The climb is very difficult . Only with His grace can one visit this place.
One has to have a sharp vision and a flexible body to bend, crawl etc.This can be approached from Prahalada padi on the way to Jwala Narasimhar shrine.While describing this pillar, Sri Mukkur Swamy says that the entire world is still pregnant with Narasimhar inside except this because Perumal has come out of it.The symbols of Vishnu, namely, Sankhu, Chakram, Naamam are carved on the face of the hill.One can have a bird’s eyeview of the entire Ahobilam from this place. Theatmosphere is calm and serene . Various waterfalls all around looking like thin streams makes us wonder and appreciate the nature and Lord’s creation. It’s a best place to meditate.
Soul stirring experiences at the cost of trimming the body ..and that is what is LIFE ….Realizations streaming ………………
This body ..mind and spirit in equilibrium is what is good quality of self realisation …
The MIND understands and the body too ..
as the soul is going to meet the supersoul ( PARAMATMAN)
Muktinath Divya Kshetram is located in Nepal and is an important pilgrimage site for Sri Vaishnavites and Buddhists.
It is one of the eight swayam vyakta kshetrams(-out of this 4 are in southern India and 4 in Northern India).
In Northern India, LORD has manifested Himself in the form of forest at Naimisaranyam, as divine water in Pushkar, as mountain in Badrinath and as Fossils in Saalagramam kshetram whereas in rest of India, Perumal is in Archa form (Tirumala, Srirangam) .
The best season to visit ( Mukthinaath) “saalagramam” is during March-April OR during September to 1s week of October.
May to August is rainy season and is not advisable as per locals . As a visit to this place bestows liberation, this kshetram is known as Mukthi kshetram and Perumal as MUKTHI NARAYANAN.
This piligrimage was undertaken during 2006 and was posted in www.srivaishnavam.com. Adiyen was keen to share the pictures and video clips as requested by few devotee friends . The present situation as per the experiences of piligrims is roads are good and transport arrangements are available right from Jomson to Mukthinath . Also the road to Pokara to Mukthinath is approachable and made motorable with some excellent reviews as seen from the good experiences .
Before I continue with my travel diary done during 2006 , Adiyen offer my sincere obeisance’s to Sri Rangasri group members , ISCKON Maharajs and several great devotees of LORD who played a pivotal role in making this trip possible with whatever information they could give me when Internet was not really at reach of a common man .
There are different modes of transport to reach Muktinath from Jomsom.
By pony ride
By motor cycle (charge 2200 NR with 2 hours stay in Muktinath)
By tractor (depends upon the no. of passengers)
The package for Rs.5,500/- INR which included hotel stay at Jomsom and Muktinath, 2 ponies, overnight stay allowance to pony rider and trekking permits was considered good enough during the year 2006 as we did not have any alternative though we later learnt it was exorbitant.
The climate in Pokhara valley is unpredictable. To add to our tension, there was a heavy downpour in the evening and we had our apprehensions regarding next day’s flight to Jomsom. However, the hotel owner assured us that this was very common and it would return to normalcy by morning.
We lost all our confidence due to the weather and sincerely chanted Sri Vishnu sahsranamam. We shed our pride , surrendered to Perumal with devotion and sincerity for our safe journey and a darshan .
We knew that it was “NOW or NEVER” . We had to go to Muktinath at any cost and reach Gorakpur as planned ,because there was only one train to Secunderabad from Gorakpur and we had to leave for Tirupati on 15th . More over all the tickets were confirmed .
We realized there was NOTHING and only HIS GRACE could make us visit MUKTINATH. Our sole intention was to go to Muktinath and all other sight seeing were only to pass the time usefully. The day finally arrived .
It was Pournami ( Full moon day ) , the auspicious month of Purattasi. Submitting to the divine grace LORD and finishing our morning prayers, we left to Pokhara airport which is a 10 minute drive from the hotel. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8.30 A.M. (fifth flight).
As mentioned earlier, Gorkha Airlines and Royal Nepal Air lines operates service for POKHARA-JOMSOM-POKHARA sector presently . For the record, Royal Nepal Airlines, have only 1 or 2 flights operating ( Depending on the r conditions ) is known to be the most unreliable airline in Nepal. There are many other airlines flying to Pokhara and Jomsom, such as Nikon Air, Buddha Air and Cosmic Air, but presently not been operating . The private airlines are more reliable in Nepal. Out of their 2 flights, only one was operational and this has to make atleast 5 trips every day to clear the traffic.
As mentioned earlier, the services resumed only 2 days earlier after a gap of 10 days. To our dismay, we learnt that though it was nearly 9 A.M., the first trip itself did not take off due to fog. Boarding pass were not issued to us because our names were in the 5th trip. The officials were doubtful because after 11 AM , flights cannot reach Jomsom due to heavy winds and if the wind doesn’t subside the flight will be cancelled . This was a shocking news to us .
Our hearts beat fast… chanting Dwayam.
There’s a light breeze, which is chilly.The sky is blue and the tops of the mountains are slowly becoming clear. We started reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamam in the airport and prayed ardently to Periya Thiruvadi ( Garuda bhagavan )and Siriya Thiruvadi ( Bhaktha hanuman ) for their intervention in reaching Lords abode . The children were excited when the sky became clear and the flights resumed. Chanting Vishnu Sahasranaamam was mandatory for all of us . Our turn to board the flight came at 11 A.M. Thanking the Lord, with tears rolling , we boarded the 20 seater propeller flight with window seats for everyone at 11 A.M . We’re now on the plane. It’s moving. 18 passengers plus the flight attendant squeezed into these little seats. No overhead baggage compartment. A different feeling all together …..The flight attendant passed out some sweets and cotton for people to plug their ears. The captain was still checking out the RPMs of the propeller . We are about to take off and we all chanted the juicy name loudly GOVINDA …….GOVINDA ….
We’re in the air now. It’s a smooth flight. On the right of the aircraft Adiyen could see the white Himalayas, which stand like a great wall between Nepal and China. On the left were high mountains, but no snow. Below us are valleys and the holy gandaki river.
The weather is good and clear . The plane flies between the Himalayas, not over them! We are in this little Dornier aircraft, skims craggy ridge tops and often buffeted by mountain winds. Chanting Lords name continuously we dare to see the propellers from the window panes ..When an airplane flies to Jomsom they are very close to the mountains on either side of the valley. Strong winds come off the mountains at times, making it difficult or impossible to fly. A few years ago a flight crashed into the side of one of the mountains and it took them several days to find it. There were no survivors. The recent news of a helicopter crashing added to further fear though my wife and kids were relaxed and surrendered to Lords wish. Just 20 mins from Pokhara flying up the highest-deepest valley in the world, sometimes battling winds of 120 Mph (200 km+) as the clouds lift causing a kind of vacuum effect propelling winds. The flight is moving amidst big mountains, taking sharp turns and is sure to instill fear in everyone but the Lord’s names on our lips drove out the fear in us.
We are now flying between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, two immense glacier covered peaks towering well above the airplane as we flew up the Gandaki river valley. We were longing for our lifetime mission to be completed and were enthusiastic and prepared to face the worst situation, if any.
We landed at Jomsom airport in about 20 mins . We look around the small airport surrounded by mountains . Quickly coming out we see plenty of foreigners accompanying us . Jomsom is so modern that there’s even an Internet Cafe here. This is apple country. Apples like cold weather, We took 3 kgs of apples for just 30 rupees.
Thanking Lord very much we briskly moved and located the hotel . As assured the incharge , had made all arrangements for our trip to Muktinath.
Annapurna trekking permit is a must and we had taken our pass port photographs with Nepalee Rupee as fees for the same . 2 ponies with a guide were provided. Baggages were tied to children’s ponies and myself accompanied by my wife started the holy trek to Muktinath at 12 noon While my wife and children were chanting I quickly procured the Conversation Permit to go trekking in the area surrounding Annapurna Mountain and understood the ponies were booked no doubt but are awaiting at the banks of gandaki river which is 20 mins trek .
After clearing the town of Jomsom which is modern , we headed out over the stony riverbed. . I was enthusiastic in revealing the legendary stories about this punya stala to my kids who are distinguished as they also joined in the 106 Divya desam yathirai effortlessly.
Gandakyamcha uttare teere
Salagramo Mahadevo devi
Dwaravati bhaved Ubhayossangamo yatra Muktisttattra na samsaya.”
“To the north of the river, Gandaki (also called Narayani), and south of the Himalayas, there is the holy region of Salagrama, which is ten yojanas extent, where Dwaravati merges into Salagrama. Undoubtedly such a place is capable of vouchsafing Moksha.” Actually, about 140 miles from Khatmandu is situated Muktimati or Muktikshetra, also called “Salagrama-kshetra. Legend has it that once Bramha was exasperated at the rate of increase of the sinners among his creation.
Then drops of sweat rolled down his cheeks (Ganda), ultimately collecting themselves into the form of a female child called “Gandaki.” She took it into her head to do a severe penance which became so overwhelming that the Devas started trembling before her. As usual they offered her the bait of a boon on return for her stopping her penance, but they met a Tartar in her, for she wanted to mother all the Devas. Not having the power to grant such a boon, the Devas pleaded their inability, at which Gandaki became furious and cursed all the devas to be born as worms on the earth below.
The Devas in their turn placed a countercurse on her head that she should become “Jada” or inert matter. Naturally Bramha was concerned with this unexpected development. Unable to find a way out, he consulted Indra and Rudra. With them also he drew a blank. Finally, all the three turned to Vishnu, who said: “In as much as the curses have been already pronounced, they cannot be revoked, and both parties affected must suffer them. The problem is how to make them work to their mutual and ultimately universal benefit.” After consideration, Lord said: ” I shall take up my abode in the Chakra Teertha near Salagramakshetra. You, Devas, shall migrate to this hallowed region as “Vajrakitas” eating into the pebbles. Gandaki shall in the form of a river fill the universe enveloping the shilas hallowed by me.” Salagrama stones are obtained only from the river Gandaki, which is a Himalayan stream, celebrated since antiquity as Narayani, Saligrami, Hiranvati and Hiranyavati.
The epic Mahabharata speaks of its sanctity (Bhishma-parva) . The puranas also describe it as a sacred stream in which all the gods and titans abide . By merely looking at it, one would eliminate all his mental defilement’s, by touching it his bodily sins are burnt up, and by sipping its water the verbal demerits are thrown out: One who comes into contact with this sacred stream will be liberated from the cycle of birth and deaths, even if he be a sinner.
And for the reason, the river Gandaki became among all the rivers extraordinarily sacred Being a mystic river, looking at it, touching it, bathing in it and sipping its waters will be conductive to eliminate all sins, even the greatest of sins pertaining to the body, speech and mind. Adiyen recollected them there are many aspects of this pilgrimage right from going to the Holy Tirtha of Shalagram high in the Himalayas; the challenge of one’s faith, to be there and to find one’s worshippful Lord; the material elements, and other various hardships – walking many miles/kilometres, high altitude, no food, the weather, the constant wind, wild animals, dacoits and theives, mundane trekkers, so many things. We are now trekking near the banks of Gandaki river. Which rises beyond the Himalayan ranges, probably in Tibet, and flows (in the north-south direction) into Nepal, There is a lake at the source of the Kali-Gandaki , called Damodar-kunda on the Nepal .
The lower Gandaki is well known as Mukti-natha-kshetra, also called Saligrama-kshetra. The sacred stones are largely found on the banks of Kali-gandaki near Tukche, between the two mountains Dhavala-giri and Annapurana. Damodara-Kunda is considered as Saivite place of pilgrimage by Nepalis. This is the punya kshetram where saligrama deities are found within the Nepal territory to the fortunate souls . As advised by my father the children learnt the sloka by heart supposed to be chanted while we trek the route .The sloka goes like this with meaning explained below
dheya sada savitra mandala madhya-varti—
sannivistah keyuravan makara kundalavan kiriti
–hari hiranmaya vapuh dhrita sankha cakrah
Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be meditated upon in the center of the sun globe. He is situated on a lotus flower and seated in the lotus posture. He is adorned with beautiful golden bracelets, amulets, earrings, necklace and a crown. He has the golden effulgence and is seen holding the pure white conch and Sudarshana cakra in His lotus hands. Oh wielder of the conch, disc, club, and other natural weapons, You are the Lord and resident of the spiritual realm. Oh indestructible one, protector of the worlds, oh lotus eyed Lord, please save all of us who have taken shelter of you and appear before us .
We found there was a path that skirted the riverbed, but we preferred to walk along the riverbed. The children were delighted to see the horseman and the horses at the river bank. As we walked along we started to notice the wind was picking up and the clouds were closing in from the mountains on either side of us. My children happily rode the horses chanting the Dhyana sloka as I advised them to sincerely pray and look in the river for holy salagrama silas .
En route after offering oblations and sincere obeisancesto the holy gandaki river I requested the horse man to help the children in looking for the salagrama which he readily obliged. The river Gandaki is a very ancient river; and the geologists say that it existed even before the formation of the Himalayan ranges. It rises beyond the Himalayan ranges, probably in Tibet, and flows (in the north-south direction) into Nepal. And for the reason, the river Gandaki became among all the rivers extraordinarily sacred Being a mystic river, looking at it, touching it, bathing in it and sipping its waters will be conductive to eliminate all sins, even the greatest of sins pertaining to the body, speech and mind. My soul danced with joy looking at the nature and being in Gods own world.We are now in the Lower Mustang belt as per the Map . Mustang is an Anglicization of the Tibetan Lo Manthang, which is an autonomous region in north-central Nepal that borders on Tibet. The destination of our trek today was to reach Mukthinath by evening . En route there is the village of Kagbeni (“Crow Confluence” in Nepali). The rocky highland stretching from Jomsom to Kagbeni–through which the Gandaki flows–is called Lower Mustang. Upper Mustang is where Damodar Kund is located, a lake that is the root source of all salagram silas. It was told that from here one treks to Damodar kund the source of all the saligrama silas ( Sree Moorthy ).
According to one version, the Salagramam Divya Desam is just the bank/bed of River Gandaki and not the Mukthinath temple. Few also claim Its Damodar kund .River Kaligandaki has its source in Damodar Kund and throughout its flow to south right up to Indian border carries a manifestation of lying lord Vishnu with Damodarkund jeweled as His auspicious Head and with Muktinath as the mouth, Shaligram Chakra as chest Kuru Kshetra as the waist, Devaghatam as the Knee and lastly the auspicious feet of lord Vishnu goes to the credit of Gajendra Moksha devadham,. Such a beautiful elaboration of the lord, one may find starting from the auspicious lakes of Damodar Kund. The Damodar Kunda (lake) is situated rain shadow of High Himalayas north of Annapurna range.
The elevation of the Damodar Kunda is 4890 meters and it is a cold and windy place. According to another version, the Mukthinath temple is very much the Divya Desam of Salagramam. It is difficult to establish which of the two versions is right.
Either way, there is no question that our great saint Thirumangai Azhwar visited at least the banks of the Gandaki River, as did Swamy Ramanuja. And no matter which version is accurate, there is no taking away from the beauty of this Divya Desam and its surroundings. and one of the pAsuram, Tirumangai AzhwAr exhorts his mind to attain the Lord of Salagrama. It was this Lord who, armed with bow and arrow, crossed forests inhabited by wild deer, elephants and horses, and then built a bridge of boulders to reach the high-walled fortress of Lanka and severed the ten heads of Ravana- the king of the RakshasAs glorifying LORD RAMAs avataram . The route to Damodar lake is three days walk north east from the main Mustang trekking route & very close to Tibetan border.We had to drop the idea of going into Upper Mustang as expensive permits are required from the Nepali authorities . Formerly the Gandaki River Valley was the most important trade route between India and Tibet. It was controlled by the Buddhist kingdom of Lo Manthang, which was of Tibetan culture.But more than 200 years ago the Buddhist Raja of Lo Manthang allied with the Hindu Raja of Kathmandu in a war against Tibet. This is why the present region of Mustang (Lo Manthang), which is populated mostly by Buddhist people with Mongolian features, is part of Nepal and not Tibet (now fully controlled by Communist China).
]Now the trekking trail takes us away from the bank of the Gandaki for a while. I along with my wife started chanting Shri Vishnu sahasranaamam , while my eyes were immersed in the beauty of Lords own little world far away from material and karmic vasanas. . Few foreigners along with their guide walk briskly before us cheering NAMASTE … I feel their enthusiasm in trekking the mountains and truly with the protective wind shields, woolen socks, rock boots and body packs they were perfect mountaineers, I avoided the trekking kit to tax my body in reaching Lords abode with a sincere vow as I did for Ahobilam and Tirumala.
Muktinath is situated at a height of 3,800 metres whereas jomsom is at 2713 metres. The distance to Muktinath from Jomsom by walk is 21 kms (via Kagbeni) whereas now there is another short-cut which involves climbing of a steep mountain but would save about 3-4 kms. To reach Muktinath, we need to cross 3 settlements- Eklabhatti, Khinga, Jharkot (Earlier, piligrims used to go toMuktinath via Eklabhatti, Kagbeni, Jharkot). One can find maps displayed on boards with the name of settlement, no. of hotels,lodges , distance to the next settlement and approximate time-only in these places, one can get drinks/ food etc) I could see my children moving away from us quickly . I wonder whether we can make it today . En route we see the skull of a yak. This classic symbol of desolation accentuates the atmosphere of loneliness that hangs over the Gandaki River Valley. Between Jomsom and Kagbeni one sees evidence of human habitation only rarely. We could see an isolated stone hut of a herdsman. Nobody was home when we passed it .
A metal suspension bridge en route spans the Gandaki River Valley. What adds a cultural mystique to the mountain paths and the flat areas of the Kali Gandaki are the teams of yaks and mules that would traverse the steep slopes carrying supplies back and forth from each area. The owner would be behind a team of 6 or more animals that methodically climb and descend (they could probably have done it blindfolded), stepping out of the way of persons who would approach from the opposite way.
Each would wear an enchanting bell (like one of those wind chimes) which would create a sattvic atmosphere, especially needed when you round a sharp corner on a narrow path and if without the bell… without a warning…well you tell me…you are quietly rounding a blind corner bend over a 500 meter canyon and suddenly you come nose to nose with a large personality with long horns…how would you react? So the bells do provide tranquility and safe travels. On the pan of the Gandaki you will note on the bottom right-hand side of the picture a tiny line of such a team sauntering along. This gives you an appreciation for the vastness of the area.
Incredibly strong winds often blow through the valley, and if you are crossing this bridge when such a wind comes up, you truly fear you’ll be blown off into the valley below . My wife pauses for rest on the east end of the bridge. Where I quickly take few pictures and shoot from my camcorder .
As we continued our trek, we moved away from Kali Gandaki river ,we could view her only from a distance. Initially, the way was broad enough but it was a stony path. Though one doesn’t feel thirsty due to the chillness , it is advisable to carry a bottle of water, some glucose, few apples etc on the way .
Some foreign tourists were cycling on the steep mountains. They are fortunate to be there as It was sure Its HIS blessings they were there and who knows destined to get emancipation too.
Now , we were surrounded by Annapurna mountains on one side and Dhaulagiri mountains on the other sides. With mountains all around, a pleasant chilly breeze and Kali Gandaki flowing below, the picturesque beauty was feast to the body mind and soul. Visualizing the Viraata Purusha in our mind’s eye moving upwards, the path was narrowing and in some places, we came to the edge of the cliff. We had to slowly walk forward by holding hands.
This was becoming more adventurous. Crossing many mountains on the way and the connecting path is usually narrow. It took about 2 hours for us to reach the first settlement EKLABHATTI.
At this point we are thankfully within sight of the town of Kagbeni. The trek through the valley involves is mostly flat and level. But the valley itself is some 2000 meters above sea level! Thus catching your breath is a problem, since there is less oxygen in the air than normal. As we descend from the bridge to the valley floor we meet a herd of incredibly nimble mountain goats. At the upper edgey we can see Ekla Bhatti, the southern “suburb” of Kagbeni. Behind , the holy Gandaki flows on her way from Kagbeni, visible in the distance As the sun shines over the Himalayan horizon, we see the blackish waters of the Gandaki from a higher altitude. I finally locate the sign board of Eklabatti where my children and the horseman are awaiting. The pony rider told us that from this place, there are 2 routes – one towards Kagbeni and the other towards Khinga. Kagbeni is a small developing village with staying facilities and people with sufficient time stay at kagbeni. But as we were running short of time, we decided to go via Khinga.
Further trail to Muktinath carries us out of the Gandaki River Valley into the soaring mountain heights. This is not easy going. The air was thin to begin with, but now as we trudge ever-higher in the hot sun and the decreasing oxygen becomes more and more of a problem. In less than half and hour, we look down upon Kagbeni as if from an airplane. We met a good number of trekkers along the Jomsom-Kagbeni-Muktinath path. Americans, Australians, Britishers, Europeans, and local Nepalese were moving in scattered numbers. The trail winds along the side of a steep valley formed by a white-water tributary that rushes down to meet the Gandaki at Kagbeni. In the cliffside opposite are many caves. The local Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns sometimes retire to these caves for meditation and austerity. Chanting loudly Lords names and the mahamantra , We climb the steep slippery mountain for about half an hour . The pony rider advised us not to look up or look down as it would instill fear in us we trek like sheeps.. There is a very narrow path where one can put only one foot carefully . Children were frightened to sit on the pony but having come half the way, they had no other choice but to keep their eyes tightly closed and pray to Lord. We were passing thru a deserted place where there was no vegetation but only few mountain shrubs. WE were literally gasping for breath. Added to this, wind started blowing and it was becoming even more difficult to trek. After climbing the steep mountain, we kept on walking on the narrow way for nearly an hour . Suddenly the weather changed and it started drizzling.
We were unable to put a step further because it was slippery and the rains would make the road worse. Added to that, there was no one in sight to help us in any adverse condition. Once again, our prayers to Lord did not go in vain. It stopped drizzling and there was only cool soft breeze. Prayed to Bhaktha Hanuman for His intervention and all of a sudden It stopped drizzling. Soft cool breeze was blowing . WE felt as if Vayu Bhagavan was being kind to us as we are on the way to have darshan of Lord Vishnu. It was 4 PM in the evening. Rested for a while at one of the way side restaurants and with the ingredients like milk powder, sugar, which we had taken with us, prepared some hot drink and we are charged up once again. It may be mentioned that enroute at the settlements, the hotels provide limited variety of fast food like rotis/ noodles and hot water. The pony rider asked us to walk fast as it was getting dark at 5 PM itself ,but as we are not used to walking, we could not do so. The trek from Khinga was not very difficult. In and around Khinga, we came across rich vegetation, and the dwellers in these places, polite by nature, were seen knitting mufflers and other woolen products. Apples were available in plenty , though a bit costly compared to Jomsom, we could get them for Rs.10/- per kg. On the way, we had to cross few mountain streams while trekking which was refreshing. It was becoming dark at 5 itself and by 6 P.M., we could not see anything. Exhausted, we decided to stay overnight in the nearest settlement. The inn-keeper charged Rs.300/- INR for 4 beds. After finishing our dinner, we retired for the night. It was very very cold. Although short of breath, and having to stop every few hundred feet and rest, and although it took me 6 hours to get up there, we made it. Practically it was a miracle. Although sore tonight, I am not at all sorry that I went there and I’d gladly go again in the futureNext day morning, we woke up at 430 AM and could see the sun rise at 5.30AM . It was calm and serene throughout. We checked out of the inn and continued our journey. It took about an hour for us to approach the village of Jarkot. Looking carefully we can see the dark red Buddhist monastery perched on a hilltop at the edge of this village. It is 500 years old. The Muktinath temple is about an hour’s walk beyond Jarkot.
On the top of the mountain is the white lip of a glacier that feeds the Gandaki with its icy waters. Having left Jarkot behind, we are approaching the Dreamland Hotel, which is the first building visible as one enters the village clustered at the foot of the hill of Muktinath. The trek is really tough as the altitude is beginning to increase steadily.
This is the last settlement enroute to Muktinath. The temperature was almost 3 degree and due to the numbness in our feet and hands, we could not walk further. (Usually, trekking shoes are worn by piligrims which was overseen by us as a part of our vow ). Jharkot has many lodges with staying facilities etc and usually pilgrims/trekkers who visit Muktinath stay in Jharkot. Though a room was booked in Hotel Muktinath at Jharkot, we could not make it the previous day as we could not proceed further. We could have a clear glimpse of Muktinath from Jharkot itself. After walking few yards, we started climbing few stone steps (may be 700 or so) laid in an improper way with no proper finishing etc. The pony drive, motor drive is only upto Jharkot. From Jharkot , everyone invariably has to climb these steps.
It took about half an hour or so for us to reach the temple.
Total trekking time taken by us is 9 hours.
Usually, people who are used to regular walks, jogging, trekking etc can finish within 6 hours. The dark red structure behind is the entrance gate. As one ascends you reach plateau after plateau where you think that you have reached the summit, but it just keeps on going. Because of the altitude and our physical state you are forced to rest on the way up (sometimes after every 100 steps) The large stone stairs at the closing intervals (almost like a malicious test) takes you to the final test of patience in seeing GOD .
Well! Soul stirring experiences at the cost of trimming the body ..and that is what is LIFE ….Realizations streaming ….
This body ..mind and spirit in equilibrium is what is good quality of self realisation …
The MIND understands and the body too ..as the soul is going to meet the supersoul ( PARAMATMAN)
Finally you do reach the town of Muktinath and above the town (another 45 minutes) is the temple built in a glacier (from where the mountain pan is taken).. En route we happened to see helipads.
Helicopters from Pokhara/Jomsom upto Muktinath and back fly daily. During peak season, the copter flies many times . Also, we were told that the weather conditions do not affect the copters much. We happened to meet few South Indians who had come in package tours organized by travel agents in Chennai .
Our dear Atmabandhu , Dr Krishnan shared this clip which was recorded in April 2018 the latest trip
It takes about 40 minutes to reach Muktinath from Pokara and half an hour’s stay at Muktinath.
The package would cost 21000 INR . They however miss the thrill of trekking the holiest mountains. This is safe for physically unfit and aged people. We are entering the entrance of the temple now. A few Buddhist prayer wheels at the entrance to the Muktinath complex is visible These rota table cylinders are a common sight in Nepal.
They are inscribed with the Tibetan Buddhist mahamantra Om Mani Padme Hum–“Aum! The jewel in the lotus! Hail!” The jewel is the pure spirit soul and the lotus is the purified body of the true follower of Buddha’s way. Tibetan Buddhist turn these prayer wheels to earn merit. Simply pushing on them to get them revolving is supposed to be as good as chanting the mantra as many times as the wheel then revolves.Having passed through the entrance gate, we proceed to the complex’s first shrine. Muktinath is sacred to both Vaisnavas and Buddhists.
My dream comes true. Adiyen along with my family members are very much in the 106th Divyadesam …….
This is the Muktinath Temple proper. Lord Muktinath is, for Vaisnavas, Sri Padmapani (the form of Lord Visnu from whose lotus feet sacred waters flow). Tibetan Buddhists worship Him as Adi-Buddha. Lord Muktinath’s form is manifest in brass. In bodily shape and posture He resembles the Yoga Narayana Deity Atop the hill behind the Muktinath Temple is a Buddhist shrine. Its 9 A.M. A huge bell is hung in front of the gate.
There are 108 shower spouts coming from the glacier on the back wall of the shrine with the best water that makes the journey a complete success. Since the water is ice cold and due to limited time allowed for darshan, most of them sprinkled water from the 108 gomukhis behind the temple .Thanking Lord profusely tears rolling I brave to take a bath under the gomukhs. My children run under the gomukhs reciting Dwayam.
Atop the hill behind the Muktinath Temple is a Buddhist shrine. Incredibly, some Buddhist nuns who serve at Muktinath daily climb this hill to also perform worship up there Jutting from the stone wall that encloses Muktinath Temple on three sides are 108 gomukhs or cows’ mouths. From each mouth icy glacial water flows. The water is considered as pure as the Ganges, which flows from Gomukh in the Indian Himalayas. ! The tremendous Nilgiri peak overlooking Jomsom.
The Water from Gandaki is routed through these man-made gomukhis which are closely built ,the distance between the gomukhis may be hardly a foot . WE felt as if a hammer had struck our heads after passing thru these gomukhis. Added to this, we were asked to have a dip in 2 small tanks situated in front of the temple. The temperature for the day was recorded at 3 degrees and the chilly water was almost in a frozen condition . Unlike in Vishaal Badri in Bhadrinath , where we are greeted with steaming hot water, here it was icy cold . After changing into dry clothes in separate rooms provided for ladies and gents, we went inside the temple. The garbagriham was closed and we were asked to wait for few mintues.
Meanwhile, we did pradakshinam around the temple chanting Harinaam . The temple is very small. In front of the garbagriham, towards our right, there is a deity of our Jagatha Acharyar, Swamy Ramanujar. .
After taking acharyar’s blessings, we approached the Thiruma mani mantapam to have darshan of Perumal.The moment we had darshan of the divya mangala swaroopam of the Lord, Sri Srimoorthi, we forgot the cold and the body pains. The enchanting beauty of the Lord cannot be described in words.
The deity at Muktinath has a large brass kavach ( armour) with a very transcendental smile . On His left and right are Bhu and Sri, two divine energies of the Lord manifested in their female forms Though in the divya desa naamavali, Perumal is known as “SRIDEVI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI SRIMOORTHI”, we found ubhaya naachiyaars, Sridevi and Bhoodevi Thayar on either sides of Perumal flanking Him.
Perumal is seen in sitting posture while Ubhaya Naachiyars are in Nindra Thirukolam. As it is often mentioned that Adisesha always performs various kainkaryams to Perumal, here Adisesha is seen spreading hoods like an umbrella. Garudazhwar and other saaligramams are also worshipped. Inside the garbagriham, near the entrance on the right side, there is a small deity of Buddha. Muktinath is holy place both for Hindus and Buddhists. Even foreigners enter the temple and have a darshan of the Lord even though they do not know the significance of the place, they offer their respects to the Lord. It must be only due to their poorva janma sukrutam.
I could relate the darshan exactly with THIRUVENGADAMUDAIYANS darshanam.
A Buddhist lady accepted our offerings to Perumal- vastrams for Perumal and Thayar, dry fruits, honey, sandal paste, rose water etc. which we had carried with us for offering it to Lord. This lady gives theertha prasadam and offers neivedyam and is restrained from doing Thirumanjanam to the Lord. Unfortunately, the male priest was not available in the temple and hence we could not perform Thirumanjanam. However, the lady offered us to take one saaligramam outside the garbagriham and perform Thirumanjanam but Adiyen felt that Adiyen was incompetent, hence did not accept the offer. There was no rush and we were able to have darshan to our heart’s content.
Perumal’s smiling Thirumugam is very enchanting and we could not take our eyes off . We recited 108 divya desa naamavali in front of Perumal and recited Thirumangai Azhwar’s pasurams on this divya desam. In ecstasy, I remembered Thirumangai mannan’s pasurams on Naimisaaranyam which is full of repentance and started reciting the same in the temple. My children braved to sing Annamaya Kirtans amidst the few piligrims. Adiyen thought of everyone associated with me and prayed the Lord to bestow moksham and best devotional service on them . Adiyen prayed to the Lord to give me another chance to visit this shrine again and give another opportunity to visit all the divya desams .
The Nepali security emphasized that the temple was 500 years old and it would be closed during severe winter (i.e. from October to February) every year. Due to time constraint, we left the temple reluctantly after taking few photographs. I had heard that Westerners aren’t allowed in the temple of Muktinath, but that’s not true. It is said that Badrinath sent Muktinath to this place, high up in the mountains. I overhear a foreigner saying that anyone who takes the trouble to visit that place will get liberation. Adiyen , however, did not pray for liberation. Rather, Adiyen prayed for pure devotional service. A five minute walk down the temple towards left led us to a place where we can see 2 wonders :- First, fire coming from water and fire coming from stone. This fire is emitted continuously and has to peep into a small opening to see the same.
A natural blue fire can be clearly seen from water which is unbelievable. This is a representation of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu as it was here Brahma and Shiva did penance to obtain Lord Vishnu’s grace. Lord Vishnu appeared before them and as per their desire, continued to reside in this place. This is also considered to be a Buddhist shrine because one Buddhist monk got enlightenment here. As a proof of this, we could find various stupas of Buddhist monks and their dwarapaalakas.
After thanking Perumal, we left the place at 1100 hours. On the way back, we happened to visit a small thirumaligai run by a Srivaishnava, a disciple of Chinna Jeeyarswamy. He greeted us warmly and offered us some herbal drink which would act as an anecdote against the biting cold weather. Infact, despite our bath in icy cold water, none of us fell sick . When Adiyen was expressing my desire to collect saaligramams silas for worshipping , swamy was kind , he immediately gave me 5 saaligramams murthys worshipped by the mutt , out of which 2 were collected from Damodar Kund and one moorthi was receiving his upacharams daily reciting Acharyar dhaniyan and Thirupallandu. Was blessed indeed .
LORD was very kind to come along with us to our home to be with us .Tears rolling chanting dwayam adiyen offered humble pranaams to all .Felt my purpose of birth was fulfilled.
In a period of 10 years many more Sree moorthy ( saigrama silas ) arrived at adiyens residence ( Thiruvengadam ) and are being worshipped and adiyen never attempted to count the lordships …. After settling down , we started our return journey to Jomsom. We were told that it would take 4 hours for us to reach Jomsom as it is easier to walk down the mountains. My children had already left on the ponies with the horse man along with our luggage and PERUMAL ( Lordships ) . We were lagging behind. Added to this, we missed our route. Though we were doubtful about the route, we could not get clarification as there was no one around us. Guessing our way, we climbed down the hill and reached a cliff which was the dead end. Below the cliff, as we saw Gandaki river flowing, we guessed that it should be the route and while trying to get down, we nearly had almost a fall. Clinging to each other both of us were totally perplexed, frightened and chanted loudly Hanuman Chalisa.
Luckily we spotted few farmers who were working in a far away field and waived a cloth towards them . Immediately a young lad of about 15 years came to our rescue. After saving us from this fall, he accompanied us for half an hour or so and led us to the correct path. He told that we had come near Kagbeni village and that particular place was the route to Domodar kund where the origin of saaligramam begins and that Eklabhatti was far off. Silently prayed LORD for a darshan at Daamodar kund soon. Added to this, due to heavy winds, we were finding it very difficult to put even a step further.. By straying on the wrong path, we had to walk for another 2 hours. Finally, we reached Eklabhatti at 1700 hours.
Meanwhile, children were worried and were enquiring about our whereabouts. As we had gone on the wrong side, they only got negative reply which added to their worry. Meanwhile, they went to the banks of Kali Gandaki river and while reciting the sloka told by my father , they were able to collect some saaligramama moorthies right from the holy river. Out of these, one murthi was that of Lord Sri Rama, one Sri Srinivasar, Varahar, Matsya murthi and few Hiranya garbhams. They also collected 2 big saaligramams which we wanted to worship at our Kushaiguda Sri Venkateshwara temple. But maybe it was Perumal’s will to stay back in Jomsom itself as the airport authorities did not allow us to take the bigger silas. It was already dark when we reached Eklabhatti and as we had another 1 hour trekking, the pony rider advised my wife to ride on pony.
My younger daughter trekked with me for more than one and half hour amidst chanting bhajans and maha mantra We reached Jomsom at 19 hours. We were pleased to hear about our ticket confirmation from the hotel owner. Our flight was scheduled to leave Jomsom at 9 A.M. the following morning. Thanked LORD for all His grace and retired for the night. We called home from the satellite telephone and informed Lords grace in giving us a darshan .After all any SriVaishnavaite desires he vist all the Divya desams and take to spirituality .Our Elders were very pleased for our children braving to reach the holy dhaam..It was a pleasant experience. Next day, the hotel manager approached us and informed that the flight to Pokhara was cancelled due to technical failure of the aircraft. On hearing this, we were totally shattered . He advised us to either take a helicopter (a private one) which he would be arranging for others by paying for the tickets in dollars (INR 30,000) or either go by jeep upto 20 kms, walk for about 15 hours to reach Thathopani, take a bus to Pokhra which would take about 20 hours. As the second option was impossible, we decided to opt for the first one and gave our consent. Arrangements were made to get a helicopter from Katmandu . Though the scheduled departure was at 12 noon as promised by the hotel manager, the helicopter arrived at Jomsom at 1600 hours only. All of us boarded it and reached Pokhara at 1700 hours. The 20 minute journey by helicopter was very inconvenient and fearful. Worst with noise and full of congestion.The very rare privelage of travelling in a helicopter was being fullfilled may be I felt. Adiyen was continuously chanting Maha mantra and the moment we left the copter, 2 devotees who hail from England approached me and offered Prasad saying that they had done Pournami pooja at Muktinath, a day before we reached the holy shrine. I was happy to learn that they have migrated to Kashi and having undertaken penance, they are simultaneously doing research on Vedas.It is only due to the abundant grace of Perumal on this sinner that Adiyen could visit all the divya desams with my wife and children and attribute this to my previous janma wherein adiyen would have been associated with Srivaishnavas by touching the dust of their feet or must have done some petty kainkaryam which yielded this fruit of visiting the divya desams in this janma. May the divine forms of Perumal of all divya desams remain fresh in our memories and may our lips continuously chant the holy myriad names of the Lord. May our visit to the divya desams remain fresh in our minds so that when we leave this human body, we would be qualified to get moksha. The cab driver whom we got used to address as “kaka” was waiting for us at the airport. We rushed to the hotel where we had left our baggages and without losing any time, we left the place to go to Janakpur. We thanked the Hotel manager and his brother-in-law for all his intervention and help. But for him, it would have been impossible for us to go to Muktinath.
We decided that we offer our prayers to Sita Piratti .Taking clue from the fellow Nepalis we dashed into the cab with the available 24 hrs left . We traveled whole night and at 01.00 hrs we alighted at a thickly populated area and rested. At 5AM we resumed our journey to Janakpur which is located near Bihar border in Nepal is one of the most attractive tourist spots. This is the place where Goddess Sita was born and the place where the famous “SITA RAAMA KALYANAM “ took place. So, we didn’t want to miss this. It takes about 8 hours to reach from Pokhara and we had to cross Chitwan jungle. We reached Janakpur at 0800 hours in the morning . The driver informed us that it would take another 10 hours for us to reach Gorakhpur provided there was no traffic jam. We had to hasten ourselves as we had to be in Gorakpur at any cost that night. We quickly went inside the palace –converted into temple. Prayers on Goddess sita was written in Hindi on display boards. Morning abhishekam was just over and we had to wait for few minutes to have darshan of Thayar. In the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Rama, Sita Devi and King Janaka are seen. During aarthi, prayers on Sita Devi were sung. Apart from this, the palace houses other shrines too. In one of the shrines, we could find full family of Janaka – Lord Rama –Sita, Lakshmana-Urmila, Bharata, Shatruguna –Srutikeerthi, King Janaka, his brother, his queen . Apart from this, this shrine houses 3,000 saaligramama silas which were covered by a satin cloth. We proceeded to Sita Rama Kalyana Mantapam which is situated just outside the palace on the left side. Rs.5/- is charged as entrance fee . A big mantapam in the centre with life –size images .
Lord Rama, and Sita in Kalyana Thirukolam in sitting posture,Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatruguna also in Kalyana Thirukolam, King Janaka and his brother in standing posture, Dasaratha,his queens, Sage Vasishta and other rishi in sitting postures, Brahma, Shiva and other devas blessing. The sight was a real feast to the eyes. Around the mantapam, on 4 sides, there are 4 sannidhis for all the 4 brothers with their wives.We left Janakpur at 0930 hours and having visited all the places as per our schedule, we continued to reach our final destination, Gorakhpur. We crossed Nepal border at 1500 hours (that was the last day of our permit) in bihar. The highway roads in Bihar is the most horrible one with full of bumps and it took more than an hour to cross the border on the Indian side.
There is absolutely no cleanliness, no hygiene, no traffic rule, no proper roads. Uttar Pradesh which we entered around 6 P.M. was more horrible with traffic jams. We were stuck in traffic jam for more than 5 hours. No police to regularize the traffic. We learnt that it was very common and most of the truck drivers had left their trucks on the road itself and were loitering. Once again , our sincere prayers to Lord Hanuman was answered. After hours of pleading the truck drivers, we somehow got way to move . But the way was not sufficient for a car to pass through. the the driver literally tilted the car because of muddy road on his left and drove only on 2 wheels carefully .
With great difficulty, the impossible task was made possible by the grace of Lord. We reached Gorakhpur at 2300 hours in the night. We checked into one of the hotels near the station, and retired for the night. Thanked God profusely for the successful, though was seeming impossible adventurous trip to Nepal. We boarded Secunderabad-Gorakhpur Express at 0600 hours on the following morning and reached Secunderabad at 1830 hours the following day. Thus ended our trip to Saaligramam ( MUKTHINAATH KSHETRAM) After a short break of 2 days, we went to Tirumala……..
with our parents and thanked God for His abundant Grace on us all over . As part of our VIMSATI DARSHANAM scheme, we participated in Suprabhata seva, Unjal seva, Archana Anantara seva for 2 days and also performed Thirukalyana utsavam to Malayappa swamy ( our parents performed the same).
WE also visited Thiruvellikeni and thanked Sri Parthasarathy Perumal for successful completion of divya desa yaatrai as way back in 1998, we had prayed to this Perumal for visiting all the srivaishnava divya desams. Unfortunately, our desire to perform ( Abhishekam) Thirumanjanam to utsavar could not be fulfilled as the temple authorities do not permit outsiders for performing Thirumanjanam. However, one could offer milk during Brahmotsavam for Lord’s Thirumanjanam
. During this trip, Adiyen’s faith was put to test several times and Adiyen passed this only due to the grace of Lord and His devotees.
It was the time when LORD RAMA was on the shores of the Indian ocean during the preparations for the cross-over to Lanka . Having supervised the bridge construction for long time , LORD wanted to take some rest. Hence He removed His bows and arrows from His shoulders, dropped them on the ground and lay Himself for some time. Later ,when He got up and took his bows and arrows from the ground, He was shocked to see some blood on the tip of one of His arrows.
The Ocean of Compassion that LORD was, HE immediately knelt down on the shore to find the source of the blood. He found to his sadness a small frog in great pain, with blood oozing out from its back and with its tearful eyes looking at the form of LORD Rama.
A srivaishnava will always consider disease to the body as a welcome guest and will strive to serve the LORD even in worst crisis come what way and considers this body as a stumbling block for the enlightenment of soul .
This incident took place in Srirangam .Swamy Nampillai was sick and recovering . A srivaishnava came to swamy’s ashram and said , Oh Acharaya your respectable body has become lean and weak much to our concern .
Swamy replied While one wanes the other one waxes .
This is the universal rule . It means while knowledge of Lord ,devotion to HIM and detachment to material things increase the body of the person generally leans out owing to his devotion and love to the LORD as he is always immersed in LORD’s divine attributes . His heart melts and slowly looses interests in food and looses the taste appetite etc .This results in the welcome weakness of the body , whereas for a worldly man who identifies his body with his soul, eats well and maintains a healthy body . Thus the physical stature waxes and the soul naturally…
Vedavedantha vedhyaya , Megha Shyamala moorthaye,
Pumsaam mohana roopaya , punyaslokaya Mangalam.
Adiyen just can’t describe in words to share the experiences which we had in this trip. May the Lord bestow HIS cool and benevolent grace on all the jivatmas and always protect his children .
Adiyen bows again and again to Sree Rama who removes (all) obstacles and grants
wealth and pleases all.
ArtAnAmArtihantAram bheetAnAm bheeti-nAshanam
dvishatAm kAladanDam tam rAmchandram namAmyaham
He who annihilates the pain of the distressed, He who destroys fear in the minds
of the fearful, He who is like the Weapon of Death to his enemies, that
Lord Raamachandra do I worship.
Srimathey Ramanujaya namah
Sri Dasarathaya Namah
Sri Kooresaya namah
Sri Mudaliandan Swamy Thiruvadigaley Saranam
Prostrating at the lotus feet of LORD SITA RAM , Adiyen wishes to share travelogue of our second phase of our Sri Rama Anu Yatra which was a blissful experience
Once the revered Acharyar Nadathoor Azhwan was on the way to a nearby temple . He met a learned srivaishnava friend who had come to accompany Azhwan upto the temple . En route they were discussing the divine experiences of Azhwars and Poorvacharyas .
Suddenly they came across another srivaishnava with Tilak but was belonging to a lower caste . As was the custom those days on seing the two revered Acharyas he moved to another side of the road and waited obediently for them to leave .
The learned vaishnava friend who was accompanying Azhwan looked at the passerby and started shouting at him for trespassing …….. and was too harsh on him …..
Nadadoor Azhwan who heard his shouts , fell down in a swoon . He was brought back to consciousness . The learned Vaishnava asked Azhwan If his health was fine and why did he swoon ?
Azhwan who was already in a deep shock explained ..
My dear scholar .. Do you know , who was that srivaishnava whom you misbehaved with ? ……………….
————-The learned vaishnava put a blank face .
Azhwan continued…. That great soul belonged to the family of Thiruppan Azhwar who with his just 10 verses of Nectarine Amalanadhipiran pasurams merged in Lord’s lotus feet and got liberated .
My dear Swamin !! It has been repeatedly said and proved that If one indulges in a transgression involving a devotee ( Bhagavatha Apachara ) even the brahmavidya will be rendered ineffective in combating the effects of the karma.
Among the different types of transgressions for a devotee the first arise out of disrespectful reference to another’s birth .It is a severe offence to brand a person for his low caste as all vaishnavas , without reference to caste are worthy of worship .
This vaishnava is also a great devotee who has qualities of abundant mercy and compassion and that was the reason he respected you and just moved away . Do you know , He can recite all the 4000 Divya Prabhandams pasurams . He is so fortunate to be born between the two cauveries . You have misbehaved with a great soul just because of his appearance and caste …..
Am I not a low caste person when I claim I am Independent .. Azhwan listed out several pastimes from Poorvacharya’s works to drive his point and takes a verse from anthimOpAya nishtai………..
madh bhaktham svapachamvApi nindhAm kurvanthi yE narA: padhmakOti sathEnApi na kshamAmi kathAchana
Those men who insult my devotees, even a chandala , are never excused by me even after the passage of millions of years
yA prIthirmayi samvruththA madhbhakthEshu sadhAsthu thE ………. avamAnakriyA thEshAm samharathi akilam jagath
My love for My devotees is ever increasing, so much so that it would go to the extent of destroying the whole world if they are disrespected…..
Azhwan submitted , ………………..
Will Lord ever forgive us for this great transgression for which he was a mute spectator…
A divine pastime happened few hundreds year ago near the banks of Cauvery river. One sunny day few srivaishnava boys were playing on the banks of Cauvery river .
As they inherited their parents daily rituals , the boys smartly erected a small temple and installed an idol out of the Cauvery mud from the banks of the river . Each of them had some little contribution in bringing mud , pebbles , leaves , flowers etc .
As a part of the religious code as observed at their homes , they adorned themselves with the Urdhvapundra ( Tilak ) and were completely dissolved in devotion assuming it to be the real Periya Perumal Temple .
Few began chanting (glorification verses) Thirupallandu pasuram verses innocently but it was divine feeling for the crowd .
They offered Theertha prasada readily available from the banks of the river.
JagathAcharyar Swamy Ramanuja happened to pass by the banks of the river .
One curious boy noticed the smiling swamin from a long distance .
He informed the other kids and all wished to have Acharyas appreciation .
They rushed towards Acharyar and invited him to their temple .
Please come to our temple, all the boys pleaded in one voice … .
Swamy Ramanuja was overjoyed with the boys dedication. He accompanied the little boys and proceeded towards their temple constructed just now on the banks of the river .
He offered obeisances to the temple and the deities inside and humbly accepted the theertha prasada given by the boys with all reverence .
A disciple who was watching his Acharyar , humbly begged to know what was the reason for Swamy Ramanuja to offer obeisance’s and accept the theertha prasada in an inappropriate place and that too from small kids ?
Swamy Ramanuja smiled and said , My Child !! .. You must recollect the sloka in Srimad Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna says
yo yo yaam yaam tanum bhaktaha shraddhayaarchitumicchati | tasya tasyaachalaam shraddhaam taameva vidadhaamyaham ||
Whichever devotee desires to faithfully worship a particular form, I fortify his faith in exactly that (form).
and as per poigai Azhwar a verse from the Mudhal Thiruvandhaadee says
Before the one omnipotent Lord , all the devas ( demigods) tremble and crouch . One such incident happened during the time of Pillay Uranga Villi dasar .
Pillai Uranga Villidasar was a favourite disciple to Swamy Ramanuja .He became very close to his Master so rare that was his piety though belonged to a lower caste he had privileges conferred upon him .
He was previously a wrestler who by grace of JagathAcharyar turned to become Swamy Ramanuj’s disciple .
His turning into disciple can be read in the appended blog post
One of Villidasar’s land tenant was put into torture by the village deity called Aiyanar .
“Aiyyanar” shrines are located at the peripheries or boundaries of rural villages, and the village deity is seen with a sword riding a white horse who eternally ,fight against demons and evil spirits vigilantly who threaten the villagers .
The deity was asked by the villagers to mention what measures would serve him to propitiate it and appease its wrath .
The village deity replied , Serve me milk , fruits , smear me with sandal paste …
Dress me nicely.
Deck me with jewellery and put an umbrella over me .
Celebrate and offer me the best dishes .
The Villagers consented and went to their master Villi dasar’s house , borrowed all the things listed above and offered to the village deity as directed and retired after the propitiation ceremonies .
That night however the torments for the obsessed tenant multiplied .
Aiyanar was pleaded by the villagers, reason for the unexpected backlash …
The Village deity replied ..
You fools !!
You have committed a great offense !!!
You have brought the articles used by the great devotee and disciple of Swamy Ramanuja .
You have placed an umbrella meant for the great Lordships and forced me to go under which million suns were radiating ..
I am able to feel the heat by your smearing with the sandal paste . You have hung heavy irons over my shoulders by decking me with jewels .
For all this grave act …
I shall never forgive you …
The village deity was really ferocious ………
It continued ….
You fools !!!!
Villidasar is a great disciple of Swamy Ramanuja …………
Now remove all these articles …..
Go and seek his refugee immediately ……
All the villagers rushed to Villidasar’s place who was meantime explaining to his wife Ponnachee about the wonderful pasuram of Nammazhwar
But, I cannot resist telling the truth for your own good…….
Will you hear me?
You folks are running after petty pleasures and silly satisfactions, wasting your energies by singing tons of praise of unworthy entities…………………..
I, for one, would never misuse my tongue in such pursuits ..,
but would dedicate all my hymns at the lotus feet of my father, the Lord of TiruvEnkatam ( Tirumala )
who is majestic like the mighty elephant and in whose place bees hum his glory?
Villidasar continued ,
Our Azhwaar advises us that we should use the faculties granted to us by the Lord……
ONLY for HIS purpose and not on others.
He feels sorry for those who use their literary talents to invent non-existent qualities in people and suppressing their defects ?
all for some small favors and silly gains from them.
Azhwar asks them to give up this unholy habit and turn to sing about the Lord who has all the auspicious qualities , totally devoid of any blemishes who alone can grant more than what one could wish for even in their wildest imagination.
Seeing the apathy of people to this appeal, he turns to himself and says at least for his part, he would practice what he preaches.
The villagers were convinced that the only sovereign salve for God sick souls is
Lord himself and chanting HIS holy names .
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics credits : Google images and thanks to all the devotees who uploaded in social media
The reclusive Uttang Rishi stayed in the forests for most of his life and had little contact with the rest of the world.
It was during one such long stay away from civilization that the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas ripened to enmity and ended in the calamitous war at Kurukshetra which resulted in the decimation of all the Kauravas.
Always in penance the Rishi moved places .
Pleased with his sincere devotion , LORD appeared and said,
My dear ….
“I wish to grant you a boon,
O most righteous sage!
What would you ask of me?”
Uttang Rishi replied , Oh Lord
“I need nothing !
The only thing that I, perhaps, may seek is that I may not lack for water wherever I am, since I travel in wild and inaccessible places.”…
Lord replied ..“Granted!”
Later , once , Uttang Rishi was traveling through a desert and was afflicted by severe thirst and could not find any water to drink.
He remembered the boon LORD bestowed to him . He humbly besought some water.
Lord instantly summoned Indira and instructed him to take the nectar ( Amrit ) and fullfill the sages thirst permanently making him immortal .
Indira was surprised with Lord’s command as the Nectar was meant for devas only . .However as instructed by LORD , Indira out of curiosity changes his attire and proceeds to meet the sage personally .
He dresses himself as an ugly looking chandala in dirtiest clothes. He arrives before the Sage along with a stray dog .
The Sage is in disgust looking at the him . Indira who is in disguise follows the Sage pleading him to take the water he is carrying from the deerskin container.
Uttang Rishi is aghast…
Though being thirsty , he avoids the ugly looking man…….
….How could he, a Brahmin, take water from this low-caste chandala ?
It so happens , thrice the chandala offers water and thrice the sage ignores him and refuses his advances . Irritated with his advances ,the sage declares that he would die of thirst rather than drink the water given by him . Thus he insults him further and asks him to leave . The chandala disappears in fraction of a second .
Uttang Rishi is surprised by this miraculous disappearance of the chandala . He recollects the entire episode and confirms he could not really be a chandala but some divinity sent by LORD as a test.
Uttang felt dejected about the possibility of having failed the Lord.
Lord Krishna appears before him .
Uttang Rishi complains ,
Oh ”Lord! You promised me water whenever I needed it.
How could you send it in the hands of a chandala ?”
Lord Krishna smiles and replies ,
“O Sage! I asked Indra to give you the divine nectar and make you immortal. Indra was hesitant saying that Amrit was not for normal human beings. But I insisted that were a realised soul and deserved immortality.
Indra was apprehensive and pleaded me to put you to test , whether you were truly a realised soul, that would know that all differentiation between people were only the creation of mortals and that all people were the same in the eyes of a realised soul and, thus, if you accepted the nectar from Indra in the guise of a chandala , you would deserve it.
I agreed. But sad that
You let me down………………
The Rishi accepts that merely having all knowledge does not make one a great devotee but practicing a life in accordance with the knowledge was indeed what one has to follow for following true devotion…..
Merely knowing that LORD resides in everyone does not fulfill one’s status of being a devotee but practicing it in real life and treating everyone with respect and dignity is what is essential.
In the Purusha Sooktham one verse says padbhyAm Sudro aJayatha means all the sudras originated from the lotus feet of Lord ..
And Its Lord’s feet all the devotees surrender and only HIS feet can redeem us .
The great Azhwar Vipranarayana calls himself Thondar Adi podi Azhwar ( dust from the feet of devotees ) .
A true vaishnava is always in a surrender mood and seeks LORDS company in all animate and inanimate species .