Periazhwar as Yashodha with Chinni Krishna


Azhwars often express their love as a mother OR of a daughter OR a lover meaning their own Souls longing for union with the Supreme Lord . Most of his 473 verses in Divya Prabandham, collectively known as “Periazhwar Tirumozhi” speak of the early years of Krishna. Azhwar became the father- in- law of Lord Narayana when his daughter Andal marries the Lord. – – an honor none else could claim.

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Amongst the 12 Azhwars  ,  Vishnuchittar was  glorified  as ” Peria Azhwar” .

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Our poorvacharyars comment that though he  appeared   after  Mudal azhwar, Nammazhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, he was honoured with the title “Peria Azhwar   because while all other azhwars  glorified  Lord as Supreme Personality,  Azhwar had “pongum parivu”( vatsalyabhava).

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  Swamy  Manavala Mamunigal in  ” Upadesa Ratnamala ”  says “Pongum parivaale petraan Periazhwar ennum peyar”   meaning that because of the vatsalya bhaavam  like a mother towards the Lord, he was conferred with this title. Periyazhwar  was  overwhelmed to have darshanam of  the Lord after winning the debate  called by the  Pandyan King  at Madurai few hundred years back .

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Having darshan of  Lord Koodal Azhagar Perumal , along with the Goddess who had come to witness  the  marathon procession honours done by the King to the Azhwar ,   on Garuda Vahanam ,  Periyazhwar  was worried…

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LORD ARRIVES IN THE GUISE OF HUNTER COUPLE TO SAVE HIS ARDENT DEVOTEE SWAMY RAMANUJA


So am I. You see over there.. yes, that’s a big town. And there is a large well. Its water used to be very sweet. I know that. I have stayed in this town. Can you please some bring water for us?” Bringing water for them.. If they had asked for his life Ramanuja would have given it happily. “I would love to do it my Lord, sorry, Sir. But you see I don’t have any vessel with me.

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Swami Ramanujacharya’s very first Guru was his own father swami Somayaji. The lessons started from a very young age. Unfortunately as his father passed away when he was just sixteen the lessons came to an abrupt end.

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By that time Ramanuja had been married and the family along with his widowed mother had moved over to Kancheepuram. Ramanuja was in search of a good teacher. The only person available was Yadavaprakasa who was originally a part of the Advaita movement .

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Later he broke away from the group and started teaching on his own.  He openly declared that he was not happy with the Great Shankara’s commentary on Brahmasutra and was attempting to write his own commentary.

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Yadavaprakasa could not tolerate any criticism. He was egotistic, eccentric and positively cantankerous. But he was well versed in Vedas and Shastras. He was an authority on magic, spells and evil spirits. There…

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NAVA DWARAKA DARSHAN .. A Piligrims diary


There are nine Dwarakas known as “Nava Dwarakas” out of which five (Pancha Dwaraka) are very famous holy dhams visited by all vaishnavas .

The “Nava Dwarakas” are listed below

1) Mukti Dwarka (Gomti Dwarka)-main temple located in Dwarka in Gujarat

2) Rukmini Dwarka (4 kms from Dwarka)

3) Bhet Dwarka ( in an island 8 kms from Dwarka)

4) Moola Dwaraka (Rajkot-Dwarka route)

5) Sudama Dwarka (Porbandhar)

6) Nathdwara (near Udaipur in Rajasthan)

7) Kankroli Dwarka (near Nathdwara)

8) Prabhasa Theertha (Veravel near Somnath)

9) Dakore Dwarka (near Ahmedabad)

Dwaraka is one of the four important dhams(holy places). The other three dhams are Puri, Badrinath and Rameswaram. Dwaraka is counted as one of the seven “MUKTHI THARUM KSHETRAMS” ( MOKSHA STHAL ). The other six are Mathura, Ayodhya, Kasi, Gaya, Kanchi, Ujjain.

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           A PILIGRIMS DIARY  TO  NAVA DWARAKAS

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sriman Narayana  out of abundant compassion   appeared as LORD   Krishna to save the good and destroy the evil.   

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As per divine plan,  Lord Mahavishnu appeared as the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudevar in Mathura, the holiest of all cities during midnight on krishna  paksha Asthami thithi in the tamil month of Aavani (Sravanam) in the closed  jail which was fully guarded on a rainy night.  The Lord appeared as a child with chathurbhujam holding the divine weapons Sankhu, Chakram, Gada, Padmam to Devaki and Vasudevar to reaffirm that HE had fulfilled their early wish.  Vasudeva  out of vatsalyam prayed the Lord to assume the form of a child and immediately the Lord who is the controller of the Universe obeyed him as an dutiful son .  

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Our poorvacharyars point out that Lord…

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LORD KRISHNA’S ASHTA SAKHI TEMPLES NEAR BARSAANA VRINDAVAN.. An Introduction


Puranas reveal that out of many thousands of gopis, sixteen thousand are predominant and among them 108 gopis are very close , eight are still more prominent . Radharani and Candravalli are very prominent and Srimathi Radharani is the most prominent. Because Radharani possesses all the charm and sweetness to attract Lord Krishna .The Eight Gopis who are the foremost, dearest and most beloved friends of Shri Shri Radharani are glorified as Asta-sakhis Gopis .Their names are Lalita, Visakha, Chitralekha, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi and Sudevi. check the appended blog post for more details

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Braj Bhumi  is the most sacred dham spread over  168 miles-  42 miles on each direction with  Mathura as the center.  The holy place  comprises of Mathura,  Goverdhan, Gokulam Barsana ,Vrindavan and the  surrounding  12 forests.  The Supreme Lord manifested Himself as Lord Krishna along with HIS attendants and enacted various pastimes 5000 years ago in Dwapara yugam which attracts millions of devotees to have darshan of this holy dhaam repeatedly .

 Lord Krishnavataaram is the POORNA AVATARAM of  Lord Maha Vishnu. Every inch in this place is  sacred because of its association with  Lord Krishna’s  lotus  feet (as He walked over all these places).  

Anyone who visits this sacred place is bestowed with   divine love . This is one  of the seven mukthi tharum kshetrams , the rest being Ayodhya,  Avatnti, Kasi,Kanchi, Puri, Dwarka.  Also, Mathura is very dear to Lord Vishnu as it has Lord’s association in all the…

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Swamy Ramanuja’s Eighteen glorious visits to Thirukoshtiyur


Swamy Ramanuja felt to himself that as Lord Krishna preached eighteen chapters to Arjuna before revealing the final word , in order to test Arjuna’s mind the eighteen trips imposed upon me by Acharyar was to condition my spirit in seeking the nectar of instructions .

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  Swamy Ramanuja  went to meet  Acharyar  Peria Nambi    .

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With all humility he prostrated himself  and apologized for  any  offense he had  committed in falling short of having the darshan of  “His Holiness  Acharyar Swamy Yamunacharyar”.

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 Swamy Ramanuja expressed his misfortune in not being able to serve the legendary Acharyar Swamy Yamunacharyar and missing his elderly counsel in a whisper  .

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Gurudeva !  said Ramanuja  I need that knowledge  !!

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With great delight  the  Acharyar replied

  My child ,

The essence of  our Holy faith is embedded in the Dwayam  Mantra  !!

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The  power and the purifying meritorious  essence is  absolute healing ..

My dear child !  Remember  !! 

There is but One God  and He is All merciful  and is therefore   is our only  way  .

He is all knowing and All mighty and is there for our sake   .

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The souls destination  and aim is…

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At TIRUMALA… “ Its not the darshan you get . It is the darshan ” LORD” bestows”.


Its only the fortunate ones who develop faith in God and blessed are those who surrender to our LORD VENKATESHWARA ….

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 The ardent desire of any devotee is to seek an everlasting darshan of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala  and…  If this darshan is without any  physical disturbance or interference by the volunteers ,  the soul dances in ecstasy.

There is no dearth of pilgrims who wouldn’t stop gushing about their opportune darshan lasting for even a  fraction of second or so with our  beloved LORD  while there are so many others who  excitedly wait  for  Lord’s  darshan patiently  even for days  .

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Tradition has it, that hands of man did not work for the dhruva bera  ( Main deity )of Lord Venkateswara .

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The Supreme Lord with abundant mercy manifested himself in the present form that could easily be worshiped by mortals. It is described in Mousala Parvam  of Sri Mahabharatam  that when  Supreme Lord Krishna decided to complete His incarnation, a divine play was enacted.   After the  fall of Yadu dynasty , Lord Krishna was…

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..  The divine incident when Lord accepts the Shankhu and Chakra from his dear devotee Swamy Ramanuja ………… Thirumalai-Appanukku Sanku-Aazhi alhiththa Acharya-perumaan Emberumaanaar Jaya Vijayee bhava.”


The great devotee of Lord Venkateshwara sage Annamaya in a kirtan reveals .
.Lord …( I pray to You, Oh Lord! Please be beside me! )
If YOU are the Lord incarnated on the Venkatadri mount, YOU are bound to be by my side!
It is You, Oh Lord, who have made me to become Your devotee;
It is You, Oh Lord, who have knocked my doors ~ only to grant me the Protective asylum under Your Lotus Feet;
You are the ONE who enlightened me;
This is the eternal bliss for me!
This is the Para-Tattvam for me!
This is my moksha-marga (and salvation)!

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govindaa

 

“Srivaikunta Virakthaaya Swami Pushkarini Thatey

Ramaya Rama maanaya Venkatesaya mangalam”

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The above famous Mangala sloka  recited in every  temple and household glorifies the Lord of Seven Hills (Tirumala)  Lord Venkateshwara  as “ the  Lord   who out of deep love for his devotees vacated  Sri Vaikuntam along with Goddess  and  choose to  reside on the banks of Swami Pushkarini  in Tirumala ” the sacred hills which is also glorified  as Adivaraha kshetram.. (cluster of seven Hills )

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Various puranas describe  about the appearance of the Lord in the Seven Hills. Adiseshan with seven hoods is believed to have assumed the form of the Nallamalai hills for Lord’s ascent .

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Tirumala is considered to be the head of Adhisesha while Ahobilam is considered as the middle part and Srisailam as the tail of the adiseshan. An aerial view of the hills authenticate the shape of the hills in the…

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‘The Acharyar who was glorified by LORD himself at Srirangam ……….. SWAMI MANAVALA MAMUNI VAIBHAVAM


The Meaning of the above verse ………….

“Oh my dear devotees who desire for Moksha seeking Swamy Mamunigal’s lotus Feet listen ….

taking refugee at the Lotus feet of Swamy Mamunigal will definitely lead us to the blessings of “Amanavan” who allows us at the entrance into Sri Vaikuntam” as we are Swamy Manavala mamuni’s disciples …

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Lord Sriman Narayana  incarnated in  different  avatharas in this world, for spreading the message of the liberation for the jeevatma  from this material bondage .

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Unsatisfied ,  LORD summoned His serpent couch, the nitya-soori (eternally free soul) .

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 Adisesha, and instructed,

My dear Adishesha !  

“Go down to the mortal world and live there for 200 years, and through your exhortations, empower the people with knowledge about their true nature and make them come to..

My world, so that they enjoy “eternal bliss” forever …….

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Accordingly,  Adishesha appeared as “Swamy Ramanuja” in the age of Kali, where Adharma  was in the forefront due to the karmic vasanas .

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Swamy Ramanuja followed LORD;s directives by spreading the divine message of  Azhwars  and the true knowledge to seek Lord’s mercy  and disappeared at the age of 120.

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 The Lord was not satisfied  with the developments and felt the…

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Ugram veeram maha-vishnum jvalantam sarvatho mukham …. nrisimham bheeshanam bhhadram mrityur mrityum namam y aham


namas te narasiḿhāya
prahlādāhlāda-dāyine
hiraṇyakaśipor vakṣaḥ-
śilā-ṭańka-nakhālaye
ito nṛsiḿhaḥ parato nṛsiḿho
yato yato yāmi tato nṛsiḿhaḥ
bahir nṛsiḿho hṛdaye nṛsiḿho
nṛsiḿham ādiḿ śaraṇaḿ prapadye
tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-śṛńgaḿ
dalita-hiraṇyakaśipu-tanu-bhṛńgam
keśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagadīśa hare…
Check the travel diary in the appended blog post

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TRAVEL DIARY IS IN THE BELOW MENTIONED BLOG :

https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/ahobilam-travel-diary/

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AHOBILAM 

The holy place where LORD NARSINGHA BHAGAVAN incarnated for Prahlada Maharaj …

Please read the vaibhavams of the Nava Narasingh bhagavan .The place is situated 25 Km from Arlagadda in Kurnool district can also be approached via Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh ,India.

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MORE ABOUT NAVA NARASIMHA KSHETRAM
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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.

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Apart from the nava Narasimha shrines, “Prahalada padi” where Prahalada studied and “Ugra Sthambam” from where Perumal emerged are usually visited by pilgrims.

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There are number of Theerthas in this shrine. A few like Lanjekonneru near Bhargava Narasimhar , Ramatheertha near Lower Ahobilam…

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WHEN LORD SPOKE TO HIS DEVOTEES AT TIRUMALA ,KANCHI AND SRIRANGAM


To reaffirm the faith of HIS devotees, LORD conversed with HIS devotees time to time .There are three incidents which our Elders keep saying about the compassion of the LORD in temples .

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To reaffirm the faith of HIS devotees,  LORD conversed with  HIS devotees  time to time .

There are three incidents which our Elders keep saying about the compassion of the LORD in temples .

Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Kovil
Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Kovil

At  Tirumala – Tirupathi, Lord Venkateshwara  used to converse with the King Thondaman Chakravarthy .  In Kancheepuram, Lord Vardarajar used to converse with his  dear devotee  Swamy Tirukachi Nambigal who used to fan him daily .

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Similarly at Srirangam  Lord Ranganathar used to converse with  “Tiruvilakku pichan”the temple servant who used to light the lamps in the temple .

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It is a general practice all the devotees surrender to LORD and express their gratitude pain and love for the LORD in this material world.

  Few devotees develop extremely intimate relationship with the Lord conversing   freely  and interact almost daily  treating him as a  human friend.

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At Srirangam ,  there lived a…

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Lord Narasingha and the hunter…………………………… MAATHA NARASIMHA PITHA NARASIMHA BRATHA NARASIMHA SAKHA NARASIMHA VIDYAA NARASIMHA DRAVINAM NARASIMHA SWAMI NARASIMHA SAKALAM NARASIMHA…..


The animal had a lovely lion’s face, soft eyes, and the body was human. Almost 15 feet tall. It had a gigantic form. The hunter was aghast looking at the majestic form. No hunger, no fear. The bewitching smile and the penetrating eyes made a huge difference.

Now hunter had copious chilled tears.
He could not take his eyes out of the sight of the animal. He slipped into a state of timelessness… Suddenly a voice was heard!

My dear! Come on!

You wanted me to come!!

Here I am! Come let’s move… fast!!

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Near the banks of the river  kaveri  in a gurukulam   the guru was revealing pastime of the  divine Lordships  . He was emotionally  charged and was bringing the real situation what  the great devotee bhaktha prahalada was facing and how Lord was taking care of his custody .

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The Guru went into the minute details how Prahalada was tortured  by his demonic father every time he chanted the Holy name . There was pin drop silence everywhere as he continued  to describe the appearance of the Lord ….

The demon screamed …Hey Prahalada,   

You say HE is  every where …

why is HE not here!!  in this pillar? With demonic eyes he thundered ..Come on!!

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Allow   me to kill you    and let me see how your most worship able  Lord comes to protect you. With terrible anger, the demon stuck his heavy fist against the pillar.

There was lightning  thunder and a forceful sound  that could make the entire…

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 NATHDWARAKA- WHERE LORD SHRINATHJI GIVES DARSHAN


Nathdwara, one of the Nava Dwarakas, is a small town in Mavli-Udiapur route.As the Lord is the combined form of Radharani and Gopala, HE is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”.( “SHRI” indicates Thayar ). The Lord is also affectionately called as “Banke Bhihari”. The LORD was earlier in Vrindavan near Goverdhana giri and is related to one of Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan lifting Goverdhana hill….

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Nathdwara, one of the Nava Dwarakas,  is a small town in Mavli-Udiapur route.

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As part of Sri Krishna anubhava yatra, after darshan of  the Lord at Mathura, Vrindavan and Goverdhan, we proceeded to have darshan of Nava Dwarakas scattered over in Gujarat, Saurashtra and Rajasthan.  WE had taken a train from Mathura to Udaipur to visit Nathdwara.  The co-passengers however advised us to get down at Mauvli as it is nearer to Nathdwara.  A 40 minutes drive took us to Nathdwara from Mauvli .  We refreshed ourselves in a nearby  rest house  Lakshmi Lodge,  one of the hotels opposite car parking(a big open ground) on the way to  temple. For one hour, we paid  nominal amount of Rs.100/- for the same.

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It was 10 A.M. by the time we finished  and proceeded to the temple  .  A five minute walk along the narrow streets led to the temple. …

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The glory of “Parakaalan” … “kaalan” for people who refuted “paran” ( Our Supreme Lord ) …


As he was like kaalan for people who refuted “paran”(perumal), he came to be known as “Parakaalan” . He was an expert in composing different types of poems in different meters as per Tamil grammar which earned him the name “Naalu Kavi Perumal”.

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All Merciful “Lord Sriman Narayana” appears in five different forms as para, vyuha, vibhava, archai and antaryAmi . To uplift the fallen souls Lord advises the Nityasurees to incarnate in the mortal world and spread the message of divine love and true knowledge for a common man to come back to God head ..facebook_1512005398506.jpg-1343181636.jpgThus Azhwars were the incarnations of of Lord Sriman Narayana’s divine weapons and ornaments (“Azhwar” in Tamil means ‘one who is immersed’). Since the advanced saints were always immersed in the Lord and His qualities, they were glorified as Azhwars and the places which was glorified by Azhwars are earmarked as Divya desams . Out of the 12 azhwars, 4 Azhwars appeared towards the end of Dwapara yuga and Eight Azhwars appeared during Kali yuga.

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  • Poigai Azhwar – Panchajanya ( Lord Krishna’s conch)
  • Bhootha Azhwar – Kaumodakee (Lord Maha Vishnu’s Mace/Club)
  • Pey Azhwar – Nandaka…

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The Lord who obeyed his dear devotee Tirumazhisai Azhwar request .. …..”Sonna VaNNAm Seyytha Perumal”.


Today is the appearance day of Thirumazhisai Azhwar….

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Thirumazhisai is a holy place located equidistant to Kancheepuram , Mahabalipuram and Mylapur in the present  chengelpet district ( Tamilnadu) . This place is very famous for  Lord Jagganatha Perumal temple . 


The holy place  has  cool streams  fruit and flower grooves yielding abundant fruits.  The  blossoming flowers all through makes it  a  perfect place for a  nature  lover .

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Several seers , sages , nomadic saints , bhikshukas relax and perform penance at  this place for eternal peace .

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In such an wonderful place , Thirumazhisai Azhwar appeared  much earlier than the advent of Kaliyuga .( The appearance day being  ( Thai  Magam ) 

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 It is believed , Azhwar lived for almost 400 years glorifying the Lordships .

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Thirumazhisai Azhwar was a junior contemporary of the foremost Azhwars Pogai , Pey and Bhudath Azhwar  who laid a solid foundation for vishistadvaita long long ago .

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Azhwar was brought up by his foster parents…

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..Aandaal… the goddess who rules the Lord …. ThiruAadi Pooram festival ( July 26, 2017 Wednesday)


The procession reached the Srirangam temple entrance .

Godha got down and paced towards the sanctum quickly as if she was so familiar . She walked straight into the sanctum sanctorium after crossing Garuda mantapam… She came near the main temple … And …kept walking briskly with her anklets jingling in the background .. The temple sanctum sanctorium where only the priest enters arrived ..

LORD who was also eager to meet Godha had a bewitching smile ………………She stepped in ..and reached seshapanpu ( fourteen folds of Adhishesha ) walked over the folds of Adhishesha and reached the lotus feet twain of Lord and sat at HIS lotus feet .She touched those wonderful sacred feet with her tiny beautiful tender hands and dissolved in HIM once for all ….

Periaazhwar was watching .He was speechless . Standing motionless with tears and grief he went near the sanctum and with a quivering body and lips shivering , expressed in broken words ..Lord !! Where is my child Godha ? Oh Ranga !! My child Godha … a small girl who was everything to me ….. and just stood like a pillow gazing at LORD …

A pin drop silence for few minutes prevailed ……………………….

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Srivilliputtur  beautiful village turned ” town” houses two famous  temples- Lord Vatapatrasayee kovil     ( sri vaishnava divyadesa kovil) and  Andal kovil(Godadevi’s residence). 

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  Located in Virudhunagar District about 75 kms away from Madurai from north and about 70kms away from Tirunelveli from south ,this temple is famous   for Andals appearance and presently the Rajagopuram of the temple  which has  eleven tiers and  192″ height being  one among the tallest towers of temples in  the state is Tamilnadu Government’s official symbol .

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This place is  worshipped  as Varaha kshetram.  Bhrigu and Markandeya maharishis  were performing penance at this holy place .The  demon Kalanemi was troubling them causing hindrances  . Lord killed Kalanemi using Sudarshana Chakram. The sudarshana chakra  cleansed its blood stains by taking a dip  in this  tank located inside the temple  in which the rivers  Ganga , Yamuna and Saraswathi  reside . Hence, this  temple…

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Ekantha Seva at TIRUMALA…’Tallapaka vari Lali, Tarigondavari Harathi’


At Tirumala , Lord Sri Venkateshwara’ awakes with Annamayya’s melukolupu, and follows the day’s rituals, ends with the great saint poetess Vengamamba’s Mutyala Harathi

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At Tirumala , Lord Sri Venkateshwara’   awakes with Annamayya’s melukolupu, and follows the day’s rituals, ends with the great saint poetess  Vengamamba’s Mutyala Harathi

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Mutyala Harathi’,  is the last ritual performed during ‘Ekantha Seva’  to   Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala .This seva  is symbolic  gesture of the Lord’s love for His devotees.

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The ritual was started by saint-poetess Tarigonda Vengamamba and for almost  the last three centuries is being performed on par with ‘Lalipata’, ( Lullaby)  introduced by  another great devotee Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya. Performing both the rituals during ‘Ekantha Seva’  to  the Lord is remembering these great devotees who had surrendered to Lord . The speciality of   Ekantha seva  is  glorified  as

Tallapaka vari Lali, Tarigondavari Harathi’ among the  devotees.

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The song goes like this ….

JAYA MANGALAM  NITYA SHUBA MANGALAM..

JAYA MANGALAM ..NITYA SHUBHA MANGALAM……..

also  called as Jaya Mangala Geetam .

govindaa

The meaning  of…

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At Tirumala …. Lord Venkateshwara Abhisheka vaibhavam …….. VenkaTAdri samam sthAnam brahmANDe nAsti kinchana …venkateSa samo devo …. na bhUto na bhaviSyati……..


Tears roll continuously ….

This day is very special for us , It was a prized darshan … distant dream come TRUE

Thanking LORD repeatedly for the mercy praying ardently hearing the vedic chants my eyes look at the divine beauty …
Am in a trance suddenly ……….the soul in me rejoices …..Before us stood the great Lord of Lords in all his glory . HE is like the sun which had just risen from the east. The divine face was as cool as the moon. He is as dark as the rain bearing clouds … The eye vision magnified …and zoomed…. and HE grew taller and taller and filled up the whole world space .. Now , the whole world was in HIM and several universes are in HIM

He is limitless , Imperishable , Omniscient residing in the ocean of my heart , the cause of happiness of the universe , the supreme end of all striving ( manifesting HIMSELF) in the ether of the heart which craves for HIM alone ………………………..Suddenly I realize I am in a body …..and watch through my eyes …………..

kazhiyur varadan's blog

 The Lord of the seven hills is the Lord of the universe. The special significance of Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala lies in the fact that it is the oldest religious institutions in the world where unbroken religious worship is being carried on for over 1,500 years by revered Acharyas and millions of pilgrims  reach the holy abode more than any other temple in the world .The temple is held in high  veneration by many devotees

The average number of piligrims who seek darshan is about 50,000 to 1,00,000  daily and on festivals double this .The emotional outpourings of the great Azhwars makes one rush to this sacred hills to have  HIS  darshan . Mere listening to the wondrous compositions of his noblest and humblest devotees, like Annamacharya  Tyagaraja  and Purandara Dasa suffices. They combine the quintessence of the Vedas and the Upanishads.

Everything begins and ends or is reduced to…

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Madhumangal replied, “I don’t want to play.” I am hungry kanna ……


 This  divine pastime  of Lord Krishna is based on a folk-tale of Vraja shared by a Goswami   during  our recent yatra to Vrindavan.

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 Chinni  Krishna was  overwhelmed  that morning. There was lots of activity  going on in the house. The neighbouring milkmaids of Gokul had come to help Yashoda Ma and Rohini Ma with preparations for a special Pooja to be held that night. Of course they brought their cow-herd youngsters along with them . Thus the whole group of Krishna’s friends were together and looking for things to do. Manu, Sudam, Subal, Neel, Anshu and Benu were watching the preparations in the courtyard.

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Soon they wanted to help. All of them followed  Chinni Krishna to one side where a milkmaid was readying sandal paste .They pleaded with her,  Maiyaa …”Please! Please! Let us prepare the paste!” She smiled and let them take turns in rubbing the sandalwood piece on the wet circular stone. But the boys soon tired of this and wandered over to the barn where Nanda Baba, along with the other men, were  decorating the horns of cows with garlands. The children helped put the Tilaks (dots) on the foreheads of the calves and garlands around their necks. Then they ran back to the courtyard and sat around the maids who were weaving the garlands. They handed them flowers for some time. Then, tiring of this pastime, they ran towards the kitchens where Yashoda Ma and Rohini Ma were busy making laddus. There were heaps of gram flour bobs fried and soaked in sugar syrup, mixed with almonds and dry raisins and saffron. Maiya and her helpers were shaping them into balls which they put into big trays. Then they covered them with gold and silver foil. It was a day of fast for Yashoda Ma and her friends. In the evening Maharishi Garg would come to do Pooja and then they would offer worship to the moon-god. Only after that would they end their fast. These big delicious and nutritious laddus would be distributed as Prasad.*
When the boys saw those laddus suddenly they began to feel hungry.  Chinni Krishna said, “Ma! We are all very hungry. Won’t you give us some laddus?” Yashoda replied ,  “No, my son, not just now. These you will receive at night after the Pooja.

Come! I will give you Shrikhand (a sweet made of yoghurt and sugar with raisins, almonds and saffron), butter, sugar candy, mangoes and bananas,” replied Yashoda. Krishna insisted, “Ma! Please give us laddus now.” “I surely will give all of you as many as you want, but not  now,” Yashoda tried to reason with Krishna. Krishna took hold of her scarf and again insisted, “Ma! We want laddus only.” “Please, Krishna, don’t insist,” Yashoda replied.

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Balaram said, “Come, Krishna, now we will eat Shrikhand and have the laddus later tonight.” Krishna obeyed his elder brother Balaram politely , but a little reluctantly. Rohini Ma brought out many delicacies for the children’s breakfast. The children enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Krishna teased  his friend Subal by taking a bite out of his mango. Subal retorted by putting a pat of butter on Krishna’s cheek. Krishna rubbed some curd (yoghurt) on Subal’s chin. All the friends laughed and clapped in glee. It took Rohini Ma full one hour first to feed the children and then to make them wash.

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After breakfast the children wandered everywhere. When they came back to the courtyard Yashoda Ma was putting the big trays of laddus in the store-room. Such delicious laddus would have tempted even the gods and not only Madhumangal who was the oldest and fattest among Krishna’s friends and was especially fond of laddus. Sometimes he ate a dozen of them at one time! Yashoda smiled when she saw the children’s longing glances. She closed the door of the store-room, then locked it and tied the key into the end of her scarf and said, “Kanna ! Do not even think of trying to steal the laddus. They are meant for the worship of  Lord Vishnu. If you steal them Lord Vishnu will be angry.” A secret smile flitted into the eyes of Krishna for he himself was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. But outwardly he pretended to be angry, “Ma! Am I a thief? I will not take your laddus, not even if you ask me to. I will not talk to you.” With that parting remark Krishna joined his friends. Since that day was a holiday the boys did not have to take the cows to Vrindavan. They decided to skip ropes in turn. Two of them swung a rope while one of them jumped. Everyone enjoyed his turn. Only Madhumangal did not join his friends in their fun. He looked sad as he sat in a corner.

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Krishna called out, “Madhumangal, come quickly. It’s your turn.” Madhumangal replied, “I don’t want to play.” Krishna, who could not bear his friends to be unhappy even for a moment, went and held his hands and tried to pull him up. But Madhumangal refused to budge. Krishna sat by his side and asked, “Why will you not play? What is wrong?” Madhumangal did not answer. Krishna shook him and said, “You will have to answer.” Meanwhile all the children had gathered around to listen. At last Madhumangal said in a very soft voice, “Krishna! I am hungry.” Krishna was surprised. He said, “How can that be? We have all breakfasted only half an hour ago. Anyway come with me. I will ask Maiya to give you lots of fresh butter and bread and milk thick with cream.” Krishna again tried to pull him up but Madhumangal still did not budge. Other boys also tried to make him stand but he did not. He said, “Krishna, I am not hungry for bread, butter and milk.” “Then hungry for what?” demanded Krishna. “I am hungry for those big laddus Maiya has made.” As soon as they were reminded of laddus all the children began to say, “We are hungry for laddus, we want to eat laddus. We can’t even walk due to hunger.” All the children sat on the ground suddenly feeling too weak to walk.

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Balaram pleaded, “But the laddus are meant for Pooja. If you eat the laddus before Pooja, Lord Vishnu will be angry.” Again that secret smile flitted on Krishna’s face. He was in a difficult situation. Yet when he saw the sad faces of his friends he decided to ask Ma Yashoda once more. Maiya answered to Krishna’s pleading on behalf of his friends, “No, once and for all, no. I can give you any amount of butter, curds, bread and fruits but the laddus you will not get before night.”
Krishna became angry, “Why does not Ma understand that my friends are hungry only for laddus?” He argued for the last time, “Ma! Give only one to Madhumangal. He is a Brahmin. Lord Vishnu will not be angry if you give one to him.”

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But Yashoda Ma firmly refused. Krishna was not to be defeated. Whatsoever he decided to do he did. He came to his friends and began to plan how to steal the laddus. Yashoda Maiya knew how determined her son could be. On the alert for mischief she sat by the side of the store-house and began to churn curds. All the other milkmaids had returned to attend to their household chores. She was alone.

Krishna and his friends went behind the store-room and began to play ball. But Krishna kept one eye on Maiya. As soon as she put her hands in the earthern pot to gather and take out the butter, he threw the ball into the store-room through its back window and all the children shouted together, “Our ball! Our ball! Look, it has fallen into the store-room.” Yashoda clearly heard their cries. But she could could not leave the butter half gathered because if she did it would not easily rise again. Krishna knew this and had made his plan accordingly. In a moment, along with Sudam, he ran to Maiya and said, “Maiya, quick, please open the store-house and give us our ball.” “My son, wait for ten minutes. My hands are full of butter. As soon as I finish taking out the butter I’ll give you your ball.” “No, Maiya, we cannot wait for so long. You give us the key and we will take out the ball,” suggested Krishna. Yashoda became suspicious. She refused to give the key. Then Krishna said with his most innocent expression, “Maiya! Don’t you have trust in your son? Look, first I will take the key and open the door. Then Subal will tie both my hands with my waist-band. I will then go into the store-room and will kick the ball out. Can I steal laddus with tied hands?” Yashoda Ma fell into the trap and consented to the plan. In one moment Krishna opened the key bunch from the end of her scarf and then opened the lock and the door. Then he tied the key to Maiya’s scarf again. Now he opened his waist-band and asked Subal to tie his hands. Maiya was reassured to see his tied hands. Still she kept looking towards the store-room. She could never be sure of her naughty son. As soon as Krishna entered the store he picked up a laddu very gently with his mouth and ran towards the back window. Madhumangal took it in his hands and Krishna ran back to pick up another laddu. He had to stretch his mouth to get hold of them. Thus in a few minutes he had transferred 12 laddus to Madhumangal — one for each of them. Maiya called out, “Krishna! What are you doing? Come out with the ball, my son.”Krishna had the last laddu in his mouth.

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As soon as Madhumangal took it he shouted back, “Maiya! It is not easy to take out the ball with no hands.” Finally he kicked the ball near the door. As soon as he was about to cross the doorway Madhumangal beckoned him back frantically. Krishna ran on tip-toes wondering what the matter could be. Madhumangal reached through the bars and wiped Krishna’s lips because some gold foil was stuck to them. Krishna ran and gave a final kick to the ball. He said, “Look well, Ma. My hands are still tied. Do not complain afterwards that I stole your laddus.” In a trice Subal untied Krishna’s hands and Krishna picked up the ball. Maiya had no suspicions at all. Krishna relocked the door and tied the key back into Maiya’s scarf. Maiya smiled and gave them each a small ball of fresh butter. Popping the butter-balls in their mouths Krishna and Subal ran to rejoin their friends. Each boy was eating a laddu. How delicious they were! Two had been kept for Subal and Krishna. Subal began to eat his share. Krishna took up his laddu and gently shoved it into Madhumangal’s mouth. Laughing, Krishna said, “I hope you are no more hungry, my dear Madhumangal.” Madhumangal was surprised and a little ashamed. He had forced his friend to steal but Krishna had not eaten even a bite. “Has Krishna no desires?” he wondered. Reading his unspoken thought Krishna answered, “Truly, I have no desires.”

While he said this, for a moment his face seemed full of a bright light. Then he joyously called out, “Now let us play a new game.” Strangely, after that day, Madhumangal never felt any greed for food. Krishna’s friends always wondered at the heavenly taste of those particular laddus. There seemed to be something different and special about them. Nothing afterwards ever tasted quite so good as the sweets Krishna stole for them. But don’t forget, they had been touched by the divine lips of our Krishna.

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And something even stranger happened. When Ma Yashoda went to the store-room to fetch the laddus for the evening Pooja she found not a single one missing!
NAVANEETA CHORA KI JAI
JAI JAI JAI SHREE KRISHNA

  • Adapted from folk tales of Vraja
    Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
    Photos : Courtesy Google, 
  • Videos :  Thanks to Poona mamee 

‘Sri Alwarnath’ the ‘lord of the alwars’ temple at Puri


t is believed that those who cannot worship Lord Jagannath during his stay in the sick chamber can get the blessings of Lord Alarnathjee if they visit this temple. During this period the temple servitors offered holy rice porridge, known as ‘Kheer’ ( Akkaraadisil ) in local language, to the lord. During the present anavasara period of every year thousands of devotees visit this temple to get the blessings of Lord Alarnath and to taste the mahaprasad ( famous holy ‘Kheer’).

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Swamy Ramanujar  during his yatra visited the holy shrine of LORD JAGANNATHAR  at Puri dhaam located some 28 kms south of Puri, known as Brahmagiri. It is said that during Satya Yuga, Brahma performed great tapas  seeking blessings of  Maha Vishnu, and pleased with the aradhanai instructed Brahma to construct a temple . This place came to be known as Brahmagiri.

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It is said that Swamy Ramanujar visited the temple during his Orissa visit.  Swamy   was delighted to  have darshanam of chaturbhuja ( four armed) Lord  Sri Maha Vishnu, with conch, discus, mace and lotus flower. It is also believed  by the locals that he glorified  the deity  as ‘Sri Alwarnath’ or the ‘lord of the alwars’ giving the message of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. The place which housed Lord  Alwarnath hence also came to be known as Alwarpur. And today the words have been shortened with  passing time, the temple known as…

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MUKTHINAATH DARSHAN ( A travel diary )


                          MUKTHINAATH  DARSHAN 

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Muktinath 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) .

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The best season to visit  ( Mukthinaath) “saalagramam” is during March-April and 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.

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With the blessings of Almighty, Adiyen  had darshan of  LORD   at Mukthinath ” Saaligrama divya desam” one among the 108  Srivaishnava Divya desam  with  my family who accompanied me in paying obeisance’s for all the  105 divyadesams since past 6 years .  This was our 106 divya desa yaatrai and it took 3 years for Adiyen to undertake this. My sincere  prayers to  LORD VENKATESHWARA ” ( Thiruvengadamudaiyan)  during my regular  visits to Tirumala sowed the seed of desire deeply in my heart to visit this divya desam and  feel blessed by his abundant mercy for making this yathirai memorable and a milestone in our  divyadesam piligrimage.  The pilgrimage to Shalagram was definitely  ecstatic.  This piligrimage was undertaken during 2006 and was posted in www.srivaishnavam.com . 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  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.

1915805_106655152698392_4018377_nWith humble obeisance’s to  my parents and elders’ , we left to  Gorakhpur by Secunderabad-Gorakhpur Express  train and reached Gorakhpur  next day in the evening in the evening .  We checked into one of the many hotels, Hotel Standard (room rent 350/-) though the plan was to retire in Railway retiring room. Gorakhpur, a busy city, wore a festive look on the eve of Durga ashtami.  Durga Ashtami and Vijayadasami are the major festivals in Uttar Pradesh apart from Deepavali. We  strolled into the streets to have a glance of the celebrations in the busy city.

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As we did not really plan any package trip we took a chance to enquire about the facilities en route  from Gorakpur. We happened to peep into one of the tourist offices near  to the hotel opposite to Railway station. There are many travel agents near the station who arrange for pilgrimage, mountaineering and sight seeing trips to Nepal. Out of inquisitiveness, we contacted Sai Baba Travels and finalized the  tour package for Rs.45,000/- including  the cab (Bolero hire charges) for 9 days, border permit and other road permits, room accommodation at Pokhara for 3 days, at Jomsom for 1 day, at Chitwan for a day, at Katmandu for a day , at Janakpur for a day  and flight tickets from Pokhara to Jomsom for 4 persons  to and fro with a vegetarian driver who respects our values .The agent  obliged and handed over letters to be given at the various hotels we were to check in. He had taken Rs.25,000 as advance and assured us  that we don’t have to pay anywhere.  Presumed  that they had tie up in several places in Nepal.

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We left Gorakhpur  the next day early morning i.e: by  a four wheeler “BOLERO” around 9 A.M.  After 90 kms , 2 hours drive, we reached Sunouli, the last village on the Indian border.  It took about an hour to finish all the formalities in the border by the agent who accompanied us upto Sunouli .  For Indians, the immigration is very simple. The  temperature was a bit hot .  It was 12 noon by the time we crossed the Nepali border. As children were very keen to visit Lumbini and other picnic spots Adiyen had to compromise the yathirai out of academic interest. We reached Lumbini  in the afternoon .  Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, is one hour drive from India-Nepal border and is situated 250 kms south-west of Katmandu.

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This is recognized as one of World’s Heritage Centre and covers a vast area of over 970 sq. kms .   We visited the holy tank in which Mayadevi,  Buddha’s mother had a holy dip and the Asoka pillar, several  monastries built by Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Nepalese , Germans  and our own Vipaasana centres.

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From Lumbini we drove to Pokra ,Almost 95 % of the land area is covered by mountains and as one has to travel thru ghat roads, night journey is not advisable.  Also, it is not advisable to give lift to any stranger .  Intoxicants are freely available and as the country is economically poor, wayside robbery is very common.

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Our trip started driving around mountains .It was a pleasant drive .Continuously Harinaam sankirtan was our breath through the ears . The ride to Pokhara is a dangerous one. The Machapuchare Peak of the Annapurna range,is  seen from Pokhara. The Machapuchare {“Fishtail”} peak is 6696 meters high and has never been climbed. The government forbids mountaineers from trekking it because Nepalis consider it holy. Though one of the most magnificent of Himalayan mountains, Machapuchare is a small compared to Mt. Everest (Sagarmata),.

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Pokhara valley (3000 feet above sea level)  is one of the most picturesque spots in Nepal situated amidst lovely lakes – Phewa, Begnas and Rupa which have their source in Annapurna ranges of the Himalayas. Pokra , a small but busy town is the travel base for all trekkers and is situated 200 kms from Katmandu. It has a floating population of foreign tourists in thousands.  There are innumerable hotels/lodges and shops selling mountaineering equipments and also few Vegetarian restaurants like Marwadi Hotel, Punjabi Dhabas where only vegetarian food is served. Almost all the hotels are situated around Phewa lake and offers fantastic view of the lake with mountains as back-drops.  Though there were few  browsing centres, the charges are costly- 100/- per hour and the speed is very slow.  STD call charges are also high. We checked in Hotel Blue Heaven  at Pokhara  for the night.

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It was   shocking  to note  that no arrangement for flight booking was  done upto Jomson as the agent had not even informed them regarding this.  We were totally upset about this as we intended to be at  ” Mukthinaath “Saaligramam on Ekadasi day.  The attempts by the  hotel owner by contacting travel agents for flight tickets continued . Our anxiety increased as no one was able to provide us with a confirmed ticket.  Festival  being Dussera, all the tourist offices remain closed and we were left with no other choice other than sight seeing . Being a holiday, we could not even get a guide but a shop-keeper accepted our request and accompanied us.

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First, we visited Gupteshwar temple, which is in  a natural cave descending around 100 steps, shrine dedicated to ParamaShiva .  A sage by name, Gupteshwar did penance at this place and had darshan of Lord Shiva, the presiding diety of Nepal.  The rocks have taken the shape of a huge snake and it looks as if the snake is protecting the deity.  This natural formation is admirable.  The entry fee for Indians is Rs.20/- and for Nepalese , it is FREE.  Few saaligrama shilas were also placed near the shivalingam.  It may be noted that saaligramams are available  everywhere in Nepal.  From there, we proceeded to DEVI’S FALLS on the other side of the road.

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The water from these  falls joins the Phewa river.  This was discovered few decades ago  during a sudden gushing of water into the town. Bhairavi temple situated on the other side of Phewa lake has to be reached  by boat.  The charges for the boat ride is 20/- NR. It is a common practice in Nepal to apply Kumkum mixed with rice on the forehead during Dussera.  The tradition of kumkum with which Goddess Durga was worshipped for 8 days would be applied on brothers’ and sisters’ forehead for their longevity is practiced with pomp and show.  Every sister ensures to visit her brother and apply tikka.  After viewing sunset from the temple, we retired for the day. “WORLD PEACE” centre ‘s  Buddha Stupa situated on a hillock could not be visited  as we had to rush back to the travel agent for confirming ourtickets  for Saaligrama yaatrai  To our dismay, the tickets were not confirmed.  None of the agent could help us and we finally decided to approach Gorkha Airlines office itself with the request and sadly   the office  situated opposite to Pokhara airport was closed. Dussera is celebrated grandly all over the country and it is very common for offices to remain closed for at least a week in Nepal similar to West Bengal.  Only Gorka Airlines provides service from Pokara to Jomsom. Added to this, due to bad weather conditions, all the flights to Jomsom were cancelled for more than a week.  Hence, there was no room for reservation.  All the efforts to contact travel agents proved futile.  Finally we drove to  Gorkha Airlines office  next day which is 7 kms from Pokra and after hours of pleading, we could finally get our tickets to Jomsom but  the return journey  could not be confirmed as that would be decided at Jomsom and added that our journey  of Lord Muktinarayanan  ..

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The ticket costs Rs.15,000/- INR to and fro for 4 Persons. As 3 more days were  left for our trip to Saaligramam, we decided to visit the remaining places as per our package.  We checked out in the afternoon and proceeded towards Katmandu bypass road   to Chitwan.  Chitwan jungle is 195 kms from Pokara and it took about 5 hours for us to reach the place.  Chitwan jungle is famous for its rare species of animals including one horn rhinos, kingfishers, elephants etc.  Chitwan is located on Nepal-Bihar highway. The package tour to Chitwan offered by all the travel agents include to and fro to Chitwan, night stay in one of the resorts, elephant ride, Nepali lunch, viewing cultural programmes in the jungle, and a visit to Tharu museum.

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The cost for the same is Rs.3,500/- for 4 PAX which is not  really much worth . However, having paid, we went to view Tharu Cultural Programme organized by the local tribes, The next day we left early in the morning  in a  open top gypsy accompanied by 2 guides and a driver deep into the forest, though we could not spot any rare animal except deers and monkeys , we happened  to see  crocodile breeding centres, and also saw a man-eating tiger which was in a cage.  Not preparing  for further exploitation,  except surrendering to our  LORD ,we left for Katmandu, which was another 5 hours drive. reached Katmandu at 7P.M. shiva-pashupatinath-templeKathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is also called as Kantipur. Kathmandu is full of temples. It lies in a valley surrounded by high hills. Magnificent snow peaks are visible in the north. This city is situated to the north of Patan and the west of Bhaktapur. The altitude of Kathmandu is 4500 ft from sea level .Though we  had intended to stay in ISKCON guest house at Katmandu but as there was no accommodation, we were forced to check in Hotel Taj (as recommended by the travel agent) and retired for the night. On 5th, we went for local sight seeing in Katmandu.  And covered various temples including the famous Pashupathinath temple. The temple of ParamaShivan one of the Jyothir Linga  is situated at the bank of the sacred Bagmati river. It is 5 Kilometers for east from the Kathmandu city. This pagoda style temple built with golden roofs and silver doors is where thousands of devotees come to pay homage to God Pashupati Nath. Shivaratri is the holy day of religious festival of Hindu people. Pashupati Nath ia the patron deity of Nepal. It was noon and midday abhishekam was going on.  Lord Shiva’s face with matted locks and Ganges escaping from the locks is beautifully carved on all five sides of the deity .  The  main sanctorum  (garbagriham) has doors on all four sides which enables the devotees to have darshan from all the four sides. 

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 Offering humble prayers seeking a wonderful  darshan and satsangh at Mukthinath  we proceeded to Buddhanilkantha temple  which is 9 km from Kathmandu city. The temple consists of a pond in which lies a diety  of Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge deity  of sleeping Vishnu lying on Ananta Sesa, in the cosmic ocean is very attractive . The Deity is over 1,000 years old. Lord Vishnu is about 5m (17 ft) and is lying in a 13m (43 ft) long tank, as if floating, with His legs crossed. His four hands hold the four symbols of Vishnu: the chakra (disc), club, and conch-shell and lotus flower. Budhanilkantha literally means “old blue-throat.”

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Ananta has 11-hooded heads. It is believed that the deity was carved in the 7th or 8th century during the Licchavi period.  It is carved from the single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. The main festival of the year is when Lord Vishnu, who sleeps on the cosmic ocean during Chaturmasya period wakes up on the Haribondhini Ekadashi day in late October or early November. Many thousands of people come on this day. Three other images of Lord Vishnu were carved at the same time.

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One is here at Budhanilkantha and is considered the most important and original, one is at Balaju Gardens, and one is at the old Royal Palace in Kathmandu, but can not be viewed by tourist.  It was told that The king of Nepal is not allowed to see the deity at Budhanilkantha, but he can see the other two deities.. This is the  deity of Budhanilkantha was lost for a while and was later rediscovered by a farmer. It is believed that the farmers struck the buried deity with his plough and that blood came out from the ground. The morning puja between 9 and 10 am is interesting. Budhanilkantha is about 8km northeast of Kathmandu and 15km from Thamel, at the base of Shivapuri hill. Buses to Budhanilkantha depart every half-hour from Rani Pokhari or the City bus stand (1 hr, bus #5, Rs 7) inKathmandu. From where the bus stops the temple is around 100m away. Tempos depart from Jamal on the north side of Rani Pokhari to here. Iskcon took over the maintainence of the temple and grounds from about 1986-87. there is now even a guest house  Hindus can walk down the steps and touch His  lotus feet, but foreigners cannot.The ISKCON Temple is located about a ten-minute walk from the Budhanilkantha Temple, in a beautiful rural setting. Buses to Budhanilkantha (8 km) depart from Rani Pokhri in Kathmandu, every half-hour.

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The next point was Boudhanath temple constructed by Tibetans, and Swayambhunath temple .  This temple is also dedicated to Buddha and is one of the oldest Buddhist monastries. .  We returned back in the evening and after a bit of last minute purchase like bags etc. for our Muktinath trip, retired for the night.The next day  we checked out around 8 A.M to visit few more tourist places in Katmandu .  Hanuman Dhoka is the Durbar Square of the ancient city of Kathmandu. King Pratap Malla, the lover of art and architecture, established the image of  Bhaktha Hanuman  in the main gate of his palace. The Durbar (palace) Square, itself is named as Hanuman Dhoka (meaning  Hanuman gate). Within the Durbar Square, there is a three tiered pagoda style temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.

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This temple of goddess, Talejubhawani, is on a big platform which is considered as one of the most magnificent temples in Nepal. In Hanuman Dhoka, there are plenty of things to be seen, as the dreaded figure of Kal Bhairab, (God of Destruction), coronation platform, statue of King Pratap Malla, Big Bell and drum. Within the Durbar Square, there is a three tiered pagoda style temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D. This temple of goddess, Talejubhawani, is on a big platform which is considered as one of the most magnificent temples in Nepal. In Hanuman Dhoka, there are plenty of things to be seen, as the dreaded figure of Kal Bhairab, (God of Destruction), coronation platform, statue of King Pratap Malla, Big Bell and drum. Within a short walking distance from Durbar Square, the temple of Akash Bhairab lies at Indra Chowk, the main market avenue of the Kathmandu city. The image of Akash Bhairab is displayed outside the temple for a week during the festival of  Indra Jatra. We then moved to  to BOUDH NATH TEMPLE ,This  classical stupa located at Boudha in the north east of the Kathmandu city. This is considered to be one of the biggest stupas in the World. The stupa having four eyes in four directions is symbolized as watch for welfare and behaviour of human beings. It is said that the stupa was built by King Man Dev as per the advice given by goddess Main ogini. The Lamas of Nepal who are real devotees of Lord Buddha always dwell at the surrounding of the stupa.  Further moved to Soyambhu NathTemple   situated at the hill side of Kathmandu city. It is at a distance of two miles from city. This stupa is made of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth. From this stupa one can see a beautiful view of Kathmanducity.  Bhaktapur, also known as Patan which has old monuments.  Earlier, this was the capital of the Nepali kings.  This place with all its monuments is worth seeing including “PACHPAN(55) WINDOW PALACE. This place also houses a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna which is opened for public only once in a year on Janmashtami.  All the monuments are in red colour. We resumed our journey to Pokhara in the evening after leisure purchases .  The route  to Pokhara from Katmandu is tough and the driver has to be careful as the locals in the dark are very tough to convince. En route , there is a famous temple known as “MANOKAAMNA MANDIR” – a temple dedicated to an amsam of Parvati. This temple is situated on top of a hill and has to be approached by ropeway. Similar temple is found in Rishikesh too.  As it was getting dark we didn’t alight  here and continued our journey to Pokara. On reaching Pokhara, we approached Gorkha Airlines office regarding our return journey confirmation but got a negative reply. However, the manager Mr Rane  spoke to his counterpart in Jomsom and issued us REQUEST ticket.  We were delighted to see few south Indians in a nearby hotel . With sigh of relief , we checked into this hotel run by a Punjabi HOTEL DEGCHEE.  The hotel incharge who seemed to have contact with Jomsom hotels, made arrangement for our hotel stay in Jomsom  and trekking permits, horse ride for children.   We learnt from him that there are different modes of transport to reach Muktinath from Jomsom.

  • By walk
  • By pony ride
  • By motor cycle (charge 2200 NR with 2 hours stay in Muktinath)
  • By tractor (depends upon the no. of passengers)

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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 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.  By this time, we lost all our confidence and  sincerely chanted Sri Vishnu sahsranamam. We shed our pride , surrendered  and prayed Perumal with devotion and sincerity  for our safe  journey and a darshan.  We knew that it was “NOW or NEVER” for us.  We had to go to Muktinath at any cost and reach Gorakpur as planned ,because there is only one train to Secunderabad from Gorakpur and we had to leave for Tirupati on 15th.  All the tickets were confirmed and we were in total confusion.  We realized that whatever information which we gathered and were confident about 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 kill the time usefully.  The day finally arrived .It was   Pournami ( Full moon day )  , the auspicious month of Purattasi.  Submitting to LORD and with  our morning prayers, we left for airport which is a 10 minute drive from the hotel. 

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 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 their moods) 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, and they  are presently not operating for losses incurred. These others are private airlines, while the government runs Royal Nepal Airlines. 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 . 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  .

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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 on the plane. It’s moving. 18 passengers plus the flight attendant squeezed into these little seats. No overhead baggage compartment. The flight attendant passed out some sweets and cotton for people to plug their ears. The captain is still checking out the RPMs. We are about to take off and we chant loudly GOVINDA …….We’re in the air now. It’s a smooth flight.

On the right of the aircraft I can see the white Himalayas, which stand like a great wall between Nepal and China. On the left are high mountains, but no snow. Below us are valleys and a holy river. The weather is good. It is clear. We can even feel some heat on my feet. The plane flies between the Himalayas, not over them! The flight takes only 20 minutes but seems a lot longer. We are in this  little Dornier aircraft, skims craggy ridge tops and is often buffeted by mountain winds. Chanting Lords name continuously I slowly 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.

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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.

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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 .

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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 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 NR 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 Girirajasya dakshine Dasayojana vistheernaam Mahakshetra Vasundharaa

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 counter curse 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, Vishnu 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.

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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.

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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—  naryanah sarasijasana 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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 future

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Next 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)

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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 . 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 rotatable  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

jaiDuring 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. Adiyen may be contacted for any guidance while planning for this yathirai. I can be contacted on 9849635903 any time

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jai mukthinath

JAI SRIMAN NARAYANA