There are a number of Divyakshetrams and Theerta-Sthanams in all the three worlds namely Heaven, Earth and Hell but no Theertam is equivalent to Badrinath in the past and no Theertam would become equivalent to Badri in future too.
“Bahooni Santi Teertani – Divi Boomau Rasasu cha
Badri sadrusam Teertam na booto na bhavihyati”
In Uttaranchal State (India), in between the beautiful mountain ranges, on the lap of Nara, Narayana and on the banks of the river Alaknanda, the two great shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath are located. Even in the olden days, people from different parts of India with a pious hope of getting the grace and blessings of Badrinarayana flocked the temple. In olden days the pilgrimage to Badrinath was regarded by the devotees as almost, the last great journey in their life on earth. The journey is still very ennobling, out of the world experience.
In Uttaranchal, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri (the origin point of the river Ganges) and Yamunotri (the origin point of the river Yamuna) are called the divine “Char-Dhams”. Of all, Badrinath is considered to be the pre-eminent shrine and other-wise fondly referred as “Deva-bhoomi”.
According to Skandapuranam, during Satya Yuga (the first Yuga) God himself descended to Earth according to the wishes to his ardent devotees in “Archaroopa” at Badrinath (Uttarakhand –Chamoli district). It is about 300 km from Rishikesh (Bus route). Badri is about 10,350 ft above sea level. Of the108 Divyakshetrams sung by Azhwars, three of the kshetras are located in the Himalayan ranges of Uttaranchal. They are :
1. Badrinath – Badrikashrammam.
2. Thirupiridhi (Joshi Mutt)
3. Thirukandan Kadinagar (Devaprayag)
In the North India, the numbers of Divyakshetrams sung by Azhwars are:
- Uttaranchal (three)
- Uttarpradesh (four)
- Gujarat (one)
- Nepal (one)
THE TEMPLES OF BADRINATH:
Uttaranchal which was once a part of Uttar Pradesh, became a separate state with 9
districts in November 2000 .Area 50,000 sq.km, population 6Million(60 lakhs). Expecting two districts, all other districts are located on mountain ranges.
The magnificent sight of the wide valley with the lustrous golden towered temple with two heaven kissing mountains on either side, lifts the minds of the pilgrim to an eternal plane. The temple itself reflects Dharma with purity and Divinity. The Nara and Narayana mountains zealously guard the temple and have an overpowering presence at badrinath. The Nara Parvat (also called as Kubera Bhandar) is situated on the eastern bank of river Alakananda, beauty of which is indescribable. While Narayana Parvat in the west bank, the towering Neelakanta Peak (21,600ft) is clearly visible behind the Narayana peak as a backdrop.
It is believed that a mere visit to Badrinath would cleanse even the most heinous crime of any sinner. So it is called as “Mukti-kshetram”.
In the Srimadh Bhagavatam , Lord Krishna’s words:” Badri is my own Ashram” and directed his dear friend Uddhava to go Badri, to get glorified as the river Alakananda washes his feet at Badri.
Here the temple, the holy water and Bagavath Purusha (sages) of the past are considered to be Divine. It is believed that the pilgrimage to Himalayas and a visit to various shrines and holy rivers will help attain salvation and is believed that the holy saints of the past still reside there and their vibrations remain in subtle form. The temples of Badri invoke the spirituality not only for the people of India, but for the whole mankind.
It is strongly believed that in this region of Nara, Narayana Parvat, Lord Narayan himself taught the “Ashtakshara Moola Mantram” to Nara (human) and accordingly named Ashtakshara-Kshetram.
Saint Vedavyas, lived in a cave in the forest near Badrinath, who gave to the world the Vedas and Puranas. Just below from where Vedavyas lived, is another place called “Ganesha Guha” where Lord Ganesha wrote Mahabharatha as directed by Vedavyas.
DYANA SLOKA OF MAHABHARATAM
“Narayanam Namaskrutya Naram chaiva Narothamam Deiveem Saraswateem Vyasam Thato jayam Udheera”.
(Prostrating Nara Narayana Rishis who are the Amsavathara of Lord Vishnu, Saraswathi and Sri Vedvyas, read the Mahabharatha which comforts the souls and lead to eternal bliss)
The nine Jungles that are referred to in Puranams:
The badari (jujube) trees grow in large numbers in the jungles of Badri (badrikaranyam), which could withstand very low temperature and cold climate. The sublime and spiritual powers of sages are continuously radiated in Badri through numerous caves where they lived, waterfalls, rivers and Pushkaranis that are named after the sages of the past.
As described in Puranas, Nara and Narayana meditated in Badrinath for the purpose of human upliftment. One can feel the concentration of spiritual vibration in Badri. It is believed that in every Yuga, Sri Vishnu Bhagawan takes various avatharas (descends to earth) with a supreme purpose of rejuvenating Dharma and warding off the evil forces.
In Puranas, Badrinath is described as one of the Swayam-Vyaka Kshetra (self manifested) of Lord Narayana. In one of the earlier Yugas, Lord Vishnu emerged as Nara Narayana and after that as Lord Krishna. At the request of Bramha and Devarishis, Lord Vishnu assured through incorporeal voice – “In kaliyuga humans (who become mean minded) cannot have a Pratyaksha (directly perceivable) darsan. But for those with noble hearts I am available as salagrama moorthy near the Narada kund of river alakananda”. Accordingly, Lord brahma and other sages discovered the Salagrama moorthy and installed it at Badrikashram. The moorthy pooja started there, from that time onwards.
After several years, during the period of Gautama Buddha, Buddhism gained popularity. They were against idol work ship, so the Buddhist monks in India removed the idol of lord Vishnu and threw it in the Narada Kund of river Alakananda.
Few years later, Jagatguru sri Adi Sankaracharya was born in kaladi, (Kerala state) South India. Sri Sankaracharya went on a Pilgrimage (going to shines and holy places on foot) in his way of spreading Sanathana Dharma and he ultimately reached Badrinath. While Kaladi is located in southern end of India , Badrinath is in the Northern of India.
In the Badri Mahatmiya, it is said Lord Bramha created the Vedads and Lord Vishnu is the propagator. Nara Narayana began penance at Badri in “Padmasana” (lotus pose in Yoga or simply said to sit cross legged). As Narayana sat for a long time, Goddess Lakshmi spread herself like Jujube tree(badri tree) to protect her husband from sun and rain. Hence the idol is workshipped as “Badrinarayana” and the place as “Badrikashramam”.
Badri Narayana is the rare “Salagrama moorty” found by Adi Sankara from the Naradakund. Adi sankara’s Spiritual powers could visualize the presence of the Salagrama moorty in Naradakund and accordingly badri is named as Naradeeyak-Setram also.
Sri Adi Sankara installed the Salagrama moorty (Badrinarayana moorty) at the Garuda Shila near the Taptakund (hot water spring). According to information of the present Srimad Andavan Swamigal of Srirangam, once Sri Varadachariar swamy of Kancheepuram , helped to shift and install the Idol of Badrinarayana, to the present place and construct the temple.
Till today the Nithya(daily) poojas are performed by Namboodiri bramins of Keala, a tradition started by Adi Sankara. To all this we should thankful to Sankaracharya swamigal as we have regained the Darsan of Lord Vishnu.
Badrinarayana temple is located atop the Taptakund on the Urvasi Peetham. Pilgrims first take a holy dip in the Tapa Kund, a hot water spring, surely a geological marvel at cold temperature. Later pilgrims pray to Garuda Bhagavan at Simha Dwara (Main entrence) and proceed to the Darshan of BAdri Narayan. The hot water spring (Taptakund) is a boon to all the pilgrims from God, who come over a Badri to have a Darshan and pray Badrinarayana defying cold weather conditions prevailing over the place.
DIVYA MANGAL VIGRAHAM
The Divya Mangala Vigraham inside the Sanctum Sanctorum is Lord Narayana. The Idol is a self manifested statue of the Lord Narayana. Everyday at dawn (just before sunrise) Namboodiri Brahmins perform Abhishekam and Aarti and desvribe the legendary details also.
In Badrikashrama Puranam, five Badris are mentioned:
- Yoga Badri
- Vruda Badri
- Dhyana Badri
- Tapo Badri
- Bhavishya Badri
Badri Bhagavan (Main Deity – Salagrama Idol) is seen with jatas(hair in clustered form), kambugreeva(3 lines in the neck) and of four hands, two hands are in Suryopasana mudra and other two in Yogamudra(pose). Vishnu is seated in Padmasana giving the impression of a Tapasvi in deep meditation. With four hands (Chathurbhujam), conch/chakra, and Srivastsam (Sri lakshmi as a pendant) on his chest, Badri Narayana is none other than Lord maha Vishnu himself.
Apart from the main idol of Badri Narayana, we can also get darsan of the idols of Lord Kubera, Garuda, Devarishi Narada, Nara, Sudarsana Chakram and Padukas on the right side while on the left side, there is a Nanda lamp (Akhanda deepam) burning and will be still burning when the temple opens again at the end of the winter season.
Through the Simha-dwara (Main entrance) of the temple, we enter the Madapam in front of the Garbha Gruha. In the Dakshina Mandapam (South side), after the Hanuman Sannidhi, Goddess Mahalakshmi (divine consort of Lord Narayana) is housed in a separate Sannidhi. Goddess is named Aravindavalli Thayar.
The temple reopens in the month of May, after winter (month of chitiral according to Dravidan Calender) on the next day after the Akshayatritiya. From that day onwards Nitya-Aradhana, Abishekam and other poojas are performed daily enabling the Bhaktas to other poojas are performed daily enabling the Bhaktas to get Darsan and blessings of lord till the day of Diwali in the month of November (Iypasi month of Tamil), During this period when the temple is closed, the Idol of goddess Mahalakshmi is placed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Badri Narayana. Later in the month of May when the temple reopens the Idol of sri Mahalakshmi is placed in the Thayar sannidhi of the temples as usual. Nithyaaradhana is resumed from this day. There is separate sannidhi for Adhi Sankara with his moorty (vigraha) in the praharam.
We enter by the main entrance and can reach the Sanctum of Lord Badri Narayana through Shoba and Darsana mandapam and can get a good darsan of Badri narayana. We can have the darsan of the Badrinath and Tirumanjanam(Holy bath with various perfumed herbs etc) and Arati(a ghee lamp on plate or burning Camphor) of Lord Badrinarayana by Purchasing a ticket for admission in the early morning darsan of Abhishekam.
The temple remains closed for about six months on account of heavy snowfall starting from the second week of November. So the uthsava idols are ceremoniously shifted to Pandukesvapur near Joshimutt where worship is continued as per parampara. The temple again reopens in the second week of May (Chittirai in Tamil) next day of Akshayatirtiya day. It is believed that during the above period, the worship of the God is taken over and performed by devas with Narada as the head priest. From the second week of May to second week of November pilgrims from all over India visit Badri and worship Lord Badrinath.
Early morning: 5.00 to 6.00 am IST
Thirumanjanam (Holy bath) and Darsan
9.00 am –Bala Bogh(Morning pooja)
12.00 noon –Raja Bogh (Uchi kalam(noon))
Till 3 pm Garba gruha is closed
3.00 pm to 9.00 pm – Regular darsan
9.00 pm Shayana Arati
After Bala Bogh, Veda parayanam and Bhagavat geetha parayanam is performed. During darsan time, devotees can buy darsan tickets for the above, karpoora aarati, Sahasranama parayanam and Archana and have Badri narayan’s darsan. The deepa Aaradhana and Rajata(silver) arati in the eveninis is divine to the soul and sparkling to the eyes.
BADRINATH – THIRU BADRRIKASHRAMAM
Moolavar – Badrinarayana(sitting –facing east,padmasanam,tapasvi roopam)
Consort — Aravindavalli/Mahalakshmi
Teertham — Taptakund
Vimanam — Tapta kanchana Vimanam
Sthala Vriksham — Jujube tree (Badari)
Pratyaksham — Nara
Speciality — Swayam Vyakta Kshetram
MANGALA SASANAM BY AZHWARS:
- Thirumangai azhwar - 21 Pasurams(Tamil)
- Periyazhwar - 1Pasuram(Tamil)
Here in Badrinath convenient lodging facilities are available for pilgrims run by the temple devasthanam. One of the important features of Badri is offering oblations to the departed souls. It is being told that offering oblations in Badri has greater efficacy than offering at Gaya. On the banks of the river Alaknanda,a little north of Badrinath shrine, a rock Brahmakapalam is the place for this offerings oblations.
Pilgrims procure Prasad (cooked rice) from the temple (only place where temple Prasad is offered during oblation) to perform ceremonies. For performing the Pinda pradanam ceremonies in the Brahmakapalam and Tarpanam on the banks of the river Alaknanda pandas (persons well versed with in vedic mantras for such ceremonies) are availableThis place is considered a sacred spot of Lord Brahma. One can offer oblations for himself also (Atma panda) though alive to ensure divine abode (moksha).
“JAYA BADRI VISHAL”
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