Since I featured one of the 8 svayam vyakta kshetras, Sri Ranga Kshetra last week, I thought it would be nice to post successively on the remaining 7 sacred sites, especially since some are not so well know among devotee circles.
The Himalayas surrounding Sri Badrikasrama
This post is about the famed pilgrimage spot- Sri Badrikasrama. This place was a pilgrimage spot since ancient times, and was revered as the abode of the twin sages Sri Nara, and Sri Narayana who were incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These incarnations are still present in Sri Badrikasrama, meditating for the welfare of all living entities. The story of Their appearance as well as the Lord’s pastime of bewildering Cupid are intriguing, and add to the sanctity of this place, tucked away in the Himalayas
Sri Uddhava replied, “My dear Vidura, now I am mad for want of the pleasure of seeing Him, and just to mitigate this I am now proceeding to Badarikasrama in the Himalayas for association, as I have been instructed by Him. There in Badarikasrama the Personality of Godhead, in His incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, has been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all amiable living entities.” SB 3.4.21-22.
Sri Badrinatha Temple, Sri Badrikasrama
Srila Prabhupada’s purport mentions, “Badarikasrama in the Himalayas, the abode of the Nara-Narayana sages, is a great place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. Even up to the present, hundreds and thousands of pious Hindus go to pay respects to the incarnation of Godhead Nara-Narayana. It appears that even five thousand years ago this holy place was being visited by such a holy being as Uddhava, and even at that time the place was known to be very, very old. This particular pilgrimage site is very difficult to visit for ordinary men because of its difficult situation in the Himalayas in a place which is covered by ice almost all year.”
The Supreme Lord gives darshan as Sri Badrinarayana, or Badri Vishal in the main shrine of the temple. The deity is a 2ft tall black salagram shila, seated in the padmasana (lotus) posture, with upper two arms holding the conch and discus. The deity was said to have been recovered from Narada kund (nearby) by Sripad Adi Sankaracharya when he visited the place on pilgrimage. Sripad Ramanujacharya is also said to have visited this shrine, and Sripad Madvacharya visited this sacred place twice.
Beside Lord Badri Vishal, Lords Nara and Naryana rishis, Uddhava, Garuda, Kubera, and Ganesha also give darshan in the main sanctum itself. The most auspicious darshan of the Lord is the first darshan in the morning- nirmalya darshan. Following this, the Lord is bathed, and decorated with flowers and tulasi garlands until He is barely visible. The puja is conducted by Naboodri pujaris from the south Indian state of Kerala.
Sri Badriasrama Temple, on the day it re-opens
The temple of Lord Badri Vishal remains closed for the portion of the year when the weather is most severe. The priests conduct the worship at Joshirmath, about 50kms south during this period. The last worship is offered to the Lord, and the shrine is closed with the ghee lamps lit. After 6 months, the shrine is re-opened, and the beautiful Lord gives darshan to all, with the shrine’s ghee lamps still lit. During the time when the shrine remains closed to humans, it is believed that Sri Narada, and the other celestials continue the Lord’s worship.
In the Srimad Bhagavatham 11th Canto, Chapter 4, the ashamed demi-gods offered their sincere prayers to Sri Nara-Narayana, the best of all sages, situated at Sri Badrikasrama, as follows:
“The demigods place many obstacles on the path of those who worship You to transcend the temporary abodes of the demigods and reach Your supreme abode. Those who offer the demigods their assigned shares in sacrificial performances encounter no such obstacles. But because You are the direct protector of Your devotee, he is able to step over the head of whatever obstacle the demigods place before him.”