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Friday, 23 December 2016

The Lamp Burns Unextinguised For Six Months In The Closed Temple - Sri Badrinarayan Temple, Badrinath, Uttarakhand

Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu which is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, India. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Badrinath—holy shrines for Vaishnavites. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River at an elevation of 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres of India.

Sri Badrinarayan Temple
Sri Badrinarayan Temple
It is seated on the slopes of the Narayan mountain. The beginning of Guru-Shisya parampara is supposed to have blossomed from here. This is symbolised by the Nar-Narayan mountains Nar range being the individual soul - Jeevatma and Narayan range being the supreme reality - Paramatma. Lord Narayana is supposed to have given the Ashtakshara mantra to Nar at this place. The belief is that even today, Narada is chanting this Ashtakshara mantra here. The significance of the temple lies in this land where Lord Vishnu meditated under a Badri tree for thousand incessant years and taught us the ultimate way of welfare of mankind is incomparable in the world. Today, it is considered as one of the holiest Hindu temples and is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, holy shrines for Vaishnavites.

Sri Badrinath Temple
Sri Badrinath Temple
Badrinath is also famous among one of the Panch Badris. The other four Badris are Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Bridha Badri or Old Badri and Adi Badri. Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in this area and nath means "lord of". Badri is also the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jujube tree, which has an edible berry. It is said that Goddess Lakshmi took form of berries to protect Lord Vishnu from harsh climate during his penance. It has been eulogised as Bhu Vaikunta or earthly abode of Lord Vishnu. Many religious scholars such as Ramanujacharya, Madhawacharya and Vedanta Desika visited this place and wrote sacred texts like commentaries on Brahmasutras and other Upanishads here.

In the 8th century "Jagath Guru Shri Adi Shankaracharya" founded the idol of Badrinarayan and restored this ancient Badrinath idol from the Narad Kund and consecrated it in a cave near Tapt Kund (It is the hot water spring with natural curative properties believed to be abode of Lord Agni faces the shrine). The pilgrims take a holy dip in the Tapt Kund before entering into the main temple. The present temple was built by Garhwal rulers in the 16th century and they moved the main deity to the present temple.

Sri Badrinarayan Temple Inside
Sri Badrinarayan Temple Inside
Badrinath Temple has a small cupola on the top, covered with a gold gilt roof and the frontal is composed of stone with arched windows. The temple is adorned with several murtis (idols) but the most important one is a one meter tall statue of Vishnu as Lord Badrinarayan made of black Saligram stone sitting under a gold canopy in meditative pose. He is armed with Conch (Shankh) and Chakra in two arms in a lifted posture and two more arms rested on the lap in Yogamudra.

The sanctum here houses Lord Badrinarayan. He is flanked on his left by Kuber (God of wealth), and to His right by the Utsava murthy who is called Udhavar. This is in honour of Sri Krishna's dearest friend by the same name who came here to Badrikashram after Krishna went back to Vaikuntam. Further right are the combined figures of Nar & Narayan. Narayan is sitting in a posture of delivering advice to his sishya, Nar; Nar is standing ready for action bowing slightly to listen to his Guru's advice. Under Narayan's statue is Urvashi. She is supposed to have been brought out by Narayan from his thighs when Indra tired to disturb the Lord's penance. Just below Udhavar's statue is a small one of Narada Rishi. He is supposed to have asked the Lord to come down on earth and show the way to meditate and pray. Between Kubera and the Lord, is a tall, thin, finely engraved silver statue of Garuda standing with folded hands.

Badrinath Temple Covered In Snow
Badrinath Temple Covered In Snow
The Badrinath temple opens every year in the month of April-May and closes for winters in the third week of November. Thus the temple is shut down for 6 months every year during which prayers to the Badri Vishal continue at the Narsimha temple in Joshimath. Generally, The Temple doors are closed down around October (dates are fixed on Vijayadashmi) at the advent of winters and are opened again for worship at around Mid April (dates are decided on Basant Panchami). On the closing day, the Namboodri pujari, does abhishekam for the Lord and then dresses him up for the onset of the cold biting winter. He puts a thin cotton muslin dress first and then covers up the lord with Ghee to keep him warm. Then the Lord is given a woollen vest to wear on top of which another cotton muslin dress is put. Now He is bedecked in the finest silks and jewellery and orange flowers. A huge lamp is lit with ghee and a wick with the thickness of a finger. Goddess Mahalakshmi is taken into the Lord's chambers and Udhavar is moved out to the lower reaches of the Himalayas to the hamlet of Pandukeshwar, a good 24 kms from Badrinath.

Kund At Sri Badrinarayan Temple
Kund At Sri Badrinarayan Temple
Now the main door of the Sanctum Sanctorum are closed. Then the 3 doors to the main hall are closed and finally the doors to the temple. The whole town vacates and goes away except for the Indian Army which takes solace in inhuman cold weather from the boiling
hot waters of the Tupt Kund. In the ensuing months, the temple gets completely covered by heavy snowfall with no possible room for air to get into the temple. On the opening day, Ravalji along with all the dharma karthas of the temple bring Udhavar from his winter sojourn to the Mata Murthi Mandir, a temple dedicated to the mother of Shri Badrinath. Udhavar proceeds to the main temple only after taking the blessings of his mother. The long retinue of the Ravalji, dharma karthas, villagers from nearby villages, other devotees, trek the entire route from Pandukeshwar to Matamurti mandir and then onwards to the Badrinath temple on foot carrying the Udhavar idol.

Sri Badrinarayan Temple
Sri Badrinarayan Temple
The Badrinath temple is opened at the auspicious moment and the miracle is visible for all to see!! The lamp is burning still with same size of wick and same amount of ghee as if we had just lit it! The lord has shed all the orange flower decorations that was put for him!! Instead he is adorned with rare delicate flowers which are available only in the inaccessible higher reaches of the Himalayas!! What beats all logic is this - How did the lamp stay lit for 6 months when there is no source of oxygen inside; The temple is completely snowed out and doors are all locked. Also where did the new flowers come from? Who threw the old ones away? The answers to these questions lie only in our faith. The belief here is that Narada rishi does puja for the lord for the 6 months when we humans are unable to. This is the miracle that thousands of believers come to see on the opening day. Narada's decorations for the Lord are kept for all to see till about 1.30 pm on the opening day.

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