Badrinath Yatra and Merry Christmas

 

In the summer of 1982 Babaji took His devotees on a trip to Badrinath. This is a very old holy site high up in the Himalaya. The Pandava’s were already here thousands of years back and probably also because it was already a holy power place back then. One of the 4 Shankar Acharya’s is residing here permanently. Pilgrims come from all over India since day in memoriam to take darshan, bring their prayers and take a sacred bath.

 

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The water in the river is flowing fast and is ice-cold. Strong chains on the banks to hold on to so one does not get swept away by the force of the river. There are also warm water sources coming from deep inside the earth, many at boiling temperatures. Both hot and cold are far outside the comfort zone. One place is made of old carved stones into a covered sacred bathing “temple”. Babaji with devotees was given permission to take bath there. Early early the temperatures where a little more bearable there and entering slowly slowly it was possible. Soft chanting of Om Namaha Shivay in the poorly lit place created a magical atmosphere. Babaji climbed on the shoulders of 2 devotees who walked Him around in this 5/8 meter structure while Babaji scooped up the water and blessed His devotees present. The sacredness of this moment as I experienced it there in the early morning with harmonic chanting will forever stay with me.

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A yogi at Badrinath temple in winter time

A little later that morning we went for darshan in the temple. There were no particular puja’s organised by Muniraj or anybody else that I can recall. We just came for darshan and walked around in that beautiful old temple structure. In a large niche, behind a large glass window the Shankar Acharya had his office  so that people visiting the temple could have darshan of him. He seemed very busy and never looked up from his desk. The entrance to the temple holds a very large bell.

In the book from Age to Age by Shri Vishnu Datt sastri’s brother, Giridhar Lal Mishra there is a nice story about Munindra Maharaj ( Old Haidhakhan Baba ) was laughing loudly by the side of the road as a captain of the army was just passing. This man took offence and asked Him why he was laughing. Babaji told him that the bell of Badrinath had fallen down and they were having trouble putting it back up. That lawyer did not believe Him and told Him he would find out the truth and if He was lying he would severely punish Him.  When he reached Kathgodam the next day and made some telex he found out that they where still trying to put the bell back up. The lawyer went to look for Babaji but it took him several day to find him. He remained a devotee for the rest of his life.

This same bell is still hanging in the arch of the entrance and after that darshan we all collected there for a “family” picture in the arch and on the steps leading up to it. In this joyous moment Pujari from Holland climbed onto the wall trying to ring the bell but while leaning over his foot slipped and ended up dangling from the bell. An hilarious moment but I have never seen any of those family pictures…..

We started to walk back across the bridge to the village. Babaji wrapped His arm around me and I was was the happiest boy in the world on that moment. So happy that I did not see a substantial bold sticking out of the surface of the bridge. In full swing my little toe encountered that obstacle. Strong sensations of pain and discomfort raced up my leg. The joy of the moment was so great that I just ignored my foot screaming at me. Just a few seconds later voices from behind asked Babaji to stop. The Shankar Acharya came with accelerated pace to make pranaam and take darshan of Babaji. Some of his attendants had told him that Babaji came and went to the temple. I actually did not know much of the significance of this moment but could see on the faces of particularly the Indian devotees that something big was happening. Babaji made gestures of blessings and exchanged a few kind words with him. I could not longer resist looking down at my foot. My toe was completely split at the front and the blood was mixing generously with the dust of the road. We continued our walk but the embrace was over and the limping started, but the bliss was for that moment still prevailing over the strong sensations. From my arrival in Herakhan about a year earlier I had continuous problems with my foot. Stubbing, stepping in nails, burning them, dropping things on top etc. But this incident was the last one of a long line……

In the afternoon we walked outside of the village. Babaji took some pictures with my camera holding it in strange positions towards the mountains. I have never been able to detect anything particular on those pictures. At a certain point Babaji and Yogamal ( owner of Kailash view hotel ) and myself were standing a bit separate from everybody. Babaji was staring at a mountain range in the distance. I was trying to see what He was looking at but it was very far and saw nothing in particular. Babaji murmured something in Hindi like if He spoke to Himself. I asked Yogamal what he said and he answered with a puzzled face ; Babaji said that He was in a cave there for 10.000 years. I stared back in the direction but started to realise that my reason and logic was scattered. 10.000 years was completely beyond my comprehension. As Lord Shiva 10.000 years is probably not so much. He did not seem to try to impress anybody but more something like remembering the good old days…..But this moment really stunned me and I recall it dearly since 35 years now.

Getting stunned was not so unusual around Babaji, He was the best at it !
Our mind loves to rationalise, explain and put all experiences in concepts where we can give it a place somewhere in the known world of our minds. Cracks to appear in this dense world of thoughts and then a little Divine light shines in. Not being around His physical presence we need to recognise these moments of awe where the mind stops ourselves. Awareness will help, the is prasaad from the Divine ! We may have lots of knowledge of the Veda’s or Sadhana or what ever information in our mind about the Divine but the only way to know is to experience it !

How to experience has created many schools, religions, theories, books and techniques.
Babaji has given us simple clear guidelines to follow.
Simple does not mean easy………work needs to be done !
Be inspired !

May the spirit of Christ engulf your consciousness this Christmas,

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Merry Christmas ?

Let us start with the adjective, so as to preserve the difficult part about the noun for last. In English, we say “Merry”, which has the same meaning as the French “Joyeux” and the German “Fröhlich”. Slightly different, the Spanish “Feliz” means “Happy”, and so does the Dutch “Gelukkig”, while the Italian “Buon” simply means “Good”. So the annual celebration of December 25th is joyful, happy, or good in these languages.

In the naming of this celebration, there seams to be more variety. However, these names in the Roman languages all turn out to be variations that originated from the Latin words “Dies Natalis”, meaning “Day of Birth”. Thus the Italian “Natale”, the French “Noël” and the Spanish “Navidad” in fact all mean “Birthday”. This is of course the birthday of the Light Bringer, also known as the Risen Savior, the Sun of God, and the Christ.

Not only the night before this sunrise on December 25th is sacred, but both previous nights as well. That is why the name of this celebration period is call “Weihnachten”, meaning “Sacred Nights”. In fact, the three full natural days following the annual moment of the winter solstice all have the longest nights and shortest days of the year. The first sunrise beyond this most dark period of the year is on December 25th.

The English designation of Christ originated via the Latin “Christus” from the Greek “Kristos”, which literally means the “Anointed One”. This title tells us that Jesus is above us, like a Lord. In fact, Jesus is (or can be) our Heavenly Lord, also known as “Our Father who art in Heaven”. In order to honor the birth of the Lord, the (Roman Catholic) church held a special service to which the Latin name “Missa” was given. This indication was derived from the final words spoken during that service, namely “ite, missa est”, which translated literally means “go, there is dismissal”. The Latin “Missa” then became “Messa” in French, and “Mass” in English. Somehow, the name of this Mass in honor of the birth of the Christ changed from “Christ Mass” into “Christmas”.

Long before the Roman Catholic church brainwashed the conquered peoples, the Germanic population of the Northeast of Europe were already celebrating this annual rebirth of the Light Bringer. This Midwinter Feast was called “Jul” in the ancient Germanic language. In English, this became “Yule”, and also the name “Yuletide” is still present in the English language. And in Danish, this feast is still called “Jul”.

Nevertheless, I wish you and your loved ones a very good, joyful and happy celebration of this year’s Midwinter Feast

and enjoy inner peace and harmony.

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