This was our second japa retreat. Our drive to Badrinath had been an extremely long one. Today we travelled 10kms more than that to get to Kedarnath. Guru Maharaj apologised for the long time that we spent on the bus to get here. He said that next year He will consider going to Badrinath, staying overnight, having a morning programme and from there to stop at Kedarnath. That will save us the double trip but where to camp out will be the challenge. Guru Maharaj did express that it was very austere on the bus but said that “they” say – no pain, no gain. During our drive here Guru Maharaj mentioned that there were some 300 steps to get to the top of the mountain. I mentioned that the book states that there are 270 stairs to get to the top but I somehow knew that Guru Maharaj could not be wrong. We went up to the temple roof where Guru Maharaj lead some kirtan and gave a short class.
During the class, Guru Maharaj reminded us of the pastime He narrated at Badrinath when Krishna tricked Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati and took over the Bradrinath area. Krishna liked Badrinath so much therefore he appeared as a little child. Kedarnatha is a nice place but is a little different to Badrinath. When they came here and saw the big hill, they thought that the little will not be able to climb it and that they will be safe right at the top of it. They took up residence here. Kedarnath in the Himalayas is closed 6 months a year due to snow. Guru Maharaj said it is better here as we have darshan for 12 months a year. One time Radha and Krishna came here. Krishna told Srimati Radharani they have to be careful as this was Lord Shiva’s place and they should be nice and respectful. Radharani said Lord Siva is not so important, why must be worry about Lord Shiva? Krishna said No! He is very important. He is one of my greatest devotees. Srimati
Radharani said he is strange, he has strange habits, he looks strange, he associates with strange people, etc, etc. Why should we respect him? Lord Krishna said No, No! You don’t understand. The unusual things are all out of love for me. Srimati Radharani said he eats datura – low class, poisonous fruit – what does that have to do with being a devotee? Krishna said he only takes the unpleasant things because he wants the best things to be offered to me. He thinks for me I only deserve the rotten things but Krishna should get the best. Srimati Radharani said – but he associates with ghosts and hobgoblins – that is low class, tama guna. Krishna said no! You don’t understand! He is such a merciful vaishnava he associates with them just to help them. He knows he cannot sit down and give them a Bhagavat Gita class as they won’t be interested therefore he associates with them in ways in which appeals to them and which they are attracted to. Radharani said: he smokes ganja, that is against the 4 regulative principles and according to this he won’t even get first initiation. Krishna said, it is just his mercy that he does this. People are so attracted to that sort of thing and if he doesn’t do it, they won’t be attracted to him. He is not affected by these things, he is just putting on a show for the very low class. Srimati Radharani said: but he has ashes of cremated bodies all over his body and he wears a garland of skulls – this is pakka tama guna! Lord Krishna said: No, you don’t understand – these are the ashes of cremated bodies of great pure vaishnavas and he worships and
respects them. Radharani said 1 more thing (she was now running out of questions) – what about the snake around his neck? Vaishnavas are happy when a snake is killed so what is he doing with it around his neck? Krishna said – you don’t understand. This is an expansion of ananta sesa. He is a great transcendental personality. Then Radharani said : what about the scorpions? Krishna told her – don’t worry – just chant Hare Krishna! Lord Krishna proved that Lord Shiva is a very great devotee. Even all his unusual aspects are symptoms of how he is a great devotee. This is 1 main place of Lord Shiva in vraja mandala. It is right on the western edge and he is protecting this side. What is Lord Shiva doing here? He is chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna. Guru Maharaj said that was going to be our main programme here as well.
Guru Maharaj then distributed some maha prasadam as it was one of the devotees birthdays and we took breakfast. Then we all chanted one round of japa together. This always proves to be most powerful as we put a little more effort into chanting more attentively. After that we started the great trek up the mountain. This mountain is not as big as Badrinath. It is just 1 small mountain with the temple at the top. As we walked up these stairs I started to count them. I had to find out exactly how many stairs there were. We stopped many times to catch our breath before reaching the top and after much effort we got there – all 325 stairs later!! Guru Maharaj is never wrong! It was quite warm up there but there were some shady spots.
Guru Maharaj found a nice little spot overlooking the one side of the mountain. He sat there and chanted while we all tried to chant or read or rest. Some time later Guru Maharaj got up and moved to sit on the opposite side of the mountain. That lasted just a short while. Guru Maharaj then came and showed us the natural Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva in the rocks. It is so clear. It was extremely peaceful up there, far, far awayi
We all made our way down the mountain. On our way down Guru Maharaj’s servant asked if I knew how many stairs there were. I told him and Guru Maharaj said “you actually counted it!” At the bottom of the mountain, some devotees and took bath at Gauri Kund – the kund of mother Parvati. Guru Maharaj just walked and chanted while waiting. A herd of buffalo also decided to take bath at that exact moment. It was a wonderful sight. That brought an end to the day’s parikrama. We were exhausted and were just happy to be making our way back to Vrindavana all enlivened and peaceful after that wonderful session. At this point I remember that I started to count the days and wonder whether I was going to make the rest of the parikrama. It was tiring indeed – but so relishable that missing a day was not even an option. Tomorrow we will be going to Vrindavana town which usually happens around 4pm – that would mean we can rest in the morning – Jai! Guru Maharaj is very merciful and planned this parikrama very nicely!
Syamarani devi dasi