This the part four of possibly five-part writeup on the VoF trip to Himalayas.If chronology interests you start from part 1 on start of the journey from Haridwar, Rishikesh, Gangharia and then the other parts: part2 – The trek in the VoF part 3 on the trip down and a day at Auli.

Auli was nice. Enough in the room and the corridors were wide. The place brought back the energy in the people. Manoj our tempo traveler driver was not happy to be here. His take was, you have to have a day spare in hands in these areas. One never knows when a 10-20 hour block will happen due to landslides. We were of optimistic clans. So we ignored him and made good the stay. The sixth day was for stay at Auli and a visit to Joshimath.

It was cloudy and rainy. When it was not raining, there still was the spray ish kind of suspensions in the air. The wisps of steam kept the sky line interesting. All this meant that we were tucked in till late. A lazy good morning, some quick chai.  Each wanted to show the pictures from the respective camera’s. So we did a picture show in Mani’s room. Late, good breakfast. Again Parathas and bread and fruits.

Slowly the group consensus-ed to get ready for the Joshimath trip down. I decided to rest Dotty dear.

As we were going down the “south Indian” within all of us started a crave. The desire for spicy southern food. Take a cosmopolitan southy out he will be fine,  till the mind starts plotting for food. Then he becomes lost and dreamy. What to do the food is like that. For us it is not just eating that addicts us. The experience starts from cutting and cooking. The Sambar boiling in the Tur dal is a spectacle. Then there are the veggies that give colour and their own aroma. The aroma gets stronger with those mixed spices. As it gets ready and all of the stuff in it are being carried up and down in the convection currents of the boiling brew, steam rises and carries the promise of the tasty treat all over the house. And this is just one dish. Then there is the act of getting the Koora(Curry), Dal, Sambar and different “gun Powders” and rice to the dining table. As we sit and serve the steaming rice, the heat, aroma and the colours stimulate the skin, nose and eyes. The ears join in for the symphony of clanking spoons and vessels. The steaming rice on the place, meets the Koora or the powder or the ambrosia Sambar. Fingers mix it up and feel the heat. And as the morsel after morsel tantilise the tongue, you know the meaning of completeness. All the five senses telling that up Hmmm, this food is good.

There were eleven southies in the bus then. So when Keshav, hinted that at the Math we may get a south Indian Thali ( Meals) hopes welled. Manoj, parked the bus and showed us the way to Math. Keshu went to the office like room to check for lunch. There the Pundit, gave him, Neela and then me a lecture. We made the mistake of telling him we are here for VoF and Badri was a nice to go place. He said Badri Vishal cannot be anything but the prime objective. You need to say it with respect. He then went on about how Badri nath and Kedar nath are the guardians for the work. He also told us interesting stuff. As we were climbing we saw small temple and it said Bhavishya(future) Badri. He told us the current Badri and Kedar will be destroyed. Like Bhavishya Badri there is also the Bhavishya Kedar. These will grow and become the new guardians. Considering the tectonics and the primordial violence these mountains are capable of, that idea did not look too farfetched.

So with the hope of food dashed but wiser we went on to explore the Math.

Adi Shankaracharya came here hundreds of years ago, when he was thirteen years old. He stayed here and understood the need for establishing the four cardinal maths. Joshimath in the north. Poori in east, Dwaraka in west and Shringeri in the south. The feel of the place tells you why this may have been the origin of the Hindu philosophy. We saw the Totakacharya’s cave. The quietness there made the mind still. Next was to see the two thousand year old Kalpa Taru (tree).

As we walked around the majesty of the place enveloped minds. The mountains’ earth gave energy to feet and the air felt on the face. It carried the clouds and the water was ever there. Top of the mountains end in the sky. All the elements punctuated by life. Plants, trees, flowers. Fruits so full that they bend the branches. Plums, apples, pears, peaches. We saw apples and pears on the trees, on the ground. Flowers of all colours and sizes. Insects, birds, dogs. All this live tapestry and the magic of the place makes you believe in yourself and mankind. It gives you the capacity to digest the paradoxes. You feel connected to the nature and the life. You think if enough people have positive thoughts the world can be made better just by willing it to be so. The thoughts turn inwards and out bound at the same time. With each step and deepening breadth you feel powerful. You feel the interconnected-ness of the universe.  The one-ness of harmony. The beauty of destruction. You think you can understand the workings. You can reach out with in to make the understanding and you can influence the universe due to the connections. Then you realize the littleness. You are one in a billion multitude of people. We are yet another species for the earth. It is just a planet in the cosmos. The place can make you deal with these contradictions. It tells you that harmony of elements and life is needed. There is might in little and very small parts in the whole. In the end it is about transformation and evolution. It is possible to fathom the Adi ( beginning ) , Aatmam ( Soul ?), Ahm ( ego), Brhamand ( All ) and Brahmam. And all of it can merge in one whole harmonic scenery.

We saw the Hanuman temple and went to hear the story of math at the Narsimha temple. This incarnation of Vishnu here is in the Padmasana. The Sadhu told us how at age of 13 more then twelve hundred years ago, adi shakaracharys came and stayed for seven years. He has the wisdom to set up the Maths and the discipline needed to run them. The Narasimha status’s left wrist is thin and is growing thinner, so said the Sadhu. Once the wrist falls off, it will be the end of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The Future Badri and Kedar will take over. Fasinating story. Incidently the place was called Jyothirmath. One that shows the light.

The Sadhu lastly told us that till recently there used to be snow on the mountain tops all round the year. Not anymore. We are heating things up and if places like here lose their elements where will we go for seeking the meaning of life? How will we reconcile paradoxes ?

William Blake in the Auguries of Innocence wrote

“To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.”

If you want to see how, step into the Jyothirmath


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