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Incense Sticks

Incense Sticks

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Incense Sticks

155 pagine
2 ore
Jul 11, 2017


Man can learn more from their own experiences than other sources. In his previous years Swami Krishnanand was narrating the experiences and the episodes of his pilgrimage to his visitors. In its mortal Swamiji is not with us but by his writing we feel his immortal and appealing presence with us. The first goal of life is not ‘MOKSHA’ or ‘SAKSHATKAR’ that is the second for a man. The premier goal of life is to be a MAN a HUMANE. If one will be a good HUMANE, GOD will pick him and show the path of ‘MOKSHA’, this is real philosophy of life in Swamiji’s view. If we try to adopt the values of a good conduct and be a perfect humane on this earth, the writing of Swami Krishnanand and publishing this volume by us will be valuable in its real sense.

Jul 11, 2017

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Incense Sticks - Krishnanand



The dawn was pleasant and the cool Himalayan breeze had a refereshing effect at that place at a height of 6000 feet known as Hanuman Chatti – otherwise referred to also as the ‘Gateway of salvation.’

My friend Sri Amarsinhji I and I set ourselves on the steepy and serpentine tracks leading to I Badrinarayan – the renowned place of pilgrimage seven miles away.

Things were different in those days and the pilgrims had to treck eighteen miles from Joshimutt to reach Badrinarayan. Amenities were few and poorer inhabitants of Tehri Garhwal and Nepal earned enough as wages to last them a whole year by carrying pilgrims’ luggage during the five months for which the pilgrimage lasts.

The other beneficial advantages then were, pilgrims learnt the lessons of self-reliance, compulsory physical labour, adapatability, accommodativeness, simplicity and frugal living.

Above all, the general atmosphere in and around Badrinarayan used to be very calm, soothing and uplifting and essential supplies were also cheap and in plenty. For, the holiday crowds and picnic parties from among the affluent never haunted and polluted the place with modern utilities and worldly revelries there.

We moved on with ease for some distance with hundreds of other pilgrims. We had light luggage with us and yet, we chose to engage coolies more with a view to giving them an opportunity to earn.

It was a mini india on the holy march. There were pilgrims from Assam, Andhra, Bengal, Bihar, Cutch, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Uttar Pradesh, comprising a representative mixture of Brahmins, non-Brahmins and Harijans-literate and illiterate both.

We must have covered two miles when from a peak we sighted the dim sun emerging from behind the lofty snow – capped mountains in the east. Though the rays were thin and pale, the light they had shed and spread on the farther high peaks seemed to activate the still and jammed snow.

We kept on surging ahead and the uphill trek was becoming more difficult to ascend and breath-taking. We soon heard from behind ‘Make way for His Holiness, the Jagatguru Shankaracharyaji Maharaj.’ We turned back, stepped aside and saw a gorgeously dressed person in ochre-robes, with three stripes of ashes on his forehead and gold mounted beads and a pair of binoculars around his neck, being borne on a sedan, carried by four coolies, two of his paid aides with a silver staff in the front were now and then announcing the passage of Shankaracharya and two others from behind were keeping out the flies from pestering his holy person, with a bushy chowry. Two constables from the uttar-Pradesh government were also in the retinue to protect him.

The announcement neither invoked curiosity nor kindled delight in the batches of pilgrims moving ahead. Instead, we heard someone say, HERE COMES A LIVE CORPSE, SEE, SEE! HOW PLUMP & POMPOUS, THE GULLIBLE HAVE MADE HIM, said someone else. HE IS ANOTHER OF THE STAUNCH DEFENDERS OF CASTEISM AND UNTOUCHABILITY, remarked some educated ladies from Bengal. WE HAVE NO USE FOR SUCH DRY AND LUXURY-LOVING SPIRITUAL HEADS AND MORE, was yet another expression of indignation from the crowd. CALUMNY, COLDLY CAST AGAINST THE CHOSEN AGENTS OF THE DIVINE, CAN ONLY MERIT ONE, A PLACE IN THE WORST OF HELLS, quipped a poor old Brahmin from a backward province.

Having heard such contemptuous things said against the approaching Shankaracharya, Amarsinhji himself had something to add. He said, "Swamiji ! these pilgrims from different parts of the country have only given expression to the popular feeling. The days of blind faith and subjugation are on the westward course and with the dawn of independence, people in the present time are more educated and their heads have begun to wrench the reins from their hearts. People can no more be exploited and fooled in the name of anything – much less in the name of God and religion. The citadels of false-beliefs and the nonsensical customs, traditions and religious rituals strong at one time are fast crumbling now. Hence, it behoves these spiritual people to change their attitudes in accordance with the changing times and demands, by remaining aloof from the masses and mainstream of life, one can no more earn the love and respect of the people, through simplicity, accessibility, broad-mindedness, liberal views, and rich inner gains, the preaching class should mix, mingle and that way display a genuine sense of belonging, if they wish to do good to society and safeguard their interest. It isn’t unreasonable to expect this from the leaders, educationists and religious preachers who are the triple architects of human society. Then he asked, Now Swamiji! What have you to say?"

Before I could reply, the sedan carrying the Shankaracharya neared us and Sri Amarsinhji and I greeted him. He knew us both and so signaled the carriers to halt for a while. We exchanged pleasantaries and the party of Shankaracharya proceeded on.

Because I had to keep pace with the tortoise-like speed of my obese companion, I was finding the onward move wearisome. To make things worse, he kept on talking even while gasping and he expected vocal acknowledgement of hearing him and as also my remarks with regard to his occasional statements of sorts. I could neither persuade him to hire either a pony or a sedan chair nor could I dissuade him from talking. Someone seemed to have pumped into him the notion that pilgrimages should be undertaken on foot as far as possible.

Even the old and the infirm who had started from the halting place farther than the Hanuman Chatti had overtaken us and we were still far behind.

The remaining distance of two miles to Badrinarayan was a particularly steep as cent and we had to trudge and almost drag ourselves up-losing breath at every forward step. Laboring this way, at long last, we reached the precincts of the holy shrine.

We were about the first batch of pilgrims in the wake of that year’s season and we found no difficulty in procuring a good place of accommodation in the central part of the then less crowded small town of the Himalayas which has no human habitation during the whole of every winter.

A little rest was our foremost need and we stretched ourselves. The worn-out Amarsinhjii fell asleep and was snoring heavily. A short while after noon, Amarsinhji got up and we partook of the rich sacraments from the temple. I allowed him another round of sleep.

Around 3 p.m. we went to the hot-springs and bathed in one of the cisterns. The water was pretty hot but because of the cold atmosphere it was bearable enough to bathe. We experienced the soothing effect of the sulphur contents of the water, upon our tired limbs. We also felt that long baths in the cisterns induced dizziness.

On our way back to our apartment, Sri Amarsinhji over-heard a Parsi lady proposing to her friends that they should snatch the first opportunity to meet one Swami Sri Shreyapriya Bharati who was camping in one of the caves near Managaon- a village two miles away from Badrinarayan.

Sri Amarsinhji spoke to that Parsi sister and by the tempting account she gave of the saint, he too wanted to meet the sage, without much loss of time.

After I had heard him in detail, I said suggestively, "Look, friend! From what you tell me, it is clear enough that Miss Freni, the Parsi sister, is here for the first time, she herself hasn’t met the saint before. We haven’t sufficient data to satisfy ourselves if the information passed on to her by casual informants is so weighty as to prove our visit to the saint as an experience eof profit. Let’s enquire locally and gather more convincing facts, if possible, before undertaking the tiresome trip." He agreed with me and we decided to go round and enquire about the presence of saintly personalities at Badrinarayan.

As we neared our place of camping, we met the Rawal, the Keralite Chief priest of Badrinarayan, Amarsinhji approached him and requested for information about saints who could be met at Badrinarayan and particularly questioned if one Swami Shreyapriya Bharati stayed in or around the adjacent Managaon.

The Rawal parried the points of our query and instead exhorted us to take refuge at the lotus feet of the Lord Badrinarayan to solve, resolve and absolve all our mundane and spiritual problems,

Our next contact was a prominent pundit from Karma-prayag, who like the members of his class, has a lodging at Badrinarayan and performs religious rituals on behalf of the visiting pilgrims. He gave us a very dismal reply. He said no saint lived in Badrinarayan and the pseudo ones who come during the season, occupying various vantage points, come only to earn gifts from the pilgrims and that they are helped by some unscrupulous local men who do propaganda and conduct pilgrims to them for commission either in cash or clothing. In the same breath, however, he also told us that we were fortunate, for, presently there was an aged Yogi who had come on pilgrimage to bless the devout pilgrims at Badrinarayan. When questioned directly if one Shreyapriyaji was camping at Managaon, he replied that he did not know if any such bellyfiller stayed there. His general tone gave us the impression that he himself might be one amongst the very type of commission agents in the employ of the fake monks he had earlier spoken to us about.

All the same, we went along with him to meet the old yogi. Shortly, we were in the presence of a good looking person. He was robust, tall and well dressed with a number of rosaries around his neck and ashes applied to his forehead. He received us with a beaming smile and in the process it was observed that he slightly bit the lower end of his lip one of the peculiar traits of deceivers when welcoming. From the tray near hi, he proffered us coffee and while we were sipping from it, he gave us a short hanky panky discourse on Kaivalyopanishad.

Amarsinhji seemed to have a feeling that he had met the old yogi somewhere. So, Amarsinhji put a straight question to him and was satisfied that the old person we were with had visited Amarsinhji’s mother a few years back and had collected from her some amount in the name of building a caravansary at Badrinarayan. And later, we also learnt that he happened to be the paternal uncle of the pundit who had taken us to him. They stood exposed as cheats and the uncle and nephew recoiled in embarrassment.

The pandas of Badrinarayan are in the habit of visiting the houses of pilgrims with whom they happen to come in touch during the pilgrimage season and that way they collect monies on the false pretexts of building houses of shelter for pilgrims and feeding the poor in and around the Himalayan shrine.

On the next morning, Amarsinhji happened to meet Miss Freni and her friends and got it confirmed from them that Swami Sreyapriya was camping in one of the vaces near Managaon and that they were all to visit him that afternoon.

The open minded Amarsinhjii consulted me and we too joined them. They were five all ladies and all of them were graduates from Bombay. We commenced our trip to Managaon. After a tiresome trekking, we first reached a wayside cave where we met one Apoorvanandji whose name literally, in Sanskrit, means ‘a person in a state of extraordinary bliss.’

The only extraordinariness about him was that we found him relentlessly beating a dog which had drunk all the milk he had kept for providing tea or coffee to his visitors. There were half a dozen other pilgrims with him then and they all pleaded in vain for the already bleeding dog. It required the chiding intervention of Miss Freni to calm the enraged man in ochre-robes.

We moved on and finally reached the cave where the saint of our quest was staying.

Swami Sri Shreyapriyaji was all alone in that apacious sphere-shaped cave. His lean figure was somewhat emaciated and yet his face lit with a smile was charming and made us all feel that his inner delight was surging to express itself in his countenance. He welcomed us with outstretched hands and motioned us to sit.

All of us bowed to him and sat around him. None of us spoke and the saint himself remained motionless. The cave exuded a pervasive calm, it was soothing and we felt a pull towards him all the more. The otherwise talkative AmarsinhjiI was also silent and I saw no

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