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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Badrinath Stories - Narad and Panchratra

Narad used to live with Lord Narayana at Badrinath most of the time, but at times he used to go out to visit other places. On one such occasion, when we came back from his trip he found that the Lord was missing. He looked all over for him, but could not find him. At one point he reached Sumeru hills, tired and thirsty. After traveling for so long, exhausted, he wanted a drink of water and located a hut in the forest inside which was a tapasvi (a person meditating) babaji. He approached the babaji and begged, “Babaji, I am very thirsty, please save me.”  (I think at this point Narad fell down and passed out, and the rest happened in his dream).
Hearing Narada’s plea, the tapasvi struck the earth and a thousand apsaras came out with a broad pot. (I have a problem with these numbers, why did a thousand apsaras have to come out with one pot? Why not just one. How big were these apsaras, I am thinking Gulliver’s travels.) The apsaras came to Narada and said, “Brahmin, please take a bath first and then have some food.” And all Narad wanted was some water, and was dying of thirst! But he had forgotten all that and was thinking, that he had left his Kamandala behind, so how was he going to take a bath. A kamandala is a multipurpose mug. The apsaras read his mind, and said, ‘Don’t worry, just step into the pot and take your bath in it.” The pot was not big enough for him to put his foot into, so he is again thinking what he should do. The apsara’s again saved him from hurting his brain and say, “Devarshi, don’t worry about it, just do it and everything will be fine”. Putting his faith in the Lord, Narad entered the pot and found himself sliding down a endless tunnel. After, what seemed like an eternity, he found himself in a beautiful city.

As is the case with these magical places, your imagination is the limit - everything is made of gold and diamonds and precious stones, all glittering in a light too beautiful to describe. This place was called Shweta Deep - white island. There are beautiful people all around and sweet music playing in the back ground. No one is tired, no one is hungry, everyone is happy. There are pools, and brooks and magical trees with red, ripe fruits on them. All the people have four arms, there is fragrance in the air. (Actually, this entire description should be left blank and the reader should be asked to visualize his ideal place.) Everyone he saw, he thought was Lord Narayana, but they were not, they pointed him in the direction of the Baikuntha Dham where the Lord lived. When he reached that place he found Lord Mannarayana.

The Lord was very happy to see Naradji, his ultimate devotee. Because of the great lengths he had gone to to seek the lord, he granted him a boon. Naradji was very happy and said, “Lord, if you are so happy with me please teach me the process by which one can acquire you.” At this, the Lord taught him the process by which Brahmins can acquire him. For others he recommended, jap and kirtan of the lords name. After the preaching was over, Narada woke up from his delirium and found himself amidst the apsaras and the Babaji. He was wonder struck, and the babaji, who was the lord Mannarayana himself, said, “I sent you to Shweta Deep to get the prayer process, and the Mannarayan you saw there was one of my forms.” 

Naradji remained at this place for five nights and hence it is called the Panchratra prayer process.

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