Dear Guru Maharaj
It is a well-known aspect of dharma in the culture of india, That especially latter in life Pilgrims persuing God conciousness would â€œgo northâ€ â€œNorthâ€ especially meant the sacred mountains, valleys and rivers of the Himalayas.
An epic journey to â€œThe Northâ€ specifically involved turning away from materialistic life and its complexities. such severe rennunciation was not only reserved for sadhuâ€™s and sunyasis, but also for kings vanaprasthas and anybody searching out realisation of the self and ones relationship with the supreme.
But the Chardham yatra of Garhwal or Devabhoomi as it is known is famous not only being the source of Ganga,Yamuna and Saraswati but also for its mystical connection with demigods,Mahajanas, Rishis,Yogis and sages. Such a rich culture of absolute dedication to higher thought, left the mundane way of life behind on the plains of India to follow in the footsteps of Narada muni,Dhruva maharaj and the Pandavas. Even Garuda, Balaram, Vyasudev, Mahadev, shiva and Nara& Narayana Rishis.
Such Great Saintly women as Kunti, Draupadi,Gandhari and otherwise famous Urvarshi ended their lives or had past times here. The mountains stand as powerful as Shiva himself and the rivers, all female in nature ,mould themselves around him in cascading fluidity of constantly moving pools and waterfalls.
Being surrounded in divine nature one canâ€™t help observing the lord himself being stimulated by constant Abhishek of his dearest devotees. Although one feels the sweetness of being in solitude with nature, there is also a strong atmosphere of awe and reverance with the predominance of worship being directed to badri narayan with ancient deities of various forms of vishnu including sakarshan, vasudev and even some manifested forms of Narashimha dev. As usual lord shiva guards the entrance to, and reveals to those who are qualified, the depth of such holy sites. With some of the Worship being carried out by Nabodri brahmins from south india and a strong influence of Shri vaishnavism.
These elavated dhams were also a strong hold of Sankracharyaâ€™s established worship, which are suprisingly personal. Unlike many of the deities of the south india which are reclining forms of vishnu, Vigrahas up here in mountains are sitting, inyoganindra or standing.
Having travelled through out Bharat Varshas extensive array of sacred Dhama,s , it would seem that the madhurya and audaya(sweetness and magnamanity) of Vrindavan, Mayapur and Jagaanath puri are protected from north south and west by predominance of aishwarya worship. The real soft heart of Gaudiya Vaishnava is locked up in a strong chest of armour hard to penetrate without the key of Bhakti Yoga. One has to access this great treasure through the east. The east for us means Sri Mayapur and Sri ksetra puri. They represent the lotous and the conch, the benducting symbols of vishnu beaconing has intimate devotees to come closer.
This brings one to most striking point that this particular ISKCON yatra is not only bringing the yuga avatars Gaur-Nitai into this foreign enviroment so far from the Bananas and coconuts of Bengal. But also the historical fact that because of the 40 stong attendence and ethusiastic participation of yatris, large numbers of books are distibuted to the thousands of tourists, locals, soldiers and vast number of other yatris visiting from all over the india.
The Kirtan party of our group has also left a definative impression in the hearts of so many onlookers, with high spirited Gaura arti ceremonies performed in open public places. These usally culminate in â€œout of the ordinaryâ€ chanting and dancing with even the sweet taste of prasad distribution to the public. Gauranga definately has his plan and we are just instruments in his programme.
The Prominance of the Yuga dhama of â€œGoloka prem hari naam sankirtanâ€ amongst the other profussion of schools of karma Gyan and yoga which are so watered down in this age of kali.
Srila Prabhupada would definately be thrilled with the amazing phenomenan that the soft heart of radharani is extending itself deep into Himalayas through the reaching out of Gaurangas devotees.
Such compassion in a realm where the hardness of tapasya and austerity reserved for yogas of different ages is melted and direct love of Godhead can be experinced so freely.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada