DAY ONE – Badrinath
Sometimes, when we put up with hardship along the journey, the destination offers the sweetest fruit. Badrinath is a jewel of a palace: with high altitude (3300m), thermal hot pools, rushing rivers and snow capped peaks. Immediately you feel your spiritual radar light up.
The bus trip up to Badrinath took over 15 hours (319.5 km), via the rockslides and sheer drops of NH 7. I took the pilgrims route on a government bus packed with devout people. We were not alone.
The traffic up and down the mountain was intense, with earthmoving machines working around numerous rockslides. As traffic banked up the trip got slower and more difficult.
The Haridwar bus terminated at Joshimath late in the evening, so I completed the final 50 km to Badrinath the next morning with a taxi load of people. In the taxi I got talking to an interesting young woman named Ashoo.
In regards to spiritual life in the West, Ashoo said that the trappings of luxury, workplace competitiveness, and social status, diminish both our spirituality and humanity. She continued, “in their own eyes people see themselves as superior but in the eyes of god we are all equal.” Ashoo reminded me that humanity is an important part of spirituality. If we treat each other with respect and kindness, rather that aloof coldness, the world and is a better place and our spiritual practice is made complete.
After bathing in hot pools filled with ecstatic splashing women, and paying homage at the Badrinath temple, I headed up on foot to the village of Mana – ‘India’s last village’.
It seems you can only find this level of natural beauty and simplicity high up in the mountains. The local Indo-Tibetan people carve out a basic existence and yet everything seems flourishing.
Just beyond Mana village, the Saraswati River thunders out of the mountainside. The rushing waters carve out rock caves and fall with breathtaking velocity. The Saraswati joins the Alakananda River just below Mana.
Sitting at the confluence of the Alakananda and Saraswati Rivers, reinforced the energy of my name given to me by Guruji – ‘Alakananda Saraswati’. I decided that this incredible place would be the site of my Empowerment Mediation scheduled for the next day.