Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Trek to Dev Bhoomi for the Devas –part-1

    (links to all other epoisodes are given at the bottom of the page)          
                                    Arati at Parmarth Ghat
A last moment change of decision on booking dates from 14 June to 2 June for the conducted tour of Kedarnath and Badrinath  saved us from being entries in the list of “Missing …” and our near and dears  to search indefinitely  for us hanging our photographs from their neck.
Rishikesh was our starting point for the conducted tour arranged by GMVN( Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) and we reached there three days in advance.
I visited Hardwar and Rishikesh in the same peak season month just before ten years. 
The rush of yatri tourists have now increased by many folds along with simultaneous growth of concrete jungles. However, the environment and the rules of construction on hilly terrains and near the riverbanks of a river originating  in the high altitude mountains are overlooked at many places.
“Ganga Arati in the evening is offered at many places in India on the banks of Ganga but the same at Parmarth ghat in Rishikesh is different from other places. “Go there, see, and feel it for yourself.”
Few of my friend told so, few pages of many travelogues wrote so and after moving aimlessly for more than an hour in the market areas of Luxman jhula we (me, and my wife) decided so.
( In my earlier visit, I did not see the Parmarth ghat as the entire team was in a hurry.)

 We saw the beautiful idols of Arjun and Sri Krishna riding on a Chariot, at the top of the entrance gate of Parmarth Ghat. Krishna was imparting the lessons of “Parmarth” i.e. absolute meaning of life to Arjun and inspiring him not to withdraw from the inevitable war against his own elders, relatives, and friends.
We appreciated the attempt of the Architect who tried to convey a great message to all the visitors crossing this entry gate to the Parmarth Ghat of Ganga.  However, this was just the beginning.
Beautifully maintained and clean wide stairs lead to the flowing cool waters of the river. The landings on both sides of the stairs lead to approach to another semicircular, 10-12 feet wide platform, standing on pillars plunged under the waters of flowing Ganga.

This platform is just facing opposite to the Parmarth ghat and on the center of this; the tall idol of meditating Mahadeva is one of the marvels of sculpture.
The semicircular pattern of ghat facing opposite of the Parmarth ghat provides a better view of the Arati through all possible angles in the background of the sound of the ripples of the flowing waters of Ganga.
Already thousands of Pilgrims stood on this ghat and on the platform at that time but the entire environment made the crowd to maintain silence or talk in low or hushed voice.
Only an hour was left for the Arati and the Sun to disappear from the sky. On the wide platform, just at the end of the bottom part of the stairs of Parmarth Ghat  a “Haman” was going on.
The offerings of Camphor and Ghee on the Fire were going on along with chanting of “Slokas”  from SOMVEDA in the precise tune.
The disciples of Parmarth Niketan Ashram were arranging the tall brass “Deepaks” in a row on the steps  for the forthcoming Arati. They started the Bhajans in perfect tune and soon the entire gathering joined them by swaying their heads, clasping their hands and humming the tune and the words of the Bhajan.
Some people like us sat at the back row near the idol of meditating Mahadeva and possibly all were trying to feel the divine vibration as a combined effect of Vedic Mantras of the “Haman”, Bhajans and the sound of the ripples of Ganga.
The rays of sun, which were till then appearing as halos around the facial region of Mahadeva, were slowly disappearing even from the top of his  tangled hair.  The Idol of Ganga Ji placed at the crest of his tangled hair could be seen faintly.
Sri Chidananda Saraswati (called Pujya Swamiji or Pujya Muniji by disciples), President and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan arrived and the entire gathering spontaneously stood up as a mark of deserving respect.

He joined the Bhajan group and soon his mesmerizing tune made the entire audience to listen and join with him
At the end of the Bhajan, he spoke for few minutes but it certainly could make a mark on the minds of spell bound listeners.
“Holy Water flowing on Ganga ji originates from the Gangotri glacier in high altitudes. Water is one of the vital form of the nature and the birthplace of life.
So, Ganga Mai is not a goddess alone, she is our mother. So how can we pollute our respected mother by throwing garbage, dead animals,  thin plastic bags and sewerage waters of cities?
The objective of this Arati is not only a mere worship. This is also to make our sole to wake up to this fact.
There may be big gathering in your house during any Puja
.  In the “Prasadam”, distribute a sapling along with Laddu or Pera or for a change distribute only the saplings.
Nobody would dare to throw the Prasadam but shall put the sapling in a proper place and water it to grow.  This is how you will initiate a nature loving and anti-tree felling soul and a green movement to fight against pollution.”

 Pujya Swamiji finished his speech and initiated the Ganga Arati with a well lit tall Brass Deepak. His disciples, special guests across India and world including specialists on environmental sciences joined with him. 

Simultaneously volunteers and distributed many other Deepaks among the spectators on both side and soon along with tune of Bhajans,

people took part in the Arati. Just then, many pilgrims floated tiny boats of Banana leaves along with brightly lit candles. These boats were floating and oscillating and it looked like as if a swarm of twinkling stars have come down from the evening sky to worship “Ganga Mai”
After an hour or so the Arati was completed crowd became thin. Few people like us were still sitting there below the feet of Mahadeva looking at the  dark sky and the illuminations near the Ramjhola. 
We two were asking Ganga Mai flowing with continuous tune of the ripples “Hey Mai are you coming only from the Jata(tangled hair) of Mahadeva”. 
Did both of us heard correctly ? We  heard from the tunes of ripples
 “Not only from the Jata of Shivji but also from the open hearts of many like you who now believe that I am not a river but your Mai.” 
At this session of Ganga Arati we learnt and felt a lot of new things. On the top of everything, both of us could feel the divine vibration and our heart was filled with joy and pleasure. 
Really Ganga Arati at Parmarth ghat of Rishikesh is different from other places.

Next morning on the way to Kedar, we were able to feel and hear  many things from the hills, Fountains, clouds and snow peaked Himalayas and the Nature of Dev Bhoomi as a whole. 


Indrani said...

I have no courage left to visit the place after the tragedy that took place there. Immensely satisfied seeing the pics.

Nikhil said...

Very well captured & described!:)