Char Dham Yatra (October 2019)

By Pujya Gurudev’s grace, Chinmaya Mission South Africa (CMSA) conducted the much anticipated and awaited “Char Dham Yatra” during the month Oct 2019 with Swami Abhedanandaji. To every Hindu, this Char Dham Yatra is like a dream come true. Especially when it is undertaken in the loving and warm presence of a saint like Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji, then it becomes spiritually fulfilling and absolutely unforgettable.

This Char Dham Yatra encompassed darshan and prayers in the four main Dhams (Hindu pilgrimage sites): Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. Along with these, there were darshan in Haridwar and Uttarkashi as well.

On Oct 13th, about 70 uniquely blessed devotees gathered in Haridwar from different parts of the world; Untied States, Singapore, India and Dubai. In the supremely auspicious presence of Swamiji, the devotees first sought blessings from Mother Ganga at Haridwar, by taking a dip in Her holy waters at Har ki Paudi and offering Aarti at the holy bank.

After gaining the Mother’s blessings, the pilgrims proceeded to Barkot, where they stayed overnight at a serene campsite, in tents. The next morning, the devotees trekked a glorious six kilometres to Yamunotri, and had the opportunity to bathe in Ma Yamuna’s sacred and auspicious hot springs (kunda), considered among the foremost of purifying rituals. Here the devotees also did puja and aarti at Yamunaji’s sacred Shila.

Having completed successfully the first leg of the yatra, the devotees trekked back down to Barkot, feeling blissfully enveloped in Ma Yamuna’s divine embrace, fulfilled and happy. By Swamiji’s grace, the weather showered its own unique blessings on the devotees, and the entire pilgrimage was a safe, pleasant and blissfully happy experience.

In the next leg of the yatra, we traveled with Swamiji to Uttarkashi, where the ancient Saumyakashi Vishwanath temple houses a Shivlinga that is said to be Svayambhu. This temple is of special significance in our Guru parampara; because Pujya Swami Tapovanji Maharaj and Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda visited there often and offered puja. Continuing this beautiful parampara, the pilgrims offered Rudri chanting and abhishek, under the loving guidance of Swamiji.

No pilgrimage to Uttarkashi can be complete without paying respects at the sacred Tapovan kutir, which Swamiji described as, “The Gomukh of Chinmaya Mission. Because from there came our Pujya Gurudev. A Mahatma like Tapovanji alone can make a Mahatma like Swami Chinmayanandaji.”

After Uttarkashi, the devotees headed to Gangotri. On the way, they were treated to a demonstration of the magic of Hanuman Chalisa, as a few boulders blocking the path were quickly cleared after chanting of the Chalisa.

Gangotri Yatra is often a difficult one, with many hurdles, due to which sometimes pilgrims have to turn back. The devotees with Swami Abhedanandaji were keenly aware that it was Pujya Gurudev’s pratap (glory) and Swamiji’s sankalpa shakti that this yatra has been undergoing so successfully. Immensely grateful, the pilgrims all took snaan (bath) in Ma Ganga’s waters, braving the icy temperature.

In the next leg of our yatra, we took a long 14-hour bus journey from Uttarkashi to Sitapur (the base for Kedarnath helicopter darshan). The next morning, devotees headed to the helipad from where choppers flew them in batches of five and six, to the most sacred Kedarnath temple which is a dream teerth of every Hindu to visit at least once in lifetime.

As the arrival at the temple was staggered, the batches of devotees were able to offer a prolonged abhishek to Bhagwan Kedarnath with various dravyas like ghee, bhasma, chandan and honey, in short, all the goodies that Lord Shiva likes. It was a very fulfilling darshan for each devotee, and everyone felt very palpably the Lord’s happiness upon them.

After this blissful darshan at Kedarnath, the devotees took another 12-hour bus ride to Badrinath, yet another very powerful teerth which attracts millions of devotees every year.

The pilgrims visited the Badrinath temple twice, in the morning and in the evening. In the morning, for Maha-abhishekam, when the head priest performs a very detailed three-hour-long puja of Badrinath Bhagwan, starting with waking Him up, bathing Him, offering various dravyas and then an elaborate and beautiful shringar. The devotees got to sit in the very sanctum, to witness this gorgeous puja. They felt like they were indeed with the Lord, at the Lord’s own home. Another opportunity in the evening allowed the devotees to witness the aarti, an impressive, grand spectacle.

There was also a short visit arranged to the nearby Mana village where everyone got to offer prayers at the originating point of Mother Saraswati, the famous Vyas Gufa and the Ganesh Gufa.

On 21st Oct, the concluding day of this divine Char Dham Yatra, a valedictory function was held, where the devotees expressed their feeling of overwhelming gratitude and fulfilment. The pilgrims took this chance to thank Pujya Swamiji from the bottom of their hearts and expressed their fortune to be able to be a part of such an incredible spiritual experience. They also thanked all the staff, including the cooks, drivers and others for their tireless service during the entire yatra.

Swamiji then distributed prasad to everybody, and it was with a heavy heart that devotees realised that it was time to go their separate ways. They took home with them however, the immense and indescribable joy of having spent so much time with the Lord, in Pujya Swamiji’s most sacred presence, and all are praying that the Lord will call them back to His feet again someday soon.

Such pilgrimages are divinely unique, arduous and very rare to accomplish, and only a saint like Pujya Swamiji can make this possible and usher us into the divine lap of the Lord.

To view the pictures from the Char Dham Yatra, please click here

Categories: Spiritual Retreats