himAlayAtrA – Call of the Mountain – Part 8

नारायणं नमस्कृत्य नरं चैव नरोत्तमम् |
देवीं सरस्वतीं व्यासं ततो जयमुदीरयेत् ||

Bowing to Narayana (Krishna), to the greatest of men Nara (Arjuna), to Goddess Saraswati, and to Vyasa, let Mahabharata be told thereafter.

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17/Aug/2011…. Today, we walk the path of the Pandavas.

Welcome to Mana (pronounced mANA माणा) village .

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“Jai Ghanyaal! Welcome” proclaims the arch sign at the entry to  Mana, which is a few kms from Badrinath.

Mana is also known as Manibhadrapuri, and is  named after the Yaksha Chief Manibhadra… All this is ancient Yakhsa land, the land of Kubera…

Its morning time, and the sky is clear today… Or now, I should say… For weather can change in  minutes…

A steep road ahead of us… A mountain man from here, asks if any of us would like to be carried in a basket…

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A broken sign board, gives us Mahabharata directions… To Bheem pul, Ganesha Gufa, Vyas Gufa, Satopant, Mucukund Gufa…. Soota feels like a bird in the sky…

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Walking up the yaksha path, we soon arrive at Ganesha Gufa.

A signboard outside says that this is the cave where Ganesha wrote down the Mahabharata as dictated by the great sage Vyasa.

A portico leads to the cave… Its dark inside… Its time for some silent contemplation of Vyasa… And of Ganesha, who said “Om!”, when he accepted the request to take down Vyasa’s dictation….

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We climb 0n… One of our co-yatris has twisted her ankle badly… So, very reluctantly, she agrees to be carried in a porter-basket…. The climb is arduous all right…

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We pass by the houses of the local people. Mana village has people of Bhotiya community. Mana is the last village of India before the Tibetan border. The Bhotiya (also known as Marcha) community folks live here during the summer months and (I am given to understand) go down to a place near the district headquarters near Gopeshwar during the winter months… They are experts in weaving and knitting wool, and it is people of this village who have the traditional right to prepare the woolen blanket for Lord Badri Vishaal. They alone can weave that woolen blanket, known as Ghrt Kambal, which is soaked  in clarified butter and wrapped around the holy idol of Lord Badrinath… What a lovely community… Picture below, shows  a lady of that community standing in the courtyard of her house.. And yes, she’s knitting wool…

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We walk on…

We come across a tea shop, whose sign board has a poignant message…. “India’s last tea shop”

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Walking past that we arrive at Vyasa Gufa…

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This is the cave of Vyasa… It is here that he is said to have composed many a Purana…

You can see that the outer rockface of the cave looks like thin slabs resting on top of one another… “Vyasa Poti” says a sign on that rockface. They symbolize the palm leaves that would have been used for writing the epic compositions of Vyasa…

Outside the cave entrance, a signboard….

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The board has the opening verse of Mahabharata, quoted in the beginning of this blog post… It also has two verses from Chapter 7 of first Skanda of Srimad Bhagavatam… The two verses convey that Vyasa had his Ashrama on the western bank of Saraswati river, at Shamyaapraasa, a place conducive to penance by Rshis. There, surrounded by Badri (berry) trees, sat Vyasa, and focused his mind (contemplating the supreme transcendent reality)… A para below, in Hindi, says that it was in this cave that Vyasa compiled the Vadas into four parts, wrote seventeen Puranas, invoked Ganesha for writing Mahabharata, and then at end, seeking peace of mind had written Bhagavata,

Lets see now what the Mahabharata says about the place of composition of Mahabharata,

पुण्यः हिमवते पादे मध्ये गिरिगुहालये

विशोध्य देहं धर्मात्मा दर्भसंस्तरमाश्रितः

शुचिः सनियमो व्यासः शान्तात्मा तपसि स्थितः

भारतस्येतिहासस्य धर्मेणान्वीक्ष्य तां गतिम्

प्रविश्य योगं ज्ञानेन सोऽपश्यत् सर्वमन्ततः

“An the feet of Himalaya, halfway up, in a holy cave, Dharmaatma Vyaasa, after cleansing his body, spread a mat of Dharbha grass and sat on it, and in proper manner became immersed in meditation. Entering union with the self (yoga dhyaanena), with the vision of Dharma, he beheld the whole happening of Mahabharata, from beginning to end”.

We are at that cave. Soota is at his temple.

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We enter the cave.

In the dark we can make out an idol of Vyasa. And some pictures and other little idols. A young priest is sitting there. He ushers us to sit, and then gives a small discourse.

We offer prayers and come out…

Outside, Soota sits on one side, and gives a small pravacana… Vyasa Gufa is a most holy temple for him, and he has to offer his worship by relating something from Mahabharata. So he speaks of some part from Udyoga parva…

After enjoying the ambiance, the group moves on from Vyasa gufa…

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5 Responses to “himAlayAtrA – Call of the Mountain – Part 8”

  1. Salman Ali Says:

    Thank you for sharing this very nice post. Jai Shambo!!!

  2. Sundhar Says:

    Superb narration that let us all enjoy your sojourn vicariously and enlightening us.

  3. GLNMurthy Says:

    Dear kameshji, I am glad to see ur photo at Vyasa Guha.Yes ur the right person to have a photo infront of the Guha.I feel that travelling with a learned person is entirely different from travelling with Travel agents.-Murthy

  4. shivkumar Says:

    lachu iam thrilled and happy to know your visiting holy caves I wish I could travel with you my be I would sit in one of those caves and say bye to you instead of going back to the concrete polluted urban jungle!

  5. vasu Says:

    Dear Kamesh,

    Beutifully done. I visited these areas way back in 1978 with my parents. Great places. I am amazed at the efforts you have put in to do all these. You deserve a lot of appreciation. I still remember your first lecture on Mahabharatha, when i was also in the audience. You have come a long way.

    Please continue the good work People like us will bebefit.

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